January 30, 2012

Weekend Recap

photo of the Ladies of Downton Abbey by Jason Bell for British Vogue

It was a small and quiet winter weekend.  Nothing wrong with that.  Here are the highlights:

*A visit to the mall on Saturday afternoon.  I don't typically do malls, but both pairs of my jeans developed knee-holes in the same week.  I went by myself so I could walk straight to the Lucky store.  I walked out with three new pairs and hopefully won't have to return to the mall again for a very long time.  (I do hate shopping, but I will admit that the afternoon alone-time was quite nice.)
*I am caught up on Downton Abbey.  Yes, it is as good as everyone says.
*The usual Saturday morning library visit, playing games, and spending time outside. 
*We watched the movie 50/50.  It is wonderful.  It is an emotional ride, as you'd expect given the premise, but one that is totally worth taking. 
*I got to spend Sunday with Nathan, my little guy, and Kevin took Aaron skiing.  I had a very nice day at home, cleaning and baking and playing; and they had a great time skiing together for the first time. 

Goals for the week:
1.  Stretch every morning.
2.  Reinstitute the "10 minutes of relaxation after the boys go to bed" rule.  I miss them and I need them.
3.  Call my sister.  Email my cousin.  Confirm the timing of our trip to Wilmington.  I shouldn't lament my long-distance family if I'm not doing my part to keep in touch.
4.  Patience.
5.  Buy some decent ski gloves.  Mine are pitiful, and it's going to be cold in Vermont this weekend!  (Did I mention I'm going to Vermont this weekend?  Yay!)

Below is a little peek at yesterday's skiing.  Only for aunts and grandmothers and other interested parties.  Try not to notice the brown grass in the background - the lack of snow is still a little depressing, but at least they can make it for us on the mountain.  Aaron is doing great.  He is a serious and methodical and careful skier, which I love.

January 27, 2012


I stumbled across a picture of me and my sisters that had fallen behind the refrigerator.  It was taken many years ago - we were grown up, but long before husbands and babies.  Then my son asked me when he'd get to see his cousin Zach again, and I had to tell him that he wouldn't see him until next Christmas.  

All of a sudden I felt very far away from my family.

I hate how far away my family lives from me.  I have six brothers and sisters.  (There are 20 years between the oldest and youngest, and we didn't all live together growing up.  We have one of those fabulously complicated modern families.)  So there are seven of us.  We live in Las Vegas, Houston, Canton (Ohio), near Philadelphia, Wilmington (North Carolina), Barcelona, and Boston.  Needless to say, we don't see each other all that often.  The last time all seven of us were together was my wedding - almost 10 years ago.  The last time before that?  Can't remember.  

Whenever I talk to people whose family lives near them, I get insanely jealous.  How fun would it be to be able to have my sisters over for Sunday brunch?  Have my mom over for dinner?  Go to a baseball game with my brother?  Have my sons know their uncles, their cousins?  The funny thing is that when I think about where each of us ended up, it seems obvious that we're all exactly where we should be.  (With the possible exception of my older sister in Ohio - she's a California girl at heart.)  

The distance was easier to handle when we were younger.  Our dad drew us together at holidays at least.  Now that he's gone, we don't have that pull.  My mom and two of my sisters have all been together for Christmas almost every year since then.  However, our growing families are now making that difficult as well.  Even talking on the phone regularly requires some planning due to time differences and little kid schedules.  Facebook helps us connect, but it will never replace an actual conversation.

Oh, I'm rambling.  I'm sorry.  I think I've forgotten why I started writing this.   Perhaps to say something profound about the changing phases of life and the special bonds of sisters.  But then if you have a sister, you already know.  

I don't know.

I guess I just miss my family.

First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

First Aid Kit is a duo comprised of sisters, Johanna and Klara, from Stockholm.  They just released a new album, entitled The Lion's Roar.  They have a cool folksy vibe, and if you like beautiful voices and harmonies, then give them a listen.  I've been singing "Emmylou" all week.

January 25, 2012

Grapefruit, Calluses, and Beauty

photo credit:  Alicia Bock

It's going to be pretty quiet on the blog this week, but I did want to take a few minutes to document a few beautiful things.  I'll be back soon.

1.  I had forgotten how much I like grapefruit.  I picked up a few and have been having a half of a ruby red grapefruit each morning for breakfast.  Such a sweet and juicy way to start the day.

2.  I've kept my resolution so far, and the tips of my fingers on my left hand are hard and callused as a result.  I actually like carrying that reminder around with me every day.  

3.  My five-year-old commented about one of his friends.  "She's beautiful", he said.  It is the first time I've heard him apply this word to someone, so I asked him why he thinks she's beautiful.  (Which she is - she's an adorable little girl who has already claimed that she's going to marry my son.)  He responded:  "She's silly and she makes me laugh."  Isn't that the best answer ever?  

January 20, 2012

Now That's More Like It...

It finally looks like Winter.  We're supposed to get a couple more inches tonight, too.  Funny how the lack of snow this year has made me long for it.  I know I will be ready for warmer weather in a couple months, but I really do appreciate the seasons.  Winter is beautiful - the colors of brown, white, gray, and blue taking the lead.  The clean palette somehow in sync with the clean slate that comes with the start of the new year.  The cold, quiet days allow more time for reflection, snuggling, and baking.

Let's not forget playing.  Playing outside in the cold is not much fun...without snow, that is.  With snow, it's tremendous fun!  I expect to do some sledding tomorrow, and more skiing on Sunday.  Wheee!

They're calling for rain on Monday.  Bleh.  Before it comes, I'm going to appreciate the heck out of this pretty white weekend.

January 19, 2012


photo credit:  Alela Diane (Twitter)

As I mentioned, I've generally stopped doing resolutions.  I'm always looking for ways to improve.  To add more joy into my life.  To express gratitude for everything I have.  To spend time doing the things I love.  To learn.  To be kind to others.  

When Gabrielle from Design Mom asked me to participate in one of her 'Design Mom Asks' posts, I was happy to oblige.  The prompt she provided was this:  It’s a few weeks into the New Year, and my million and one resolutions have been whittled down to…

I was able to come up with one specific goal for the year.  Go over to Design Mom to see how I responded.

Battling Grumpiness...

Is this week really a short one?  It sure doesn't feel like it.  In general, I've been liking January's vibe this year.  The optimism that comes with the start of the new year has kept its momentum.  On the weekends, that is.  My weekdays are still filled with more stress and grumpiness than I'd care to admit.  This week has more stress, but I'm battling the grumpiness with all I've got.  I've been exercising, drinking more water, dancing with my boys, making plans, and playing guitar.  I must say...it's working.

I've also continued to seek and find lots of inspiration in my blog reader, and I thought I'd share a few posts I've enjoyed reading recently...

You really have to check out the latest home tour on Stephmodo.  It's fabulous.

I love the way this girl writes.  This post is a great one.   

The Alabama Shakes' debut album arrives in April.  Listening to them makes me smile.  I love watching and listening to people who so obviously love making music.

A beautiful letter written by Ansel Adams to his best friend.

Another guest post is up over at Lou, Boos, and Shoes.  This time by the wonderful Tania Kindersley, whose own blog, 'Backwards in High Heels', is another of my favorites.  

January 18, 2012

Morning Snow, Broom Guitars, and Kindergarten

image via pinterest

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. I woke up yesterday and saw a beautiful winter wonderland out my window.  Just an inch or two of snow covering everything.  Not enough to require a shovel, but enough to make everything look magical and peaceful.  It didn't last long, though...it turned to rain and washed away by the end of the day.  Tease.

2.  My little one really wants a guitar.  If only he hadn't smashed the one we got for his older brother a year ago.  Maybe he'll be a rock star, and he was just practicing his guitar smashing for the future.  In the absence of his own guitar, he's been using all sorts of stand-ins around the house.  Most recently, the broom.  "Playing" and singing 'Old MacDonald' at the top of his lungs.  I love watching this, because it means my guitar playing is having an influence.  Maybe he really will want to play guitar.  His birthday is in July...but if we get him his own, I wonder if he'll smash that one too.  I guess we'll find out.

3.  I filled out Kindergarten registration forms this week.  I got a little misty, but I'm mostly so excited to start the next phase with my kids.

Kitchen Inspiration and House Update

Good news!  We met with our new contractor yesterday, and we are getting started with the big Renovation 2012.  The first couple months are filled with the boring steps of contracts, schedules, permits, and historical district approvals; but that's okay - I'm just so excited to start!

I continue to save pretty pictures of kitchens, like the one above, for inspiration.  I'm also trying to shift gears a little by focusing on the decisions we need to make for our own house.  We're remodeling an existing space, and we have a budget, so of course it comes with some limitations.  That said, I want it to be a happy and comfortable space that reflects our own style. 

Once we reach the demolition phase (I might have to take the day off so I can take a sledgehammer to my current kitchen walls), I'll be sure to post some of the work-in-progress and decisions we make along the way.  Can't wait!

January 17, 2012

Weekend Recap

Hi!  I'm back from a long weekend, and I actually got some decent sleep and feel somewhat refreshed.  Woo!  A few highlights:

*We received a big package on Saturday.  It was promptly colored and turned into a train.  We got another big box, the two were put together, windows were cut, and a house was built.  The boys covered it with blankets, took flashlights inside, and played.  The magic of a big cardboard box never ceases to amaze me.
*We watched "Moneyball".  I really enjoyed it, and I thought Brad Pitt was great.  I love baseball and find the sport really fascinating, though.  I'm not sure that the movie would capture the interest of someone who doesn't love the game.
*Skiing!  My big boy and I spent Sunday on the slopes.  It really clicked for him, and he wanted to go down by himself over and over and over again.  I had to drag him away, which is awesome.  I'm thrilled that he's having fun with it. 
*After skiing, we played board games in front of the fire, and then we watched a movie.  A very nice way to spend an evening.

My goals for this week:
1.  Exercise.  I want to get two yoga sessions and two sculpting/cardio sessions in.  Can I do it? 
2.  Guitar.  So far I've kept my resolution to pick up the guitar every day.  As a result, my little one walked around yesterday afternoon using a broom as a guitar and singing.  It's good stuff.  I'm going to keep it going.
3.  Plan a girl's getaway weekend with a good friend of mine. 
4.  Start researching flights for our next family trip.
5.  Buy new jeans.  I have two pairs and both of them developed holes in the knees over the weekend. 

January 13, 2012

Looking Forward to the Weekend...

Phew has it been a week!  Work is at full tilt, and my boys have not been sleeping well, which of course means I have not been sleeping well.  And my patience dwindles so rapidly when I'm tired.  This morning, my son asked me, very timidly, "Mom, did you get a good night's sleep?"  The sub-text being, of course, "Will you be more patient with me tonight?"  I'm still weary, but I will try my best to start the weekend off on a positive and happy note.

As an aside, the other night at dinner my son got a pensive look on his face.  I asked him what he was thinking about.  His response?  "I don't need to tell you everything, Mom."  That was like a little jolt to my heart.  My baby is growing up.

I am looking forward to a quiet weekend, full of relaxation, peace, and skiing.  Can I just say one more time that I wish it would snow?  All this cold and windy rain is pretty miserable.  Mother Nature usually saves that lovely weather for April.  Are we going to get a foot of snow for Easter this year to make up for it?  Don't answer that.  Back to the weekend...

photo credit:  Cara at Hide & Seek

January 12, 2012


Listening to:

Caitlin Rose - Own Side Now Since receiving a new guitar for Christmas, I find myself especially drawn to guitar music.  I've been playing and singing 'Own Side' a lot lately.
Bryan John Appleby - Fire on the Vine -  This is simply gorgeous music.
The Barr Brothers - The Barr Brothers - Folk, Rock, Singer/Songwriter, even a little Blues...I love bands that are hard to classify.  I am having fun getting to know this Canadian band.
The Black Keys - El Camino - This continues to be our nightly after-dinner dance music.  And our commute to school music.  And our "hurt my knee and need to cheer up" music.  In other words, my boys LOVE this album.

The Descendants - We went to see this over the holidays.  It was definitely sadder than I expected, but I thought it was wonderful.  Not an exciting movie, but a beautiful and moving one.  Highly recommend.
Contagion - This was pretty good.  The cast was phenomenal - I can't believe how many A-listers are in it - and it was engaging.  There was almost too much going on to really connect with any of the characters in any depth, but I enjoyed it.

Sebastian Barry - I discovered Sebastian Barry a couple months ago, and I started with On Canaan's Side.  His writing is exquisite.  It's so beautiful, and it drew me right in.  That said, when I finished the book I realized that I didn't really care about the main character very much.  She seemed to let life happen to her, and then she reflected on it.   The Secret Scripture and A Long Long Way, on the other hand, I enjoyed immensely.  All of Barry's novels are either based in Ireland or at least start there, and I enjoyed learning a little about Irish history along the way as well.  But mostly, I just love his words.
By Nightfall - I loved The Hours, so I decided to read the latest by Michael Cunningham.  I am about halfway through it so far, and I think we've covered about twelve hours.  Amazing how he can keep me interested while talking through the specifics of someone's day.  I'm liking it so far, but I'm anxious to get to the climactic event.  If there is one, what will it be?  If there isn't, then why am I reading this?

What are you listening to/watching/reading lately?

January 11, 2012

Holiday Cards, Skiing, and Beating Smart People

1.  The stack of Holiday cards in a bowl on my dining room buffet.  I don't want to put them away just yet.  I look at it and think of far-away family and friends.  It's like a little bowl of love, and it reminds me to send notes in the mail more often.

2.  Skiing!  I am so excited to get back on the mountain.  I don't think I realized how much I missed it until I got to do it again.  Now that my oldest son is learning, I'm excited for us all to get to the slopes more often.  Now if only it would snow!

3.  Beating my mom at Scrabble and my oldest brother at Words With Friends.  These are two of the best puzzlemasters I know, so I feel pretty proud.  (It didn't last long, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.)

January 10, 2012

Meyer Lemon Bars

photo by Stephanie at Stephmodo

Oh!  I almost forgot about dessert! 

I picked up a box of Meyer lemons at Costco, mostly because they were so pretty and smelled good. I wasn't really sure what I planned to do with them. Then Stephanie at Stephmodo posted about lemon bars.  I love the inspiration I receive from the blogs I follow, and Stephmodo is definitely a great source of all kinds of inspiration!

I made these on Saturday, and they didn't last long.  They are delicious!  Mine didn't turn out quite as pretty as Stephanie's - I'll have to ask her secret, or perhaps it's just her excellent photography skills - but they tasted awesome.  My husband and I kept hitting the pan for more. 

Thankfully, my new year's resolutions do not include a diet of any sort, and I still have quite a few lemons left, so I might be making these again this weekend!

Menu of the Week

I'm determined to get back into a routine of weekly dinner planning.  I know how much better it is when I do this, and yet some weeks I just don't get it done.  Ah well...all we can do is keep trying.  I think all things are like that, aren't they?  Anyway, we had a few things leftover from the holidays that we needed to use up, so I used them as inspiration for this week's menu:  goat cheese, cream cheese, sliced almonds, parsley, scallions, and tomatoes.

Goat Cheese and Roasted Corn Quesadillas, Yellow Rice, Black Beans - To quote my 5-year-old:  "These are my most favorite quesadillas EVER."  My boys always gobble these up, even since I started adding chopped zucchini to them.

Pierogies, Parmesan Tomatoes, Peas, Kielbasa - Tomatoes for me, a little kielbasa for my husband and big boy.  Just pierogies and peas for the little guy, thank you very much. 

Macaroni and Cheese with Butternut Squash, Broccoli - I bought squash at the grocery store without a recipe in mind.  I looked at pasta recipes after the fact (my menu planning needs some work...ideally it should happen before the grocery run!), and I decided on this one.  I didn't have ricotta, so I used cream cheese instead.  Also, a few of the reviews mentioned it turning out rather dry, so I watched it carefully and didn't cook it for nearly as long as the recipe indicated.  I was pleasantly surprised with the results - all three of my boys loved it!  Hooray!

Chunky Vegetarian Chili, Corn Bread - It's always so great when I can pull something out of my freezer.

Almond-Stuffed Chicken, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes - The perfect recipe for this week - it will use up the rest of the almonds and parsley, and my boys love it!

January 9, 2012

Weekend Recap and a Guest Post

It was our first weekend after the holidays, and it felt a bit quiet.  This is not a bad thing.  Time to catch up, clean, run errands, and plan.  We went to the library, watched movies, played games.  My husband and I also opened up the calendar and spent some time talking through the year's events.  There is a lot going on! 

Sunday was a rather big day - I took my five-year-old to his first day of skiing!  I am so incredibly happy to report that it was a success.  We had a great day together, and his enthusiasm and determination really shone through.  I am looking forward to many more days and weekends spent on the slopes.  In fact, I never thought I'd say this, but I now find myself praying for snow! 

Also, I wrote a guest post over at Lou, Boos and Shoes, so go check it out!  Lou asked several of her blogging friends to contribute to her blog this month, in celebration of her blog's 2nd anniversary.  The theme is "a day in the life".  I describe a typical day of mine, although it must be said that with two little kids and a busy job, my days very often veer outside the "typical"!

Happy Monday!

January 5, 2012

A Little Art...

My husband and I typically don't exchange Christmas presents, but for some reason we felt compelled to this year.  Perhaps because we both knew something that the other wanted.  I knew he wanted an iPad, and I was happy to oblige.  It'll be great for the family to have.  But I also wanted to get him something he wouldn't be expecting.

Paul Ferney is an artist currently based in Paris, although his home is San Francisco.  You may know him as the husband of Jordan Ferney (Oh Happy Day) or the brother-in-law of Gabrielle Blair (Design Mom).  I like his style, and I was intrigued when I saw that he was starting to do commission paintings.  I originally thought that a painting would be a nice anniversary present - we'll be celebrating 10 years in September - but Paul plans the commission project around the holidays.  And no way could I hold on to it for nine months!  So Kevin got an extra present under the tree, and really it's a present for me too.

It was so hard to choose a picture, but I love this one of the boys.  I love the water, I love both of them walking forward together, and I love that it reminds me of a happy trip to Maine.  It now sits on our mantle, at least until we decide to move it elsewhere.

Isn't it sweet?  Looking at it makes me smile.

January 4, 2012

2011 Recap

First, let me just say that I am generally not a fan of really long blog posts.  That said, sometimes I just can't help myself.  I thought I'd do a little summary of 2011, so I started looking through my blog.  Then I got a bit carried away.  Then I decided to include a picture for every month.  And that is how a really long post happens.

Here's a little month-by-month view of some of my 2011 highlights.  This was really fun to do, and I love that my blog helps me remember so many of the good things in my life.

January - We played in the snow, saw a crazy movie, and visited friends.

February - More playing in the snow, more movies, and a Civil Wars concert.

March - I cleaned up my blog reader, had an amazing spa weekend with one of my best girlfriends (we need to plan one for this year!), I turned 37, and we visited my family in North Carolina.

April - I hated Spring (April sucks in New England) and made peace with Spring

May - I started to learn to use my camera (and haven't made much progress since!), made a list of fun things to do over the summer, saw Joy Kills Sorrow in concert, and spent an awesome weekend in Maine.

June - We played in the rain, and we visited my family cottages on Lake Ontario.

July - My baby turned 2, good friends came to visit, I made lots of popsicles and ran through sprinklers, went to Walden Pond and walked through a wildlife sanctuary, and took a trip to my university town.  (July was a good month!)

August - We went to the farm, and vacationed in ItalyFlorence, San Gimignano, our villa with an awesome pool, a bonus stay in Paris...

September - We gave Summer its last hurray in Maine, learned more about Pearl Jam, and went on several dates.

October - We visited friends and the Bronx Zoo, saw Crooked Still in concert, picked apples, had fun at the Head of the Charles, dressed up for a costume ball, and went trick-or-treating with the cutest superheroes ever.

November - We spent a nice day in Cambridge and the Museum of Natural History, saw The Wooden Sky in concert, and went to Connecticut for Thanksgiving.

December - We made crafts, watched movies, celebrated my big boy's 5th birthday, baked cookies, went to the Boston Pops, welcomed family, played games, went out to lunch, did some shopping, and tasted delicious chocolate fondue on New Year's Eve.

I also discovered a lot of great music, saw some good movies, and read some memorable books.

Good-bye 2011!


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