5/31/13

hello summer.

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School is out and summer is here sending a million smiles across our faces. These past few weeks have been a challenge. A challenge to stay on top, to keep the house clean, to shuttle everyone to all the activities. A challenge to stay awake. A challenge to accomplish everything, which I have not been doing.

But summer is here and I've decided to toss those challenges to the wind. I'm hoping my biggest worries will be getting the kids to the pool, deciding what to throw on the grill and what record to play as we run barefoot through our yard.

Hello summer.
We couldn't be happier to see you.
We greet you with open arms and lots of sunscreen.

Enjoy your weekend friends, I'm off to plant some flowers and run through the sprinkler with the kids.
What does your weekend bring?

*This picture is from this morning when Jess and I volunteered at the school for Field Day. Sometimes, and only sometimes, it's okay to start the day with a chocolate cupcake.

I'm over on my friend Kacie's blog if you want to head over and read some of my thoughts on parenting.

5/28/13

kridler gardens.

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kridlers

Every once in awhile you stumble across a treasure. A seashell hidden in an overstuffed drawer that takes you back to a family vacation, a note tucked away in the pocket of your old jeans, a toddler's drawing happily scribbled across your favorite recipe.

Sometimes, you happen to stumble across a new park, a unique bookstore that will soon become a favorite, and just sometimes you'll stumble across a secret garden. A couple weeks ago Jess and I packed up Bailey into the car and drove out to visit our vet, who happens to be about a half hour drive for us into the country. I usually make the best of our visits out there and stop at a local nursery, a thrift shop and a old vintage shop plopped right in the middle of a country road.

This time around our vet mentioned a garden center that I just had to visit. It so happens that a customer of the restaurant also mentioned this garden center so I felt obligated to swing by.

And that's all it took to fall in love with Kridler Gardens. I knew from the minute I pulled off the road onto the one lane rustic path that I made the right decision. As we entered the gardens we were greeted by geese, a garden just freshly planted, greens that seemed to spread forever and sprinkles of color here and there. The trees were blooming and the winds were blowing. It was perfect.

We made friends, or rather Jess made friends, with the several cats that loomed around the grounds. They honestly seemed to follow her everywhere and she couldn't have been happier. We even came across a little turtle that made his way to the rows of flowers and plants.

Those same rows of flowers and plants left an endless trail throughout the grounds. As we worked our way inside we discovered a unique habitat of exotic life. Plants I have never seen, plants that climbed as high as the ceiling, an indoor waterfall and, to the boys excitement (because I took them on our second visit), several venus fly traps.

If you live in the Canton region and are up for a destination I highly recommend Kridlers Gardens. And, if you're feeling in the mood for a getaway, you can even stay overnight in their cabin. Perhaps Jon and I need to add that to our summer to do list.

*This is not a sponsored post. It really was that awesome.

5/27/13

21/52

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"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Jonas: Always in his hoodie, but on this chilly day at the pool it was appropriate.
Joshua: Finding a new friend on a sunny sunday afternoon.
Jessica: Searching for kitties in an empty barn.

Thank you Jodi for hosting this Portrait series.

sunday stills. photo twenty one + giveaway winners

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A single photo once a week.
To capture my emotions, to sum up the days.
To collect my thoughts and hold them in my hands.

Every Sunday, one photo.

On this Sunday: The air is chilly this weekend, but we are determined to find our way to the pool. We'll bundle up, throw on our jeans and hoodies, build forts with warm towels and sit poolside with a glass of red wine and hot cocoas.

Happy Memorial Day!

*The winners of the Yellow Finch giveaway are: Nicole Olson, Amanda M, Kay and Beth Kostur. Please email me your address when you get a chance and congrats!

Make sure to come back later this week I have another great giveaway lined up :)

5/25/13

life is like a carousel

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It has been a whirl wind week in our house.

The kind of week where you are running and rushing from one activity to the next. The kind of week where your husband works seven days in a row including breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime. The kind of week where you all you want to do is fall apart or fall asleep at five o'clock, but you pick yourself up, smile and grin, and get to work making dinner.

The kind of week where you struggle to stay awake while tucking little ones into their beds, but you know you have to stay awake a little longer. There's only two more chapters in the Magic Tree House book and we must get to the end. You have to stay awake because the tooth fairy comes tonight and we've talked about it all day.

This was the kind of week where you look for the t-ball uniform a half hour before the game starts and realize it's in the bottom of the dirty laundry pile and there's no way it can be worn. It's moments like this when I feel that I'm failing as a parent. That surely other mothers have it together better than I do, that other mothers obviously figure out how to wash the uniforms.

Or do they?
Perhaps we really are all in the same boat.

It was the kind of week where you discover the power of being a parent. Where your super mom genes surface and suddenly you can take on everything. You figure out how to cut the laundry cycle short and you make damn sure your kid has a clean uniform, even though we forgot his baseball hat. You figure out how to call in your order so dinner is waiting at the checkout for you because you haven't been home since 8:00am. You learn how to practice for the very last spelling test in the car and in the bath tub because you are certain that Jonas will miss "certain" on the test. But he didn't. He ended the year with a 100%.

It was the kind of week where you pull your children aside and make sure to tell them how proud you are of them. For their hard work, for all the good grades they earned, for their behavior. Because you had a moment, you looked around and saw other children, and that's when it hit you. You have amazing children. You are blessed. Perhaps you are doing something right as a parent.

Life is like a carousel.

Constantly spinning in circles, round and round. At times you wonder when it will stop, at times you hope it never stops.
You sit, you stand, you wave.
Our week was a whirl wind ride.
I spun in circles.
But no matter how many times I went round and round, no matter how often I felt dizzy and wanted to fall down, I never did. I always end the week with a smile. Because I know that Friday nights are ours. No matter how busy our week may become we always have Friday.

Last night it was veggie sloppy joes, a trip to the store to pick out birthday invitations, a game of picking up toys that actually turned into a lot of fun, a movie night decked out with a fort and popcorn and donut making for bedtime snacks and breakfast.

I am more than ready for this long weekend.
To enjoy just hanging around the house. Dinner with my parents, movies with the kids, hopefully swimming in the pool and finally planting the garden. Jon's home all day Sunday, no soccer for him, so we'll make sure to make the best of that day and enjoy it as a family. We are ready. It's been a long week.

Hope you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

*This picture of Jonas is from Thursday while on his school field trip to the zoo

5/22/13

the annual lobster clam bake.

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Every year our family restaurant, Bender's Tavern, hosts the annual Lobster Clam Bake. In keeping up with traditions we attended on Saturday night with my parents and Jon's mom. It's a night filled with family and friends, good food and interesting conversations. I look forward to the menu of little neck clams, fresh lobster, tossed salad and Bender's fries all paired with a perfect chardonnay. The blueberry pie never fails, and while I don't eat dairy, I always sneak a bite or two with my coffee.

We ended our night on the couch cuddled in blankets, our legs intertwined and our hands in popcorn bowls. We've been waiting to watch Nim's Island 2 and I finally reserved it on the red box. I let the kids stay up a little later than usual, but secretly I didn't mind at all. Jon managed to get home early so it was a treat for him to say goodnight to the boys. Jess passed out on me half way through the movie, but I'll take those kind of cuddles any day of the week.

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Over the years we have managed to start several new family traditions and each year I look forward to these events. Our days and weeks have been so consumed with extracurricular activities that we need these events and traditions to relax and enjoy ourselves. As we roll into summer I hope our days are filled with plenty of relaxation and loose schedules. I hope we can put the busy times behind us and embrace the warm weather, the radiant sunlight and the cool pool water.

I signed the boys up for swim team, which is (cringe) a five day a week commitment. They'll also be playing golf once a week, but I think we'll enjoy these new activities. To be honest, Jonas needs to participate in swim team. He needs the socialize since he's such a shy guy AND he's an excellent swimmer. Josh, on the other hand, is so outgoing and wants to try anything and everything. Perhaps some dangerous qualities as he gets older. I better watch that one!

How do you manage your summer schedule? Low key and laid back or loaded with activities? How do you balance the activities? That's something I'm still trying to figure out, and to be honest, I don't know if I ever will.

You can see last year's lobster clam bake here and the previous one here.

I love going back in time and looking at old pictures! Can you believe how big the kids are? And...I also noticed that my hair has not changed at all in the past three years. I thought I was letting it grow, but apparently it's not growing. Suggestions?

I'm feeling adventurous and have an appointment for next week and may go for the ombre look. Perhaps like this or this. I don't dye my hair, so I'm a bit nervous. And can someone please tell me how to get those curls??

5/20/13

20/52

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"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Jonas: Such a sensitive, kind soul. This young boy always moves my heart.
Joshua: Overflowing with laughter and giggles. Not a day goes by when he doesn't make me laugh.
Jessica: The light of my day. Our bond between mother and daughter is unbreakable.

Thank you Jodi for hosting this Portrait series.

5/19/13

sunday stills. photo 20

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A single photo once a week.
To capture my emotions, to sum up the days.
To collect my thoughts and hold them in my hands.

Every Sunday, one photo.

On this Sunday: The irony of this photo is that I usually have to bribe my children to get a picture of all three of them together. Before we went to dinner last night we were hanging out in the backyard. When I turned around Jonas threw his arms around Josh and Jess and shouted "Hey mom, cheeese." It was a kodak moment.

Enjoy your Sunday.
I'm off for a run then grilling out with the family and watching Mad Men with Jon tonight.
These next couple weeks are busy, but we are looking forward to the end of a great school year and the beginning of summer.

5/17/13

Merry Edwards wine tasting

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Spring is in the air, which means it's the season for events at the restaurant. We have several wine tastings lined up and the annual Lobster Clam Bake this weekend. Unfortunately, most tastings fall on Jon's days off so that just means I need to head down there to enjoy them :)

While I certainly can't make them all, there was no chance I could miss the Merry Edwards wine tasting. Talk about an influential woman who made her mark in an industry predominantly run by men. She has been a wine maker since 1974 and was just named Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional by the James Beard Foundation after six consecutive years of being named a finalist. She is also a 2013 inductee for The Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame.

It was an honor to hear her speak, to hear the history behind her wine making and to hear her descriptions of the wines she made and that we tasted. When we make our way out to the Russian River Valley we'll be sure to stop by and say hello to Merry!

Be sure to check out some of the upcoming events at Benders
Beau Vigne Tasting
Lobster Clam Bake

I hope your weekend is filled with happiness, good food and perhaps fine spirits.
Cheers!

5/15/13

family meal planning

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I enjoy meal planning. I actually love to spend a night flipping through cookbooks, researching recipes and catching up on my piles of Bon Appetit and Food & Wine magazine. All while sipping a glass of wine and jotting down notes in my journal. The problem is, with three children and a hard working husband I rarely make the time to do this. When I go to the grocery store I just "wing it" and usually never take a list.

Now that we've been eating clean (Paleo, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, preservative free) our grocery store bills have sky rocketed. Nobody said eating clean organic food was cheap, but when your husband sits you down with an excel sheet to document how far over budget we are then you really know you're in trouble. Let's just say we had that talk and, over a scheduled meeting and perhaps a glass of wine, we decided that it's time to start meal planning.

I immediately began brainstorming and started to create a calendar on my laptop, but then I remembered my friend Kacie actually dedicated an entire series to this! So, I headed over to her blog and used her calendar and grocery list to get started. I ended up creating my own grocery list that can be catered to the two stores I visit. Plus, I added a section for the farmer's market and a local farm since summer is within reach and I shop local when I can.

We are officially on week two of meal planning and I feel so organized. I keep my recipes in a binder and in the front pocket I keep the schedule. For what feels like the first time ever I stuck to my budget when at the store and I ONLY purchased what was on my list. In addition to everything for our meals I included a few staples like: milk, coconut milk, almond milk, raw honey, almond flour, bread for kids and extra fruit and veggies.

In fact, I'm actually off right now to plan our meals for next week.
How about you? Do you meal plan? Any suggestions? Any recipe recommendations?

You can click below to see a sample of our weekly plan.

5/14/13

a fairytale night. the poison apple ball

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It's not often you get to wear fairytale formal attire and slip away into a world filled with wild creatures, charming knights and splendid princesses. A night filled with good food, spirits and music. A night spent in the company of friends, both old and new.

This past Saturday my sister and I celebrated the launch of Indigo Ink Press's third publication, Modern Grimmoire: Contemporary Fairy Tales, Fables & Folklore by attending a truly unique gala. As a board member for Indigo Ink Press, a nonprofit independent publisher, I am more than thrilled to announce our third publication. If you're in the mood for fairy tales, fables and folklore I highly recommend this collection of works. Mine sits on my nightstand and I can't seem to put it down.

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Since Bender's catered the food, Jon was able to join us later on in the evening.

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To view or purchase publications please visit Indigo Ink Press's website.
And, if you happen to be local or ever visit the Canton area, I highly recommend checking out the Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography where this amazing event was held.

*This is not a sponsored post. As a board member for Indigo Ink Press, I am excited about the work we do and want to share it with my readers who live near and far.

5/13/13

19/52

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"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Jonas: Loves playing soccer and especially scoring goals.
Joshua: Loves creative play.
Jessica: Loves painting.

Thank you Jodi for hosting this Portrait series.