Thursday, April 28, 2011

guest recipe: classic fish soup from northern Spain

This recipe is one that Nate cooks for us, so I asked him to share it, hence the "guest recipe" title. It fits in well with our current diet, with the exception that we love to sop up all the yummy broth with crusty bread. It is a fish and swiss chard soup from the Galicia region of northern Spain, and we began making the dish after returning from Spain in 2009. As with my Parisian pork chop recipe, I added some pics at the end to get you in the mood. Take it away, Nate!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vivisms, vol 9

Vivi: And everywhere that Mary went, the Mary's sure to go...Rock a bye baby, in the tree talk. When the wind blows, the cradle will walk....Jack be bimble, check me quick. Jack is under the candlestick!

Vivi: Mommy, what are you doing?
Me: I'm putting on my shoes so we can take Noe to the train. She's going home, so we can say "bye bye Noe!"
Vivi: And Charlotte too.
Me: Hahaha. No, Charlotte's going to stay with us.

Vivi: Daddy, you know a lot about bunnies and ducks!
Daddy: I do? What do you know about bunnies?
Vivi: They hop! And ducks say quack!

Daddy: It's the weekend, so you can watch a movie.
Vivi: I want to watch "The French part of other day."
Any guesses?....She meant "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"

Vivi (playing with 2 "guys"): You're going down! No, you're going down!

Monday, April 25, 2011

printing photos and cards

I love it that I can spend the same amount or less on my Mother's Day cards this year and make a card with my own pictures and hand-written note instead of spending an hour in a store picking through cards trying to find one that doesn't make me roll my eyes. Yay! I shared the card I created below. Another score for modern technology. There are tons of awesome deals on Shutterfly's site right now, and I spent the $30 it takes to get free shipping. I've been wanting to get some birth photos of the girls in their rooms so went ahead and got those done too. If you're still using a store to print pics, I recommend switching to online if you can wait a few days instead of a few hours. The pics are the same quality and much cheaper, and if you want you can buy your albums already assembled. I've given some to the grandparents as gifts in the past, and it takes very little time and couldn't be easier. And no, I'm not being paid to say all this stuff; companies must love to get free blog advertising, but I guess it can go either way depending on whether it's a good product or not. I'll have to remember that the next time a company tees me off (you hear that, MasterCard World Points program lady?).

Happy Day Pink Mother's Day 5x7 folded card
Make Mother's Day special with Shutterfly cards for mom.
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

jerk chicken salad with mango-lime dressing

I may have mentioned a few zillion times that Nate and I are embarking on a diet to prepare for the need to don swimsuits in a little over a month (yikes!) in the Dominican Republic. To that end, I am making lots of salad lately. Last night we tried a Cooking Light recipe for tuna and white bean salad. Tonight I was craving spicy food and needed to use up my leftover asparagus, so I decided to create a salad of my own with some help from bottled ingredients. It was delicious and very easy, especially with Nate's help on the grill. This recipe feeds 2 good appetites or 4 if you are eating bread or another side. I wish I had taken a picture for the blog! It was a really pretty salad. Next time I'll remember.

1 pkg chicken thighs, boneless & skinless
1/2 bottle jerk marinade (I like Busha Browne's)
1 pkg pre-washed lettuce (we used a butter lettuce/radicchio mix)
handful of grape tomatoes
bunch of asparagus spears, blanched and shocked in cold water
2-3 jarred roasted red peppers, chopped (we like piquillo peppers)

Marinate chicken in jerk sauce overnight. Grill chicken and set aside. We did this part ahead of time on the indoor grill, but of course if you have the time and it's nice out, by all means go outside! If you like the chicken hot, you can heat it in a toaster oven when you're ready to eat, which crisps it up a bit. Assemble salad and top with dressing. This salad would be great with fresh mango; we are eating as seasonally as we can so are waiting for summer.

olive oil (not sure of exact amount, maybe 1/4 c...eyeball it as you pour and stir)
1 lime, juice and zest
1-2 tsp white wine vinegar (depends on size of lime)
2 tbs mango ginger chutney (Trader Joe's, baby!)
pinch of salt & pepper

I mix my dressing in a little tupperware container so I'm able to shake it really well. Then you can store the leftover dressing easily without dirtying excess dishes.

Image Credit: McCormick

Editor's note: This post is a part of Slightly Indulgent TuesdayReal Food Wednesday, and Fight Back Friday.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

aloha Noe!

We had a wonderful time with my friend Noe who came to visit us this week. Perhaps owing to her Hawaiian roots, she's about as chill as a person can get; I thoroughly enjoyed relaxing and laughing with her, despite the crummy Boston weather (avg of 45 deg and drizzle/wind). It's great to hang out with someone who doesn't let awkward or chaotic situations stop her from having a good time. She told me she was impressed by my skills in housewifery (housewifedom? housewifiness?), and I was equally impressed with her ability to take the grossest and most unmentionable, yet daily occurring toddler situations in stride. She also graciously helped us whittle down the contents of our fridge as we prepare for our pre-bathing suit diet. If it sounds like I'm outing her healthy appetite, you'd have to see how svelte she is to understand how little it matters what I say about her eating habits. In fact, it's reassuring to see someone so modeltastic put away funyuns, brownies, and eggplant parmesan in the blink of an eye. Needless to say, Vivi was in play heaven and hated to see her go as much as I did. Lucky is the man who ends up with such a free spirit. Thanks for visiting, Noe, and come back soon!

Oh, and if you don't know this already about her, you're about to find out: that girl can take a photo...with the exception of the first blurry portrait yours truly took of her on the T. Darn you, point and shoot camera!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vivisms, vol 8

Me (talking about the story of Bambi): And when Bambi and Feline grew up, they had two babies. See them in the picture?
Vivi: Can I have babies when I grow up?
Me: Uhhh...yes.
Vivi: But I'm already grow upped because I'm a big girl! So I can have babies now, right?
Me: have a baby doll right there. She's your baby, ok?
Vivi: Yes! You're right. She's my baby.

Vivi said something funny. I can't remember what...
Me: ...laughing...
Vivi: Are you giggly and wiggly because I'm funny?
Me: ...laughing harder...
Vivi: Hahahaha! I'm funny!

Charlotte: Bwaghahghgada
Me: Is that so?
Charlotte: Nanananaahwwhhaaa
Me: You don't say.
Vivi: Charlotte do say, Mommy! She says "Bababababa."

Walking outside...
Vivi: The grass is green, Mommy! ...walking... But the stairs aren't green?!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

marathon fun

For those of you who don't know, Boston hosts an epic marathon on a holiday here called Patriot's Day. Nate even had the day off work, so we were able to attend as a family. We went to Wellesley (about the half-way point) to watch the marathoners and cheer on a friend who came from Madison with an entourage to run it for the first time. He had an amazing 6:47 average mile time, which I can't even do for one mile let alone 26 in a row. It was so cool to see everyone, and low and behold, we actually had very nice weather, albeit a bit chilly (what's new?). He's the guy below in red who's about to give Nate a top-speed five just after this photo was taken. I would have also loved to have stayed an extra hour to see a friend from my old job in DC who was running in honor of her uncle and a brain tumor research foundation, but unfortunately the kids couldn't hold up that long. But I was with her in spirit as I employed the futuristic marathon feature that allowed me to receive periodic text messages with her progress. 8:30 for 26 miles is also smokin' fast. I am way impressed with both of them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

watching you, watching me

"Do you know how many people are reading your blog?" was a recent question my husband (aka my publicist) recently posed to me. Why no, I didn't, but I must admit I was interested to find out. Little did I know how easy it is. Blogger has a little tab called "Stats," and my theory of why I never noticed this feature is that my subconscious keeps me at arms-length from anything having to do with statistics. A hazard of the psychology/public health world I live in. While I find the results of statistics fascinating, I loathe crunching the numbers to achieve said results.

But as usual, I digress. I must say I was floored, lovely readers, by how many of you there are out there! Well over a hundred this week. A hundred?! Crazy. Modern technology is amazing. The neatest part was that I could see where in the world you are living; obviously most are in the US, but there were a few elsewhere: Malaysia (hi Jenny!), UK (hi Bek & Sasha!), Venezuela (hi Maria!), and...surprise, surprise...Germany. Who are you, my one German reader? I hadn't realize any friends were living there but would love to hear all about it. Wonders never cease.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

the agony and ecstacy of raising girls

A few days ago I arrived at the gym to find Vivi's favorite playmate weeping giant tears on her mom's shoulder. When I asked what happened, the mom muttered "Maddie wouldn't hug her goodbye." I looked into those huge wet eyes, and all I could muster was a choked-up empathetic nod. To my pleasant surprise, Vivi demonstrated more emotional intelligence than me and just walked right up and gave her a huge hug. No more tears! They were back to all smiles and giggles and ran off to play together.

While the girls may have forgotten the sting quickly, I certainly didn't. I find myself overcome with frustration and a broken heart when Vivi is slighted by her peers. Once when she had just turned 2 she ran up to a girl about 6 years old on a playground and enthusiastically called out "Hi!," which was big for her since she typically lacked courage to break the playground ice at the time. I beamed proudly, until the girl quickly turned to her mother and shouted "I don't want to play with babies! I told you this playground wasn't fun" and stormed off. What did Vivi do? She shrugged it off and ran over to the slide. And moi? Red hot anger. I slammed that brat to the ground and pinned her there WWF-style until she apologized. Well, in my head I did. In reality, I attempted to channel my inner quiet ("Serenity now!") and move on.

Because I once was a young lady myself, I unfortunately know all too well that the days of slighting and rejecting are far from over for my two little girls. Like this mom who describes a teary episode of teen angst, I only hope I can provide the right mixture of intervention and restraint that will allow them to grow up to be confident enough to fight their own battles.

On the flip side, I am thrilled to be raising girls because they are so sweet and cuddly. The old saying "sugar and spice and everything nice" is already coming true in our household, and I am looking forward to years to come of attentive and caring children.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vivisms, vol 7

NPR: Blah blah blah...Berlusconi...blah blah...entertaining women in places called 'Bunga Bunga rooms'...blah blah..
Vivi: Bunga bunga! Mommy, is the bunga bunga song coming on next?

Me: Can you find the top to the chapstick?
Vivi: Sure! ...a few minutes later...
Vivi: I'm sorry honey, I can't find that lid.

Vivi: The sun makes my bracelet look sprinkly!

Nate (to me, while Vivi gorged herself on a banana): She doesn't need to be eating anything else; she ate a ton of food recently.
Vivi (to Nate): Just take a deep breath and close your eyes.

Returning home from a trip with Nate, Katie, & Jason...
Nate: Tell Mommy what you brought her.
Vivi: Mommy, we got you a scooter!
Nate: It's a strudel.

squealing and teaching tricks


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

spinning workout #2: here and now

Update (2/28/12): I'm updating this post with a link to my Spotify playlist. Yay technology!

So you know I'm not stuck in the '80s, I thought I should follow up my first workout with a modern spin with less comic relief. When done with good resistance, this one will kick your butt (or my butt, on the chance I'm the only one using it).

1) "Soul Meets Body" by Death Cab for Cutie. 3:51. Warm-up and stretch. Flat spinning.

2) "Boom Boom Pow" by The Black Eyed Peas. 4:11. Intervals.

Start song with a seated climb; increase resistance and lower cadence. At 1:58, reduce resistance and switch to a sprint until 2:49, then back to seated climb for remainder of song.

3) "Go-Go Gadget Gospel" by Gnarls Barkley. 2:19. Sprint.

Sprint. Increase resistance at 1min. Begin recovery when music abruptly slows at end. Get water.

4) "Price of Gas" by Bloc Party. 4:19. Jumps.

Start with longer counts between switching from standing to sitting (like 10-12 counts), then progress to faster jumps until you are moving quickly (1-2 counts).

5) "Take Me Away (Into The Night)" by 4 Strings. 3:10. Spin.

6) "Paparazzi" by Lady GaGa. 3:28. Climb.

Standing in hand position 3, start climbing out of the gate. Gradually add resistance and lower cadence. With 0:08 left, release resistance and grab water.

7) "Rolling in the Deep" by ADELE. 3:48. Jumps & squats.

Begin in a squat. Change from squat to jumps during tempo changes (e.g. at 0:59).

8) "Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service. 4:26. Hover.

Going from squat to hover, you're going to feel a serious burn. At the claps at 0:40 left, release resistance and begin recovery and hydration.

9) "Let Go" by Frou Frou. 4:13. Recover & spin.

At 0:46, end recovery and add resistance. Spin.

10) "B.O.B." by Outkast. 5:06. Intervals.

Keep resistance low and start with jumps. At 0:56, switch to sprint until 1:22, then back to jumps. Back to sprint again at 2:11 until 3:26, then finish with seated climb (add resistance).

11) "Unusual You" by Britney Spears. 4:21. Climb.

Hop out of saddle, maintain high resistance and keep adding every 45 seconds.

12) "You'll Find A Way" by Santogold. 3:03. Intervals.

Begin the song in a squat position. At 0:43, sprint until 1:09, then back to squat until 1:48. Sprint through the last minute.

13) "Icarus" by White Hinterland. 3:48. Spin.

Add resistance but maintain high cadence.

14) "Young Blood" by The Naked and Famous. 4:07. Climb.

Hop out of the saddle and stay up in hand position 3 for entire song. Add resistance and lower cadence every 20-30 sec.

15) "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons. 3:36. Hover & sprint.

Hover throughout song, sprinting during chorus banjo riffs (e.g. at 1:04). Last chance to burn; ride it home.

16) "Xxxo" by M.I.A. 2:54. Spin & seated climb.

Start with a good spin and gradually add resistance in the saddle to move toward seated climb.

17) "Sunrise" by Yeasayer. 4:09. Cool down.

Release resistance and sit up in saddle. Stretch arms while you gradually lower your heart rate.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Aunt Katie & Uncle Jason's visit

We are immensely enjoying their visit, no one more than Vivi. Charlie came out of her shell a bit after the first day and is really beginning to show us her personality.


We went back to the park where we sledded in the winter, and it was chock full of families relishing the warm weather. Vivi hammed it up every minute of the trip and shines when the spotlight is on her.


Thursday, April 07, 2011


It will get warm. It will get warm. It will get warm.

I have enough energy to clean the house. I have enough energy to clean the house. I have enough energy to clean the house.

Nate's sister Katie and her boyfriend Jason arrive today for a long weekend. I am looking forward to seeing them and discovering Boston together. Two thumbs up for the babysitters in this town. This weekend we will have a lovely girl who is getting a master's degree in special education. Can you imagine a more qualified person to look after your children?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Vivisms, vol 6

On the way to the gym, she talks non-stop. I think it's because she knows I'm a captive audience...
Vivi: Is this Rhianna? I love Rhianna! Katy Perry is going to be on next (she was). My cheetos are crunchy! I see a flag! Charlotte is smiling at me. Are we going to Mommy's gym?  I'm going to play with Aidan and Chase. It's not sunny today, Mommy. It's cloudy. But it's not that cold. Is Daddy at work? Charlotte, I see you!

Me: Hold on, I'll go get something to cut this package open with.
Vivi: Are you going to get your sword to open the cabbage?

She makes jokes now, and while I may not "get" the joke, it's hysterical to see her crack herself up.
Vivi: Shhh, Mommy, stop talking. It's my turn to talk. I want to tell you something.You are the princess and Daddy is Prince Charming. Hahahahahahaha!

Whenever she counts to 10 now, she follows it up with "Ready or not, here I come!"

Ah, so. I see...
Vivi: I'm gonna tell you a question, Mommy. When I burp, I can say "Achhooo!"

Vivi (singing): Whoa whoa whoa your boat, gently down the street. Mary Mary Mary Mary, gently down the street.
Vivi: Watch this, Mommy. Are you watching? See? See me, Mommy? See what I'm doing? Mommy, watch!

Happy 30th to David!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

spinning workout #1: '80's love

Update (2/28/12): I am updating this post with a link to my Spotify playlist. Yay technology!

If you've never taken a spinning class, the following workout probably won't make much sense to you. But I highly recommend trying out a class. Next to erging and swimming, it's the best way to kick my butt in an hour of exercise. The terminology has been similar at most places I've taken classes, but just to be sure we're on the same page, here's a quick definition list. As for the music I share below, take it or leave it at will. I like to have a theme to my workouts, and you can probably tell this one is full of '80's nostalgia. I suggest you listen to a bit of each song on iTunes to see if you like it, and if you don't you'll at least get an idea of the tempo I was going for. If you don't love it, don't use it! I promise that any song even mildly annoying to you will become 10 times worse while you're struggling through a tough spin.

1) "Glass Concrete and Stone" by David Byrne. 4:14. Warm-up and stretch. Flat spinning.

2) "Hey Mama" by Black Eyed Peas. 3:35. Seated climb.

Seated position. Increase resistance and lower cadence during the song.

3) "Cosmic Thing" by The B-52's. 3:53. Jumps.

Start with longer counts between switching from standing to sitting (like 10-12 counts), then progress to faster jumps until you are moving quickly (1-2 counts).

4) "Livin' On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. 4:11. Climb.

Take it to seated flat again, no resistance, and get water. At about 0:45 into the song (when the singing begins), begin climbing. Add resistance (1/2-1 turn) every min.

5) "Positive Tension" by Bloc Party. 3:55. Sprint.

Release resistance for some recovery spinning. Stay hydrated. Add resistance but maintain high cadence, then at about 1:20 ("Run run run" sequence) begin sprinting. Take it back down a bit when music changes. At 2nd "Run run run" (about 2:10) sprint for remainder of song. Recover at "Play it cool boy" (~15 sec left).

6) "The Lovecats" by The Cure. 3:40. Spin.

7) "Sin Wagon" by Dixie Chicks. 3:41. Intervals.

Begin song with a sprint until 1:15, then switch to jumps. At about 2:30, when it sounds like the song is going to end (but doesn't), sprint out the remainder of the song.

8) "Let It Whip" by Dazz Band. 4:25. Climb.

Release resistance and grab water. At 0:38 when singing begins, start climbing. Gradually add resistance and lower cadence, every 45 sec.

9) "Nyana" by Tiesto. 6:42. Spin & hover.

This is a long song. Any song by Tiesto is awesome for spinning. Spin out the first 4:10, then hover for remainder of song. Burn baby burn.

10) "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet. 3:37. Jumps & squats.

Change it up however you like to make yourself work hard. Maintain good body posture.

11) "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. 2:58. Climb.

Add resistance more frequently than previous climb, every 20-30 sec. I love this song for climbing.

12) "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins. 3:37. Recovery & sprint.

I find that I need some encouragement at this point in the workout, and a good laugh keeps me going. Enter Kenny Loggins...always good for a smile. When guitar riff comes on at 1:26, switch from recovery to hard sprint in saddle. Keep high tempo through rest of song.

13) "Bathwater" by No Doubt. 4:00. Intervals.

Begin song with seated climb until tempo change at 0:51, switch to standing squat. Go back and forth with tempo changes throughout song.

14) "Time Is Running Out" by Muse. 3:56. Hover.

Last chance for glory. Push it out. Feel the burn.

15) "A Little Respect" by Erasure. 3:34. Spin.

Get water as needed. Cool-down is coming up, so gradually lower resistance through song.

16) "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen. 3:27. Cool down.

A little levity goes a long way when you've been pushing yourself for an hour. Relax, smile, breathe. You're done!

Monday, April 04, 2011

spinning in place

As a supremely conceptual person, I have no shortage of career/business ideas/money-making schemes for myself. Landing on one idea and making it happen, however, is not my strong suit. Wedding photographer, chef/restauranteur, day-care operator, and professional organizer are some of the more realistic notions I've had in the past. Don't get me started on the giant piece of land I've wanted to buy that would double as a camp and a B&B. I'm really good at daydreaming. Hey, maybe that can somehow be my job! Kidding...mostly. Luckily it seems the nursing career idea is going to stick, and until I meet another giant roadblock I am still filling out applications and preparing to go to colleges' information sessions. I was too late to apply to most schools for the Fall 2011 semester, so I've still got some time before I go to school even if everything falls into place.

Lately I'm thinking about digging up another brainchild. Ever since I graduated from college (was that 10 years ago? Egads!), I have missed being involved in a group sport. Coaching satisfied that urge for a while, but being a mom has cut out that possibility at least for now. I am already at the gym nearly every day, so I am considering becoming a yoga and/or spinning instructor. It would be fun to do both actually...sort of the yin and yang to my exercise life. I wish there was a way to try it out just for a few days and see how it goes without having to get whatever training is required and find a place (my current gym in the fantasy scenario) that would hire me. For now, I am going to practice creating some spinning workouts, which seems like half the battle in learning the trade. Plus, it's fun to pick out the music. I've got four workouts that I alternate currently, and since I was going to type them up anyway, I think I'll post them here for whoever might be interested. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 01, 2011

a letter to Charlotte

I wrote a letter to Vivi when she was about 7 months old and enjoy going back and reading it every now and then. I decided to do the same for Charlie.

Dear Charlotte,
You are the perfect definition of happiness, a constantly serene observer of the crazy happenings around you. You don't say much, but Vivi fills the silence with lots and lots of noise to make up for it. She loves being your big sister, and her favorite activity is making you laugh and smile. I am continuously amazed at how different your personalities are so far. You go with the flow, and although you sometimes have a cautious or confused look on your face, you rarely cry except for the occasional protest squawk. I can hand you to strangers and as long as you can see me, you remain content. We go to the gym almost every day so you are able to have contact with other adults. The girls love you and a few tell me you are their favorite baby. I am also stopped daily by strangers who tell me you have the most beautiful blue eyes. A favorite expression among them is "she's a Gerber baby!" I'm biased but can't help but agree.

Yesterday was your 7-month birthday, and you seem to have changed over night into a big girl. Today I put you in a high chair for the first time, and you beamed at me through the whole meal. It was like you were proud and understood what a big milestone it was! You are really starting to be fun to play with because you can sit up, make facial expressions and sounds, and laugh. I can entertain you with simple games of pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo. The squishy books and rattles are also popular toys, and of course everything goes right in your mouth. We walked to the park a few days ago with you in the backpack for the first time, and you loved being up so high. You flapped your arms and squealed the whole way there. I know the time of you being a cuddly infant is soon going to end, so I am eating up every moment. I love that when I pick you up, you hug me and give me a big open-mouth kiss.Vivi is waiting impatiently for you to be big enough to play with her--little does she know what that will actually mean for all of "her" toys. When Vivi was 7 months old she had experienced an entire summer, but you have been bundled up nearly your whole life up to now. Spring is finally coming, so I look forward to showing you real animals and flowers. I know you will love going in the pool this summer because you love to splash in the bath. How splendid life is for a baby!




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