Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You know you have the best pediatrician ever when... of the kids asks "Why did you take our blood?" (reference to the finger prick of blood taken), and he answers, with a straight face:
"Oh, we're going to clone you."  

We all laughed.  I suspect that said doctor does not say such things to all families, but it was the perfect thing to say with mine.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Delicious Summer Lunch Salad

I've been having a lot of legume-based salads for lunch this summer, and today's was my hands-down favorite.  It's an adapted version of a chickpea salad that appears in Terry Walters, Clean Food.

Put together in large bowl:
3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 cans, drained and rinsed)
about 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 to 1 small cucumber, seeds removed and chopped into sm cubes
1 sm-med avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into small cubes

1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 large bunch of cilantro (cut off stems), rinsed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Put all dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend.  You might have to scrape down the sides a couple of times.

Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss gently to coat.

What does summer taste like to you?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ahhh...that's better.

Trust me, this time you absolutely do not want to see the "before" picture (which is why I didn't take one).  

Howard and I are, in general, trying to purge ourselves of crap and do some re-arranging to make the MA house more livable--you know, a lot less clutter, a bit more breathing room and calm.  The kitchen was a part of that, and I cleaned out most of my office (the file cabinet looms, mocking me).  Other projects are underway, but incomplete--perhaps to be revealed later.

Today I tackled one of the scariest projects: the walk-in closet off the master bedroom. Aside from the load of clothes that I either donated or threw out, including several pairs of perfectly good shoes that I never wear, I also battled dust bunnies the size of Harvey (look it up--it's an old Jimmy Stewart movie).  Cleanup extended to my bureau and (gasp) jewelry.  It was quite an afternoon.

There is something so satisfying about cleaning and getting rid of things I don't need.  Afterward, I love walking into and an organized, uncrowded space and just soaking in the peace that it brings me.  Howard and I keep talking and talking about simplifying, but it feels like it's time to walk the walk.  

Besides, as Heidi knows, I would rather spend three hours tackling my closet than working further on my promotion narrative...!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kitchen Renewal

Our house in MA is the only place that I've lived for more than two years in my entire adult life.  Perhaps I have been trying to compensate for having lived my first 18+ years in the house that my father was, literally, born in?  At any rate, we've now been in this house for 10 years.  That, plus recent events and discussions I've had with Howard, made me decide that it's time for some simplification and renewal in this good, solid home of ours.  

First up: the kitchen.  About 5 or so years ago, we took down the wallpaper put up by previous owners and painted the kitchen orange...and I loved it.  Now I don't anymore, so it was time for a change.  

First, I cleaned out all the cabinets and got rid of a bunch of stuff, mostly from the "junk drawers."  It was kind of nice that I didn't have a lot of pots and pans to get rid of--I have a lot, but I actually do use the vast majority of them on a regular basis.  Others I keep because they are specialized, like the clay pot or the roasting pan. Didn't have too much food that had to go, either, because I had already done that before we left for Quito.  

Next, that orange had to go--here is the "just before" (in process of deciding on the new color):

(the boxes were donations for the library; nothing to do with the kitchen)

Then, after couple of days of painting, getting a few new things, and putting together, it was done:

I really, really love it.  It's so much brighter, and the open shelving makes it easy to grab anything I want.  It's also a lot more open--and the small kitchen table will get us to use the dining room every night, which is kind of nice.  I'm hoping that will get us to keep the dining room table clean too, but we'll see if that happens.  

Some things just don't change with this kitchen, though.  Eg: one whole side of the room remains all dark cabinets and appliances (and the laminate back splash does not allow me to paint under the cabinets).  So, we have the "light side" and the "dark side"--but they do okay co-mingling.  Someday, maybe, we can take the plunge and have a complete re-do of the kitchen, but not now.

This, I think--actually, I know--is just the beginning...

Monday, August 12, 2013

More House Love: Rearranging



You know, I've never before been one of those people who rearranges things in the house (rarely even within a single room) to make things fresh.  But we mixed a few small things around in the Maine house over the weekend, and I have to say that I am delighted with how new it feels.  Such small changes, such a big impact on the overall atmosphere.  Even the kids could tell.  Quincy will have to be next...!

What have you rearranged of late?

Friday, August 9, 2013

This Moment

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. --Amanda Soule

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Evidence of Work in Progress

Perhaps there is hope that this conference paper will, in fact, get finished this week, allowing me to move on to my promotion portfolio and class preps.  Yipee!

What are you accomplishing lately?

Friday, August 2, 2013

This Moment

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and rememberAmanda Soule


One of my colleagues once claimed that "August is the long, dark Sunday night of the academic soul."

I shared this with Heidi yesterday, and she agreed, adding "I feel like I have a term paper due tomorrow but am watching reruns instead of writing."

Yes, it's August...and everyone in academia feels the time ticking away, wondering how all that lovely time to do so very many projects while also enjoying a sane home life has...well, disappeared.  For my part, this means that I'm still working on the same conference paper that I started in June.  Sigh.  Well, it's got to get done, since I'm spending my very last days of August in England where I have to deliver it.  

Meantime, at least I have a minion to help me with my work:

(the kids gave me this a couple of weeks ago)

Well, I'll take comfort in another quote, from Flannery O'Connor, that I ran into in a book recently: 
“Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.”

I'll work on that.  And on not panicking.

What's August mean for you?