Friday, May 22, 2015

Small Steps to Health: Eat Your Veggies!

Monday's veggie haul. And then we bought about this much again on Wednesday!

This week's health challenge was going to be all about small ways to be a little more active, but then it turns out that I have somehow (I have no idea!) sprained my foot! My doctor said I don't have to stay off it, but seeing as it hurts if I walk too much, this didn't feel like a good week to start trying to ramp up my activity levels, somehow. So instead, I have been trying to get more vegetables in my diet.

As it happens, I actually really love vegetables. Love 'em. And even more luckily, my kids like (most of) them too! But sometimes in the whirlwind of everyday life, it's quicker and easier to cook up some pasta with meat sauce and call it good than to wash and chop and prepare a plate of nutrient-rich veggies. Not to mention the fact that if you don't eat them fast enough, they start to wilt and mold  in the fridge, which can be frustrating enough that you just don't really want to deal with the whole vegetable hoopla.

But they are so tasty and so good for you too, that I'm going to keep trying! Not only are they full of the nutrients we need to be healthy, they can also lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer(!), they can also improve your vision and gastrointestinal health too. You can read a little more about that here and here. Plus, the more healthy foods you eat, the less unhealthy foods you eat, if you know what I mean. You get a whole heck of a lot more strawberries out of 200 calories than you do peanut M&M's, if keeping track of calories is your thing.

So, this week I sat down and planned out a veggie-rich dinner menu, and this is what we had:

  • Monday: Omelettes with salad and multigrain bread. The omelettes were filled with cubed ham, a little cheese, baby broccoli and tomatoes, and we ate it with a salad on the side. I've been really liking these chopped salad kits from Dole lately (because they're convenient and tasty, and I'm lazy), and the Sunflower Crunch kit worked really well with this meal. 
  • Tuesday: Tortilla crusted tilapia with rice and green beans. This is always a solid, complaint-free family dinner. The kids both like rice and green beans, and I serve them breaded fish cut into little fishy shapes (from Target! Good heavens, I'm not breading my own fish and cutting it into fun shapes) instead of the tilapia which can be a bit spicy. This meal was fairly light on the vegetables, but we had fish, which is so healthy that it makes up for a multitude of sins, right?
  • Wednesday: Pasta bar! This is another dish that my family really likes, and it's a really simple one: I just cooked up some whole grain pasta and added about half a small jar of Alfredo sauce. Then I put a variety of toppings in little bowls on the table, like chopped tomatoes, sautéed bell peppers (I like the mini ones because you get a variety of colors in a bag and they're easy to chop), mushrooms, cubed ham, and the green beans left over from the night before (this is a great meal for busting through leftovers!) and everyone gets to top their pasta with whatever they want. A little sprinkling of parmesan cheese finishes the job. 
  • Thursday: Chicken noodle soup with multigrain rolls. I have a really great crockpot recipe (from this book) for chicken noodle soup, and it has a ton of veggies in it, including carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion and peas. Perfect for the grey weather we've been having lately, especially with a freshly baked roll on the side. And it makes a ton, so lunch is taken care of for a day or two. 
  • Friday: Cobb salad. Friday night is Espen's dinner night and when I asked him what he wanted to make, he said "bacon and salad". So we thought for a bit and came up with Cobb salad. We haven't made it yet (but we will as soon as I hit post), but our salad will have mixed lettuce, hardboiled eggs, chopped bacon, chicken, tomatoes, olives, green onions, avocados and a little cheddar cheese, which just happen to all be things that Espen likes (with the possible exception of the green onions). 
The weekend is of course a little sketchier and harder to plan for because we're eating out on Saturday (I'm thinking Thai food or maybe it's time to try some Banh Mi!) and my lovely sister-in-law is cooking for us on Sunday, but I've been trying my best to eat salads and dinner leftovers for lunch, which certainly beats the two slices of toast I usually devour after the kids have been fed. 

It definitely takes a some planning and work to eat more veggies, but I do feel like we've been eating really well this week. Everything has been tasty, and there have been moments when I have quietly patted myself on the back as my two year-old happily ate her salad with kale in it. And I think I've felt a bit more energized than usual too, especially in the afternoons when I usually have a big energy slump. I'm a little nervous that I'm going to run out of veggie-heavy recipes, though, so please feel free to share your favorites so I can add them to the rotation. 

I'm going to try to keep up these little health goals every week, so I'll be back with a new one next week. Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Something for the weekend

It's Friday!

It's Friday, it's Friday, I'm so glad it's Friday! Oh, I love weekends. Bless them every one. I'm about half an our away from sous-chefing for Espen while he makes us tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner (he has a dinner night now!) which we will eat while watching a movie together. We've done that a couple of times now, and I think that might be a new Friday night tradition for us. But before I do that, let me share a few things with you that caught my eye this week:

  • This Czech teenager incorporates everyday objects in his drawings, and the results are so clever and charming. I love the Kit Kat piano! :)
  • My clever and talented friend Danyelle invented a rescue tool for people who are lost, and it's so clever! Check out (and support!) their Indie Gogo campaign here
  • The Making Table has a really fun tutorial up for a fun art project featuring cloth donuts that your kids can make*. And be sure to poke around the rest of the site too, there are so many great ideas for art projects for families. 
  • Everything Emmy posted this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, and I seriously think we might have to try them this weekend. She says there is no perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I'm thinking these ones have got to come pretty close! 
  • This engaged couple were aged by makeup artists to see what they might look like as they grow older together, and it ended up being a really touching little video. 
  • Speaking of touching little videos, I love this video that a Norwegian film maker made to help him mom find the love of her life. It really is the sweetest thing! Also, his mom is such a cool lady. 
  • These are true words. 
  • A Hanna Andersson catalog found it's way to my mailbox, and I think I would like one of each of everything for me and the kids, but especially this dress for Gwen. I mean, shut the front door, how cute is that! They have a home goods section too, which I'm a little bit afraid to even look at. OK, I just peeked and I'd better go hide my credit cards. 
Have a good weekend!

*Yup, that is me and the kids in some of the photos on The Making Table's website. Krisanne is a lovely friend of ours, and we are lucky enough to be able to go to some of her classes. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Small Steps to Health: Drink More Water!

The Mighty Water Cup. Three of these a day, baby! 

It's time for a good old fashioned project here at Project Project! Goodness, it's been ages. Here's the deal: now that I am finally actually sleeping at night, I'm starting to feel a lot more like a normal person again, and a lot less like a slug. I have more energy which is amazingly awesome (I bought a bike!) and I am finally at a point where I can really start to take care of myself and my health again, which was a really hard thing to do before. I took care of the kids and kind of the house and that was about all I could really handle, which of course I felt crazy amount of mom guilt about. But now that I'm a real girl again, I'm ready to start making some changes. Specifically, some health changes.

Past experience has shown me that if I make small, incremental changes over time, they are much more likely to stick than if I go all out, all at once. So I'm starting small and steady this by drinking more water. Nothing very big or earth shattering, but still something vitally important that I hope will have a big impact over time.

I started on Monday by pulling out my big water cup (the trophy the hospital gave me for having a baby) and looking up how much water I should be drinking in a day. There are a lot varying opinions on this (like with most things on the internet!), but these are the two main ideas that made sense  stood out to me:

  1. Drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. So if you weight 150 lbs, you should drink 75 to 150 oz of water per day. And if you weigh more than 150 lbs (hint: I do!), that is a lot of water. A lot! Still, this rule gets repeated a lot by a variety of fairly credible sources, and should definitely be something to reach for over time. 
  2. The other rule I saw that I liked was a simple and easy (and mildly gross) one. Basically, make sure that your output matches your input. In other words, if your pee has a color or a smell, drink more water. Pretty simple!
Today is Thursday and I'm on Day Four of changing my watery ways. I'm aiming (and so far, succeeding!) at drinking three 32 oz./950 ml cups of water a day, which brings me in a few oz or ml short of 100 oz or 3 liters a day. And that's in a addition to whatever else I drink in a day. Eventually I'd like to step it up and maybe add a fourth cupful, but for now I'm pretty happy with my efforts. Of course there's only so much difference you can really notice after four days (other than having to scamper off to the bathroom all the time), but I have felt pretty good this week. 

I'll be starting up a new small change on Monday, so stop by then to cheer me on, or maybe even join me yourself. You know you want to (right?)!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Back from Disney World!

Meeting the Mouse himself. Espen was starstruck, Gwen was skeptical.

If things have been quiet around here lately, it's because we just got back from a week at Disney World! And Legoland. And the beach. It was a lot of fun, especially seeing how much the kids enjoyed themselves. Truth be told though, I think that even better than meeting Mickey and riding Splash Mountain was getting to spend a whole week adventuring with Grandma and Grandpa. Nick's parents invited us to join them, and of course we leapt at the chance! We even managed to keep the trip a secret from the kids for almost a year while we planned and made our preparations! Some of my favorite memories include a perfect day spent at Cocoa Beach, fulfilling my childhood dream of seeing Cinderella's castle in person, watching the Epcot Fireworks from a boat on the lake, going on "safari" at Animal Kingdom and so many moments of seeing joy and wonder on my kids' faces. And seeing Gwen going into complete fan girl mode when she saw Minnie Mouse in a parade!

So hot, tired and sweaty, but still having lots of fun.
I have to admit that I enjoyed myself a lot more than I was really expecting to. I haven't really been too much of a Disney fan since I reached adulthood, and while I like theme parks well enough, I just haven't really been to that many. I'm more of a museum, sightseeing and 'getting a feel for what it might be like to live there" kind of a traveler, so six parks in six days was a huge departure for me. And I surprised myself by actually really enjoying it! There was so much to see and do, and everything is so well-run to keep frustrations at a minimum. You're never more than a few steps away from a bathroom, a drinking fountain or a place to sit down, which is much appreciated in hot and humid Florida, especially when you're walking and standing as much as you do in a place like Disney World.

On the pier at Cocoa Beach.
I have to admit though, that as fun and amazing a time as we had at Disney World, I think my favorite day was the one we spent at Cocoa Beach. We all woke up well-rested after sleeping a 12 hour-night (I haven't done that since college!), ate a tasty breakfast at the hotel, and then headed over to the beach across the street. Nick and I left our phones and cameras in the car, and just played with the kids in the sand or the water and took turns boogie boarding. It has been a long time since the four of us have just relaxed and had fun together without any responsibilities or distractions taking our minds off the here and now. And it was a really nice, family-friendly beach filled with happy and friendly people, which was nice. Plus being right by the pier for bathrooms, lunch and a quick shower at the end of the day was so so great, especially for a family with small children. The best part, though, was just spending time together and sharing something that I love (the beach!) with my family and seeing how much they loved it too. Gwen is still requesting that we go back!

Legoland where everything is awesome. 

Now we're home again and just about back to normal. That is, back to normal until school gets out in three weeks and our routine goes out the window again! But for now it feels good to sleep in our own beds, have more than four outfits to choose from and not eat out all the time (I swear at least one of the kids somehow managed to have pizza just about every day we were gone!). Isn't it funny how some of us (me!) have this need to counterbalance having a lot of fun and excitement with something familiar and low-key? "I've had too much delicious food lately, can't a girl just get a bowl of cereal? I've spent a week having crazy amounts of fun at five different amusement parks, when do I get to watch Netflix in my jammies?" And it's not just adults that can't keep up either: our kids would get back to the hotel after a day of wall-to-wall fun, and  just want to sit down with the iPad or play Legos for a while.

Having said that, I will also say that I started planning our return trip to Orlando on about the second day. We want more beaches and swimming pools and Tinkerbell and parades and live shows and rollercoasters! But in five years or so, when the kids won't need strollers, are both tall enough for all of the rides, can stay awake past 8:30 PM and my legs have forgotten how tired they were after a week of walking. Then we will be back for more! Turns out there is a Disney fan in me after all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why my five year-old cooked dinner and other thoughts on feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Espen and the dinner he made himself: hot dogs and fruit salad with chocolate cake for dessert.
It has been nearly impossible to find the time and the head space to sit down and write a blogpost lately - the days just fly by like I don't know what! But at this very moment Gwen is napping and Espen is playing at a friend's house, so I am taking a few minutes to sit down and write a little bit about what has been on my mind lately.

Just recently I've noticed that Espen could maybe do with a little bit of a boost in the self confidence area. Nothing serious, I just saw a tendency to give up a little bit too easily, and to decide that things were too hard for him to do. So I decided that I wanted to show him just what he could accomplish if he put his mind to it, and maybe remind him how good it feels to accomplish something, and set about thinking up some ways we could make this happen. Here's what we did:

  1. I made Espen clean his room by himself. This might sound like a no-brainer, but I am willing to bet that Espen is not the only five year-old who goes into complete overload mode when asked to clean a messy room. There is so much to do and where do you start and this is going to take forever, and I just can't do it, mom! On this particular day it was a Big Mess. Big enough that it made me want to cry and hide in a corner. So I made it clear to Espen that this was his mess and that he needed to take responsibility for it and clean it up on his own. I helped with the big stuff like putting his mattress back on his bed (how a five year-old and a two year-old got it off in the first place is beyond me) and standing his armchair back up again. Then I firmly, but (quite) pleasantly reminded him what went where and to please not come out of his room until it was clean. Then I left. It was such a big job for one little guy, and part of me wanted to just help him /do it for him, but I also felt like it was important for him to see that he can do hard things when he tries. And yes, there were some tears and frustration, but in the end he did it! All by himself! I was very proud of his efforts and told him so, and I could tell that Espen felt good about his accomplishment too. Bonus: we haven't seen a big mess like that in weeks because he knows now how much work it is to clean a room when every toy and item of laundry is on the floor. 
  2. A couple of weeks later Espen was begging and begging me to buy a new character for the Disney Infinity app on the iPad. I had told him when we first downloaded it that I wouldn't be buying any more characters for it, and reminded him of that again, but that made no difference to his five year-old heart. He needed Dash from the Incredibles and he needed him now! I could see that Espen wasn't going to give in until he got what he wanted, but I could also see that if I just caved to his tiny demands, then it would be setting a precedent that Mama gives you what you want if you just nag her enough. And good gravy, we didn't want that! So I offered him a deal: "If you can give up the iPad completely for three whole days, then I will get you Dash", I said. Again, it doesn't sound like a big deal, but to a five year-old with an iPad addiction and a seriously distorted sense of time, I may as well have offered him three year prison sentence. But he wanted that character, so he took the deal. I won't bore you with all the ins and outs of a small boy going through screen withdrawals, but I will tell you that Espen made it. When I caught him cheating, I extended his sentence by another half a day. When we reached the last day and he was so close he couldn't stand it anymore and wanted to give up, I made him finish. And after three and a half days, Espen was delighted to have reached his goal and won his prize, and more than a little proud of himself for reaching his goal. 
  3. We haven't started giving Espen pocket money yet, and we basically only buy presents for Christmas and birthdays. So when he desperately wants something between the months of February and December, we give him a chance to earn it with "fuzzies" (little pompoms). Espen can earn fuzzies by doing chores or reaching goals, and we can award them to him for being especially kind, helpful or listening well. We can also take them away if he behaves badly, although a reminder that we could do that is usually enough to stop whatever behavior needs correcting. But he has to earn 50 fuzzies in order to get a reward that costs about $12-15, so it usually takes a long time. If he's focused and motived, he can get there in two or three weeks. If he (or let's be honest, we) lets things slide, it can take months and months to earn his prize. Anyway, all of this is a very longwinded way to lead up to where I tell you that not long ago I noticed that Espen was only about six fuzzies away from earning a reward, and I knew that he really wanted a new Skylander toy. So I pointed out how close he was, and asked if he was interested in earning any fuzzies. He took a little convincing (because who wants to do chores when they can play with Dash on Disney Infinity?), but eventually agreed to do some jobs. So over the next two days Espen helped de-winterize the mudroom (organized and put away all of the shoes, carried winter clothes upstairs to be washed and stored), helped with the dishes and a few other things like that. He also got a fuzzy for being a good and cheerful listener when asked to clean up a mess (we encourage that!) and all of a sudden the fuzzy jar was full and we were able to get him his reward. 
  4. I was planning our weekly menu when Espen had spring break, and on impulse asked him if he would like to make dinner for us that day. Espen was a little shocked that I asked, but quickly said yes. He has always loved helping in the kitchen, but, what with being five and all, has never planned and cooked a meal on his own before. We headed to the grocery store, and I let him pick out something that he wanted to cook for dinner. He chose hotdogs and fruit salad, which I deemed to be both edible and reasonably well-balanced enough and picked out all his own ingredients (although I did steer him toward the Nathan's hotdogs rather than the Ballpark Franks). Then, as we were walking through the baking aisle, he asked if we could have cake. I told him we could if he made it, and so we added chocolate cake to our menu as well. Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive about letting a five year-old chef loose in my kitchen, but I just resigned myself to the fact that it would probably get pretty messy and let him have at it. And he did great! Granted, I read the recipe and measured the liquids for the cake, but he broke his own eggs and mixed it all up like a pro. He even put it in the oven himself and checked it with a toothpick to see if it was done! For the fruit salad I just gave him a butterknife and demonstrated how to slice a banana and cut up strawberries, and then he did the rest. By the time we were ready to heat the hot dogs, he was feeling pretty confident in the kitchen, so I let him sit on the counter and fry them in the pan himself. Of course I hovered nervously by his side the whole time, but he did great! He knew the pan and the oven were hot, so he didn't touch them at all. And oh, I wish you could have seen the look on Espen's face when he showed his dad the meal he had cooked all by himself! He was glowing all night. 
I really, really recommend doing something like this with your kids. Seeing Espen begin to understand that a job well done is really its own reward and feeling the sense of accomplishment that comes with that has been really great. And seeing that he can do hard things has been a great confidence builder for him too. I feel like he has been a bit more willing to try lately, and I don't think that is entirely coincidental. On top of that, it has been really good for me to see how much Espen is capable of and to trust him a little bit more to handle things on his own. Kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for! I've been letting Gwen, who is two, help me set the table lately and while it isn't easy to watch her struggle to carry a heavy stoneware bowl full of bread over to the table (she's going to drop it!), 9.5 times out of 10 she is just fine (she made it!). And the way both of my kids feel about herself when they are working alongside us and learning to help and to do is worth the price of the occasional dish. 

We're keeping this up. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

To Espen, now that you are five.

Dear Espen,

You are five! Can you believe it? Well, you probably can believe it and are instead concerned with why it's not your sixth birthday yet, but for me, your mama, it's hard to fully comprehend how you've managed to go from an armful of small and squishy baby to a tall, skinny streak of a boy. Time has this trick of moving fast when you're not watching it closely until you suddenly turn around and notice all it has changed. It's such a cliche, but kids really do grow up so fast, and you are no exception.

Pretty hip. 

A lot has happened to you in the past year. One of the biggest changes was that we discovered that you needed glasses. I fretted and worried and cried in secret over how this would affect you. Would wearing glasses hold you back or make you feel self-conscious? Would people be mean? Would they no longer be able to see your beautiful self behind the frames? Of course I shouldn't have worried. You were so happy and excited about your glasses that everyone around you felt that excitement and joined in. And the glassed you chose are so hip that you've made them into a serious fashion statement that strangers compliment you on regularly - along with the straw fedora that so often graces your head.

Joy School Graduation. 

You also completed your first year of school at Miss Stepper's Joy School, one of the happiest little places the world has ever known. You were so lucky to spend a year learning and growing with some of your first and best friends. And now you've almost finished a year of preschool as well! You've been sounding words for a while, and are well on your way to becoming a good reader. Especially when you're willing to put in the hard work to get results! I hope you know that you are the kind of kid who can accomplish anything he wants, as long as you do the work to get there. 

Another big thing for you this year has been playing soccer. Between one practice and two games a week, it kept the whole family pretty busy in the fall and now we're well underway with the spring season. I'm not completely convinced that soccer is your sport (you spend as much time tangled up in the goal net or chatting with the other team as you do playing), but you love being part of a team, playing with your friends and having a chance to show off your beloved shin guards!

Espen and Gwen.

Your friends are as important to you as ever. You love play dates, and have really enjoyed having a little freedom to roam the neighborhood (technically our cul de sac and the one across the street) with your little band of neighborhood brothers. You constantly talk about your friends (who are all your best friend) and are forever plotting who you want to play with next. But what your dad and I have really loved seeing this year is how good friend you have become with your little sister.

The two of you are the best of friends and love each other so much. Every morning when I confiscate the iPads, you head off and have a wild game of who knows what together. You make the most horrendous messes of your bedrooms, but I try to close my eyes to (most!) of that when I see the fun that you're having and the bond you're building together. I hope you'll stay close like this for ever. Friends will pass in and out of your life, but a sibling will be at your side through it all.

Did you know that one of my very favorite parts of the day is when I get to read your bedtime story? You're tucked up in your bed, the stars from your nightlight cover the ceiling and together we discover new worlds and places through the books we read. It feels like the whole outside world tiptoes off long enough for us to read our two chapters followed by a little chat at the edge of your bed. Sometimes your mind is filled with the wonders of the story we have been reading, and you'll tell me how the exact same thing that just happened in the book, happened to you too once. And other times you'll reach up and stroke my cheek and tell me that we will always, always be friends, and my heart just bursts with love and happiness and pride over the little wonder that you are.

Espen, you really, really are my friend. From catching my eye to share a smile when Gwen does something funny to (almost!) always being willing to be my runner when I need something, you are my buddy and my sidekick. Of course we don't always see eye to eye, and the older you get, the more you seem to want to assert yourself and do things your own way. But in the big things that really matter, we're hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder. You trust me and I trust you and together we have got this crazy thing called life.

I love you, Espen David Superhero Sweetheart North.

Lots of love,


Friday, April 3, 2015

Something for the weekend

Flowers on our newly planted nectarine tree. 
So, here we are at the verge of the weekend! Is it a big one for you, or just another ordinary couple of days? It's going to be a busy one for our family, but the best kind of busy, filled with lots of activities that we're actually looking forward to, instead of just grocery shopping and yard work (although I'm sure that some of those will happen too). We're having a good friend over for dinner tonight, and then tomorrow will be mostly just relaxing together as a family. Sunday is of course Easter Sunday, so we're having some family over for dinner (I still haven't decided what we're having!) and giving the kids their Easter baskets and whatnot. Then some other good friends have invited our kids to come and share in their Easter egg hunt, which should be lots of fun.

I've missed blogging so much lately that now that I have been getting back into it again, I can't get it off my mind! My fingers have been itching to hit the keyboard all morning, and so I decided to put together a list of some of the things I've been looking at online lately.

  • I've dusted off my knitting needles at long last, and am working on a sweater vest/pullover for Espen. Specifically this one. (Better pictures here on Ravelry.) Of course I've been so slow about it that it won't be finished until the height of summer, but if I add an extra inch or so of length, he can still wear it when the weather cools down again. 
  • This recipe for zucchini cakes with mushroom ragout, which is what we're having for dinner tonight. We haven't made them for ages because they're a bit too spicy for the kids, but holy moly, they are tasty! And they get extra bonus points for being so quick and easy to make. 
  • It's maybe a little odd for a Mormon girl (or am I lady now?) to be such a fan of the pope, but I really, really am. He just seems like such an amazing person intent on doing as much good as he can. I loved this news story about how he opened the Sistine Chapel for the homeless. My favorite part was that he asked the homeless to pray for him, saying "I need the prayers of people like you". You must feel so broken when you are homeless, and to have the Pope say that he needs you would mean so much, don't you think? Also, how cool is it that they have installed showers for the homeless on St. Peter's square? Total fangirl. 
  • We've been a bit obsessed with a BBC series called Fake or Fortune? lately. PBS airs it sometimes, and you can also find it on Youtube if your morals are just a touch shady. It's going to sound like a total snooze fest when I describe it to you, but it's a non-fiction series that follows a journalist, an art dealer and an art historian as they investigate the authenticity and provenance of "sleeper" paintings (paintings that are thought to be by great artists, but have yet to be authenticated). And it is so crazy fascinating! The outcome of a few of the episodes has been surprising that Nick and I find ourselves talking about the episodes days later, and researching what happened after the cameras stopped rolling just so we can know. I know that having studied art history in college, I am just a little biased, but trust me when I say that it is just fantastic television. 
  • Watching this series lately has made me daydream about buying art for our home, and so I ended up browsing the "Under £30,000" section of Philip Mould's website lately (he is the art dealer in Fake of Fortune). I still couldn't afford anything, but I'm pretending that I'm going to buy this reclining nude by Paul Aysford Methuen. The art loving nerd in me seriously digs the lighting in the painting (look at the light on her left thigh - gah!) and the close cropping of the subject that is reminiscent of photography. There's also a patch on her right thigh where the artists suggests muscle tone with just a few tough brushstrokes that I think is absolutely gorgeously done. I could go on and on. What do you think?
  • Another television series that I am completely into right now is Call the Midwife. Goodness, the new series is good! I think I cry at every single episode. I was skeptical about how they were going to manage without Jenny Lee, but I find I hardly miss her at all. I do miss Chummy, though. Why did you have to go and get so wildly successful, Miranda Hart?!? Have you been watching? What do you think?
  • I got Design Mom/Gabrielle Stanley Blair's book How to live with kids: a room-by-room guide in the mail this morning, and although I haven't read it cover to cover yet, from what I have seen, I can highly recommend it. Every time I pick it up to try to skim through a few pages, I end up reading them in depth instead. Listen to this quite from the introduction: "Design isn't some froufrou gloss or shiny veneer on life, it's insisting on a solution (preferably an elegant one) and working carefully to make sure that solution works within whatever constraints you have - architectural, financial, or the fact that children live in your home." I absolutely believe that. Really good design is simply a solution that solves a problem for you, and looks good while doing it. 
OK, it's time for me to swing into action and get Gwen up from her nap, clean up the living room and start cooking dinner for our guest who will be here in 45 minutes. Have a lovely weekend!