March 27, 2015

Happy Weekend

This is the first week that I won't be seeing Cinderella. However, it was the third week in a row that I went to see a movie! (Saw this last night.) I think our family is keeping Cinemagic in business. Hey, the girls are happy. And my doggies are happy, too. We took Cooper and Dante to the park for a nice, long walk. As you can see, the snow isn't gone yet (and it's driving me crazy!), but at least we didn't have to trek through ice. Boston, which got just as much snow as we did this winter, has lost most of theirs. The streets are passable and only large piles and a few shadow-covered areas still have a few inches left to melt. Amanda joined me as we went to pick up Kate this week. It was a lovely sunny day most of the morning, but then it quickly clouded over and the rain came.
So, this weekend, we're just trying to chill. Amanda has a scrimmage tomorrow and Kate has homework to do. Next weekend is a biggie and there will be a lot more of those in our future, so we're taking advantage while we can. There is plenty to do around the house and outsidemainly keeping it warm and us from slipping and sliding. You see, here in New Hampshire, spring means snow/rain/sleet/rainfreeze, and repeat. Then comes the mud. Yes, mud is really a season. At least in New England.

I hope you enjoy sunny skies this weekend. Here are some links I though you might enjoy...

As I mentioned previously, it's the 30th anniversary of The Breakfast Club. You have one more chance to watch it in theaters.

Read this moving essay about Angelina Jolie's decision to remove her ovaries.

6 quick ways to organize your living room this spring.

Great places to brunch in New Hampshire and NYC.

Nate Berkus makes over two offices at Allure Magazine. Simple and affordable.

And something to make you laugh. Check out Sean Hayes' video.


March 26, 2015

There are a lot of Books! (1000 Words)

Last week, David, the girls' and I, were in yet another bookstore. As I checked what was new against my list of books to purchase (and the girls did the same) I realized that there are a lot of books out there. And some of them are not very goodat all. I know why some get published. Once you are someone, you can pretty much do anything you wantstart a clothing line, have a perfume named after you, and of course, write a book. I glance at the names and topics and quickly surmise that people will read just about anything. So why not something you write?
Sure, you may not be famous (yet), you may not have a particularly pretty name (that's why pen names exist), but you could still write one. It may not be a best-seller or makes its way onto Oprah's list, but you could still write one. It may only interest 1,000 people instead of 1,000,000 people, but you could still write one.
What keeps us from reaching this goal is that big, giant voice of self-doubt. Squash it! Do it anyway.
I've been reading some very nice stories about people who self-publish and voila!, a publisher picks them up after the first run. I read about writers who were rejected again and again and again—and a lot of them are now best-selling authors. I read about writers who get book deals because of their incredibly popular blogs. And I read about writers who are content to write just for the love of writing and are happy in their choice to remain "unpublished". 
These stories inspire me and keep me going when those 1,000 words seem like 1,000,000.

1,000 Square Foot San Francisco Apartment

Think you can't make a small space work? This San Francisco apartment blends with old with the new and shows you how you can make it all fit.

Take the mini tour...

You may also like Small Spaces and Small Space Decorating: The Kitchen.

March 25, 2015

Chicken Cacciatore (Cheat)

Last week, when I mentioned that I had to come up with a salad in a hurry, I had made Chicken Cacciatore for dinner that night. Since then, I've had a few requests for the recipe. Well... I cheat big time when it comes to this dish. It's part homemade, part store-bought. But it's a great meal to throw together with leftover chicken and vegetables. Here's what I do...

Chicken Cacciatore

4 large chicken breasts (You can use thighs or any part of the chicken you'd like)
2 red bell peppers, cut into chunks or strips
1 large onion, cut into chunks or strips (I use sweet onions like Vidalia)
1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Jar of your favorite sauce (I use a spicy roasted red pepper sauce)
1 lb. cooked pasta of your choice

Coat chicken in a liberal amount of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake the chicken in a 375 degree oven for approximately 20-30 minutes. Don't dry out the chicken. Remove chicken and set aside. You can do this a day or two ahead if you'd like.

Saute peppers and onions in about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over a low heat. Add salt if desired and stir occasionally. Let the vegetables soften and start to caramelize, but don't burn them. Set aside. You can do this a day or two ahead as well.

Shred or cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a large pan, add sauce, chicken and vegetables, along with the rest of the olive oil. I'm pretty liberal with the olive oil, so add a good 1/4 cup to the pan.

When heated through, serve over pasta.

Serves 4-6 people.

If you want a more authentic, homemade version of this recipe, try this one.

Photo: Peter Sejerson

March 24, 2015

Life in a John Hughes Movie

I can’t remember the first time I allowed my girls to watch my favorite John Hughes movies. But once they did, they were hooked.
Kate is enamored by all things 80s—both of my girls, really—the clothes, the hair, the music. They wish they had been teenagers back then and they think I had it made.
I’m caught somewhere in the middle. Times were definitely simpler then. Being a teen in the 80s meant that you could look back and still appreciate those simple times, but it also felt like you were on the edge of something big and exciting just waiting to happen.
I loved being a child of the 60s and 70s. It was a time filled with traditions and rituals that you could count on, and that you found comfort in, like church and Sunday dinner. Birthday parties consisted of a homemade cake and games like flashlight tag or dressing your dolls, all played out in your own living room and backyard, and not in some god-awful Chuck E. Cheese. There were no texts, social media, or cell phones for that matter. Technology I admittedly appreciate today, but only to a certain degree.

March 23, 2015

Beauty Rituals... How Far Would You Go?

In my teens and twenties, I woke up early to style my hair and make up my face. When I became a mother, I was happy if my hair was washed and I was able to apply a little lipstick. I certainly made more of an effort if I was going out, but my hairstyle got simpler, my make-up routine, more efficient. These days, I'm somewhere in between.

So, are you a slave to your beauty routine? Do you love the process and the products? Just how far would you go? Check out these tricks from these famed Hollywood beauties...

Marilyn Monroe - "To make her lips appear fuller, Monroe would have her makeup artist apply 5 different shades of lipstick and gloss to create dimension. Darker reds went on the outer corners, while lighter hues were brushed on the middle of the lips."

Elizabeth Taylor - "Liz Taylor took a page out of Cleopatra's book, as both women made a habit of shaving their face. It may sound funny, but it removes the fine baby hairs and the surface layer of skin cells, which gives the skin a facial-like glow."

Audrey Hepburn - "The secret to Hepburn's long, Bambi lashes? After applying mascara, she'd use a pin to separate each individual lash. Now that's how you get clump-free lashes."

Marlene Dietrich - "The German-American had plenty of tricks up her sleeve, but she was most notorious for having her molars removed to further accentuate her cheekbones and using surgical tape to give herself a temporary face lift. Whoa."

Sophia Loren - "Loren followed a Mediterranean diet religiously, which meant she always had a bottle of olive oil at arm's length. She kept her skin soft and luminous by soaking in a hot bath with a few splashes of oil."

Are you game?

March 20, 2015

Have a Great Weekend

Yesterday, when I went to pick up Kate from school, I decided to arrive a little early and take advantage of a cleared track I had spotted last week. The track here at our high school is still covered in more than a foot of snow, so it's been quite a while since I've been able to take advantage of it. It felt so good to be walking outside in the sunshine. This field and track are located just behind the MFA and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. It's a beautiful area of Bostonso clean and quiet.

Kate came home an extra weekend to work with the children at her former elementary school today with her beloved kindergarten teacher. We were so fortunate to have Mrs. Christensen as Kate's first teacher because she is everything a good teacher should bepatient, kind, enthusiastic, encouraging... and she never, ever raised her voice but always had complete control over her students. Thankfully, when it was Amanda's turn, we requested that she be placed in her class as well. She was just one of many teachers the girls shared over the years and those were the teachers who made an enormous difference in their education.

Next week, the fun really begins. Amanda starts lacrosse and more scheduling conflicts will inevitably unfold. In the meantime, we're going to spend our last weekend of freedom going to see Cinderella at the movies for the second time. If you haven't seen it, go!

Here are some links from around the web I thought you might enjoy...

Can children and parents ever really be friends?

Ever wonder what your name means?

What author Lisa Genova is teaching us now.

Live in San Francisco or plan to visit? Check out Craftsman and Wolves, but read my nephew's article before you go.

A funny take on the Disney princesses.

You can buy what's left of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's 752-acre Tennessee farm.

Bonus: Americans try to pronounce Massachusetts towns. This made me laugh!

Happy Spring!

March 19, 2015

Spotted: West Elm Bar Cart

I know bar carts have been very popular for some time now, but when I look at this particular cart, I see other possibilities. This piece would make a perfect companion to an office. Whenever I work on a project, I tend to spread things out all over my desk and piles start to form wherever I can make them. When the day is done, I'm left with a very messy work area. Because my office is located in the corner of our den, we frequently use this room to hang out in, talk by the fire and read, and a messy desk is not something I care to look at, especially over the weekend.

So imagine stashing away files and folders, notes and drawings that you're working on in that drawer. You can even store notebooks and journals right on top and out of plain sight. Now dress it up with a few accessories to keep it from look too utilitarian, and voila!, the perfect work station.

The price is a bit steep (it's on sale for half off now!), but you can be sure I'll be searching for a knock-off very soon. And when you don't need an extra work station, well, I guess it can be used as a bar cart.

March 18, 2015

Let's Talk Salad

I'm on a serious green kick. So, today, it's no wonder that I want to talk about salads. Growing up, a salad was a serving of various vegetablesiceberg lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and if you were lucky, maybe a radish or two. And truth be told, when I throw together a salad, especially in the winter, I'm not much more creative. Last night I made Chicken Cacciatore, but by the time I was finished preparing it, I scrambled for a side. I quickly dressed some baby spinach and shredded carrots and voila. Not very exciting mind you, but a good quick, and healthy, salad nonetheless.

When I have the time, and when I know I'll be making a salad for a crowd, I love to get creative. Mixing greens, adding vegetables like broccoli or diced asparagus, tossing in roasted or candied nuts, and combining shredded chicken, and a variety of fruits, can turn an ordinary salad into a meal all its own. In fact, we often have our version of Chicken Salad for dinner, especially as the weather grows warmer.

The salad you see above is offered at the Portsmouth Gas Light Co., here in Portsmouth, NH. To recreate it, simply gather a collection of mixed greens, add dried cherries, candied pecans, and finish it with a sherry vinaigrette, and herbed farmers' cheese.

Here are just some of the ingredients you could use to make a delicious signature salad: avocado, onions, heirloom tomatoes, beets, celery, English cucumber, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, olives, scallions, peppers, shrimp, eggs, chicken, fish, beef, bacon, dried fruits, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, apples, pear, pomegranate, tangerines, almonds, walnuts, pecans...

What are some of your favorite salad combinations? Do you have a favorite dressing?

Here are some other recipes you may enjoy...

Frisee Salad with Bacon
Kale Caesar Salad
Farro Salad
Quinoa and Berries BBQ Chicken Salad
Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad
Avocado Strawberry Spinach Salad

Photo: Mrtindc