September 27, 2012

The New Year...

source unknown

I'm enjoying my favorite month in New England.  The treetops are turning orange, and the air is clear and crisp.  If you can believe it, though, the renovation is still not complete.  Yes, I do have a kitchen, but I now have nothing in the front half of the house. (issues with the floors, so they are being redone.  again.)  This time of year is my New Year, the time when I feel the urge to clean and simplify and identify goals and prepare for the upcoming holiday season.  It's a wonderful time.  But without full access to my house, I feel like I can't do these things.  I've been trying to focus on getting organized where I can, but I need my house back now!!!  Sigh.  Okay.  Enough.  I just wanted to let you know that the office is one of the rooms I won't be able to use for a bit, so I probably won't have much up on the blog for the next week.   See you soon...

September 26, 2012

San Francisco

golden gate at sunset

Kevin and I had a fun weekend in San Francisco.  We mostly walked, and ate, and walked some more. It was a stroll down memory lane, as we passed by his old apartment, ate lunch at our favorite pizza place, and reminisced about that year when we first began dating.

I do love that city.  I had forgotten how much.  I love the adventure, the excitement of exploring a place for the first time; but it is a different kind of fun to revisit somewhere you already know you love.  It's relaxed.  We didn't feel like we had to do anything touristy or see any particular sights - we had already done them.  Instead, we just enjoyed the time together, away from home and the kids.  A perfect way to celebrate thirteen years together (ten of those married!).  

lombard street

Kevin's old neighborhood - North Beach

a spooky, foggy view of alcatraz

an awesome place to see a game

September 19, 2012

Ten Years, Walnut Pesto, and Spice Drawers

1.  Last week marked the tenth wedding anniversary for me and Kevin.  He came home early with these gorgeous flowers that night.  We plan to celebrate together next weekend in San Francisco - the city where it all began...

2.  Homemade walnut pesto.  I made a big batch of pesto, using up a lot of my basil before it gets cold.  My little guy helped, carefully pouring each ingredient into the blender and pushing the buttons.  It was my first time using walnuts, and I think they might be my new favorite.  Soooo good.

3.  My new spice drawer makes me ridiculously happy.  

September 17, 2012

Transitions and Friends...

I've been very focused on the transitions the boys are going through, adjusting to their new schools.  Now that they seem to be happily settled in, I'm recognizing that I'm going through a transition as well.  Of course I knew this, but I'm able to give it more thought and attention.  I went from working full-time to staying at home full-time.  August simply felt like a nice long vacation, so it's only now that the school year has gotten underway that I really feel the change.

When I go to the school for pick-up, I stand in a large cluster of (mostly) moms, as we wait for the go-ahead to enter.  I've noticed that they all already seem to know each other.  I'm sure their kids went to the same preschools, or they met at a playgroup, or they attended the same music/gymnastics/soccer/fill-in-the-blank class with their kids.  Perhaps they are neighbors.  I do know a few parents of kids in the school, but they are ones who are still at the office during afternoon pick-up.  I've entered an entirely different demographic now, and I feel like I am starting over in so many ways.  Don't get me wrong - This is not a bad thing - It's just a change.

I attended a welcome picnic the week before school started, and thankfully one of my friends was able to attend as well.  During that event, as during the daily pick-up, I am reminded that I suck at meeting new people in group situations.  I loathe the idea of stepping into someone else's conversation, or introducing myself to someone who may be just fine standing alone.  There are a couple other "welcome" events this week, and I'm disappointed I am going to miss them; but at the same time, I'm relieved.  They are so not my thing.

Last week, I crossed paths with another mom walking her son to school.  Her son is in the same grade, and she happens to live about two blocks away from me.  We had never met.  In this situation, I was easily able to introduce myself, and we chatted during the walk to school and the walk back home.  I'll be making that walk every day, so I'm certain our paths will cross again, and I will extend an offer to get coffee after drop-off one day.  One on one.  For me, this is how friendships are made.

September 14, 2012

First Aid Kit - America

Paul Simon was awarded the 2012 Polar Music Prize, which is an international music award.  First Aid Kit performed Simon & Garfunkel's song "America" at the ceremony.  It's beautiful - check it out.

September 13, 2012

Recently Read

You'd think that vacations would be the time when I read the most; however, I almost never find time to read on vacation.  The kids are with us, and when the kids are sleeping, I find myself spending time with my husband and the other friends/family we are visiting.  As a result, I haven't read a ton this Summer.  That said, it is still time for me to share the last few books I've read.  

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green - Holy cow.  I loved this book.  It is unbelievably sad, and I cried big fat tears; so if you don't want to have a good cry, stay away.  However, it is equally joyful and funny and beautiful.  It's a love story.  It's a life story.  It's... Oh you really should read it, even if you don't like sad stories.  It's a really good one. 

The Law of Dreams, by Peter Behrens - This book takes place in Ireland during the Great Hunger of 1847.  It tells the journey of Fergus O'Brien as he travels from Ireland to England and on to America.  It's beautifully written, and I enjoyed it.  It's rough, as you'd expect given the subject, but I was rooting for Fergus the whole way.

The Queen's Gambit, by Walter Tevis - This book tells the story of Beth Harmon, an orphan who discovers a love of chess at eight years old.  She becomes a prodigy and then goes on to excel on the international stage.  A girl playing a man's game.  There is a lot of chess in this book, so it's best to have some sort of appreciation for it.  I barely remember how to play chess, and yet I was fascinated.  It moves quickly and entertains, but at the end I was a little let down.  I wanted to like Beth more than I did, and I wanted more for her.  She's very socially awkward, and I wanted her to grow a bit more before the book ended.

September 12, 2012

School, September Mornings, and Going Out on a School Night

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Nathan won't stop talking about how much fun he had at school and how he can't wait to go back.  "They have a van and a truck there, Mom!  And a fire truck in the playground!"  Love.

2.  Is there anything better than a beautiful day in September?  Crisp mornings, clear blue skies, sunny afternoons, cool evenings.  Perfection.

3.  My sister-in-law had baseball tickets, so Kevin and I found a babysitter and went out on a Tuesday night.  This is unprecedented.  I honestly can't remember the last time we went out during the week.  The kids were great, and we had an awesome night at Fenway.  My beloved Red Sox are in last place, so I wasn't expecting much of a game, but we managed to beat the dreaded Yankees in the bottom of the ninth inning.  Fun!

My New Kitchen!

After seven years of dreaming and planning, I'm proud to present my new and fabulous kitchen!  Isn't she pretty?  

It's not 100% done yet either.  As you can see, we are missing a few stools in front of the island.  We're still trying to decide.  I may post a couple we've been debating to ask for input.  It's on the back-burner at the moment.  

A few notes about some of the decisions we made along the way:

*We wrestled with the decision over whether to install a hood vent or to use a downdraft vent that comes up out of the island.  Obviously we chose the hood, and I'm very thankful we did.  It's quiet, works well, and isn't nearly as obstructive as I originally thought it would be.  Yay!
*The top of the double-oven is actually a combination microwave/convection oven.  So I not only got the microwave off the countertop, but I got the double-oven I wanted too!  Awesome.  
*I love having glass-front cabinets.  We only have a couple upper cabinets, but it's so nice being able to see where the glasses are.
*The countertop is actually granite, although it looks like soapstone.  Another great find.  It is exactly the look I wanted without the maintenance of soapstone.

*I did already have the Pelegrino, but I put a couple bottles on the counter just to take pictures.  Although I swore I'd have a bowl of lemons on display, I didn't have the patience for that.  A bowl of tomatoes had to suffice.

Here are a couple other pictures as well as the before shots.  Be forewarned...they are ugly.  

I almost hate to post such ugliness, but it's fun to see how far we've come...

September 11, 2012

The Avett Brothers - The Once and Future Carpenter

The Avett Brothers' new album - The Carpenter - is out today!

Bathroom - Before and After

Isn't it pretty?

There is something not-quite-done with every room in the house, but I just can't wait any longer.  This is our new downstairs bathroom.  It is still missing a shutter for the window, so just try to imagine it, okay?  I'll update the post once it is complete, hopefully in the next week.

I love it.  The gray color is perfect, and the wood vanity and floors warm it up.  I'm really happy with how this room came together.  

The before shot...

September 10, 2012

Family Room - Before and After

Ta-da!  Take a peek at our new family room.  We don't have a thing on the walls yet, and I can't show you the other side of the room until we fill the bookshelves next to the gas stove.  Oh, it's going to come together when we do that.  (Can't do it until they redo the floors in the front part of the house, because the dust is going to fly.  Again.  This will be the third time they've done those floors.  Really.  I can't even talk about it.  But once it's done and we can fully move in, it's going to be so nice.)

Before (as a playroom, obviously):  much smaller space, broken windows, enormous brick hearth that took up most of the room, and freezing cold.

New Beginnings and Nesting...

I feel so removed from my blogging routine that I find it difficult to know how to jump back in.  But I guess the best place to start is just to share what's been on my mind.  Starting is the hardest part.  So here goes...

The boys have both started at their new schools.  Today was the first day for the little guy, and he faced it in his typical fearless fashion.  Once he met his teachers and assessed the new space, he was good to go.  He gave me a hug, told me to have a good morning, and said good-bye.  My kindergartener is settled into his new school now as well, and I feel like I can exhale again.  Changes can be difficult, but they do reveal so much of our character.  I'm thrilled that I get to be here to spend more time with the boys as they are going through these new beginnings.  
photo by Alicia Bock

Meanwhile, I am enjoying what feels like my first few moments of quiet in a long time.  I remain focused on turning this house into a home.  Our donations boxes are overflowing, as I pare down during the unpacking process.  I want simple, clean, neat, organized.  Only keeping the things we really love and use.  No, the work is not yet complete, but I will share more pictures this week - I just can't wait any longer!

I'm also looking forward to the upcoming season.  September is my favorite month, and I am always determined to fully appreciate the beauty of this time of year.  The mornings and evenings are getting cooler, we are enjoying the early apple harvest, and I feel the days getting slightly shorter with every sunset.  I am confident that the house work will one day be done and that we will all be able to get into our groove.  I'm looking forward to it all...

The new guest bedroom/playroom

September 4, 2012

A Few Thoughts...

Just a few updates and things that are on my mind...

*We had a fabulous weekend in Maine.  A long, full day at the beach on Saturday, with nothing but sunshine.  And then a cloudy and cool Sunday, which was just as awesome.  We went out to eat, took a long walk along the water, swam in the indoor pool, and generally played together.  All good stuff.

*I miss blogging.  I've been pretty disconnected from the blog world lately, and I miss it.  I miss the process of organizing my thoughts and then coming up with a way of presenting them here.  I also miss keeping up with my reader and connecting with my blog friends.  I'll get back into a rhythm soon, I hope.

*The house is still a mess.  Frustration and stress are still running high, I'm afraid.  In an effort to focus on the positives, I started doing some cleaning and organizing today in the spaces where that's possible. Oh, how I do love my pantry!  

*Aaron's second week of kindergarten is underway.  He is still getting used to things, but he's having fun and meeting friends.  Nathan starts his new school next week, so we'll have more transitioning to do. 

*Did I mention that our little garden finally started producing?  We wrapped it with netting to keep out the pesky deer and managed to save the tomatoes.  We have been getting about a pint or two every day for the last month!  Really fun.  I only got one zucchini, about five puny little peppers, and one butternut squash that I keep hoping will get bigger, but those tomatoes did great.  We'll see how we can do next year.

*I have the most amazing little boys.  They can drive me absolutely mad; but even at those times, I am still able to recognize how awesome they are.  Gorgeous, fabulous boys.  

*I have been so focused on the house that I haven't been able to prepare for the upcoming season.  Fall!  Oh how I adore Fall.  We booked tickets to go to San Francisco to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, but we don't have dinner reservations or baseball tickets yet.  Our good friends are supposed to be coming to visit next month, but we haven't confirmed a weekend.  I also just realized that Aaron's passport expires in November, so if we want to go to Barcelona for New Year's (which we do!), then we will have to take care of that.  There is so much to do!  Life is beautiful and good.

Beautiful, even on a cloudy day


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