March 30, 2012

Black Pistol Fire

Black Pistol Fire was one of the bands who performed at last weekend's wedding in Houston.  They are originally from Toronto but are now based in Austin.  They make a lot of noise for two people, and their energy was a ton of fun to witness.  They're similar to The Black Keys (a comparison that must get old for them but is nonetheless accurate and should be flattering).  We had a lot of fun watching them play, especially being able to stand two feet away.  Definitely check them out!

March 28, 2012

Birthday Presents, Lobster, and Live Music

1.  I received some lovely birthday presents:  a sweet necklace, a knit pillow for my bed, a new perfume... and I love them all.  But my favorite wasn't really a birthday present at all.  That night, long after bedtime, Aaron called me upstairs.  When I walked up, he met me at the top of the stairs and handed me a stack of folded kitchen towels.  I had left a laundry basket full of clean clothes in his room.  He folded all of it and put everything away by himself.  "I even snuck into Nathan's room and put his clothes away too," he told me.  I gave him a hug, told him how awesome he is, tucked him in bed, and smiled the rest of the night. 

2.  I went out to lunch, and I enjoyed a Lobster BLT.  Wow it was good.  Fun conversation with a work friend who I hadn't seen in 15 years was pretty awesome too. 

3.  Live music is truly good for my soul.  Listening to great music, sitting in the sunshine, a good beer in my hand, surrounded by friends?  Doesn't get much better than that.

March 27, 2012


Here I am, in all my 5(?)-year-old glory. 

I turned 38 yesterday.  As my aunt put it, "it's just some silly little number".  The number itself definitely loses significance as you get older.  Turning 10 was exciting, wasn't it?  13, 16, many milestones in childhood.  After  It's just a number.  Even 30 felt anti-climactic. 

I do enjoy birthdays, though.  My birthday was a Monday this year (bleh).  It was a cold, blustery Monday, and I had to work (double bleh).  But I started the day with hugs and "happy birthdays" from my three favorite boys.  I walked downstairs to see the flowers on the table, I put a little new perfume on my wrist, and I opened cards.  I received several phone calls and even more emails throughout the day.

Then the Facebook messages began.  In this age of social networking, it's easy to reach out and wish a happy birthday to someone that you may not see very often.  As the recipient, it's nice to know that you're being thought of.  Family, friends, neighbors....all shouting a little "happy birthday" in my direction.  It's nice. 

38 isn't that different from 37 - not at all, really.  It's only slightly different from 28.  I'm a little more tired, and my knees ache a bit more, but nothing really to complain about.  It makes me optimistic about 48.

March 26, 2012

Weekend Recap

It was a whirlwind of a weekend.  We took Friday off and headed to Houston.  The kids enjoyed a weekend at home with Grandma and Aunt Amber, and we enjoyed a couple days in Texas.  Flying without kids seems so strange to me now.  I rested my eyes, I finished a book. 

I had never been to Houston before, and I can't really say that I saw much of it.  We enjoyed an awesome tex-mex dinner with my brother and his family.  It had been about 9 years since I saw my nephews - they were toddlers when I last saw them, and they're teenagers now.  It was so much fun getting to know them just a little bit.  They're such a beautiful family. 

On Saturday, Kevin and I attended the coolest. wedding. ever.  The wedding took place in the couple's backyard.  It was a beautiful ceremony, led by one of the groom's best friends and officiated by the bride's brother.  Afterwards, the chairs were brought to the front yard, where the first of three food trucks arrived.  After lunch, the first of three bands started to play.  The festivities went on all day, in typical music festival fashion.  There was good food, good beer, sunshine, kids running around everywhere, and excellent music.

Then back home on Sunday to get hugs from my boys.  Whew! 

March 21, 2012

Sunny Days, Green Trees, and Swings

photo credit:  Alicia Bock

1.  I really did miss the snow this Winter, but I'm not going to complain about the warm and sunny March we're having.  (I may, however, complain about the incredible whiteness of my legs as I wore shorts for the first time.  Is bathing suit season on its way already?)

2.  The warm weather is hastening the growth of flowers, leaves, and grass.  Daffodils are blooming in places.  The grass is getting greener, and the trees are starting to sprout leaves.  

3.  Swinging on a tire swing with my little guy.  Listening to his squeals of laughter.  Enjoying the sunshine.  One of life's little pleasures for sure.

March 20, 2012

Express Yourself...

A friend of mine told me that she liked visiting my blog, because I write exactly as I speak.  When she reads a post, she feels like I am just talking to her.  I thought that was a nice thing to say.  I try to remind myself of that, because I often wish I had the talent of being able to express myself in a more eloquent or creative way.  I read quite a few blogs, and there are some wonderful writers out there.  I find myself longing to be able to craft sentences and posts the way they can.  I read posts and think "Yes!  That's exactly what I was trying to say!"  I just wish I could've figured out a more articulate way to say it. 

Some bloggers focus on their ability to take gorgeous pictures, and they express themselves more via images than words.  Others share their sense of humor, and their ability to make their readers laugh.  Still others share their talents with creative DIY projects, or tutorials, or recipes.  Oh my goodness those bloggers that can take pictures of food that make my mouth water.  Somebody will have to fill me in on how to do that someday. 

Eventually, though, I come back to the reason why I write this blog.  It's for me.  I don't do it to entertain others or to attract a large readership, although I freely admit that I love the connections I've made and do have fun knowing that there are a few people out there who read this little blog of mine.  It is much more motivating, knowing that somebody will read what I'm writing.  The interesting observation is that the more I focus on what's interesting and important to me, the more my words do seem to capture an audience. 

So I will continue to do just that.  I will document some of life's little details that I'd like to remember, express gratitude, share recipes, recommend books and movies and music, and subject readers to my random musings.  All I can be is who I am.

March 19, 2012

Weekend Recap

We started the weekend with a rather cold and dark Saturday, although nobody complained.  We spent time at the library, filled the house with the smells of banana bread and then a roast chicken, ran around outside to fill our lungs with fresh air, ran back inside to warm up, and I didn't feel guilty at all about watching some basketball. 

That said, I was so happy that Sunday was very different - sunny and almost ridiculously warm.  We took the boys to a playground in the next town over - one that we often pass and admire but had not yet visited.  They had a blast exploring the new space - so many slides!  After a couple hours, we decided to eat lunch out, choosing a restaurant with outdoor seating so we could stay in the fresh air.  Nobody wanted to go inside.  It was that kind of day. 

At the end of the day, when everybody was finally ready to go back inside, we hunkered down in the living room, amidst the toys and the boxes and the puzzles and the books (seriously - it is a mess!) to watch my Tar Heels play basketball.  I prepared a snack tray, and we enjoyed a picnic dinner.  We ate, and played, and watched.  What a nice way to end a lovely weekend.

March 16, 2012

Tan Vampires - Digital Rot

An acoustic song by Tan Vampires for your Friday. This song is from their latest album, For Physical Fitness.  Hooray for the weekend!

March 15, 2012

The Art of Fielding - Chad Harbach

I recently finished reading The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach.  I loved it.  It's a book about baseball, set on a college campus in northern Wisconsin.  I love a lot of baseball books, especially the ones that portray the beauty in the sport.  An excerpt:

“You loved it, because you considered it an art: an apparently pointless affair, undertaken by people with a special aptitude, which sidestepped attempts to paraphrase its value yet somehow seemed to communicate something true or even crucial about the Human Condition. The Human Condition being, basically, that we’re alive and have access to beauty, can even erratically create it, but will someday be dead and will not.”

It's not only about baseball, though.  The main character, Henry Skrimshander, is a baseball prodigy discovered by Mike Schwartz, who brings him to Westish and becomes his mentor/trainer.  He becomes a great player, a gifted shortstop who ties the record for the most errorless games, but early in the book, something goes wrong.  An event occurs that causes Henry to lose his confidence and he struggles to play the game.  It's about his journey, but it's also about the other characters that this event brings together - Mike Schwartz, Owen Dunne (his gay roommate), Guert Affenlight (the college president who's in love with Owen), and Pella Affenlight (Guert's daughter).  It's about the relationship between Henry and the game, but also about the relationships between these people.  It's about male friendship, the relationship between a father and a daughter, true love, convenient love, and coming to terms with oneself.

Harbach creates a beautiful setting, and he injects the story with a lot of literary references that make it all the more worthwhile.  It's an entertaining read, and one that I very much enjoyed. 

March 14, 2012

Yummy Boy, Surprise Phone Calls, and Playing Outside

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  I tickle and snuggle with Nathan, and I tell him how yummy he is.  "I'm not food, Mom," he replies.  Oh, but he is still so yummy.

2.  My phone rang one evening, and I answered (I don't always).  It was my brother.  "I have absolutely no reason for calling," he said.  What a nice surprise. 

3. An unseasonably warm day, and an extra hour of sunlight.  It enabled us to stay outside late, eat dinner, and go back outside after dinner to play some more.

The Most Astounding Fact...

I adore Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Every time I hear him speak, I am inspired.  I want to read non-fiction and learn things.  I want to pull out my worn copy of Cosmos and stare at the night sky and dream.  I loved this short interview, especially his comments about parenting and his answer to the "most astounding fact about the universe", which also inspired this other video

photo by Felicia R. Lee, via the NY Times

March 13, 2012

Menu of the Week

Every now and then I like to mix things up and try new things for our weekly meals.  I especially like finding new recipes that are easy enough to make on a weeknight.  The new site The Everygirl featured a weekly menu that contained some great, easy, and inexpensive recipes, and I decided to give some of them a try.  Here's a look at what we ate last week:

Black Bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas, Yellow Rice - This is an alternate veggie enchilada recipe that I keep.  It uses zucchini instead of spinach, which makes it a tad more kid-friendly.  At least that's what I thought.  The boys still weren't really huge fans, although they did okay.  I love that it makes enough to freeze half, so I have another dinner ready to go.

Lettuce Wraps, Peanut Noodles - This meal is awesome.  I didn't even care that the boys hated it, because I loved it.  Makes great leftovers too - an easy lunch to pack and bring to work.  Seriously....yum!

Maple-Mustard Salmon, Brown Rice, Roasted Asparagus - I mixed in an old standby so the boys wouldn't revolt.  I also discovered that Nathan will eat asparagus, as long as it's left whole and he can use his hands. Fine by me.

Feta Meatballs, Orzo - These are great too.  The orzo was okay, but I really liked the meatballs.  Note:  If you make them small as directed, they don't need 20 minutes in the oven.  I baked mine for 10 and they were done.  Also take care not to overdo the onions.

Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Pasta - As expected, the boys picked out the tomatoes, but they ate and enjoyed the pasta and zucchini.  I liked it, and it was a super easy dish, but I think I prefer asparagus and peas and other veggies over roasted tomatoes with a goat cheese sauce.

And for a weekend snack, I finally tried these homemade granola bars.  Like the original recipe, I added shredded coconut, but I liked cutting them into bars.  These are ridiculously easy and really good.  They remind me of these peanut-butter/coconut balls my mom used to make when I was little.  Everybody liked them, but I'm not sure they'll get made much.  The schools are all peanut-free these days; and I'm sorry for all those out there who suffer from nut allergies, but soy or sun butter is just so not the same.  I am now on the hunt for a granola bar recipe without peanut butter.  I'll keep you posted.

photo via farmhouse

March 12, 2012

Weekend Recap

We started off the weekend in such a fun way.  Our community farm had their annual "Maple Magic" event, which included a pancake breakfast, with their own maple syrup and raspberries.  It also included tours of the farm, where they explained the sugaring process, let us go inside the sugar shack, talked about how the process has changed since the colonial times.  It was all very cool.  We also got to do our usual running around and looking at the animals.  The big mama pig just had eight babies last week, and oh my are they cute.  It was a chilly and windy morning, so the boys were ready to get inside as soon as we got home.  What a great way to start a Saturday, though.  

The rest of the weekend continued to be pretty quiet.  We watched some basketball (Go Heels!), got the boys haircuts, played games, and played outside a lot.  Sunday was a beautiful day, and it inspired us to start the yard clean-up, raking and clearing spaces for the tulips and daffodils to poke through.  They are already on their way.  I want to figure out how to grow more this year.  Maybe I really should talk to my neighbor about combining our gardening efforts...

We're supposed to see more freakishly warm weather this week, and I am so okay with this.  Maybe Spring won't be as gloomy and cold as it usually is.  Maybe we'll skip right over that part and move on to the sunny and flower-filled days.  

I've been extremely tired lately, finding it hard to focus and feeling overall not quite right.  I'm not sick, and I've been exercising and eating well, so I can only chalk it up to getting not quite enough sleep.  I blame the really good book I'm currently reading, as well as the two-year-old who insists on running into my bedroom in the middle of the night.  I just have to give him a hug and put him back in bed, but it still results in interrupted sleep for me.  I think my sleep deficit is adding up.  My goal for this week is to get enough sleep so I can be productive and fully appreciate these beautiful days.

March 6, 2012

Weekend Recap and Quiet

The weekend was only 'eh'.  Weekends are always a great break from the weekday routine, but sometimes that's all they are.  This one had the usual bright spots, like a visit to the library, playing games, cooking, and attending a birthday party with the boys.  It did not include the balance of doing things in other aspects of life, though - getting things done around the house, seeing friends...  And it also had the unfortunate bonus of a little trip to the hospital emergency room.  On Saturday night, my little boy slipped in the shower and fell back onto the marble floor, resulting in a pretty deep gash on the back of his head.  He's fine, thank goodness, but spending a few hours at the hospital on a Saturday night is not exactly what I would've wanted.

I think it's going to be a quiet week on the blog.  It feels so repetitious to say, but I'm tired.  I am sure my energy and inspiration will return soon.  I'm going to focus on getting to bed earlier and getting some exercise.  That always helps.  We're also entering my least favorite season.  The cold and wet Spring months can be difficult in New England.  But the I do feel the days getting longer, and the flowers will arrive soon.  Just yesterday, Aaron pointed out the swans in the lake - they've returned, in all their majestic splendor.  

In the meantime, we do have fun plans coming up, and the house renovation is slowly getting underway.  Little by little...  So it may be quiet here for a bit, but I'll be back before the daffodils arrive.

March 2, 2012

The Punch Brothers

This made me smile.  Bach's Brandenburg Concertos are my favorite classical pieces of all time, and this is such a fun and unique version of Concerto No. 3.

The Punch Brothers have a new album out, entitled Who's Feeling Young Now?.  If you feel like you need more mandolin and banjo in your life (and really, who couldn't use a little more banjo?), you should check it out.

March 1, 2012

Neko Case House Tour

all photos by Bjorn Wallander via Country Living

I am a fan of Neko Case's music.  She was gifted with a truly magnificent voice.  Now that I know she owns a 1787 Vermont farmhouse, I love her even more.  Her style may be a touch more eclectic than mine, and she may like purple a bit more, but I really enjoyed looking at a tour of her farmhouse in Country Living.  I especially adore the piano in the kitchen, the beams in the kitchen, the hallway library, and that beautiful garden.  


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