Summer Vacation. Yes.

May 31, 2011

Friends.  We are doing something a little crazy again this summer.  We leave in a little over two weeks.  We are getting a bit more ambitious than last summer in terms of moving around.  I feel a little weird about sharing it here because I don't want to come off as a total braggart, but then again I am so excited and will have to explain the blog absence, right?
{*our beach* ... where it all began}'s the plan.  We fly into Nice, France and are going to stay in a house right by that favorite beach of ours that we found on our honeymoon some years back.  Then, we are heading up to Switzerland to visit a friend of B's that runs a children's sports camp in the Alps --(Crans Montana to be precise), and then back down to Lucca (where we were last summer) to join some friends who are on sabbatical right now and traipsing all around Europe and beyond (bastards).  We will be renting a car and driving between these three places, which should be fun and, to be honest, a bit stressful with the kids.
{crans montana}
OK, so, does anyone know how to lose about 5 pounds, get real tan and learn French...all in about 14 days?  I need your tips.  Ha.  Also, I am getting in hyper-planning mode and I need your tips for entertaining kids and keeping them happy during the travels.  I have some of my own (which I don't think I ever shared here....will try to get on that) but I am by no means an expert and can use all the help I can get.  We take an evening flight out, so the HOPE is the kids will sleep from here to London (11 hours).  Then, we have a short flight down to Nice which I'm not too worried about.  But there is the adjustment to the time change and all the normal stressors that come with travel, so I want to do all I can to make the experience as easy on them as possible.  But hey, as soon as we get to the Cote d'Azur all we will have to do is hang on the beach, so it can't be that hard!  And I guess I forgot to mention that we convinced one of our favorite (and original) sitters to join us for the France part of the trip (she is in Italy right now with her boyfriend so it isn't too far for her to travel).  We so can't wait to see you, Sasha!
{center of lucca}
So there you have it.  Now you know what we're up to this summer!

p.s. if you have special travel tips for any of these areas, let me know that too!  xoxo 

Ten Things on My Mind.

May 25, 2011

1.  Threads for Thought Yoga Pants.  I have a feeling you are just like me.  You might wear yoga pants a little more than you want to admit?  And it's probably time for a new pair?  These are the best.  I don't want to hear about your butt in Lululemons or whatever.  These are better.  And about $80 cheaper.  And made from organic cotton.
{photo courtesy pink of perfection}
2.  Almond Butter Cookies.  Totally addicted to these cookies.  They are healthy.  Gluten free.  Lots of protein.  Make them.  I promise you and your kids will love.  (By the way, I have been using the Ghirardelli 60% Cacoa Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, per Molly's recommendation, and they are soooooo good in this recipe.)
{ok, not my pork, but it looked this good and was 10 times easier!}
3.  Crock Pot Shredded Pork for Tacos.  OK, so I had big plans to make Bon Appetit's Chile-Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos a couple weeks back, but I got lazy (actually, just too darn busy with three kids) so I came up with a shortcut and I can't imagine it tasting any better.  Put a pork butt (don't let the name scare you! it's not really the butt of a pig!) in a crock pot seasoned with cumin, coriander, salt and pepper.  Stick a couple of whole ancho chiles in there.  Pour a bottle of Mexican beer over it.  Cook on high for, I don't know?  Five or six hours?  It will be all shreddy and yummy and perfect to put in a taco (squeezed with lime and topped with avocado, cilantro and onion of course).  Again, I promise you will love.
{me *serving* cocktails to b last friday night?}
4.  Aperol Cocktails.  You guys.  YOU GUYS.  I think I have an addiction to Aperol.  And that's not really something to be proud of, if you know what I mean.  It all started with Orangette's recipe (but using 2 parts white wine, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part freshly-squeezed strained pink grapefruit came out a bit less juicy and a bit more Aperol-y).  But now, NOW, I have been converted to Zuni Cafe's Aperol Cocktail.  We may or may not have put away many of these on back to back nights last weekend.  Ouch.
{photo courtesy melissa clark}
5.  My Butter Keeper.  This wasn't my idea, and normally I am so not a kitchen gadget girl.  But Melissa Clark highly recommended hers, so I had to try it out.  I can't believe I lived this long without one now. Fresh, yummy, soft butter at a moment's notice.  It doesn't get better than that.  And don't go telling me you don't like butter.  Shame on you.  Don't you know that fat is good for you???!  ;-)

6.  JuJu's Paintings.  I know every mom loves their children's art, so why should I claim to be any different?  I love watching JuJu paint (she is so happy and free-spirited and in the moment), the colors she chooses and pretty much everything about them.

7.  My Father's Daughter.  I admit, I have a conflicted opinion of this book.  I am not a huge GP fan (I know that's basically sacrilege around these blog parts)'s something about the whole "faux populism" (not my term) of her cookbook and GOOP newsletter that just doesn't jive with me.  But of course I was totally curious to check it out and you know what?  She included a lot of things that I really like to eat and in fact, do eat.  She gave me some ideas and I've tried a few things which, let's be honest, weren't earth-shattering, but were comforting and tasty and hit the spot on a weeknight after the kids were down and I had a nice fat glass of red wine in hand.  The pictures are really nice too.  (Where is that white embroidered dress from??)  Maybe don't buy the book but borrow it from your friend Alice is what I'm saying?  ;-)  (I'm about 99.9999% certain she doesn't read this blog, but in case she does.... I loved you, Gwynnie, in Shakespeare in Love!!!!)

8.  Old Navy String Bikinis.  I think I have been wearing these for about 15 years.  I am a firm believer that a string bikini is one of the most flattering two pieces you can wear.  You can adjust the straps to fit perfectly (no squish!).  I buy basic solid colors (black and turquoise are always in rotation).  And I like the Old Navy ones because I don't worry about ruining them.  They are seriously about $10 on sale and they look (I think) almost as good as the designer ones, and again, I don't have to worry about snagging the fabric or stretching them out, etc., etc.

9.  Benton Bacon.  I originally heard about Benton Hams quite awhile back and wanted to give them a try.   And they are mighty good.  Yes they are.  Most of the time you can't order online and have to give the nice lady a call.  She has a heavy Tennessee accent, but she will call you "honey" and let you know that while their ham is delicious, you absolutely MUST try their bacon.  "You're in for a real treat, honey."  Hoo boy.  If you love bacon, you must order some.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

10.  Oprah.  I don't think I can say just how sad I am about her show ending.  In truth, I have not watched it regularly since probably college and law school (hello, free time!).  But she, and her show, have always been there, in the background of my life (and undoubtedly yours too).  There really is no one else like her.  So much positive has come from her.  And so I have been watching some of the final episodes in these last weeks and again, hoo boy.  Lots of tears.  Lots.  I love the Last Show Project that Mighty Girl is doing (hat tip to Sarah for sharing it).  What was your greatest lesson learned from Oprah?

And tell me, what has been on your mind?

Happy Blogiversary to Me.

May 24, 2011

{this is the cake i would bake for my blog}
Crap.  I am the worst with dates.  I never remember anything important.  Like my blog turning three years old more than a week ago!!!  How is that for anti-climactic?  But instead of pretending it never happened, I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for being here.  It has been a truly interesting and enjoyable ride.  You have been there to see my babies growing up (JuJu was just six months old when I started?!), life changes happening in real time (a surprise pregnancy...remember that?), listened to my random musings/confessioms/rants, read what I've cooked, seen what inspires me, endured countless stories and pictures of the wee ones....  In truth, this blog isn't what I originally thought it would be, but I'm OK with that.  The biggest surprise is still all of the AMAZING women I have met and reconnected with.  (Either no men read this or none have come out of the woodwork....yet.)  But seriously, I want you to know that you checking in on my blog (and of course, your comments and emails) makes my day.  Truly!  Mwah!

photo credit

simple holiday home in the south of france.

May 17, 2011

Wouldn't it be dreamy to have a sweet, simple, earthy, happy home in the south of France?  I really love this one (found on the awesome french by design blog).  An all white house with pops of vibrant color?  And a beautiful and tranquil pool to lounge beside?  Oui, oui, oui!

Guest Blogger at Pretty Mommy.

May 16, 2011

I forgot to mention that I was a guest blogger last week at Pretty Mommy!  Michelle is a little bit busy snuggling her new baby Louisa.  :-)  Pretty Mommy is one of my everyday must read blogs, as you might already know.  Check out her blog (and my post) when you can!  And Happy Monday, friends.

Don't Hate Me...

May 9, 2011

....just because I will be on this beach in 6 weeks.  More details to come.  (Soooo excited!!)

"this would be a major reason to go back in time"

(That is a comment left by someone on this youtube video.)

A small intro.  There is no music that reminds me more of my parents than Fleetwood Mac (also Steely Dan, but that is a bit more my dad's thing).  As a result, Fleetwood Mac touches me at my core.  I walked down the aisle to Eva Cassidy's version of Songbird. I think a lot of people feel this way about Fleetwood Mac.  (I'm thinking of my friend Nichole, who once told me she fell hard in love with her now-husband at a FM concert some years back).  Anyway, their music is haunting and Stevie Nicks?  Well, she is a true mystic and I love her.

This video is just plain AWESOME.

Thanks to Jordan for tweeting about this video!

Regarding Mothers.

May 6, 2011

After reading Joslyn's post the other day about the privilege and honor of being a mother, I got sucked into All Things Mom on the Internet.  There are some beautiful photos and writings out there right now, in case you're interested.  (I've posted a few favorite photos here that I've been pinning on pinterest lately.)
For sure check out Tory Burch's blog, as Joslyn suggests.  There are some sweet stories about moms and daughters (and a few sons) and some great photos too (the one of Christy Turlington and her two small children SLAYS me).

But I'll be honest.  All of the mother tributes and sweet memories make me a little sad deep down.  My relationship with my own mother is quite complicated (I'm not sure this is even a very accurate description, as my friends in real life can attest).  
There are many regrets, lots of unresolved issues, just a lot of sadness really.   I read once that each person in this life has one area of great pain....and this, dear reader, is mine.  (Deep breath.  Exhale.)
But.  I realized in reading those stories on Tory Burch's blog that there are many, many beautiful and sacred (to me) things that my mother taught me and my brother and sisters.  Here are just a few.

She taught us how to appreciate and take pleasure in the small stuff in life: the first cup of coffee in the morning, sitting in the sun on the deck in the afternoon, kneading bread, walking on the beach....the little things that make up a big, rich life.  She taught us to never, ever look down on someone based on race, disability, income level, their physical appearance.  She truly does not believe she is better than anyone else (and I think this is rare in a person nowadays).  If you are sick, there is no one, I repeat no one, that will take better care of you.  She is a nurturer extraordinaire.  She taught us to take pride in work that we did at home.  She honored her role as mother and wife and did not see it as demeaning in the slightest.  She taught us that things do not matter.  What matters most in this life has nothing to do with something you can buy.  She made things with her hands.  Lots of things: clothes, food, toys, crafts.  I get my great interest and enjoyment in food directly from her.  She taught me that one of the greatest pleasures in life is feeding a group of your loved ones.  She did all sorts of things with her life that had nothing to do with what her own parents did.  She sort of reinvented herself, you could say.  She doesn't live her life in default mode.  She was a world class birther of babies....I was born breach at home unassisted (unless you count my dad being there), my brother was born at home after and hour and a half of labor, and my two sisters in birthing centers.  She had something like a total of 18 hours of labor for 4 kids.  You read that right.  She always impressed on me how powerful and transformative birth and motherhood were for her.  She could never watch a birth scene in a movie without crying, which is the same for me now.  Nothing moved her quite like childbirth, I believe, and this is the same for me now too.
As it turns out, all of these things I hope to pass along someday to my own children.  I hope all of you moms out there have the loveliest weekend, and please, please, love those babies up.  What an honor and great privilege it is to spend life with these small people.




{via....tara's photography by the way is utterly divine!)
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