littlest beagle

On Wednesday, I went to  visit my parents in Ohio. From the minute the plane touched down until Saturday evening when I flew back, we had such an excellent visit together. It is so sad to have my parents far away. But, I am just so appreciative of them, our visit, and all they continue to do in my life. From long walks along the lake to shopping to laughing as their new puppy, Daisy, ran around the house after their dog, Blaise, we soaked up each minute we had together. And, the latest addition to the family, a miniature beagle named Daisy, is just the sweetest littlest pup.  She and I bonded a good deal. I would wake up early to play with her and Blaise outside before the house stirred and we would cuddle at night as she fell asleep. If I could, I would have snuck her home to Boston in my purse (because she would have fit!). Oh well, I will just have to get in my puppy cuddles with those two on my next visit for sure!

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curried kale with toasted coconut

our friends Laura and Eric are staying at our house while their new house is renovated (I probably mentioned this before). One of the perks of having them here is that at dinner time, we share the prep, cooking, and clean-up.  Laura was the master chef last night as she whipped up this recipe and I was happy to photograph her kale dish and mark it down for my own repertoire. I have to admit, it was quite delicious!

IMG_4283Start by sprinkling some coconut flakes on to a baking dish. Bake in the oven at 350 for 3-4minutes or until the coconut is fragrant and just barely starting to get a toasted brown color


Cut up two onions and 3 cloves of garlicIMG_4285

Saute the onions in a deep-sided pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once they are translucent, add in the garlic for another 2-3 minutes.

Add in 4 teaspoons of curry powder and mix well. Simmer here for 2-3 minutesIMG_4287

Add in the kale (that has been cleaned and deveined). Along with 3/4 cup of water to help the kale cook down. (If you need to you can add more water, but you don’t want it to get to watered down try to limit the water to no more that 1 1/4 cup).  Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 2-3 minutes. IMG_4288

The kale should begin to wilt down.  Continue to add more kale until a complete two bunches have been used. IMG_4291

Set the table perhaps? (I just thought ours looked really pretty and casual that night)IMG_4292

Once the kale is cooked, transfer into a serving bowlIMG_4293

Sprinkle the kale with the toasted coconut and serve. Enjoy!

post 1. the great wall.

This wall is a monster. When we bought our first home we were totally in love with it.  It was built the year we met and immediately I felt a connection to this mound of wood and plaster. It must have been built for us, no?  Everything inside is brand new and gleaming with that “never been used before” sparkle. Everything we do to the house will be a first. It is the perfect little nest for our young love.

Except for one thing…the backyard is a bit small. When we first spotted the home and fell head over heels for her flashy looks and sexy personality, we neglected to thoroughly price out the cost of redesigning the yard.  Our realtor seemed to suggest so nonchalantly that to build the retaining wall we would need to turn our sloping hill into more reclaimed flat surface was a piece of cake. Looking around the neighborhoods of New England these field stone retaining walls are everywhere.  How much could it really cost?  Well, the number was staggering. We spent our first year in a sparsely furnished home while we saved, saved, and saved for this wall. I worked extra hours, took on more classes, and even tutored three times a week on top of providing Pilates in the afternoon program at school.  And, after 10 months of this horrendous schedule that left us exhausted and without friends (because when you work like this, you see your friends very little) we had the money to build the Great Wall.

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We hired a contractor/mason we got through a friend’s recommendation (however, I do not hold any grudge or responsibility for this nightmare over my friend). The mason is a nice guy.  A bit chatty but then why not make a friend of the guy who is going to build you a 75ft long x 4ft high stone wall?  Well, he is a slippery one. Everyone always says beware of contractors. And now I know why.  The project timeline is 3 weeks. We are currently at 2 weeks in. The mason has only worked a total of 3 days of those 2 weeks but still demands to be paid according to our original project plan (How do we handle this!?).  It is nuts!  He likes to text and so he usual texts at night with some great line like: “Just wait until tomorrow. I will arrive at 6am work all day and then through the weekend.  You two will get so tired of my face by the end of this.”  Tired of his face? I would love to see his face!  What does he look like anymore??  I have kept my temper in check which is hard for an orignal Long Islander. I have never once raised my voice or acted out in aggression.  But, I am getting close to my breaking point. All I want to do is see him work like he promised he would so that this wall can be done in a reasonable amount of time. Currently, the front of our beautiful house looks like a disaster zone.  Trees tossed about, rocks and sand and boulders piled sky high and mud everywhere. Geez.  Being a homeowner when a MAJOR project is underway is quite difficult.

Today, I was about to lose my cool.  He promised to arrive at our house bright and early and no sign of him as per usual. I texted David at work and our conversation was as followed:

Me: I am going to go bat suit crazy on this guy should he ever show up.

David: Bat suit crazy sounds awesome!

Me: hahaha!  That’s right.  That is how crazy I am. I am putting on a freaking bat suit!!

David: Haha

By noon the mason finally arrived. At 1:10 he was off to Home Depot.  Back at 1:40 and then lunched for 20  minutes at 2:30. I have now decided to have myself a glass of wine and to seclude myself in my room.  Being home for the summer with this project going on is going to be interesting. To be continued….

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happy birthday mom

The birthday celebrations that cram into the first week of June end with my mom’s birthday today. It has unfortunately fallen on my school’s graduation the past 4 years and I have not been able to celebrate with her personally. Hopefully, though she knows how much I love her and how much I wish I could be there to celebrate her birthday with her today.  At least this year, in just four days, we will see each other for a mini-Florida vacation. Growing up, my mom worked tirelessly to ensure that Bryan and I were not only basically well fed and sheltered, but truly loved, challenged, and thriving. She focused on our education and helped us hone our writing, reading, and critical thinking skills. Each day after school, we would make camp at the kitchen table while she prepared dinner and we worked on our homework.  There we munched on snacks, chatted about the days events, and struggled with Spanish, grammar and, of course, math. In between sautéing vegetables, she would quiz us for our upcoming assessments, help us create a variety of projects from scratch, and go over our work with us making sure we asked questions but more importantly that we could explain why we had the answers to her questions. I believe I am teacher today because she was always a present teacher in my daily life. She balanced this strength and determination though with a soft side and I can recall many times snuggling on the couch with her and talking about her own childhood memories. My mom was my partner in crime. Many afternoons we would sneak out to the mall together and shop for dresses for school dances. While we sometimes argued in the fitting room over the style of dress (I always aimed for something a little too mature and she for something a little more immature), we designed a veto system to turn these tiffs into productive discussions in which we explained why a particular outfit was unappealing to one of us. By the time, it came to buying my wedding dress, we had mastered our veto system and the experience of being just with my mom on the day we found “the dress” is a memory I will always cherish. My brother and I were so lucky to have our mother home with us each day. She modeled unconditional love, patience, support, and she always believed in the beauty of our dreams. I hope today my lovely mother has a truly lovely day.

730 days

Today, David and I have been married for 730 days (2 years). So much has happened in that time and I am so grateful to have met, fallen in love, and committed to this amazing man. He is my best friend, truest confidant, and love.

Here is a link to our photographer’s blog that day (includes a cute little slideshow): Lanierstar

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summer to do

Lists make me happy. Each day, I write myself a “to-do” list and revel in crossing off items, highlighting items, and adding new tasks. In an odd way, I feel like a superstar when I complete the list. Praise is showered down “you did it,” “look how organized you are,” and “wow, how did you ever get all of that done in a single day.”  While this is a little crazy, it is innately a part of me. Each morning, I arrive to my classroom and start a new fresh list for a new fresh day. So to feel a little less stressed about the end of the school year, I have decided to focus on the summer and all of the stuff I plan/hope to get accomplished:

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  1. Organize the Basement (go through the last of the moving boxes and make some shelving so items can be more easily located).
  2. Finally bring the last boxes to the recycling center
  3. Paint front door, I am thinking dark gray
  4. Paint the bulkhead
  5. Refinish the back porch stairs
  6. Visit with friends and family as much as possible
  7. Work on my blogging
  8. Attend teacher conferences
  9. Work on curriculum development
  10. Read Read Read
  11. Cook and BBQ
  12. Re-budget our finances
  13. Garden and tend the lawn
  14. odds and ends of cleaning and keep our home b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l
  15. Freshen up my Italian language skills (might be visiting a bestie in Rome)
  16. Power-wash house
  17. Steam carpets
  18. Exercise and take it seriously (as in drop these pesky 10 pounds I have hugging my body)
  19. Have the retaining wall and fence built in our backyard (just hired the contractor last night!!)

Ah….while this list is long, it feels so much better to have it written down and not floating aimlessly in my head. It is daunting but quite exciting to think that my daily school lists are almost on hiatus for the next three months of summer vacation and I can shift my attention to health, family, and home more consistently.  Summer, here I come (with my list in hand!!).