Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Cookie Bonanza on Butter Poached

When Laura of the lovely blog Butter Poached put out a call for readers to contribute to a virtual holiday cookie bonanza based on the Washington Post's annual cookie feature, I could not say yes fast enough. I wound up making two from the list - one fantastic and decently attractive, one fantastic but unfortunately reminiscent of boobs. I'll trust you to figure out which was which on your own, but do head over there for confirmation :) There are tons of fantastic reviews of many of the cookies from the list included in their post.

P.S. I know things have a been a bit photo collage crazy over here, but I recently discovered this site, and I am in love. It's crazy easy to use, there are lots of different templates, and (I might be just telling myself this?) I feel like it makes mediocre pictures look better. Anyways, passing along just in case you'd like feel tech-savvy without actually learning how to do anything technical!

Non-Scary Pregnancy and Parenting Books

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

As a person generally curious about biology and the human body, I've found myself to be surprisingly disinterested in nuts and bolts-style pregnancy books (except this good one that a girlfriend recommended). Most seem to present things in a such a dire way, making it too easy to imagine everything that can go wrong. Likewise for parenting books (i.e., there are infinite ways for you to irreversibly screw things up!).

So far, I've read 2, 3, 5, and 6 on this list, and the other two have been reserved at the library. Are there any others I should add to my cue? My first-born researcher tendencies are showing, aren't they?!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Literary City Guide: The Berkshires

Someone recently posted a link to Nicole's gorgeous website, Eat This Poem (I think it was probably Rachael - she always seems to find the best stuff!). I was smitten with the incredible literary city guides section, and offered to write one up for the Berkshires. Happily, Nicole agreed, and the guide was posted today!

I had so much fun putting this together, and of course, it's always exciting to see how amazing things can look in a beautifully designed space.

(Also, looking over it now, I realize a kind of funny error! In my little bio, I say that I'm a life-long New Englander, which isn't true at all! I lived in North Carolina for college, then D.C., then NYC. Ha!)

Anyways, I hope you enjoy it! And do check out the other guides there, too - but be prepared for a hefty dose of wanderlust to set in.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Our Christmas Tree

A blurry picture of our Christmas tree in all its glory! We stopped at the church tree lot where we've gotten our tree the last few years on Sunday. I was walking through and stumbled upon the most perfect tree - about six feet tall with fluffy, delightfully proportioned branches. I told one of the guys there I wanted it, and he was all, "Excellent choice! This little beauty was brought in from Washington state - people from all over the Boston area come here for these!" And then he told me how much this perfect Washington state tree was, and I decided to keep looking...

Luckily I found this pretty guy, grown in Massachusetts, and while not quite as perfect as the first tree, it's a still a great one.

While decorating, I made a batch of these little guys using clementines. Suuuuper easy, and they look so cute on the tree with the lights shining through them. If you're looking for a quick, painless craft with stuff you probably have on hand already, I highly recommend these!

Happy Friday the 13th to all! A very, very lucky day, in my opinion!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Yankee Swap $5-10 Gifts

1, 2, 3, 4

'Tis the season of awkward office holiday parties where you're forced to purchase an impressive gift that may end up going to your boss's boss for under $10. The pressure!

I'm going to pick up two bars of sea salt soap, tie them together with a red ribbon, and call it day. I love this soap, and it's a nice gender-neutral option. But while I was poking around, I thought I'd round up a few other things that could work just as well.

Do you have a fool-proof, crowd pleasing gift you always use for these sorts of things?! I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Oh, baby!

(Our one and only baby item thus far - a darling little sweater from my in-laws.)

So, yay, baby! We are absolutely over the moon. This was a long time coming (both because I'm nearly at the halfway mark with this pregnancy, and also because it took much longer than anticipated to actually get pregnant!).

I'm always curious about how people are feeling, so I'll tell you - I'm feeling really great, and completely recognize how lucky I am about that. The first few weeks were a blur of tiredness and picky eating, but for now, everything is sunshine and roses in pregnancy land.

A few other things people are sometimes interested in: we're not going to find out the baby's gender (well, until birth, of course!), we have a long list of names we're mulling over that I'll probably share later, I have a feeling that the baby's a boy, and, much to my surprise, I didn't really "know" I was pregnant until I took a test. It was also shockingly easy to forget, especially in the beginning! Not due to lack of excitement, of course, it just didn't feel real at all.

Now the baby's kicking quite a bit and I'm starting to get some visible physical evidence that I'm not just imagining this whole thing. It's feeling much more like I'm an official landlord and caretaker for this wild little wiggler.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

12 Days of Christmas

I know everyone is saying how quick the Christmas season feels this year since Thanksgiving fell so late, but it seriously feels so quick. In an effort to slow down - or at least be a bit more intentional about it - I put together 12 envelopes with little activities and treats for Peter this year. (In case the numbers are confusing, I did them based on the date instead of 1-12!)

I made a long list of little holiday ideas, which were mostly things we'd do anyway like trim the tree while eating fun snacks, watching Elf, and making a reservation for a special holiday dinner. All of those are obviously things I benefit from, too, but I also threw in some special surprises for Peter, like dinner of his choice one night with a few fancier-than-normal options, dark chocolate almonds he likes, and some special holiday beer. He doesn't know what's in each envelope, and it's been really fun to open a new one each night when we get home.

My last night of class is tonight, and after I finish my final paper, I'm going to come up with a mini self-care version of this for myself. It's going to involve bubble baths, reading magazines and grown-up books, doing yoga, and lighting the "fancy" candles I usually save for when we have people come over (Do any of you all do that, too? I admit it's kind of crazy...). I won't write myself little notes, but I WILL add it to my google calendar, which greatly increases my chances of completion. I'm dedicated to that little grid :)

P.S. Thanks for all your excitement about the baby news! I'll post later this week with a few more updates and answers to everyone's not-so-frequently asked questions, ha!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Waiting, Making, Loving

Waiting : until now to share some very fun news.
Making : our house into a home for a family - slowly, slowly.
Loving : that Peter and I will get to become parents together in a few short months!
Hoping : that we'll be half-way decent at our new gig.
Marveling : at the fact that I'll get to meet this new little person in early May.
Liking : the tremendous excitement and joy our family and friends have shown us.
Wearing : long sweaters, scarves, and scary belly-bands.
Needing : some bigger clothes :)
Drinking : tea, juice, hot chocolate, repeat.
Following : lots of the advice my generous girlfriends have given me (and if you have some to share, please do!).
Thinking : about how much I want to enjoy this short, special phase of life.
Feeling : excited, nervous, joyful, anxious, lucky, and so, so happy.

This idea came from Meet Me at Mikes!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Roasted chicken with fall vegetables

This dinner was so good - roasted chicken done the Ina way (basically, lots of butter, stuffed with lemons and herbs). I used to do it the Dorie hurry-up-and-wait way, but eh. It's kind of fussy, and this is nearly as good.

The real star was the roasted vegetables underneath, though, if you can believe that. I cleared out the fridge pre-Thanksgiving, throwing onions, carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, white potato, and garlic all in a big pile, setting the chicken with all its glorious fat on top. Yowzers. Leftovers were served the next day over quinoa - the perfect slightly bitter grain for all those rich vegetables.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's beginning

The Mount is doing a fun holiday tour this month, and we stopped by on Saturday afternoon for the first tour. I always love going to the Mount, but it was particularly fun to see it dressed up a bit for Christmas, with just a touch of snow on the ground outside. 

Afterwards we went to the Red Lion in Stockbridge for a late lunch. There might not be a cuter Main Street in all the land (I mean, I'm sure that's not true...but it is pretty darn cute). And the Red Lion this time of year is absolute perfection - a roaring fire in every fireplace, board games and newspapers set up on all the tables, the most delicious chicken pot pie, and those garish colored lights on all the trees that only they can pull off.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Peter's Aunt Virginia occasionally breeds her Bullmastiffs, and we happened to be in Connecticut over Thanksgiving to see the latest batch of puppies at three weeks old. There are six total, and all but one has already been adopted. I wanted that last one badly, but we need some basic things to make our house puppy-proof first (floors, functioning wall, a working fence, you know...). They look sort of big in these photos, but they're only about three pounds - for now!

Hope you had a lovely holiday weekend!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Updated Entryway

Yay, here's a little peak at our updated entryway! As a reminder, it used to look like this: 

I always have a really tough visualizing things when other people share stuff that involves new walls going up, so this might not help too much, but basically a wall was added where the linoleum meets the carpet in the picture above. The window next to the door was covered up (the siding on the whole front section of our house was replaced because of all the changing windows!). Now there's a closet there instead!

The wall with the mirror on it above is the bump-out for the new closet, which I love, love, love. We painted this room Benjamin Moore glade green - the same as the small half bath. It looks a lot more minty in the bathroom since there's no natural light, but I love it both ways. Edith Wharton had this theory that the best color for entryways was green since it helps people transition to or from the outdoors, and I like to heed Edith's decorating advice when possible :)

You can also see a little peak of my new red front door in the mirror! I'll try to snap some picks of the outside to show you how that's changed, too, but there's still so much to do out there. Maybe in the spring, ha ha.

One quick story about the art above the table. It's a painting of Le Petit Zinc, which is a restaurant I went to with my parents on my first trip to Europe when I was 13 years old. The whole vacation was magical; I felt so grown up, and I know it helped me develop my passion for travel.

Years after the trip, my mom and I found that painting in Bombay Company on clearance, and she snapped it up. It was in her home for years, and I always loved it. A few years after that (are you still with me? this is beginning to feel a bit like recounting a dream that's only interesting to the person who experienced it...), my mom was cleaning out the basement, and in a pile of pamphlets and maps from our Paris trip, she found the receipt from our dinner at Le Petit Zinc! It's in francs and everything. She gave me the painting a while ago for my house, and the receipt is still taped to the back of it. I've always thought it would be fun to get that matted and framed on it's own. One of these days...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Chase Woodlands + Peters Reservation

A couple weekends ago, we went out to Chase Woodlands for a walk in the woods. It was such a great afternoon that we tacked on Peters Reservation, too, which is right across the street. The parking lot for both only fits about six cars, so it's very quiet and peaceful along the paths. Great mile to two mile loops with pretty views of the Charles on the Peters side.

That night, Peter put this together. I'd been wanting breaded pork tenderloin from The Fort so badly, and luckily, Peter's version was an amazing substitute. In case you're inspired to make your own:

Happy almost weekend to all! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Feast for a Reader

This is perhaps one of the stranger things I've revealed on the blog, but I am really into betting. Not in a dangerous way - don't worry, you won't find me sneaking off to Mohegan Sun at 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday to spend away our mortgage payment. But I love little, frequent bets - who can guess what time we'll arrive, or who will show up last at the party. These almost never involve actual dollars changing hands; that would stress me out. The prizes are more like, I'll make you a fun dinner if you're right!

Last fall, I was in Connecticut visiting my family, and a frequently repeated conversation came up again. This is going to sound mean, but we regularly made fun of my dad for not being much of a reader. He reads newspapers - I think at one point, there were three delivered to their house. But books - not so much. He'd do maybe one a year, and he'd read it over the course of the entire year, but just on vacations. We'd jokingly refer to his "book of 2011" or "the San Diego-Italy" book.

Somehow, on this particular day, the conversation morphed into betting territory. An official, signed agreement was drawn up betting that he couldn't read ten new books in the next year. If he won, I'd have to cook him a five-course dinner (and - I'm about to reveal something else weird about myself - I would have to switch my toilet paper from over to under for an entire year. I am PASSIONATE about toilet paper that comes down over the roll, and he is equally passionate that it should be under. If he had lost, he would have had to do it the right way my way for a year, womp womp.)

Well, guys, he blew the bet out of the water. I think he finished his tenth book sometime over the summer, and he has truly, officially, become a person who loves to read books! I sent him a few options for his five-course feast, and we held it at my parents house a few weeks ago. The dinner was an absolutely joy to make, and it was wonderful to celebrate his new-found love of books. The toilet paper, on the other hand, will continue to plague me for many months...

Feast for a Reader Menu

5th course: Crack Pie

If you're curious about his book selections, they were a very eclectic mix! He read the Hunger Games series (loved), a Harlin Coben novel or two (loved), The Paris Wife (we told him he wouldn't like, and he didn't!), Outcasts United (loved), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (loved), and a handful of others. And now - post bet - he's reading a WWII book about fighter pilots.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sets in the West

There have been some amazing sunsets in Boston this week! I think I snapped this on Tuesday night? One of the best things about the new house is the view from our back deck, which faces west. We're up on a little hill, and there's this great view of the sky peaking through the roofs and trees.

This weekend I'm going to finish painting our front door red - it currently has one coat of paint on so it looks hot pink. Hopefully our neighbors aren't too worried! And I'll maybe tackle the treads of the stairs, too; we'll see how motivated I am :) The past few weeks, we've been furiously painting and cleaning and setting up, and I think it's time to take a bit of a step back. So tomorrow night we're also planning a fun dinner here, and something else good for Sunday, too. If the weather cooperates, a hike, and if not, a museum.

Happy weekend to all! Here's to not painting too much.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Half Bath Mini-Makeover

Yay, a completed mini-makeover to share! Over the weekend we painted the entryway (still being set up, but pictures coming soon!). There was half a gallon of that pretty green paint left, so I couldn't help but add the half bath to the list, too.

I did have grand plans to go with a cute stripe in here, but laziness won out. Maybe in a few years when everything else in the house is done / adorable (HA!), I'll have the motivation to tackle more creative things. But for now, this feels like a big victory - one (itty bitty) room in our house is now looking a-okay.

The before shots above are actually better than what I was starting out with because there were two truly horrible bathroom cabinets over the toilet and sink. You can see the creepy shadows on the walls where they once were. Since we have a full bath upstairs with storage aplenty, I was fine with getting rid of those cabinets down here, and there's still some storage under the sink for my blow dryer and cleaning supplies. 

This room was clearly a blank slate, and we certainly won't be don't anything major to it in terms of renovations. But if I had been the one designing this bath, I would have gone with pedestal sink to free up some real estate - it's a very narrow room. And for the love of Nancy, I would have centered the toilet on the wall (!!!).

I've tried to counteract that left-leaning toilet by centering the art work above it (obviously), but also adding a free-standing toilet paper thingy-majig and putting the tissues in the middle, too. It helps a little? If anyone has any additional brilliant ideas, I would love to hear!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Candy Eating Day!

On the agenda for tonight:

  • Watching Psycho (I've never seen it all the way through!)
  • Making this for dinner (though I'm equally tempted by this)
  • Fantasizing  about having this (!!!) for dessert, but I think all the kidlets in our new neighborhood will probably take all the candy first / I'll just eat any left-overs in their "natural" form 
Happy Halloween to all!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Overdue Renovation Check-in

I am so overdue for a renovation check-in! Last time I provided an update, this is what things looked like (just over a month ago!). Oy! In the last few weeks, we've gotten our beautiful new dry wall up, trim, and the electrical work was finished. I'll spare you pictures of this, but our horrible "third bathroom" in the basement with the scary toilet was also capped off, and now I feel a lot less afraid to go down there and do the laundry.

In the entryway, our tile went down and our new hall closet got finished. The door is still missing in this picture, but it's there now in all it's unpainted glory :) Also, last weekend while we still had our dumpster in the driveway, I decided to take out the horrible green carpet on our stairway (which you can see here). I want to paint them black and white and add a runner - that's on my long to-do list.

I'm sharing the horrid pictures above for posterity's sake. Since we moved in at the end of August, we've been using the back porch room as our living room/storage area because the living room was out of commission. Shield your eyes from the painful paneling and top of the line cooling unit built into the wall. While I'm thrilled that we had a space to set up our couch and TV while this work was being done, I am extremely happy that those days are behind us (and that the room is now freed up so that we can prime and paint that atrocious paneling!).

Over the weekend, we painted like mad in the living room so that we could finally move in. I still have lots of setting up and arranging to do, but I couldn't resist sharing this little sneak peek of the new space.

Yay!!! This cute little lamp is one of the first things I dragged out of storage to set up in the space. I was so happy to receive it right before our move, courtesy of, and have been waiting (very impatiently) to see it in its new home every since. So pretty, right?

I can't wait to show you guys the rest!

Disclosure: The product mentioned in this post was provided to me by the stated brand for review purposes only. I was not paid to promote or endorse this product and all thoughts and ideas are truthful and reflect my opinion alone.
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