All posts by Elizabeth

My favorite gifts for newborns

I received a gift card from Marshalls in exchange for this post.  All opinions are my own.

Did you know September is the month with the most births in the U.S.?  According to The Daily Viz, the days between September 9-20 are the most popular birthdays in the United States over the past twenty years.  It’s statistically probable (something I rarely have confidence saying, but I think we’re good…) one of you is celebrating a birthday or the arrival of a newborn, so congrats! And if you’re celebrating neither, but you like cute stuff… I’ve got you covered too with plenty of my favorite gifts for newborns, new parents and older siblings.

Throughout the month of September, Marshalls is offering an expanded selection of (really!) adorable baby items at incredible prices.  I have zero chill when it comes to baby things, so when I stopped in earlier this week to pick up a few gifts for an upcoming baby shower, I could barely contain myself.  

Whether you’re shopping for your own children, a family or friend, or getting a jump on holiday shopping (please mentor me), September is a great time to hit up Marshalls for baby gifts.

Here are a few of my recent finds (isn’t that the best part of shopping at Marshalls and other TJX stores?) and recommendations.

MY FAVORITE GIFTS FOR NEWBORNS

The staples

my favorite gifts for newborns

You can’t go wrong with bibs, burp cloths and swaddling blankets.  Our children are 3 1/2 and 21 months and we are still using all three in heavy rotation.  

Something soft

my favorite gifts for newborns

Marshalls has the best selection of blankets (many come beautifully packaged and ready for gift-giving).  I picked up two cotton quilts in gender-neutral grey and striped chambray that would be great for keeping a newborn warm in a stroller or car seat, but could also be used later on in a toddler’s crib or bed.

*Gentle reminder: please check out the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on safe sleep for babies here.  

Books and educational toys

my favorite gifts for newborns

You can’t go wrong with a good book (and it’s never too early to read to children).  I love this Baby Animals book because it’s interactive (lots of flaps and textures) and the bold graphics are perfect infants.  Marshalls has a great selection of books and educational toys at unbelievable prices.  Most books and toys are labeled for age appropriateness, taking the guesswork out of shopping.  I found a few of my kids’ favorites while I was there– Grace especially loves giving copies of her favorite books to her younger cousins and friends.

Looking for book recommendations? Here are a few of our favorite summer reads.

Something sort of ridiculous but incredibly cute

my favorite gifts for newborns

This two piece knit set had me swooning.  Is it practical?  Probably not.  Most parents register for the things they actually need… so why not include something over the top cute with that box of diapers or crib sheets or onesies?  This set would be perfect for newborn photos or snuggling at home during those first few sleepy weeks.

Unconventional nursery decor

my favorite gifts for newborns

How fun would this light box (a definite #marshallssurprise at less than $10) be in a nursery?  You could use it for monthly photos (something I forgot to do… every single month… for both children), post love notes, or simply write out your child’s name.  In a pinch, it would also make a decent nightlight at 3 AM.  

Don’t forget about mama

my favorite gifts for newborns

Don’t forget about mama!  Marshalls has plenty of small gifts for new mothers, too– and anything you can do to encourage moms to care for themselves will surely be appreciated.  Time for self care feels limited in the early days, so consider keeping things simple.  This rose water hydrating mist would be a lovely addition to any baby gift.  I love the minimalist packaging and super subtle fragrance, and it’s something a mother could use one handed… in the wee hours of the morning…

And something for older siblings

my favorite gifts for newborns

Okay, maybe don’t give a toddler a harmonica, especially when there’s a newborn in the house (says the woman who put a tambourine in Grace’s Christmas stocking just weeks after baby Nick was born… I blame lack of sleep…).  But I know those older siblings appreciate being showered, too!  These infant and “big kid” toys featuring characters from our favorite books would be such a fun gift for a family with more than one child… and soundproof walls.  

Seriously, though.  Skip the harmonica.  I stand by everything else.  Happy Birthday, September babies.

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite gift for newborns, new mamas or older siblings?

Feta, lemon + dill dip | Labor Day Weekend recipes

When I dip, you dip, we dip… our cucumber slices into a big bowl of feta, lemon and dill dip.  Okay?  Okay.

This dip came to be much in the way anything I make does… I surveyed my pantry and fridge, got a little heavy handed with the garlic, threw everything in the blender and hoped for the best.  And I got just nearly that.  I brought some to my nephew’s first birthday party (he preferred cake and I don’t blame him) and will be making another batch for Labor Day Weekend.

FETA, LEMON + DILL DIP

feta lemon dill dip

Vegetarian, gluten free.  Serves a crowd.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups crumbled feta
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • zest from 1 lemon (like, the same one you juiced…)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cucumber, sliced

Directions:

  1. Set aside half of the lemon zest.
  2. Combine feta, garlic, lemon juice and red pepper flakes in high speed blender, adding olive oil slowly, and blend until smooth.
  3. Put your dip in a bowl and garnish with fresh dill, remaining lemon zest, additional red pepper flakes (and more olive oil, if desired).
  4. Serve with cucumber slices or other veggies or a good, sturdy pita chip.
  5. Enjoy.
  6. Yes, it’s that easy.

I use this crinkle cutter for cutting crudite and kind of love it.  It’s one of those things you don’t know you need (though, honestly, you don’t) until you have one (taking up extra space in your utensil drawer).  

Here are a few more recipes you might enjoy for Labor Day Weekend:

And last, but not least… S’mores on a Stick.  Maybe make those first.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you making this Labor Day Weekend?

Late summer bliss

August is winding down, people are talking back to school, stores are selling Halloween candy and pumpkin spiced nonsense… and I’m here, pretending to be immune to it all, soaking up some late summer bliss.  

late summer bliss balloon

This has been a summer to remember.  

Fortunately I have an Instagram feed and recently acquired old school journal to help with that remembering… (most days I forget where 90% of the things we need are… and then there was that one time Grace announced, “Mom, one of your children is missing!”… it was Nicky.  And he was in the driveway.  And yes, I was sure to write that down because it seemed both hilarious and intensely terrifying.).  

late summer bliss

The kids and I have spent nearly every day of the last 2 1/2 months down the Cape, free from the rush and routine of our city lives, which has been both exhilarating and disorienting.  We’ve missed Nick terribly while he’s been at work during the week, and packed as much adventure into our weekends with him as possible.  

late summer bliss tomatoes

late summer bliss 1

We put quite a dent in the summer bucket list we made as a family back in June (which I wrote on the first page of the aforementioned journal… I am basically a middle schooler trying to have the best summer ever).

FAMILY SUMMER BUCKET LIST 2017

  • Take an airplane ride (Grace) — LOL. NO.
  • Cape Cod Museum of Art (Elizabeth)
  • Feed the ducks at the lake (Nick)
  • Go on adventures (Grace) — I’m going to make an executive decision and call this done
  • Go to Provincetown (Elizabeth) — We took an impromptu drive up last weekend, but I sort of want to go back again immediately, if not sooner.
  • Farm visits (Elizabeth) — We’ve been to the Taylor-Bray Farm a few times this summer
  • Get a library card (Grace) — One of my favorite days!  We’ve made good use of that card.
  • Drive a race car (Grace)… this hasn’t happened yet, but we are taking her to the go-carts next week, so… that must count?
  • Plant a garden (Elizabeth) — Nick upped the ante (and kept things alive) by adding a drip irrigation system 
  • Play in the sprinkler (Grace)
  • Pirate museum (Nick) — We went to the Wydah Pirate Museum in July to see treasure from the Wydah, a pirate ship that wrecked of the coast of Marconi Beach in 1717 (the dive site is still active)
  • Berry picking (Elizabeth) — Blueberries!
  • Mini golf (Elizabeth) — I think we accomplished 3 holes before Nicky tried to go swimming in the decorative water feature thing
  • Bowling (Nick)
  • Eat at Hangar B (Elizabeth)
  • Band concert (Elizabeth) — we made it to 3 of Harwichport’s Music in the Port nights
  • Play in the pool (Grace) — No pools, but lots of “underwater diving” in Nantucket Sound
  • Make a safety plan (Grace)… can you tell she’s my daughter? Safety first, fun second.  Also, a safety plan would have really helped on a day like this one… so maybe I should get on this.
  • Go to the playground (Grace) — and not just any playground, legit the best playground
  • Fireworks (Grace) — Maybe this weekend in West Dennis?
  • Make tie dye shirts (Grace) — She made one for herself, Nicky and all of the cousins
  • Go to a “baseball concert” (Grace)… I think she meant a game… and I totally blew it (the Cape League season ended two weeks ago)
  • Bubbles (Nicky)… a solid contribution to the list
  • Drive in movies (Nick)

There’s still time, people.  THERE IS STILL TIME.

late summer bliss days cottages truro

I knew this would be a fun summer, but I hadn’t anticipated that it would be more significant than that.  My time alone with Grace and Nicky truly has been something special.  Something to cherish.  Something to reflect on. Something to miss when they’re older and can drive themselves to get ice cream.  Something to learn and grow from as a mother (and, like, a regular person). 

Late summer is perfect for this sort of thing (learning, growing, reflecting).  

late summer bliss lifeguard stand

late summer bliss 2

As the season begins to shift, we inevitably do too.  

Soon we will fall back into our routines.  We’ll spend more time actually doing things, and less time counting boats and birds.  We’ll have more structure to our days, and less sand in our shoes.  We’ll have a little time apart (likely important for the sanity of everyone involved) while the kids are in school.  And we’ll eat less ice cream (again… important).

late summer bliss days cottages

But for now, for these last few weeks, we’re going to live in our late summer bliss.

Also On Tap for Today:

How are you living your best late summer life?

Meal prep + planning | with Roche Bros. + The Dinner Daily

Disclosure: I received a complimentary membership to The Dinner Daily and a gift card to Roche Brothers.  As always, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.  I am grateful to partner with brands that are such a perfect fit for my family + lifestyle.

Is there a person on the planet who wouldn’t like an extra hour or two each week?  If so, call me.  I want your secrets.  Lately, I’ve been giving myself that extra hour by not going to the grocery store and not relying on my own brain power (and a poorly organized recipe collection) to come up with an answer to “What’s for dinner?”  

roche brothers dinner daily

I like to make food that looks almost as good as it tastes.

Meal prep and planning can be both lifesavers and total time drains.  I start off with the best of intentions (namely, making a few days worth of healthy + delicious meals for my family)… and the next thing I know, I am alphabetizing my cookbooks.  And researching how to fish a wooden spoon from the depths of the garbage disposal.  And making a mid-prep run to the store because we’ve run out of olive oil.   And then promptly roasting 7 million chickpeas (when I likely only really need 3 million) when I return.

This week, however, my meal prep and planning have been 100% on point, thanks to both Roche Brothers home delivery + an amazing menu planning service called The Dinner Daily.  I feel like I’ve gained at least two additional hours (which I will promptly waste Googling “things I can blame on the solar eclipse” and “why can’t I fold a fitted bed sheet?” and “at what age will my children become embarrassed by me?”…) because of these two services.

roche brothers the dinner daily

You’ve heard me preach the gospel of grocery delivery before… but here’s a refresher, just in case.  

5 REASONS TO ORDER YOUR GROCERIES ONLINE + HAVE THEM DELIVERED 

  • When you order your groceries online (and either have them delivered, or schedule a time to pick them up), you save yourself the time it would take to get to the store and do the actual shopping.  This is obvious.
  • You also save your spirit whatever toll wrangling two toddlers in/out of the store might take.
  • And you don’t risk exceeding your budget on so-called impulse purchases… because you’re not there to be tempted.  I find that this cost savings usually offsets any convenience or delivery charge.
  • And you won’t come home only to find you already had cumin, but not coriander… because you can consult your spice drawer while you’re ordering.
  • You can order things that won’t fit in your car/wheeled shopping cart thing/arms/re-useable tote bags and/or that you’re embarrassed to be seen carrying in your front door… but that are useful and cost-effective to have (see: economy packs of TP).

ROCHE BROTHERS HOME DELIVERY

roche brothers the dinner daily

The holy trinity of my routine diet.

Having used a number of different services, I kind of love how Roche Brothers takes online grocery shopping and delivery to the next level with their specialized sorting and refrigerated trucks.  Once you’ve placed your order online (their website is super easy to shop and allows you to filter for items that are on sale, gluten free, organic, etc.), an in-store employee shops for your items and sorts them into categorized bins: refrigerated, frozen, ambient/shelf stable.  All items come directly from the store (rather than a warehouse, which is not true for all grocery delivery services…) and are kept at the appropriate temperature before being delivered.  All orders can be delivered literally to your kitchen.  Yes… even up several flights of stairs.  Frozen items arrive frozen, refrigerated items arrive cold, and everything is carefully packed.

roche brothers the dinner daily

I had a chance to watch Kelly at the Roche Brothers in Millis shop an order to be delivered, and learn a bit about the process.  I know I can be particular (is that a nice way of saying challenging?) about my produce and loved that Roche Brothers encourages their customers to include notes about the items they’ve ordered.  Do you want your bananas more green than yellow?  Cool.  Do you want an extra ripe avocado?  Cool.  Do you want to go into detail about how medium you’d like your medium yellow onion to be? Cool (I think.).  There are plenty of local options, too — including heirloom tomatoes from Ward’s Berry Farm (so obsessed).  

As Kelly scanned each item on the customer’s list, her tablet directed her to place it in the appropriate bin on the cart.  Their technology seemed far and above what I’ve seen elsewhere.  Semi-related: I can’t help but think of this scene from Silicon Valley.

roche brothers the dinner daily

When you pretend to be a chill person… but then you track down a delivery truck and take a photo of it.

I placed my first order for a day I knew we’d be in the city (unfortunately delivery is not available at the Cape… Extreme First World Problems: Elizabeth Edition), using my shopping list from The Dinner Daily (more on that in a second).  In addition to the ingredients for several meals from The Dinner Daily, I ordered some of our weekly staples (kale, Teddy’s unsalted peanut butter, cucumbers, berries).  I got a call earlier in the day because one of the items I ordered wasn’t available, and was able to make an easy switch.  Everything was in perfect shape when it arrived — I really couldn’t have been happier with the process.  

Roche Brothers also provides a pick-up option, and these orders are often ready in store within 1-2 hours of being placed.  If you’re familiar with RB, you know they sort of go above and beyond [True story: Grace was 18-ish months old, I was at least 11 months pregnant with Nick, it was 3,000 degrees out and everyone was being rude… so I drove the 30 minutes in traffic to the nearest Roche Brothers because I knew people would be nice to us there.  And they were.]… so you won’t be surprised to know they encouraged us to call ahead if we have children in the car and need help with pick-up orders.

THE DINNER DAILY

roche brothers the dinner daily

Along with my tour of the Roche Brothers store, I had a chance to learn about their partnership with The Dinner Daily and meet its founder and CEO, Laurin Mills.  Laurin talked about how the company was borne out of her desire, as a working mother of three, to simply dinnertime, while making mealtime both healthy and enjoyable.  Basically, I was fully on board from the start.

roche brothers the dinner daily

If you know of a way to make chickpeas and/or farro look cute… let me know.

Each Friday, families receive their tailored menu for the following week.  Menus reflect your dietary preferences and designated store (they work with stores across the country and menus feature items that are on sale at your designated store) and family size.  Weekly menus include 5 dinner options and side dishes, all of which take fewer than 40 minutes to prepare and serve.  Many require only one pot and/or can be made ahead.  You can swap out meals that don’t appeal to you, leaving you with 5 really delicious, healthy and easy-to-prepare options.  

I’ve been using my Dinner Daily plan for three weeks now and cannot get over how great these recipes and menus are (especially on the vegetarian plan).  In addition to weekly menus, The Dinner Daily provides organized shopping lists (which make online grocery shopping that much easier– there is even an integrated option for this), a database of online coupons (if that’s your thing) and helpful blog posts featuring party menus and new recipes.  

I love that The Dinner Daily takes the guesswork out of what to make for dinner each night, which gives me more mental space to focus on important things like… how to get the spoon out of the garbage disposal.

roche brothers the dinner daily

Such an unintentional hipster.

Here’s what I made this week.

THIS WEEK’S MEAL PLAN (+ a few snacks)

  • Sweet Potato + Black Bean Bowls with arugula + orange salad from The Dinner Daily
  • Farro salad with tomatoes + herbs 
  • Gnocchi with tomatoes + spinach from The Dinner Daily
  • Spicy, Crunchy, Cream Polenta with a chopped salad from The Dinner Daily
  • Quinoa + Corn Cakes with Tomato + Cucumber Salad
  • Roasted chickpeas (I swear by this recipe from The Kitchn)
  • Quinoa Caprese salad
  • Feta + lemon dip with garlic and dill (recipe will be coming in hot later this week…) with fresh vegetables + pita

You can try The Dinner Daily for free (a two week trial) by visiting their website.

Still here?  Go enjoy that free hour.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Daydreaming: 9 truly covetable pantries from The Kitchn
  • A very windy evening walk on the beach 
  • Looking forward to some really fun houseguests this weekend!

What would you do with an extra hour this week?

 

3 Things Friday

3 Things Friday… or alternate title: I have 3 things I keep forgetting to tell you.  And it happens to be Friday.  Let’s roll. Or whatever.

3 things friday

Dill is amazing in bouquets.

How did I learn this?  I bought a $10 arrangement at the farmers market last week (a “too many flowers” sale was underway), and it wasn’t until we got home that I realized it was full of the most lovely, fragrant dill.  The yellow flowers look a lot like Queen Anne’s lace.  I suppose I’ve never been successful enough in my herb gardening to grow dill to the point of it flowering (I either eat it… or it dies), so I snipped a few stems at my parents’ house this afternoon and plan to add it to a vase of hydrangeas later today.  Or maybe I’ll just keep smelling it.  Regardless, you might consider adding some fresh herbs (mint, basil or rosemary, perhaps) to your next bouquet.

Major PSA for nature-loving seniors (+/or those who know one).

The National Parks Service Senior Passes (which gives people over the age of 62 lifetime access to parks and public land) will increase in price on August 28, 2017 from $10 to $80.  That’s $70 you could be spending on nature guides or Grand Canyon tee shirts or bug repellent or whatever.  Most sites allow Senior Pass holders to bring 3 friends along (regardless of their ages, and children under 16 are always free)… so maybe, call your senior friends.  Tell them to get their passes now.  And then ask them to take you to Yellowstone.  Find all the details here for purchasing your “America the Beautiful” Senior Pass online here.  Or click here to find a list of parks where you can purchase your passes in person (if you’re on Cape, hit up the National Seashore in Welfleet or Provincetown).  And if you miss the deadline, maybe consider buying a pass anyway.  

What does it say about me that one of my most pressing issues is whether or not older more experienced people are getting deals on parks?  I don’t know, but I’m pretty okay with it.

Make this list before you travel.

Summer is still in full swing in New England (I will purposely smash my shopping cart into your display of Halloween decorations.  Consider yourself warned, stores.), and if I’ve learned anything over the past two months by the beach, it’s that it pays to know where the closest urgent care center is.  How’s that for some mama drama on a Friday?  

In all seriousness, though, when we bought our Cape house, Nick and I made a list of the closest urgent care, ER, and vet office.  I saved all three in my Waze app like the true Type A Worrier that I am.  Ideally, you’ll never need to visit these places, but in the event you do… save yourself some time (and a tiny bit of stress) by knowing where to go and how to get there.  And in case anyone’s keeping score, all of the male members of our family (including Clark) have had some sort of medical emergency this summer.  Survival of the fittest… just kidding… kind of.  #GIRLPOWER

Also On Tap for Today:

Got a PSA of your own to share?

 

 

 

Summer reading | 2017

I used to love getting a summer reading list every year as a kid.

summer reading 2017

Yes, I am no longer too cool for a Kindle… and no, kale chips do not photograph well.

Until the summer I had to read Lord of The Flies.  Like… why?  I am still creeped by that book.  Semi-related: I thought Game of Thrones was called Lord of the Thrones.  And I referenced it aloud.  To people who actually read the books.  Or maybe they just watch the show? No judgement from the lady who has watched all the Harry Potter movies, but barely made it through a chapter without getting confused.  

I gave the first Harry Potter book a valiant try, but just couldn’t get into it.   After mostly paying attention to the movies, I still don’t understand why HP turned into a baby snake and died on a train platform.  Or did I get that wrong, too?  

Anyway, Lord of the Flies, Lord of the Dance, Lord of the Thrones… none of these titles are on my summer reading list this year.  

And while I certainly don’t want to wish time away, I am looking forward to a time when I can read on the beach without fear of both my children joining another family, eating a dead crab, stepping on a fish-hook, needing stitches, getting swept out to sea, and/or discovering that the ice cream truck sells… ice cream.  

For much of this summer, my reading time was confined to that fleeting 20 minutes between the house being quiet and settled and me crashing headlong into bed.  But I’ve recently been making an effort to read books during the time I’d normally be reading the Internet (which was a surprising amount, when I actually took account).

And because my list is fairly short and possibly uninspired, I’m sharing the highlights from our kids’ summer reading list too.  We have read some really good books this summer (and Grace earned her 3 hours of summer reading prize from our local library, she was so proud!).

2017 Summer Reading | Grown Up Lady Edition

  • Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer Suffice it to say, this is neither a light nor uplifting read.  But it is fascinating and illuminating and very well written.  Also, I think you know my political leanings (once I was being interviewed for a cable access show in Boston and I was mistakingly introduced as Elizabeth Clinton and it was basically the greatest on camera moment of my life), and my obsession with politics in general, but there was so much in this book that I just didn’t know.  It was an excellent replacement for reading about the current state of our union on Twitter.  Disclaimer:  If you find yourself on the other end of the political spectrum (or maybe, to take it like 900 steps further, you’re cool with morally bankrupt billionaires hijacking our democracy)… you may want to read something else.  Like, say, Lord of the Thrones.
  • The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton This was a fairly fast read for me (I stayed up way past my bedtime, caught up in the suspense), and a very good one at that.  And then I went down a major learn everything about Dutch miniatures rabbit hole.
  • A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline Another really beautiful novel surrounding a work of art, though this one is inspired by a real painting (Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World).  This one took me a bit longer to get into, but I really enjoyed it once I did.
  • Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore Yes, this is a cookbook.  But it is one of the few that I read cover to cover, including the introduction (I am going to re-think skipping introductions from now on).  Many of these recipes have become summer staples, including the quinoa tabouli and dairy-free strawberry lime sorbet.

Next up: Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan (I love everything she writes… and #funfact: Her dad went to BC with my parents); At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier; The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante (I’ve had all three on my Kindle for ages, but sort of keep forgetting to start them).

2017 Summer Reading | Preschooler + Toddler Edition 

  • Ribbit by Jorey Hurley The most beautifully illustrated book.  Super simple, but perfect for talking about metamorphosis (if you’re into that sort of thing) with Grace or just making frog noises with Nicky.
  • Scaredy Squirrel makes a friend and Scaredy Squirrel has a birthday party by Melanie Watt Super silly and fun series — Grace (who tends to be somewhat fearful and anxious in new situations) really liked the endings to each of these.
  • Edmond, the Moonlit Party by Astrid Desbordes Come for the really sweet story about being yourself and reaching out to make friends… stay for the owl who makes his own amazing costumes and arrives at a party dressed as a seagull.
  • Hap-pea all year! by Keith Baker We are enamored with the peas series.
  • The Best Days are Dog Days by Aaron Meshon This is, hands down, the summer favorite.  After renewing it twice from the library, we need to order our own copy.  The story and illustrations are so perfect — and not just because they feature a little girl and her French bulldog who bears a striking resemblance to our Clark.
  • Sloth Slept On by Frann Preston-Gannon Hilarious ending.  And we know I love sloths.  And mail.
  • All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon Not necessarily a summer reading book (because we read it every night, often twice), but it is such a beautiful, calming, encouraging book… so well worth a mention no matter the season.  Marla Frazee’s illustrations are heavenly.

Not listed: Every, single book about trucks and construction currently available in print.  But trust me, we’ve read them.  And they’re mostly good.  Also, Grace has been using this preschool workbook and really loves it.  We’ve been working mainly on the pre-reading and writing activities, but it’s full (315 pages!) of well planned content.

Time to Lord of the Dance my way over to that stack of books on my bedside table.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you reading this summer?  Am I a bad person for the whole Harry Potter thing?  At what age can you trust little people on the beach?

To just be happy.

“I go to the ocean to calm down, to reconnect with the creator, to just be happy.”

–Nnedi Okorafor

In a world such as this, it’s so easy to worry, to fear, to fret.  To slip into a funk and hide there (and if there are good snacks, maybe stay there for a day or two).  So when we have a chance (no matter how fleeting) to just be happy, I believe it’s imperative to take it.  

Bring a friend (and sunscreen) with you. 

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Pretending I am a Polar Seltzer limited edition expert (mostly I just drink a lot of seltzer and imagine I know about flavoring)
  • Can I kick my iPhone addiction? Great article on creativity and boredom from qz.com
  • Attempting to convince Nicky that his name is not, in fact, Grace

Where do you go to just be happy?

This week’s meal + workout plan

Some weeks I fly by the seat of my yoga pants and things go well workout and meal-wise.  But other times, we have a week like last week and the lack of planning nearly does me in.  As much as I like to pretend I’m all Type C (is there one of those?), laid back and simultaneously highly motivated… I am not those things.  I need a plan.

meal plan July 17

I’ll be the first to admit I can be tightly wound and yet… given the chance to eat popcorn for dinner while watching three back-to-back episodes of The Great British Bake Off… I will take it.  Every, single time.  I thrive when my days are orderly and structured (which is sort of a pipe dream when you’re parenting).  

I like checking things (including workouts) off my list.  And who doesn’t love knowing dinner is made and safely waiting for you in its nice little glass container in the fridge?   I find a little planning and prep goes a long way.  Even in the summer.  When I’m trying to be all cool and casual.  

MEAL + WORKOUT PLAN | WEEK OF JULY 17

meal plan peach smoothie

MEAL PLAN:

MEAL + SNACK PREP:

  • Prepped today: Everyday Detox basil vinaigrette; smoothie for tomorrow morning (hemp milk, frozen pineapple, frozen peaches, raw honey + parsley); cooked farro; kale chips; cooked corn; washed + chopped fruit for breakfasts/snacks
  • To prep tomorrow during naps (…God willing): Wash + chop vegetables for salads/snacks; bake sweet potatoes

WORKOUTS

I have a newfound love for our C2 Rower in the basement at the Cape.  I’ve only ever rowed in short spurts during CrossFit classes, but realized this weekend how tough, effective and semi-fun a longer row can be.

  • Monday: Stroller run/walk 4 miles
  • Tuesday: Stroller run/walk 4 miles
  • Wednesday: MB Tabata workout + row 30 minutes
  • Thursday: Stroller run/walk 4 miles
  • Friday: MB class or rest
  • Saturday: Row 30 minutes
  • Sunday: Rest

Semi-related: If you’re looking for a new Spotify workout playlist, here are my current jams.  Pardon the swear words.  

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your workout or meal plan for the week?

 

Yesterday’s misadventures.

First up, a photo that has nothing to do with anything. It’s just something nice to look at while I go free association about yesterday’s misadventures.

yesterday's misadventures

THINGS THAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY:

In the order which they occurred… I think…

  • Nicky snuck a half-eaten banana into the dyer while I was unloading laundry.
  • I woefully underestimated the timing for our morning routine and had to forgo a shower (but figured I’d sneak one in mid-morning #lol #no).
  • Immediately after we dropped Grace off at her summer program, Nicky fell and cut the back of his head badly enough to need stitches.  
  • He was such a champ.  I was a wreck.
  • While he was getting tended to (and squirming a bit), I somehow ended up with surgical glue on my face.  Apparently it will come off in 5-7 days.  Can’t wait for that.
  • I drank an iced coffee and cried in my car. (Hi again, caffeine.)
  • We made it back from urgent care in time to pick up Grace (and I exhaled for the first time in over an hour).
  • No luck on the shower.  But Jesus cranked up the humidity, so… poodle hair.
  • Speaking of poodles, all five of us (Grace, Nicky, Clark, his cone and myself) went to the vet.
  • The vet took one look at our motley crew and called for back-up (this literally happened), as if having an additional vet tech in the room would prevent my children from attacking or eating dog treats or… something.
  • Clark’s most recent bad luck (a scratched cornea) isn’t healing and will likely require surgery.
  • I called Nick (for, I think, the 5th time of the day).
  • I cried in my car again but this time I pretended to be fake sneezing (my kids love fake sneezing and I’ve never been above a cheap laugh).
  • We bought matching sweatshirts for the family (it seemed like the right thing to do).
  • I found the aforementioned banana.
  • We survived.

Once both babes (and Clark) were safely tucked in bed and the house was quiet, I sat at the kitchen table for two entire hours.  Just breathing.  I barely noticed how dark it was until I sort of came to, wondering if I should be searching for additional bananas.  If I’m being honest (which I endeavor to do, obvi), this is not the first banana/laundry incident we’ve had… this week.

 

Days like yesterday are memorable because they almost never happen (thankfully) and because they serve up gentle reminders of all sorts.  

A reminder that we have so much (excellent healthcare, reliable transportation, a generous and kind support network, clean clothes, plenty of bananas, a Frenchie who promised to live forever, and the resources to manage all of this).  A reminder that I need to take care of myself in order to best take care of others (no more staying up ’til 2 AM reading about shipwrecks #reallife).  A reminder that there is power in laughter and tears and tears disguised as sneezes.  A reminder that children are resilient and brave, even if their behavior is also terribly risky and awfully terrifying.  A reminder that quiet time is rarely wasted time.  A reminder that even (or especially) as a mother, it is important to be vulnerable and receptive to help.

I hope your yesterday treated you well.  And that your today did too.

Also On Tap for Today:

What gentle reminders are you serving up (or being served)? And who wants to watch You Got Served with me?

 

Farro salad with tomatoes + herbs

Sometimes (like… very rarely) I make something worth sharing with both my family and the entire internet.  This farro salad with tomatoes + herbs is one of those things.  I planned to make tabouli the other day, but was missing 80% of the ingredients.  So, I threw this together instead and the rest is history in my fridge.

Cooking farro does require the use of the stove, which I know is not ideal when it’s 900 degrees out… but hey.  Grab a wooden stirring utensil with one hand, and an ice cold beverage with the other and you’ll be just fine.

This farro salad makes a great (and easy, per usual for my recipes) side dish for summer parties and I can personally attest to its worthiness as a leftover lunch.  Nick and I split a serving at the beach today and it was really good… until he reached a very sandy little hand directly into the bowl.  Related: His new favorite phrase is “a bite please, mama!”

farro salad with tomatoes + herbs

FARRO SALAD WITH TOMATOES + HERBS

This recipe is vegetarian and serves 8 (-ish).  Substitute quinoa for farro to make this salad gluten-free and omit the feta to make the recipe vegan.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups organic farro
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (or more… YOLO)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse farro under cold water.
  2. Combine water, farro and salt in a medium saucepan.  Cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for approximately 20 minutes (until the farro is tender), stirring occasionally.  
  4. While the farro is cooking, combine tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley, feta and olive oil in a large serving bowl.  
  5. Sip your cold beverage.
  6. Add farro and additional olive oil and/or lemon juice, if needed.  Add freshly cracked black pepper and salt, if you wish.  Chill or serve warm.

I hope you and yours are enjoying plenty of summer fun + plenty of delicious summer food.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Celebrating the 4th …with gratitude to everyone who is working to make our country a kinder, more peaceful, more inclusive place to raise our children.
  • Making tie dye shirts with Grace (there is a reason why the kit included gloves… and I have the tie dyed hands to prove it)
  • While you’re in the kitchen: 29 things to get rid of (donate, if possible!) from Apartment Therapy

What ingredients do you always have on hand?