June 25, 2014

Recently Read

TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann.  I really enjoyed this one.  I loved 'Let the Great World Spin', which is by the same author, so I had high expectations.  It delivered.  The author weaves several stories together, and it's fascinating to think about how our lives are impacted by those who came before us and how they may have an affect on people in the future.  He also uses the historical facts surrounding some famous men as a backdrop, but the main characters in the book are fictional women who merely brush past those men in life.  Beautifully written.

The Dinner, by Herman Koch.  I had high expectations for this book, too, especially when you read the reviews on the cover.  On the cover, Gillian Flynn ('Gone Girl') writes, "Chilling, Nasty, Smart, Shocking, and Unputdownable."  So naturally, that's what I expected.  Overall, it was an okay book, and it would probably be a good one for a book club, because I can see the discussions it would naturally start.  How far would you go to protect your children?  I wouldn't go so far as to use those descriptors, though.  I'd say it was smart, thought-provoking, and a decent read.

This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz.  This book is so refreshingly different.  The writing is raw and unique, and it is written just as people talk.  I could hear the voices as I was reading.  The characters are Dominican, which I will admit is a culture that I am not very familiar with, and the setting is the Northeast US - specifically New York and Boston.   Overall, I didn't feel a ton of emotional resonance, but I think that's primarily because the topic (basically the main characters cheats on all his girlfriends) and culture is so foreign to me.  I still enjoyed it and found it fascinating.

June 24, 2014

A Few Things...

Just a few random things for your reading pleasure...

This salad.  My garden is very full of romaine lettuce and kale at the moment, so I searched my pins to find a new way to use them.  I chose this salad recipe and holy cow is it good!  It has pretty much been my lunch for the last two weeks, and it will most likely continue to be for a while.  I tried adding apple, which was okay, but the next day I added an avocado and some brown rice....perfection.  Seriously.  Sooooo good.

A Conversation With Neil Degrasse Tyson About Cosmos, Race, and Celebrity.  I love Neil Degrasse Tyson.  He's such an interesting person, and every time I listen to him, I want to go out and learn something.

Pixar's new movie.  It's called "Inside Out" and won't be released until next year.  It sounds fascinating, though, and I'm already looking forward to it.

An Important Post About How to Prepare Your Teen for Certain Situations.  I appreciated this post.  I'm still several years away from having to deal with most of this stuff, but I find myself looking forward, preparing myself for the harder conversations.  Helping my kids navigate the teen years.

Conor Oberst performing at NPR's Tiny Desk.  If you haven't listened to his new album yet, check out this sweet little concert.

A beautiful last article by Rick Reilly, a popular sportswriter.

Six Things You Should Know About Spotify.  I spend a lot of money on music.  If I joined Spotify, I would most definitely save money, but I don't think I could ever do it.  It just seems wrong somehow. If I'm spending less, it must mean the artists are getting less, and they're already not getting much from album sales.  I find myself buying t-shirts as much to support the band as to wear.  Do you use Spotify?  Or rely on Pandora for your music?  So many of my friends don't buy music at all anymore, and it makes me sad.

The Newport lineup is complete.  And awesome.  Now I just need the schedule so I can strategize.  I think I'm most looking forward to seeing J. Roddy Walston & the Business - I think they will be a ton of fun to see live.  And The Oh Hellos.  And Jack White.  Have you listened to Jack White's new album?  Really, really good.  Oh and Shovels & Rope!  Man I hope the schedule is conducive to my wishes.

photo by Carli Nicole

June 23, 2014

To Not Making Plans...

We had a really nice weekend.  The weather has been glorious, and it has allowed us to play outside in the warm sunshine all day long.   The weekend was a mix of planned events - birthday parties, camp orientation, a neighbor's graduation party - and the unplanned.  

After camp orientation, we decided to go out to dinner, but we had some extra time to kill.  So we went to a nearby playground for a bit.  When the boys wanted to leave, we still had some time, so we went into a local bookstore.  I just love bookstores, and I really loved my boys' reactions to the idea of going into one.   "Ooh I LOVE bookstores!  Can we get a book?  Please?!?"  I'm a sucker when it comes to books, and all four of us left with a couple.  We then enjoyed a nice dinner, eating outside, and the boys were entertained by their new books.  Awesome.

Sunday was similar.  The day was relatively wide open, so we spent a lot of time working and playing in the yard.  The boys were getting a little bored, though, so I thought I'd take them someplace nearby to ride bikes.  The place we were going to go had an event going on, so we had to come up with a plan B.  We decided to go to Wellesley College, which is also very close.  My husband goes running there all the time, but I actually hadn't seen a lot of the campus, even though I pass it every day.  It is a beautiful school, and we had a really nice walk while the boys had fun riding through tunnels and down the hills.  

We had fun at a neighbor's cookout, and we finished the day eating ice cream and yelling at the TV during that crazy USA-Portugal World Cup game.  

A beautiful weekend.  The planned and the unplanned.  

Aaron asked me what we have planned to do this week.  He is one who appreciates having plans every day.  I have a few ideas of things we might do, but we're going to play it by ear.  I need to show him that being spontaneous is a beautiful thing too.  

June 20, 2014

Endings and New Beginnings...

I've fallen out of my blog rhythm again.  The boys are out of school and so my routine has been upended.  Most of my online time seems to be dedicated to job applications and updates to the cover letter.  I do wake up early and generally get an hour or so before the little people wake up, but that's my exercise time.  I'm taking this morning off (I've been good and I deserve it!), so here I am.  

My little man and I have been spending a lot of quality time together.  My baby.  He's such a fascinating character, and I'm so grateful to be able to hang out with him like this.  He's had to accompany me on errands, but we've also managed to have a little fun along the way.  It's been a glorious week weather-wise, which always helps.  Summer is definitely here.  

My big boy had his last day of school yesterday, and we celebrated at a pool party at a new friend's house.  Tons of kids running around, and lots of families to get to know.  So much emotion from the older kids who finished elementary school and will be moving up next year.  So much excitement from all of them.  Our town conducts a "step-up day" on the last day of the school year, allowing the kids to meet their new teacher and see who will be in their class.  It's a wonderful way to end the year...with anticipation for the next.  My son was very happy to discover the friends who will be in his class, so of course I was as well.  

Other endings....Aaron wrapped up his first year of piano, and his teacher gave him a CD of songs he played at his lessons.  They generally recorded a song every week.  The progress was astounding!  And baseball.  Last night was the last game of the season.  It's still non-competitive at this age, and here I think it's a good thing.  The focus has been on learning the game, supporting your teammates, practicing skills.  Aaron loved it.  Just for fun, they gave Nathan a uniform and let him have a turn at bat at the end of the game.  He hit a hard shot down the first base line and ran around the bases to loud cheers from the crowd.  Such a fun way to end the year.  

And me....well, the job search continues.  I am getting conversations set up for the weeks the boys are at camp next month.  Fingers crossed.  Next I need to determine what I will wear.  I must admit, there is a part of me that is growing excited at the prospect of returning to work.  There is a lot to figure out, and so I often get overwhelmed at the thought of it.  But when I push all that aside for a moment, I realize that it will feel good to get back to it.  To use my brain in a different way, to contribute financially, to share the house/parenting responsibilities more equally with my husband.  It will be a good thing.  

So to today.  Our first full day of Summer vacation.  The sun is shining and the air is warm.  As I look at our very full Summer calendar, I am eager with anticipation.  I will work to slow it down as much as possible, soaking in every moment.  We have nothing planned for today, and that's just fine by me.  

June 9, 2014

Taking Stock

From Sunday night's First Aid Kit show.  Damn they are good.

Making:  lots of salads with the lettuce and kale from the garden.  What a pleasure to be able to go out and pick exactly what I need.
Cooking:  food on the grill, since it's finally summer!  But tonight...teriyaki ginger meatballs, rice, and broccoli.  Tomorrow, my favorite spring meal...pasta primavera.
Drinking:  water, water, and more water.  Sometimes a splash of lemonade in it, or a squeeze of lime. I've been trying to cut down the alcohol, and I've done pretty well the last few weeks.
Reading:  Just started This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz.  Oh, and How to Train Your Dragon with Aaron.
Wanting:  a casual pair of capris.  Why are they so hard to find?
Looking:  at families with two working parents for inspiration.
Playing:  new songs on my guitar.  Conor Oberst is my current musical inspiration.
Wasting:  too much time on Facebook - it's time to take another break, so I removed it from my phone and logged out on the computer.
Sewing:  ha!
Wishing:  my sisters lived closer.
Enjoying:  First Aid Kit's new album.  I bought the vinyl record at their show last night, and it may stay on the turntable for a good long while.  Beautiful.
Waiting:  for summer vacation to start, and yet trying to savor each moment along the way.
Liking:  the sounds of baseball from the backyard.
Wondering:  how long it will take us to fix our front door.  Ugh.
Hoping:  that I find a good job (My definition of good.)
Marveling:  at how cool my boys are.  I mean, I know, obvious, and I'm their mom, but really.
Needing:  work clothes.  Well, I don't need them yet, but I'm realizing that I most definitely will.
Smelling:  fresh tomato scent on my fingers after tending to the garden.  No tomatoes yet, but they're coming.
Wearing:  shorts and a tee.  Pretty much every day.
Following:  musicians and comedians and astronauts on Twitter.  Smile a little, laugh a little, learn a little.  See also:  wasting time.
Noticing:  the house is kind of messy.  I think I'm okay with kind of messy.
Knowing:  I eat too much ice cream.  See also:  not caring.
Thinking:  too many things.  All the time.  Working on quieting my mind.
Bookmarking:  too many recipes on Pinterest.  I need to start making some of them or quit bothering!
Watching:  the season finale of Turn.  A show Kevin and I agree on.
Giggling:  every time the boys fart and crack up laughing.  I know I shouldn't encourage them, but...
Feeling:  grateful for my beautiful, healthy family and our happy little life.

*Copied from Bridget at Tales of Me and the Husband,  who copied it from someone else, who copied it from...

June 6, 2014

First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining

I've been listening to First Aid Kit's new album via NPR, and I am so looking forward to its release next week.  We are going to see these lovely ladies in concert on Sunday evening - yay!  When I told Aaron, he was disappointed he couldn't go with us.  They were his favorite band from our first visit to the Newport Folk Festival.

Give them a listen.  You won't be disappointed.

Keep on keeping on.

June 5, 2014

Menu Planning

pictures via Martha Stewart, Real Simple, MyRecipes, Bon Appetit

I haven't gotten completely organized yet, but I do feel like dinner is back under control.  The first step I took was to collect all of my online recipes into this post!  Looking back through previous menus and saving the recipes that my family liked was a simple exercise, and now I have an easy place to look for inspiration.  This list contains all recipes that we've eaten more than once and will definitely make again.  I was surprised to see how many dishes we already had in our rotation!

I will still like to add new dishes from time to time, and there are other meals not included here that we eat quite frequently that don't require recipes.  Part of me would still like the organized binder, but being able to pull these up on the iPad in the kitchen works just as well.  It'd be fun if someone else out there got a benefit from this list, but mostly I'm doing this for me.

Turkey Mini-Meat Loaves
Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs
Chicken Parmesan
Turkey Burritos
Marinated Chicken
Almond-Stuffed Chicken
Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce
Turkey Burgers with Oven Fries
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Turkey Reuben Sandwiches
Chicken Tenders
Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Quesadillas
Spicy Chicken Cakes
Chicken Breasts stuffed with Artichokes, Lemon, and Goat Cheese
Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Noodles
Roast Chicken
Sloppy Joes
Arugula Salad with Grilled Chicken, Corn, Tomatoes, and Blue Cheese

New England Clam and Corn Chowder
Maple-Dijon Salmon
Fish Tacos
Sauteed Tilapia with Honey-Scallion Dressing
Lemon-Pepper Shrimp Scampi
Lemon-Tarragon Crab Cakes
Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks
Easy Baked Fish Fillets
Sauteed Scallops
Shrimp Kebabs

Pasta Primavera
Pasta with Goat Cheese and Asparagus
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Turkey Bolognese
Baked Ziti
Penne with Shrimp, Peas, and Pesto
Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage
Macaroni & Cheese with Butternut Squash
Summer Ziti
Spring Risotto
Happy Pasta
Grilled Chicken and Pesto Farfalle
Rigatoni with Roasted Sausage and Broccoli
Lemon Spaghetti
Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese
Linguini with Spring Vegetables
Penne with Vodka Sauce

Vegetarian Chili
Broccoli-Cheddar Soup
Corn, Potato, and Leek Chowder
Summer Squash and Corn Chowder
Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder
Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan and Fried Sage Leaves

Black Bean Quesadillas with Corn Salsa
Southwestern Salad
Vegetable Frittata with Roasted Potatoes or Potato-Onion Frittata
Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato
Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
Tortilla and Black Bean Pie
Black Bean Burgers with Mango Salsa
Double Bean Burgers with Avocado Basil Cream
Sweet Potato, Corn, and Kale Chowder
Grilled Eggplant with Tomato and Feta
Thai Vegetable Curry
Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta

Corn and Avocado Salad
Feta-Rosemary Potatoes
Sauteed Kale

June 4, 2014

Amazing Boys...

Being a mother of boys is a beautiful thing.  It's muddy and dirty and full of fart noises and wrestling matches and scraped shins.  I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about trucks, dinosaurs, superheroes, and animals.  I have tripped over lego buildings and stepped on more hot wheels cars than I can count.  I have also received the best, sweetest hugs ever.  I have been given weed bouquets and kisses on my cheek and painted family portraits that I will save forever and ever.  And it's a good thing I love baseball.  

Do you ever have those moments when you look at your kid(s) and are amazed they exist?  I mean, we made these little people.  Who are so like me and my husband and yet unique to themselves.  Sometimes I just sit and stare at them, in awe and wonder.  They are beautiful, wonderful, strange little boys.  I am so unbelievably happy to have them in my life.  

telling secrets and making each other laugh...may it always be so


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