February 28, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Oscar...

I stayed up way too late watching the Academy Awards.  I always do - I don't know why, but I love it.  A few impressions:  The show was a bit boring this year.  James Franco was a dud - sorry, James, but I expected more.  The dresses were beautiful.  Perhaps a bit plain - there weren't any shockingly outlandish ones that I saw - but nice.  I liked that there seemed to be a lot of vibrant colors.  Natalie Portman was gorgeous.  Halle Berry, as always.  My favorite was Marisa Tomei, although I guess a lot of the experts hated her dress.  I loved her hair.  I loved Cate Blanchett's hair too.  I love Colin Firth more every time I hear him speak.  I am amazed by how talented Christian Bale is when I hear him speak - I don't think I had ever heard him talk in his own voice before this year.  It's even more shocking than when Hugh Laurie stops being House.  I'll say it again - Sandra Bullock is flawless.  Robert Downey Jr is someone else that I love a little more every time I see him.  Has there ever been a more gorgeous pair of presenters than Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law?

Weekend Recap

Another weekend come and gone.  I was on my own with the boys, and we had a nice time together.  Hair cuts, fun at the library, playtime in the snow (yes, more snow), a birthday party, and a visit from Grandma.  All these activities helped keep us entertained.  During dinner one night, we talked about all the things we're looking forward to doing once it warms up.  Some of the responses included:  going to Italy, running outside without coats on, not having to wear boots, eating popsicles, riding bikes...  It was a lovely conversation.

While the boys slept, I enjoyed some alone-time.  I pulled out my guitar after way too long.  My fingers are sore, but it's such a great feeling.  I'm still hoping that one day I'll really be able to play.  I also watched Never Let Me Go, which I enjoyed very much.  It's a gorgeous movie.  I'm not sure if I would've liked it as much if I hadn't already read the book, though, so read it first. 

Now I'm off to start another full week.  It's a busy time at work, and my husband's out of town.  My mom reminded me to stick to what's easy this week, which is good advice.  I think I'll follow it. 

February 25, 2011

Agnes Obel - Just So

This week's music pick is Agnes Obel, a Danish singer/songwriter.  If you want something peaceful to listen and hum along to while you're relaxing with a cup of tea, check her out.  The piano is gorgeous, as is her voice.

February 23, 2011

Slippers, Love, and Guacamole

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Warm, comfy slippers.   In February in New England, the most beautiful things are the ones that either keep me warm or remind me of warm days to come.  I adore my slippers - I've never had a nice pair before, ones that may last more than a year.  They were my Christmas present to myself.  Every day when I get home, it's so much nicer to slip off my boots when I know I have toasty warm slippers to put on.

2.  "I Love You"s.  My little boy is adding more and more words to his vocabulary.  Lately he likes to say "bye-bye" and wave and leave the room.  I respond with "bye-bye, I love you, I'll miss you", and he smiles big smiles and says "I Love".  And then comes to get kisses and to say bye-bye all over again.  Ah, my heart bursts with love.

3.  Homemade guacamole.  Yum.  My boys won't eat plain avocados, but they love my guacamole.  So do I.  I have a few new avocados on my kitchen window sill, and I'm anticipating the weekend, when they are soft enough to make some more.

February 22, 2011

Weekend Recap

We had a nice long weekend at home.  It was one of those where we managed to achieve that balance I always strive for on the weekends.  We had lots of time to play at home with the boys, we spent time with friends, we went out on a date, and we were visited by family.  I know I've said it before, but if only all weekends could be three days, I'd be able to find this lovely balance every time!  
We stayed up too late playing games with my sister-in-law and her husband - lots of laughing and plenty of competition, and we all went out to eat the following morning.  The boys adore them, and they like going out to eat too.  It was one less meal for me to plan and prepare and clean up after, which is what I appreciate. 

My husband and I went to see a concert Saturday night.  We saw The Civil Wars, and they were amazing.  Seriously.  If you like indie, folk, or alternative music, or if you appreciate harmonies, you should check them out.  It was an awesome show, and we had a great time.  It made me realize how much I miss seeing live music.  I need to figure out how to do it more often. 
As usual, there was time spent at home, with the boys playing, me cooking, and my husband doing projects.  I also lost my voice!  Do you know how difficult it is to be a mom of two small boys without a voice?  Well, let me tell you - it's hard. 

We did also manage to get outside, but although it was above freezing for several days last week and quite a lot of snow melted, the yard is still covered in a very thick blanket of icy snow.  It makes it challenging to get out for very long.  I am eagerly anticipating next month's trip down to where the azaleas will be blooming...

February 21, 2011

A Few Yummy Things...

via Cooking Light and Martha Stewart

Toasted Coconut and Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Oh, sooooo good.

Garlic-Butter Rubbed Chicken with Roasted Oranges and Red Onions
I was happy to try a new recipe for roast chicken.  I usually fall to my old standby - stick a lemon inside, season with garlic, butter, and oregano - but this was a refreshing change.  Wonderful flavors, and the chicken remained very moist.

Orange-Pecan Tea Bread
We enjoyed this for breakfast last week.  I love being able to bring something to work to enjoy with my coffee.  Easy and moist.  I think some fresh cranberries would be a nice addition to this bread, although it was very tasty as written.

February 18, 2011

The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow

This week's music pick is The Civil Wars, who just released their first full-length album, Barton Hollow.  This album has been in heavy rotation in my car over the last couple weeks.  The video above is of the title track.  They are being compared to The Swell Season, which was responsible for the music in the movie Once.  I think they are a bit more eclectic than that, although I think it's a fair comparison.  As a fan of The Swell Season, I also think it's a compliment.  I think you could also compare them to Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson, whose music and harmonies I adore also.  The most perfect thing about The Civil Wars is the harmony of their beautiful voices, and I particularly love when they showcase their roots in Americana music.

And!  I am SO excited to say that I am going to see them perform!  They are playing a show here in Boston tomorrow night.  We had to pay about 5 times face value to get tickets, but I know it will be worth it.  I can't wait!

February 17, 2011

Pins of the Week

For this week's version of Pins of the Week, I thought I'd include some of the photos I've pinned to my "Rooms I Love" pinboard.  These are just a few of the ones that caught my eye this week.  Usually it's just some small detail that draws me in, like the bouquet of lilacs in that first picture.  Okay, that's one big bouquet, but you know what I mean.  Wood floors usually do it - I'm such a sucker for nice wood floors.  Fireplaces, ceiling beams, clawfoot tubs, paintings, bright windows...  What is it that draws your eye to a room?

I thought I'd throw this one in there too, simply because I can't stop looking at it.  New Zealand is very near the top of the list of places I want to visit, and I will make it happen someday.  In the meantime, I'll appreciate stunning pictures like this one.

February 16, 2011

Tulips, Stretching, and Warm Chocolate Cake

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Tulips on the dining room table.  I'm enjoying them rather than obsessing about the fact that the bulbs I planted are still under three feet of snow.  Well, I'm trying, anyway...  I think I'd truly be okay with Winter if the snow banks weren't still taller than me.

2.  The first stretch in the morning, when I still have a few minutes to lie in bed and prepare to start the day.   Especially when I've been good, eating right and exercising, it feels so good to stretch and appreciate my body.

3.  Warm chocolate cake.  To show her appreciation for the chicken noodle soup I shared with her last week, my neighbor returned my dish filled with fresh-from-the-oven chocolate cake.  Complete with a gooey center.  It absolutely hit the spot.

February 15, 2011

Kitchen Inspiration

I love this edition of Kitchen Inspiration, especially because it features a kitchen from a real home.  Not from a magazine or a celebrity house.  This is from Erin at Perfect Sentiment.  I've been a follower of her blog for a long time, and I've known that we share similar design tastes.  She has been lusting after kitchens for a while, just like me; and after years of saving and planning, she finally has reason to celebrate - this gorgeous room

Check out her blog for the before and after - it's pretty cool.  I love how much they opened up the space by removing the walls that separated the kitchen from the living space.  I am also very jealous of their new breakfast nook, and now I'm scratching my head trying to figure out if there's any way we can make enough space to do something like this in our future renovation.  Congratulations Erin!  Well done.

February 14, 2011

Weekend Recap

I was going to write more about my weekend, but it included a long wait in the passport line at the post office, and a meltdown of epic proportions when we discovered that I left the boys' snow boots at school.  So let's skip over the highlights and focus on the little moments instead.

Our weekend started off with an evening on my own.  Kevin went to a hockey game, and I enjoyed a quiet evening at home.  After the boys went to bed, I snuggled up next to the fireplace with my book - Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I decided to just enjoy a good block of time to read.  It so rarely happens.  I stayed up too late but finished the book.  It is unique, well-written, and thought-provoking.  I haven't seen the movie (yet), but I highly recommend the book. 

The big boy and I worked on his valentines in front of the fireplace.  I just supervised, really, making sure the glue or markers didn't get on the rug.  I love watching him when he's concentrating and working so thoughtfully.

I also love baking with my big boy.  He scoops and measures very carefully and is so excited at the prospect of a few scattered chocolate chips.

When I was making dinner, the little boy became overwhelmed with energy, which happens from time to time.  He started dancing - picture the really fast running in place a la Fame dancing.  The rest of us found this so ridiculous that we had to join in.  And the more we danced, the more he laughed and danced.  Funny how infectious those moments are.

After dinner, the boys still sticky with applesauce and blueberries, I was tackled by both of them in the middle of the kitchen floor.  Huge smiles and sweet kisses.

Those little moments are way more fun to remember than waiting in line at the post office, but I must say I'm happy to have that task behind me as well!

Menu of the Week

Last week, I decided to try a full menu written by Everyday Food.  You know, those menus that include using leftovers from one meal as input to another?  Well, I gave it a shot.  Here's what recipes were included, along with my thoughts...

Salmon Skewers with Smashed Potatoes
This was very good.  My boys do well with fish, and I've been trying to incorporate more seafood into our weekly menus.  I didn't bother with skewers, though.  I love the idea of "cooking" the spinach simply by mixing it with the hot potatoes - one less dish to clean. 

Skirt Steak with Sweet Potato Wedges and Parsley Salad
This was very good as well.  I used mixed greens instead of parsley, and I also added some chunks of blue cheese which complimented the steak nicely.  My boys don't do steak, so I cooked a piece of chicken along with the steak, but they did load up on the sweet potatoes.

Six-Ingredient Chicken Noodle Soup, cheese toast
This was okay.  First of all, this menu says it serves four, but it serves probably three times that much.  It makes a TON!  My little boy did really well with this, and I did enjoy having lots of leftovers to bring to work for lunch.  I even brought a pot over to my neighbors.  And it's a very simple recipe.  Not sure I love chicken noodle soup enough to make it again, though.

Baked Spaghetti and Mozzarella
I really liked this.  Again, it says it serves four but makes enough for plenty of leftovers.  This recipe is all about good ingredients.  Fresh basil and mozzarella, and lots of it.  Easy and yummy.  

Chicken and Sweet Potato Hand Pies, Green Beans
I liked this meal.  I love the concept of this - dress up some leftovers, wrap them in puff pastry, and bake.  I didn't love this version, though - the spices were a little overwhelming to me.  My husband liked it, though.  I'm going to keep the idea and see how else I could use it in the future. 

February 11, 2011

Amos Lee - Windows are Rolled Down

Amos Lee has a new album out, called Mission Bell.  Here he is singing a song from the album.  I am loving it.  As this song suggests, I do feel like I need to warmer weather so I can have my windows rolled down.  I can belt out the songs and allow my fellow drivers to look at me funny.  Enjoy!

February 10, 2011


My son is 4, and I decided to have him make his own valentines this year.  I also wanted to avoid candy, because Valentine's Day has somehow turned into as big of a sugar rush as Halloween, and preschoolers really don't need more energy than they already have.  So we decided to go with these cute heart "arrows".  My big boy can almost do the entire thing by himself - the only contribution I'm making is to draw the hearts for him to cut.  He cuts out the hearts, then writes his name and his friend's name, punches out two holes on either side of the heart, threads a glow stick through, and then glues on the little hearts on the ends.  He also wants to add stickers to some of them.  I think they're pretty cute!

*If you wanted to help a bit more, you could come up with cute messages to add, along the lines of "you light up my life", "you make my day brighter", "you make my heart glow"...  I kept it simple and allowed my son the chance to practice his writing instead.

Pins of the Week

For this week's edition of Pins of the Week, I've decided to share some gorgeous pictures of places.  As I've mentioned, I've been focused on making our travel plans for the year, so I have a serious case of wanderlust at the moment.  Especially when I'm surrounded by huge mountains of snow, it's fun to dream of beautiful faraway places.

Florence, Italy - this summer!  

These are just a few of the pictures I've pinned recently on my pinboards at Pinterest.

February 9, 2011

In the Front!

This is me.  The pom-pom on this hat is supposed to be worn on the side, but I always insisted that it be right in the middle of my forehead.  I guess I've passed down this preference.  My big boy always insists on wearing one of his winter hats with the tag in the front.  And this week at school, he made a shark fin hat.  Of course, it is supposed to be worn on the side so that it looks like a shark fin, but he continues to insist that it be worn in the front.  Who am I to argue?
Not sure what's up with the crooked smile he's giving me lately, but I still love it.  

Sore Muscles, Plane Tickets, and Grill Pans

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Sore muscles.  I have found motivation this week to increase my exercise.  As a result, I am feeling my muscles.  It feels awesome.  Somehow I need to remember this feeling so I am always motivated to have it.

2.  Plane tickets.  I love having a trip to look forward to.  Coming up next month:  A birthday weekend trip to North Carolina to visit my mom and sister.  Yay!

3.  Grill pans.  My husband got a grill/griddle pan for Christmas, and it has definitely been put to good use!  I originally thought it would be used just for pancakes, but I am grilling tons of stuff on it, and it's so nice to be able to cook everything at once.

February 8, 2011

Kitchen Inspiration

My mom recently told me that whenever she sees yet another picture of a kitchen on my blog, her reaction is, "Geez!  Get on with it already!".  Well, I will tell you that it captures my feelings as well, but unfortunately our funding goals are not in line with my desires.  Yet.  So all I can do right now is dream and plan...

February 7, 2011

Weekend Recap

Another cold weekend in Boston, but at least this one didn't bring a big snowstorm.  There was the threat of one, but it ended up being a rainstorm, complete with lightning and thunder.  I love thunderstorms, and I think they're especially cool in February.  All that rain on top of all that snow left a really ugly mess, but I'm still thankful it wasn't more snow.  As you can see in these pictures, we did manage to see some blue skies too.  On Friday, all the trees were completely covered in ice, and they were breathtaking against the blue sky.  

It was a relatively quiet weekend at home with the kids, but we did venture out for some family fun.  A morning at the library and then lunch out at a restaurant, with a stop in-between for a couple new board games.  The little boy went down for nap, and we hung out with the big boy in front of the fireplace, trying out the new games.  Good stuff.  And then Sunday morning included a trip downtown to the Children's Museum, which our little guys adore.  They had a blast and were then pooped for the afternoon.  Add in watching a basketball game (my UNC Tar Heels) and a movie Saturday night, and that about sums up our weekend. 

Hope yours was a good one as well!

February 4, 2011

Sera Cahoone - Happy When I'm Gone

This week's music pick is Sera Cahoone.  She is based in Seattle and started as a drummer, but has since released a couple albums of her own.  I've recently been getting to know Only As The Day Is Long, which came out in 2008.

Here's a link to her NPR Tiny Desk Concert if you're interested in hearing more.
via last.fm

February 3, 2011

How to Appreciate (Survive) Winter

1. Go outside.  Sledding, hiking, skiing, snowball-fighting...there are lots of ways to have fun in the snow.

2. Plan trips.  I've spent a good portion of January making plans for the rest of the year.  We've picked out the place where we're going to spend our big vacation - 10 days in Tuscany.  [Insert very excited face here] I'm also planning a long weekend with family in North Carolina, a girls' spa weekend, and other fun events.  It always helps when I have something fun to look forward to.
We're going here this summer.  Yay!

3.  Bake.  Summer is for the grill, Winter is for the oven.  I also love making soups/stews and roasting, but baking is the most fun.  Probably because my son can help me the most with baking.  It's something fun we can do together, it's a great way to stay occupied on a weekend afternoon, and the results are something yummy!  (I'm going to make a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting this weekend.  Yay!)

4. Pick up a big book.  Summer is the time for the lighter, faster reading.  While the days are dark and cold, choose a heavier book.  Perhaps a classic you've always wanted to read.  One that challenges you.

5.  Buy yourself flowers.  I know it's a money splurge, and I know it's probably not a very "green" thing to do.  That said, I can't tell you how much it lifts my spirits to have a colorful vase of flowers on my dining room table.

6.  Catch up on movies.  The Oscars are coming up in just a few weeks.  How many of the nominated films have you seen?  I've actually done pretty well this year - I guess we chose wisely when going out, because every movie I saw this year was nominated.  But there are still some I haven't seen - I want to see Biutiful, and I heard The Fighter was really good too.

Biutiful stars Javier Bardem

What are you doing to survive the Winter?

February 2, 2011

Making Plans, Nice Neighbors, and Blue Pajamas

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Making plans for the year.  Filling the calendar with fun activities and trips.  Thinking about things other than snow.  Aren't those pink flowers gorgeous?  

2.  Helping out your neighbors.  I loved this article.  We have a bad reputation of being unfriendly here in the Northeast US, so it's especially nice to see a reminder of the good people that live here.  I've noticed this myself in recent weeks, and the snowy roads have even made people drive more graciously. 

3.  Blue pajamas.  My little boy has a pair of bright blue footed pajamas, as you can see below.  They are the softest fleece, and he is so incredibly snuggly in this outfit, which we affectionately refer to as "the blueberry".  He's been wearing them almost every night of the new year, and it's one of the few reasons I'll be sad to see the cold weather end.  


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