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BaaaaacK?

Hanging up one hat and maybe, just maybe, returning here? Stay tuned!

Furniture, finally!

Well, not actually in my house.

Or ordered, for that matter.

But I am making headway on finding family room furniture, I swear. Brian might disown me soon. We went furniture shopping on three separate occasions over the holidays, only for me to leave each store feeling more confused and overwhelmed. Brian is a lawyer, a very quick on his feet, no bullshit kind of guy. He does not take kindly to many hours of furniture shopping, and pretty much found something at every store that would be “fine.”

At one store, the salesperson told me that she could show me how various fabrics looked on different style chairs via computer program. After about five minutes of her fumbling on the computer (clearly she wasn’t trained on said application), Brian’s eyes were ready to pop out of his head, and not even his blackberry could sufficiently entertain him.

I think at that point we decided it was best for me to take the reins on this one, since he didn’t have the patience and I wasn’t really interested in his opinion, if he was just trying to “pick something” to speed the process along. Ahhh, marriage.

Two weeks ago I stopped into West Elm at Towson Town Center to see if they had any more 70% off holiday stuff left (I always go to Crate and Barrel and other home stores in the days right after Christmas). No full price holiday decorations for me! I found a few things, and  picked up this amazing blanket on super sale for $19.99 (Score!).

Cozy Throw

As I was checking out, I saw a couch in the shape I had been looking for, and asked the salesperson about it. She was incredibly helpful and then started asking me about my space. Not only did she seem genuinely interested, she filled me in on West Elm’s really fantastic home design services.

Turns out, West Elm has designers on staff that will spend an hour with you on an in-store consultation, where they can get a sense of your style and needs. Then, get this, they come out to your house and spend another hour in the space trying to assess how the things you liked in the store will fit in your space. And they do this, ALL…FOR …FREE!! No obligations, no snobbiness when you tell them your budget.

On Tuesday I went over to the Towson location and met with Laurel and Tammy, two super nice designers, who were not offended by my bluntness and helped me really focus my needs and wants for the room. The best part- they are coming here today, to take a look at this odd space and help me figure out what configuration of furniture will work best.

I’ve always like an eclectic look when it comes to decorating, so I was hesitant to buy everything from one store, but the variety  of materials West Elm uses makes it easy to steer clear of a matchy-matchy nightmare.

Here are a few of the things I’ve tentatively picked out…

Blake

The Blake Sofa

Sweep Arm Chair, Rosette, Platinum

Sweep Chair (either in this fabric or an red ikat)

Box Frame Coffee Table

Box Frame Coffee Table

Bone Side Table

Bone Side Table (I LOVE this piece, photo doesn’t do it justice)

Still TBD- rug and couch colors as well as other accent pieces. Again, reader feedback is welcome ….

…and thank jesus for West Elm and their little design angels.

Single Girl’s Supper: Ratatouille (the greek invasion)

I was craving salty tonight. When Brian travels for work, I try to cook the foods I love that he has no interest in. Brian is a fairly adventurous eater, but regularly hates on:

  • beans (of ALL types. Yes, I know.)
  • brussel sprouts
  • salad as dinner
  • feta (he will eat it, but isn’t so much a fan)
  • asparagus (which I serve anyway, since it’s my favorite veg)
  • kale, collards, chard
  • tofu
  • completely vegetarian entrees (unless pasta is involved)

Now that you know my husband’s culinary aversions, be prepared for most of my Single Girl Suppers to be vegetarian, bean heavy, featuring lots of leafy greens. But not tonight… I did go vegetarian, and gluten-free (if you serve with rice or quinoa) and even vegan (gasp) if you don’t add the feta.

With out further ado, here is my (possibly blasphemous) version of ratatouille, with a Greek and Israeli twist…

Ratatouille (The Greek Invasion)

Serves 3-4, I have plenty of leftovers!

3tbsp. olive oil, (or more if needed)

1 medium yellow onion

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium eggplant, skin on, cubed

½ c. sliced portobello mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (I used dried tonight)

1  yellow bell pepper, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1- 1/2 c. diced zucchini (approx. 2 medium zucchini)

1-1/2 cups canned tomatoes (I prefer crushed for this recipe)

2 bay leaves

1/4 c. kalamata olives, pitted and quartered

Optional: feta cheese for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to pan. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until just barely caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the eggplant, mushrooms, bay leaves and thyme to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant and mushrooms are partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Add  peppers and zucchini and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper (as needed) and cook for a final 3-5 minutes. Stir well and serve hot.


I served mine with Israeli couscous and a sprinkling of reduced fat feta (the only cheese in the world worth trying in a low-fat version). This hearty (but not heavy) dinner was exactly what I needed tonight! 

Oh, and that glass of wine I treated myself to wasn’t so terrible either.

Ten things I love this Tuesday (err, Wednesday)

Can I start off by loving coffee two weeks in a row? That probably isn’t very original, so I won’t…. but I do. I guess I’ll start with a snack that goes great with coffee instead…

Kind Blueberry Pecan Fiber Bars– Oh my, these are full of yums. I love how mainstream the Kind brand has become, I can find them pretty much anywhere, which makes me a very happy lady. The blueberry pecan variety is definitely a favorite- a perfect balance of sweet, with a little salty and a good chewiness factor which I crave in a granola (or like minded) bar. Bonus: The Kind company has started a kindness movement, inspiring unexpected, random “kindings.”

Raw Olive Natural Beauty Products– I cannot get enough of these amazing, all natural, olive oil based bath and beauty products. I’ve got my whole family hooked on the lip balms and am almost out of my Chai Latte Body Polish, so it looks like I’ll be placing another order soon!

Clever Girls Collective– I stumbled upon this group of fabulous ladies, and I am so excited that I’ve been asked to join their crew. Looking forward to how this partnership can enrich my blogging experience (and thus your reading experience)

Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo– I picked this up at Sephora this weekend (that might be the only time you ever hear me say that). I am not big on expensive beauty products, but this is a must-have for my thick hair. I try to only wash 2-3 times a week, so this works wonders on those in between days. It keeps my hair grease free, adds volume AND does not leave a funky white residue.

Green Monster Smoothies– We are having a vegetable veto over here, so one of the only ways I can get the good stuff in Will is through a nice big green monster blended with greek yogurt,  a heaping handful of spinach and a ton of fruit. I put it in a tinted cup, so as not to arouse suspicion. I am not above trickery these days.

My tickets to see the Head and the Heart– Besides a trip to Austin earlier this year, it has been a rare over the past few years for me to go out to listen to live music, which makes me sad. I decided to change that this year, and just bought tickets to see one of my favorite bands when they come to Baltimore.

Old Journals-  Once a year or so, I go back and read my journals from high school, college and my years spent living in DC. I am always pleasantly surprised by my youth and flair for the dramatic.

West Elm Design Services– Did you know that West Elm offers free design consults- both in store and in your home? It’s true. I have a much longer post coming on this, so stay tuned, but let’s just say I think I solved the bulk of my family room problems in one visit.

Squiggles Coloring Book– This coloring book is rad. I love the silly drawings, nice thick paper and the chance to look at something other than Thomas the Tank Engine. The price tag is steep, but I found it on sale. Should have bought more than one!

Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbet– I buy the individual sorbet cups, which come with their own italian ice scraper (love). This is some seriously orange sorbet, and I cannot get enough of it. Might be delicious in prosecco as a float. Hmmm.

Stay tuned for another Single Girl Supper tonight…

First, you’ll feel the burn

Do not ask how, halfway through a grueling spinning class this afternoon, I decided that motherhood feels pretty much the same as a long, slow hill climb. This particular climb, set to Seal’s “Crazy,” started easily enough, but the length of time standing, and the amount of tension quickly sent the pain memo to my brain. There were false flats along the way, and moments of rest, but the tension was no joke.

Hear me out on this one… I love being a mom. I’m just not sure I realized, pre-Will, exactly how tedious parts of motherhood can be.

Today, in the middle of that long, slow climb, the instructor prompted us to check in with ourselves.

“First, you’ll feel the burn in your legs,” she said, as if the burn should have been starting at that very moment, instead of starting at the beginning of class twenty minutes prior.

I thought about how I’d been feeling the burn. Yes, the burn in my legs, for sure. But also, the burn of parenting- being tired and tense and some days wanting to be more than somebody’s mommy.

A few weeks ago I felt that burn and started this blog.

Today, around the time in the song when I was sure my lunch was about to make a repeat visit all over the spinning room floor, Seal sang,

“But we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy.”

Smart man, that Seal.

Writing here, and finding other outlets that keep me connected to me, are my ways of getting a little crazy these days. Writing the first part of my Mighty Life List was a whole bag of crazy and I loved every minute of it. Yes, one of of the most important items on that list is raising a kind (and well adjusted) son.That being said, I am throwing guilt out the window and creating the life I want to live, and I am thinking BIG.

I can be a mom and a person too, right?

Mighty Life List, Part 1

Maggie over at mightygirl.com has been working on her own Mighty Life List for a while now, and has inspired me to create my own. I feel so incredibly lucky for all the experiences that have come my way during my first 33 years, but I want to make sure I don’t waste a minute of the rest of time I’ve got. Intentions, intentions.

Here goes…

Throw a goddess party for my 50th birthday (just like my mom did for hers) * walk a tightrope * learn spanish * anonymously pay for someone to go to college * set foot in every  major U.S. National Park * sleep on a beach (again) * skydive with my sister * write a novel * go to South Africa * spend a summer running a camp * become a yoga teacher * host a dinner party for 50 in my backyard * teach my son how to play tennis * paint a mural with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program * take a family baseball stadium road trip * tell my favorite teachers how much they impacted my life * REALLY learn to meditate * have the tasting menu at Le Bernardin… * (…while flirting with Eric Ripert) * attend a presidential inauguration * return to Spain with my parents * compete in an Olympic distance triathlon * raise a son who is respectful and kind to women (and men and babies and cats) * watch the Palio in Siena, Italy * write a cookbook * whitewater raft down the Colorado river * rock a ropes course when I am over 60 * attend all four tennis tournaments that make up the grand slam * make my own mozzarella * attend a Ritchie Ace Camp * Ride the Seagull Century * master photography * have another natural childbirth experience * Race in the Broad Street Run * go on a writing retreat * teach the three people I love the most how to ride a bike (I’ll let you guess who those people are :)) * read 50 of the books on this list  * fall in love with Baltimore * have a completely handmade Christmas * go horseback riding on the beach in Santa Barbara * Spread awareness to at least 5,000 people about an issue of great importance to me  * barter (or house swap) for travel * finish a Tough Mudder * learn to love pilates * buy a piece of original art for every room in my house *

and now, I need a NAP.

Oh and, PS, I am taking volunteers to do any/all of these things with me. Sign up below. XOXO, Laura

sunday snippets: wings and things

I had NO desire to cook tonight.

Earlier today we headed to the Please Touch Museum on our way out of Philly, and were greeted with a 40 minute line to purchase tickets. Not kidding. It’s my absolute favorite children’s museum, mostly due to the amazing Alice in Wonderland exhibit (which, of course, Will hates).

As soon as I got into line, I knew it was going to be one of those  moments in parent-land where you are waiting to see which adult is going to act in the most atrocious manner, and which kids will follow suit. It was…intense. Parents huffing and puffing along side writhing-on -the-floor, spitting-and-foaming-at-the -mouth toddler tantrums. I cannot even fathom what Disney looks like after this debacle today.

Once we got inside, Will busied himself on the monorail and the whole lot of parents assumed a glazed over look for the remainder of the afternoon. If that place had a bar….

Back in Baltimore the big game was just starting, so I figured if I was going to whip something up, it might as well be football food. I decided upon some healthy(ish) wings.

Honey Tamari Chicken Wings (adapted from a Tyler Florence recipe)

*Gluten-Free

Serves 5-6 as an appetizer, 3-4 as an entree with sides

2 pounds chicken wings

1 cup organic tamari (gluten free soy sauce)

1 tbsp. ginger, grated or finely chopped

2 tbsp. cilantro, minced

4 cloves of garlic,  minced

1/2 lemon, juiced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup honey

Sesame seeds, for garnish

Mix tamari, ginger, cilantro, garlic, and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl for marinade. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Remove tip of wing and discard; separate each wing at the joint into 2 pieces (I hate this part). Place wings in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over top. Toss well; marinate, refrigerated, for 2 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove chicken from the marinade, pat dry and bake at for 25-30 min(turning halfway through baking), remove from oven, toss wings in honey and bake for 5-10 more minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.

If you want a more authentic fried wing experience you can follow the original Tyler Florence recipe above. Note- we’ve had them both ways and prefer them baked.

We served ours with sticky rice and a baby bok choy/eggplant stir fry… Perfect Sunday night football food!