The Chinook is Coming!

Sorry for the internet silence.  February was such a busy month, so much to do, running here there and everywhere  February was so darn depressing with the more than 100 inches of snow that fell, and I couldn’t bring myself to write about it.  I tried, I really did! I had these great ideas for lighthearted posts comparing Boston’s winter of 2015 to The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but when I actually attempted to write said posts I would end up face-planting on my keyboard in utter despair.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’s a lot of snow, but unlike the Ingalls family, we have plenty of food and we aren’t forced to grind wheat in our coffee mill to make bread.

But I did make this crusty loaf in a very Little House-ish Dutch oven!

But I did make this crusty loaf in my Little House-ish Dutch oven!

There’s no need to twist hay into sticks to keep the fire going. We’re cozy and entertained in our little duplex in the Boston suburbs.

IMG_3774The (commuter) trains are still running, just not at all reliably. This has been the hardest thing about the past month.  No, we don’t depend on the train for food, but we do depend on the train to bring our Daddy home at a normal time every night.  Poor Dave usually misses seeing Gus and sometimes Sara too at night because trains are delayed or just cancelled and he’s left stranded at South Station till 8 or once even 9 at night. And poor Ellen… she loses her marbles.

IMG_3829It is an extraordinary amount of snow! The Long Winter was my favorite Little House book when I was little, mostly because it was such an amazing story! Sure they had these great hardships, but what a feat to live through a winter like that! But last month when I found myself in the midst of a similar winter, even with all of my modern comforts I was so whiney and cooped up! Good thing Lent came in the middle of the month to remind me to offer up the inconveniences and headaches caused by this winter.  Or that’s the idea, at least!

And now I can (almost) say that I have lived through a record breaking winter! True Bostonians like to tell harrowing stories about the winter of ’78; maybe after this winter I will be a true Bostonian at last.

Meanwhile, I wait in hope for the drippy, blowing chinook to bring spring to us.



7 Quick Take-Aways from No Sugar January

Well, I did it.  I can hardly believe it, but I did it! I went mostly sugar free for most of January! Of all the diets and health crazes I’ve tried, this has been the biggest success for me.  Maybe because it’s not a diet or health craze; it’s just common sense!  Here are my take-aways from my not-so-sweet experience.

1.  It wasn’t too difficult.  This was the most surprising take-away for me.  The first week I felt hungry most of the time, but I made sure I ate a lot to maintain my milk supply. I just didn’t eat sugary things.  Then suddenly, the hunger pangs went away, which just goes to show, I wasn’t hungry to begin with! My body told me I was hungry when it really just wanted sugar.  Sugar really messes with you!

2. Good begets good.  That one little effort of not eating sugar led to me changing my eating habits.  I ate more good fats to keep me full: avocados, full fat greek yogurt and eggs by the boatload.

I think I have a future in food photography, don't you agree? I mean, I make that paper plate and laminate countertop look good.

I think I have a future in food photography, don’t you agree? I mean, I make that paper plate and laminate countertop look good.

I also upped my vegetable intake, and (don’t tell them) the veggie intake of the whole family. Being mindful about what I wasn’t putting into my body and why made me more mindful about what I should be putting into my body and why.  Its not rocket science, I know, but it was a welcome development for me.  See, before I would attempt to make these changes but then I would feel defeated by my daily sugar cravings.  Without the sugar cravings distracting me, I could focus properly on eating healthfully.

3. I’m the boss of my diet.  When I first was researching sugar detoxes, I found all sorts of gimmicky programs.  It was really overwhelming and frustrating.  Wasn’t the idea to simply not eat sugar?  But sugar is technically in everything!  Some programs called for eliminating fruit, honey, maple sugar and carbs and anything with even trace amounts of sugar in them.  I’m such a goody-goody; I worried that if I didn’t do these programs to a T that it would all be a waste and my sugar cravings wouldn’t budge and inch.  I worried that if I had a little honey in my tea the heavens would open up and God would bellow “Fail!!”

Eventually I resolved to give it a shot anyway, but to do things my way.  And my way was to allow natural forms of sugar like fruit, honey and maple syrup.  I also would eat things that contained sugar, as long as it wasn’t a predominantly sugary food. I did get into reading labels more (which is so obnoxious, I know) but now I have better knowledge of what contains sugar.  Newsflash: a lot of things contain sugar!

Oh, and I drank wine and occasionally beer.  I ain’t crazy! Real sacrifice is for Lent!

4.  There was an end in sight.  The whole month I had the mouthwatering goal of my birthday cake to work towards. Not only was it the dangling carrot that I needed to keep me motivated, but just the thought of turning 30 and entering that new chapter of adulthood was enough to keep me focused on improving my health and striving for an adult relationship with food. It’s still a work in progress, but I feel like I made great strides this month.

Furthermore, it was good to take this break from sugar, knowing that it wasn’t for forever.  That’s always been my biggest hangup with diets.  You starve yourself to be skinny and then… you eat again and the dreaded cycle continues?  It’s so discouraging!  Like I said in my initial post, I love food.  I love sugar. I love to bake.  I’m not going to throw that away, it’s not a bad thing!  The bad thing was I was addicted to the sugar.  It’s a powerful, addicting substance and it’s not good for you in big daily quantities!  My goal was to kick my cravings and dependency so that I can enjoy the occasional treat without guilt.

5. I lost 5 pounds!  It doesn’t sound like much, but keeping in mind a. I did not cut down on my food intake at all and was constantly eating to make sure I had enough milk for Gus and b. I was already below my pre-pregnancy weight, I’m pretty stoked that I lost weight at all!

It would be a bald-faced lie to say I wasn’t trying to lose weight.  I’m your typical vain woman; I’m always looking for a way to lose a little weight and feel better about myself.  But I can honestly say that I’ve slowly let go of my obsession with those pesky numbers on the scale and on the tags of my clothes.  I’ve put too much stock in those numbers in the past.  I’ve let those numbers ruin my mood and shatter my resolve to be healthy.  It’s so discouraging to work hard and feel better physically but those numbers taunt you and tell you that you’re still a “fatty”.   It’s so unhealthy!  My worth is not in my pants size.  As much as it breaks my heart, I know my daughter will probably have these same struggles in her adolescence and young adulthood but that’s why it’s so important to me that I work to conquer these struggles in myself.

6.  My work is not done.  Going forward, I hope to mostly keep to my no sugar resolve.  I’m aiming for 70-80% no sugar as my norm. I think a key to staying on track is not making sugar a daily thing again.  I don’t know about you, but I used to be one of those people who needed a “little treat” pretty much daily and I didn’t see anything wrong with that.  I’m pretty sure that was my downfall.  I mean, I don’t even let my toddler have sugar every day.  She gets a “special donut treat” after Mass on Sunday and that’s her big sugar bomb of the week.  I need to hold myself to the same standards.

I know there are going to be seasons when I fall off the bandwagon completely.  Valentine’s Day…

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

Easter, Halloween, Christmas, parties, rough times… it’s just life!  But experiencing this success will help me in the future in getting back on track.  That’s just how I am.  I resist trying new and scary things.  I tried getting into running for years before I actually succeeded.  It was hard and I always gave up, but when I finally stuck with it after Sara was born, it was a huge boost to my self-esteem.  Getting back on that bandwagon after Gus was born was tough, but I had the memory of success in the past to motivate me.  And I finally got back into shape and ran a 5K this past December.

7. If I can do it, so can you?  Well, I honestly don’t know. But if I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that it’s worth a shot.  Maybe you don’t have a problem with sugar.  Maybe you already eat healthfully and exercise daily.  But maybe there’s another area of your life that you need to work on.  Maybe you’re scared to start because you’re afraid to fail.  Or you’re lazy.  I am both!  I’m just saying, it’s worth a shot.  Face your demons, take that first step, don’t get discouraged and try try again.

Well, that’s 7 things, so I’m going to call it a “Quick Takes” (SNORT!) and link up with Kelly and the other quicker takers at This Ain’t the Lyceum.  Happy Friday!

A Big Birthday Blizzard {phfr}

{pretty & funny}


Look at my pretty snow baby!

Okay, okay, so I don’t have a proper snowsuit for my baby boy, but this one works just fine! Besides, it’s better for this comparison picture.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

10 month old Sara is on the left after the blizzard of February 2013 and 7 month old Gus is on the right after the blizzard of January 2015.  Now I have to hold onto this snowsuit for all my babies and their first blizzards!

{real & happy}


Oy. It’s a lot of snow. But it made for a memorable 30th birthday for me!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADave lovingly made me this cake and to his frustration it went and cracked after he iced it! But crack or no crack, it was yummmmmy. I was quite spoiled yesterday.

IMG_3727 (1)

Can I get an AMEN from my fellow elderly peeps?

For more pretty happy funny realness, click back to Like Mother Like Daughter!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[Ok, to set this story up, I have to explain (and attempt to not be braggy in the process) that Dave is a very handy guy.  He can basically fix anything that’s broken.  Now, our 2 year old knows this and is very proud of him and confident that he will fix any problem and/or broken thing in her little world.]

Yesterday, I shattered my iPhone screen.  It just figures as our contract is up in less than 2 weeks so we were due for new phones anyway! So today, Sara discovered the fact that my phone was broken when she went to move it for some reason and I jumped and said “Don’t touch it honey, it’s broken!”

SK: “Oh no! Your phone is broken? Daddy can fix it.  Daddy!!”

She runs to find him.

“Daddy! Mommy’s phone is broken! Come see! You hava fix it. Get your tools, Daddy.”

Dave: “Daddy can’t fix it with his tools, baby.  He’ll fix it with his wallet.”

Our Current 5 Favorites

It’s been way too long since I did a 5 favorite’s post.  So long, in fact, that it has a new hostess, the awesome Jenna of Call Her Happy, who has excellent taste in names for her kids, if I do say so myself… Anywho, here are Sara Kate’s and my current 5 favorite things:

1. Charley Harper Memory Game

Sara’s Godmother got her this memory game way back when she was a baby and I remember thinking it was going to be a loooong time before she would be ready to play it.  And then I blinked and here we are.  Sara loves playing memory, and I love the gorgeous, retro-y illustrations, so it’s a win-win.  And since this is the first formal game we’ve ever played with SK, we’ve discovered that she’s not competitive in the slightest.  Whenever Dave and I get matches she claps and squeals for us! We’ll see if she stays that way or she realizes that the goal is to win. ;)

2. Goat Cheese Toast with Honey and Walnuts (and apparently Thyme)

It’s with great shock that I can report to you that it’s January 21st and my (mostly) No Sugar January goal has been largely successful.  Really, I’m amazed, and it’s been relatively easy so far.  That said, it’s probably gone so well because I haven’t cut down on my overall food intake, and I’ve allowed myself to have natural forms of sugar, like fruit, honey and real maple syrup. [I’m planning on doing a recap of my no-sugar month with my take-aways, but in the meantime, check out this relevant NPR story I heard just the other day!] A good friend of mine shared this pin with me because she knows I love goat cheese on anything, and it’s been my go-to afternoon snack with a cup of tea (with cream & no sugar!)  The only thing is, I don’t put thyme on my toast (I could, but I always forget!) and I don’t drench my toast in honey like in the picture, just a little drizzle.  Yum.

3. Beatrix Potter

Jemima was a simpleton.

We have a little set of Beatrix Potter books that SK has just recently become interested in. Isn’t it great when the the books your toddler wants to read over and over are books that you really enjoy reading over and over? Her favorite is Jemima Puddle Duck.  I think she initially preferred it because the cover is pink, but she really got into the story too!  I’ve had to explain some things because my 21st century kid does not get the inferences about foxes being bad and why the shed full of feathers was a bad thing.  I mean, no amount of explaining is going to help her understand the part where Jemima complains about the “superfluous hen”, but one day she’ll get it and she’ll chuckle.  And meanwhile, I chuckle!

4. N is for Nuns!


How cute is this craft we made at our preschool co-op yesterday?  I can take no credit for it, it was the creation of my friend’s imagination.  I just think it’s so stinking cute!  Last week, we had a little field trip to visit the convent of a newer order of sisters, The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth.  So, as a follow up in class this week, we talked about nuns and vocations in general, and tied it in with our letter of the week.

5. Marmee and Louisa by Eve LaPlanteIMG_3616

I am enjoying this book so much!  It’s the story of the relationship between Louisa May Alcott (the author of Little Women) and her mother Abigail May Alcott. This is the definition of my ideal read; familiar-ish story and characters (since much of Little Women is based on Louisa’s life) and set all around where I live, but 200 years ago, with the unexpected twist of the mind-blowing revelation that Louisa’s father/Abigail’s husband, Bronson Alcott, is pretty much the worst. It’s fascinating!  I’m hoping to write a little review of it when I’m done, but I might want to re-read Little Women before I commit my thoughts to a blog post.  Book reviews are not my forte, but I love this book so much I might give it a shot.

Don’t forget to check out the other 5 Favs back at Call Her Happy!

Highs and Lows

I want to be all happy-clappy about our Sheenazing Nomination (!!!!!!!) because let’s be honest, a nomination = winning for us small fries.  Really, it makes me feel like this inside:

But I’m just so heartsick for the Coakley family.  I’m sure you’ve all heard and been praying for Paul amid his swift, brutal fight with cancer that began just before Christmas.  Just a little while ago, word broke that he passed away.  Please continue to pray for his family, his pregnant wife, their children and his extended family and friends. Here’s a link to a fundraiser for his family. I didn’t know him in life, but it sounds like he was a wonderful, larger-than-life kind of guy.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Rest in peace, Paul.

Goals, Resolutions, Promises You Don’t Intend to Keep.

I’m pretty sure that exactly a year ago when everyone was writing New Year resolution posts, I did my best Liz Lemon eye roll and clicked far away from them all.  I was just leaving my first trimester and my only goal in life was to survive the winter and have my baby.  And I accomplished both!  2014 was a success!

I did have one goal last year that I tried and failed at, though.  I have this same goal every year and I’ve yet to fully succeed at it.  I’ve never shared it with anyone because I’m superstitious and think that telling anyone will doom me.  I’m also a little ashamed that this is something I need to work on. ALSO, I feel a little silly and perhaps prideful about sharing it.  Recently it’s occurred to me that perhaps I should share it in case anyone else has this same goal every year and “fails.” Perhaps it’s not pride as in not-being-humble that keeps me from sharing.  It’s the type of pride the keeps you from telling your spouse that you’re starting that diet on Monday.  If you don’t tell him, he won’t know that you weren’t supposed to have that cookie!  Ok, where am I going with this?

I try every year to go to confession once a month.  Some years I come closer to succeeding than others, but every year I fail.  It’s really easy to conclude that maybe I stink at this.  It’s really easy to despair.  But no, I know that’s the devil.  I know it’s the devil whispering in my ear every Saturday in January “But you just went in December for Advent… Just go next weekend.”

I’m not going to give up and I’m not going to feel defeated.  Usually, New Year Resolutions frustrate me because I tend to feel overwhelmed by them.  Who knows what’s going to happen in a year?  So much changes so fast, especially with little kids. Why make promises you can’t keep?  But this resolution I make every year is on a month to month basis. [A related aside: this is why I love Ashley’s blog.  She’s always making reasonable but inspiring monthly goals!] Right now, all I’m worried about is January.  I don’t know if I’ll make it to confession every month in 2015, but golly I’m really determined to get there this January!

Since I’m already on the topic and blabbing on, I’ll share a little bit about my other January goal: going (mostly) sugar free for (most of) January.  I know, I’m so inspiring, huh?  This one has been on my mind for a while. I kicked my almost decade-long addiction to CoffeeMate in October.  It was hard at first but eventually I liked half and half and a bit of sugar.  But then Halloween happened and that was a new low. Dave and I ate so much candy on the weekend following Halloween (which was on a Friday) and I felt like utter garbage by Monday.  But I couldn’t stop! I would have a healthful lunch and then boom! Sugar cravings would hit all afternoon and I had no self-control.  I clearly needed to work on this.

I did a little research during December (in between baking and eating Christmas sweets of course!) to see what kinds of programs were out there for sugar addicts like me. Most of them involved cutting out fruit and carbs too, and I just can’t do that.  This nursing mom can only deal with so much! Plus, I’ve done lots of diets in my day, and it’s never been good for me to eliminate food groups. I love food and I love cooking and baking and I’m tired of feeling ashamed of that.  What I really want is to be able to enjoy food, even sweets, healthfully and have the self control to stop myself when I’m done.  Laura shared this video with me and it was mind-blowing and very inspiring to me to get my sugar addiction under control.  Haley’s posts Why I Don’t Want to Be Healthy and Confessions of a Sugarholic were also very timely for me and made me fist pump a little a lot.  I  was ready!

So! I’m on day two and it’s not too bad!  No sugar in my coffee, and no added sweets. I’m not too worried about sugar in things as long as it’s not a predominantly sugar-y food.  So, I’m not going to have jam on my toast, but I won’t worry about a little mayo in my tuna. But I did switch from bottled salad dressings to oil and vinegar. One of the main ingredients on my favorite (lite!) poppy seed dressing is high fructose corn syrup! [Gah! Listen to me, I already sound obnoxious!]  I did have a glass of red wine with dinner but only after Dave looked it up and explained that dry red wine is really the least sugary wine of all.  Moderation, folks.  Thus, it’s mostly sugar free, but not totally sugar free.  And it’ll be most of the month, but not all of the month because my birthday is on January 28th and I must eat cake. I’m not that crazy!

Whew.  This is a wordy post.

What do you think of resolutions? Are you for? Against? Indifferent? Do you just want to get on with the New Year already? Me too!


12 in 2014

Here we are on the cusp of a new year, and according to my “Last 12 Months” folder in iphoto, I took well over 1400 photos last year! Yikes.  Most of them are junk and not very good, but I am attached to all of them.  It’s been a great year filled with undeserved blessings.  And lousy photos. I’m linking up with Dwija to share 12 of them. :)


We visited my family in January when Dave was in the UK for work.  This was back when Sara called Carmela “Lalela.” After that it morphed into “Calela” and finally to what it is now, “Camela.” On the blog, I pledged my fidelity to full-panel pregnancy pants.


I forced a bunch of bulbs last winter.  Sounds like a euphemism right?  I guess it is euphemistic for the winter we had.  It was cold, snowy and dark and SK and I didn’t leave the house much.  I was also in the dumps hormonally with Gus’ pregnancy.  But!  I forced it.  I really worked hard to get through that winter and brighten my mood.  It helped when we found out Gus was Gus!  Also, we (meaning, not just me!) blogged every day for a week at the end of February.  Rose shared her controversial opinion of Downton Abbey; worth a re-read especially before we all fall back under its’ spell soon!


It finally started to thaw in March!  We saw a lamb birthing!


SK turned 2 in April and Dave made her this awesome kitchen!


Also in the category of things Dave did: the kitchen, in May (no kitchen post yet, because I’m the worst blogger ever).  I helped a little, but I was also growing a person! I did a little whining on Mother’s Day.


June 27th: Happy Birthday to our Gus! July was a blur.


All the cousins came for Gus’ baptism!


Standards were shockingly low, even for me.  On a related note, I got me some mom jeans.  Update: they are now way too big for me. Woot!


By September, Gus was the happiest baby on the planet and finally sleeping a little more at night. So I tried, but didn’t really succeed in getting back on the housekeeping ball.


In October, I completely fell off the blogging ball.  But behold! Sibling interaction!


We had a white Thanksgiving with my folks in New York.


And a mild Christmas at home!  Happy New Year, everyone!

Almost Christmas Combo (7QT) {phfr}

Is it blasphemy to combine these two great link-ups?  I guess I’ll find out!



1. We got our tree last Saturday so we’ve been enjoying our Christmas tree honeymoon.  We made the switch from colored to white light lights, and I have to admit I’ve been loving every minute of it!


2. We always go to the same little farm to get our tree, Pakeen Farm. It’s a sweet, family run place, and they have the most delicious hot mini cider donuts and hot cocoa! Sara had fun running around all the trees, saying hi to the light up Santa and (not pictured) partaking in her most recent favorite pastime (and my least favorite of all time) of checking out the bathroom!


We bought this on Sara Kate's first Christmas and now she finally gets it!

3. We bought this on Sara Kate’s first Christmas and now she finally gets it!

Every day they grow to be better buddies!

4. Every day they grow to be better buddies!


5. Poor SK.  She dropped an unopened Costco jar of peanut butter on her toe yesterday.  We ended up at the doctor’s office because they wanted to check and see if it was broken.  So it was a day of some firsts for SK: first real bloody incident (she didn’t know it was called blood so she kept on saying “It’s red Mommy! There’s more red!”) and first x-ray (calling it a silly robot taking pictures of her foot seemed to make it less scary).  But in the end, it was not broken and she got a special viewing of Frosty the Snowman when she got home, so not too shabby!


Can’t…stop…eating…muddy buddies…

6.  I’ve started the Christmas baking and treat making over here. It’s great, and I’m excited to deliver plates and tins of goodies to my neighbors and friends, and I love sneaking bites here and there and freezing some for us for later… but I’m really trying personally not to overdo it this year because I’ve made a New Year resolution.  Well, a first 20ish days of January resolution.  I’m going to do a sugar detox before my 30th birthday at the end of January.  Sugar and I, we’re tight.  Too tight.  Its time for me to grow up a put a little space between me and this toxic friend.  We’ll reunite for my birthday, but I want to have a healthy reunion.  I want to be able to have my slice of birthday cake and enjoy it and not feel controlled by it. Anyhoo, that’s the plan.  We’ll see how it works out in real life!

7.  I’m sure everyone has plans for a busy weekend, huh? I think we’re doing the customary running hither and thither pulling together all the lose ends.  We’ll be staying here for Christmas and we have a wedding to attend on New Years Eve, where we’ll see some of my family members as well.  I hope you all have a blessed 4th week of Advent and joyous Christmas feast!

~Linking up with Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes and Like Mother Like Daughter for Pretty Happy Funny Real.~

Advent Update

If you feel bad about how holy your Advent isn’t, you’ve come to the right place.  Let me make you feel better.  We went to a fun event put on by our town rotary club tonight called Supper with Santa.  This was Sara’s first interaction with the big guy, and she nailed it.FullSizeRender

No, no SK! You need to smile for Instagram!IMG_3477Hmmm, what else?  Well, we were visited by St. Nick/Santa two nights ago and he left us Reeses and the kids’ Christmas jammies.  I let him know a couple of weeks back that 5 month old Gus was wearing 9 month stuff now and he delivered.  But that kid!  That kid looked like a sausage bursting out of it’s casing! It’s getting a little embarrassing.

Also! Good ol’ St. Nick pulled a fast one on me and switched my shoes with Hunter boots!  Unfortunately though, Mommy’s legs kinda did the same thing that Gus’ body did with his 9 month jammies.  Remember folks?  I have athletic legs.  Anyway, thanks to Fran’s post a couple of weeks ago, I was able to clue St. Nick into the fact that I probably need the Hunter’s with the adjustable backs. Whew. Thanks Fran.

Ellen! For shame! All talk of Santa and candy and boots!  It’s Advent!

I know yous guys, I know. We haven’t even gotten our Christmas tree yet! And see? We have a wreath and we’ve been faithfully lighting it every night at dinner time and singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel.”IMG_3457SK is entranced by the song and yesterday she sang it for Dave in the car when they took their weekly Saturday trip to Lowes.  When she got to the refrain she belted out:

“Free toys! Free toys! Emmanuel!”

Pat yourselves on the back, friends.  I’m sure you’re all doing a much better job at Advent than we are.