Bar Harbor and Orzo with Shrimp & Feta

Hello!  I hope you all had a safe and fun Memorial Day Weekend.  Once the boys and I returned from Maine on Friday, we had a nice weekend with Steve.  We went to a few cookouts, ate a lot of junk, organized our house, and generally had a lot of fun! Bar Harbor was a great escape for a few days but 5-hour car rides with a toddler and an 8-month-old are NO JOKE.  We had a wonderful visit with family and spent lots of time outside.  Now we are happy to be home and back to our routine! Here are a few pictures from our trip:

FullSizeRender (80)

A happy crab.

FullSizeRender (81)

FullSizeRender (82)

FullSizeRender (83)

Blueberry jam for days…

FullSizeRender (84)

Hiking with Papa

FullSizeRender (85)

FullSizeRender (86)

A visit with cousin Mike

FullSizeRender (87)

“Fwow wocks, Mama?”

FullSizeRender (88)

FullSizeRender (89)

A visit with cousin Olivia!

FullSizeRender (90)

Did I mention it was a LONG five-hour ride home?

On to our recipe!  My friend Jessie served this dish a couple of years ago at a dinner party and I’ve been making it faithfully ever since.  It’s a nice blend of carbs, protein, herbs, and veggies, served as a side dish or as a light summer meal.  I’ve adapted the recipe from this one by Ina Garten. Hers calls for mint and olives, but I’ve omitted those simply due to our family’s tastes.  Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

8 oz. orzo (~2 cups cooked)

1/2 lb. large shrimp, cooked & peeled

1/3 cup olive oil

zest and juice of one lemon

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1/2 European cucumber, diced

4 oz. feta cheese, diced

1 tbsp. salt

1 tsp black pepper

 

First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

FullSizeRender (69)

Add the orzo and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

FullSizeRender (70)

While the orzo cooks, chop the cucumbers, dill, and feta.  Zest the lemon.

FullSizeRender (71)

FullSizeRender (76)

FullSizeRender (77)

FullSizeRender (73)

Quick break to tend to an unhappy baby…

FullSizeRender (75)

Juice the lemon and whisk the together with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

FullSizeRender (74)

Once the orzo has cooked, strain it and add to a large mixing bowl.

FullSizeRender (72)

Add in the cucumber, dill, feta, and lemon vinaigrette.

FullSizeRender (78)

Finally, add the shrimp.  Ina’s recipe calls for raw shrimp to be roasted.  In the spirit of simplifying things, I use frozen shrimp, thawed, and with the tails removed.  Toss the shrimp in the bowl and serve room temperature or chilled.  Enjoy!

FullSizeRender (79)

Fun Friday Finds 5

We’ve made it to Friday! The boys and I are spending a few days in Bar Harbor, Maine with my dad visiting my Aunt Sandra.  My father grew up on Mount Desert Island, so I have a lot of wonderful memories from summers spent here.  We haven’t been here in a while, so it’s a perfect way to kick off the summer season! Here are some things I’m loving this week, please share yours in the comments!

seltzer

It’s a true sign of summer when Polar introduces their limited edition summer seltzer flavors!  This year did not disappoint.  I’m partial to the mango berry and raspberry pink lemonade, but they are all perfectly refreshing.

 

sugarbearhair

Sugarbearhair Hair Vitamins are a daily vitamin to boost growth of hair and nails.  I have extremely fine hair and am constantly looking for ways to make it look thicker and fuller.  It may because my hair is finally starting to grow back now at nearly 8 months postpartum, but I think these vitamins are contributing to a TON of recent hair and nail growth.

 

mindfulness

mindfulness 2

 

The Mindfulness Colouring Book is so relaxing.  I try to take 10-15 minutes each day to just sit with my own thoughts and color.  It has been a great outlet on days where mothering 2 little boys gets overwhelming!

This article on helicopter parenting is so spot-on.  All I have to say is PREACH.

 

jj-cole-outdoor-blanket-gray-red-14

 

The JJ Cole Outdoor blanket  has been perfect for warm days with the boys.  Although getting a 2-year-old to actually sit down is a challenge, Parker loves to sit and roll around on it while Griffin runs laps around him!  It has a weatherproof bottom, so it doesn’t soak through when the grass is damp from rain or dew.  It also comes in an easy-to-carry pouch that is perfect for travel.

 

White Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Cookies

I thought I’d mix things up with a dessert recipe today.  These cookies are so, so yummy.  They are decadent and a perfect treat after dinner.  Or for breakfast.  I don’t judge.  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups flour

FullSizeRender (47)3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups white chocolate chips (I love mini chips, if you can find them)

1 cup coconut flakes

1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

 

FullSizeRender (48)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together the wet ingredients-the brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

FullSizeRender (49)

Mix the dry ingredients-the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

FullSizeRender (50)

Carefully and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  I cover my mixer with a dish towel in an attempt to keep things tidy.  Clearly, it’s just an attempt.

FullSizeRender (51)

Meanwhile, I roughly chop the macadamia nuts.  This is just my personal preference and is not necessary if you like bigger chunks.

FullSizeRender (52)

Add the chocolate chips, coconut, and macadamia nuts to the mixture and mix well.

FullSizeRender (53)

Line a cookie sheet (or sheets) with parchment paper.

FullSizeRender (54)

Using a small ice cream scoop, place the dough onto the cookie sheet.

FullSizeRender (55)

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

FullSizeRender (56)

Enjoy!!

Parker’s Baptism

Yesterday we celebrated Parker’s baptism!  The sweet event was held at the Atkinson Congregational Church, where I was baptized and spent many, many Sundays as a child and teen.  It turned out to be a beautiful day after the forecast called for heavy rain and cold temperatures. Someone was looking out for us for sure!  Baby Parker was lucky to be surrounded by love from his brother, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents & godparents-Steve’s cousin Mike and my good friend Emily.  Here are a few photos from the happy day:

FullSizeRender (66)

FullSizeRender (57)

FullSizeRender (65)

FullSizeRender (64)
FullSizeRender (63)

FullSizeRender (67)
FullSizeRender (59)
FullSizeRender (58)
FullSizeRender (61)

FullSizeRender (60)   FullSizeRender (68)

Fun Friday Finds 4

Whoohoo!! It’s Friday! We’re thrilled my friend Emily is coming into town for the weekend from South Carolina! Emily was my college roommate at NC State and is SO MUCH FUN. I’m excited that she’ll finally get to meet Parker and just to have some quality girl time.  While we’re off enjoying our time with her,  enjoy some things I’m loving this week:

 

bpl1

bpl2

 

The Boston Public Market is a beautiful new addition to downtown Boston. Located conveniently near the North End, the Public Market is a year-round indoor market featuring all local products.  Fresh produce, meats, seafood, flowers, and other goods are just the tip of the iceberg.  The market also features many vendors selling lunchtime meals like Beantown Pastrami Company, Mother Juice, and Noodle Lab.  Although the market isn’t cheap, it’s a great stop for all the foodies out there!

 

earbuds

 

These Panasonic Ergo-fit earbuds are fantastic!  They stay in my small ears better than any earbuds I’ve ever used, even during high intensity exercise.  And the best part?  They are SUPER cheap.  So you can buy a $7 fresh pressed juice at the public market and not feel so guilty about it! 🙂

 

parchment

 

I learned about the miracle that is parchment paper in a cooking class.  It is now an oft-used and invaluable part of my kitchen.  I simply line a cookie sheet with parchment any time I’m roasting vegetables, meats, or baking cookies.  Clean-up is simple and you no longer need to deal with the sticky mess that is baked-on cooking spray!

 

faucet extender

 

I discovered this faucet extender on another blog, Carrots ‘N Cake.  Griffin loves being able to wash his hands and brush his teeth unassisted.  I’m not sure how long he’s going to enjoy either of these activities, so I’m loving it while it lasts! The faucet extender easily attaches to your faucet and directs water flow closer to the edge of the sink.  I bought ours on Amazon and you can too-here.

 

bobeau

 

The Bobeau wrap is a fabulous sweater for any woman, but especially for those of us who are breastfeeding!  It comes in many colors and has one simple button closure.  The sweater can be purchased at Nordstrom (free shipping!) and I’ve even found it at Marshall’s from time to time.  It comes in regular and petite sizes-great news for those of us who are vertically challenged.  This is a perfect sweater to wrap up in on those chilly spring nights!

What are you loving this week??

Sunday & Salsa

We had a fun little Sunday over here.  It was a gorgeous day, so we took advantage and headed into Boston to walk along the Esplanade.  As we arrived, we saw that a handful of local high school jazz bands were playing at the hat shell!  So cool!   We decided to relax and enjoy the moment.  The boys loved it and the bands sounded incredible!

FullSizeRender (36)

FullSizeRender (37)

FullSizeRender (38)

Griffin’s very into the music and Parker’s hamming it up!

FullSizeRender (39)

FullSizeRender (40)

Have you seen these?  You can borrow and donate books in these cute little boxes.  I love our city!

When we got home, I decided to make a batch of my favorite salsa.  This is a great dish to make on a Sunday because we enjoy it all week-as a snack, as a topping for fish or chicken, and it’s a great small dish to bring to a get-together.  My friend Terria introduced me to this salsa years ago and I’ve been making it religiously ever since. It helps that I really enjoy chopping vegetables, because it calls for A LOT of chopping! This is the basic recipe, but I’ve added jalapeños, black beans, corn, and avocado at different times to mix it up a bit.  It calls for cilantro, which some people really don’t like, so you could always substitute fresh parsely or basil as well.  This makes a large batch, but believe me-it goes quickly! Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:FullSizeRender (46)

3 large tomatoes, diced

1 red, 1 orange, & 1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 small red onion, diced

the juice of 3-4 lemons

1 bunch of cilantro, diced

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp pepper
FullSizeRender (45)

I dice the veggies as small as possible.  I’ve also tried making this in the food processor, but find the crunch that hand chopping provides to be ideal.

FullSizeRender (44)

FullSizeRender (42)

I forgot to take pictures of the chopping of the final ingredients-but once they’re all chopped up, add the lemon juice, salt, & pepper and toss.  This salsa tastes especially great after a day or two, so all the flavors have time to mingle.  Serve with tortilla chips & enjoy!

 FullSizeRender (41)

 

Fun Friday Finds 3

Hooray!  It’s Friday! Our little family spent the week enjoying the amazing weather and I was lucky enough to enjoy a Mother’s Day outing in Boston with a wonderful group of friends last weekend.  My parents also made the trek north from their winter home in Florida, which is always a happy time. We’re so grateful to have them back!  Here a few snapshots from our week:

 

FullSizeRender (33)

Steve & Parker

FullSizeRender (35)

Lindsay & Emily

FullSizeRender (34)

Katie & I

IMG_4313

Emily, Lindsay, Katie, & I

The warmer temperatures have me thinking about fresh produce and cool drinks on the deck.  If you missed my post featuring Summer Quinoa Salad, be sure to check it out!  Today’s Fun Friday Finds are full of things that have made our week great. Here we go!

 

Fever-Tree-Naturally-Light-Ginger-Beer-8x-500ml-Bottles

 

Fever Tree Naturally Light Ginger Beer was introduced to me by the wonderful Michele Devlin.  It is the perfect addition to my favorite drink of the moment, the Moscow Mule.  Simply mix 1 1/2 shots of vodka with 5 oz. of ginger beer and a squeeze of lime and voila!  A refreshing and slightly spicy drink is served.  An added bonus-this ginger beer is naturally low in calories at just 50 calories per 8 oz. serving, and contains no artificial sweeteners.  Love.

 

water table

 

Oh, sweet Little Tikes Spinning Seas water table, how we adore thee!  This water table has kept Griffin entertained for hours outdoors this week.  It was a perfect birthday gift from our fabulous babysitter, Elena.  So far, I haven’t found any drawbacks to this toy and am hopeful that he stays interested for many months to come!

 

crystal4

 

Atkinson Riding Academy is a full service equestrian facility located in my hometown, Atkinson, New Hampshire.  It was started in 2006 by Crystal LeBlanc.  They have lessons of all kinds and even run camps and host birthday parties!  If you have a horse lover in your family, definitely check out this spectacular place!

wubb

The WubbaNub pacifier is a new find for us.  Parker is a very happy baby….until he’s not.  A friend recently described her son as having “big feelings” and let’s just say Parker does too.  Enter the WubbaNub.  So far, it’s been great and when he gets frustrated and throws it, it doesn’t go very far.  Score.

What’s got you excited this week?

 

*I have no affiliation with any of the products listed, they are just things I’m really digging right now!

 

Summer Quinoa Salad

This recipe, adapted from this one from Iowa Girl Eats,  has been a go-to for us during the warmer months.  It can be used as a side or sometimes I add fresh fish, scallops, or chicken to it to make a yummy and healthy meal.  Quinoa is a nutty grain that is packed with protein and essential amino acids, making it a great alternative to rice or pasta.  It’s important to rinse it well under cold water before cooking. This rids the quinoa of a sometimes bitter-tasting outer layer.  Here’s the recipe:

 

FullSizeRender (28)Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly

1 14.5 oz can chicken broth

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp lemon zest

juice of 2 lemons

1 tbsp salt

1/2 tbsp pepper

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp parsley

2 tbsp basil

1/4 cup cucumber, diced

1/4 cup blueberries

1/4 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh corn

 

FullSizeRender (32)

FullSizeRender (30)

Directions:

First, rinse the quinoa thoroughly under cold water for at least 1 minute.  Pour one 14.5 oz can chicken broth in a sauce pan with the quinoa and bring to a boil.  You can also use 2 cups of water, but I prefer the extra flavor chicken broth provides.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 12-15 minutes or until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid.  Transfer the cooked quinoa to a mixing bowl and allow to cool. (I place it in the refrigerator to cool quickly.)
FullSizeRender (31)

 

While the quinoa cools, prepare the add-ins. Chop the herbs, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  Heat 2 stalks of fresh corn in the microwave for 5 minutes, wrapped in wet paper towels.  Cut the kernels off the cob and add to the quinoa.

 

FullSizeRender (29)

 

To prepare the vinaigrette, I whisk together the remaining ingredients-the zest and juice of 2 lemons, olive oil, salt, pepper, and honey. Add to the quinoa mixture and toss well.  Enjoy this dish room temperature or chilled.  Enjoy!

 

 

Fun Friday Finds 2

Well, we made it through a dreary and COLD week in New England, thank goodness!  To brighten up your Friday, here are some of my favorite finds of the week.  I hope you enjoy my list and please share some of yours in the comments!

 

gap v-neck

 

This is the GapFit Breathe v-neck tee.  I picked up a couple of these when I was first nursing Griffin and honestly live in them these days.  I just bought 2 new colors last week.  They are super soft, stretchy, and comfortable.  Perfect for layering underneath a cardigan or blazer and just as great as a workout top. They also tend to go on sale a lot, which is a bonus.

 

DSC_3348
This print, a birthday gift from my husband, is done by a wonderful artist, Jennifer Judd-McGee.  She does paper cutting, laser cutting, illustrations, ornaments, note cards, and more.  She is from Mount Desert Island in Maine, where my father grew up, and where I’ve spent countless summers.  I also love her story-she was in a highly demanding job and would doodle while on calls and in meetings.  At the urging of her family and friends, she quit her job to focus on her family and her art, opening an Etsy shop, Swallowfield, in 2007.  I also heard a rumor that she is opening up a shop in Northeast Harbor, Maine, this summer.  I love her work and looking at this piece just makes me happy.

 

fiore

 

I discovered Fiore Olive Oils and Vinegars a few years ago in Bar Harbor, Maine.  Fiore was started by Nancy and Pat O’Brien in 2009.  They now have 5 tasting rooms all over Maine and feature olive oils sourced from small producers from all over the world.  They also carry an abundance of vinegars and other related products.  Some of my favorite are Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, Rosemary Olive Oil, and Ginger Peach White Balsamic Vinegar.  Although a trip to a tasting room is a special treat, online orders are also available through their website.  You won’t be disappointed!

brown rice

Minute Ready to Serve Brown Rice is as simple as it gets.  I am not really interested in taking the time to cook rice, especially when putting together a meal for my family in short time.  Each cup of rice is one serving and tastes hearty and nutty, like brown rice should.  Simply place in the microwave for one minute and voila!  You have a side or base for a yummy meal.

 

rosehip oil

 

I’ve been using Radha Rosehip Seed Oil for the past couple of months as a face moisturizer.  It feels so great on my skin and I love that I’m using something organic on my face.  I simply use 3-4 drops on my whole face and neck and it never feels greasy.  My skin especially soaked it all up during the dry winter months, but I will be using it year-round.

 

*I have no affiliation with any of these products, they are just things I’m really digging right now!

 

Some Special Teachers

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m dedicating today’s post to the amazing women and men who have so impacted my life. Earlier this week, I was able to attend the funeral of my beloved first grade teacher, Mrs. Helen Reynolds. Growing up the daughter of the school superintendent had it’s perks; Namely, I was more often than not placed in the classrooms of some amazing teachers. At Mrs. Reynold’s funeral the pastor noted how many people can only name 1 or 2 teachers from their formative years. Me? I think I can name them all! Mostly, I can recall exactly what they taught me and the impression they had on me. Here are a few who particularly stand out to me.  Please share in the comments some of your favorites too!  And THANK YOU to all the teachers who work so hard to make the lives of young people better!!

Mrs. Reynolds-Grade 1

Mrs. Reynolds was the first grade teacher everyone should have.  She was warm, nurturing, and had a genuine concern for the well-being of each of us.  She was quick to offer a smile or a hug and always took the time to sit with us individually and give us the one-on-one attention we needed.  I think what stands out to me the most is that she invited us into her life.  That is something that is missing these days.  She lived on a farm and I remember stopping by on the weekends to buy fresh eggs.  It truly was an idyllic introduction to the start of formal education.

Mrs. Watson-Grade 2

Not many kids get to experience second grade in an old schoolhouse, away from the rest of the school!  Grade 2 in Atkinson was held at the Rockwell School, a 3-room schoolhouse that has since been transformed into the police station.  We were isolated from the rest of grades 1-5, but in the best way!  We walked up the road for our specialists and had a magical year with Mrs. Kathy Watson. Two things stand out to me when I think of her.  The first being her true passion for teaching.  I remember her saying to me once how teaching was a calling, not just a job.  And she embodied that calling. Secondly, I recall POETRY!  Mrs. Watson exposed us to all the poems in the world and encouraged us to write and read extensively.  I owe my love of reading to her and am so grateful for the example she set.  She made us love school!  As Maurice Sendak said “Each month is gay, each season nice. When eating chicken soup with rice!”

Mrs. Earley-Grade 6 Science

Mrs. Earley was so passionate about science and I recall her class being very hands-on.  As a scared 6th grader entering the middle school for the first time, Mrs. Earley was that warm presence that I craved.  She loved animals and often shared stories of her beloved bulldog, Lutha, who she spoonfed!  She taught us about blood types, how to dissect a frog, and about venus fly traps.  Beyond the classroom, Mrs. Earley always supported me in other areas as well.  She was quick to ask how a field hockey game had gone or what I had planned over the weekend.  Her genuine interest in me as a person, not just a student, stands out to me still.

Mrs. Connolly-High School Field Hockey Coach

A few times in my adult life, I’ve experienced renewed respect for adults from my past.  This is especially true of Mrs. Patty Connolly. She gave up so much of her time to coach our field hockey team and only now do I fully understand that commitment. Day in and day out, she encouraged us to be better players and better people.  She called us out when she knew we weren’t giving it our all and praised us when we were.  I still remember her yelling “Don’t cut corners!” as we ran lap after lap.  She invited us into her home for team dinners and facilitated an atmosphere that encouraged teamwork, fair play, and a positive attitude.  The lessons she taught us in big wins and devastating losses alike still resonate with me today.

Mr. Chooljian-High School Guidance Counselor

Mr. Chooljian was a huge part of my high school experience.  He was steadfast in his dedication to making sure I made the best choices, whether it be in course selection or choice of college.  He was a listening ear and gentle hand in guiding me through what can be a very overwhelming process.  The thing that I recall best, however, was his enthusiasm.  He really wanted me to do well, in school and in life.  He gets a lot of recognition for his role as head wrestling coach at Timberlane, but I’ll remember how he supported and encouraged me in my academic life.

Having taken the time to sit and reflect on these amazing people, two things stand out to me.  First, all of them loved what they did. They had a passion for working with young people and it showed.  Secondly, they all took an interest in their students beyond the classroom.  They got to know us and supported us in every area, not just as students in their class.  Thank you all for being wonderful role models and for making my life so much richer!