A few good gems

Welcome to the weekend. Mother's Day is on the horizon, so I'm hoping our female readers have breakfast in bed, lovely flowers, and a lazy afternoon in their near future. Annie and I are freaking out because Mother's Day is one of ONLY two days in the ENTIRE YEAR that LDS missionaries are allowed to call home. Yep, we'll be skyping with our baby girls -- best gift ever. I'm going to go plan my outfit and test my computer's microphone (50 times). You guys enjoy the best o' the Internet:

Everyone in my family loves a Snickers bar. I'm definitely thinking this brownie is sugar-worthy.

Read this moving essay about how a son learns to love his father. (Tissues may be required.)

Have you read Rob Lowe's account of dropping his son off at college? First off, Rob Lowe (whom I've loved through The West Wing and Brothers and Sisters) can write. Dang Rob. I think he hits the nail square on the head when he describes his wife setting up the dorm room: "Sheryl’s immaculate and detailed reno­vation is an OCD and maternal-love-fueled epic poem of logistics and labor."  Also, when his son worries that his fellow students don't "look" scared, Rob wisely quips, “Never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” And one final note: How could you NOT be a sensation on campus WITH ROB LOWE WALKING YOU AROUND????

Kelly Corrigan cheers on mothers.

I've never really been on board with the outrage over the every-child-gets-a-trophy practice. Even when my kids get a 'participation' medal, they know the real score. This article in The New York Times says there is no evidence to support the idea that miserable experiences prepare kids for this miserable world.  Here's a taste for you: "Children ought never to receive something desirable -- a sum of money, a trophy, a commendation -- unless they've done enough to merit it. They shouldn't even be allowed to feel good about themselves without being able to point to tangible accomplishments."

I applaud this collection of homemade Mother's Day gifts. I do wonder, however, if any dads read these types of blogs.

I love house plants, but I do have an exceptional ability to kill them. Here's a great (and beautiful) guide for placement and watering.

That's it my friends. I'm heading towards the weekend. See you on the flip side!


A few good gems

Friday finish line! Happy May to you all. I feel like this is the time of year when the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere overlap for a few short weeks (days?) with similar temperatures as the north heads to summer and we here in the south head to winter. Let's all high-five as we pass each other, shall we? The northerners enjoy cheery tulips while the southerners tuck our tulip dreams to bed and plant the bulbs for next year. On to a few good gems for this weekend:

Aren't  these botanical posters  fantastic? I'm seriously longing for a couple of them to (finally) fill the vast empty wall space above our sofa.

Aren't these botanical posters fantastic? I'm seriously longing for a couple of them to (finally) fill the vast empty wall space above our sofa.

  • This cookie cutter set is pure genius! You can set the message of choice to customize them to the occasion. Put me down for a set, pretty please.
  • Ina's lemon chicken has been a big favorite lately in my kitchen. It's terrifically good and simple, one of those meals you can serve on an ordinary weekday, a special occasion, or take to your friend who just had a baby.
  • "Don't touch me," said Canada. "I won't!" said the US. So they moved 20 feet apart. Radiolab on the clear margin of land between the two. (Radiolab is always a big favorite around here with Sam.)
  • I can't wait for my next trip to NYC to try out Taza's guide to the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights. (And, hey!, I was born in NYC and we lived right there on the border between the two. I was a grad school baby and although we only lived there a few years, I like to consider myself a New Yorker at heart, haha.)
  • Did you see that the Pioneer Woman took a college trip with her daughters to Texas A&M? (Sarah! To Houston! Your BFF dreams may just be realized.) It'll be fun to follow right along while they navigate to the big college launch--especially since it looks like the timing will coincide with Maddy's college search and launch.

Reading: Oscar and Lucinda (Peter Carey), the 1988 Booker prize winner about a couple in 19th century Australia--I love it so far!

Also, just finished The Storied Life of AJ Fikry (Gabrielle Zevin), an enjoyable literary beach read. Essentially a love letter to books and the reading life.

Listening: to the brand-new Australian digital radio station Double J and it's pretty good--a mix of new music gems and indy faves over the past decades. Great for music lovers and if you like both remembering old, off-the-beaten path favorites and discovering new songs. You can listen online here.  

A few good gems

Happy Friday! I'm definitely getting to that point in the school year where I'm just hobbling from weekend to weekend. It's enough already with the early mornings and packed lunches and school projects. Momma needs a good long rest. And . . . my college girl comes home in just two weeks! There are lots of good things to look forward to, and in the spirit of that goodness, here are a few good gems to get your weekend inspiration humming.

We usually have eggs benedict on Easter morning, but I have to say I'm rather intrigued by this Martha Stewart recipe of Sesame Toast with Poached Eggs and Avocado

I originally came upon this article courtesy of Cup of Jo, and while I don't like to recycle links -- this article bears repeating. Published as an opinion essay in The New York Times, the author, Akhil Sharma, writes about his own fruitful experiences with looking outside of himself. This is a must read.

How to make a bow. I had a clearanced wreath from Target and a front door in dire need of some Springifying. In the past I've always had my mother or one of my talented friends make bows for me. But those folks weren't around, so I turned to my BFF the Internet. Girlfriend always delivers.

Also on the DIY front, I experimented with removing oil stains from t-shirts. Indeed, it has been an exciting week. You know those mysterious oil stains that show up on the cool t-shirt you JUST bought on your ski trip and only wore ONE time? Yeah, I'm doing something about those. I tried this tutorial. I had three dime-size oil spots on the bottom of the shirt. I did the WD-40, the baking soda (twice), and the Dawn. Then I washed. Afterwards, the dime-size oil spots were gone, BUT the area around them was stained. I think I made a mistake by only scrubbing the Dawn into the stains themselves. So, I did the whole thing again, brushed the Dawn thoroughly over the entire area, and VOILA! Oil stains no more. I'm serious. This may have changed my life.

I made Fried Quinoa with Spicy Honey Chicken for dinner this week. This recipe is a keeper.

Have you seen this video about the waitress who gets three life-changing "tips"? What if it was your job to go around and make people's dreams come true? I wonder if you'd have to write a dissertation to qualify for that. 

Root Beer Float Cookies? I'm in.

I'm going to try these smoothies next week for an after-workout treat. (But let's be real -- you should really get chocolate or an entire loaf of bread as a reward for working out.)

There's a compelling article in The Atlantic about a playground designed to get around overprotective, middle-class, suburban parenting. And it may or may not involved fires. Interesting read.

And that's it folks! We posted every day this week . . . so can we have the chocolate and bread NOW????

A few good gems

Friday greetings! I've spent the week in Utah visiting my college girl and getting in some Spring skiing. It's been great fun, and I'm not sure I'm ready to return to normal life just yet. Luckily, Annie and I have our first annual Nest & Launch retreat planned for next week -- meaning Annie and I are meeting up in Austin to dream up ways to make this little site bigger and better. We will be co-posting on Monday, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy a few good gems to get your weekend started.

Parker wondering why I won't let him go down the run that is closed. Um . . . because it's closed. It was an issue of some dramatics.

Parker wondering why I won't let him go down the run that is closed. Um . . . because it's closed. It was an issue of some dramatics.

I loved reading through this book list and proving the BBC wrong. I got 63, but I have an advantage having taking 1,634 Victorian lit classes. And several Shakespeare classes. And a James Joyce class. I was essentially forced to read this list. But now that I'm older and wiser, I'm anxious to get working on the other 27 books.

I loved this article -- "There's little doubt that 'do what you love' (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem with DWYL, however, is that it leads not to salvation but to the devaluation of actual work -- and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers." Yes! Plus, sometimes work is just work -- something that needs to be done regardless of passion, or interests, or personal inclinations. 

Along the same lines, this Huffington Post article about "the one thing Christians should stop saying" looks at how an oft-repeated phrase is just plain wrong. Any guesses? Check it out. I'm totally on board.

Have you seen Jimmy Fallon's latest "Ew!" episode with Michelle Obama. Getting a spot on "Ew!" is number one on my bucket list.

Made this Baked Salmon Stuffed with Leeks for dinner last week. It's super easy and tasty, plus you definitely get bonus points for presentation. It's little work and big glory, which is precisely what I'm going for in my cooking. (Scroll down a bit in the link for the recipe.)

I'm thinking of attempting this Rainbow Petal Cake for Easter. It's so Spring-y. And Rainbow-y.

Oh Captain, my Captain, I'll be ordering this t-shirt soon. 

And that's it. I'm off . . . wish me luck driving through the mountains!

A few good gems

Good morning Friday! Glad to see you all here and ready for the weekend. My kids have a full line up of activities today and Saturday, which means I have a full line up of driving and spectating. I'm also planning on planning Spring Break. Only one more week of school!!! I can't wait. And I'm not even in school. Sleep. Need sleep.

Enough about me. Here's this week's link roundup. I especially loved this quote about happiness and love. It's so true. I think we all need to work harder on being happy for each other. That's my PSA for the day. Carry on!


Teaching character to our children may be one of the most difficult tasks set before parents. I mean, how do you practically DO THAT? Check out this New York Times article titled, "What if the Secret to Success is Failure?" It's lengthy but worth the investment. Thanks Andrea!

Because we have missionary daughters, I had to post this NYT article on how the drop in missionary age (and surge of female missionaries) signals a changing of roles for women in the LDS church. Onwards and upwards ladies!

I'm feeling the need to beautify and organize my laundry room. It's a strange urge, I'll admit. I'm liking this one, and this one, and this.

This short article on being content really hit home with me. There's nothing especially earth shattering, but it's a good reminder nonetheless.

Here's a craft I can get behind: a deer head! Out of yardsticks! Does anyone have a collection of vintage yardsticks I could "borrow" ? I swear, collecting the supplies is what makes crafting difficult.

image via  FindingHome

image via FindingHome

I'm bound and determined to make these Chocolate Chip Cookie Energy Bars. They look like a good pre/post workout snack, and then I could throw out Becca's sugar-laden granola bars. I have a date with dates this weekend. (Because, you now, the bars have dates in them. And cashews.)

And, in the spirit of full disclosure:

Reading: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Listening: Ingrid Michaelson's new single Wonderful Unknown . . . waiting for the rest of the album, Lights Out. 

Eating: Smoothies -- almost every day. My favorite right now is strawberries, raspberries, banana, spinach, greek yogurt, almond milk, and a teaspoon each of ground flax seed and honey. 

That's it. I'm out. Happy weekending!

Cooking . . . always cooking

I've probably said this before, but it bears repeating: I don't like to cook. But I do like to eat, so I suffer through the cooking. For the past three months Sterling and I have been eating Paleo, a practice that has us testing out a whole new slew of recipes -- some good, some NOT so good. It's not that I've jumped on some paleo bandwagon. It's more that I find my body operates SO much better without any sugar. Also, I'm a sugar addict. So there's that.

Luckily, my kids love the paleo too. They still eat goldfish and popcorn for snacks, and have a sandwich and chips for lunch. But for dinner? They want our paleo goods. Here are the recipes that the kids are clamoring for:

  • Pancakes. I love these for dinner, breakfast, or even in the middle of the night. Sterling has been making the banana and egg pancakes for a while now. But a few days ago I spotted this recipe for Clean Eating Green Pancakes on Pinterest. Sterling made them yesterday morning, and I became a true convert. These have the taste and texture of real, flour-laden pancakes with none of the drawbacks. We top ours with butter and a little honey or maple syrup. And spinach! It's in there!
  • Heidi Swanson's Weeknight Curry. I mentioned this recipe in a post last summer, but it's worth repeating. This is easy, healthy, and we were fighting over the final bites just last night.
  • I'm also pretty enamored with Megan and Brandon Keatley's cookbook, Primal Cravings. Our very favorite recipe is the Shrimp Pad Thai (the noodles are actually thin strips of zucchini). I can't find the Keatley's recipe online, but it's essentially this one plus two pounds of shrimp (peeled and deveined). Just saute the shrimp in a tablespoon of butter until pink. Remove from pan and follow recipe instructions for the noodles and sauce. Add the shrimp back in just before serving. [Note: We have a mandolin that makes cutting the zucchini a snap.] Also, I double the recipe because we cannot get enough.
  • I'm back into making frittatas. This is a 20 minute dinner that is hearty and tasty. Last week I made a zucchini and goat cheese frittata and served it with this salad. Becca raved about this one. [Note: Keep the extra salad dressing in the fridge for lunch. It's great on anything.] [Note #2: If you don't have a frittata pan, you can finish it in the oven. See this method here.}

These recipes are great for anyone -- paleo or no. They are mostly just vegetables and protein . . . but really, really tasty. Hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

P.S. Any Paleo or Whole30 recipe suggestions are welcome. Write them in the comments!!

A few good gems

Happy Valentines weekend, all! We woke up this morning to a flash mob of paper hearts taped to our front door and garage for Maddy (well done, boys). This weekend's also my anniversary because 24 years ago G and I thought it would be romantic and sweet to get married two days after Valentines Day. In practice, it actually increases the probability that one or both days get short shrift around here but still. It's definitely one of my favorite times of the year.

Oh and did I ever tell you about the time I accidentally proposed marriage to myself?

The New Yorker cartoon, Roz Chast

The New Yorker cartoon, Roz Chast

Okay, on to a few good gems to fuel your weekend. If I could, I would tie them in a red ribbon, attach a paper heart and leave them on your doorstep with a box of conversation hearts:

Speaking of conversation hearts, I love today's Google doodle by This American Life's Ira Glass. When you click on the hearts, you can hear clips of love stories. (The doodle is just on US Google but the link above is for international readers and it even includes a bonus story they had to cut. And here's a video about the making of the project.)

Saturday Night Live's Garth and Kat really want to sing you a Valentines serenade (and if you have trouble streaming this one, here's another link):

Is it the end of the college roommate? The Atlantic takes a look at the rise of the private dorm room and how it may change the college experience. (I'll say! Without college roommates I would have missed out on some wonderful friendships and crucial life and relationship lessons.)

I laughed in total recognition at this Onion (spoof) article: "Area woman said 'sorry' 118 times yesterday." I have to stop myself from this all too often. (Sorry.)

A town that's building life around sleep? Sign me up.

How love rewires the brain. (I might have already posted this. Let's not dwell on what that might say about my brain...)

We are really excited to host a French exchange student next month. My rusty high school and college French skills need some updating, though. I was thinking that this list of 17 feel-good French films you can stream on Neflix would be a good place to start (plus fun).

Have a marvelous weekend, friends! See you back here on Monday.

Reading: Just finished Kelly Corrigan's Glitter and Glue (so good) and Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home (liked it, too). 

Eating: These ham and cheese sliders are super easy and magically delicious. Also perfect for feeding a crowd.