Today: If you were born on this day..

..there’s a chance you are either my beautiful sister or my handsome husband.

These two make my life infinitely happier, more interesting, and more fun.  When October 7th rolls around, I feel like I’m the one with all the luck and love celebrating Nick and Andrea.

Happy birthday, dude and dudette.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you share a birthday with someone you know?

Today: This week: 1, Elizabeth: O.

If I were one for keeping score… This week: 1, Elizabeth: 0.

Thanks for the stellar protection, stupid bracelet. Just kidding… kind of.

I’m a little cranky and a lot tired.  I’m feeling a bit like the Universe has conspired against me.  On top of other stresses, things that normally would roll off my back have instead rolled down my back and turned into total pains in my ass.  Is it okay to say ass?  I hope so.  If not, my apologies.

I got to work Monday to find out our office fridge somehow broke during the move (we just relocated to a new building, and by new… I mean it’s so old the tampon dispenser in the ladies’ room charges nickles.  And it’s also broken, but that’s sort of irrelevant), so my lunch perished before I had the chance to eat it.  Note to self: Yogurt and various leaves are delicate.  Especially when the heat is on.  The relocation process itself has been nothing short of awful, but I won’t burden you with that.  Not when I can talk about holes in pants.

I spent much of the day Tuesday unknowingly walking around with a gaping hole in my favorite, best fitting pair of maternity pants– the skinny, black ones that make me feel all “I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.”  I wonder now if they fit so well because of the hole.

On Wednesday morning, I had a complete meltdown (hormones are weird and poking yourself in the eye with a mascara wand doesn’t help).  When I finally got my act together and put my face back on, I headed out to my car discovered I had a second flat tire in eight days.  I am not sure how I ended up with a nail in my left rear tire and a screw in my right rear tire, but I can now navigate to the auto body place in my sleep.  Also, one of the light bulbs in our bathroom exploded.

Thursday was a marked improvement (though that’s not saying much).  I got a ton of work done at the office and made progress on some important projects, ate a delicious non-wilted salad at lunch, and successfully hid my husband’s birthday presents before he got home… but I was almost too exhausted to enjoy the lack of catastrophe.  I barely made it 10 minutes into Scandal before needing to climb into bed. Semi-related: I am considering weaving my own line of WWOPD? (What would Oliva Pope do?… in case that’s not obvious) bracelets.

This has not been a normal week, and yet I am sure there’s a lesson or two in there somewhere (besides wear a helmet and safety glasses in the master bathroom and invest in a full length mirror lest ye flash your underoos unto thine neighbors).  It’s important to slow down.  It’s important to take people up on their offers to help.  It’s important to ask for what you need.  It’s important to schedule down time (and abide by this schedule).  It’s important to prioritize health and rest and balance.

Despite there being more downs than ups this week, there have still been plenty of bright spots.  My sister left me a weird voice mail yesterday (apparently someone joined her in the elevator just as she started leaving the message), which I will save for eternity.   I bought my first outfit for the baby (just touching the fabric made me long for the second we get to hold her).  I have a wonderful husband who helps put things into perspective and can somehow get away with laughing while I am crying like a fool (he’s lucky he’s so handsome).  I enjoyed a really great workout at CrossFit Southie on Wednesday aaaand got a push jerk PR.  I’m lucky enough to pass by three street pianos on my way to work and have loved seeing people stop to play this week.  Clark and I spent lots of time on the beach and at the park… and just when I needed a laugh, he posted a status message about farts and the government shutdown.  He’s so thoughtful.

Those are just the little things.

I know I have so much to be grateful for, especially during a week like this one.  Oh, and if you need a flat (or two) patched… I know a guy.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are your ups and downs this week?

Today: An interview with the Boston Ballet’s Erica Cornejo.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Erica Cornejo, a Principal Dancer with the Boston Ballet and a new mother to a wonderful baby boy.  I have long loved ballet, and as a mother-to-be, I was curious about how the roles of dancer and parent compliment one another.

 Boston Ballet Principal Dancer Erica Cornejo and her husband, Carlos Molina, performing in Balanchine’s Emeralds © The George Balanchine Trust. The Boston Ballet will be performing Jewels (which includes the ballet Emeralds) in May.  

Photo credit: Gene Schiavone

I am truly grateful to Erica for generously sharing her time and responses, and to the Boston Ballet for the opportunity to get to know one of their talented performers better.  I especially loved Erica’s comments about knowing at such a young age that she was born to dance.  That passion certainly shows through on stage.

When did you first start dancing?

EC: I was 4 years old when I started ballet.

When (or how) did you know you belonged in the Ballet?

EC: From the first day, I knew I wanted to do ballet. I was very little, but somehow I felt that passion for ballet inside of me at very early age.

Do you hope your child will pursue dance?  Why or why not?

EC: My husband, my brother, and I are dancers – for sure our child will be around ballet, music, and all kind of art because we love all that, but he will be what he desires to be. We love to do many things besides ballet and we would like to expose our child to try different things.

How has your routine changed since becoming a mother?  How has this affected your dancing?

EC: Well I guess the routine of everyone who is a parent changes. Now I have to adjust my schedule to my baby’s schedule, to be able to be with him as much as I can and do all the care for my baby. He is my number one priority and I will do my best to be a good mom.  As for the moment, I haven’t start dancing yet but what I feel already that my baby’s happiness brings more strength to me and just thinking about him makes my day more special.  I’m a lucky person, I have the most wonderful husband, the best family and now my miracle, my son who is my life.

What do you love most about ballet?

EC: What I love the most about ballet is that I’m able to transport myself and became a different character in each ballet I do. Being able to express my emotion through my dancing and make the audience experience what I feel is the best feeling.

If you had a full day to yourself, how would you spend it?

EC: With my loved ones always!

What is one misconception about ballet dancers you’d like to dispel?

EC: I say it all the time, dancers are humans, we have our good and bad moments like everyone else. Sometimes people tend  to think that we are like machines, that everything has to be perfect all the time.

Which performance are you most looking forward to this year? 

EC: Because I just had a baby, I was not able to be around to learn some of the new ballets. But I’m looking forward to whatever I will be cast in when I come back. I will try to be the best of myself.

Many thanks, again, to Erica and the Boston Ballet.  And my sincere congratulations to you and your family!

Would you like to read more?  Here’s my earlier interview with Boston Ballet dancer Emily Mistretta (added incentive: that post includes a photo of me waiting to go on stage as a two and a half year old ballerina-in-training).

Also On Tap for Today:

When you were little, what did you aspire to be? 

Today: The weekend according to Instagram XIX.

We had quite the lovely weekend.  We started with an exciting doctor’s appointment, followed with lots of time spent with family and friends, and ended with paying attention to football a nap on the sofa.

The weekend according to Instagram XIX

  1. You likely already saw the news (mostly because I can’t keep anything good and exciting to myself), but Nick and I found out Friday afternoon that we are expecting a girl.  And I am expecting her to have her father wrapped around her little finger.  Clark is excited because (among other reasons) they’ll be able to share clothes.  He loves ruffles.
  2. I found this little guy beneath our stoop early Saturday, just as the rain was clearing.  I like when nature visits the city.  And isn’t that shell gorgeous?
  3. I whipped up two batches of this easy, football-friendly black bean dip this weekend.  You can find the vegan, gluten-free recipe (along with a tour of our new kitchen) here.  (And thank you, Emily, for catching the #2 pun…)
  4. We spent Friday night laughing, eating, and more laughing with friends.  Our new place is really feeling like home, especially with friends and family there to share the space.  Matt and Pam brought us this cheery pink begonia plant.  I have a feeling there’s going to be more and more pink coming our way.
  5. I don’t know if I should tell you this or not… so naturally, I am going to tell you.  Clark got peed on by another dog this weekend.  He was standing on one side of a chain link fence, and the perp was on the other, attempting to mark the fence post (presumably).  Instead, he decorated my dog (who seemed oddly oblivious to the whole thing).  Next stop: the longest, most thorough bath of Clark’s life.
  6. We enjoyed this gorgeous view of the city from my sister and brother-in-law’s new apartment on Saturday night.  I love having our family just minutes away.  The next day, we had dinner with my brother, sister-in-law and niece.  We’re spoiled.
  7. Who ever said you don’t win friends with salad has never eaten salad with me.  I love making a big salad to enjoy on Sunday night, with enough to pack for lunch on Monday.  Because I am both lazy and a forward thinker.
  8. It wouldn’t be the end of the weekend without a polish change.  I went from dark (essie no more film) to light (essie pilates hottie).
  9. Meanwhile, at the other end of the sofa, Clark was down for the count.  That’s what a weekend of fun with do to a Frenchie.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Today: My hope for this child.

Nick and I find our the baby’s gender today (secrets and surprises are for patient people), and I am totally freaking out, man.  Early on, I thought the baby was a boy, but lately, I’ve thought the opposite.  Mostly because I saw a tiny hospital cap with a giant black bow on the side in a catalog.  And almost ordered it.

I was driving home from work earlier this week, stuck in particularly nasty traffic, when this thought occurred to me: Being a parent will likely be the greatest, most significant contribution I make to the Universe.   Unless I, like, invent something really amazing (ain’t gonna happen).

Who I am am, what I know, what I’ve accomplished, where I’ve been, what I think, what I’m afraid of, what I love…. all of this will l inform how I raise my child, and will shape the person he or she becomes.  Needless to say, I cried the entire way back to Southie (it was mostly a good, if not semi-overwhelmed, cry).   Thank goodness for over-sized shades. It’s both empowering (dude, we are giving the world a human who might do some really good things) and terrifying (what if he or she steals an old lady’s purse?).

I hope this child loves this beach as much as I do. And wants to spend all summer there.                                                                                 (This is one my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken.  It’s just so happy.)

I have a lot of hope for this child.

  • I hope this child inherits my curiosity and imagination.  I hope this child does not inherit my love of murder mysteries and fascination with serial killers.  I’d like him or her to be able to sleep for longer than 20 minutes at a time.
  • I hope this child inherits Nick’s attention to detail, his ability to nurture, his careful planning and execution, and his devilish good looks.   I hope this child does not inherit Nick’s skill for scaling a fraternity house balcony at age twenty-five, only to have his tooth knocked out by a friend wielding a garbage can moments later (one of the many, many reasons I married this man: there is never a dull moment).
  • I hope this child inherits my sister Andrea’s work ethic, her strong sense of conviction, and her contagious laughter.
  • I hope this child inherits my brother Jimmy’s kindness, his sense of adventure and love of travel, and his ability to read chapter books at a mere five months old.
  • Though they’re not technically blood related (whatevs), I hope this baby inherits my sister-in-law Colleen’s compassion and her good nature.
  • I hope this child inherits my brother Christopher’s collection of homemade sleeveless tees, his thoughtfulness, his talent as a leader, and his ability to lift very heavy things.
  • I hope this child inherits my niece’s ability to make everything better just by being there.
  • I hope this child inherits my mother’s innate way of putting other people first, her creativity and artistic talent, and her warmth.
  • I hope this child inherits my father’s impeccable taste in music, his mischievous smile, his depth of knowledge, and his green thumbs.

I hope he or she never goes a single day without feeling loved, safe, happy and whole.  And while we’ve got several months to go, I just can’t wait to meet this baby.

Also On Tap for Today:

What did you inherit from loved ones that you’re most proud of?

 

Today: A baby on the way.

Hi.

I have the best possible news to share (though the title surely gave it away… keeping secrets for months and months at a time is not easy).

(c) 2012 Henry Photographers www.henryphotographers.com

Nick and I are expecting a baby this winter.

We have already enjoyed so many amazing moments, from seeing the baby via ultrasound for the first time, to hearing his or her heart beat, and dreaming about what our lives will be like as parents.

It’s all just incredible.  I am feeling incredibly lucky, incredibly happy, and incredibly like the button on my pants might shoot across the room if I’m not careful.  I’m looking forward to sharing more with you soon (maybe… less about the pants situation).

Also On Tap for Today:

  • I can now freely admit my recent obsession with crossfitmom.com
  • …And prenatal yoga
  • …And Skittles

 No question today.  Just a big, goofy grin.

 

Today: The weekend according to Instagram XIII.

Lucky thirteen.

The theme of this weekend was boob sweat the arrival of summer weather.  I love the heat.  My dog?  He’s over it.

The weekend according to Instagram XIII

  1. Friday (I’ve decided to start weekends a bit early and lead with Fridays) was Pen Pal Day! at the middle school where I volunteer.  Highlights included a harp performance, breakfast with my seventh grade pal, and an outdoor sing-a-long.
  2. Saturday morning I awoke to find my little herb garden has come alive.  As of last check, we have approximately 5 chive sprouts and 600 basil sprouts (the, um, seed packet sort of exploded when I was putting my little windowsill garden together).  No sign of the parsley.   Rather than watering with a coffee mug (who has a watering can in the city?), which in the past has led to accidental plant drownings, I did a tiny bit of research and have been gently misting the soil each evening with a spray bottle I found in the Target travel aisle for $1.29.  Nothing by the best for the sprouts.
  3. I can’t remember the last time I ran outside (except for every, single morning when I sprint across the crosswalk to avoid getting hit by the MBTA bus…. no regard, I tell you!).  I decided to skip the treadmill, lace up my Kinvaras and hit the road for a quick and hot run along the Harborwalk early Saturday.  I love living right at the intersection of city and sea.  Can’t beat those views.
  4. Did I mention it was hot this weekend?   Sweating buckets.
  5. I joined Nick to sweat a few more buckets at CrossFit Southie on Sunday morning.  As soon as we got back to the condo, we tuned into the Reebok CrossFit Games live feed.  Another weekend, another round of incredible Regionals competitors.  Between the day’s workout (which I loved) and watching the athletes compete, I took some time to think about what I’d like to accomplish this month.  My goal for June is consistency.  With work, travel and other good things happening, I felt like a bit of a flake this spring.  I didn’t make it to the box as often as I would have liked, and found myself making excuses (namely: I am wiiiiiiped) when I could have been making progress.  Even still, I am this much closer to an unassisted pull-up (hello, red band) and have been lifting more weight than ever.  Just imagine what I could do if I, welp… showed up more.  So that’s the plan: show up more.
  6. Sunday’s workout included bent-over barbell rows, ring rows, ring push-ups (I scaled down to hand release push-ups), double unders and wall climbs.  Needless to say, I was feeling the burn.  Literally.
  7. First swim of the year!
  8. I got to spend a little quality time with my niece on Saturday night while the grown-ups celebrated my sister-in-law’s birthday.  My niece turns one this month, and gets cooler by the minute.  It’s just amazing.  I love seeing my brother and sister-in-law read to her, and knew this book would be the perfect addition to the baby’s growing collection.  It’s called You are my I love you/Tu eres mi te queiro by Maryann Cushman.  It is available in English only, too, but I love the bilingual version.  Such a beautiful book.
  9. And this is how Clark feels about 91 degrees: complimented, but not interested.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?  Did you stay cool?

 

Today: Lies and surprises.

I had to take a little hiatus from The Weekend According to Instagram, mostly because I avoided Instagram and limited most forms of communicating with strangers online for the past two weeks, so as to not ruin the surprise part of my sister’s surprise shower.  (That was a long sentence.  I am making up for lost time posts.)

I bet it was a lot easier to surprise people before electricity was invented.

Somehow, though, we pulled it off.  But not without a lot of lying.  A lot.  Lies and surprises go hand in hand, I am learning.  I’ll tell you all about the food (complete with a recipe for roasted sweet potato salad) and decorations later this week, but first I need to come clean.

Lies I told my sister during the past 24-48 hours:

  1. We are going to surprise you for your bachelorette, but your shower is going to be the last weekend in April.
  2. I am stressed out (at this point, semi-not a lie, but mostly a lie) and can’t make it to our cousin’s shower (which is where she thought she was going yesterday) so Dad is going to pick you up.
  3. Someone (I think I specifically said “an idiot”… so I not only lied, but was mean) accidentally posted about your surprise bachelorette on Facebook, so please don’t log into your account.  Ever again. (In reality, multiple people posted about my cousin’s actual shower, thus threatening to topple our very delicately built house of lies.)
  4. I am at my office and I am very stressed out.  (I was at my parents’ house, unpacking glitter and cupcakes.)
  5. And when she texted to say she was on her way to my office to surprise me with tea: I, um… am still stressed out but I just left my office.
  6. I will talk to you tomorrow (or in an hour, when you arrive at your own shower) and yes, I will download that stress management app you recommended.

I was so relieved when Andrea finally walked through that door.  Who needs a stress relief app when you have that smile to look at?  She is going to be the most beautiful bride.  Being her sister really has been the joy of my life.  And that’s no lie.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the last lie you told?

Today: Gluten free graham crackers… and Peeps.

If the Easter Bunny left you with a heap of Peeps, I’ve got a plan for you.  It involves making gluten free graham crackers (that’s the only hard part, and it’s really not that hard… I mean, I was able to do it), committing Peepicide in your microwave and consuming 14,000 calories in the span of mere seconds.  You with me?

Gluten free graham crackers

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of brown rice flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 5 tbs cold, unsalted butter
  • 6 tbs almond milk
  • 3 tbs agave nectar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly dusted with brown rice flour
  • Using a food processor or stand mixer, combine dry ingredients
  • Add butter, mixing until no large pieces are visible
  • Add almond milk and agave nectar and mix until dough is formed
  • Move dough to baking sheet and form into a rectangle and sprinkle lightly with additional brown rice flour
  • Add a second sheet of parchment paper on top of dough and roll out until the dough is approximately 1/4 inch thick (you may need to trim excess dough from the edges of the pan)
  • Remove the top sheet of parchment and score dough (I used a butter knife, but a pastry wheel or pizza cutter would likely work better), making graham cracker squares
  • Prick the dough all over with a fork or toothpick
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until browned
  • Remove the graham crackers and transfer to a wire rack to cool, parchment and all
  • Once the crackers have cooled completely, break along scored lines

Notes: I adapted this recipe from glutenfreebaking.com.  I am sure you could play around with which gluten free flour  and milk you use, and substitute honey for agave nectar.  The dough is a bit dry, but it might make a good pie crust with the addition of some oil.

I found these tasty graham crackers to be less sweet than the graham crackers of my childhood (and non-gluten allergic adulthood), but in a good way.  Plus, Peeps are straight up sugar, so it all balances out in the end.  Sort of.  I melted a Peep in the microwave and sandwiched it, along with a bit of chocolate, between two grahams.  I recommend you do the same, but with one caveat:

There is a fine line between melty, gooey Peep and full on exploded Peep, so keep an eye on your microwave.  You have been warned.

I hope you enjoyed a very happy Easter.  We hit the road with Clark the Easter Frenchie (click the link for a video of him sitting in a basket, wearing rabbit ears, chomping on a carrot…) and spent a lovely, sugary day with our Peeps families.

Also On Tap for Today:

Are you a salty or sweets person?  

Today: Gluten free thumbprint cookies.

I hit the sibling jackpot when my younger sister was born.  She was smart, funny, talented and clever.  And then she grew up.  And somehow, she got smarter, funnier, more talented and more clever.  I am so lucky that she only lives a mile away and was only sort of kidding when she said she had given up speaking to me for Lent.

She swung by our condo before the parade on Sunday, and brought her fiance and one of her lovely friends, Amy, along.  And Amy brought along some of the most delicious cookies of all time, adapted from this recipe and her friends’ blog, The Feasting Freds.  With another storm threatening to derail work plans (and following through on that threat with several inches of snow before dawn today), I dug through my cabinets to find that I had almost all the ingredients on hand.  I put on my frilliest apron and got to stress baking.

The original recipe (for maple walnut jam cookies) calls for whole wheat pastry flour, which I swapped out for a mix of coconut flour and almond meal.  I found I needed additional flour mix, as the dough was a bit too soft.  I used agave nectar instead of maple syrup, and was sure to use certified gluten free oats.

Gluten free thumbprint cookies with raspberry preserves

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup gluten free oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup of almond meal (plus more, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • raspberry preserves (I like Bonne Maman, and not just because I was a French major)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare a rimmed cookie sheet.
  2. Mix chopped walnuts and gluten free oats in a food processor and grind until they’re combined.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the canola oil and agave nectar.
  4. In a larger bowl, combine the dry and wet ingredients, and stir.  Add additional almond flour if needed.
  5. Form the dough into small balls and drop onto cookie sheet.  Flatten each ball slightly and form a depression (or in happier terms, a raspberry preserves pocket) with your thumb.
  6. Add a small amount of preserves (or your favorite jam) to each cookie.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies can be a bit crumbly when they first come out of the oven, so it’s important to employ a little will power and allow them to cool and set up.  After a (very large) number of baking flops since forgoing gluten, this recipe was a real victory.  I’ll take ‘em where I can get ‘em.  These cookies were quick, easy, perfect for giving away and provided just the little project I needed to take my mind of this darn weather.

I’m grateful to Amy for sharing the recipe, and I am grateful to my sister for sharing her friends.

Also On Tap for Today:

Have you made anything tasty lately?