Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beginning Signs of Summer....In Pictures...

It's hard to believe Charlie has already had 3 weeks of summer vacation,  while Andrew is still plugging away in school.  The last three weeks have been filled with different preschool summer camps in the mornings, so it hasn't really felt like summer vacation yet.  Charlie has managed to catch 2 colds in that time frame {not a single sniffle all winter} and was really out of sorts today.  He went to bed at 6:30 tonight and I stayed with him and rubbed his back until he fell asleep, something I haven't done in ages.  I love watching him drift off to sleep and I'm tempted to do it more often, but I know how  quickly it turns into a bad habit.  My little Biscuit... he has really missed two of his very best friends from school the last couple weeks, making this last round of summer camp just a tad less fun.  He is very sociable by nature, so much so, that  I sometimes take for granted how easily he can join a new group and make friends. It seems like the last couple weeks he couldn't quite find his stride.  He was still happy as can be to go, but I know in his little heart he didn't feel completely at home there.  I'm looking forward to a week of just the two of us next week, no commitments, just time together to have fun, be silly, and play.

The last few weeks have also brought cookouts, ice cream, sundresses, bike rides, farmer's market visits, swim team, T ball, water guns, and mosquitoes {groan} back into our weekly routine.  All so welcome {except the bug bites}.  I love the smell of summer and sunshine on my children's skin at the end of each day.  I'm looking forward to the weeks ahead and more time together.  I really want to strive to put aside our array of electronics and screens this summer, keep cooking super simple, let the housework take a back seat, and just focus on having fun together and making memories.     

Here is a collection of snapshots from the last few weeks...

PS.  The Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta appetizer {pictured above} from Ina is the bomb.  Make it soon.  Possibly my new go-to summer appetizer! I jotted down the recipe for my favorite Trader Joe's cashier the other day as he was scanning the ingredients for me to make it again. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

mother's day + an easy spring lunch menu

Things here have been busy, busy lately. It always gets a little crazy as we wrap up the school year.  It makes me long for the unscheduled days of summer even more! Charlie's preschool ended 2 weeks ago, but Andrew still has a couple more weeks to go. Between teacher gifts, volunteer commitments, and the start of camps I feel like I have a constant checklist running through my head of what needs to be done and who needs to go where.  I wanted to make sure I paused for a second and captured Mother's Day. Not the most timely post, I concur, but it's still May so perfectly acceptable, I think.  

Mother's Day... it was a nice.  Andrew wrote me a poem that made me cry.  He was slightly embarrassed to give it to me, but oh man, did it make my heart melt.  He'd be even more embarrassed if I shared it on the blog so I won't, but it came straight from the heart and I will treasure it forever.  I was woken early by my Little Biscuit {aka Charlie}, he was thrilled to dump an assortment of Godiva chocolates on my bed, all picked by him.  Some mothers get breakfast in bed, but the best mothers get chocolate. At 6:30 AM.  I wasn't complaining. We had my parents over for a very simple lunch. The boys were extra good and extra sweet to me.  It was a happy day.

For lunch I made Ina's Goat Cheese and Tomato Tarts, a mixed baby greens salad with my lemon vinaigrette dressing and orange cupcakes with a cream cheese, orange butter cream icing.  Cupcake recipe coming in the future.  They were very yummy {I ate 4. Pure gluttony.}, but I'm still tinkering a bit with the recipe.

Tomato + Goat Cheese Tarts
recipe from Barefoot Contesssa's Back to Basics Cookbook

1 package puff pastry
4 cups thinly sliced onions
3 garlic cloves cut in slivers
3 TBS white wine
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
4 TBS grated parmesan cheese
4 oz. garlic herb goat cheese
1 large tomato
3 TBS julienned basil
2 oz parmesan cheese, shaved

Unfold pastry on a slightly floured surface and roll into an 11x11 square.
Using a 6 inch wide saucer, cut 2 circles from each sheet of pastry. Place 4 pastry circles on a sheet panned lined with parchment and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat 3 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over med/low heat and add onions and garlic.  Saute for 15-20 minutes until limp and almost no moisture remains in the skillet.  Add 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, wine, and thyme and cook for another 10 minutes until onions are lightly browned.  Remove from heat.

Score a 1/4 inch wide border around each pastry circle.  Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle with a TBS of grated parmesan, staying inside the scored border.  Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, crumble 1 oz. of goat cheese on top of the onions.  Place a tomato slice in the center and brush lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with basil and salt and pepper.  Scatter a few shards of parmesan cheese over the top.  Bake 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

These little tarts were a BIG hit!  One per person was perfect for lunch, but we all could have eaten two.  For the boys I used grated cheddar and jack cheese in place of the goat cheese to make them more kid friendly.  They thought they were pizzas.

{my charlie. he loves his mama and he loves his guns. 
i just remind myself that this time last year his obsession was guitars!
i somewhat preferred the guitars. just being honest :)}

Monday, May 6, 2013

a perfect weekend (with tons of pics + a little movie! oh my!)

Jimmy and I stole away for 4 days together in New England.  It was heavenly.  And hard to come back.  He was already in Boston for business so I tagged on to the tail end of his trip and we turned the getaway into an early anniversary celebration. It will be 15 years on May 16th!  I will always associate Boston with the start of "us", which doesn't make sense since "we" began in high school here in Ohio.  But we moved to Boston after college, it's where we got engaged and had our first apartment together.  It was when our relationship changed and we began planning a life together.  As most of you know, I also have a long standing love affair with that part of the country and happily jump at any chance I have to return.

We had 4 picture perfect days of crisp, sunny weather and long (LONG) walks under the deepest of blue skies.  We got really lucky.  Boston has never looked more lovely.  Honestly, strolling through Beacon Hill made me cry, the beauty and quaintness was almost too much.

In between all that walking came lots and lots of eating.  And we ate really well.  My favorite dinner was one in the South End at a cozy, unpretentious French bistro, called Hamersley's.  The food from start to finish was exceptional!  I also loved the chocolate champagne truffles from Hotel on Newbury Street and the salted caramel macarons from Beacon Hill Chocolates on Charles Street (the white chocolate and strawberry ones were amazing too).

We rented a convertible (excellent idea Mr. Foley! ;)) and drove up to explore the North Shore on Friday.  If the weather is nice and you happen to find yourself driving along coastlines, rent a convertible! Period.  Crank up the heat if you must (we did), turn up the radio (we did that too), and surrender to terrible hair days (check again!!) Totally worth it!  We decided Marblehead would suit us just fine should we ever find ourselves house hunting in MA. 

(if only this one had been for sale...)

On Saturday, we took that fun rental car of ours and headed south to Newport, Rhode Island.  It was our first visit to RI and we were charmed.  We stayed at the Castle House Inn. (you must click and check out the cuteness of their website!!)  I found the Inn when looking at the Relais & Chateaux list of hotels.  We had stayed at the White Barn Inn in Maine for our 10 year anniversary and loved it, so we trust the R&L designation for special occasion places.  The Inn is an old mansion that was once a summer home.  It is old, charming, and beautifully updated and maintained.  Our room was glorious with water views all around.  The bathroom was perfection and we slept with the windows open to smell the sea and the fireplace on to keep us warm,  It was perfect.  Gosh, I know that sounds a bit annoying, but it really and truly was a perfect long weekend.  I'm so grateful we got to share it together. (Big thanks to my parents for taking such good care of our boys!)  It is only our second time away together since Charlie was born and while I adore my children, I adore my husband too and sometimes it is nice just to be able to appreciate each other, uninterrupted and undistracted, for a few days to remember how much you enjoy each other.  

We attempted to take our own photo b/c asking strangers is awkward and they can never figure out my camera.  Clearly I have some challenges myself. ha!

And if you aren't totally nauseated with all the sappy, happiness of this post there's more! :)   We used our iphones to document little pieces of our weekend and made a movie.  We aren't as savvy as our film maker son, and honestly I wasn't sure I'd share it on the blog, just keep it for ourselves, but it was such a fun and easy way to capture memories beyond photos that I will definitely do this again in the future and thought you might like to too! :) Now it's back to regular, convertible-free, no ocean, living.  Off to the grocery store...