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Digging Lately: Big Dreams, Small Spaces

20 Jun

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Once upon a time, when I was still renting, the extent of the “projects” in my home-owner fantasies were limited to choosing paint colors and plants. Maaaybe what food I’d serve at my fabulous parties. You know, since I’d host tons of them now that I had the house I longed for throughout my twenties when no one had a place cool enough to want to share with people. But now that I’m a REAL home owner? My baseboards are still off-white to the rest of our trim’s blinding white, the undertone of our daughters’ bedroom is totally green, and I don’t have it in me to care. The weather is finally beautiful in New England and until the first December frost, the last place you’ll find me is inside painting.

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Snapped at the Dallas Botanical Garden, May ’18

These days, my attire is usually dirt-stained and muddied. I’m actually embarrassed to wear flip flops because I’m so in need of a pedicure, but I am really digging the early season farmer’s tan I have. Maybe I’m alone here and others aren’t as obsessed with shaping up their yards and gardens, but from the moment we were handed the keys to our place, there has been an ever-growing list of projects that shows no sign of letting up. Moreover, no matter how sleep-deprived or child weary I am at the end of the day, I always make time for some dirt. It’s just relaxing.

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Ep. 6, Big Dreams, Small Spaces

Recently though, I really was exhausted — mentally and physically drained — so in a fit of obsession, I turned to Netflix hoping to get some kind of gardening fix which inspired this week’s “Digging, Lately” post. Shock of all shocks, I was completely thrilled to discover a reality show called  Big Dreams, Small Spaces.

It’s a British show in which amateur gardeners all over the UK are gently but firmly guided to create their own little bit of paradise with the help of Britain’s greatest (gardening) treasure: Monty Don. When I mentioned his name to my mom who I recently started teasingly referring to as “Green Garden Goddess” because she is a bit of a know-it-all (said LOVINGLY) when it comes to all things garden, I was shocked she didn’t know of him. One writer very aptly described it as, like Queer Eye, but with plants. Another great comparison I’d actually already thought of before I also read it in the same article is that it’s like Property Brothers meets The Great British Baking Show, both of which I love. Monty Don is to plants, what Mary Berry is to baked goods! Anyways, new obsession and I really recommend.

In case you’re jonesing for more garden stuff:

updated Garden Projects 2018 page

this post about last summer’s new perennials

Or this post about our garden veggie troubles

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Another Great Day

4 May

IMG_6150Some days, everything just jives and I feel like Super Mom. Emilia plays independently. Caroline is engrossed in whatever I’ve set out for her for 15 to 20 minutes straight. I can sip a cup of coffee in relative peace. Everyone is happy with whatever foods I offer and no one spills on me. Or the floor. Somehow, I also don’t make poor “mom” decisions like letting C self-feed herself oatmeal. I somehow manage to coordinate both girls’ naps (in the same room) simultaneously. We might even successfully enjoy lunch out just the three of us, in a restaurant, without me needing to hold anyone in my lap, like we did yesterday. These are GREAT days.

IMG_6153And then there are days like today. Naps were a disaster so I quickly pivoted and decided that we all needed to just get out of the house. We’ll visit a local farm to see the baby animals after a quick run to Trader Joe’s and hopefully, Miss I-Won’t-Nap will doze in the car on the way.

I masterfully pack an array of snacks and “lunch” options for my opinionated toddler and remember C’s puffs and purees. I have the most caffeinated, Iced Vanilla Starbucks coffee I could manage to create and I had the coordinated foresight to order it with the Starbucks app so it’s ready and waiting as I pull up. And I was as patient as Mother Teresa while letting E dawdle putting her shoes on. And then again with buckling herself into her carseat before doing the usual song + dance WE DO EVERY SINGLE CAR TRIP which entails me asking her, theatrically: “Do you feel safe??!

::: E enthusiastically wriggles her body and punches her arms and kicks her feet and shakes her head back and forth. :::

Then replies: “Safe!:::

[This is my sneaky mom hack for empowering my toddler while simultaneously ensuring her 5-point harness is tight enough.]

I feel invincible.

Then, as we park at our first destination, I realize I don’t have my wallet. Despite packing the car with supplies for an entire morning of errands, I’ve neglected to switch over my wallet to today’s sexy tote bag.

We have to scrap plans to see the bunnies and baby chicks and definitely won’t be going to the playground at the farm because it’s so out of the way and in such blisteringly hot sun that not being able to pick-up the herbs that were secretly the whole purpose of this entire expedition renders the effort and energy just to carry it all out with an overtired baby an energetic toddler just not worth it.

On these days, all I want to hear from anyone — a stranger, a friend, my husband… is: you’re doing so well. You’re a rock star. Great job. I couldn’t have done that. I appreciate you. What you’re doing is SO important, and most of all, tomorrow is a new day.

Maybe give me a long, long hug. Maybe (for said husband) rub my shoulders, unasked, which are clenched up from the permanent tension all moms probably suffer from, from constantly scooping their toddlers up all day, every day, and schlepping heavy carseat carriers in and out of the house along with all the packhorse supplies necessary for traveling anywhere with children: snacks, drinks, toys, wipes, changes of clothes, jackets, sun protection, etc.

And that nursing moms develop from rocking and nursing and rocking and nursing until the end of time which is exactly what it feels like when you exclusively nurse 8-9 times a day, and that’s 10-months out. And maybe try your damn hardest to not fall asleep while doing this because YOU think you have had an exhausting day.

And just keep reminding me that tomorrow could very well be another great day.

New for April

20 Apr

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Spring, where for art thou? I bought pansies last week intending to plant my window boxes but New England had other ideas. Today it snowed.

In my attempt to escape the misery of this endless winter season and trick myself into patience as I await the bright and early AM coverage of the royal wedding, a few weeks ago I decided to investigate who this Meghan Markle was and what her show “Suits” was all about.

Now I’m not usually one to gush about something as low brow as television. But before you stop reading — I promise, this is leading somewhere you want to go. I should note that I am NOT a network TV-watcher. I was never a huge consumer of television before I met my husband, but Brian slowly turned me into a television snob. It started slowly: The Office. Thirty Rock. Parks & Recreation. Do you see where this is going? The quality shows. Now I almost exclusively watch Netflix and Amazon original series’ because they are just so damn good.

Suits - Season 6But Suits blew me away. I didn’t expect too much so I happily dove ahead, right into Season 7, (skipping seasons 1-6 because I’m impatient like that) but quickly fell hard for the snappy, intelligent, hilarious bromance between Harvey and Mike. The writing is superb and I find myself laughing over various lines, or often, little facial expressions I’ll recall Donna or Harvey or Mike making in something I’ve just watched.  IT’S JUST SO GOOD, so trust me and watch. And Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane, well.

Meghan-Markle-Suits-PicturesShe. Is. Exquisite.

Full on girl crush over here. Move over Price Harry, because I get it. If Meghan is at all like her character on the show, Rachel Zane, it all makes sense. Also, her HAIR IS ALWAYS AMAZING. I don’t know if I tooootally buy that “a mutual friend set them up” all blind date like, because if I was him and I watched the show which I have a sneaking suspicion that he did, you bet I’d be pulling all the strings to find a mutual friend to help get it set up, too. But watching almost five whole seasons of her has been such a luxurious treat and I can’t wait to see what her choices are as far as the wedding goes because she clearly has incredible taste and is stunning.

Also, as someone who used to watch Gossip Girl purely to admire the fashion and to figure out how (HOW) Blake Lively’s mane was as glorious as it was, between Donna, Rachel, and Gina, (ok, and Harvey, with his peaked lapels and Windsor-knotted ties; see a great Suits style breakdown here), Suits fills a void in me that is starved for elevated, subtle, corporate-world style. Jolie Andreatta, the costume designer, is killing it. Here’s a great collection of some amazing looks from the show. I had been getting my fill from Mireille Enos on The Catch, but it hasn’t had as long a run and the witty banter between the two leads isn’t quite as quippy.

Suits - Season 6But back to Suits. The first few seasons are especially amazing, so I’ve been loving the opportunity to watch them back to back, en masse like this. I say opportunity like I have no children, job, or life. As I write this, I’m hiding in our office, kids asleep, laundry and housework all in need of attention, yet all I can think is: do I have time for one more ‘Suits’? It helps that episodes are only about 40 minutes long. I feel like it’s also worth mentioning that it took me almost all of Seasons 7 and 1 before I stopped confusing Gabriel Macht for Johnny Lee Miller, of Hackers fame. I KNEW I’d seen and loved him in something but couldn’t quite place him. Well, when it finally hit me, it was like I was hit in the face with a ton of bricks: He was Johnny from one of my fav ever Diane Keaton collabs.

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Does anyone reading remember a little film called Because I Said So? It was the movie that first introduced me to the magic of a Diane Keaton film set. (How about that Hampton’s House, am I right?) Also, knitwear. This is totally an aside but, do you know that Diane Keaton had her knitwear for that film specially made by a luxury knitwear designer? I learned this during a deep dive one night while I was fantasizing about how I will one day, eventually, (in my spare time), master knitting my daughters’ luxurious, Norwegian-inspired, heirloom-quality knitwear. Obviously.

Anyways, in the film, which is terrible but I love anyway, Mandy Moore plays one of Keaton’s daughters. The love-afflicted one. She also happens to be a chef which is the real reason this film has a special place in my heart. I love movies about chefs — even if they’re terrible. I can’t help it. Anyways, this specific film introduced me to the magic of a “Lady Baltimore” cake — Keaton baked it for Mandy Moore in the film, and ever since, it has topped my “To Try Someday” list and I will go to my grave with it still at the top of that list probably, seeing as it’s been like 10 years since I first saw this damn movie, and have yet to make the cake.

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Johnny, played to adorable affect by Gabriel Macht, was the guy I’ve had in my fantasies forever more or less, since the first pages of Pride and Prejudice were seared into my heart, in that he appreciated “Milly” (Mandy Moore’s character), just as she is. Much like Mark Darcy appreciated Bridget Jones, just as she is. (Hang on, there is an amazing connection here that I’m rambling my way to. Just hang on!) That, and those brooding, dark brown eyes. Because good God, what is he wearing throughout that film. And why is his hair that color? Yikes.

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Although the second Bridget Jones’s Diary was absolutely horrid, this is in direct inverse contrast to the bright beacon of light HIS REAL LIFE WIFE, Jacinda Barrett was in the film, as the misconstrued love interest of none other than… Bridget. The fact that these two real life celebs had two roles I absolutely adored them in in two films I really appreciated just makes me all that much more certain that there is someone pulling the celestial strings somewhere and that deja vu really is something important… but, I digress. If you’re still even with me and were able to follow any of that…

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Then the last thing I need to mention as far as weird celestial coincidences is this: Amanda Schull from Center Stage is ALSO on Suits, as is Gina Torres, from the previously mentioned The Catch. And both are absolute bad ass bitches (excuse my French) in their roles. I particularly adore Amanda as Katarina, Louis’ devoted Associate. She plays her absolutely perfectly and I love to see the dancer I wanted to BE way back when, resurface in a totally different role. And as for Gina, well — I can’t wait for her spinoff.

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But back to the show. It is really amazing and you need to watch. Trust me! Seasons 1-6 are free on Amazon Prime right now.

If you need more convincing, the stories about what they’re like on set make me chuckle. As do the bloopers. Enjoy and happy weekend!