Friday, June 27, 2014

In the Midst of Living

I've been thinking about this post for months now, but I couldn't seem to figure out how to write it without seeming completely over the top in the cheesy/sentimental/sappy department. I thought you might attribute my behavior to pregnancy hormones, and perhaps this is still a worry with postpartum hormones, but I'm sharing anyway :)

My Dad is always declaring things to be "game changers," like really good apples, or a super soft new sweater. We make fun of him for this, but a few months ago, I read an article in Real Simple that was sort of a game changer for me! (Of course, I can't locate it for the life of me. If you know the one I mean and find the link, please let me know!). 

The gist - which we've all heard many, many times - is that we are not great at living in the present. I know, right? Some us dwell on the past, some romanticize the future. I tend toward the future. Too much time is spent waiting for things to come. A beautiful day, vacation, dinner, time and resources to work on projects around the house, a new milestone for the baby. 

The writer of the article said that she started saying, "I am in the midst of living" at different times to herself. It sounds so silly, I know! Weeks will go by and I forget all about it, but then it will pop into my head again, and I'll spend a moment thinking that right that second, I am in the midst of living my life. I find that the more mundane the activity, the more poignant it is.

Driving home from running errands, waiting in line at the grocery store, feeding a growing baby on the couch, stealing away to the back porch to read a bit when the sun is starting to set, drying the dinner dishes. All moments that make up my at times boring, happy, frustrating, funny, sweet life. I always feel remarkably lucky when I realize those things about my life right as they're happening. How extraordinary to be given so many ordinary moments. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Swordfish with Grilled Nectarines and Avocado Salsa

This is one of those dead simple dishes that is so good. Peter grilled swordfish, Nantucket-style (basically, drenched in mayo :). We also put a halved firm nectarine on the grill, which had been brushed with some olive oil.

When those were finished, I cut cup an avocado, the grilled nectarine, and mixed them both with the juice of half a lime. This would work equally well with peaches and plums.

Happy summer grilling and eating to all!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Master Bedroom Re-do

Oooh goodness. It hurts me to even look at these photos! We used this bedroom as our guestroom for almost the first year in the house, and then - after much deliberation - decided to make this our bedroom and the room across the hall the baby's room.

Our hesitation was mostly because this room is super narrow, and there isn't a great place for our Queen sized bed to live. AND you might have noticed that it had a horrendous wall covering. That, my friends, is paneling covered in contact paper.

At first, I wanted to take down the paneling, but this super fancy paneling was put on with special seams that tightly gripped it to the wall - you can kind of see them in the top two photos. Also the ceiling, which is in decent shape, was redone after the paneling was installed, meaning that if the panels were removed, there would be a gap around the perimeter of the room. Ugh!

So, covering it up was the best near-term solution. I found six rolls of thick grass cloth wallpaper for sale on Craigslist for $30 (total!), and my Mom came up one weekend to hang them all. We went right over the contact paper and crazy seams, which you can obviously still see a bit through the paper. The trim got painted white, and my Mom made those pretty floral curtains for me. I picked up new shams at West Elm, lamps at Target, and called it day :)

This isn't my ideal bedroom in any way - the shape is still tough to arrange furniture in, and the walls are still wonky. But it is so much better. I didn't think it was possible for me to feel even remotely positive about this room, and now I really like it. Thank goodness for forgiving grass cloth and handy mothers!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Glorious Summer

Peter requested lunch at Publick House on Father's Day, and it seemed like all kinds of young parents had the same idea. It was babies and beers galore!

It was such a beautiful afternoon that we went over to Crystal Lake afterwards for a little walk. It smelled a bit swampy, but there were tons of people swimming. Hearty New Englanders!

I said this last year, but I can't suppress the urge to say it again - summer, glorious summer, is here. I could not be more excited for school to officially get out, trips to the beach and Tanglewood, and putting all house-related tasks on hold for a few months. (Well, mostly - don't get too excited, Peter.)

This weekend, my parents are moving to their new house in the Berkshires. They sold their old condo in January, we've been missing our visits there so much. We're going to be busy getting it all set up for the next few days so that we can thoroughly enjoy it for the rest of the summer :)

Happy June weekend to all!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Soba Noodles with Salmon

A few weeks ago, I went over to a girlfriend's house for lunch who is also at home on leave with her sweet baby girl. She made this incredible salad with soba noodles, which I'd strangely never eaten before. So good!

Gorgeous wild-caught sock eye salmon was on sale at the grocery store, so that got added to my re-creation of her salad. If you use prepared smoked salmon, this would be a nearly no-cook meal since you just need to boil the noodles for 6 minutes or so!

Soba Noodles with Salmon

You will need:
3/4 lb salmon (or prepared smoked salmon - see above)
1 lb package soba noodles
1 cup arugula
1 diced avocado
1/2 English cucumber, sliced into half rounds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Juice of half a lime
Salt and pepper

Grill the salt and pepper covered salmon. Peter's been making little foil packets with water soaked wood chips to put at the back of the grill, and the grilled the fish at the front over indirect heat. Delicious! It does take about double the amount of time this way - our cooked for about 20 minutes with the cover on to trap the smoke from the chips.

Meanwhile, boil water for the noodles, and cook for 6-8 minutes. While the noodles cook, prep all your toppings. I also think slices of pepper, carrots, shredded cabbage, and cilantro would work beautifully in addition to or instead of arugula, avocado, and cucumbers.

Whisk the sesame oil, rice vinegar, lime juice, a bit more salt and pepper, and chopped scallions together for the dressing. Toss with the cooked noodles, and assemble the salad. This tastes great warm, at room-temperature, or cold, making it my new favorite summertime meal.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The skies cleared

After a week of rain and lots of crying (I blame the full moon/Friday the 13th/Mercury retrograde triumvirate), the skies cleared and we high-tailed it up to the beach. It was desolate because of the rain that morning - Peter's favorite kind of beach day :) 

When Peter first came on vacation with my family, he was a bit shocked by the sheer amount of stuff we bring with us. Same goes for Tanglewood visits. I'm slightly better about packing light for these trips than my Mom is, but I'm just not a simple towel on the ground kind of person. Know thyself, right?

This was a good trial run to see how we did packing for ourselves and Lizzy. We have a little baby tent for her, and brought some diapers and blankets - she actually didn't add too much at this point since there weren't any beach toys or mini towels to haul :)

On the way out, I popped into Russell for cider donuts, two giant heads of lettuce, and spicy hot pink radishes. Instead of our usual dinner at the Clam Box, we tried Salt in Ipswich - the lure of an amazing rum cocktail was too much for me to resist. Lizzy was a champ during dinner - not a peep. That salty sea air was good for everybody.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Reading

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Here's to lazy summer evenings with lots of light to read by! What's on your summer reading list? Do you have any good recommendations for me?

Friday, June 6, 2014

These Days

Almost two years ago I did a little post chronicling a fairly typical evening at home, and I thought it would be fun to put together another one, except this time, I get to start with the morning! I thought they would look and feel so different (new house, new baby, etc.), but it's sort of amazing to see how similar the pictures look, even though the descriptions are very different.

On this day (which was May 28, when Lizzy was one month old), she slept next to me on the couch while I ate breakfast, checked email, and read a bit of This Old House (my favorite magazine). I watched Kelly and Michael, which, to me, is one of the big perks of being home in the late morning and fed her (again - notice the always within reach lanolin!), and then I put her down for a nap. She sleeps in our room during the night, but I'm trying to put her in her crib for at least one nap a day now so she'll start to think it's a wonderful place to sleep in the not-so-distance future :)

While she slept, I worked on a project I'd been chipping away at during naps for at least two weeks - painting the stairs. The treads and hand rail got two coats of French Grey in Annie Sloan paint, and then the risers and spokes (are these all the right terms?!) got painted in Simply White. For reference, they used to look like this! I have a runner that I still need to put down, but I need to re-stock the staples for my staple gun.

She woke up, ate again, and then suffered through some tummy time while I made my lunch. This was such a good salad, you guys. First I sauteed the stems of rainbow Swiss chard, then added in a handful of sugar snap peas and a splash of water and cooked those for maybe a minute. Once the stems are a little soft, add in cut up Swiss chard leaves, some chunks of pepperoni, and a nice glug of olive oil. I obviously ate it on it's own, but I think it'd be great mixed in with pasta or with an egg on top to make it a bit more substantial. 

Afternoons are a weird blur to me. We probably snuggled, read some stories, and Lizzy likely got  to take a nap while I held her (her favorite). Then Peter comes home, and it seems like a switch is turned on and it's crying time on and off for the next few hours. I prepped dinner while he played with her for a bit - this basically involves letting her hold your fingers at this point! - then I fed her while Peter finished pulling everything together for this peanut noodle salad we had with left-over steak.

These pictures are blurry because time is of the essence during dinner since I never know when she's going to happily hang out in her swing for 45 minutes, or when she'll scream bloody murder five minutes after going in. We took our chances this night and put on an episode of the Sopranos - I've never seen it before! We ate, and then Peter and I passed her back and forth between us until her bath and bedtime routine. I know these days of happily passing around our little meatball for extended snuggles are short, so we're tying to enjoy them to the utmost.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Old Manse

Saturday was a beautiful day, so we headed up to Concord to check out the Old Manse and the surrounding grounds. This had been on my to-visit list for a while, so it was a nice surprise that they were having an open house that afternoon!

The trails and gardens behind the house are stunning. Everything is in bloom right now! And, an important battle happened on that little bridge. (I think it looks way too small for an important battle, right? Peter assures me it occurred there.)

Afterwards we went into the town center to hit up the Cheese Shop and a few other favorite spots. Lizzy was snoozing in her Ergo, so we took our chances and ordered a drink and some snacks on the front porch of the Colonial Inn. As soon as our drinks arrived, she started crying a bit (how do they always KNOW?!), but Peter walked her around for a few minutes and she settled right down, and we were able to toast to successful little adventures!
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