Wednesday, February 29, 2012

does minimalist parenting mean letting your kid eat food off the floor?

Charlie and a Dogfish Head. Hey, at least she has good taste.

...'Cuz if so, sign me up! The other day I passively watched as Charlotte bent down, craned her neck, and stretched her arm under a chair to get an open-faced, upside-down peanut-butter cracker, then grinned and popped it in her mouth. Mother of the year! What a relief to know I'm not alone. Speaking of minimalist parenting, I'm pleased one of my favorite bloggers, Boston Mamas, is writing a book. She's my kind of writer. I'm drawn to the notion of minimalism right off the bat, so I can't wait to learn more. Of course I will report back here, as your very own simplicity-seeking maternal Sherlock Homes.

(almost) wordless Wednesday: a year in phone pictures

2011 was an adorable year! Or so it appears, in my hubby's phone. As promised, here are the awwww-inducing shots:

Charlie starting solids, Winter '11

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

rollin' with my homies

Future surgeon, or future nerd?
Ha! Yeah, I went there with the ridiculous post title. Blame my cocktail (Gosling's black rum, grapefruit juice, ice. Muy delicioso). Who could resist, when the Apartment Therapy blog awards are called "The Homies"? A bunch of fantastic blogs are on these nomination lists, including yours truly on the Best Family Blog list. I recommend settling in and spending some time checking out these links. I've already discovered a great blog called bleubird. I'm late to the party, but what's new on the old frontier?

And hey, while you're on there, why not do a quick clickey-poo vote for my blog? You have to sign up for a free account, but it takes all of a few seconds, and Apartment Therapy is way worth the quick sign in. If you haven't seen their site yet, you're in for a night of some fun surfing. You're welcome!

you found me how, round 3

I had a whole post written, and it was fabulous, and then I did that dumb thing where you accidentally delete it. And then I looked like this (sorry, that weasel is never going to get less humorous). Sigh. So instead, let's have another round of "You Found Me How?!" This will probably be the last post in this series (others are here and here) for a while--because how long will it be funny to gawk at the menagerie of odd Google searches? Let's find out!

Monday, February 27, 2012

love the place you live: Lexington and Concord

I love this idea by Design Mom to explore where you live and write about it. I've been meaning to share our experiences in the towns nearby us, so I'm happy to have an excuse to share today. We live right on the border of Lexington and Arlington, so I'm over in Lexington on a weekly if not daily basis to run errands. We especially love going to the square in the summer, which is lively with barefoot couples and cyclists taking a break from the nearby rail trail.

Twirling on the square

Sunday, February 26, 2012

this mustache is bespoked for you

The hubster left yesterday--on his thirty first birthday--for an international work trip. I was sad to see him go but happy we celebrated his big day in style before he left. We met some of his work buddies for drinks, and they surprised him with mustaches and top hats for all of us to wear. I say surprised "him" because the accoutrements were my idea. Why yes, I am amazing. Thanks for noticing.

Well, how do you do? I do very well, thank you. Indeed.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

what's for dinner?

Inspired by bleubird's bird food and ohdeardrea's "what Marlowe eats" series, I am sharing what the kids have had for meals recently. I'm calling it "what's for dinner?," even though I'm sharing any and all of the three meals of the day, because at every meal Vivi marches into the kitchen cheerily asking "what's for dinner?" It makes me chuckle that she can't seem to learn the order and meaning of these three simple names for meals. Ask me if Nate loves it. Better yet, take a guess. Hee hee.

What Nate does love is that Vivi is an exceptionally good eater. The girl will eat a green olive stuffed with an anchovy; the very idea makes me nauseous. We have not encountered many food-related obstacles in her almost four years, which could be why I responded poorly to our recent incidence of picky eating in both girls after a rare but lengthy household sickness. Uncharted territory makes for rocky parenting decisions.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ungardening and Pickled Green Tomatoes

Hi everyone! This is Emily from S.A.H.M i AM and I'm super excited to be writing a guest post for Justine today. Thanks Justine for letting me share a little bit of our life on your fabulous blog. It's a privilege!  

Let me start by saying there is something that feels inherently wrong with digging up living, productive plants. I consider it ungardening.  

But that's exactly what we did today. We dug up our winter garden.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Alice asks: could you live without a refrigerator?

Think you can make me smile? Think again.
My cousin Alice has always marched to the beat of a different drummer. As an adorable rosy-cheeked little girl, she requested that we call her  "John" and wore shorts and no shirt to the beach. After all, if her older brother could do it, why couldn't she? I've always admired her courage to be her own person. After college, she moved to Portugal to spend a summer working on a farm. That was two years ago! Since then, she has become fluent in Portuguese as well as farming. Alice possesses the unique talent of being able to make us think about what we take for granted in our lives as being necessary and part of decorum (see frowny-face photo), which is why I jumped at the chance to share her story of living for the past year without a refrigerator in Portugal.

Before I let her get started with her tale, I should mention I'm rather attached to my refrigerator. While I follow several bloggers in their attempts to go "off grid," I have no plans to do so myself in the future. However, like Alice is about to explain, I have had the benefit of seeing differences in other cultures' views of what MUST BE refrigerated. For example, my first time shopping in a British grocery store, I spent thirty minutes wandering around in search of the eggs. I stubbornly persisted, assuming I must be blind to some other method of storing eggs in the fridge besides cardboard crates. Only after an embarrassing moment in which I asked a befuddled store clerk did I finally discover the location of the eggs, midway down an aisle with NO REFRIGERATION. Then there was the British refrigerator in our home, which was the size of a trash compactor and was stored under the counter. I also remember that on my study abroad in Kenya, the yogurt in our sack lunches came European-style with more active cultures and was stored in unrefrigerated bags.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday link love

                                                                                    Source: via Justine on Pinterest

My dad is coming in town tomorrow, so I'm changing things up a bit and sharing my linky love today instead of Friday. Look out tomorrow and Friday for my guest posts by Alice and Emily. I'm super excited they are stopping in to chat with us.

Are you as sad as me that we have to wait until September for the new season of Downton Abbey? I'm still walking on air after the Season 2 finale, which I may or may not have watched twice. Did you hear Shirley Maclaine is playing Lady Grantham's mother next season? I don't generally squeal, but if I did, now would be the time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

parenting: my shaolin crane kung fu style

Last May I wrote about my achievement of zen-like calm around my kids. I was remembering the post a few days ago when I read an honest, unapologetic post by a good bloggy friend Emily about parenting difficulties. She really laid on the table, and I applaud her frank portrayal of motherhood at its most challenging. As I unveiled yesterday, I'm pleased she's stopping by the blog on Friday to share some of her best stay-at-home mom tricks.

Her words particularly struck a chord with me right now because Charlie is rapidly heading toward the second half of her second year, a time that is already proving to be more challenging than anything we've dealt with so far. She wants WHAT she wants WHEN she wants it. It hasn't helped that she and Vivi have swapped sick germs for the past month, so I felt I had to comfort her every cry and whim. A few days ago, in the midst of making her what must have been her fourth bowl of crackers and cheese (because she will only eat a trifecta of yellow foods this week: eggs, cheese, and applesauce), it occurred to me I was setting a bad pattern. Yup, back to square one. Serenity now!

Monday, February 20, 2012

what's new on the homestead...

Did you have a nice long weekend? Ours never got much more productive than Saturday, but it was nice to bop around the house as a family. Today we mosied over to Walden Pond, appropriately located on Walden Street in Concord, to glimpse Thoreau's idyllic habitat. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, a bit on the chilly side, and we enjoyed slowly wandering down the pond path, stopping every five feet or so to throw pebbles in the water.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

the arc of a Saturday

My day began as a typical Saturday does. I sprung out of bed, stripped the sheets, did some laundry, dressed the kids and made them breakfast, and got ready for the gym. At this point in my day, I am hyped up about my productivity, feeling a lot like this...

Source: Hyperbole and a Half. But, you knew that already.

Friday, February 17, 2012

s'more Friday linky love...mmmm, s'mores....

                                                                                    Source: via Justine on Pinterest

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Grandpa Jim's popcorn

My dad is famous for having a few signature dishes he makes again and again. My favorites, in order, are jerk-marinated grilled steak, popcorn, French toast, and spaghetti Bolognese. Learning to make homemade popcorn was one of my frugal challenge goals, and I finally asked Dad how he makes his scrumptious theater-quality popcorn a few weeks ago. He gladly obliged. I wish I had taped that conversation; he doesn't measure, so it was lots of "Um, well, maybe 1/4 of a cup. No, probably 3/4 of a cup." Oh dear. Fortunately, he described how the amounts should look perfectly, and my first attempt turned out just as yummy as I remember his tasting. It's your lucky day because I'm sharing it with you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

buying and raising chickens

What are YOU looking at?

Doesn't it seem like everyone is suddenly raising chickens? Perhaps it's just because I am interested in doing it myself that chicken-raising seems to be hitting a tipping point. Yesterday I read a good post from Off the Grid about the cost of raising chickens versus buying eggs, and then a few hours later I opened my new Food & Wine magazine to discover evidence of chicken-raising left and right. Even the Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin is doing it...and blogging about it! Here's yet another fellow blogger's post with some great practical information about deciding whether to take the plunge.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a time to braise

As promised, I'm sharing recipes from our Sunday supper this week. Braising is one of my favorite winter cooking methods, especially where onions and big chunks of meat are concerned. I'm even more slow moving than usual at this time of year, so it's only right that my cooking is also low and slow too. Our dinner consisted of two dishes, brined and braised pork chops with apples and onion, inspired by Alton Brown and Cooking Light magazine, and braised sweet and sour red cabbage, inspired--as so many of my dishes are--by Jacques Pepin. I love Aunt Nellie's jarred cabbage, and after some tweaking this recipe of M. Pepin's managed to beat Aunt Nellie's.

i heart my husband

I so rarely give Nate a big thumbs up for being a caring, kind, providing, adorable hubster, so I hope you'll bare with me while I get mushy for a moment. On Sunday, I spent the day with my aunt and Vivi's cousin. I brought the girls along with me, so Nate had the whole day to himself. You could call the day to himself an early, albeit slightly unromantic, Valentine's present from me. But when you have two Tasmanian devils, you'll understand the allure of "me time." Trust me, it's a good gift.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

starting as I mean to go on

One of my favorite bloggers, Suburban Matron, asked people to share their favorite family mantras; her sister was recently diagnosed with cancer, and she shared her mantras that help her get through difficult times. I loved reading the comments and thought you might too.

One mantra I didn't remember when I was commenting is: Start as you mean to go on. I learned this phrase while living in the UK, and it has become one of my mantras since then. It is applicable to many aspects of my life, but it is particularly suited to parenting, isn't it? Whenever we enter a new milestone with our girls, I attempt to be thoughtful in how I will proceed, knowing it is much easier to steer a consistent course than to change one's parenting philosophy midway through.

Friday, February 10, 2012

sharing is caring: linky love

Hi everyone! Hope you've had a great week. Beantown seems relatively perky after the disappointing loss by the Pats at the Super Bowl. Here are some links to love for your Friday:

Pin It

A friend shared the site for this crafty blogger who's making stuffed animals out of children's drawings! I WANT ONE.

One of my favorite cookbooks, The Beekman 1802, has a website with recipes, blogs, forums, shopping, and more. Pardon me while I go browsing...I'll resurface again eventually.

Did you see Design Mom's Old Navy Giveaway? I think I might just be able to purchase clothes for the rest of my kids' childhood with $500.

I have already started logging when and where the spring consignment sales will be near me. Have you?

Do you read Family Sponge? It's a rabbit hole of parenting goodness.

I am already beginning plans for Vivi's birthday party, possibly because she wants to discuss it fourteen trillion times a day. More soon. I think we'll serve pink lemonade with these adorable mason jar lids and straws. Maybe I'll add some cookies or cheese crackers.

Editor's Note: This post is a part of 5 Minutes for Mom's Pin It Friday.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

you found me how, round 2

I have a confession to make. Okay, so it's not a biggie confession, but sometimes it's nice just to get the feelings out there on the table, knowwhatimeanvern? I used to be so paranoid about what I said on the blog, as though the comments I made about running around bra-less would one day be used against me in a job interview or during a bank loan meeting. Or maybe there'd be this stalker who would just love to know all about my trips to the farmer's market. It was a thing, my worrying. Probably silly, but there you have it.

Monday, February 06, 2012

I am a regular June Freakin' Cleaver

I am not the crafty sort. I am nearly positive I cleverly conned sweetly asked my parents or my talented, artistic best friend into helping me make every craft assignment required of me by grade school. I love being creative, so it's not the ideas I have trouble with, it's the follow through. There was a time that I used to needlepoint, but I never finished a single piece. Sigh. When Vivi asks to do an art project, I find myself doing either finger-paints, gluing cotton balls onto paper, or coloring a giant piece of kraft paper A LOT.

I do love the parent-child connection that an art project provides. As I child, I remember really enjoying pressing flowers with my mom and helping my dad paint furniture. My parents both selected careers that involve working with your hands, being on your feet all day, and being able to think creatively, so needless to say they are both incredible crafters. When I was growing up, I would casually I mention to my dad that I would like a playhouse or to my mom that I'd like to garden, and before you could say boo, they'd be outside banging on 2x4s or tilling the ground. Talk about energy.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

a day in the life

Lately I get carried away with all my recipe-posting and life-organizing, and I miss the times we digress together. I thought it'd be fun to jot down what I do in a typical day, which I did yesterday. Shall we?

7:00 a.m.: My day started with the usual; oatmeal and yogurt and "puffs and cheerios," the girls' munchy snack--while I stood leaning against the kitchen counter, vaguely listening to NPR and generally staring off into space. It's a good time, people.

Friday, February 03, 2012

did you read?

In honor of one of my favorite Portlandia skits, I'm starting a new feature I'll call "Did you read?" where I can share cool stuff I've read lately. I've shared some reviews before but normally haphazardly. I'm hoping to get my shit act together. We'll see. Before I begin, I need to name the process (evidently, I like to name stuff before I do it). So let's call it Operation Organize Other Odds-n-ends, or "Oooo." What do you think?

First order of business: Update blogroll. Check out the right sidebar to see the new roll!  The blogs will change periodically because I have it set to show the five most-recently updated posts in each category. I love humorous blogs and have been following them all this time, but it only just occurred to me to share the hilarity with you. Promise I wasn't hogging the fun on purpose. Okay, maybe just a little.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

satisfy your unsweet tooth

I have been dreaming about this dessert. Tangy yogurt with crunchy granola, juicy orange slices, and tart cranberries, drizzled with ooey, gooey honey. A balance of flavors, perfectly smooth and toothsome with a hint of zing and floral perfume. Perhaps this combination doesn't scream dessert! to you. But after a few weeks of my no-sugar cleanse, I am ready to tip the scales again back to my status quo, the unsweet tooth.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

(almost) wordless Wednesday: strut

I had fully planned to take a deserved day of rest from the blog today. Then I rediscovered this picture, and I couldn't deny you the privilege of viewing it. 

My baby. 

Look at her strut. 

You would too if you could pull off a red dress with pink polka dots the way she does. And you can! Check out The Bloggess' traveling red dress for inspiration.


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