June 28, 2013

Kurt Vile - Waking on a Pretty Day

I think perhaps a lot of people won't like Kurt Vile.  His songs can be long (this particular one is over 9 minutes!) and super chill.  But they're so so good.  Super chill is a really good thing sometimes.  I love his guitar, his lyrics, and his voice never tries too hard.  Put this album on when you're hanging out on a summer afternoon - I promise you won't regret it.

image via village voice

June 26, 2013

Menu of the Week

pictures from Martha Stewart, Real Simple, and Cooking Light (links below)

Yogurt-Basil Chicken Kebabs, Feta-Rosemary Potatoes, Salad
Okay, I must confess:  This is the recipe I had planned on making, but I ended up buying some already-marinated chicken from Whole Foods.  I got lazy.  But we've had those yogurt-basil kebabs before and they are awesome.  Those feta-rosemary potatoes are still my most favorite potato recipe ever.  

Grilled Portobello Quesadillas, Corn and Avocado Salad
This is a new one - ridiculously super easy and a slightly different twist on our usual quesadilla meal.  The corn and avocado salad is also easy as pie and so, so good.  

Spring Risotto
Hallelujah!  Despite my love of it, I haven't had risotto in years, because my boys have always hated it. Something about the texture just didn't sit well with them.  But I decided it was time to give it another shot - if only because I've had this recipe in my binder for forever and hadn't ever tried it.  Also because asparagus season is coming to an end.  And lo! They loved it!  I think the little addition of cream cheese is the key.  Edamame and asparagus also happen to be two foods they don't put up a fuss over.  Yay!  This is definitely a keeper.

Grilled Sea Scallops, Rice, Sauteed Kale, Corn on the Cob
We had never cooked scallops on the grill before, but we certainly will again.  It's just as easy, and the house doesn't stink.  I also must note that this kale recipe continues to be my absolute favorite.  It tasted even better because the kale came from my own garden!  There's something so satisfying about picking your dinner from the yard and bringing it in to cook.  

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder, Whole-Wheat Baguette
Moving from spring to summer recipes.  This is a good summer chowder recipe that can be made ahead, the boys like, and fills us with veggies.  

June 24, 2013

Weekend Recap and the Start of Summer Vacation

Summer!  School officially ends on Tuesday, which seems so late - isn't Summer already half over?  No?  Okay good!  This weekend, we visited the boys' day camp that they will be attending for a few weeks next month.  I'm excited for them, and both my husband and I wished we could go too!  I'm most excited for them to get daily swim lessons.  Swimming feels like the next big hurdle.  

We also attended a ice cream festival on Saturday afternoon, enjoying four servings of ice cream from local ice cream shops.  YUM!  Perfect on a hot sunny day.  Kevin and I had a date night, which only consisted of seeing a movie, but it was good to get out.  (We saw "This is the End" - quite possibly the strangest and crudest movie ever, but I will admit I laughed out loud and often.  Actually, I'm chuckling now remembering a couple particular scenes.)  

Sunday's main event was a hike through a nearby wildlife sanctuary.  It was on our to-do list to hunt for frogs and turtles, and after much searching, we finally saw a frog streak by us right as we were close to leaving!  We also saw five turtles.  The boys were very excited.  I was happy too, because the boys were great about walking a long way and because the trees provided lovely shady relief from the hot sun.  

Here's what's on tap for the week:
  • Last day of school!  We plan to celebrate with a couple of Aaron's friends.  It's going to be another scorcher, so I'm thinking sprinkler and popsicles.
  • Party preparations!  I need to order the ice cream cake and pick up a couple favors.  Then I need to say a prayer to the weather goddess to keep the skies clear for an hour and a half Saturday afternoon.  
  • Movie!  One day this week we will go see Monsters University.  I am actually looking forward to it.
It's going to be a good week.  Hope yours is too!

June 21, 2013

Patty Griffin (feat. Robert Plant) - Ohio

Patty Griffin has been a favorite of mine for years and years.  I am really enjoying her latest album, entitled American Kid.  Robert Plant, her collaborator and boyfriend (for lack of a better word - she's denied that they are married but they are in a relationship), is featured on three of the songs.  I love just the thought of that partnership.  But this is Patty's album.  She wrote it as her father was dying, and the lyrics are thoughtful and introspective and sad, but the emotion is beautiful.  

photo from billboard

June 20, 2013

Recently Read - Paris in the 1920s

I just love it when I get whisked away by a good book.  I stay up too late and get bags under my eyes, but it's totally worth it.  I've been spending my time lately in Paris, and it has been wonderful.

I started with The Paris Wife.  It's about Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley.  Although actually, I'd say it's really more about Ernest and Paris in the 20s, through the eyes of Hadley.  It's a very interesting book, especially as the name-dropping begins.  (Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, The Fitzgeralds...)  I liked Hadley, and I felt sorry for her along the way, but I honestly felt as though she wasn't as essential to the book except as the narrator.  Others have told me that they felt very differently, that they felt a strong connection to her, but she didn't inspire me overall.  The book, however, did.

After spending time with Hemingway's wife, I moved on to F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda, in Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.  This book, as with The Paris Wife, is fiction, but it's based on factual events and people.  It's biographical fiction, and it too is fascinating.  To me, Zelda was a much more interesting character than Hadley.  She was pretty, ambitious, intelligent, creative, and yes just a little crazy (diagnosed with schizophrenia, the current prevailing belief is that she was bipolar).  It's intriguing to imagine how a person such as her would've lived in today's society as compared to back then.  She struggled with her role in her marriage, with her mental illness, to have her voice heard, to contribute something creatively.  (She was also a writer, and dancer, and artist.)  Zelda and Scott had a true romance, but you can also see how destructive they were to each other.  Would they have been better apart?  Interesting questions to ponder.  And as with The Paris Wife, I got to spend more time in Paris.

Then I decided to read some of the master himself, Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.  I had never read this book.  It's a collection of stories from his time in Paris in the 1920s.  A lot of the same stories are referenced in the above books, and it was fun to hear them told by Hemingway.  His writing is stark, and honest, and beautiful.  Lots of long, run-on sentences that transport you to his place and time.  I enjoyed some stories more than others, of course, but overall I really loved this book.  I can imagine it's one I will pick up again, if only to read a story or two.

Have you read any of these books?  If not, I highly recommend them all!  If so, what did you think?

June 19, 2013

A Few Things...

Trying to do more of this...
source unknown

I very often hate the list of links that bloggers put together in posts.  They are either links to very popular blogs that I've already seen, or they put the links in vague little blurbs such as "this made me smile" just to get you to click the link.  A little description would be nice!

Anyway, I realize I've been doing more and more of these posts with links, but that's because I've been doing more reading than writing lately.  I've also stumbled across some fun and cool and interesting stuff along the way.  I like to share.  And I do try to provide at least a little description so you know whether or not it's something you might be interested in checking out yourself.  I hope that helps.

Neil Patrick Harris opens the Tony Awards Ceremony.  Seriously awesome, and it reminds me that I haven't been to New York in forever.  I'm thinking that perhaps it's the place I should go for my 40th - only 9 months to go!

This map showing pronunciation differences in the US is interesting and cool.  It goes way beyond y'all and soda pop.  Check it out.  (*Note:  Yes, Design Mom shared this too, so I should just shut up about my complaints about others' links lists, right?)

Grandma's Experiences Leave Epigenetic Mark On Your Genes - Really interesting article about the impact your ancestors can have on your own life.  You can get more than just hair color and a predisposition for cancer - your genes can actually be altered by their experiences.  In this way, things like neglect, depression, optimism, and resilience can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Rainn Wilson interviews Mindy Kaling in his van.  Rainn has a little show he shares on his YouTube channel, called Metaphysical Milkshake.  He interviews other celebrities, but they're not like other interviews.  I really liked this little chat.

This mix of songs from Boston bands is very cool.  The proceeds are also going to the Richard family, whose son Martin was killed in the Marathon bombing.  Great music for a great cause, and it's only $5!

Best Explanation of Religion I've Ever Heard and I'm Practically an Atheist.  I think the title pretty well sums this one up.

Happy cows - I love including totally random stuff sometimes too.  Tell me these happy dancing cows don't make you smile.

June 17, 2013

Weekend Recap

Strawberry and sweet pea picking

Ah, what a lovely weekend.  It was quiet, and we had no social plans with the exception of a birthday party on Saturday that Nathan attended.  That's a good thing sometimes.  We got some things done around the house, and we spent time together as a family.  While Nathan and I attended the party, Kevin and Aaron got some quality time.  They went to hit balls at a golf course and then out to lunch.  

We also checked several things off our list!  Saturday was a beautiful day, so we decided it was a good night to try out our new tent.  Backyard family campout was a success!  We made s'mores, which is of course required before you can sleep in a tent.  We put the boys to bed and had them try to go to sleep on their own, and we joined them later.  It took them a while, but they eventually did get to sleep.  As camping goes, I didn't have the greatest night's sleep; but the boys slept pretty well and didn't wake until 7:15, which is pretty good given how light it is at 6AM!  

On Sunday, we ate the traditional pancake breakfast, and then we ventured out to a local farm to pick strawberries and sweet peas.  It was a fun way to spend Father's Day morning.  We puttered around the house and yard for most of the afternoon, and we made fish tacos for dinner.

Goals for this week:
1.  Quality time with Nathan.  He's done with school, but his big brother has one more week.
2.  Exercise.  I think it's going to be harder with both boys around every morning, so I gotta keep the rhythm going.
3.  Check out all the local swimming ponds/lakes and figure out which one the boys and I should go to.
4.  Order the cake and buy favors for Nathan's birthday party (soon!  my baby is going to be 4!)
5.  Lots of water and a good night's sleep

Making s'mores

Bedtime stories in the tent

June 14, 2013

Beth Orton - Call Me The Breeze

Beth Orton's album is one of those that took me a little while to fall in love with.  It is quiet at times, and I found that I needed to be in a certain mood to put it on.  (Mostly I think my boys needed to be out of the house - it's not loud enough for them.)  Once I had the time to get to know it, I loved it.  Her voice is unique, and I've always had an appreciation for it.  The tune in the video above is probably my favorite.  Happy Friday!

June 13, 2013

It's a Small World...

For the first phase of my career, I was traveling nearly full-time as a consultant.  I spent time in cities across the country - St. Louis, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, New York, San Francisco...  I even had the opportunity to spend a month in Sydney!  I had more frequent flier miles and hotel points than I knew what to do with - every vacation I took included a free flight and hotel room.  It was a bonus that was well-deserved, given the toll that travel takes after a while.

As a result of that phase of life, I have friends in every corner of the country.  I met some extraordinary people and got a chance to see places I might not have otherwise.  I also learned a great deal and had a lot of fun.  However, I did eventually burn out and make a change, accepting a job that would allow me to establish a life in Boston.

I remember adjusting to that change.  Being home long enough to buy a full gallon of milk, take the trash out on the actual trash day, join a gym, meet up with friends after work on a weekday, take some classes I'd long wanted to take...  It was an adjustment, but it was a good one.  I started to feel like I really lived in Boston rather than just having a Boston address.

This past year, my world has shrunk yet again.  I am in the suburbs now, and I no longer have the daily commute to the city.  I don't get a chance to go out after work, and getting together with friends from different areas requires some planning.  Most days, I travel about two miles - to and from school, and maybe to the grocery store.  My world has become small, and I've realized that this can be a wonderful thing.  I feel more a part of my community than ever.  I see people I know all the time.  Getting together with local friends is easy, and impromptu gatherings are a possibility.  I used to lament the fact that I had a hard time meeting friends, and now our social calendar fills up as quickly as we want it to.

I had fun during those other phases of life.  I sometimes miss my traveling days, and certainly having to pay for flights and hotel rooms is a drag.  I'm happy I got to experience it.  Mostly, though, I'm happy those days are behind me.  I'm creating more than just a life for me - I'm also establishing a home for my family.  A place where we all feel connected.  After my long journey, I've learned that small can be beautiful.

Me in Sydney

June 10, 2013

Summer Fun List - Update

Well, we did it.  We got our Summer Fun List documented and hung up for us to keep track.  The boys are super excited, and we already have a couple items checked off!  We bought popcorn on a cob from the farmer's market last weekend, which was awesome and super fun to try.  And we made a new flavor of popsicle - Fudgesicles!  The recipe was found here, and oh. my. goodness! are they good.  Seriously.  Crazy good.  Good enough for adults.  Serve them at your next party.  Yum!

Now this is my kind of to-do list...

June 7, 2013

Langhorne Slim & the Law, plus a Few Extra Music Tidbits

A fun little song by Langhorne Slim & the Law.  Their whole album is really fun - perfect for summer.  

And here are a few other music updates for your Friday...

Henry Rollins on the state of music today. - I love this, and even just as a listener, I feel a part of it.  I never listen to the radio (because I am depressed every time I do).  I find music by going to concerts, talking to friends, reading blogs, and even sometimes by following musicians on Twitter.

Juliana Hatfield is making a new album! - I loved her last covers album, but this time she's going to make a new album full of original songs.  She is almost to her goal.  I love the Pledge Music model.  It's really cool to be able to see the process of music being made.  Again, it makes me feel a part of the a larger community of music-loving people.

This is mesmerizing. - Totally random.  If you want a few minutes of meditation, check this out.

June 6, 2013

Summer Fun List - 2013

I'm sure it will end up looking similar to last year's list, but it's always such a fun exercise.  I am feeling the need to document it and display it somewhere in the house, but we'll see if I can make that happen.  Checking items off lists is so satisfying, especially when it's a list like this!
  • Have a picnic
  • Swim in Walden Pond
  • Meet new friends at camp
  • Pick-an-animal day (learn all we can about it, paint pictures)
  • Go berry picking
  • Try a new flavor of homemade popsicles (thinking fudgesicles)
  • Go on a scavenger hunt
  • Start a new chapter book that both boys will enjoy
  • Create big canvas paintings
  • Write letters/postcards to send to family
  • Backyard campout
  • Hug cousins
  • Throw rocks into the river
  • Have an awesome birthday party for Nathan
  • Go to Lake Ontario
  • See a movie in the theater (Monsters University)
  • Play on the beach (Maine)
  • Watch a sunset
  • Hunt for frogs and turtles at the wildlife sanctuary
  • Pick veggies from the garden
  • Dance at the Newport Folk Festival
  • Look for shooting stars and fireflies
  • Try something new from the farmer's market
  • Make s'mores around a bonfire
  • Learn some spanish words from cousin Zach
  • Make watermelon-lemonade

June 5, 2013

Menu of the Week

photos via cooking light and cd kitchen (links below)

A few meals we've enjoyed recently...

Pasta Primavera, Whole Wheat Baguette
My favorite Spring dinner.  I always look forward to fresh asparagus so I can enjoy this one.

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup, Whole Wheat Baguette
I sort of used this recipe as an outline.  I used vegetable broth and may not have followed it exactly, but this is the general idea.  It's so good, and the boys continue to do well with veggie soups, so I keep making them.

Grilled Shrimp Skewers, Brown Rice, Honey-Glazed Carrots, Steamed Broccoli
We enjoyed awesome shrimp over at a friend's house, so we asked him what he used.  The shrimp is marinated with lemon juice, garlic, onions, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I think that's it, but man oh man are they tasty.  That they are the easiest and fastest thing ever is just a bonus.  My little man doesn't like shrimp, so he doubled up on veggies.

Black Bean Burgers with Mango Salsa, Sweet Potatoes, Cucumber Slices
Okay, so these really might be my new favorite black bean burgers.  I know I keep saying that, and I keep trying more, but really.  They have some cheese in them, which helps bind them, but I think they would probably do okay without it.  They are also baked, which definitely helps keep them together.  They held their shape really well, and all the cilantro and jalapeƱo and yummy goodness inside actually gave them flavor!  The star, of course, was the mango salsa, which is out of this world good.  I froze a couple of leftover burgers to enjoy another time.  Definitely a keeper!

Grilled Chicken and Pesto Farfalle, Salad
An old favorite.  Nathan and I enjoyed the pasta on its own, and I grilled a chicken breast for Aaron and Kevin to add to theirs.  

June 4, 2013

Both Sides Now...

Traditional Home

I met some new friends over the weekend.  When I was being introduced, my friend mentioned that I was staying at home with the kids.  The woman to whom I was being introduced, who works full-time and has two small children, asked, "Oooh, how do you like it?  Is it hard?  I always imagine it being harder."  I told her that yes, it is hard, and it was definitely a transition for me.  I also honestly said that I was really enjoying it.  I did not go on to say that I was so happy to be able to have this time with the boys while they're young, and that I think it's been important and worthwhile for us as a family for me to be home at the start of the school years.  Not everybody gets this opportunity.

A few beats later, I felt the urge to clarify that I was only staying at home "for the moment".  That I'm taking some time.  That I was working up until last year.  And then I wondered to myself why I felt the need to do that.  For some reason, I still have a hard time seeing myself as a stay-at-home mom.  I am a working mom who is taking a break.  All the people I've met this year only know me as a stay-at-home mom, but I still don't see myself that way.  Perhaps because the plan is for me to return to work after another year.  It is a long break, but it really is just a break.

I am enjoying many things about this time, but one thing I appreciate is being able to relate to both sets of parents.  To the ones who stay at home, I can talk about preschools, after-school activities, how to get things done around the house...   To the ones who work, I can still relate and talk about the evening rush hour, prepping for the week ahead, drop-offs, day cares, the mad dash to get dinner ready...  I've seen both sides.  I understand.

One side is not better than the other, of course.  The answer depends on the person, the family, the time.  I'm fairly certain I would not have been happy staying at home just a few years ago.  But at this moment, for now, it is working for us.

June 3, 2013

Weekend Recap

Kevin can do a pretty good cannonball.

I had a lot of fun participating in last month's 'Every Day in May' Challenge.  I came nowhere close to writing all the posts, but I did what I could do.  It inspired me to write about different topics, and although it wasn't every day, I did end up posting a lot more often than usual.  Now that it's over, I want to figure out how to keep that momentum going.  I'll give that some thought.

Last week was brutally hot here.  We went from cold rain the weekend before to hot hot hot this weekend.  I'd prefer somewhere in-between, which it looks like we're going to get this week.  Yay!  But the heat did make it feel like a real kickoff to Summer.  I blew up the new kid pool, and the boys got in their bathing suits every afternoon.  The popsicles went quickly.  Kevin and I continued to work in the yard, spreading mulch and weeding and planting new flowers.  And the garden!  Lots of rain and a few hot days, and all of a sudden I have dozens of big zucchini flowers and tiny little new tomatoes and much bigger kale plants. Fun!

Some friends invited us over to swim in their pool on Saturday, and after a morning of work, it was the perfect reward.  The kids had a blast playing and practicing their swimming skills, and the adults had a blast getting cool in the water and catching up with friends.  The perfect summer afternoon.

I am reminded that we need to put together our Summer Fun List.  I have a feeling it will look very similar to last year's, but I need to ask the boys and make sure I get their input.  I know it's going to fly by.  My little guy is already done with school, and Aaron will be done with kindergarten in a few weeks.  I need to make sure I'm prepared to maximize the fun!

Kids vs. Dad


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