I am not sure what Henry's first Halloween will look like exactly. Since it falls on a Friday, David and I will both have to work during the day. Once we get home, it might be either too late or too cold to take the lion man out. Of course, if these two concerns do not present themselves, then we are aiming to taking the little lion out on the town (for at least a few minutes) to "trick or treat." It will be funny bringing him by our neighbors homes or bringing him over to close friend's. If nothing else, he will don his little costume and we will observe the holiday through photographs! I am sure Henry is psyched about it! Regardless of how we celebrate on October 31, Henry was able to spend a little afternoon with his friends recently at a pumpkin festival in costume! It was adorable seeing his little buds dressed as a strawberry, cow, and astronaut. And, of course I loved seeing their parents as well. It is nice being a part of a little group of moms to share stories, insights, goofy moments, and, most importantly, to watch our babies grow up, thrive, and begin to reach out and "play" with one another. It is such a fun part of mommy-hood. To me, this was our Halloween celebration!
On Saturday, David, Heather, Alyza, Zachary, and I piled into our car and drove from Boston to New York for our Baby Shower. My mom and dad planned this special afternoon back in December and we were very excited to finally be able to see all of our family and friends and share in this truly great moment. In some ways, it wasn't until this moment that the upcoming arrival of the little one became real. Being surrounded by the love, support, and laughter of the strong and beautiful women in my family felt like the "official" initiation into the "mom club." Sharing stories about their pregnancies, births, and parenting adventures helped provide calm and perspective to the luncheon. It was inspiring to see these women and to share in the good, the bad, the ugly, and the miraculous of motherhood. David and I felt truly loved and the generosity of our loved ones was overwhelming. Our little guy is so lucky to be joining this tremendous family and to have a nursery that is stocked with all we could imagine and need to help his transition into the world go smoothly. It was quite a special weekend for all of us.
After the meal, David joined us and we unwrapped the gifts for the little one together.
Baby clothes are so darn cute and tiny!
Even David received a special gift just for him. The Daddy Doo Doo Emergency kit was a hilarious gift filled with all he could need for a poop disaster!
We had the very special help of Zachary and Alyza (our niece and nephew) throughout the party.
Can you believe this cake! I was so surprised when it arrived and could not have imagined a cuter more delicious dessert. Our friends Maryanne and Amanda were so wonderful in finding this treat. And, yes the baby's nursery "theme" is elephants!
Our visit to New York was short but it is amazing to think that our next trip down to our family in July will include the little one!
No explanation. Just a moment captured
Last night we rang in the New Year with our neighbors. It was so much fun hanging out, playing charades, and just spending time together. David and I have always said we are incredibly lucky to have moved into our neighborhood. We instantly made friends with those around us and were welcomed in. Last night was just a great reminder of that. To celebrate, the host and hostess shared a "New Year's Eve around the World" theme. Each house then adopted a country and brought a dish with them to share. David and I chose Italy. It was a hectic morning and my meal choice went from one dish to another. I finally settled on some baked ziti and I think it came out pretty well and was insanely simple to prepare.
2 boxes penne noodles
1 can 28oz diced tomatoes
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 package mini meatballs
2 jars Rao's arrabiata sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Prepare the penne noodles according to box in order to have "al dente" noodles. Return the strained pasta to a deep sauce pan. Mix in 2 jars of Rao's Arrabiata sauce, mix in cup of Ricotta Cheese. Cut meatballs into quarters and mix in to pasta. Finally mix in the diced tomatoes. Pour mixture into a baking dish. Top with the shredded mozzarella and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Turn your oven to Broil and brown the top layer of cheese for 5-7 minutes (watch it during this part so as not to burn the top layer but just brown and bubble slightly). Then serve and enjoy!
On Saturday afternoon, we invited our college friends over for a turkey dinner potluck. It was so much fun. Of course, I loved being with everyone and sharing a meal around the table together as a family. And, the food was quite delicious as well. We prepared the turkey, stuffing, and gravy and each friend brought a family favorite along for a side or for dessert. The house was warm with Thanksgiving aromas. It was a decadent meal and there were a few of us who wished we could curl up on the couch in our stretchy pants. As was inevitable, David and I were left with so many leftovers. We were a little perplexed with how to handle all of the remaining turkey. I have never been very good at re-purposing leftovers. Thankfully, Eric, Laura's husband, shared his delicious chicken noodle soup recipe which we substituted with our turkey meat. Coming home from work tonight, this meal was easy to whip together and so delicious. We are both excited to eat these leftovers again tomorrow night. And, to be honest I see this becoming a staple in our home. Thanks Eric!!
Roast chicken or turkey leftovers (we used 2 legs, a little breast meat and 2 wings from the turkey)
2 celery sticks
chicken stock (enough for 6-8 cups)
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Start by heating olive oil in a pot. Saute chopped onion and 4 diced garlic cloves until translucent.
Add in the turkey or chicken leftovers. Cook together with the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until meat is warmed through and browns a little on the edges.
Add in the chopped carrots, celery and the spices: 2 tsp basil, 1 tsp marjoram, 1 tsp tarragon, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp red pepper flakes. Saute together and cook 2-3 minutes.
Pour in the chicken stock. I added about 8 cups of the broth. Bring to a rolling boil and then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Finally, add in the rice noodles and cover the soup again for 5-8 minutes to cook the noodles. Serve and truly enjoy!
No explanation. Just a moment captured.
Last Friday, David, Laura, Eric, and I went to the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis concert at TD Bank. Laura had seen Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on Good Morning America during one of the summertime concert series and bought the four amigos tickets for their Fall concert in Boston. In the summer, it seemed like such a great idea. We were relaxed and far far away from grind of the school year. A concert on a Friday would be awesome! As the week of the concert commenced, I looked out towards Friday and thought how would I ever have the energy to teach, grade, lesson plan, and enjoy a late night concert. The evolution of a teacher during a week can be quite dramatic. From fully rested and alert the decline into frantic, zombie (I know how is that possible, right?) is fully actualized by Friday at 3PM. But undeterred and with a blast of a second wind of energy, I headed downtown to meet up with David before the concert.
This time of year in Boston is just magical. We walked from the seaport area towards Government Center with the cold chill of Fall on our cheeks and noses. Government Center was flooded with Christmas lights as the sun set in the distance. Tourists snapped pictures, kids ran around statues, and couples cuddled close before ducking into restaurants. I know this part of the city is a bit kitschy, but I just love it. As a history teacher this is the the part of the city that taps into my curiosity. Imaging I can time travel to the colonial days, I squint my eyes and take in the sights of the historic center.
We committed to walking about but the cold sea air finally drove us indoors. We grabbed a table by a window and waited for Laura and Eric to join us for a quick, warm meal at Anthem were "comfort food is reinvented." We arrived before them and unable to contain our hungry selves, we gobbled up some calamari while we waited. After dinner, the four of us made our way over to the concert.
We got there a bit early. Well actually we got there on time like dutiful party-goers, but, of course, it is always better to be fashionably late to events like this. Waiting in the mostly empty arena, I couldn't imagine the place being filled top to bottom with spectators. Had Macklemore and Ryan Lewis sold out the Garden? Yes!The concert was fantastic. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are excellent performers and their music is just so fun that it is hard not to dance. All the sleepiness and stress of the week melted away as 12,000 people had a dance party together. One of my favorite moments of the concert was when Macklemore did "Same Love." To hear 12,000 people sing along about marriage equality and respect for all couples who love one another was beyond power. It was an excellent night out on the town for a couple of crazy teachers! Concert Selfie!
Friday night, after a long week that ended in two days of back-to-back parent-teacher conferences, I was treated to a delicious meal at my friend Laura's home. With a bit of mind mush, I drove to her house and was immediately greeted by the delicious aroma of her kitchen and her warm smile. We spent the night with a few of our friends laughing, telling stories, and sharing in a great meal. The week had been so long and tiring and this was exactly what I needed to decompress and reconnect. Laura worked so hard to ensure that we all enjoyed a fancy meal on her finest dinnerware. She did all of the work even though we strove to help her. It was amazing to receive so much selfless care and love on a Friday. I was incredibly thankful. The chicken that was prepared was so delicious that I told David that I just had to make it for him during the weekend. He was a bit skeptical as he saw me toss in the ingredients into the basket, "Soy sauce and honey, are you sure, Melissa?" Promising him a dish that would tap into his umami taste buds, I assured him he would be pleasantly surprised. The recipe itself came from Real Simple Magazine and as always it was a simple meal to follow and did not take much time to prepare. Within an hour we were sitting down to our feast. And....David enjoyed it! It is going to be added to our running list of meals for our home. I hope it makes it on to your list as well!
The Recipe: Soy Balsamic Roasted Chicken with Rosemary
This weekend David and I went to Comic Con in New York. I know what you are thinking, WHAAAT? That's right, we decided to throw ourselves head first into embracing an event we would not have attended on our own. Prompted to attend by Andric and Amanda we made our way down to NY on Friday night. I had seen pictures of Comic Con before and never thought I would attend myself. But, truth be told, it was actually a lot of fun. The weekend started off a little rough with an unexpected car exchange. We piled into the car, only to have a mechanical issue. Tired and a little frustrated, the four us shook off the rocky start and drove the 4 hours to our hotel. Making it to New York at 1AM, we crashed hard.
The next morning, we woke up early, got into our costumes and headed to the Jacob Javits Center. You are probably wondering....what did David and I dress up as? Have you ever seen It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? We decided that we could only dress up as characters we knew and since we are not well versed in the world of comics or anime, we chose Dee and Mac from the Nightman Cometh Episode. In this episode, Mac, Dee and the gang put on a random and wild musical.
For your reference, this is Dee as the Coffee Shop Princess And, here is Mac as the Nightman
Did you know that it is illegal to buy decorative contact lenses in the United States? Deemed medical devices, selling lenses for Halloween, which circumvent visiting optometrists, is not recommended by the FDA. We did not know this when David purchased this pair of cat eye lenses through amazon. While David was able to get one lens in, the overall discomfort of wearing them led to him scrapping that part of the costume. We arrived at the Javits Center and were completely overwhelmed by the crowds, costumes, and sound. This was an incredibly popular event filled with a diverse array of people and spectators. David and I both agree that there appears to be three types of people who come to this event:
- There is the individual who comes dressed in regular street attire and sports a classic comic t-shirt to show their connection to super hero stuff.
- There is the individual who comes dressed in a Halloween quality costume but who goes around as themselves wearing a costume (I think David and I fell into this category)
- There is the individual who shows up in full costume. It is form fitting, made of real materials, and is incredibly realistic. This person also embodies the character. For example: dresses as Gollum and crawls throughout the Javits Center or dresses like Loki and stomps around with attitude.
Here we are in our costumes striking our character poses. We learned quickly that when someone asks you for a photo they want you to strike a pose.
You might not know this about me but I have a crush on actor Andrew McCarthy. When I saw that for some reason he was at Comic Con I hurried us all to his booth. And, while I find him to be terribly irresistible in his 80s movies, I was not ready to part with $20.00. So this is as close to him as I got.
A close up of my Dee Reynolds costume. Little did I know that this was actually 3 costumes in one as many thought I was Sleeping Beauty and/or Princess Peach. David as the Nightman strikes his ninja pose
Andric was dressed as the 11th Doctor from Dr. Who. Amanda was dressed as Marceline from AdventureTime and her guitar was crazy authentic looking. People were quite impressed.
This guy was SO tall!! Just a couple of Marcelines. The Doctors from Dr. Who. Breaking Bad I forgot who Andric is posing next too. I am going to say it is a character from the video game Assassin's Creed (but I might be way wrong).
One of my favorite moments came as we were walking out of Comic Con at night. We passed by this couple dressed as the Misfits, we complimented them on their costumes, took a picture, and walked away. They then caught up to us again and said, "Hey, wait, are you Mac and Dee?" When we replied in the affirmative, they broke out laughing and the man even fell to the ground as he was laughing so hard. Success!
Saturday afternoon I went apple picking with my advisory. These nine students are pretty awesome. Funny, smart, and kind, I am incredibly lucky to work with this group of students and to watch them grow up during their high school years. We headed out to Belkind Family Farm in Natick for some bonding and to continue to build our friendships. It was fun watching them be goofy with one another but more importantly inclusive of one another. I am hoping that this "advisory bonding" can continue to occur this school year. As juniors, they are so close to their final year of high school and it is just amazing how fast time is going!
That's right, we got to ride a camel!
In approximately 192 hours the school year will commence. Gosh this is a cliche but the summer flew by! I feel like I just got settled into a routine I enjoy (which includes iced coffees most mornings with Laura) and finally shook off the post-school year fatigue and now it is time to head back in. Yes, I know that the majority of Americans do not have the luxury of a summer vacation like a school teacher and believe me I am so grateful and appreciative of the time I do get off. But, it is always a little sad to say goodbye to the long summer days. As soon as I see the students and get settled into my classroom, it will be second nature and hard to imagine ever not being in the classroom with those particular students. The only really difficult part of the school year starting is the inevitable loss of summer's sunlight that will be exchanged for winter's snow. Therefore, Laura and I set out on Monday to hold onto summer just a little longer with a full day at the beautiful Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester. At the end of the day, we packed up our little campsite and bid the sand and surf adieu until next year.
Welcome to Good Harbor!
Despite being a random Monday in August the beach was PACKED but we still enjoyed ourselves even though we had to share the shore ;)
The obligatory feet in water shot. The water was freezing cold. So cold that I felt my shin bones freeze and Laura and I dared each other to dive into the waves. Which we did three times.
See those two mansions out there on the cliff? Yes, that is where we live.
Laura reading at our campsite for school.
I brought The Art of Racing in the Rain and have fallen in love with this story. It is funny, poignant, and makes me want to snuggle my puppies ever closer. I am devouring the novel as my last summer read.
our friends Laura and Eric are staying at our house while their new house is renovated (I probably mentioned this before). One of the perks of having them here is that at dinner time, we share the prep, cooking, and clean-up. Laura was the master chef last night as she whipped up this recipe and I was happy to photograph her kale dish and mark it down for my own repertoire. I have to admit, it was quite delicious!
Start by sprinkling some coconut flakes on to a baking dish. Bake in the oven at 350 for 3-4minutes or until the coconut is fragrant and just barely starting to get a toasted brown color
Cut up two onions and 3 cloves of garlic
Saute the onions in a deep-sided pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once they are translucent, add in the garlic for another 2-3 minutes.
Add in 4 teaspoons of curry powder and mix well. Simmer here for 2-3 minutes
Add in the kale (that has been cleaned and deveined). Along with 3/4 cup of water to help the kale cook down. (If you need to you can add more water, but you don't want it to get to watered down try to limit the water to no more that 1 1/4 cup). Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
The kale should begin to wilt down. Continue to add more kale until a complete two bunches have been used.
Set the table perhaps? (I just thought ours looked really pretty and casual that night)
Once the kale is cooked, transfer into a serving bowl
Sprinkle the kale with the toasted coconut and serve. Enjoy!
A few months ago I blogged about a book I read called the Creative Family. Its discussion on creativity and the importance of crafting made quite the impression. Her message of steering clear of focusing on one’s mistakes resonated with the perfectionist in me. When knitting, I am quickly discouraged by my project as soon as I make one mistake (which inevitably occurs as I am new to the hobby). Instead of harping on the snag and wanting to throw the item away before it is completed, she suggested understanding the beauty and character of those mistakes. She writes, “ The work of homemade is never perfect, and that’s the beauty of it.” As a DINK (double income no kids), I have a lot of free time in the summer. This is not to make anyone jealous. I so very much want to have children but David and I have some financial goals we would like to reach before we expand our little family. So with this free time, I tend to be bored. As David can attest, I am not good at “relaxing.” Relaxing is not in my vocabulary. Yes, you can definitely find me lounging and nursing my post-school year hangover for the first two weeks of summer vacation. But by week three, I am typically stranded in a sea of free time. I want to try to avoid burning through money but I don’t want to be locked up in my house watching endless movies, so I find summer vacation to be bittersweet at times. I love to read but after so many hours of this in a single day, I need something else.
That’s where crafting comes in. I was invited to a friend's place on Tuesday to learn how to sew. Heather was beyond patient with me as she went over the Singer sewing machine set before us. I now know how to thread the needle, prepare the bobbin, and sew a "straight" line. We practiced on a little draw-string purse made from some “scrap” materials. After this thirty minute entry into the world of sewing, Heather helped me pick out some beautiful material from JP Knit & Stitch and we started to plan out a fabulous tote bag project for the afternoon. We paused for lunch at the new Clover in Brookline and by the time David was out of work, I had completed what I think is a pretty impressive tote bag. I cannot sing Heather’s praises enough. She helped me get started, she encouraged me, and she and I joked the whole time about the bag being “perfect” and how we both struggle with the perfectionist's curse/blessing. Yet, the sad part of this is that while I left her house with the sewing machine and tote, she will be leaving on Sunday for Germany. I am going to miss her and her husband, Robin, so very much. In four years, they have become such dear friends. I am just so glad to have spent such a fun, challenging, and hilarious day with the two of them right before their departure. And, that tote will always been a great reminder of our lesson, friendship, and how I need to get my bum out to Germany to visit them ASAP!
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no explanations. just a moment captured.
[gallery type="rectangular" ids="1290,1291"]
no explanations. just a moment captured.