I switched the videos (last week's too) from Blogger to YouTube so hopefully you can view this in your email, on your phone, etc. If not, click through to the blog post and you should be able to see it.
Olivia has started teething so she's unusually happy for these 30 seconds:) She was just kicking about in her Sunday dress. Enjoy!
This second video might not be entertaining to you, but we find it hilarious. It's a little window into her personality. Olivia is captivated by the TV. We don't really let her watch it, but she's found a loophole: sports. If she hangs out with Daddy while he's watching sports she can watch as much TV as she wants.
In the video she looks like an utterly bored sports fan waiting for a big play while she tosses the remote around.
That's all for now! Good night!
In honor of my #1 blog fan, who asks about the blog every time we speak (even though my posts are becoming few and far between)…a post! Happy birthday, dad! This is for you:)
Wheew. We have had a whirlwind of a summer and fall is quickly running away from us as well. I’m not even sure where to begin, but I won’t attempt to recap it all here.
We spent our fair share of time on the New England coast. This particular photo was taken in Portsmouth, NH. I think we’d call it one of New England’s best kept secrets. Charming downtown, walkable, beautiful old buildings and it’s right on the water.
I realize a few pictures won’t make up for a summer’s long absence, but it’s been much harder to catch back up than we anticipated.
Although the summer’s warmth has left us for the imminent cold, we have much to look forward to this fall and winter. We’re excited to slow down, relax a bit, enjoy some warm beverages, and hibernate.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I hope to update this more regularly and more thoroughly soon. Promise! Love you!
Andrew and I read a blog earlier in the summer about Top Tips for Taking Photos at the Zoo. We love excuses to practice our photography and learn more about our camera so we headed to our local zoo on a free-for-residents Saturday. We arrived when the zoo opened to try to get good morning light, but since it was a clear day the light was still pretty harsh. For this adventure, an overcast day with cloud cover would have provided the best light and minimal shadows, but since we were just practicing we didn’t mind.
Some of the tips we read were to zoom in close, focus on the eyes, turn off the automatic flash, and fill the frame with the subject.
One thing I wasn’t prepared for was sad eyes. I’m not sure if some animals just have naturally sad facial expressions or if they are under-stimulated in captivity, but I sure felt bad for some of them. It’s amazing how different zoos, circuses, etc. are as an adult than as a kid. As a kid it’s cool to see the animals up close. As an adult I wanted to see them frolicking in Sub-Saharan Africa.
But without further ado here are the animals of Roger Williams Park Zoo:
Sorry we’ve been so quiet lately. We have been unintentionally unplugged and and to be honest, it has been kind of nice. Less time behind the computer screen and more time grilling out, watching Friends, going to the beach, jogging, entertaining visitors, etc. Sort of just getting done what needs to get done and then relaxing until bedtime. Most weekends I can’t seem to get any posts written, any pictures downloaded from my camera, or any blogs read, but the laundry gets done, dinner gets cooked, trips to the beach are had, and I'm becoming okay with that—especially since summer up here is so short.
We apologize for keeping everyone in the dark for so long; here’s a little summary of life lately.
Lately we have been…
Note—We learned a very harsh lesson about bringing compost into the house. We tried to learn from last year and start our seeds earlier in the year. Unfortunately, us rookies didn’t think through bringing compost soil into our apartment.
We went through phases of insect hatching. First, there was the round of gnat-like bugs. Dozens if not hundreds of them. The vacuum and I became quite chummy. I had the vacuum out regularly and sucked them up morning and night. (I don’t do bugs). It turned out to be great for the cleanliness of our floors though:)
Then there was round #2. Giant house flies. Less in number and more tolerable than the gnats. But still, I vacuumed them up. But then round #3 came. It was the last straw. Bees. Some type of flying stinging-looking insect. This was when I freaked out, panicked, and told Andrew “These plants are going outside today. I don’t care if there is still frost and we are throwing away two months of prep. Out.” And so they went.
That’s a quick summary. More to come later! No promises on timeliness—I’m still hoping to re-cap California;) And since then we’ve been to NYC, Philadelphia, and Maine. Not to mention parent visits, weddings, or future summer plans. Wheew. I just can’t keep up. In fact, tonight Andrew was basking in summer 2011 glory and telling me about how much he is enjoying it and we’re technically only a 5 days in. My first thought was: “We better document this! We haven’t taken many pictures this summer (aside from trips). We’re going to need some proof to carry us through winter!”
I had very little interest in the Royal Wedding until last night at around 7:30 pm. I didn’t plan to watch it and I was okay with that. Then suddenly I decided that maybe I should watch it. I like weddings, I like royals, and I like once in a lifetime occasions. So I changed my mind and made a plan. We could get up, watch it live, have breakfast, and make it a little party. And somehow Andrew went for it. So at 9 o’clock last night I printed off some royal wedding party printables I had seen earlier in the week, printed up the Queen’s recipe for Scotch pancakes, and set an alarm for 5:30.
This morning we woke up just in time to see the immediate family arrive and then the wedding ceremony started. Catherine was beautiful, her dress was lovely, and I was so taken by her poise. I only wish I could have watched the reception live as well!
The end. And we lived happily ever after.
I woke up March 1 and Andrew was gone. [Don’t worry, he was at a conference in L.A. and I took him to the airport]. As soon as the conference was over, I jetted out to L.A. after him. We rendezvoused with the West Coast for a week and before I knew it, April had arrived. We have been so busy traveling, recuperating, adjusting to time changes, working, and painting that the whole month just passed us by. I probably haven’t even taken a picture in 3 weeks (and as you might recall, I had gotten used to taking pictures every day!)
I flew solo out to meet Andrew in L.A. I’m not a big fan of flying these days and to say that I was not looking forward to the 5.5 hour coast-to-coast flight from D.C. would be a vast understatement. Fortunately, it was a breeze! And went so much better than I could have hoped for:) I stayed busy reading books and magazines and listened to some sermons on my iPod. And before I knew it the palm trees of the California coast were beckoning me. In fact, as we descended into LAX I said in my head “Hello, palm trees.” It had been quite a few months since I’d seen the sun, palm trees and warm weather.
The first day in L.A. we hit the ground running. I grabbed a rental car, picked up Andrew and we headed for the Warner Brothers Studio tour. It was a little different than we expected. We failed to realize that we don’t really watch TV or many movies, so we were a little behind the times. Chuck, The Mentalist, Harry Potter? Nah. Never seen ‘em. But you better believe our camera was snapping away when we saw the studios and sets that filmed FRIENDS, Full House, and the Gilmore Girls. This might also have been at the same moment that Clint Eastwood drove past us. When someone said, “Hey that was Clint Eastwood.” The tour guide said, “Yea he’s filming today.” But although he evaded us and we didn’t see him, we’ll probably still say we did. Hey, we were within 10 ft of Clint Eastwood. That’s kind of a big deal. Oh, and we got to sit on the FRIENDS couch. Another BIG DEAL in my world:)
We spent the night in Hollywood and the next day set out for a quick little adventure before heading up the coast. Things of note below.
1. We split a corn dog for breakfast. Yes, we were too snobby to buy a smoothie that didn’t use real fruit and instead went for the corndog. What?
Our camera is so fancy We are such amateurs that we couldn’t figure out how to capture a picture of us and the Hollywood sign in focus.
We oohed and ahhed over the classic imprints from the first half of the twentieth century—Judy Garland’s high heel impressions and Bill Hart’s guns and cowboy boots, pictured below. Naturally, we had to take a picture of Clint Eastwood’s imprints since we had seen him the previous day and all (wink). And who doesn’t love Robin William’s “Carpe Diem” to bring back a little Dead Poets Society love?
We checked out of our hotel, hopped in the car and headed west on Santa Monica Boulevard. We drove through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and downtown Santa Monica. Santa Monica was so much cooler than we had anticipated. The pedestrian mall downtown reminded us a lot of our trip to Burlington, VT. We bought some Jamba Juice, Girl Scout cookies, and dipped our feet in the ocean. And as quickly as we arrived, we departed to begin our drive up the coast with what little sunlight was left in the day.
California…to be continued.
After reviewing both sides of the story and looking through several sources, a couple of themes start to stand out. First, it sounds like some of the dates or 'when' things happen in Three Cups of Tea have been compressed. Three trips to a village in real life turn into one in the book. One conversation was actually several. Etc. Second, his organization (The Central Asian Institute) needs to spend some serious time and effort cleaning up their finances. Audits, advertising, travel accounts. The works. You can't claim to be a tiny non-profit when you have a best selling book and receive millions of dollars in donations each year.
So the news is disappointing on several accounts. The fact that the book isn't 100% true as depicted is a bit of a bummer. But I do recall saying in the original post:
"While I fully expect everything in the book to be true, if only 10% of what he wrote is factual, it's still one of the most amazing stories I have ever read."
So I think I'm covered. Right?
In my opinion the news coverage has left a little to be desired. One report questioned whether or not the author's captors (when Mortenson was taken prisoner) were actually in the Taliban, by asking them "Are you in the Taliban?" Maybe they were or maybe they were not Taliban, but I'm not sure simply asking them fulfills a journalist's responsibility of investigating a story. Fortunately, despite the drama and discrepancies, in the end schools still got built, thousands of children got an education, and millions of dollars went towards preventing at-risk kids from poverty and potentially, in some cases, lives dedicated to unfathomable atrocities. This doesn't absolve Mortenson of all wrong doing, but at least for me it helps keep things in perspective.
I would recommend coming to your own conclusions however. This story goes into pretty good detail:http://outsideonline.com/adventure/travel-ga-greg-mortenson-interview-sidwcmdev_155690.html
And this shows a little more: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/#42658438
Now if a story comes out suggesting 'About Beer' was lying about lagers and ales, then I'm calling it quits ;)
If Andrew and I were able, we would totally be having a Mardi Gras party to celebrate Fat Tuesday—the feast before the beginning of Lent. We thought in honor of our year of holidays it would be fun, but then realized we aren’t available Tuesday.
We would definitely be making the mask cookies, although I realize they wouldn’t be nearly as pretty. Decorating with icing is hard. We learned that lesson with our Christmas tree cookies. It’s okay though, we’ll just have to keep practicing:)
Andrew made some rockin' soup last week. The recipe looks a little crazy (evaporated milk, bbq sauce, etc.), but it turned out great. All the interesting ingredients came together to create a unique flavor and great consistency. It was the first soup we’ve ever made from scratch to have a thick and creamy consistency. It's usually difficult to produce thick soup at home, but this recipe nailed it! I think it had something to do with the evaporated milk, but I may be wrong.
We followed the recipe to the T with the exception of using a green pepper instead of a red one and we cooked chicken breasts instead of using a rotisserie chicken.
Smoky Roasted Chicken and Corn Chowder
Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
Source: Taste of Home Healthy Cooking Feb-March 2009 Issue
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 cup diced onions
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
- 1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes, well drained
- 1 (14 3/4 oz) can cream-style corn
- 2 cups roasted chicken breast, chopped
- 1 tablespoon hickory flavored barbecue sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- Cook chopped bacon in a large, non-stick soup pot over medium-high heat until lightly browned but not crisp. Stir in onions, celery, red pepper, and garlic. Cook and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add thyme and flour. Mix well. Stir in broth and evaporated milk. Bring mixture to a gentle boil and stir continuously until soup thickens slightly.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot.
Back in January, Andrew and I were discussing our hopes, plans, and dreams for 2011.
Andrew said, “I want to read more this year. I want 2011 to be the year of the book!” And I said, “What? Read more? [Pause. Look at him funny.] Okay.” And with that the Year of the Book was born. Andrew’s goal is to read 10-12 books this year.
Me? I didn’t really have a goal. And I wasn’t interested in reading 10 books. But on Martin Luther King Day it dawned on me. As my Google Reader overflowed with MLK quotes and references to spending the day “on” and not “off”, I decided that I wanted to spend 2011 celebrating holidays with an awareness on their original intention. Holidays honor someone or something; I want to understand and appreciate that. I often spend these days eating hot dogs and playing Wiffle ball without regard to the significance of the day; without celebrating the purpose we were intended to celebrate. So in 2011 I want to focus a little of my attention on the dreams, the causes, and the fights that people gave their lives to. I want to be cognizant of the reasons why I get to sleep in and spend extra time with family and friends.
So throughout this year I’ll post recaps of what we did to celebrate holidays. Some will be more exciting than others. And I know that some holidays have varying traditions or have changed over time, so don’t judge us too harshly on the tribute that we pay.
And to honor the year of the book, Andrew will post reviews and recommendations of the books he’s read.
Nothing too exciting, but a little window into our life in 2011.
First up: President’s Day
This weekend for President’s Day we went to the JFK Library in Boston, MA.
And then we drove past the birthplaces of former presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and George H.W. Bush. While the Adams were born in the same town (later named Quincy), Bush 41 was born a couple miles away in Milton, MA.
And we even tried to eat a few favorite presidential meals. Unfortunately, our detour to Ikea set us back a little and all that was open was Panera. But we didn’t let that stop us! Andrew had macaroni and cheese a favorite of Ronald Reagan and I had a grilled cheese, a favorite of FDR. Panera’s macaroni is amazing. The grilled cheese was pathetic. I think they generally make them for kids meals so it was terribly lame and cheeseless.
And we may or may not have watched the Presidential DVD series my mom gave Andrew two Christmases ago. And we may or may not have watched all three DVDs.
Happy President’s Day!
Now that the year of pictures is over I wanted to reflect a little—for my own personal processing, but also for my loyal and faithful readers who patiently waited when I took months to put up a new post:)
In one word, I'd describe the year in pictures as: Bittersweet. Bitter because I hated it at times. I hated the pressure that it put on me and the weight it put on my shoulders. Sweet because I am so thankful for the finished product: A year of special memories and reminders all documented in pictures.
As the year went on, it amazed me how difficult finishing what I started would be. You don't realize how busy/lazy/tired you are until you plan to take and post one picture every day for an entire year. And with every day that passed there were more images to sift through, more memories captured, and more posts to be written. And every day that I wasn't able to post, more pictures piled up. It might have seemed like I had forgotten at times, but trust me, I didn't. It weighed on me. I was always aware that there were photos to be uploaded and blogs to be posted.
I always seemed to be a month or two behind. And the further behind I got, the more overwhelmed I felt. But it was cyclical; wavering between the bitter and the sweet. I'd get behind and feel defeated. And eventually, I would get caught up (aka only a few weeks behind) and feel relieved and satisfied.
But I made it! I came out on the other side:) I know it wasn't without bumps and hiccups and delays, but we finished. And that is enough. Yes, at times, it has been a bitter journey. But let's be honest, it came with loads of sweetness and goodness.
I love having so many pictures of our first year of marriage.
I love having captured so many fun memories with family and friends.
I love having documented every vacation and visitor and day trip. Every holiday and dinner party and party for two.
I love that it pushed me to take photos every day.
I love that it pushed me to take better photos every day.
I love that we are able to relive so many easy-to-forget moments so well. To live in the moment again. And see details our brains have cast out.
But mostly, what I'm thankful for, is that it forced me to see (and capture) the little moments in life. The small, thankless moments like putting together a bed or melting when it was 90 degrees in our apartment and we couldn't sleep. The looks and glances and smiles; the burnt dinners, the bad cupcakes and the flat cookies. The warm summer air on our faces. These are the little things we take for granted. They are life. The 365 project helped me to step back and enjoy the small things in life. On days when we didn't do anything except wake up, brush our teeth, eat a few meals, and do chores, I had to look for the beauty in each moment. And I loved that.
For all of these things, bitter and sweet, I am truly grateful.
We look forward to continuing to document our life right here. While it won't be a 365 blog, it will still be our blog. And I hope that without the pressure of taking pictures everyday I will continue to notice the small things and stop to capture them. And then, of course, share them here. My hope is that less is more. Less commitment, less pictures, less expectations on myself will = more posts, more stories, and more for you to read. But I'll be honest, sometimes our life is just not that exciting.
We do have a few plans up our sleeves for this year and fortunately they are not nearly as time intensive as 365 days of pictures. I'll be putting a post up with more details soon. (And I do mean soon as in days, not months!)
Thanks for putting up with me!
We celebrated by spending the weekend in Little Compton, RI. We have been to Little Compton to go to the beach, but hadn’t really spent any time there or realized how quaint and adorable it was.
I was so impressed by our hotel room book selection. They had authors ranging from Oscar Wilde to Henry David Thoreau and James Patterson to Max Lucado. Andrew and I felt inspired to create a little book shelf in our guest room with equally diverse authors.
We went to the Sakonnet Vineyards winery and loved it! It was warm & cozy, the staff was super friendly, and we were the only ones there for the tour. We watched a video, toured the winery and then enjoyed a little tasting. It was great! We found the video and tour to be extremely informative and interesting. We learned so much about grapes and wine-making. Our favorite quote from the video was that the owners fell in love with Little Compton and said: “Little Compton looks like the Hamptons did 35 years ago.”
When we arrived back to the hotel we realized there was a GIANT pig in a pen next to the parking lot at the nearby house. It was definitely the biggest pig I have EVER seen. Loved being in a rural town.
Handsome Hubby. We walked to the beach behind the hotel. I wanted to see what a beach covered in snow looked like. We had no idea how cold it was or that the wind, which was at our back for the first half, was unbelievably cold and coming from the north.
We loved, loved, loved, Little Compton. It was so quaint and quintessential New England. We loved the colonial houses on rustic farms. We seeing kids playing hockey on frozen ponds. And driving around the commons which had a general store, family diner and white steeple church. Straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.