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.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Block Island Redux

Last time we were on Block Island, it was way off season. When we recently returned, the island was quiet and calm; many of the restaurants and bars were closing up shop after the weekend (and were consequently running out of strange things, like sour cream and salad dressing!).

But we were there for a big wedding with two of the most loving families who brought such warmth to the festivities. An example: at the end of the reception, the bride's brother and brother-in-law sang an amazing version of this Boss classic with new lyrics that were completely personalized for the happy couple (the bride is a HUGE Bruce fan). Each time the chorus came, all 200 guests sang along. It probably sounds cheesy, but it was pure wedding magic.

I remember feeling like it was a bright, sunny day on their wedding, but looking back at these photos, I realize it was a bit overcast. All the love in the air was giving me rose colored glasses!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Enjoy the Remainder

I have almost no patience for people who complain of busyness, but lo, I have been too busy lately. This is mostly a result of traveling lots and lots (for wonderful occasions - we've spent many weekends away this fall for weddings, plus some great family visits squeezed in) but with class and work and our house, I'm more than ready to tone it down a bit.

Thankfully, we'll mostly be home through Thanksgiving. Things are being kept afloat at work, but lots of good stuff - the fun stuff - of daily life has dropped away. Our contractors are actually finishing up today (!!!) with phase one of our house projects, so we have lots of painting and cleaning in our future. But I also want to get back to having people over for dinner, buying flowers, stopping at the farmers market, making soup, playing golf, watching Drop Dead Diva - you know, the really important stuff.

I snapped this picture when Peter and I went golfing on Columbus Day. This fall has been absolute perfection in Boston (and you know I'm an autumn hater), so I want to enjoy the remainder as much as possible.

Cheers to the rest of October, and to finding room for all the good stuff.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Polenta and Peas with Pork Sausage

Do you sometimes wish you could hear what everyone's planning to make for dinner that night around 3:30 p.m.? That's when I get a twitchy feeling, trying to weigh what I'm in the mood for against what I actually have in the house. This dinner sharing fantasy involves a Twitter hashtag, maybe with a quick link to a recipe. Reminders about all those good dinners you sometimes forget about - pasta with cauliflower and breadcrumbs, scalloped potatoes and ham, tacos with black beans and kale. Wouldn't that be great?

Anyways, I'm giving you a loose recipe below, but you could certainly come up with something good based on the title alone. I've had this in my "to make" cue for more than six months, and I finally got around to creating a lazy weeknight version of it. To adapt it for a much speedier cooking time, you obviously need to skip the homemade sausage. I used a few sweet Italian sausages that I just removed from their casing.

I made real polenta - as opposed to instant, which would certainly speed this up further - but I always use the oven baked method. To do that, you combine 1 cup cornmeal with 4 cups of water, plus a big pinch of salt. Sometimes I add dried rosemary if I'm feeling fancy/have some on hand. Bake that at 325 for an hour, topping it with a few pats of butter at the end. Very creamy, very easy polenta every time, without the arm workout.

Polenta and Peas with Pork Sausage
Adapted from Food52

You will need: 

Polenta (see above)
3-4 sweet Italian sausages, casing removed
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
2 carrots, small dice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock, or water
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Chopped parsley

Get your polenta going right away (if not using instant) because that takes about an hour. About 40 minutes into cooking the polenta, heat a cast iron skillet to medium and add a glug of olive oil. Brown the sausage pieces then remove from pan. Turn down the heat slightly then add the onions, garlic, and carrots and gently cook until soft. Pour in the wine and then add the stock or water once the wine has reduced by half. Add the sausage and peas to the pan, and heat until the peas are cooked. Grate in the Parmesan cheese, and serve over polenta. Sprinkle parsley on top.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More Children's Lit Favorites





I may complain a bit about the workload in my class, but I am LOVING the books we've read so far. This list tends toward the dark and serious - even brave - end of the children's literature spectrum (with the exception of Building Our House, which is pure sweetness and delight).

I hadn't read any of these as a child, so I came at them with only my adult perspective, of course, but to me it seems that these titles require a lot of trust in child readers to handle the "big" stuff of life - poverty, racism, abuse, violence, death, heartache (I'm probably not doing a great job convincing any of you to pick these up!). But these intense topics are handled with such sensitivity and grace, and leave room for so much discussion and dialogue. Tricky issues without answers in many ways, making them brave books for readers of every age.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Itching to make something cute

I'm sure my color ideas will change and evolve over time, but I've been sort of paralyzed to do anything until I felt like I had some kind of "master plan" in terms of paint colors for the house. I mean, to be clear, that's not the only thing stopping me from painting - five of the six spaces above are still covered in paneling, or don't actually have walls up at all. Ha!

But, I've been itching to make something, anything, in my house look cute for now, and the only thing that I can really dive into is my half bath on the first floor. I thought I might want to do some kind of stripe (like this), but I felt like I couldn't commit until I had a general idea of what would be going on around it. The back porch is behind it, which will be white with hopefully the glacier blue on the ceiling. Then the kitchen is on the other side, and I think that could end up being glacier white, too, for the near-term at least. So a cute khaki and white striped bath in the middle would be fun, right?!

Peter's away this weekend for a bachelor party on the Cape (I'm jealous). I have two papers to write, but maybe I'll feel ambitious enough to start this little project. Or just buy a cute hand towel at Home Goods for the bathroom and watch the rest of Drop Dead Diva season three - we shall see.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

P.S. My parent's beloved condo in the Berkshires was listed for sale this week! They found a house that they might want to buy instead, hence the listing. If you know anyone looking for a great spot up there, feel free to email me for more details!
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