Friday, March 22, 2013

Five things

This posts feels more self-indulgent than usual. As a blogger, isn't most of you write inconsequential little tidbits about yourself? But I've so enjoyed reading other people's posts, so I'm happy to play along (albeit belatedly!), thanks to Rachael's invitation.

1. You could possibly tell this already, but I am a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I was voted Class Angel in high school, programs like D.A.R.E. really worked on me, and I hardly ever swear. I'm still scandalized to learn about things Peter did in high school that really weren't so scandalous at all. It's terrifying to imagine having teenage children someday for these very reasons.

2. Goody-two shoes tendencies aside, I am sort of a terrible driver. Speeding, tailgating, rolling stops; this is also when the occasional swearing takes place. Don't be too scared, though, because I hardly ever drive.

3. I love personality tests, horoscopes, team building activities, and ice breakers. Hence, I can easily rattle off that I'm an ENFP7, Cancer, Virgo rising, air hands, and otter :)

4. Finding a photo to accompany this post was a strange process - I so rarely share photos here, it feels like a statement when I do (I realize that's crazy). I've been thinking a lot about personal photos since reading this. Not sure where I've landed, but Gabrielle poses some interesting questions about confidence and being comfortable enough to snap (and share!) photos of yourself.

5. Let's end with a bang! I have an impressive ability to cross my eyes, then ping pong them back and forth independent of one other, like a pendulum. This drives Peter insane! So, obviously, I do it way too much. Ha!

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you have a lovely first spring weekend (though we're still firmly in winter's grasp here in Boston). I'm going to buy asparagus anyways - I'm past caring that it's from Peru.

Also, I think you all should post your own five things! I'd love to read them. Or just take some personality tests from the links above and tell me what you are - perfect Friday afternoon activity, right?!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Berkshires Bedroom: Before and After

We spend tons of time in the Berkshires, but I don't think I've ever posted photos of my parent's place there!

They bought their condo 12 years ago, and we decorated it during the height of Trading Spaces. Bright colors, accent walls, stencils - if Paige Davis was into it, so were we. A prime example of this was my bedroom - pale pink walls, crazy hot pink floral stencils. Yowzers! I've been ready for a change for a while - especially since for the last seven years this has been Peter's room, too - but it's so hard to spend a would-be fun weekend in the Berkshires painting, you know what I mean?

We finally bit the bullet last weekend. It was soooooo worth it.

We painted the walls pale grey, and flip-flopped the bed and the dresser (I like it best when you walk into a room and see the bed, rather than the dresser). The bedding is stuff I've had for a while - an old Pottery Barn pattern that's pretty close to this one they're selling now. We picked up those lamps at Home Goods, and the striped throw pillow and bed skirt came from the Pine Cone Hill Outlet.

It's obviously not completely finished - we're missing some art work over the bed and window treatments. But I just couldn't resist sharing it! It goes to show what a huge difference a coat of paint can make - especially when that paint is covering up hot pink floral stencils :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Secrets of Happy Families

The Secrets of Happy Families is certainly designed for people with children - tips include having a long series of sex talks with your kids throughout their childhood (I had this in my own family, and I'm a big fan) and not worrying so much about the much-praised family dinner. I like researching and planning, so I loved thinking about how we'll do these things with our kiddos when that time comes (this is not an announcement!). However, I'm also a firm believer that Peter and I are already a family unit, and it was nice to think concretely about ways to improve our family's happiness now.

One of my favorite tips that we're able to implement is about creating a family mission statement. We haven't gone so far as distilling it down to a single core sentence (yet?!), but we think and talk about what we value quite a bit. This includes hosting family and friends in our home, traveling and doing new things, spending time together in the evening and cooking dinner, being able to give some money to causes we believe in, and then saving as much as we can without sacrificing all that fun stuff.

This exercise is especially interesting when you think about what gets left out, right? To me, it's fun to think about how your time + money are working toward (or against) the things you've decided you value most. Travel and new adventures can sometimes be hard to invest in, but for us, those things mean so much. Other stuff - like shopping or new gadgets - can easily be left behind because we don't really value those.

All this to say, I highly recommend this book. Bruce is a very likable dad - evidence here - and this is chock full of tips for families of all shapes and sizes. If you'd be interested in receiving a copy of your own, leave a comment below and one will be sent to the winner!

This is part of a blog tour by TLC Book Tours.  I received a copy of the book to read and review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are mine.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gnocchi with Lentils and Prosciutto

When we were in Montreal, we had the most decadent, duck-fat filled creation at Au Pied de Cochon with gnocchi, lentils, and all kinds of meat. We tried to re-create it at my parent's house about a month ago, and it was delicious, but I wanted to see if I could do again with an even more humble interpretation since we used an amazing duck liver mousse the first time around.

I'm know I just said I'm desperate for spring flavors, but as we hunker down for yet another snow storm (!), this kind of comforting, stick to your ribs food still feels right. The ingredient list is a little long, but you could sub out anything on it (except the gnocchi and lentils!). Celery, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale could all be nice additions, and I think a vegetarian version would be just lovely.

I've done my best with the directions, but this loose recipe is bound to frustrate you rule-followers in our midst :) If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!

Gnocchi with Lentils and Prosciutto

Serves 4
You will need:

1 package potato gnocchi
1/2 cup lentils
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, sliced and halved
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms (we used oyster)
3 slices prosciutto, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup liquid - water, stock, wine, and cream (I used some of each)

The original dish had pickled beets - divine. In place of that, I used a small bundle of broccoli rabe for some bitterness. Also, a warning: regular beets will turn the dish pink :) The original was also meatier - feel free to add sausage, duck, chicken, or pate of some kind if you're feeling fancy!
Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Boil the lentils for a bit, just to get them going in the cooking process - maybe 15 minutes. You don't want to turn them into mush since they cook in the oven, too. While those are cooking, saute the vegetables in a bit of butter until soft, about 10 minutes. In a casserole dish, combine the uncooked gnocchi, lentils, and vegetables. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add liquid until you can see it come up the sides, but don't submerge everything - I'd guess you need about a cup total. Place the torn pieces of prosciutto on top - the liquid you added shouldn't really make these wet at all.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the gnocchi is soft and the prosciutto is crispy.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Forcing Spring

OMG. Happy March 1st!!! The forecast called for a rainy/snowy mix today, but the weather gods could clearly see that we've been pushed to the limit in Boston - the sun is shining, and all looks much better than it did before we turned the page on the calendar.

This is the time of year when I get very itchy to wear my plethora of pink clothing. I'm tired of piling mountains of blankets on the bed, and I'm desperate for some asparagus. However! These things won't be viable options for about six more weeks. It's time to force spring in my life. 

I'm already on my second pot of daffodils - they're only $2.50 at Trader Joe's, and they are so happy and cheerful. I might need one for every room in the house. I've also got my little Easter tree up (with branches I stole - spy-style - from our neighbors at dusk!). These will be replaced with forsythia or some other floral thing as soon as I can get my hands on it from the grocery store.  

And speaking of the grocery store! I can't eat another parsnip or butternut squash. In this funny interim stage, I buy frozen artichokes, asparagus, and peas, lots of the those plastic packets of fresh herbs (mint and parsley feel especially good right now), and big bags of lemons. The dish above is based on this recipe, but I added feta and olives - delicious additions that I highly recommend. 

For fun stuff, I would absolutely love to make it to the Bulb Show at Smith this year, and I sort of feel like I need this shirt to celebrate spring's impending arrival. Is anyone else as desperate for spring as I am?!
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