Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Little Rascals

It has been very quiet around here, especially because my neighbor, Flannery and her husband and three little ones are off visiting family. We sure have missed them around the neighborhood! I marvel at her three little girls, Eleanor, Mary Larkin and Ginger the baby. Here are some pics I took last week when Eleanor and Mary Larkin came over to play.

Just look at little Mommy Eleanor with her hand over Ella's shoulder. I think that is just precious! Don't you love the flirty look on James' face? When I say he loves these girls, I mean he LOVES them. He asks about them nearly every day. Are they coming over to play? Do we have a play date over there today? Can we go ride bikes with them? And on . . . . and on . . . .

I think they are yelling in the photo above--not sure why. I am noticing that in the photos I took, Ella isn't looking at me IN A SINGLE STINKING ONE. Oh well. She was busy!

In this one I was asking them to pretend they were riding a roller coaster. See Eleanor repeating my instructions to Ella? Too funny!

Take a load of that scowl on Eleanor's face. She is staring so hard at ML that she is going to burn a hole right in her! I think she looks like she is saying "Nice dress, princess. I'd like to see you score a soccer goal in THAT get-up!" HA HA! And that look on Mary Larkin's face? IRRESISTIBLE!

Okay, this one cracks me up. Clearly, James is trying to put on some kind of funny show, and the girls are just so absorbed in their conversation with Ella about the particular nuances of blue raspberry Popsicles that they have no clue he even exists! Get used to it buddy.

Anyhoo. Okay Flannery. You can come home now!!! Ahem. Please?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sandbox Summer Fun

I was at a friend's house this past weekend with the kids and they spent almost an hour playing with the sand table that she had.

It made me remember that my Dad had built my sister and I a sandbox as kids. Chris and I had discussed it at one point but with him being gone for work so much, hadn't really pursued it. I started thinking about it, and remembered that there is a built in sandbox under their playscape (the one we got from Craigslist for $50 last summer).

I went out and bought nine 50lbs bags of playground sand and some ground cover that would prevent weeds from coming up. After toting 450 lbs of sand into my car, out of my car and into the sand box I needed a day at the beach myself!

When I was done putting it together, James and Ella hopped in and were SO INTENT that I could barely get them to look up for a photo! Let's just say that they love it--there seems to be some mysterious magical power that sand coming through a sifter seems to have on my little ones!

YES, they had sand EVERYWHERE when I finally coaxed them into the house for dinner, and YES James asked me when I tucked him in last night if he could play in it the next day and YES score one for Mom on the sandbox!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My First 5K!

Today I participated in a 5K put on by the town of Longmeadow and I loved every minute of it!

We had to get to the race registration at 7am, where I paid my fee and got my number, and then the walkers (my group, since right now I am only alternating walking and jogging) started off at 7:30am.

The day was cool and beautiful, and the kids were in great spirits. At many houses we passed, people were gathered on the front steps or the lawn to watch the race go buy--so it felt like we had a little cheering section every block or so.

With every step I felt really good about how much stronger I have gotten, just in the last few months because of all of the walking and biking I have been doing. I have really been trying to make a mindset change--worrying less about having the perfect body and more about having a healthy and athletic body. I don't want my kids to worry about their weight or their looks--I want them to be confident in their strength.

The runners started 30 minutes after the walking group--and I was just happy that they didn't lap us! We came in third! They only part that stank was that Chris is out of town for work, so while other people had their families cheering them thru the finish we did not. But--the two people that came in before us turned and congratulated us as we came thru. That was a class act, I think!

Maybe we'll be in the running group next year!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Taking A Moment to Breathe

Flowers from my yard in my favorite vase. Aren't they pretty?

Wow I'm a busy!
I just realized I haven't posted since Sunday.
I have been playing with kids,
planning a trip to San Diego and Sea World,
helping to promote a conference,
doing a little graphic design work,
reading books by my new favorite author, Sarah Waters,
making meals from a great cookbook I got for Mother's Day,
thinking about a little trip to Maine,
dreaming about having my own little farm in the country.

So I am busy, but good.
But--that means I haven't been reading or posting on too many blogs,
so if you haven't seen me around for a bit--
just know I am still here.
I might just be taking more time to blow bubbles and play with sidewalk chalk,
cozying into bed with a great historical novel,
or daydreaming about having my own farm fresh eggs.

And goodness!
Summer is just around the corner--and you know what happens then--
less and less blogging.

Plus, in a month James will be out of school and
out on his first summer vacation--
and I plan to fill it up with as much fun as I can stuff
into as many hours of sunlight as Mother Nature can give us.

So I'm here--just winding down a bit and focusing on other things.

And hey, I think I've written a similar post
every year for the last three,
so it's nothing new.

Whatever you are up to--

And don't count me out of Blogland just yet--
I might just have a surprise or two up my sleeve,
but first I need to go and lay under my shady tree
and look up at the clouds for a while.



Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Portrait of Friendship

Hey Mom, can we all go out and play???

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blog & Banner Design

A friend was over last night to chat about growing her small business, and I mentioned to her that I enjoy designing blog banners. I wanted to show her some of the work that I have done, and thought well hey--I'll show you too!

Here is just a sampling of some of the work I have put together for myself and for family and friends over the last few years.

If you are interested in a new look for your blog, let me know!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tasty Tuesday -- Oatmeal, Dark Chocolate Chunk & Walnut Cookies

Get a load of this cookie: Mmmm . . . goodness.

Breathtaking. Your mouth is watering, I know. Last week I felt like making cookies. Baking is a double-edged sword in that I am proud of my baking skills, but the fact that I can whip up a batch of gourmet cookies in under an hour is also my downfall--the main reason why I can't lose those last ten pounds. Ah, well. Life could be worse. What do I really have to complain about? Not much. So if my dark side is that I eat too many oatmeal, dark chocolate chunk and walnut cookies in a row, so be it.

But back to Tasty Tuesday, and these amazing cookies.

I was thinking about my sister--and the fact that she has been making loads of oatmeal cookies for my Dad back in Maine. I love oatmeal cookies but when I make them I usually always add raisins--never chocolate. Well, I ran across a recipe from with semi-sweet chips and pecans. Hmmm, I thought. I have dark chocolate chunks and walnuts--why not try it?

Plus, my Dad gave me some baking pans that were handmade back at Bath Iron Works in Maine--Dad picked them up at a flea market, I think--can you imagine, your husband coming home from work "Hey honey, I made these cookie pans for you at work--now get baking!" Too funny!

They certainly have been lovingly used over the years, and at least my biceps get a workout when hefting them in and out of the oven--but BOY I think they made ALL the difference. I have NEVER had cookies brown so evenly and bake so consistently as on these pans.

Just look at them--can a cookie be gorgeous? Why yes, I do believe so.

In the end? They were a hit!

I Facebooked my neighbor Flannery and said "Hey, has the smell of my gourmet oatmeal, dark chocolate chip and walnut cookies wafted across the street yet?" Within minutes of them coming out of the oven I ran a baker's dozen across the street. The rest I packed up in a repurposed cookie container from Stew Leonard's.

What? Yes, I admit--there are a few store bought cookies that I will bring home, namely Stew Leonard's Ginger cookies, and Oreo's of course. Anything else? I'll bake, thank you very much!

Now it's your turn! Oh, and if you want to borrow my pans, let me know . . .

Oatmeal, Dark Chocolate Chunk & Walnut Cookies

(adapted from

makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs (farm fresh makes all the difference!)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups uncooked oats

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup dark chocolate chunks

1 cup chopped walnuts

Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Beat until creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture slowly beating on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chunks and walnuts last.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 11 minutes (leaves them slightly underdone and a little chewy).

Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely (I don't have a wire rack, so I just put them on paper bags).

Eat five immediately, realize how great they are, realize you have no self-control and will eat all of them so hurriedly start calling neighbors and friends to take them off of your hands!

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day 2010

To my Mother,

I think of you everyday, but especially today. I am lucky that I have so many great memories of you--memories of you as a child myself, and memories of you with my own children.

Some of the moments I am thinking about today:

You sitting in the front yard weaving baskets in the summer sun.

You cooing over a box of puppies at Brook's Farm and Feed, and ultimately bringing one home.

You piling your long blonde hair on your head as you walked into the water at Coffin Pond and yelling at us to stop splashing you.

You making carrot cake for my birthday.

You bringing Amy and I out to stand on the edge of the yard when the town's mower was coming to clean up the edges of the road and you didn't want him to cut down all of the Queen Anne's Lace and Chickory.

And then later,

You giving James hundreds of kisses, reading him stories, giving him popcorn or candy or whatever fun snacks you had on hand in the shop.

You holding Ella when she was still a newborn and telling her about all of the fun you two were going to have with tea parties and trying on dresses.

I miss you Mom, plain and simple.

And to all of the other Mom's in my life--don't take a single moment of loving your children for granted. I know it is hard to treasure everything, after all, life is busy--true. But maybe at least once a day we can sit back, take a deep breath, and be thankful for the time that we have with our children. Motherhood is such a gift. Cherish it always.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I'm A Redhead!

Kept it long, just added long layers and some bangs!

Love it!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Take a Walk with Us

I thought I would show you a few of the things that I find really beautiful on our walk to and from James' school. The weather has been beautiful, so I take Ella in the stroller and James rides his bike every day that we can. I don't take it for granted one bit that I have the opportunity to walk my son to school. It is a true gift.

Here is a home a couple of doors down from James' school. I love that there is a typical white picket fence in the front, and that color--WOW! Plus they have white lilacs gracing the doorway. Simply beautiful.

The town's Congregational church is a beautiful structure. I would say that throughout New England, the Congregational churches are one of my favorite types of architecture that grace the hundreds of town greens. The weather vane on this church is a huge golden rooster. I wondered about it's significance, and found an article about it here.

I was just talking to Dad about this house a few weeks ago. The architectural styles in our town are amazingly varied--and this one is no exception. It seems to me that it comes right out of Savannah!

Here is one of my favorites--white clapboard, center chimney--the epitome of colonial New England. These houses are on the National Historic Register and have wooden plaques that state the original owner and the date of construction. This is one of the oldest I have found--1714!

Here is another little one that I like--I am fond of gray homes with white trim. I am not sure what style this is, but I do love the trim!

Here is another of my favorites. Just look at the sun dappling that lovely flag . . . OH! that's my house! Home sweet home!

I'll try to remember to grab my camera on our walks in the future as there are about 20 homes I would love to show you!