Thursday, March 28, 2013

I lied on my Weight Watchers list.


   I put down that I had 3 eggs... but they were Cadbury chocolate eggs.  
 
Caroline Rhea




I have missed posting my loves the last couple weeks! I'm back! Well ... better late than never, right?

I have been totally out of touch with the Easter holiday. Up until a few days ago, I actually thought it was about a month away. Yesterday I made an early morning visit to Target and did all my Easter shopping. Somewhere in that hour and a half (yes, I was in there that long), the Easter spirit finally found me. I can't wait to have the boys wake up to a basket of goodies on Sunday.

We don't usually do anything spectacular, instead opting to spend the day together at home. We dye eggs the night before, and usually make a nice Easter dinner, but we don't go overboard on the gifts and festivities. It is really just a day to enjoy each other.  I'm looking forward to it!

This week I am loving ...
 
These neutral jackets. Love! They are fresh, spring-y and belong in my closet. [linen & cotton print heritage topper/Audrey asymmetrical blazer]


In continuing with my new found Easter spirit, I'm really loving these treats! In my hands these cookies wouldn't look quite so amazing, but the nests and cupcakes could certainly make an appearance at my house this weekend. [cookies 1/cupcakes/cookies 2/nests]


This stuff is magic and I can't get enough. It was a Birchbox sample that I finally got around to trying this week. You can use it instead of foundation or underneath. I use my regular products (serum, sunscreen, eye serum) then apply this. It blends in seamlessly, renders foundation totally unnecessary, and it doesn't ball up (my biggest beauty product pet peeve).

I only need a couple dabs to cover my whole face, and they sent a deluxe size sample so it should last for a bit. I was afraid to look at the price since it is true love, but I can handle the $27 tag. I typically skip traditional foundation when the temperature rises, so this will likely be my spring and summer go-to skin product. [Marcelle BB Cream in Golden Glow]

Short and sweet. About six weeks to go and blogging will probably come back into focus for me. I've missed the level of investment I had before this last semester and its craziness ensued, but I simply have to keep my eye on the prize. Sweet dreams!


Loves on a Thursday

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dinner and Dessert

My husband came home from a long trip recently, and although it was Friday night and takeout was calling to me, I decided to greet him with a home cooked meal. Not only that, but I was trying out two new recipes. Talk about playing with fire. No one said I like to make things easy on myself.

Both were a success. Yahoo! Both Kiddo and Mario enjoyed them ... which is a rare occurrence, indeed.

First up was a Curried Coconut Chicken Soup that I made in the Crock Pot. Kiddo and I were out snow blowing, and I cut it close time-wise, but it turned out great. The coconut milk left white flecks in the soup, but didn't affect the flavor at all. I served it over brown rice and enjoyed the nutty texture it added.

Because we live in a relatively small town in New Hampshire, lemongrass and Madras curry are not commonplace. Knowing that I wanted to try this recipe (and several other Thai recipes), I ordered both ingredients from Amazon. There are a lot of differing opinions in regard to the dry equivalent of lemongrass, but 1 teaspoon of powder per stalk called for in the recipe worked out well.


This recipe can also be adapted for the freezer, so all you have to do is pop it in the Crock Pot the day of. I'm all over freezer slow cooker meals right now.

For dessert we all lent a hand in making Chewy Nutella Cookies. I replaced the butter with Earth Balance and the milk/heavy cream with Silk soy creamer. Kiddo couldn't stop devouring them. The crunch of the hazelnuts and chewiness of the cookie were the perfect combo. 


It was a lovely night spent at home. In our jammies. It has been a long road, but I think meal planning is finally becoming a habit. I'm so much better for it. I have a couple more Crock Pot meals in the freezer and the rest of the week is laid out in my head. It is so nice not to have to dig through the cabinets after a long day.

As of last Friday, Mario is home for a couple weeks. Instead of eating out or flying by the seat of our pants, I'm excited to plan ahead and test out some newly discovered recipes on him. That man loves a home cooked meal, and I am happy to add to my go-to list of quick, easy and delicious eats. Not all of them work out, of course, but I won't know until I try them. He is so gracious about the duds, and I love him for it. Jared is a little more blunt regarding his dislikes, but he's trying new things every week which makes my heart happy. We have struggled with his picky eating for most of his life, which is only complicated by his dairy allergy, so the opportunity to eat a family meal is priceless.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The deep roots never doubt spring will come.

Marty Rubin


After a week-long business trip, Mario walked through the door on Friday night with gifts in hand. 
Kiddo got The Hobbit on DVD. 
Me, well, I have a bit of eye candy in the form of a beautiful spring bouquet. 
I'm not normally a flower arrangement kinda gal, but he picked well. 
The bright colors and earthy scents greet me every morning when I walk into the kitchen. 

Spring is a renewing season for me. 
I'm not sure I have ever really put my finger on why before. 
My mood brightens, I crave gym sessions (whaaat?!), and my optimism soars. 
This spring is an especially important one for me, and I look forward to this impending shift in mindset. 

I shouldn't have to wait for warmer temperatures to release me from my glum-filled cocoon. 
But there has been a sense of waiting for my life to progress over the last few years, 
and spring reminds me that I haven't stalled after all. 
Semesters end, snow melts, and brighter horizons take over. 

I can't wait.








Monday, March 25, 2013

Music always sounds better on Friday.

 Lou Brutus

Despite the plethora of homework awaiting my attention, this weekend was full...in a non-academic way. Mario came home from his latest trip on Friday night. I had dinner waiting and we just hung out and caught up on our DVR.


Kiddo and I have fallen for Arrow. Anyone else watch that show? It has the superhero element for him (and is age appropriate) but the storyline keeps me watching. When Mario gets home, he wants in on the action. I love shows that appeal to the whole house. Jared and I also love Once Upon a Time. If he gets ready for bed by 7:30, we watch a half an episode snuggled in my bed. It's an incentive for him to get ready for bed in a timely manner, and is a fun little way to wind down at the end of a long day.

Saturday was a busy day. We got up early to volunteer at the pancake breakfast fundraiser at Jared's school. It's a charter school, and underfunded by the state, so they rely on fundraisers and parent participation to fill in the gaps. After working and helping with cleanup, we headed to the house of some fellow parents for their annual Christmas tree burning party. We are new friends, so this was our first time over. We had so much fun!

New England has been a hard place to meet people. We have a few folks we are friendly with, but few friends. The parents at Kiddo's school are a pretty tight group, and we are loving being a part of it. Mario and I were just lamenting last night about the fact that we are about a year from moving away, and suddenly meeting all kinds of people. Where have they been the last five years?! It wasn't for lack of trying, I assure you.


It was a really fun, redneck time. It is basically an all day potluck and get-together with a dried out Christmas tree burning finale. The thing lights up in a blaze of glory. There's nothing like alcohol and fire to get guys all excited. Kiddo played and sledded with the other kids and Mario and I got some much-needed adult interaction.


On Friday night, I decided to make an Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana copycat recipe for Mario's homecoming. It was amazing! Only I decided to double it, so we had soup coming out our ears. Mario suggested we bring it to the potluck, so we loaded up the leftovers in the Crock Pot. It was even better than the night before and got eaten up before half the people got there. It is definitely going in the "keep" pile. Recipe to come!


Sunday involved sleeping in, fresh biscuits for breakfast, movie-watching, and an early dinner of Chinese takeout. The perfect kind of Sunday, really.


Monday has brought our responsibilities back into focus. To do lists, homework, business calls, appointments, and the like. As I write this, we are sitting at our local Starbucks, each on our computers, plugging away. Somehow it is so much easier to get back to reality after a weekend of frivolity.


Happy Monday, Friend!


Linking up:

stillbeingmolly

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Always bear in mind...

that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.

Abraham Lincoln

This little blog of mine has been a bit neglected over the last couple weeks. I haven't had the time (or motivation, if I'm honest) to focus on photography and link-ups and the weekly things I typically partake in. But I realize that I can't always be "on". Sometimes school and family, my first priorities, become all-consuming. That's life, and honestly how it should be. Last month I wrote an original post every single day. That simply wasn't sustainable. I am glad to have hit that blogging milestone, but continuing would be to the detriment of my school work and home life. Balance.

My time and focus wax and wane depending on the happenings in the world around me. Each sunrise and sunset brings new joys and challenges. They also bring me closer to my dreams. In just a few short weeks, I will reach the end of a 4+ year journey. Instead of a finish line, I will arrive at a fork in the road. A big, scary, exciting one. Getting there is of the utmost importance.

In the meantime, this blog may occasionally get neglected. But not for long. This corner of my life and mind also deserves my attention. To focus on work, work, work and put aside the satisfaction writing this blog brings me would be to do myself an injustice.

Source: instagram.com via Sarah on Pinterest

Friday, March 22, 2013

High Five for Friday: Let it Out

This was a long, hard week. And although a completely exhausted woman is writing this post, I feel such a sense of accomplishment.

Coming off Spring Break is always hard. Readjusting my schedule and head space takes a day or two. Neglected assignments required my attention. I don't have class on Mondays, so I spent the day making the necessary adjustments. Then Tuesday came, and with it Snow Day number, um, 4? 5?  for the semester.

Frustrated and concerned about getting behind, my beloved professor moved the due date for a massive assignment up by two days, posted a narrated PowerPoint, and assigned additional homework.  I also had the goal of turning in my independent research paper this week. Let's just say sleep was scarce, but everything got turned in.

Including my nemesis, Independent Research Paper. I've mentioned this paper a few times, and perhaps you're a bit tired of hearing about it, but this paper was more than a just a paper I didn't really want to write (but looks so good on my resume/grad school apps). It became the culmination of all my fears, worries, and bad habits. In avoiding that paper, I didn't release myself of an impending burden. Instead my anxiety grew with each passing day, week and month that it went unwritten. To the point that I couldn't write it. I was paralyzed. I could mentally write entire paragraphs, but the second I sat down to put it to paper...nothing. And it didin't help that there was no due date attached. This gal needs a deadline.

I finally realized what I was doing to myself and got to the root of the problem. I'm a good writer. A naturally good writer. It's a strength among shortcomings. That's why my professor asked me to tackle this project. But her reputation, and mine, were on the line.  So something I once enjoyed doing became an outlet for self doubt. As a result, this once confident writer became a big ball of stress and nerves.

Somewhere along the line, What if I screw it up and let her down? snowballed into What if I don't get into my first choice grad school this fall? We have to move. How are we going to know where to go if I haven't found a school? What if I don't get in at all and I'm doomed never to become a PA? My goal to meal plan is totally failing. I can't write this paper. What will happen if I don't? I'm tired of Mario always being gone. I know it's his job and it pays our bills, but money isn't everything and my husband shouldn't be an occasional guest in my life. I'm carb loading. A diet shouldn't consist of sushi and bagels. Stop drinking coffee! Even decaf is making you miserable. I know you love it, but stop doing this to yourself. What if I don't get this assignment in by the due date? I've never turned in a late assignment, not once in 4 years! You haven't been to the gym all semester. Have they cut the lock off your locker by now? The cat has mats and you can't keep up with them. It's time to get him shaved again. What if he gets cold? Do they make kitty sweaters? You are going to fail, fail, fail! You're letting everyone down! 

By carrying this tremendous burden, I emotionally and mentally handicapped myself. By allowing normal, everyday insecurities to spiral into a doubt-shame-fear vortex. I think I have finally found an exit, and it's about time.

I'm guessing that I am not alone in this. A lot of us let expectations (usually of our own making) pile up. Then the initial stressor becomes buried under a sea of self scrutiny and a to-do list that never ends. Those who can let these things roll of their backs have my utmost admiration. I once had a therapist tell me "You are not what I would call a 'laid back' person." At first I thought "How can you say that?! I'm fun!". But she was absolutely right. I am laid back about a lot of things. Kiddo's public display of bedhead? Charming. A messy house? On my deathbed, I'm not going to be wishing I'd cleaned more. But when it comes to change, instability, unknowns and putting myself out there, I struggle. As my husband frequently reminds me, I am harder on myself than anyone he's ever met. The expectations others place on me are nothing compared to the perfection I demand from myself. I used to think I hid this internal Type A tendency well, but those who know and care about me can often tell. Then I'm hard on myself for letting the cracks show.

Holy purge, Batman!  This is supposed to be my High Five for Friday post! And so it shall be. Because I have so much to be thankful for. Amidst the anxiety are moments of greatness. Many, in fact.


1// We are so, so fortunate to have a big beautiful hot tub. This is a luxury we may not always have, and I should never take it for granted. Being stressed and hunched over a computer for hours left me with a painful knot in my left shoulder. Every night this week, I've soaked for a few minutes before bed. The ache lessens and I sleep like a baby. Plus, I get to stare at the stars during that peaceful period between the time when Kiddo goes to bed and I settle in for myself. I have been trying to make meditation a regular practice, and my nightly soaks have helped quiet my overstimulated mind.
2// Hey, I kind of remember that guy! And come this afternoon, he's all ours for three whole weeks. Working from his home office, helping out with Jared...I have forgotten what being a normal family feels like.
3// Brownie dates with Kiddo are just about the best thing I can think of. They built a brand new YMCA on the edge of town and the sweetest little bakery is just a block away. If we can spare even a few minutes before lessons, we stop and catch up on our day. We had a good chuckle after noticing that the last time we were there he was wearing the same shirt. I could have just recycled the old pics. Funny kid.
4// Some new music was in order. Even my satellite radio is boring me lately, as it seems like the same ten songs are on constant replay. I get it already, you're going to pop some tags. This album is smooth and mellow and works great as background music while I write or complete homework assignments. I saw it at Starbucks yesterday morning and decided to grab it on a whim. I don't regret it. And although there are only 10 songs, the album is over an hour long because each song lasts about 7-8 minutes. I was never a big boy band swooner, but I have to admit that JT has swagger. Is there anything that boy can't do?
5// Dining solo. Spending those days on Cape Cod freed me when it comes to eating out by myself. It's not that I was ever too afraid/embarrassed/self-conscious to do it. I just didn't. I had an extra hour before picking Kiddo up yesterday and had a hankering for sushi (shocking, I know). So I went to a restaurant and had some. I didn't put it off until Mario got home (although I'm open to going again next week...) or opt for Panera yet again (why do I keep going there?). I brought my laptop and caught up on emails. It was actually really nice.

Happy Monday, Friend!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DIY Paint Chip Art



Like most things, I was a bit behind on the whole paint chip craft trend. I plan to try ombre hair this fall and put a bubble necklace on my Christmas list. Oh, and 2014 is totally going to be my sock bun year.

I have stumbled across some cute projects here and there via Pinterest and some fellow bloggers, but had no idea how they obtained all those paint chips. You know those walls stocked with them at Home Depot? Yeah, you just grab some. Rocket science, Sarah. 


During a recent trip, I snagged a bunch and set to work. I perused the craft punch section at Michael's and found the cutest little owl punch/embosser. I simply punched away while catching up on my DVR one weekend afternoon. Easy peasy.


I had a 12x12 canvas left over from my confetti art project which was perfect since the owls were only about an inch long. A bigger canvas would have looked odd (and taken forever). I struggled a bit with how to create a color gradient, and tried a few different methods, until Kiddo said "put the dark ones in the middle and have it get lighter as you go out". He was totally right. I should be embarrassed that he was all over it, but I chalk that up to the fact that I am most definitely an over-thinker and, well, I'm happy to say he did not inherit that rather frustrating quality.



Once I found an arrangement I liked, I attached each piece with an adhesive foam dot. I ended up eyeballing the placement, but it looks surprisingly straight and uniform.


The still-bare freshly painted walls in my bedroom screamed for some color. I hung this on a little section of wall between a window and the bathroom doorway. I recently picked up a colorful owl print and whimsical frame from IKEA and together they made the perfect pairing.


The canvas was part of a value pack (on sale) and only cost about $2. The paint chips were free. I used a 40% off coupon for the punch, but it completely fell apart so I returned it. Luckily, I had enough punched to complete the project.

FYI: The Martha Stewart punches like the one I used have a weird rubber liner inside which, even with gentle use, got displaced and chewed up every time I used the punch. Without it, the punch is useless. Hence the return. They really are darling, and perhaps my experience was just a fluke, but beware of the potential for these to break.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Get 'er Done

After a brief respite last week, I am in "let's get through the rest of the semester" mode. I made significant progress on my research paper and plan to place it in my professor's hand tomorrow. I couldn't be happier. It is definitely an example of me being my own worst enemy. Procrastination, my friend, is an ugly habit. 

Some amazing food found its way into our lives. The first was a lovely cafe and bakery called Buckies Biscotti that I stumbled upon on my way home Thursday. I am so glad I had the wherewithal to turn around and go back there for breakfast. I spent a good hour effortlessly reading and writing because the atmosphere perfectly suited my mood. 

I ordered the lox and pesto breakfast sandwich...delish! They put the whole thing in a panini press so the bagel was thin and crisp and the flavors were perfectly melded together. Case after case contained beautiful baked goods (I snagged a couple Almond Joy cookies to take home), one devoted solely to biscotti. Some of the flavor combinations blew my mind. I really wish there were places like this closer to home. If you are ever on The Cape, give them a shout.


As luck would have it, my husband's favorite cupcake shop opened a store at the mall I stopped at on the way home. His favorite is the Baba Booey with chocolate and peanut butter. I picked up a few to bring home to the boys and we had a little tasting after dinner. Needless to say, I am reeling in my eating habits now that life is back to normal. I ate with abandon last week. Unfortunately, I am not blessed with the metabolism to do so regularly. But boy was it fun while it lasted.

Mario had a very early flight to catch on Saturday morning, so he opted to spend the night by the airport. As luck would have it, Kiddo didn't have school on Friday. We made it into a day trip, and headed over to catch the afternoon showing of Oz the Great and Powerful.


The storyline was rather lackluster, for me, but the special effects staved off boredom. It really is a beautiful movie, and any time spent with the boys is a good time. Kiddo loved it. Afterward, we went across the street so Jared could play some laser tag. Boy does that kid love laser tag. It is a big two-story facility that allows for lots of boy time. He came out smiley ("I had the highest score, Mom!") and very sweaty. 


We made a reservation at an amazing new Japanese restaurant by Mario's hotel. We had an hour, so I ran to the mall across the street (Gap Friends and Family sale!) and the boys went next door to Barnes & Noble. The sushi was great, and it was the perfect end to the day. I actually thought I may have burned myself out on sushi the other day, but that feeling is long gone. I obviously can't get enough. 

Lots of hugs and kisses took place in the parking lot before Mario headed to the hotel and Kiddo and I made the trek home. He arrives back home this Friday...then we get two whole weeks with him before his next trip. The first quarter has been a long one, and we are more than ready to reacquaint ourselves with normal family life.


Jared had a free day of skiing as a part of his lessons, which he finished up last week, so we headed to the ski hill on Saturday. I holed up in the restaurant/bar (the only real place to sit and work) and plugged away at my paper while Jared did his thing. It's a small mountain, and I could see the lift and bottom of the slopes from my perch. Kiddo's daredevil ways nearly gave me a heart attack a couple times! Holy moly is that kid fearless. He would point his skis forward and fly down the steepest hills like speed demon. We had a little talk about controlling his speed, and he went on his merry way.

We were thinking this last weekend could possibly be his last for the season, as the snow is slowly fading, but Mother Nature likes to keep us on our toes. Clearly.


I wouldn't complain about a snow day, surely, as long as Kiddo and I both have one. It always causes a bit of a pickle when Mario is out of town and Jared's school calls a snow day but the college does not. Fingers crossed!

Linking up:

stillbeingmolly