Fun Friday Finds 12

It’s Friday!  We have some fun plans with friends this weekend and have been enjoying the hot weather in various pools and at the beach all week.  Griffin has finally agreed to wear his puddle jumper, under extreme duress, but he’s wearing it.  It’s AMAZING.  He swam all over the pool yesterday and even jumped off the edge alone! It’s a freedom he didn’t know existed and frankly, it takes a lot of stress out of pool time for me. Naturally, the puddle jumper is one of my favorite things this week. We bought ours on sale at Amazon last summer and it was worth every penny.  What are you digging this week?

puddlejumperLiquid Armor is available at Staples.  It is a protective covering that is applied to any screen to help avoid scratches and cracks.  It’s an amazing product and takes away the pesky process of trying to adhere a screen cover to your device! Go to the Staples website to see if your local location offers this service.

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My friend Emily has been encouraging me to check out Parenthood for months now.  I started last week and am hooked.  It is the delightful story of 4 adult siblings, their parents, and their families navigating their way through life.  The writing is fantastic, the acting wonderful, and the story lines so endearing.  There is also a young character with Asperger’s Syndrome, and the portrayal is spot-on. I’m almost finished Season 2 (I watch on Netflix) and can’t wait for more!

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I’ve been eating all the dill lately!  Fresh dill is readily available and super fresh right now. It’s a great source of Vitamin C, Folate, and Iron to boot. I’ve been putting it in my eggs every morning and adding it to pasta salads, marinades for fish and chicken, and to salads on the regular. I love the flavor and keep a bunch on my counter in a glass of water. It’s the first thing I see and smell when I walk in the kitchen each morning and it just makes me happy.

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I recently visited a small boutique in Reading call Aine’s.  It was wonderful!  I met the owner, Julie, and she was extremely helpful in helping me find a couple of adorable pieces.  I was introduced to the most adorable clothing line, Escapada. The bright colors, patterns, and silhouettes were right up my alley. Check out Aine’s if you are local or the Escapada website if you’re not.  The clothes are SO cute.

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What are you loving this week?  Please share in the Comments!

 

 

Simple Guacamole

Good Morning! Today I’m going share with you my favorite guacamole recipe. Everyone has a version of guacamole that they swear by-some people add a lot to it, some not so much. I fall into the latter group. I think it’s just about perfect with lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper. That’s it. If I’m feeling really fancy I’ll add some cilantro, but typically it’s just those 4 ingredients and some ripe avocados. Let’s get started…

First, I use ripe avocados. After cutting them in half and removing the pit, I slice the flesh and then scoop it out into a bowl.  

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Next, I mince up the garlic.  My rule of thumb is one clove of garlic for every avocado.  I then liberally add salt to the garlic, right on the cutting board.

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Using the edge of a large knife, I smooth the garlic and salt mixture out to create a paste. This may take a few passes. I do this whenever I’m using garlic in it’s raw form; it takes the bitter taste away.

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Add the garlic paste, lemon juice, and pepper and mix well.  (I typically use the juice of half a lemon for every 2 avocados.)

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Mix together and Enjoy!

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Roasted Shrimp

Here’s a super simple and incredibly flavorful summer dish for you-Roasted Shrimp.  I served it with a simple orzo salad and it made a perfect light weeknight meal.

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To get started, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel and devein one pound of shrimp. Dry with a paper towel and place in a bowl.  Add 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 3 cloves minced garlic and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Toss well so all the shrimp are coated.

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Spread the shrimp out evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Roast the shrimp in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool and serve! I also use these for fajitas, with cocktail sauce as an appetizer, and with grilled vegetables.

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How do you enjoy shrimp?

Fun Friday Finds 11

Friday has arrived!  It’s been absolutely gorgeous week in our neck of the woods. Our big news is they’ve broken ground on our new pool! Wednesday the trucks and digger pulled in and we are all giddy with excitement.  Steve and I because of the pool- the boys because of the digger! Griffin is just amazed by having a real live construction site in his backyard.  While the boys have been occupied by that, I’ve had a little extra time to cook and write.  Keep an eye out for some recipes next week!  In the meantime, here are some things I’m loving this week. Share yours in the comments!

Joanna Gaines’s recent Facebook post about parenting is so sweet and very reassuring.  It’s a must read for all those fellow moms out there in the trenches! Read about the post here.
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In 2008, while training for a half marathon, I was fitted for running shoes at Marathon Sports in Cambridge. I learned that the Nike Air Zoom Structure was the perfect shoe for me. That was the good news. The bad news was the pricetag. Over $100 for a pair of sneakers? Yikes. My friend Jessie told me to look for the shoe on EBay in an older model. Bingo! It worked. I simply did a search looking for the exact shoe, model, and size I was seeking. And the price was a fraction of the the current model. I’ve never bought sneakers at full price again.

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Griffin got this toy, Bucky Turtle, for his birthday and it’s fantastic!  Not only does it teach him how to buckle and unbuckle things, we have also been working on colors and numbers.  An added bonus-it kept him occupied for a long time on our car ride to the Cape. Score!

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Waze is the bomb!  I started using it about a year and a half ago and I just love it. It is an app that uses crowd-sourcing information to give the most current information about traffic.  It provides you the quickest route from Point A to Point B.  Sometimes this means avoiding major highways and going a VERY scenic route, but I’ve found that it’s very accurate.  You can also plan trips in the future by inputting an address and an arrival time.  It will then notify you as when you should plan to leave.  You can also look at traffic trends.  It’s just really, really helpful!  Check it out!

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What are you digging this week?

20 Years….

This past weekend I attended my 20th high school reunion. It was a joyous night and I was pleasantly surprised at how genuinely happy people appeared to be at being reunited. Clique lines seemed to melt away as friends greeted friends who’d grown up together in 4 small towns in rural southern New Hampshire. Conversations flowed easily and hugs were abundant.

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Much has changed, but I was struck by how many people were exactly the same. Circumstances have changed, of course, but personalities shone through that were cultivated at Timberlane 2+ decades ago. We were lucky to grow up in a time and place that provided not only a wonderful education, but a safe environment, rich extracurricular activities, and so many options for growth.

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It’s hard to believe 20 years has passed, but the reunion offered me a chance to reflect-on what I’ve accomplished, what I’ve learned, and who I’ve become.  Here are some things I’ve learned:

*Some friends are meant to be on your journey forever and some friendships are fleeting.  Hold the dear ones close.

*The cruelest people need the most love

*Having children is humbling

*Confidence can be cultivated

*I’m drawn to people with similar experiences, world views, and senses of humor

*Life is hard; be kind to yourself

*Family, education, and health are gifts

*It really is about the journey.  Stop and smell the roses, take pictures, capture moments, make memories.  That’s the good stuff.

*Be your own advocate.  No one else is going to fight for you like you can.

*Travel is so important and wonderful and can change your world view for the better

*Once you find your passion, cultivate it!

Whether you’ve been out of high school for 2 years or 60, what have you learned??

Crepes

We had a special visitor overnight on Saturday, our niece, Lara. Lara is the middle of three girls and is ten years old. She is so much fun and I’m glad she decided to spend some time with us! She is a wonderful help with the boys and even taught us a new card game called Trash. She had one request when she arrived-that we cook! I can do that!

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Growing up, whenever my father had a business trip, we girls had a special treat for dinner-Norwegian pancakes.  They are very similar to crepes and we’d smother them with jam or sugar and eat to our heart’s content. Saturday night felt a bit like those childhood nights with my mom and sisters, and it was a joy to share it with Lara.  And crepes are SO SIMPLE.  As Lara has a dairy intolerance, we substituted water for milk and olive oil for butter and honestly, they tasted just as great. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups milk (we used water)

2 eggs

1/2 stick melted butter (we used 2 tbsp olive oil)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

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Mix all the ingredients in well in a large bowl. We used the stand-up mixer and the batter came together in no time.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat and add a dab of butter or olive oil. Place one ladle of batter in the middle of the pan and evenly distribute, creating a thin layer. Allow to cook until the edges begin to pull away from the pan, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook the other side for about 1 minute.

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Spread your favorite ingredients and either roll up or fold into quarters and enjoy!  Here are some suggestions for tasty toppings:

Nutella

Bananas

Berries

Jam

Sugar

Honey

Syrup

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Griff prefers jam.

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Lara liked Nutella and strawberries.

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Easy Chicken and Veggie Fajitas

I have an easy recipe for you today-chicken and veggie fajitas.  I often make this for a crowd because everyone can create their own using whatever toppings make them happy.  Serve with a side of black beans or salad and you have an great meal! Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs. chicken breast strips (I generally buy 1/2 lb. of meat for each person)

1 onion

1 bell pepper

1 zucchini

2 avocados

diced tomatoes or salsa

1 packet fajita seasoning

1 small container sour cream

shredded cheddar cheese

flour tortillas

Directions:

Mix the fajita seasoning with 1/4 cup water, per the package instructions.

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Add the chicken strips and half of the seasoning mixture to a ziploc bag and allow to marinate while you prep the other ingredients.

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Slice the onion, bell pepper, and zucchini and saute with a bit of olive oil on medium-high heat.

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Add the chicken to a saute pan with a bit of olive oil and cook about 3-4 minutes on each side.

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Add the remaining seasoning mixture to the veggies and continue cooking until they are soft.
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Once the meat and veggies are cooked, serve them with the flour tortillas and the other sides-avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, and salsa.

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Enjoy!!

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Thanks to Viki for being my model!  Perfect fajita folding and eating form!

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Fun Friday Finds 10

It’s Friday and you know what that means…a roundup of my favorite things this week.  We are getting back into the swing of things on the home front, working our way through piles and piles of laundry and having some fun in between. Here are some things I’m loving this week, please share yours in the comments!

The Wax Room is an awesome place located here in Reading, MA. Who likes bikini waxes? No one I know! I dislike them so fiercely that I put it off until, well, let’s say I’ll scare the other beachgoers.  My experience at The Wax Room was, dare I say, PLEASANT!  Bryanna is a pro and I never even screamed.  She offers a host of services and booking online was a breeze.  Definitely check out The Wax Room if you are in the area!

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Last week while on vacation, I had the luxury of starting-and finishing-a book! And what a book it was.  When Breath Becomes Air is the account of the life of Paul Kalanithi, in his own words, as he faces cancer at a young age.  Poignantly written, I couldn’t put it down. This is one book that won’t be forgotten for a long time.

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We found this puzzle for Griff last week and he has been obsessed with it ever since. The pieces are magnetic, making it a huge draw for him. You can find it on Amazon here.

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Here’s a list of easy make-ahead breakfasts compiled by Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers.  She’s a blogger I follow and these are really great options. I especially love the fritatta!

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What are you loving this week?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Cape Cod Part 2 and The 4th of July

Our week in Eastham was wonderful. The beach was beautiful, the kids (mostly) agreeable, and we had food and drink aplenty. Our last night on the Cape was spent at Race Point Beach in Provincetown with our friends Linda and David and their friends the Clark-Dowell Family. We roasted hotdogs and s’mores as we watched pod after pod of seals swim by us. The sunset was brilliant and capped off a perfect week. On our way north, we stopped in Marshfield for a 3rd of July cookout and then partied with our playgroup on the 4th in Nahant.  It was a spectacular night.  Here are a bunch of random pictures from our week…

Spinach salad with corn, cucumbers, blueberries, tomatoes, bell pepper, and manchego.

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Dinner at the Wequassett…pesto linguine with sun-dried tomatoes and shrimp.

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The view from my run…doesn’t get more serene than this!

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Blueberry pancakes!

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We explored the Audobon Society Center in Wellfleet and took a gorgeous walk down to the shore.

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Dinner out with Viki & Fausto at the Bookstore in Wellfleet.

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Dinner was mixed greens with beets, avocado, goat cheese, and salmon.  SO GOOD, can’t wait to recreate this at home!

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While the kids nap, I drank a beer in the outdoor shower.  Bliss.

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S’more hands with Katherine.

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Parker snuggling with Linda.

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Parker turned 9 months on the 1st!!

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North Andover 5K on the 4th.

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4th of July party at the MacDonald’s in Nahant.  Griff loved Addie’s chair!

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Parker and Liam, who we later learned is the grandson of friends of my parents, Andy and Sue Mello.  Small world!!

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In conversation, Meghan and I discovered our fathers worked together in the 80’s!  It was so nice to meet her and her family!

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We hope you all had a safe and happy 4th of July!

Cape Cod

We are down on Cape Cod for the week with friends and we’re having a blast! We’ve spent a lot of time at the beach and playing in the yard. We’ve also been enjoying yummy food and drinks.  Here are some pictures from our week so far…cape1 cape2

Parker sleeping on the beach…bliss!

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Griffin asleep…notice the Crayon book is in his crib. 🙂

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Dinner of grilled steak and spinach salad with fresh corn and tomatoes.

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Scrambled eggs and sweet peach.
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Griff and Jax playing on the beach.cape6

The remnants of steamers

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A visit to the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitor’s Center on a cloudy day.cape8
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I think both of the boys are getting teeth…their hands are in their mouths constantly!cape10

Lunch!cape11

Lobster roll

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Guacamole for an afternoon snack.

More to come!