April 29, 2011

Mt Desolation - Departure

I've been listening to the self-titled album by Mt. Desolation this week.  It is an alt-country side project by Tim-Rice Oxley and Jesse Quin from Keane.  Their extended line-up includes members of Noah & and The Whale, The Killers, The Long Winters, The Staves, and Mumford & Sons.  Give them a listen.  The video is pretty fun too.  

April 27, 2011

Rosemary-Mint Shampoo, Sunset Drawings, and Strawberry Plants

I'm going to continue to be a little sporadic in posting for a while.  I'm sick and crabby, and I'm fairly certain nobody wants to hear me talk about how sick and crabby I am.  Instead, let's look at some of the loveliness from my yard and see if I can come up with three beautiful things about this week.  Here goes...

1.  The smell of Aveda's Rosemary Mint shampoo.  Such a lovely way to start each day.  (Thanks Mom!)

2.  My big boy presented me with a drawing from school.  A green house and an orange sky.  "The sun is going down, Mom."  Love it.

3.  Strawberry plants.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that the bunnies won't find this pot of strawberries.  We have a lot of flowers already, and with them the promise of berries.  Even if we only get a few, it'll still be fun and exciting, especially for the boys.

April 26, 2011

Menu of the Week

I haven't done one of these in a while.  I've been in a rut.  But one of the many benefits of having a blog is that I have a place to store all the recipes I like, so when I need some inspiration, I don't have far to go!  I scrolled through our family favorites and picked out a few recipes.   I also knew I wanted to use up some sausage that's been in the freezer for a while, so I went to Stephmodo for ideas.  Her blog is always great, and I especially like it for mealtime inspiration.  She didn't let me down - she had the perfect recipe for me.

Here's a look at what we ate last week:

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes, Garden Salad
I continue my efforts to keep meat to a minimum.  I used ground turkey in these sloppy joes to make them even healthier.  I'm sure beef would've been tastier, but I thought they were pretty good this way.  I liked having lettuce on my sandwich as well for a little extra crunch.  My boys did well with these too.

Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs, Scallion Rice, Spinach
The boys love this chicken.  I didn't attempt to serve them spinach, though.  That was for me and K - they had steamed carrots.  

Vegetable Enchiladas, Saffron Rice
This is only my second time making these, and I will definitely start making them at least a couple times a year.  It's a great recipe, because it makes two pans, so it's easy to do what I did - serve one and put one in the freezer.  I love making two meals at once!  Also love that it's veggie, and my boys ate all of it.  I will say, however, that the sauce recipe needs a little tinkering - I haven't quite figured it out.   I think it may just need to be doubled, because the flavor is good - it just doesn't make enough for my taste.  I added a can of enchilada sauce to it, and it was perfect.  

Rigatoni with Zucchini and Sausage, Garden Salad
Can't go wrong with pasta and fresh parmesan.  I had been wanting to use up some sausage, so this was perfect.  I loved how easy this was, and it was a great weeknight dinner.  My big boy did really well with it, but my little guy opted for some spaghetti sauce on his.  

April 25, 2011

Weekend Pics

Not many words today.  Just a couple pictures to remind me of my boys and sunshine.

April 22, 2011

Wye Oak - Civilian

This week's music pick is Wye Oak.  This is the title track from their latest album, Civilian.  I love listening to the guitar in this song.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

photo from wyeoakmusic.com

April 21, 2011

Yoga, Commutes, and Completed Projects

photo from naturally nina via pinterest

Sorry for yesterday's crabby post, and thanks for sticking with me.  One of the best things about this little blog of mine is the community I've created.  It's a small group, but I've attracted such lovely people here.  Thank you!

Today the sun is shining, and I'm still working hard to stay positive.  Here are three beautiful things:

1.  45 minutes of yoga.  A slightly tighter butt and the reminder to breathe

2.  Instead of thinking about my commute as a time-suck, I will choose to think of it as 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to listen to music.  (Sometimes it's the news, but in a week like this one, I'm sticking with music.)  This morning, I chose women I could turn way up and sing with:  Susan Tedeschi and Adele.  (It took me a while to fall in love with Adele - not sure why.  I guess because her music is different than a lot of what I typically listen to.  I understand it now.  She just needs to be played loudly so you can marvel at that voice.) 

3.  There was a spot on our bedroom wall that received some water damage and required new paint.  I'm not going to think about how long it took, but it is now the same color as the rest of the wall.  The painting supplies are put away. 

April 20, 2011

Waiting for Patience...

photo by honeytree

What a week this has been so far.  I think I need a break, because my patience seems to be completely gone.  I've found myself snapping at the boys, being short with colleagues, and shutting myself down completely at night.  So I sit here, taking deep breaths and catching up on my blog reader, because I find such inspiration and optimism there.  Only for a short while, though, because I think some yoga would do me some good tonight.  

I've struggled to find time to do the things I want to do, and yet I still have found time to spend online.  There are so many other things I'd like to have time to do.  I sometimes think that I should be doing those things instead of maintaining a blog.  For example, there are several friends I've been meaning to call or email - it's been too long.  I could be doing that now instead of writing here.  I guess with everything, writing on my blog has to be prioritized.  I do it because I need this outlet, and it has been a positive in my life, but I will probably always assess how much time I put into it.  

In addition to working today, I managed to check a few other items off my list.  I honestly don't know how I'd manage if I didn't have these work-from-home days.  I can fold laundry while on a conference call.  Quickly heat up leftovers for lunch.  Skip makeup.  By eliminating the commute, I gain an extra hour, and I definitely feel the cushion of that hour.  I'll admit there are times when the pull of doing tasks around the house is stronger than my desire to do work, and that's a force I have to keep in check. Multi-tasking is my friend, though, and in general I've been very effective here.  

I haven't had much time to think forward lately.  We're headed to my mother-in-law's for Easter, and my big boy is getting excited for the egg hunt and visiting family.  I just checked the weather - why do I do that? - and typically, the forecast is calling for chilly rain.  Since I promised not to complain about the weather, I'm not.  Just making an observation.  

April 19, 2011

Kitchen Inspiration

photo credit:  Landmark Kitchens

I love the simplicity of this kitchen.  I like the ceiling, and the small open shelves make the room seem larger than it is.  I do like the muted tones, natural light, and the red oven adds color.  Pretty.

April 18, 2011

Weekend and Goals

I'm totally going to steal the format of this post from one of my favorites, Pink O'Clock.  I love how she starts each week with a list of goals. 

Highlights from the weekend:

1.  It was supposed to rain all day yesterday, but it didn't.  There were a few short-lived sprinkles, but otherwise the sun was shining through the puffy clouds.  It gave us a lot of time to play outside, even venturing up to our community farm for a visit to the baby (but growing!) pigs.  
2. "When Harry Met Sally" was on.  I could probably recite the entire thing by now, but I still love it.  
3.  Lately, the little boy has been jumping into my arms after getting out of the bath.  I wrap him up quickly with a towel, and he throws his arms around my neck.  I love holding his naked little body. 
4.  The boys are playing more and more together, giggling and squealing and screaming.  It's loud, but the noise is so happy that I don't mind.  (The unhappy noise that happens when they steal something or hit the other one in the face...well, that noise I do mind.)
5.  A bottle of Australian Shiraz.
Five commitments for the week:

1.  Get to bed early (before 9:30).  I've been staying up too late recently, and the bags under my eyes are growing.  I need some quality shut-eye.  
2.  Don't complain about the weather.  It's chilly.  It's rainy.  It's Spring. 
3.  Come up with some new ideas for the boys' lunchboxes. 
4.  Along the same lines, revitalize dinner planning.  Since the husband has been out of town, I've been slacking. 
5.  Do some yoga. 

April 14, 2011

For the Love of Ice Cream

Love this.  I am an enormous ice cream lover, so it fits perfectly.  Speaking of, I have some bananas foster and chocolate chocolate chip calling to me now...

April 13, 2011

Little Boys, Spring Green, and Picnics

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Last night, my little guy had a coughing fit that woke him up and got him upset in the middle of the night.  I was rubbing his back to calm him down, and I asked if he wanted a hug - he jumped up and into my arms.  I rocked with him for a while, letting him fall asleep on my chest.  I was very conscious of the fact that it might be one of the last times I get to do that - he's getting so big!  I held on tight and felt just a little sad when I put him back in his crib.

2.  I woke up to the sounds of singing birds and the pitter-patter of rain.  Despite the wet grayness, I noticed that everything looks just a little bit greener today.

3.  We had a picnic over the weekend.  Food seems to taste better when eaten outdoors, don't you think?

Vincent Van Gogh - Orchard With Plum Trees

April 12, 2011

Things I've Learned...as a Mom

from beyondtherack.com via Pinterest

'Things I've Learned', the Mom edition.  I've only been a mom for 4 1/2 years, so I am obviously still learning.  Here are a few things I've learned so far...

1.  There is no such thing as privacy when you have little kids.  Moms shower and use the bathroom with an audience.  (I wonder when this ends?)
2.  You won't get sick by eating food off the floor.  Even if it's been there for a week. 
3.  Moms can function pretty highly on very litle sleep.  For years. 
4.  Moms also make mistakes.  Apologize and move on.  We can all try to be our best, but nobody's perfect. 
5.  Tastes change quickly.  Favorite foods and meals one week are met with a whiny "but I don't want that!" the next. 
6.  Every day starts at the same time, regardless of bedtime the night before.
7.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away and take a deep breath.  
8.  Often the best toys are not toys at all - keys, laundry basket, straws, scotch tape, pots and pans...
9.  I have gained super powers - I can make them giggle with only a look or a wiggling of my fingers in the air.
10.  Kids will do what they see you do - the good and the bad.  There's nothing like having a child to motivate you to be your best self. 
11.  Sometimes only Mom will do.
12.  There is nothing more beautiful than a sleeping child.
13. I know the names of all types of trucks, tractors, dinosaurs, and bugs (can you tell I have boys?)
14.  It's essential to be prepared.  Snacks are the most important thing.  More important than diapers even.  There's nothing worse than a hungry kid (or Mom, for that matter).  But I try to remember the diapers too.
15.  They're only dirty floors.  Big deal.
16.  Little brothers grow up faster, because they want to do everything their big brother is doing.  My little guy is absolutely fearless. 
17.  If you want your kids to love books, read to them every night.  Let them see you reading.  Fill your house with books. 
18.  There's no such thing as child-proof.  They'll figure out how to climb it, open it, jump off it, eat it, or run into it, so keep your eye on them.  And when they fall anyway, just be there to give them lots of hugs.
19.  Crayon markings can be removed from a painted wall using baby oil.
20.  After-dinner dance sessions are a perfectly acceptable form of exercise.

April 11, 2011

Weekend Recap

I was going to write an actual post, including my usual ramblings; but my computer was giving me problems, so now it's late, and I just want to get some ice cream and enjoy the rest of 'Mildred Pierce'.  It is Monday night, after all.  There's a long week ahead.  So instead I'll just post a sampling of some pictures we took over the weekend.  The glorious, sunny weekend included picnicking, sliding, swinging, feeding cows, watching and playing baseball, and enjoying life.

April 8, 2011

Spring is Here

My mood is improving along with the weather.  Despite a cold and rainy start to the week, it has finished with a couple very sunny and mild days.  It's amazing how much a little sunshine can lift my mood.

One of my windshield wipers was broken by last week's snow.  (That actually sounds funny now.)  I wasn't able to take care of it until today, so I brought it up to our local repair shop.  I left it and walked back home.  In walking back to pick it up, I felt so lucky to be able to take a walk in the middle of the day.  It's not a long walk, but I appreciated it nonetheless.  It's very rare that I'm able to take a walk by myself, so I'm actually a little thankful that my wiper was broken.  I was also reminded just how beautiful it is where I live.  We're less than half an hour away from Boston, but we are surrounded by farms.  It's the perfect balance between city and country living.

I snapped a couple pictures while I was out.  The red barn above is my favorite.  Driving around the curve and seeing that view, especially when the cows are out front, is when I know I'm home.  The crocuses are almost all blooming now, and the daffodils won't be too far behind.  Today is opening day at Fenway, and the Red Sox haven't won a game yet.  Still, I feel optimistic.  Spring is here.

Alela Diane - White As Diamonds

This week's music pick comes from Alela Diane.  This one is a couple years old, but she has a new album out now that I'm just getting to know.

I hope you have a nice weekend - mine is going to be full of errands like hair cuts and the like, but the forecast shows sunshine and moderate temps, so there will be tons of playing outside.  Hooray!

April 7, 2011

Blog Love: For the Love of a House

*All images from For the Love of a House

I just love it when I stumble upon gorgeous house inspiration, and I have to share the latest blog I added to my reader:  For the Love of a House.  It's written by a woman who moved to New Hampshire seven years ago and is renovating an antique farmhouse.  Similar to Katy Elliott, another blog I love, she shares all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into fixing up an old house.  It's wonderful.  I had a really difficult time picking out just a few pictures to share with you.  Here are a few pictures of some of the completed rooms, but if you like them, go check out the blog - it's amazing.  The renovations are still underway, so there is sure to be more gorgeousness to enjoy.  

Spring Flowers, Donations, and New Songs

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  More flowers blooming.  Every day there are a few more open.  The row of purple in front of the house is especially cheerful.  I'm keeping flowers on the dining room table too - that's one of the ways I'm staying happy through my least favorite month.

2.  Getting rid of one more box of stuff.  It always feel good.  I especially love donating baby items.  Not only because it helps mark the passing of time, but also because it is nice to give directly to people who genuinely appreciate them.

3.  This song:  Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues by subpop

There's so much inspiration in this great big internet web...

April 6, 2011

Pancakes for Dinner?

Oatmeal pancakes via Cooking Light
*This is my current go-to pancake recipe.  Love them!

I asked my big boy what he wanted to have for dinner.  "I don't know" was his reply, which is typical.

"How about pancakes and fruit salad?"

"Pancakes?  For dinner?!?"  Seriously - you should've seen the look on his face.  He was shocked.  Dismayed, even.  "We can't have pancakes for dinner.  Pancakes are for breakfast!"

"Says who?  We have eggs sometimes, don't we?"

"Well yeah, but eggs can be either breakfast or dinner, but pancakes are always for breakfast."

"I suppose that's usually true, but sometimes it's fun to do things a little differently, don't you think?  Wouldn't it be fun and silly to have pancakes for dinner?"

Another classic look on his face as he attempted to process this proposal.  After a minute, he turned to his little brother and said, "Do you want to have pancakes for dinner?  Isn't that so silly!?!  We are going to be so silly!"

Both boys cleaned their plates.  Of course.

When he was done, I asked "Should we have pancakes for dinner again sometime?"

After careful consideration...he said, "Okay, but not too many times, because then it wouldn't be silly!"

April 4, 2011

Thoughts of Spring and Inspiration...

This change of seasons gets me every year.  I adore the warm sunshine of Summer, the fantastic colors of Autumn, and even the twinkling magic of Winter.  But then there's Spring.  Spring in New England can best be described as cold, rainy, muddy, and windy.  The flowers will eventually make their appearance, but it happens very slowly, and the full beauty of the season isn't realized until towards the end of May.  The farmer's market moves outside at the end of May.  Strawberry-picking isn't until the middle of June. 

I'm trying to stay positive, but I have to admit that it is a real effort lately.  In addition to the typical Spring weather, my husband is back to traveling full-time for work.  This leaves me at home, trying to balance everything on my own.  Let me just say that it's hard. 

Here are a few things I'm loving right now...

I don't see many flowers outside yet, so I am drawn to gorgeous pictures of them.
Photograph by the always-inspiring Alicia Bock

The new mini-series, Mildred Pierce, on HBO.  Another reason for me to love Kate Winslet. 
Official cover art via word and film

I gave up ice cream for a few months.  I had been in the habit of enjoying some every night, and I figured Winter was a good time to give it a break.  Plus it's so darn cold!  But it was my birthday a week ago, and then Haagen-Daaz was on sale at the grocery store, so I guess my break is over.  It's still pretty darn cold, but tonight I plan to sit by my fireplace and enjoy some ice cream.  
photo by Jayme Michelle at Delectable Deliciousness
I left a message with our contractors last week, ready to start conversations about our big home renovation.  We want to start the planning and design.  How exciting!
Photo by Julian Wass

What else can I do to remain positive and inspired through this cold and wet month of April?  I'm seriously asking here.  Perhaps something sweet to bake?  A great book to read?  How about your favorite blog?  What is inspiring you right now?  Books, music, art, food...I would love to hear your suggestions. 

April 1, 2011

Indie Artist Covers - The Civil Wars, Billie Jean

I thought I'd post something a little different this week.  I saw a fun list on Paste Magazine - 30 Fun Indie Artist Covers of Pop Tunes.  It contains a really fun selection of videos.  Ingrid Michaelson and Travis almost make me appreciate Britney Spears songs.  She & Him perform a lovely version of You Really Got a Hold on Me.  Obadiah Parker makes Outkast's Hey Ya sound like an original folk song.  And there are more great ones, including Lissie, My Morning Jacket, Laura Jansen, and others.  Take a few minutes and check them out.  You'd be amazed how great artists can turn an existing song and make it their own.  At the very least, give a listen to The Civil Wars, above, performing Billie Jean.  It'll make you smile.
Photo of Lissie via earsucker


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