Friday, September 26, 2014

Introducing Fresh Basil Travel Services!

Ten years ago this fall, I returned home from studying abroad in Italy and wrote out a dozen or so pages of detailed recommendations for every place I visited in Europe. My dad still foists that crazy (and quite outdated!) document upon anyone who even mentions Italy.

All that to say, I've long taken great pleasure in sharing bits and pieces of vacation advice with family, friends, and even a good deal of strangers.

It's been lovely to have an excuse to share travel tips with all of you on Fresh Basil over the years, and I absolutely adore fielding questions via email about visiting the Berkshires or New York or Martha's Vineyard. But I've often thought that it would be fun to formalize that arrangement a bit and offer up my obsessive vacation-related research skills to the masses.

And so, I am absolutely thrilled to announce the start of Fresh Basil Travel Services! This is basically an excuse for me to do the crazy kind of vacation prep I would do for myself for you.

I love planning where to eat and what to see and do, but I know many people do not find that kind of thing to be very exciting. In fact, it can be kind of a bummer to sift through loads of blog posts and review sites and travel forums to plan your perfect trip (or so I've heard!). If you'd like to hand off that task and just get down to enjoying your vacation, I would love to help!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Boston Date

On the last Friday of my maternity leave, Peter, Lizzy, and I went to Row 34 for lunch, and then walked around the seaport. I'm not sure I'd call it a "workingman's oyster bar" - we were next to a darling couple bemoaning the fact that Facebook was down during our first visit - but it is a delightful, delicious spot. And totally baby friendly, thanks to its large, open dining room (that's Lizzy's stroller in the foreground of the pic above). 

We went again last weekend for dinner when my parents were in town. Still delicious, still a-okay for Lizbert.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The State of Things

Asters in honor of a new September baby!

This was an exciting, tiring, fun, full week in our household. The biggest and bestest news is that our niece, Caroline, arrived! I got to swing by the hospital on the day she was born to meet her. She feels absolutely light as a feather compared to the heifer I usually tote around. She has a darling, sweet little face, lots of dark curly hair, and is just such a dear. Peter and Lizzy haven't gotten to meet her yet because they were both fighting colds, but I'm hoping they'll be well enough for introductions over the weekend.

Because of the new baby, my mother in law has been staying with us for the last few days, and it's been such a treat. Lizzy is loving the extra attention, and Peter and I are getting spoiled by her cooking.

Since going back to work, I look forward to our weekends so much. Probably too much, because I hate feeling like I'm just "getting through" the majority of my week/life. On most Tuesdays, though, you can find me tearfully telling Peter that the weekend is way too far away and I can't possibly make it. But then I do (time hasn't stopped yet on a Tuesday, but my fear that it will is alive and well!).

It helps - tremendously - that Lizzy is over-the-moon happy to arrive to daycare each morning. She spends her days there being smiled at, played with, given toys, and toted around, and I really think it's her idea of heaven. I miss her way more than she misses me.

I also completely recognize that we are in a very, very lucky position right now - this a Champagne problem. We are all healthy and happy, and I know how lucky I am to not only have a job, but one that I really enjoy.

Anyways, I feel myself rambling along. I started this weekend tangent intending to say that I look forward to having two uninterrupted days with my family so much that I feel like I need to pack them to gills with fun and productivity. Have meaningful time with Lizzy one-on-one! Go to the farmers market! Establish ourselves at our new local church! Paint furniture, vacuum, clean out my closet...on and on. I don't exactly know what to do about this because it is actually the best time to do many of these things, and I want to have a balance of fun mixed in with everything else that needs doing. I'm sure we'll figure this out, but if you have any advice, it would be most welcome.

Wishing you all a very happy weekend. TGIF to the max.

Oh, and P.S.! Thank you for weighing in on the island. I went with white, but did pale green stools. Looks cute! I owe you a pic.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kitchen Island Color Help

After months of hunting, we're picking up a used version of this island that I found on Craigslist. It was originally black, and the owner painted it white, but didn't do a great job, so it's going to need a bit of TLC. Since it will need to be repainted anyways, I've been thinking about different color options. Here are my thoughts:

1, 2, 3, 4

Red could be fun - our front door is red, and I love the idea of bringing this color into our house a bit. However, I also have lots of pink in my living room, dining room, and porch (basically, every other room on the first floor), so I'm not sure if this is the best choice. 

Green is on the walls in my entryway and half bath, and I have a cute new chair in my living room that's green and white, so it would be fun to incorporate a bit more of this color into another room. 

Navy is an interesting option, too. A lot of my house is light in color, and it might be nice to have something a bit darker in the mix. The walls are pale blue, and I always like when rooms have layers of the same color in different intensities. (This sounds like I really know what I'm talking about, but let me assure you that I do not!)

And finally...good old white. I have paint that matches our cabinets exactly. That's definitely the path of least resistance! 

Thought?! I clearly need help deciding!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

North Fork Weekend

Last month we were invited to join friends for a weekend on the North Fork of Long Island. The other couples we were with both have children, too, and it was so neat to see our friends as parents and get to know two kiddos that are a year and two years older than Lizzy. We have lots of chasing to look forward to in our future!

It was a low key trip with dinners at home and lots of chatting and wine, but we did explore the area a bit. We had lunch at First and South in Greenport and also the Lunch Truck at North Fork Table and Inn - both were delicious and had outdoor space for the littles to run around.

One afternoon, the ladies left the babies at home with our husbands and went to Konokosta Winery, where all these pictures were taken. The setting is unbelievable, and the wine is good, too (though other reviewers seem to think it's not as good as other options in the area - we weren't feeling too picky!). On the way out, we stopped at one of the many farm stands in the area to pick up all kinds of goodies before taking the ferry home, which made it a really easy trip to do from Boston.

Summer, I'm missing you already.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Feasting, Sleeping, Beaching

Happy Friday to you!!!

I seem to have fallen into the habit of posting sleeping baby pictures. Are we okay with that? Lizzy's just started rolling over, and when she does it in her sleep, she just sleeeeeeeeeeeeps and sleeps forever and it is glorious. Also, this gives you a decent view of her mullet-ish hairdo. I want to cut it off, but Peter thinks this is mean (!??!), so please weigh in if you agree with me. Just kidding, you can also weigh in if you think we should keep her party in the back hair going strong.

Peter's students came back this week and Lizzy had four days in a row at daycare, so even though it was a short week, two thirds of the household are very tired. I'm the most awake one! This hasn't been the case for four months and a few days (a.k.a. since Lizbert arrived), but it's nice to carry the torch of enthusiasm for the family once again.

Tonight we're doing a slightly lower key version of our annual back to school feast. There's a bottle of Sofia in the fridge, Peter's picking up a frozen yogurt pie from Cabots, and I'm going to make some kind of seafood pasta dish like this, but with more seafood :) Peter and I might get really crazy and watch one whole 22 minute episode of The Spoils of Babylon.

Tomorrow, we're hoping to squeeze in one more beach day, with a stop at the farm stand for cider donuts and corn on the cob. I haven't had my fill of corn yet at all, and this delicious looking polenta is calling my name. Then we'll probably do boring homeowner things on Sunday like mow the lawn and weed the "gardens" (quotes because you'd have to be very generous to look upon our plot o' land and think garden).

And maybe (!), we'll get to become an aunt and uncle this weekend! We're anxiously awaiting the arrival of our niece, who I absolutely can't wait to meet.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend! Perhaps you should have an end of summer feast yourself, regardless of any ties to the school calendar!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Secret Ingredients

When I told Peter I was putting together a post with a few of my go-to "secret" ingredients, he said his list would just be lots of butter and salt. "Always more than you think you need." Ha!

My secret ingredients are fish sauce, Meyer lemons, anchovy paste, and smoked paprika. Each one is added to all kinds of things, but is never the main event - they just give dishes a little hint of something curious.

I add fish sauce to my peanut sauces for rice noodles, and also as a quick marinade for pork or chicken. The Meyer lemons are a finishing touch on all kinds of things like pasta, risotto, rice, and seafood. The smoked paprika goes in potato salad and sweet potato salad, chicken marinades, and lamb ragout. And the anchovy paste! I use this in soups and stews when I want a little something extra in terms of salt and complexity, but it also goes into tapenades and pasta sauces.

What are your secret ingredients? Butter and salt?!

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