February 27, 2013

How I Take Care of Myself

1.  Starting the day with a stretch and a glass of water
2.  Music that makes me sing at the top of my lungs
3.  Burt's Bees chapstick kept in all the right places
4.  A good pair of snow boots
5.  Watching "When Harry Met Sally" every time it comes on
6.  Pinot Noir
7.  Pigeon pose
8.  Music that inspires me to shake my hips
9.  Comfy and warm slippers
10.  Facial oil, body lotion, and a humidifier
11.  Flip-flops and short shorts
12.  Tomato sandwiches in the summertime, apple and cheddar sandwiches in the fall
13.  Calls to my sisters
14.  Tickling my boys
15.  Pushing myself to go out and meet new people, even when my inclination is to stay home
16.  Boot-cut jeans that fit exactly right
17.  Moving my body every day
18.  Visiting new places
19.  Watching summer rainstorms from the front porch
20.  Music that makes my heart smile
21.  Spending time with myself
22.  Cleaning the kitchen - life is easier with clean counters
23.  Practicing my guitar
24.  Assuming positive intent - people are doing the best they can
25.  Being an optimist - it doesn't come naturally to me, but I've gotten pretty good at it
26.  Ten minutes of silence
27.  Kale, sweet potatoes, avocados, watermelon, beans, salmon, and brown rice
28.  Not comparing myself or my life to others - an ongoing practice
29.  Savoring time with my boys
30.  Our new record player, visiting record stores
31.  Striving for patience
32.  Books - lots and lots of books
33.  Attempting crossword puzzles
34.  Hugs and date nights
35.  Expressing gratitude, every day

*Inspired by the brunette bombshell

February 25, 2013

Checking In...

We woke up to a winter wonderland this morning.

I realize I haven't really written very much here lately.  Life is moving along, as fast as ever.  Being at home has somehow made it harder for me to stop and sit down.  It seems ironic, but I feel more than ever that I should always be doing something.  Every day has its list of tasks and chores, I've been able to exercise most days, and of course I get lots of time with my boys.  It's all good, but I do crave alone time, that time to sit and ponder.  I need to go back to my routine of spending some quiet time by myself after the boys go to sleep.  It simply feels good to quiet my mind, and when I'm able to do it, I can focus even better on all that needs to be done.  

I survived Winter break!  I had some activities planned, but I also wanted to allow time for the boys to be bored and play on their own.  Nathan is skilled at keeping himself entertained, but it's something that Aaron still struggles with.  They did pretty well overall, though.  We finally made it back to skiing this weekend, too, which was great.  Nathan is starting to make good progress, and I think he'll pick it up quickly next season.  

Last night I stayed up too late to watch the Oscars of course.  Jennifer Garner was my favorite on the red carpet.  Such a gorgeous vivid color, stunning necklace, and Ben on her arm.  Beautiful.  So now I'm a little tired, but I'm excited to start a new week.  Can you believe it's almost March already?  I'm hoping for a bit more snow and a couple more days of skiing before the Spring rains set in.  The muddy season is not my favorite.

I'm also still getting things here and there for the house.   This week's additions include a new lamp for the living room, and a picture for the entryway.  I've long wanted an Alicia Bock photograph for the house, but it's so hard to decide when they're all so beautiful.  This tree caught my eye, and when I saw the name, I knew it belonged in our house - The Joy Tree.  

So I'm off to start the week.  As always, there is much to be done, but my singular goal is to find a little peace along the way.

February 20, 2013

A Few Things...

The view from my kitchen window.

A few links that caught my eye over the past few days...

I loved this.  When a 7-year-old boy lost one of his lego minifigures, he wrote to the company.  He got an awesome response.

The Atlantic had an interesting article about how we learn to listen and appreciate music.  Hearing music as beautiful is a learned trait.

This teen Jeopardy! contestant is awesome.  Make sure you take a look at his final answer.

This Wall Street Journal article is an interesting read.  It's about the lessons and approaches we can take from the business world and apply to our family life.  I do love the idea of having a weekly family meeting, especially for families that aren't able to sit down at the dinner table together every night.  (via Portland - soon to be Amsterdam - Sunshine)

Another classic post from The Wild and Wily Ways of a Brunette Bombshell.  Entitled How I Take Care of Myself.  Think I may need to write one of my own.

February 19, 2013

Menu of the Week

Roast Chicken, Potatoes, Broccoli
Typical winter weekend dinner.  Makes the house smell so good.

Happy Pasta with Peas and Asparagus
Easy favorite as well.  Added asparagus just for fun.  

Quesadillas, Black Beans, Guacamole
Used leftover chicken to make chicken and cheese quesadillas for Kevin and Aaron.  Cheese/veggie ones for me and the little guy.  Love all the beautiful on-sale avocados!

Corn & Crab Fritters with Guacamole
This was one of the new recipes I tried this week.  The fritters on their own weren't very interesting - they turned out a little dry.  With the guac, however, they were really very good.  Aaron loved it, and the boys cleaned their plates, so hey...I'm not complaining!

Creamy Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup
I liked this soup recipe.  Very simple, easy, and Nathan especially loved it.  Aaron liked it okay, although he mostly just wanted to dip grilled cheese in it.  I don't think he would've eaten much of it on its own.  Great side with a sandwich.  

February 18, 2013

Vacation Week

I finally made snow globes with the boys.  It was a fun way to start off our vacation week.  Meaning they don't have school, not that we're going on vacation.  We went sledding after lunch.  I have several little activities like that planned for the week, but I expect it will be pretty low-key.  I hope the boys have patience and enjoy a relaxing week at home.

February 15, 2013

Bear's Den - Agape

I've had this video on repeat for the past few days.  Bear's Den only has an EP out so far -Agape.  I'm excited to see what they come out with next.  Check them out, and if you like the first song, you can download it free here.  

February 14, 2013

Love Poems...

Here are a few of the greatest love poems ever.  The Shakespeare sonnet was read at our wedding, and it remains a favorite of mine.  

We are celebrating Valentine's Day with lots of cards, hugs, and our new tradition of chocolate-covered strawberries.  I hope you're having a great day and celebrating in your own way as well!


February 13, 2013

Menu of the Week

images from martha stewart, cooking light

I'm sure these posts are not interesting to some people, but my sister always thanks me for posting them.  I also enjoy having them to look back on, when I'm struggling for dinnertime inspiration.  So I will keep them going.  Here's a peek at what we ate last week:

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells, Salad, Crusty Bread
I love stuffed shells.  My kids, however...  Ah well.  I had a bag of homemade shells in the freezer, so we enjoyed these over the weekend.  The boys complained through it.  

Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks, Brown Rice, Broccoli
One of the boys' favorite meals.   Even Nathan, who is not generally a meat-eater, loves these fish sticks.  They both do well with broccoli, and we've been having it a lot lately.

Spicy Chicken Cakes, Roasted Potato Slices with Parmesan, Green Beans
I like these chicken cakes, especially with the horseradish sauce in the recipe.  It's a good old standby, and a way to do something a little different with chicken.

Stir Fry with Tofu, Broccoli, Peppers, and Mushrooms, Brown Rice
I've never done well with stir fry.  I don't know why - I think I always use too much soy sauce and it ends up salty.  I tried to be more careful this time.  I used broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and peppers, as well as tofu.  The boys were not especially fond of it, but I think there's room for improvement here.  I do love stir fry leftovers too.  I'll keep trying...

Sweet Potato Blintzes with Cranberry Sauce, Sauteed Spinach, Roasted Tomatoes
This probably isn't a recipe I will make again, because holy eggs and cheese!  That said, the boys and I loved these.  They are labor-intensive, but I like trying new things every now and then.  It's also good to try new things that I'm confident the boys will like.  I want to encourage them to try something different.  Served with spinach and tomatoes, they made a good and very filling dinner.

smitten kitchen

February 12, 2013

A Few Little House Updates...

A few house updates:

1.  New pillows for our kitchen seating nook.  It is now officially my favorite spot in the house.  Perfect to sit, drink a cup of coffee, read...  Even better than my gorgeous bathtub, because I actually get to use it!
2.  I got this picture for Christmas 2011.  I originally had an idea of doing a collage wall above our bed, but it never happened, and this awesome piece has been sitting in my closet!  It's now on our dresser.  I love it.  I can just hear them saying "Ten more minutes!".  Quite appropriate.  
3.  Another new chair for the living room.  The fabric turned out much cooler than I had expected, but it's growing on me.  It sits low to the ground, and it's really comfortable.  Next up for this spot - a floor lamp.
4.  More new pillows.  These happy pillows definitely brighten up the couch, and add a touch of femininity to it.  

Little by little...

February 11, 2013

Weekend Recap - A Ridiculous Amount of Snow

let's paint!

new masterpieces

the storm began...can you see the boys sledding outside?

The view from the front door on Saturday morning

He could stay out in the snow all day long.

They canceled school on Friday, in anticipation of the start of a big winter storm.  That morning, before the snow began, the boys played outside and rode their bikes on the clear street.  By the afternoon, they were sledding.  The next morning, we woke up to about 30 inches of snow!   Crazy.

I'm a huge fan of a blizzard.  It's a great excuse to stay home, cozy up by the fireplace, and do fun indoor things as the snow swirls around the house.  30 inches is a bit much, but the boys are having a lot of fun playing in it.  My shoulders are sore from shoveling, and I'm okay with that.  We played, shoveled, drank hot chocolate, painted, played games, watched movies, and went outside to play some more.

Sunday was a glorious day.  As the trucks and plows still attempted to clear all the streets, we spent an afternoon at a local sledding hill.  It was a bright and sunny day, and you could tell everyone was so excited to be back outside.  We had a great time, and my calves are going to be a bit sore now too.

School is canceled again today, and there is a light freezing rain falling.  The boys are outside playing, and I have some indoor plans ready to keep us occupied for another day.

School will still be there tomorrow.

February 8, 2013

Sera Cahoone - Every Little Word

I've been playing this song on my guitar every night this week.  It's an easy one that is fun to play and sing.  Sometimes I'll put the video on and play along, pretending I have a banjo playing with me too.  

(Emily - Need some incentive to dust off your guitar?  Here are the chords.)  

February 7, 2013

A Few Things...

There's a storm coming!  It's been a long time since we had a good old-fashioned blizzard, but it looks like we're going to get hit with a good one.  We might get a couple feet of snow!  I see lots of shoveling, sledding, hot chocolate, and movies on our weekend agenda.

I thought I'd share a few things here before heading to the grocery store to stock up...

I'm glad I'm not dead.  This article in the NY Times will make you smile and think of all those perfect moments in life.  It will also make you appreciate the less-than-perfect ones.

I just ordered a new bottle of facial oil.  It is the answer to my winter dry skin, and the smell is divine.  The perfect way to end each day.

The 30 Rock series finale was awesome.  What a fitting end to a silly and great show.

Article on being a happy mom of boys.  I still get the questions.  "Are you sure you're done? You don't want to try for a girl?"  It's insulting.  My family is complete, and I am so happy that the universe blessed me with two gorgeous, healthy boys.  I was meant to be a mother of sons.

Speaking of sons, my six-year-old made his first purchase with his own allowance money.  I think he made a very cool choice...

February 6, 2013

Kitchen Update

We've been slowly making little additions here and there throughout the house.  Making the house a home.  This week's fun item is our new runner for the kitchen.  Really, I love that it's a good excuse to post more pictures of my pretty kitchen here.  But the rug really does add so much to the space that it's worth showing it again.  This area, between the cooktop and the sink, is where I spend a good portion of my time.  Isn't it cute?

February 5, 2013

Menu of the Week

images from Dinner: A Love Story, Smitten Kitchen, and Epicurious

Turkey Burgers, Zucchini Fries
This was a big hit.  The burgers were very flavorful, thanks to the addition of a single tablespoon of barbecue sauce to the ground turkey.  My husband had to ask whether or not they were actually turkey burgers!  Awesome.  And the zucchini fries were good.  Nathan ate all of his, and he even ate all the leftovers with his lunch the next day!

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup, Warm Crusty Bread
I can't remember the specific recipe I used - I'm pretty sure I just looked at a bunch of them and went for it.  They are all very similar.  The keys are to use vegetable broth instead of chicken, grate the carrots, and use good sharp cheddar (don't think adding a bag of already-shredded mild cheddar is going to get you the flavor you want).  It's soooo good, and the boys love it too!  Aaron declared this his favorite soup ever, right after clam chowder and corn, leek, potato chowder.  Oh, and I made this a few weeks ago and froze half of it, so this week I got to pull it out on baseball night.  Hooray!

Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce, Brown Rice, Red Leaf Salad with Carmelized Walnuts,  Cranberries, and Apples
This is a really easy chicken dish.  It needed a little added salt, but it was very good.  Aaron loved it.  Nathan wouldn't eat it, but he's not a meat guy anyway.  I served corn and peas for the boys instead of the salad.  Not sure if this will stay in the regular rotation.  Mostly because it calls for a few tablespoons of mascarpone cheese.  Now I have the rest of the container, and it won't last long - what do I do with it?  (Update:  I had some on my toast this morning, topped with orange marmalade - Yum!)

Sweet Peas & Shells Alfredo, Salad
This is the first recipe I've tried from my other new cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  It's very simple, and it looks just like the Annie's Macaroni & Cheese the boys love so much.  I always serve their mac 'n cheese with peas too, so this really was just a homemade version.  It calls for a little lemon zest as well, which is a nice addition that brightens the flavor up.  Definitely a keeper.

Black Bean and Corn Burritos, Guacamole, Tortilla Chips
This is one of our typical Friday night meals.  Can't go wrong.  

February 4, 2013

Weekend Recap

What a lovely Winter weekend!  A very nice way to welcome February.  We spent most of Saturday skiing and had our best day yet with the boys.  It was especially welcome after last weekend, which was so cold and left both of them crying to go home.  This time, however, Nathan had fun all morning, and was even willing to go back out after lunch!  Aaron could've stayed all day.  He's getting pretty confident, even asking whether or not he should to stop on the way down, because "I'm not sure if you're going to be able to keep up!"  Good stuff.  While I'm having fun watching them learn, my mind can't help but look forward to future family ski trips.  

On Sunday, we had friends over for brunch.  We had a feast!  In addition to our usual Sunday morning pancakes, we had a frittata, bacon, fruit, and mimosas.  The boys had fun playing with their friends, and we had fun eating and catching up.  Sunday afternoon included scrabble (I think Aaron is going to take after his grandma), working on valentine's day cards, and watching the snow lightly falling.  

A few goals for the week:
1.  Finish getting our tax information together.  Bleh.  But it must be done.
2.  Carve out more time for reading.  Now that our week-long binge of Homeland is complete, I'd like to get into my new book.  
3.  Plan another get-together with friends.
4.  Send a few "just touching base" emails
5.  Water, humidifier, and eye cream.  (It is Winter, after all.)

February 1, 2013

The Lone Bellow - You Never Need Nobody

We got our tickets for Newport!  We will be taking the kids to one day of the Newport Folk Festival again this year.  We had such a great time last year, and I'm hoping to make it an annual tradition.  The festival is expanding to three days, and I still think the boys can only handle one while they're so young.  This of course means we are going to miss a ton of great bands, but hey, I'll take what I can get.  

The festival is just starting to release announcements regarding bands in the lineup.  The Lone Bellow will be there.  They are a fun new band I've been getting to know, and I'm now hoping they will be there on Saturday so we get to see them!  In the meantime, I'll enjoy their self-titled debut album.


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