Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I think I'm finally crashing a bit from Ainsley's and my great adventure this past weekend.  We went to Boston, just us two.  It was magnificent.

My only regret was not getting one single photos of Ainsley with my sister, or me with my sister, or Julie and Sim together with a proper cute belly shot, and of course one of all three of us girls.  Bummer.

Photo oopses aside, we had a blast.  I was hoping that it was going to be a magical time with Ainsley.  That she'd really lean into being just her and me, shape up a bit and glide along.  Almost reassuringly we still had the same issues as always.  A stuck out tongue at me when I told her $24 was too much for a small pink stuffed bunny, a sneer when I told her she couldn't drink our whole delicious frozen nutella drink BEFORE we'd had our delicious crepe.  Oh the injustice of life!  That girl is 5 going on 15 and I've known it since birth.  At least she's consistent!

This trip was different than my last trip to Boston, when Ainsley was just a bean in my tummy actually.  That trip we "did" Boston.  Went on a duck tour, saw the downtown sights, ate chowder and sea food and north end italian deliciousness (Mike's bakery included of course!), even lunched at a bar across from Fenway while a game was going on.

This trip we spent our time getting to know my sister's neighborhood and home.  We had busy mornings and loung-y afternoons.  I don't think I could pick a favorite thing that we did.  It was all great.

Breakfast at the condo
walk to the Rose Garden Playground and shops on Beacon Street
Lunch at Temptations (best chicken ceaser wrap I can imagine)
monster amazing naps
playtime for ainsley with Auntie Jooj and her awesome SLP games
dinner at Sweet Cheeks (ridiculous barbecue and sides with buttermilk biscuits and honey butter)
Rummikub fun for the adults

Morning out in downtown Boston
walked through the public garden, saw a 10K race, walked to Flour, consumed amazing pastries while Ainsley played at a great park
walked a mile with Ainsley on my back to an outdoor market.  Tried on and purchased a new tunic(!!!) bought two red New York apples, cabbed it back to the car, nibbled for lunch on the porch
monster amazing naps
walked with Ainsley back to the shops on Beacon street, purchased a new wallet for myself and stickers books for the girls (Usborne!!! at a bookstore!!!)
take out dinner with Jooj, quesarittos (think fried quesadilla stuffed and rolled like a burrito)
late fun night of wine and talk

Morning at the beach!!! salt water, sun, dry heat and sand.  Truly perfection.  We stayed two full hours.
Picked up lunch from Paris Crepes and Temptations.  Ainsley chose a cream cheese and smoke salmon crepe, I simple needed ONE MORE chicken caesar wrap (damn, now I want another one).  We split a nutella frozen chocolate drink per Julie's recommendation.  One of the best things I've had in a long time.
4:40 flight turned into a 5:40 big thing.


Alright, I lied, there was a stand out favorite; visiting my sister.
We are the two in our family that don't live at "home" and we've bonded over that through the years.  While our MN families live in their relatively modern homes and well manicured suburbs we chuckle over our 100 year old crib problems and loves, big city living, making a home away from home.
It's bizarre and wonderful to be at this stage of life.  The one where all us little girls are big adults with husbands and children and houses and jobs and lives of our own.  I loved getting to see her life.
I got to see where they live, surrounded by friends and awesomeness.  Their condo is beautiful.  They have amazing adult furniture and art, and that fancy chandelier?!? Well, I'm almost as big a fan as Ainsley.  I'm so excited to see them add to their family this fall.  That's one lucky little baby in there.
Man, if Boston wasn't the third most expensive place to live in the country right now, we'd be so IN.  Ainsley's already on board.  She cried herself to sleep the night we got back, just begin to live there.

It was fantastic.  What a great great trip.  Thanks Julie and Sim!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day Weekend

We had a great weekend.
Felix's fever finally broke Friday morning and after spending the day recouping and trying to get some food in that little body we were ready for the weekend.

Saturday we went out to breakfast, something we haven't done in a while.  Every time I got out with the kids I wonder why people go out with kids.  It's just too much hassle in my opinion, mostly thanks to Felix.  Still we ate well and had fun getting out.  I went home to put Felix down for his morning nap while Ian took the girls garage sale-ing.  They didn't find anything but came home happy and excited for the pool.  Having a pool at the end of our block is a major perk in the summer.

We ate lunch and while the kids rested I got some tie dye ready to go.  I'll have to do a whole separate post about that because it was AWESOME.  So pretty and so much fun.

Then Felix and I joined the girls and Ian for a second trip to the pool.  Photo evidence below.

We had a blast, even if my heart was beating out of it's chest the whole time thanks to Ainsley MOSTLY being able to swim all on her own.  He can do the width of the pool and back and swim underwater.  It's enough to make a mama faint!  SO proud of my girl though.  Louise is so joyful at the pool, I love watching that girl splash and kick.  Mr. Felix was quite the fan too, he kept pushing off of me in the deep end like he wanted me to let go of him.  Nice try little guy!

That night we had a simple dinner and early bedtimes.

Sunday the girls greeted Ian enthusiastically with drawings of him and questionnaires they'd filled out.  It was pretty sweet, they know their daddy well!

For breakfast they each wanted to make him something from their own cookbooks.  Louise made him an egg in a hole and Ainsley made french toast.  It was yummy and filled us right up.

Then I rinsed out the tie dye from the day before with the girls and we filled the morning until lunch out at a new Vietnamese resturaunt owned by the father in law of a good work friend of Ian's.  It was VERY yummy.  The kids could have devoured plate after plate of the egg rolls and I could have just dived into the Pho soup.  Again, not the most relaxing experience, but worth it to celebrate the dad in our lives, and support a friend!

That afternoon Felix didn't want to nap in his crib so I put him on my back to finish up dessert in the kitchen and of course he fell asleep.  I Spent the next hour and a half hunched over a bit swaying so he wouldn't wake up.  I had fun perusing some art prints.  I'd LOVE to finally get some adult art up on our walls.  Someday I guess.

When everyone woke up we rallied to go check out the food trucks in Oak Park.  It was fun to see them all but we didn't find anything spectacular.  We were being cheap though after two meals out already so perhaps that had something to do with it.

We compensated by eating cake and ice cream when we got back.  Ian loves yellow cake and strawberry ice cream so we made both.  Homemade ice cream is my new favorite.  Once I got the hang of it I can see a new flavor popping up every few weeks around here.

Then Ian headed out to meet a friend downtown.  The perfect end to father's day I think.  So I gave Felix a bath, put him to bed and watched Frozen with the girls.  They fell asleep easily and I enjoyed a bit of quiet.

And I FINALLY got photos of Felix walking!  First steps at 12 months 2 days old,  a bit more each day, just yesterday he finally decided he could traverse rooms and use it as his main mode of transportation.  This morning he's a bit reticent again.  IT's so fun to watch this little guy move!

Ah, there are SO many wheels in our house these days!!!

So now it's the start to a new week.  This morning we grocery shopped and went to Ainsley's Kindergarten Readiness test.  She did great even though she was nervous and now is extra excited for school.  Then we went to a park and headed home after about 20 minutes because it's HOT out there today and I forgot sunscreen.  We filled up the pool out back for some afternoon splashing and are looking forward to a week of playdates, gymnastics starting and Boston this weekend for Ainsley and I!

I hope you all have a great week!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bits and Pieces

Today was delightfully rainy.  The kids and I stayed in jammies until 10.  I got some unexpected sewing done and they got to watch a WHOLE movie, in the morning!!!  Felix napped for 3 straight hours making all of this possible.  The girls are resting now and he's napping again making THIS possible.  Ahh rainy days.

Of course not all of this was just from today.  I tend to alternate between knitting and sewing binges.  Seeing as I'm waiting on some new yarn to arrive to finish a project it only made sense for the sewing to take over for a bit.

I made both of the girls new dresses but only have photos of Louise's.  A simple smocked dress from a fabric of her choosing from my stash.  It took one hour from start to finish.  I love it.  Pattern from One Yard Wonders.

I'm very excited about my new doll project!!! A gift for a little niece.  I knew I had to make this for her the moment I saw it in Wee Wonderfuls.  Seriously if you have ANY inkling to make toys for little ones get this book.  It's magnificent.

Apparenly I can't go more than three days without knitting needles in my hands because I just had to cast on something.  This is a simple slip stitch shawl with some gorgeous noro sock yarn I've had for years now.  I'm excited to see it unveil itself.

A rather wonky picture of a kind of wonky project.  I made two new booster seats for the girls this weekend.  They've been fighting over our one banged up blue one forever and it was time.  I could have just bought another one but that's no fun.  So on a trip to the fabric store I grabbed a giant 4" foam pad, some butterfly vinyl fabric and had at it.  I cut 2 12" squares from the foam, sewed all but one seam, crammed the foam in and used clear packing tape to close up the edge.  They're working great, and most importantly?  No more fighting!!!

A scene from the disaster area that is my sewing area.  Someday I'll have time to keep it organized AND make things right?  For now I guess making things wins out.

As for the kids? there's a lot going on around here lately.  As usual I'm surprised by how easily long days can be filled when I put my mind to it and make a few simple plans.  I find one craft or cooking project a day, plus lots of outdoor time and playtime with either neighborhood friends of a school friend on a playdate is enough to keep us happy most days.

Acrylic paints are our new favorites.  The covered both the terra cotta pots and wooden birdhouses beautifully.
I'm also in the middle of a toy revamp.  We got rid of  a LOT of stuff over the winter but I still feel like I'm in perpetual clean out mode.  I pulled out Ainsley's first dollhouse from the back room and it's the new favorite.  They have to play it at the dining room table to keep Felix at bay.

We found a new bike for Ainsley at a garage sale two weekends ago.  I believe it's a 20 incher, a jump up from her tiny pink one.  She can barely touch her toes to the ground on the smallest seat setting but she's figure it out and flies around our block with ease.  She's such a big kid in so many ways.

At the beginning of the season I made a vow to try and fully enjoy summer.  If I'm honest I'll say summer is my least favorite season.  Of course I love lots about summer, trips to the cabin, gardening, playing in water, sun.  I do not like heat though.  Anything above a dry 75 finds me a bit cranky.  And the real trial for me is cooking in the summer.  

So far the weather has been absolutely gorgeous.  I know it's still early in the season, but it leaves me optimistic.
We've had enough cool mornings to bake a bit and I'm finally figuring out some good grilling recipes for those hot days.  I'm excited to try some new recipes from Naptime Chef for the scorchers to come.  Her curried chicken salad sounds amazing.
I'm also learning to grill tons when we do light up the weber.  This weekend we grilled chicken breasts, sausages, hot dogs and corn.  I'm using the chicken and corn on my lunchtime salads* and loving having a grilled treat mid week.
All of these marinades are bang on.  The chicken on is my new favorite.
And this simple recipe for eggs in tomato sauce is definitely a new staple at our house.  We eat eggs at least once a week for dinner.  It's nice to have a new go to.
If you love baked goods like we do this King Arthur muffin recipe is a must.  I've made it so many ways.  The one below is oatmeal with brown sugar and three kind of berries.
*spinach, roasted corn, a tiny bit of finely crumbled blue cheese, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced grilled chicken, dressing; a swirl of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper...I'm obsessed.

A great moment from today was when I was teaching Ainsley about the concept of relativity after she asked if Earth was big.  I answered that it depends on what you're comparing it to and we went through examples.  Then she ran around the house with a purple brush telling me what it was big and little in comparison to, RELATIVE to.  After about 15 minutes of this she ran to me exploding.  "MOM!  THERE ARE SO MANY WORDS THAT I DON'T KNOW!!! TEACH ME!!! I WANT TO LEARN THEM ALL!!!  She's definitely Ian's child.

The rest of our afternoon has been fun.  Louise was feeling a bit under the weather and the rain had picked up so we postponed our trip to the library in favor of staying put.  While Felix napped the girls and I made tea and played slapjack and Old Maid.  I got this set of cards recently and we're having a blast.  IT's crazy to me that my girls are big enough to play card games all on their own.  Wonderful too.

Ian's finishing a grant up at work so he's back for the night.  Grants are the worst.  I'm glad he gets to come home tomorrow once it's submitted and get some sleep!

This week I'm excited for lots of playdates, a trip to the library to get Ainsley's very own library card, snipping a few of the last peonies to grace our dinner table, and of course celebrate our awesome guy this weekend.  Just in time Ian's good friend's family is opening their Vietnamese restaurant.  We're VERY excited for Father's Day lunch.

I hope you all are having a wonderful week!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Ah the second week of summer vacation.  Lots of sun to start the week, a wonderfully cool rainy day today.  I'm loving it.

On Monday we all crashed from our big weekend. Apparently all those birthday parties and outdoor time at the beach, pool, and the village festival combined with no naps was a bit much.  On Monday we stayed in jammies all morning and at 11 Louise told me she was tired and wanted to nap, walked herself upstairs and fell asleep for 3.5 hours.  It was a gloriously lazy day.

Yesterday we were out again all day.  First groceries, then fun in the yard and park.  Then backyard pool time with friends.  Really a perfect summer day.

Felix didn't nap much so we had lots of quality time while the girls napped.

first foray with play dough

some ride on time outside

checking out the new tent I made with and old batik throw of mine, poles, palette, and woven mat found in our garage (one of the perks to owing a home almost 100 years old, lots of neat old stuff tucked away in just about every nook...and yes, I still have a bit of hand sewing to do to seam up those holes, though the girls quite like all the "windows")

In case you're wondering that is a good bonk on Felix's head.  We're remembering all too abruptly the bumps and falls associated with a very mobile 13 month old.

Ainsley sporting her new do, I cut a few inches off per her request after the band debacle.  She periodically regrets this decision, but I like her with shorter hair, fits her spunky personality.

Today it's been raining.  I am very excited for the cooler temps and took advantage this morning by baking lots.  I don't like having our oven on much in the summer.  Our gas range heats up our house quite quickly, which is great on cool days, not so much on 80 degree ones when I'm trying to keep the ac off.  It's nice to take advantage on these days to stock up the fridge and freezer a bit.

summer zucchini bites from my new library find The Naptime Chef (I also made her braised salmon with leeks and chicken curry recipes, very yummy), banana bread from Joy of Cooking, and baked lentils with cheese from More with Less (no picture of that, sorry, but it's SO good. Felix ate two bowls for lunch)

my new hot pads!  I couldn't resist making myself a set along with all those ones for the girls' teachers.  They're awesome.

When the girls weren't helping me cook they were playing office in the front entryway and setting up the fisher price manger we unearthed in the puppet box downstairs.

I braided Ainsley's hair when it was wet last night so she's sporting crimps this morning.  I love sharing childhood traditions with my girls.

Up for the afternoon?  A rain walk of course, followed by some cutting and sewing (if Felix allows) of new duds.  Two new smocked dresses for the girls and one (or two?) new summer tops for me.  Nothing beats a good dig through the fabric stash and the excitement of new clothes!

I hope you all are having a great week and enjoying summer as much as we are!