Wednesday, August 28, 2013

depaysement

huffington post

This has to be the first time I've used a French word on the blog title two days in a row. And I don't even speak French!

I was browsing an article on Huff Post yesterday (click picture above for link), and this word jumped out above the others. Depaysement sums up how I feel right now living in Boston. Sure, I have buddies who share my likes and values. But there's just something about living so far away from my roots, my family and close friends, that at times makes me feel like an outsider.

In my normal day to day life, I am mostly happy and unconcerned about this admittedly unimportant first world problem. But then something will happen, like today when we are visiting with some of our closest friends, and the inner turmoil of my heart will ache acutely. 

It's like when you're a kid and you hurt yourself. At first you try to be brave and hold it together; then you notice your mom saw you fall, and suddenly it's a struggle not to cry. 

When I'm missing my home, all the news of the day is viewed through a funnel aimed directly at the gaping hole of loneliness. 

The local swimming hole closes in August? That would never happen at home.

Get pulled over by a state troopah while barely speeding? That would never happen at home.

It doesn't matter whether the thoughts are factually accurate. Truth is in the heart of the beholder. You can't argue with a feeling. It's a state of mind, not a state of address. Only time will tell, but for today, I'm happy to be having some big hugs and big laughs with some of our favorite people.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

la pharmacie


When we were in St. Martin, I made a wonderfully random decision. I decided to shop at the French pharmacies on the island (half is French, the other half Dutch) to purchase some fancy beauty products. I have no idea where the thought originated because I am truly the last person on earth to spend lots of money on myself, especially on girly stuff from a drugstore. But boy am I glad I did. So glad, in fact, that now I stare longingly at my bottles of delicious and feminine smelling French oils and sprays and wonder how I could ever do without them.

It's not entirely accurate to say I don't know how I got the idea because it actually came from reading two of my favorite blogs, Goop and Design Mom. Gwyneth Paltrow wrote about her favorite French products, and then Gabby purchased them and wrote about her favorites (here and here) within GP's original picks. However, I had read both posts a year ago and never thought of them again until I saw the bright green neon sign. I guess they had made an impression on me!

I'm sharing the three products I purchased, plus one that I received as a sample and mourned the quick passing of. I'll just share the links to where Design Mom discusses them because there's no need to redo their work.

1. Huile Prodigieuse: It calls itself a "multi-purpose dry oil for the face, body, and hair." My hair would look like I hadn't bathed ever in my life if I sprayed it on, but it works wonders on Charlie's curly and somewhat frizzy locks. I, on the other hand, spray it on my body after I take a shower and bask in the lovely aroma. It truly is dry, in that the moment I stop rubbing it in, I don't even need to wash my hands. I mean it when I say I love this stuff so much, I almost don't even want to tell you about it. The fact that I can get it on Amazon is LIFE CHANGING. It's only $33, and it lasts forever. Trust me (and Nate!) when I say if you are a woman--or if you are a man who is married to a woman--you need this in your life immediately. It would make a great stocking stuffer too.

2. Bioderma Crealine H20 solution micellaire: Nothing on this bottle is written in English, but it is an eye makeup remover. I like it better than my normal stuff because it never stings, doesn't smell, and doesn't take as much wiping to get the makeup off. Incidentally, we also used to it to take the sting out of Nate's hands after he chopped a bunch of spicy peppers for me to pickle. It worked like a charm.

3. Avene Eau Thermale: As far as I can tell, this is just a can of water, but it feels amazing after I've been in the sun all day or if I need to perk up in the morning. GP and Gabby say they use it for keeping makeup in place. I honestly have no idea what this means. Maybe it's for people who wear foundation. You can get it on Amazon, but I would stick to buying it in the store if you're ever in a French-speaking country.

4. Meso+ anti-aging serum by Laboratories Filorga (not pictured): This is the sample I received, and it smells almost as good as the Huile Prodigieuse and is even better on my face. It's like rubbing your face with a rose and leaves it feeling soft and moisturized but not oily. I can't say that I will spend what it takes to replace it, but the dream was heavenly while it lasted.

Are you still reading? Anyway, in the past I have struggled with the idea of what beauty is and what lengths I should go to in achieving it. Now I think I have struck a good balance of not becoming too obsessed with transient beauty but also spending a little money and time on myself to be more comfortable in my skin.

What do you think about beauty products? Do you have any you can't do without? Do you feel guilty spending money on yourself?

Monday, August 26, 2013

{34}: latin pickles


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
August 20 - 26, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

Media

  • Another reason to love The Oatmeal. As if I needed one.
  • I of course agree with the author of this article about dolls that are too sexy for our little girls. It's tough to choose which doll is most revolting. What ever happened to the rag dolls of my childhood? Why does it seem everyone if becoming brainwashed into buying these horrific examples of sexualization? It's a hard pill to swallow that even if we avoid them as we are earnestly attempting to do, we will still have to deal with others purchasing them. 


Meals


I made these taco pickles this week, but I wasn't completely satisfied with the recipe. After some googling, I landed on this version on the NY Times that included cauliflower and cumin seeds, and I was inspired to alter the recipe a bit to make them crunchier and more complex. What I ended up with is deliciously spicy and saltier than the original (her "salt to taste" direction ended in failure the first time), and it's different enough that I decided to share my creation. I hope you enjoy them!


latin pickles

1 bunch of radishes
1 large carrot
1/2 head of cauliflower
2 fresh jalepenos
handful of cilantro, whole or chopped
2 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 c. cold water
1/2 c. white vinegar
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1/4 c. sherry vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbs. cumin seeds, toasted
1 dried pepper (we prefer arbol)
2 cloves garlic (optional)




Thinly slice all the veggies or put them through a mandolin. Depending on how spicy you want your pickles, you can either seed the jalepenos first or cut them into rings with the seeds intact (which is what we do). Toss the cut-up veggies with the salt in a large bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, bring the vinegars to a simmer in a medium saucepan, add the sugar, and stir until it dissolves. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the water. Let it cool on the counter or in the refrigerator. 

Toast the cumin seeds and add them and the dried pepper, and garlic if you are using it, to the bottom of a QT sized mason jar. Top with the veggies and cilantro. If you like the idea of eating the cilantro with your pickles, chop it up; otherwise, you can leave it in whole, which results in less cilantro flavor but a cleaner-looking brine. 

Once the liquid has cooled, pour it over the veggies until it covers them. Store them in the fridge and eat within a few weeks. As the original recipe creator said, they are great on tacos, and they also pair splendidly with tamales, burritos, and other recipes where latin flavors and acid are appreciated.

Friday, August 23, 2013

{this moment}: legos

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Despite their tendency to be left on the floor and thus crammed into the arches of bare feet, I love legos!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

going back to the well: a whiskey sour love story


Call it having a more refined palate and lower inhibitions in our thirties, or being driven to it by our rug monkeys. Whatever the reason, we have slowly and somewhat accidentally inserted happy hour to our lives. It has sneaked its way into our routine to the point where when asked how often, I sheepishly tell my doctor that I'm a daily drinker.

Sheepish isn't exactly the right word. To have guilt in this instance would mean I'd have to buy into the moral standard I am violating. Come to that, I couldn't say "guilty" is a word I would use to describe myself in any way. I tend to think whatever I'm doing is the way to be, for better or worse. I am however academically interested in our culture's guilt about alcohol. In that regard, Ken Burns did a great expose on Prohibition last year.

What do you think, friends? Except in the case of addiction, health, or other personal choice, is society-wide abstinence from alcohol a good thing or just another misguided attempt to control our pursuit of pleasure? Could the angst that accompanies the beverage be a feeling handed down from previous generations, like some sort of leftover teetotalist grandfather clock?

Booze for thought.

I have myself at times chosen sobriety for various reasons. When I graduated high school, a number of my friends gathered together for field parties, the sole purpose of which were to pursue drunkenness without being detected, in this case in the middle of a corn field. Is that a Georgia thing? Anyway, it didn't take a genius to see that as teenagers, we made enough bad decisions when stone-cold sober, let alone illegally three sheets to the wind.

I maintained my abstinence off and on throughout college, figuring I had as much fun sober as I did drunk. I never really did much like sipping on gin and juice anyhow. Plus, when sober I could laugh at all my drunk friends and help everyone have a more safe experience. Like the time I prevented an apartment fire when my usually bright friends, now full to the brim with aqua vitae, made the not-so-brilliant decision to prepare bespoke flaming doctor peppers in a plastic solo cup. I chuckle to remember them fleeing the scene like a group of oversized toddlers running from a spilt cup of milk, only in this case the milk was a flaming river of Bacardi 151. Hee.

Through the jello shot and hunch punch years, I must say the idea of drinking alcohol just for enjoyment was a foreign one to me. Any beverage so disgusting as to need to be mixed with Hawaiian Punch to make it palatable must not be that good, or so I thought at the time. Possibly it was a product placement issue; did I mention I was drinking said beverage out of a bath tub?

When we moved to Wisconsin (and thus away from "hunch punch" and into "wop"...though we've also lived places where it's called jungle juice and gin bucket), we discovered a culture unheard of in the South. College students could order beer from the STUDENT UNION, y'all. Similarly, one could purchase alcohol in giant quantities from the supermarket! Is that the craziest thing? Much like my stepmom setting out a candy bowl for her toddlers, I think they might have been onto something. Why vilify alcohol? It seems to me that calling the fruit forbidden just increases the odds people will abuse it.

Then there were the pregnant and breastfeeding years, and I must say abstaining from alcohol was only a small sacrifice to make when you consider the wealth of nonalcoholic cocktails out there (yay, mint limeade!). Of course, while living in England I did occasionally imbibe small amounts of low-alcohol drinks while pregnant with Vivi. I still swoon at the sight of a large can of Strongbow. Happily, Vivi seems to have made it through her stint in my belly with a hefty number of brain cells.

Over the past few years, Nate has become interested in craft beer, and I have enjoyed participating in his quest for the perfect beer. That quest has migrated in recent months into making cocktails. When we moved to Boston, I became hooked on dark 'n stormies and felt content to sip on them for several years straight. I'm not known for my trendiness. But then we started watching Mad Men finally last month, and we are as into to that show as to our newfound fondness for the dark whiskey in Don Draper's old fashioned.

[n.b.: Thanks to the Portlandia PSA, I won't say I'm a nerd, but I do think it was pretty nerdy that I found myself, after typing the word "whiskey," researching whether and when to spell it "whisky."]

One thing's for certain; making cocktails is not a frugal venture. As with our decision to eat local food, we also prefer to support local booze-makers, who for the most part charge upwards of $35/bottle. I have no doubt their price is realistic and fair, but it takes a chunk out of an already pared-down entertainment budget. Speaking of money, we could really use a set of drinking glasses. Crate & Barrel to the rescue!

Right around the time we were considering the purchase of our first bottle of locally distilled American straight whiskey, I stumbled upon this article from The Kitchn about how to get started drinking whiskey. I took their advice and started with a whiskey sour, and I haven't moved on down the list yet because I find it to be so tasty.

As for how to make your whiskey sour, I use the standard proportions of 2 oz. whiskey, 3/4 oz. lemon juice, 3/4 oz. simple syrup, and I sometimes also add a dash of grenadine to make it pretty. In the cocktails pictured, I used blueberry syrup in place of standard simple syrup (other times I use mint syrup). You can use basically any sweet liquid to sweeten your whiskey sour. I serve mine in a martini glass. I'm sure this fact classes me out of the big leagues in cocktail making, but I am blissfully unperturbed on this matter.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

{33}: more summering


>


On the Range
August 13 - 19, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

My week...


  • We have had a busy summer and are about to start a busy back-to-school, so I let the girls relax and have less activities this week. Lots of jammies and fort-building, and we set up a tent in the yard to go with their playhouse.
  • We are thinking of doing our back-to-school shopping at a local market in Somerville this weekend. Union Square Donuts is coming! Maple bacon donut, here I come.


Milestones & Isms


  • Vivi got frustrated while coloring this morning and said "Aw, Cinderella, you're killin' me, girl." I have no idea where she gets it.
  • Charlie collects rocks of all shapes and sizes. Some are good finds, others are gravel. She does not discriminate. Yesterday in the car, on the way to blueberry picking, she said "I can't find my wock!"Nate responded "What do you need a wok for? Are you going to make Chinese food?" and she laughed as though he was ridiculous for suggesting so and said "Daddy! I can't make Chinese food, I'm not the man!" (i.e. the man who brings the Chinese food, I guess?) 


Media

  • This is an interesting NPR Planet Money story about a new charity called GiveDirectly that sends unconditional cash sums to individuals living in impoverished villages in Kenya. 
  • Here's another NPR story about library funding in different states. We are lucky to have a fantastic interlibrary loan system in MA. I can get practically any book ever published, sometimes within just a few days.
  • I love the honesty of this post by a fellow mom blogger. I have felt this way lots of times. "I'm a good mom because I love my kids, not because I'm getting that much right." Amen sister.
  • Through the magic of Twitter, I am now informed about what a juggalo is. Lord help us all.

Meals

  • We have been grilling up a storm over here, using up our summer cuts from the meat CSA. I'll be back later with some family recipes I've been experimenting with.
  • I'm in full canning mode. Last weekend was salsa using local heirloom tomatoes. We made two varieties from a food blogger I love. Right now as I type there's a crockpot of blueberry butter in progress.
  • Pickling is also in full swing. I'm thinking of doing radishes (taco pickles!) and sauerkraut in a mason jar this week.
  • In Communist food news, Nate is planning to make Chairman Mao's favorite pork belly recipe. I'll let you know how it turns out. But one thing is for sure, it will be red.

Monday, August 19, 2013

plant the plate

I love infographics because they relay statistics and research results in a quick and powerful manner. I found this infographic from Union of Concerned Scientists on Upworthy, and I thought it was worth sharing with you here. Sorry it doesn't fit exactly right. Click the left arrow below to make it fit a bit better, but if it's still hard to read, go to the source. [Update: I was having technical trouble after loading this, so I removed it, but you can still see the infographic here.]

Upworthy is a great site if you want to learn about good causes, change-worthy topics, or are just feeling in need of some inspiration. I watched a great video about ending homelessness this morning, for example.

Friday, August 16, 2013

should we join Costco?

costco logo


We've been pondering whether to join Costco Wholesale Club. Generally speaking, a way to buy food in bulk--both to save on cost and cut trips to the store--appeals to me. I do also have one very fond memory of an epic shopping trip at Sam's Club with my mom as a teenager, and we stumbled upon what could only be described as a pallet of medjool dates. Heaven! However, as a family committed to eating unprocessed, local food as much as possible, we are undecided about the discount price club movement. Would we be able to purchase enough to justify the $55/year membership fee?

I set out on the internet to discover the opinion of fellow real foodies. A few articles are positively persuading me that it is a decision that would make sense for our family's desire to eat real, sustainable food:
They do seem to carry plenty of organic products! Who knew?! Based on the articles I read, I have decided to give it a shot. Here's my shopping list (not all in one go, since we're still trying to go unprocessed and local as much as possible, but these are the products I could see us buying at some point):
  • Kellygold grass-fed butter and Dubliner cheese
  • organic sugar
  • organic coconut oil
  • Gilt organic unbleached flour
  • Newman's Own caesar dressing (the hub's absolute favorite, must-have salad dressing)
  • organic strawberry jam
  • organic peanut butter
  • organic tomato sauce & diced tomatoes
  • Harry's organic creamy tomato basil soup
  • organic carrot juice (the girls love it and think they are getting a treat!)
  • Annie's organic fruit snacks (I'm not proud, but they are excellent tools of bribery. Look away!)
  • Clif organic fruit rope (ummm, organic fruit by the foot? heck yeah!)
  • TruRoots sprouted rice and quiona blend & sprouted bean trio
  • Tazo tea
  • raw honey (they carry Nature Nate's, which has a nice explanation of what raw honey is)
  • organic frozen produce (peas, corn, edamame, etc.)
  • Amy's frozen lasagna
  • Morningstar frozen veggie sausage
  • Alexia organic frozen french fries
  • Larabars & Clif bars
  • raw nuts
  • Mary's Gone organic crackers
  • canned fish (tuna, sardines, salmon)
  • Kirkland Toscano olive oil (see this guide that gives Costco oil a thumb's up)
  • Made in Nature organic preservative-free dried fruit blend
  • steel-cut oats
  • almond butter
  • organic ketchup
  • vanilla beans
  • Izze soda
  • Better than Bouillon
  • white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • eco-friendly dish soap
  • Oxyclean
  • cat food, wet and dry

I'll report back with how it goes and will make an attempt to calculate my savings. In the meantime, tell me, are you a member? Do you love it?

Image Credit: Steve Lovelace

Thursday, August 15, 2013

self-analysis is probably on the list somewhere

Have you ever had your personality type tested? Mine was identified by psych researchers studying pot-luck roommates during my freshman year of college. You can do a mini-version of that test online here. Here's what that Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (aka. Jung typology) test page says about my personality type in reference to career path:

ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things that interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values they live with throughout their lives. Everything that they do must be in line with their values.

It's hard to believe there are only 16 personality types out there, but ENFP gets me so spot on that I must agree I'm one of the 16. Here's the flip side of having all those "skills and talents":

Because ENFPs live in the world of exciting possibilities, the details of everyday life are seen as trivial drudgery. They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivious to these types of concerns. When they do have to perform these tasks, they do not enjoy themselves. This is a challenging area of life for most ENFPs, and can be frustrating for ENFP's family members.

Ha, sorry dear.

This next statement rings true in some ways for me as a parent, and I hope Vivi will forgive whatever flaws I have as a result of my personality type:

Having an ENFP parent can be a fun-filled experience, but may be stressful at times for children with strong Sensing or Judging tendencies. Such children may see the ENFP parent as inconsistent and difficult to understand, as the children are pulled along in the whirlwind life of the ENFP. Sometimes the ENFP will want to be their child's best friend, and at other times they will play the parental authoritarian. But ENFPs are always consistent in their value systems, which they will impress on their children above all else, along with a basic joy of living.

And here's probably why I enjoy staying at home and why I have a love-hate relationship with blogging sometimes:

They have a strong need to be independent, and resist being controlled or labelled.

Ultimately, I don't think a MBTI score has to lock you into any one method of being, but I do think it's good to analyze and predict what might come to be. I'm sure that's also an ENFP trait...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

since MTV seems to want my ideas

I get all kinds of solicitations now from businesses who want a slice of PR on my blog, want my opinion about their products, or want to sell or offer something to you, Reader. Some of these opportunities are fun, some are just plain silly or annoying, and others are hilarious. Recently I received an email from MTV asking me if I want to be on the program, "16 and Pregnant." Considering I am neither 16 nor pregnant, it seems they may need to do better research. However, I do have a suggestion for you, MTV. How about "Real World: Grandmas"? Because more than anyone else I know, they've stopped being polite and started being real.

How are y'all doing? I am trying to keep the pace of life slow for my kids this week, since it's one of their only "do nothing" weeks all summer. But slowing down is harder than it looks from the outside! If you're a mom, you likely identify with this struggle. I'm limiting my time at the gym to my standing once-weekly spinning class date with the hubster, and otherwise it's just trips to the library and long walks for us. It seems lots of you started back to school this week. Can you believe we don't start for a whole month? Much as I could rub it in, I know you'll be laughing at us come the end of June when we're still in school.

Hopefully this post about nothing will get me back into the swing of writing...well...about nothing. It's what I do best, wouldn't you say?

Dominoes between her toes. Love this girl.

Monday, August 12, 2013

{30-32}: summering

Enjoying the local brew and BBQ in St. Martin

The view from our resort in St. Martin. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

Vivi loved horsie camp!

Charlie's favorite part of the beach: being wrapped in a towel afterward.

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."


On the Range
July 23 - August 12, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.
Moods

  • Relaxxxxxed. We took a trip to St. Martin sans kids (Nate's saintly parents took them off our hands), followed by a second week with the in-laws in sunny Florida. This is the life.


Milestones

  • Vivisms: 
    • "The good thing about peanut butter is it makes you strong. The bad thing about peanut butter is it gets stuck in your teeth."
    • When discussing whether or not a person should be reprimanded for bad behavior, Vivi asked "What does it mean to be rubber-banded?"
    • After a trip to the five and dime: "Mommy, this candy necklace is better than anything."


Meals

  • Anyone want to make some elderflower cordial? Now that I have found my favorite cider, a limited edition elderflower cider from Angry Orchard, I wonder what other elderflower drinks I've been missing out on. Now all I need to do is learn to identify elder trees.
  • Lemon blueberry frozen yogurt from Splendid Table that involves cream cheese as an ingredient. WOW.

Media

  • Interesting story on the TED (which I just learned stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) radio hour about hackers. We heard the story about whether we should "hack" genes of extinct animals and bring them back. Kind of creepy, IMHO, to think about a baby wooly mammoth walking around town. On the one hand, I feel like we shouldn't play God, but on the other hand, we "play God" in lots of other ways already (IVF, etc.).
  • Food for thought about food:
  • How to talk to your daughter about her body.
  • Funny stuff:
    • Just when I thought I couldn't love Tig Nataro any more.
    • An online magazine called the BS, for "Bitter Southerner." Heh.
    • Breaking Bad is back! Here's a great sketch weaving the characters into "Who's on First?"
  • French artist/photographer mashed up photos of relatives to show resemblance. It makes me wonder what my own sibling might have looked like.
  • While the twenties seemed to be the time for friends' weddings, our thirties have definitely been the time for friends' babies. Unexpectedly we also find ourselves in the time of friends' divorces, so I appreciated this article by Design Mom.

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