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Showing posts from September, 2015

So Long September

September is my least favorite month of the year.

Oh, wait. Second least favorite -- my loathing of February runs deep and true. But September always feels crazy, unorganized and rushed.

For everyone this is a month of transitions, from summer to fall. And into the school season. But it takes weeks for us to settle into a routine and that always makes for stressful situations for all of us.

And the weather yo-yos between hot and chilly. I never get the right clothes into place, so we're walking out the door in a mishmash of sweaters and summer sandals. This year, a majority of Leah's sweaters have magically disappeared. And I've not had the time to check in all my usual spots.

Plus, through in travel. We always seem to be going somewhere in September. Europe, this year. And this kicks off Dave's busy travel schedule. And his annual guys' sports weekend.

Then there are all the birthdays, including Alice's and the party I pull together. That eats up time when I c…

Is it Weird to Have a Recipe Styles?

This weekend I dipped into my collection of Everyday Foods from Martha Stewart mini-magazines, which I've been hoarding since the early 2000s, looking for some simple veggie recipes. (I don't think we're eating enough veg lately.) Anyway, it got me thinking about how much I loved this now-defunct recipe magazine and how it's odd to have recipes that feel are in "my style."

Do recipes or cookbooks go after a certain style? I'm not aware if they do. Sure, there's a theme and focus, but food doesn't traditionally follow a style, right? But I'm starting to think it does.

Similar to how J.Crew is my clothing style and Express or Loft is not. Everyday Foods is my food style, as Ina Garten and Jaime Oliver (oh how I love them both) are not my style of food. I try to make their recipes, but I don't generally love the taste, or some of the ingredients or how they prepare things.

Does that even make sense?

(When we moved to Illinois I weeded down my…

Hooks In the Back Hall

I've been resisting adding hooks on the long hallway off the garage entrance (as posted here). But OMG if I have to STEP on another bag or sweater thrown on the floor I'm going to LOSE IT. (!!)

We have hooks all over this house for a reason, people!

In a fit of rage, I bought a piece of trim and ordered a bunch of hooks in a variety of colors for that wall. But then decided ... maybe if I improve this wall -- which sits directly opposite from the garage entrance -- I might solve the problem without adding yet another wall with hooks.

So, I got these little pine boards and some neato steal hooks and used Saturday night while the girls were away to install the whole system. Replacing the dinky row of pegs that just wasn't doing the job.

It went up very quickly, finishing it up while the girls watched Frozen on Sunday morning after their sleepover. I included a sign that says "Hey You! Hang Up Your Stuff" on the magnet board just above it. Just in case my family do…

Weekend Warrior: Front Garden Edition

Taking advantage of one of the last good weekends before the cold weather blows in, I finally got down and dirty with the front garden.

I've been feeling bad about our low curb appeal. There's a house for sale just two doors down and if prospective buyers are looking for this sort of thing, they're definitely not thinking too highly of the neighborhood.

My goal is to make this garden smaller by adding these paving stones from Home Depot. As it is, it's too much upkeep for me right now. So, for about $30, I loaded the trunk with pavers and dedicated about an hour to cleaning it up.

It's a good start. I want to add more pavers -- maybe even a third layer. And I'm definitely going to need more mums and choose a few perennials along the back. Plus, Stanley needs a scarf or maybe some clothes. 
The dirt along the front is getting seeded on Monday. I took about a quarter off the garden bed, but it still doesn't feel like enough.

Improving My Tortilla Game

I'm not the world's biggest fan of Nigella Lawson, but I do have one of her cookbooks (this one) and a few weeks ago I was flipping through it and noticed she had a Spanish omelet recipe.

Now, as a little Spanish girl, I've been making Spanish omelets since forever. I watched my Mom and Dad both make tons of them, several different ways. And when I was last visiting relatives in Spain, I watched my godmother Rosie make one, too. And I love making them for my family and pestering my kids to eat them. (At first, they didn't like them, but they're growing on them. How eggs and potatoes are an "acquired taste" is beyond me, but...)

Back to Nigella. She had a few differences in her omelet recipe, such as adding cheese to the eggs, not separating the eggs out for fluffiness and finishing under the broiler instead of flipping it on a plate. She also prefers boiling the potatoes as opposed to frying them -- which has been my preference lately, too.

So I gave it a…

Coaching! Happy Feelings!

Being a soccer coach for two teams each Spring and Fall takes a toll on our family and schedule, for sure. It disrupts dinner plans three days a week, dictates our weekend plans and discourages good homework practices.

Seriously, it's a whole lot of disruption.

But it's ALLLLL worth it when that shy girl on my first-grade team -- the one who never played soccer before and doesn't even say her own name loud enough the first week, and barely says a word at all for a month -- when she finally scores that hard-won goal in practice and she lights up, pumps her fist and says "YES!!!!!" and high-fives you!! OH that feeling!! The gift of her little friendship and trust. HUGE. It's just awesome.

Oh, and getting to spend quality time each week with my own daughters, playing around on a field I basically grew up on and seems more like home than any other place I could share with them.

But... you know ... both things.

Feeling the glory of all that today.

Twitter Fan Girl Moment

Having a fan girl moment here ..

Laini Taylor, a favorite author, is in Paris posting some beautiful pics on Twitter. Stephanie Perkins, another favorite author, also follows her and is loving the pictures. Anna and Etienne, mentioned here, are characters from Anna and the French Kiss, her best book set in a Paris school.

Paris + favorite authors + favorite character references = me freaking out a little.

The Paris Soiree

Alice celebrated her birthday in London, but we had the party, that officially triggered her "birthday" in her seven-year-old mind, at home this weekend. Four of her bffs were over for a Paris-themed sleepover party. We ate French fries (with le nuggets) and French bread for dinner. And I made a chocolate cake, decorated with the Eiffel Tower for dessert. Breakfast, we ate croissants, of course. (But they tasted nothing like the real thing, sadly.)

They all the best time and the house wasn't that much worse for the wear. And it wasn't like a Paris-themed party was too difficult for me to pull off. I just gathered all my Eiffel Towers and Paris decor and voila!

Related posts:
All my "birthday" stories

The Kitchen Chair Decision

We had some of Dave's coworkers and their families over to watch football on Sunday and it was a pretty good time. Even my introverted-self went all out and did the small-talk thing, mostly because it was so refreshing to have adult conversation in my kitchen with someone other than my Mom or husband.

Anyway, one of the wives fell madly in love with my kitchen chairs. Take them! I all but packed them into her car to bring directly home with her.

Yes, I have fallen out of love with my kitchen chairs. The main issue isn't so much their comfort, because they are passably comfortable, it's they don't push in under the table. And it's that untidiness that is making me hate them.

I want the chairs to all push nicely under my table. Is that so much to ask?

A few weeks ago, I'd started looking around for some options and thinking about what colors I'd want to see. And playing with the idea of dropping these chairs on craigslist and see who picks them up. But, now …

London in a Day? Can't Be Done

How can you do London in just one day? You simply cannot. But that's all the time we had there so, we did the best we could.

We started with Big Ben, Parliament building and Westminster Abby -- they're all right there so you can check three sights off with one Tube stop. 
Then we walked through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace. We decided to hang out for an hour for the changing of the guard ceremony. The girls were pretty impressed with the palace and the amount of people but were underwhelmed with the parade as a whole. The most entertaining part was we were situated next to two families from Liverpool who where not so well-behaved and asked the Constable walking around a bunch of awkward questions. ("Can you ask the Queen to adopt me?") 
From there, we walked into Trafalgar Square for lunch then met up with an old co-worker of David's who relocated to London five years ago named Lauren. She hung out with us for the rest of the afternoon and it was good to h…

Paris In a Nutshell

No matter how many times I'll go to Paris in my lifetime, I will never get enough of it. It's simply my favorite city to spend time in. We had a fabulous time on our Paris adventure, I won't get into the day-by-day review here, but here are the highlights:
We stayed in Montparnasse and really got to know the Metro system -- which is fast and easy and will get you everywhere you want to be.I might have been a little presumptuous that my 9 and 7-year-old would want to marvel at old buildings, like I do. They didn't. They put up with my history lessons but were far more interested in the Paris pigeons and shopping.  They did like the inside of the museums, for a span of about 3 hours -- which is pretty good, I think. And they had a great time in the Louvre. They pretended to be visiting princesses at the Louvre Palace and then took pictures of their favorite rooms. It was pretty awesome. Chocolate croissants for breakfast every day? What isn't there to love about Paris…

Dispatches From Paris

Goals Accomplished:
Eat a crêpe. We actually ate two. This one was near the Pompidou in the Marais. It's filled with pomme = apples.  Later, we found out our hotel neighborhood, Montparnesse, is known for crepes and we got savory crepes filled with ham, cheese and veggies for dinner one night. Yummy!
Eat a Macaron. We walked out of our way to get a macaron from Ladurée, which we were told had the best. And, yes, they were pretty sensational.

See Van Gogh. Leah did a school art project about Van Gogh and since is a big fan. She flipped out when she spotted this painting at the Orsay. 

Related posts:
More from our Paris travels
We love traveling with our kids

Fridge Outage; Your Timing is Perfect

The bad news is our fridge will need to stay unplugged the whole time we're away.

The good news is, we fit most of the food in the basement beer fridge. And chucked all the mystery food that collects in the back corners.
The best news, this is the cleanest fridge in the neighborhood!!

Weekend Projects: Hooks and More!

Last weekend, with great weather and a light schedule, gave us the perfect opportunity to get some house projects done.
Hooks: I'd been thinking about shuffling around the hooks in the house, to maximize organization and some storage issues that crop up during our busy weekday schedules. I just can't stand when we're not using this house to it's fullest potential. 
So, despite all the new holes I put in my walls, think I created some more-usable spaces. 

This area below the stairs held family photos and a large lamp. In the switch-around from several weeks ago, I decided it would make a good landing place for bags, backpacks and eventually the hats, mittens and scarves. 
Here's this area now, with the addition of hooks and assigned storage. 

Photos: The spot over the sofa in the parlor also needed some attention. In the hallway shown above, I had picture ledges that were getting overlooked. No one cared what was on them. So I transferred them to over the sofa.


Packing for Paris - Phase 1 & 2

In full packing mode this week for myself and the girls. I approach packing for a long trip in phases, starting weeks early. Phase 1 is Research: mentally planning, making several lists and shopping.

Phase 2 includes the following steps:

1 - Shopping. DONE. Each gal got a new outfit and new walking shoes.

2 - Laundry. There are never enough clean undies available. Even on a normal week.

3 - Pick Clothes. I rummage through the clean laundry and drawers and pull out my favorite outfits, just in case they decide to wear them to school this week. I do the same for myself.
3.a - Remind myself I will be shopping in Paris, so no need for an outfit each day. I will no doubt end up buying them clothes there, which I'll let them wear right away. 

4 - Stack Clothes. Once found, I'll start piling the outfits in a dedicated area, so I can start evaluating luggage sizes. I add/subtract clothes based on the ability to wear with other things, layering, and more-accurate weather information. This ta…