It’s an especially grey day in Boston, and I’ve got plans to get all kinds of housework and errands done… or, um… maybe I’ll just snack on summer tomatoes and watch the Olympics.
Days like today are perfect for taking a break and recharging a bit.
I’ve got a new book to dive into, a hundred episodes of On Being to listen to, salads to eat, and a blanket fort to build.
I hope you have a very happy (+ very relaxing) weekend.
Also On Tap for Today:
Looking for something to do? Check out the 4moms Road Trip tour (Sat + Sun from 11 AM – 4 PM) at the Boston Children’s Museum. 4moms will be exhibiting their new self-installing car seat (like… why didn’t someone invent this sooner?) and giving you the chance to win the ultimate road trip prize pack: a 2016 Honda Pilot AND the full suite of 4moms gear. You can enter here, but if you show up at their tent this weekend, you can get 5 additional entries, along with other great prizes they’ll be giving away on-site.
I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think we’re finally at a point where I can wake up and start the day at a reasonable time (say, 6 AM), on my own terms (i.e. not to feed a small babe), at least a few days a week. On those days, I do my best to embrace a few quiet moments, be even a tiny bit more productive than usual, and set the tone for an amazing day.
Or, like… maybe just an average, mostly normal one. But why not aim for amazing?
MAKE YOUR MORNING AMAZING
Step 1: Do not look at your phone. I repeat: Do not look at your phone. This is your chance to start your day with your thoughts, your ideas, your plans. The easiest way to derail these thoughts, ideas and plans… is to be consumed by someone else’s thoughts, ideas and plans. Or, like, emails and tweets and news stories. You might sneak in a quick meditation, read your favorite poem, start a morning pages habit, or simply say to yourself, “Today’s gonna be a good day.” I like think over the Dalai Lama’s morning prayer… but sometimes, I just simply say, “Be good.” Here are a few more morning reading recommendations.
Step 2: Make a quick, easy and nourishing breakfast. I used to be a breakfast skipper, mostly because I “didn’t have time.” I’ve learned to prioritize my morning meal, though, and find myself feeling way less hungry (read: cranky) and way more energized. My go-to lately: A bowl of fruit, a rice cake and a Protein Superfood smoothie using Amazing Grass’ new chocolate peanut butter powder, some ice and skim milk. The plant-based powder is a mix of peas, chia, quinoa and hemp, along with 7 alkalizing greens and 9 nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.
Step 4: Match your manicure to your marble countertops. Step 4 is purely optional.
Want to win some Amazing Grass Protein Superfood powder (your choice of Original, Vanilla or Peanut Butter Chocolate)? Leave a comment below! One winner will be chosen on Saturday, August 6th. (Giveaway is open to US residents.)
As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I am happy to partner with Amazing Grass on this sponsored post.
Also On Tap for Today:
Save 40% off your online purchase at amazinggrass.com by using the code 40SWEATPINK2
Share my “streamline everything” progress (believe it or not, there has been some progress!)
Watch as much of the Olympics as humanly possible
BACK TO SCHOOL WITH HOLLAR
And because it’s nearly back-to-school time (I know, I know), I have something extra cute to share today. Grace starts preschool in just a few weeks and our friends at Hollar (our new go-to spot for gifts and goodies) hooked her up with an Elmo backpack and all kinds of art supplies and learning tools. Check out Grace’s feature on the Hollar blog here. We’re really grateful to have partnered with them on this fun project.
We haven’t been home enough to commit to a full CSA share, but I’ve been keeping an eye on the weekly boxes (a best guess at each week’s contents is posted on Mondays and you can order as late as Wednesday night for a Friday pick up at the farm), which currently cost $23.
We’re home all week and you know I love a good bunch of carrots and berries by the pint, so I got my order in right away. We met my mom at Ward’s (word to the wise: it’s really busy there at lunch time) and I really appreciated having her there to helpnavigate with Grace and baby Nick. Our first stop was the animals, or as Grace calls them, “the little friends.”
My mom and Grace picked up our Farmer’s Choice boxes at the back of the store and grabbed a table outside in the shade, while I ordered smoothies and tried my best to not knock over produce displays with Nick’s stroller. Small life goals. That’s how we roll these days.
Mo’ berry for her, Green Machine for me
Once we were outside, I couldn’t resist taking a peek in the box.
This week’s Farmer’s Choice box contained
1 head of lettuce
1 bunch of carrots
1 lb Romano beans
1 Green bell pepper
1 lb wax beans
1 head of fennel
1 pint of blueberries
1 bunch of Bok Choy
1 lb of squash
I picked up a pint of strawberries and some new potatoes at the farm store to round our my order.
Meal planning with the Farmer’s Choice box
Lettuce: Use in salads; lettuce wraps with black beans, corn and pico de gallo
Carrots and Romano beans: Use in salads; as a snack with hummus
Green bell pepper: Greek salad (I’ve been eating a simple mix of peppers, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, feta and fresh oregano all week)
Onions: Use in an easy summer gazpacho; and roasted with new potatoes and thyme
What I made | 007 sounds so… James Bond. I assure you what follows is less secret agent and more… lady making a mess on her coffee table. I’ve been completely swept up in Mary Ann Moss’ Oh My Gouache class and have been using gouache in place of my usual watercolors, acrylics and inks. I even made my own sketchbook (Who am I?) and promptly began painting ships in bottles… and bottles of Polar Seltzer.
So this post is all gouache, nothing but the gouache. So help me, gouache.
No need for more nonsense. Here’s what I made recently:
What better way to wrap up a week down the Cape than a weekend in Vacationland? Or technically, 20 hours in Portland, Maine. We were only there long enough to catch a ferry, enjoy a wedding on an island, eat a pizza, take a nap, drink a cup of coffee, buy a lighthouse postcard for a lady in Poland, and retrieve our car… but hey.
I’m always game for a change of scenery, however short, especially if water and boats and beaches are involved.
20 HOURS IN PORTLAND, MAINE
Saturday, 1 PM: Check-in at The Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Waterfront
After 3-ish hours on the road from Boston (we hit a little traffic, which seems appropriate for a summer Saturday) we arrived at our hotel, The Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Waterfront. My not-so-extensive research involved Googling the ferry line we’d be taking to the wedding, locating the closest hotel, comparing prices a bit (there are a few hotels within walking distance of the Casco Bay Ferry Lines), and checking availability.
We were really happy with the Hilton. So, um… thanks, Google. The night before we arrived, I was able to check-in using the Hilton Honors app and choose our room (something I’ve never seen before, making joining HH and downloading the app totally worth the 2 seconds each required). I snagged the last room available with a water view, which felt like a triumph of sorts.
We arrived well before check-in… but shortly before we needed to arrive at a wedding in all our “beach formal” glory, so we left our bags with the front desk staff and freshened up in the pool/fitness center area before making our way across the street to buy our ferry tickets.
Even the drain markers are cute. Or whatever.
1:30 PM: Purchase ferry tickets
Super easy. Round-trip tickets to the Casco Bay islands are $11. They need to be purchased in person, however… so don’t do what I did. (Which is spend an hour trying to figure out how to buy them online. And another six minutes calling the terminal to ask how to buy them online.)
And by lunch, I mean… I ate onion rings and drank a Diet Coke at the bar. That’s how I wile out on vacation. Nick, on the other hand, had a lobster roll and an Angry Orchard. He’s my better half, and also, my more normal half. It was relatively quiet at the bar, but there’s a bigger seating area out back, including a deck with views of the bay. I think that’s where everyone else was. Eating onion rings. Or maybe an entire meal of food.
2:00 PM: Board the ferry to Long Island
There’s a Long Island in Maine. And that’s where we went. I didn’t take many (any?) pictures on the ferry, but the 30 minute ride was comfortable and the views were extraordinary. We passed several lighthouses, gorgeous sailboats and schooners, and a few smaller islands before reaching the dock and heading to the wedding.
8:50 PM: Return ferry to Portland
The ride back to Portland took closer to an hour (the route is a loop, and so we hit more stops on the way back), but we got to enjoy the most spectacular sunset while waiting on the pier. Once we got back to Portland, I grabbed our bags and headed up to our hotel room… while Nick picked up a veggie pizza from Bill’s Pizza on Commercial Street.
Sunday, 8:00 AM: Breakfast at the Standard Baking Company
The next morning, we ventured out for a walk, but the skies opened up (and who packs an umbrella?) after a few blocks, so we headed back toward the hotel and grabbed coffee, tea and 9,000 calories worth of baked goods from the Standard Baking Company. I highly recommend the gingerbread with lemon glaze. And I want to go back and eat everything else they have to offer. In the meantime, I’ve got my eye on their cookbook.
We stopped into a nearby shop for the aforementioned postcard (a postcrossing special request) and matching lobster pajamas for the babes before checking out and heading back to Boston.
It was a short, but sweet (extra sweet if you consider that gingerbread) visit to the Portland area. I’m looking forward to heading back when we have a bit more time to explore and enjoy the area.
When we were kids, our parents would take us on “Mystery Rides” on summer evenings spent on the Cape. I think we usually ended up at Sundae School or Chatham Light. Or maybe one of the bayside beaches.
I still love a good mystery ride.
The rain let up yesterday afternoon just in time for a late afternoon Mystery Ride with our own babes. We were at the lighthouse on Sunday and it was too early for sundaes (actually… it’s never too early), but I had the perfect (sort of mysterious) place in mind.
I’ve wanted to visit the Cape Cod Lavender Farm in Harwich for ages. It’s hidden among conservation land, at the end of a long, unpaved path. Just when I thought we were lost, I started to smell the lavender. Just heavenly.
We arrived just before the little shop closed, picking up a bunch of lavender that had been harvested the day before. The gentleman there encouraged us to walk around, pointing us in the direction of a castle and some fairy doors.
I don’t know who loved this little set-up more, me or Grace. It was enchanting– the whole farm was, really. We stumbled upon a bunch of kindness rocks and fairy houses, all the while being lulled by the calming lavender fields around us. I bet I could take a legit nap there. Or at the very least, chill out for 20 entire minutes.
CAPE COD LAVENDER FARM
I have a feeling we’ll be back to the Cape Cod Lavender Farm for a plant or two before the summer’s over. It has definitely earned a spot on our Mystery Ride destination list.
The details: The Cape Cod Lavender Farm is located at 41 Weston Woods Road in Harwich. It is open 10 AM – 4 PM and 12 – 4 PM on Sundays.
I was trying to get back to sleep after feeding Nick a few nights ago and should have done just that (sleep), but instead I scrolled through the approximately 900 open browser tabs on my iPhone.
Obvious disclaimer: We all know screens and sleep don’t mix.
Of these 900 (give or take) browser tabs, there were articles I had started to read (and thought maybe, eventually I’d finish), recipes I hoped to make, and Frenchies I would like to sneak into our home. The usual. Plus, like, the unusual.
If it’s 3 AM and you’re reading this, maybe… put down your phone, sniff some lavender and try to do some sort of sleep visualization. But if it’s the middle of the day and you’re wondering what on Earth I find interesting enough to keep floating around on my phone for days (or in some cases, months), you’re in luck.
OPEN BROWSER TABS | 3 AM EDITION
Find a friend (a.k.a. The tab I will keep open forever and always): Every few months, I spot a Frenchie that I am certain is related to Clark and I try to convince Nick that we need to reunite them. In our home. Forever. I’m selfishly not hyperlinking this one because I want first dibs on our next puppy… and because I think there’s much to be said for adopting pets rather than buying from breeders.
Farmer’s Choice Boxes from Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, MA: We haven’t been home enough this summer to justify a full CSA share, but I’ve been keeping my eye on the weekly box offerings from one of our favorite local farms. New lists are posted each Monday and you have until Wednesday evening to purchase the week’s box if you’re interested. This week’s box is $23 and includes blueberries, carrots, tatsoi*, summer squash, red beets, lettuce, onions, mint and fava beans.
July’s printable calendar is inspired by the matching popsicle pajamas Grace + Nick wore last night. As soon as the paint on this sucker dried, we hit the road, staying up past our collective bedtime and making decent time from the city to the Cape.
Nothing beats an actual popsicle on a hot July afternoon, but popsicle pajamas are pretty great. And these painted ones aren’t so bad either. They’re mess-free and calorie-free… which is occasionally a good thing. Like, say, if you’ve already eaten four real popsicles. Or whatever.
A new Mama Beasts challenge kicks off on Sunday, which makes setting wellness goals extra easy — I find these challenges to be super motivating (a new session of classes just started, check out the website for more info) and love feeling extra inspired both during and outside of class.
In addition to specific challenge activities (increased vegetable/fruit intake, mileage, core work, etc.), I will also be conscious about staying adequately hydrated. I usually drink at least 100 oz. of water, but I’ve been slacking lately (and feeling ridiculously thirsty at night).
Start (and, like, somewhat finish) sleep training. We moved Nick in with Grace a month ago… and then he cut 5 teeth and stopped sleeping so I moved him back to the co-sleeper in our room. I love having him in there. But I haven’t slept for more than 4-5 hours straight since 2013. And I think that’s probably not okay.
I want to streamline everything. I was reading about people who eat the same breakfast everyday in order to not waste their decision making braincells (or whatever) and started noticing how much time and energy I waste waffling (which, disappointingly, has nothing to do with waffles). This is obviously not a fully developed idea, so I suppose my goal is: Figure out what “streamlining everything some things” would look like.
I love a good podcast. And I love pretending I have the technical know-how, requisite storytelling ability and captive audience to manage a successful podcast of my own. But um, I have none of the above.
I do have some ideas, though. A whole notebook full of ’em. And they’re free for the taking. Just please make sure, if you do go ahead and develop any of these ideas into the next Serial… let me know. So I can subscribe. Oh, and maybe let me do the MailChimp ad that will surely kick off each episode. Cool. Thank you.
THE NEXT SERIAL | IMAGINARY PODCASTS
Idea 1: Mystery Store
You might have one (or more) of these stores in your town, you might not… but you probably do. The signage is sort of murky. Maybe the store is called Jim’s or ABC America or Real Deal$ (for the record, I made these up, so if your store is actually called any of these things… sorry. I’m especially sorry if you used a dollar sign instead of an ‘s’ to spell the word deals. Really $orry.).
Or perhaps there’s no sign at all.
Maybe the store presents itself as one thing, but you kind of get the sense it’s another thing entirely. Like, you swear you’ve seen people walk in for a haircut and walk out with an electric keyboard. Or you notice a bunch of not-so-gently-used baby strollers out front, but the advertisements hanging in the window feature a “catch of the day” special.
Okay, so I’ve set the scene. The way this podcast works is simple, if not a tiny bit dangerous. You identify a store that fits the criteria outlined above. You enter the store, poke around a little (while describing the things you’re poking so your audience feels like they’re in the trenches with you, obviously), maybe act interested in something specific. When you’re finally approached by a salesperson, you engage them in some friendly banter and then BAM! You hit them with the million dollar question(or maybe $7.99 question, all depends on the store, right?):
OK. But what do you realllly sell here?
It’s anyone’s guess where the episode (and frankly, your life and safety) goes from here. Exciting, right?
Idea 2: Conversations from the floor
This one is inspired by the 2 year-old in my life. She seems to be spending an increasing amount of time on the floor. Sometimes she’s kicking. Sometimes she’s crying. Sometimes she’s looking for an errant cheddar bunny under the sofa.
Toddlers are really, really funny. This doesn’t always translate in the moment (tantrums can be really upsetting for everyone involved, and I don’t mean to make light of what seems to be an important phase of child development… except to say that we sort of all need a sense of humor to survive). But they’re funny, nevertheless.
Just this morning, I had the following conversation with Grace:
Grace: Mom. Mom. Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mom. MOM!
Me: Yes, honey?
Grace: Mom. Mom. Mom. MOOOOOMMMMM.
Me: Do you need something, or are you just saying my name?
Grace: I’m saying your name.
Grace: And I need something. I need a reflection light.
Me: Can you tell me what a reflection light is?
Grace: I need it.
Me: I don’t know what it is. What do you use it for?
Grace: I need it to look at trees at nighttime.
Me: Can you tell me what it is again?
Grace: I said it. It’s a reflection light.
Me: A flash light? (lucky guess)
Grace: Yes. I told you. Please, you’ll get me one at the store today.
Actually, maybe this podcast is more of a quiz show. You guess what the H a toddler is talking about. And if you’re correct, the toddler’s parents give you a handful of slightly moist Cheerios that they found between the seat cushions in their car.
Idea 3: The Pregnant Shopping CartImpulse ShoppingWhy Am I Buying This? Title TBD
I’ll happily hand this one off to any currently pregnant moms. Or maybe we can cast a wider net and call it Impulse Shopping. Whoever grabs this tasty snack cake of an idea can sort of the details.
I came up with this one while nine months pregnant, carefully placing my organic produce on the belt at the grocery store check-out when… What’s this? Six bags of sour gummy bears?
I’d be lying if I said things like this only happened when I was pregnant, but I believe my impulse shopping was especially cool, weird and interesting when I was expecting.
And if you choose to stick with the pregnant lady angle, maybe this podcast could have a sort of public service element whereby you educate the masses on what you should/should not say or do to pregnant women. Like in episode one, you could (genuinely) complement a mother-to-be for looking so radiant. You ask her how she’s feeling. You respond kindly and enthusiastically and non-judgmentally to any details she shares.
You don’t say things like “Whoaaaaa! You’re about ready to POP!” Or assert that you’re positive there is a “secret twin in there.” (And yes, these are things strangers said to me when I was pregnant.) And maybe you make a point of announcing into your micro-cassette recorder (Or does it all happen on your iPhone? I don’t know. That’s why you’re making the podcast, not me.) that you are not touching anyone’s belly. You’re just not.
Or…. maybe you just stick to interesting impulse purchases. Or maybe you empower a toddler to make impulse purchases in a mystery store. Yep. That’s going straight to the top of the charts.