March 30, 2011

First Spring Flower, Food, and Jason Bateman

I'm grouchy.  I'm tired, still trying to catch up after our trip, and it's supposed to snow on Friday.  Bleh.  But let's focus on the positives...

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  The first flower of the Spring.  The little purple beauty gives me hope that warmer weather will come.  Eventually.

2.  As I was looking through the refrigerator and pantry, trying to decide what to make for dinner, I had such a strong feeling of gratitude.  There are so many people out there struggling to make ends meet, who may not know where their next meal is coming from.  I may not know what to make, but I have a kitchen full of healthy food from which to choose.

3.  Jason Bateman.  Because really, how cute and funny is he?


March 29, 2011

Weekend Recap

My mom's garden.  I had hoped to see more sunshine, but the azaleas were pretty.

We had a nice time in North Carolina this weekend.  The weather sucked, so it wasn't the break from the cold and wet weather that I had been hoping for, but it was fun to spend time with my family.  I also survived the flights and learned some lessons along the way. 

(For example, car seat bags suck.  If you need a car seat for the flight, use one of those car seat attachments with wheels.  If you need a stroller at your destination, get a bag and check it through.  Also, ask for help every step of the way.  The highlight of our return trip was getting to ride in one of those cars through the airport to make our connection.  That wouldn't have happened if I didn't ask the flight attendant for help.) 

We did manage to have a good time, despite the weather.  The rain held off on Friday morning for us to go to a little zoo.  Perfect size for our little ones.  They had a blast running around outside and feeding animals.  We had a yummy cookout lunch for my birthday.  We attended a roller-derby match (did you know that was a real thing?), which was pretty hilarious.  We went to Sunday brunch and spent the afternoon by the fire, doing puzzles and playing games. 

Now I have to get back in our normal routine.  Lots to do this week in addition to work, including taxes and doctor's appointments.  I'm already looking forward to the weekend!

March 25, 2011

Ivan and Alyosha

Another band scheduled to perform at this year's South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX.  One of these years I will make it there.  Ivan & Alyosha.  The video is a little long - they play three songs.  If you're going to listen but don't want to listen to all of it, listen to the last one - it's my favorite.  It starts at about the 8:30 mark.

March 23, 2011

A Beautiful Sky, Courage, and Vacations

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  I often forget to look up, but I'm rarely disappointed when I do.  There is so much beauty in the sky.  Did you see the enormous moon a few nights ago?  Amazing.

2.  It is confirmed - I'm flying solo with the boys tomorrow.  Oddly, I feel okay about it.  I know I can do it.  (Now what am I forgetting?)

3.  Vacations.  It's just a short one, but we're headed down to NC to visit my mom and sister/brother-in-law/niece.  I am looking forward to seeing sunshine, playing outside, eating out, catching up, and coming home to a clean house!

Photo taken in Boston by:  NikonJim via Buzzfeed
*You should check out the rest of these super moon pictures - they're pretty awesome.

I want to see some of these...
Photo by: Hollie Nickolls

March 22, 2011

Turning 37

photo credit:  Nichole, from Little Brown Pen a few days.  I remember 27 being a pretty stellar year - my then-boyfriend/now-husband had moved to Boston to live with me, we got engaged, planned our wedding, took trips, and really enjoyed life.  I have a feeling 37 is going to be that kind of year.  The boys are exiting the baby years, which are sweet but admittedly exhausting, and I'm eager to enter the next phase.  We have ambitious and exciting plans for the house.  Fun trips to take.  And I still have my Kevin beside me.  Yes, it's going to be a good one.

Actually, when I think about turning 40, I get really excited.  Is that strange?  I don't particularly like the silver streaks in my hair, or my creaking knees; but my body is still healthy and strong, and I have so much to be thankful for.  I am not held back by anything.  In three years, the boys will be 7 and 5 - what fun ages.  No more diapers or cribs or strollers.  The big house renovation should be behind us by then, so we'll be able to appreciate and enjoy adding the little details to continue making our house a home.
I'm always focusing on appreciating the stage I'm in now, but a birthday is a fine time for a little reflection.  To look back and remember, but also to look forward and anticipate.

For this year's birthday, we are headed down to North Carolina, to get a taste of real Spring (the kind with flowers and sunshine).  What should we do to celebrate the big 4-0?  Enjoying some pretty flowers and a glass of wine by the water?  Sounds good.  Let's go somewhere we've never been before!  As long as I've got my boys with me, I'm happy.
photo by:  Mikkel Vang

March 21, 2011

Menu of the Week

 Images via Cooking Light

Spaghetti and Meatballs
This is an old standby, and one of my boys' favorites.  I've recently started reducing the amount of ground turkey and adding some shredded carrot and/or zucchini.  This week I used both.  Nobody has noticed. 

Black Bean Quesadillas, chips/guacamole
This is my "what to make when I don't know what to make" dinner.  Veggie and healthy and easy.  Awesome.  Plus avocados were on sale, so I've been making lots of homemade guacamole lately. 

Roasted Chicken with Potatoes/Onions/Mushrooms, Green Beans
Another cold-weather standby.  Makes the house smell so good.  My usual routine is to rub under the skin with seasoned butter (oregano, garlic, salt), and stuff with a quartered lemon.  

Broiled Sweet-and-Spicy Salmon with Pineapple, Steamed Rice
*Recipe from Everyday Food, but not online yet - it's essentially maple syrup/cayenne pepper mix glazed over salmon and pineapple slices, broiled for 12-15 mins.  They suggested mixing some cilantro into the rice too, which sounds delish. 
This is a great one for the kids.  Not a green in sight, and yet it's still a very healthy meal.  My big boy does really well with all seafood.  My little guy is not yet a fan, but I keep trying. 

Pasta Primavera
I've tried a lot of pasta primavera recipes, but I always go back to this one.  It's my favorite.  The boys picked through the veggies this time - the big one ate the asparagus and peppers, the little one ate the peas and tomatoes.  I ate it all!

March 18, 2011

Iron & Wine - Tree by the River

This week's music pick is Iron and Wine.  Their latest album came out in January, entitled Kiss Each Other Clean.  It's great.  (I'm such the music reviewer, aren't I?  Well all I can really tell you is what I like to listen to.  And this definitely makes the cut.)  I'm off to try to find the chords now.  Have a happy weekend!

March 17, 2011

A Quiet Mind, Cuteness, and Jelly Beans

photo by Sabino Aguad

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  I've been focusing on quieting my mind during chores, such as folding laundry or putting away dishes.  Most of the time my mind is working a mile a minute, but it's important to be able to turn it all off.

2.  My current favorite part of the day:  taking the little boy off his booster seat.  He does one of two things.  He either 1) points to and names all the parts of my face ("eye", "ear", "cheeks"...), or 2) says "I love you", which sounds a little like "I luh you", or "I lellow".  I swear, my heart can barely stand that much cuteness.

3.  Jelly Bellies.  I changed my mind.  Just be careful to pick out all the buttered popcorn ones first, and then enjoy.  One by one, because coffee and lemon are not a good combo, but delicious on their own.

Saw this and loved it, so I thought I'd share...

March 16, 2011

Thinking About...

Photo via Toast UK

...Japan.  I haven't mentioned it, but honestly, who isn't thinking about Japan right now?  I am stunned and heartbroken for the people of Japan and even more grateful for everything I have in my own life.  Any little problem I may have certainly pales in comparison.

...the possibility of having to fly with my little boys by myself next week.  I'm a little nervous.  (Okay, more than a little.) I'm trying to wrap my head around it now so that I'm fully prepared when the time comes.

...the fact that the bulbs we planted are starting to come up.  Tiny little shoots of green (green!) in front of the house.  Did I mention that I can finally see my grass?  Spring is coming! need to get organized.  Maybe it's the urge for Spring Cleaning.  My to-do list is full of things like getting caught up on the kids' doctor's appointments, cleaning out drawers, taxes, and other fun errands.  I know that getting ahead of those types of things always makes me feel better. sore arms.  I have been really good about exercising the last few weeks, and as a result, I've been sore for the last few weeks.  It's a great feeling, so it's not a complaint.  I really want to keep it up!  My arms feel good, but it's my backside that could use more attention.  Thinking lunges and squats.

...this post that Chelsea at Frolic wrote a couple weeks ago, about properly crediting photos on blogs.  I read it that week, and I've been focused on finding the original source for pictures since then, but it has truly taken a lot of the fun out of Pinterest for me.  Who has time to follow the tumblr bread crumb back to the beginning?  Especially when it very often has no beginning.  Also, as stated by a lot of the 162 (!) commenters, it's hard to know the rules.  I'm figuring out that most pictures I'd want to use are by professional photographers, or photographers on flickr with 'all rights reserved', which means I technically can't use their pictures without permission.  I gotta think they wouldn't care, since only a handful of people read this little blog of mine, and I'd feel guilty if I did it without asking.  So there you have it.  I think you'll be seeing mostly pictures of my own on the blog from here on out, with the occasional shot from an etsy shop or big stores (like the above shot, from the Toast catalog), because they already purchased the rights to the photo.  Oh phew!  That's enough thought about that!  Blogging is supposed to be fun!

March 14, 2011

Weekend Recap

This weekend felt like it was full of highlights and lowlights, good moods and bad.  Everything depended on perspective and attitude, so I fought hard to keep a positive attitude - I mostly won, but there were a few moments.  You know the ones I mean.

The weather was warm enough to be able to play outside but still cold enough to require hats and gloves.  I keep thinking it's going to be warmer outside than it actually is.  I walk outside, get hit by the frosty air, and shudder.   But most of the snow is melted now - hooray!  The boys were able to ride bikes, swing, slide...  They were so excited to get out and run.  We took a long walk Sunday morning, up to a neighborhood farm.  We got to see most of the typical farm animals, the highlight being the baby pigs, snuggled up together under a heat lamp in the barn. 

The little boy's naptime provided an opportunity to do some cozy inside activities with my big boy.  Lots of games and puzzles.  (Note to self:  I need to get him some harder jigsaw puzzles.  He is becoming a master.) 

And!  We went on a double-date Saturday night!  What a rare and beautiful thing.  To be able to go out with another couple, who also has two small boys.  It required some coordination, to ensure we could get sitters on the same night, but it was very fun and totally worth it.

Menu of the Week

When my husband is out of town, I like to keep dinners simple.  At the same time, I want to serve some variety to my boys.  I'm okay serving scrambled eggs and toast, soup and grilled cheese, or other super easy items, on occasion, but I also want them to eat their vegetables.  Here's a look at some of the recipes we've enjoyed recently:

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese - All my boys love this one.  It's a good one to make on a Sunday night - it makes enough to have leftovers during the week.

Chicken Cutlets with White Wine and Garlic, Steamed Carrots, Sauteed Mushrooms - I like any recipe that demands I open a bottle of wine.  My big boy actually cleaned his plate, carrots and all!

Roast Pork with Squash and Onions - I really liked this.  It's easy, and the squeeze of orange along with the sage creates a really nice flavor.  My big boy loves pork tenderloin and onions, and my little boy mostly filled up on squash.  Now if I could get them each to eat everything on their plate....but hey, I'll take what I can get.

Linguine with Spring Vegetables - Pasta, vegetables, cream, tarragon....yum.  Add a little parmesan on top and I am sold!  I used regular shelled peas instead of snap peas in order to make it easier for my little ones.  These are three of the most palatable green vegetables for my boys, so I was optimistic that they would eat this, and they did! (although, full disclosure: they did mostly pick out the zucchini)  Hooray.

March 11, 2011

Good Old War - That's Some Dream

This week's music pick was The Head and the Heart, but since Black Eiffel featured them this week, I figured I'd mix it up and pick someone different.  I do like The Head and the Heart, though, so go check them out.

And can I just tell you how much I love NPR for discovering new music?  I really don't listen to much commercial radio at all anymore, because I just can't take the repetition and focus on mainstream pop/rock/country.  I love musicians.  Let's hope they are able to continue to support the music industry in such an important way.  Anyway...enough of my ranting.

So I decided to go with Good Old War.  This song has been stuck in my head for a few days, and the video makes me happy.  Enjoy...

March 10, 2011

Kitchen Inspiration

Stylist:  Clinton Smith

Gorgeous pictures of kitchens seem to be piling up on my Pinterest boards, so I thought I'd share a few this time.  I like the simple wood stools I've been seeing a lot of lately.  I like the area above the stove in the one below - the fact that the vent is covered by wood.  Speaking of wood, I adore all these floors!  Love the ceiling beams in the last one and continue to wish our house had higher ceilings.

March 9, 2011

Sore Fingers, Soft Feet, and Grapefruit Juice

Source:  Softspoken shop and flickr

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Sore fingers.  I've played my guitar a handful of times in the past week, enough to build some calluses on the tips of my fingers.  It doesn't sound pleasant, I know.  But it's actually a nice reminder of my practice.

2.  Soft feet.  I rarely get pedicures, but every time I do, I am reminded just how wonderful it is to have someone pamper your feet.  The bright and happy pink toes are a fun reminder of a great weekend.

3.  Grapefruit Juice.  I used to drink orange juice.  For some reason, my pregnancies made it taste too sweet for me, so now I rarely drink it.  I much prefer the sour taste of grapefruit juice.

March 8, 2011

The United Kingdom

This is brilliant.  I don't know how many times I've had this conversation with people.  I can usually remember what's included in the United Kingdom vs. Great Britain, but adding in the detail about the other British territories as well as what is represented by The Crown is fascinating.  Thank you to Grey's Blog for doing this!  Now go read the accompanying comments to be thoroughly confused...

March 7, 2011

Weekend Recap and Inspiration

First of all, thanks to all the wonderful responses I got to last week's post.  In addition to the comments, I also received feedback from family and friends.  In general, the theme was that you like my blog!  Some mentioned that they like the pretty pictures and my thoughts about life.  Others mentioned that they have the same taste in home decorating.  Others like finding music recommendations and recipe ideas.  And my real-life family and friends like hearing the bits about what's going on in my life.  My sister described my blog as her one-page magazine she likes to read when she's wasting time.  I do still enjoy keeping this up, and with all of your encouragement, how could I not?  Also, cleaning out my 'reader' list felt cathartic, and I'm able to focus on the blogs I really love. 

Now let me tell you about my weekend.  My wonderful, relaxing weekend.  One of my best girlfriends and I decided to get together and pamper ourselves a bit.  She lives outside New York City, so we picked a place halfway in-between to meet.  Our itinerary looked like this:
  • Lunch
  • Massages
  • Nap
  • Movie
  • Drinks
  • Dinner
  • Sleep
  • Room Service for Breakfast
  • Pedicures
  • Lunch
Jealous yet?  It could not have gone more smoothly, and we had the best time.  Everything was perfect.  It had been too long since we've been able to have a real conversation - there are usually kids who require our attention - and it was so nice to be able to relax and enjoy each other's company.  The inn was very nice, and we quickly determined that this trip should become an annual event. 

Now I'm back to reality.  My husband will be traveling across the country quite a bit over the coming months, so I'm bracing myself for keeping up the balance at home on my own.  I can do it, I can do it.  I hope you all have a great week!

The movie we saw was "The Adjustment Bureau".  I'd agree with most of the reviews I have since read about it:  It is a good movie, but not a great one.  I allowed myself to enjoy it without questioning too much (as a fan of sci-fi type entertainment, one has to have this ability); but I still felt like there were some weak parts.  They could have done so much more with it.  That said, it was a good movie.  Matt Damon was excellent, and I thought he had great chemistry with Emily Blunt.  Anthony Mackie pretty much stole his scenes.  All in all, it's a movie worth seeing. 

March 4, 2011

The Decemberists - Down by the Water

This week's music pick is The Decemberists.  I've been listening to their new album, The King Is Dead, a lot over the last couple weeks.  I love it.  My son is loving it too, which makes me happy.  I love that his musical taste is expanding.  His favorite song is "Down by the Water", and I'm working on being able to play it on the guitar for him.  I can't decide on a favorite.  I've listened to The Decemberists for a while now, and I particularly love their lyrics - interesting thoughts and gorgeous words that enhance the beauty of the songs.  As a small example, here's how 'June Hymn' begins...

Here's a hymn to welcome in the day
Heralding a summer's early sway

And all the bulbs all coming in,
To begin
The thrushes bleating battle with the wrens
Disrupts my reverie again

I listen to it and dream of Summer.

March 3, 2011

Thinking about Less...

I don't have much to say this week.  My mind is elsewhere.  I've been reading and watching and listening to a lot of news lately, and although I think it's important to stay well-informed, it can be so incredibly depressing.  When hearing about the uprising in Egypt, the war in Libya, the tragedy in New Zealand, and our own comparably trivial troubles, including the protests in Wisconsin and our continued failed attempts at balancing the budget, it can be difficult to bring focus back on my own little life.  But of course that is exactly what I should do.  I can't control all the chaos in the world.  

I also just finished the book, Say You're One of Them, by Uwem Akpan.  It's fantastic, but only read it if you are okay with the fact that it will break your heart and haunt your dreams.  It's simply painful to come to terms with the fact that so many children in the world face such tragedy.

I've also become rather disillusioned with the blogging world lately.  I don't know - I think I'm just uninspired.  While this mood lasts, I may cut back a bit on posting.  Or rather, I'm going to post when I want to and not feel like I should put something out here every day.  We'll see.  I just went through the list that I follow and removed the ones that seem to post mainly about things.  There are so many out there that want to tell me what to buy, or what I should think is cool, or that seem to be trying so hard to make money.  I need to make sure I'm sticking with all the wonderful and inspiring and thoughtful blogs out there.

I realize this is a rather negative post, so let me leave you with a little dose of goodness...

'Reality Bites' was on last night, so I let myself get sucked in.  This is exactly the type of nostalgic optimism I need.  Love Ethan Hawke...

Isn't this gorgeous?  I can't trace it back to the original source, though.  Love it.

March 2, 2011

March, Messages, and Masks

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  March.  Whoever decided that February should be the shortest month of the year was extremely smart.  The days are getting noticeably longer now, and there is the hope that I may even see some grass in my yard before the month is through.  Spring is such an optimistic season.

2.  Messages.  My husband's out of town this week, and he sends the sweetest messages when he's away.  Little texts or emails that brighten my day.  I love them.

3.  Masks.  My big boy went to a birthday party over the weekend, and the boys decorated masks.  He's worn his every day since then.  Similar to the shark-fin hat, I think it'll be around for as long as it lasts.

*Didn't plan the alliteration, but it is lovely nonetheless.  


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