Vacation!

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We’re taking a family trip! Tomorrow we are driving to D.C. to pick up my sister, then spending the weekend in Ocean City, MD. We rented a condo on the beach and are going to soak up some sun and surf for a couple of days. On Monday my sister and I are going to see Beyonce (I know. amazing.) while Pete hangs with miss Lucy. I’M SO EXCITED. Not really excited for 12+ hours in the car with a toddler, but we’re going to make it work. I hope you all have a fantastic week!

 

Summertime.

Whoah. Two weeks just seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye! But now it’s officially summer, and there are lots of fun things going on around here. Let’s see, where to start…

hermione

Hermione is home! You guys – she was gone for TWO WEEKS. I had totally given up hope that we would see her again. I had packed away her food bowl and emptied her kitty litter, when lo and behold I got a phone call from a lovely older woman one saturday night who said that hermione had been hanging around her yard ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN and did I want her to bring her inside? I jumped in my car and raced to pick her up (2.5 miles from our house!) She was a little scrawny but otherwise totally fine. I think the baby rabbit population of our town is glad we recovered her. Little minx. Not sure the dog is too thrilled to see her again, but I’m over the moon.

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We’ve been spending tons of time outside, with friends, doing fun crafting and art activities. I found a super simple recipe for outdoor chalk paint (here) and love setting Lucy loose on our neighborhood sidewalks. We’ve gone to feed the ducks and geese at our local landfill turned lagoon, and parked ourselves in the front yard with watercolors and ice pops.

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Lucy went to White Sox game. I think she liked it. Hotdogs and lemonade and Daddy – what’s not to like?

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I picked up a Phil and Ted’s Freerider. It’s a scooter that attaches to the stroller and can be used as a buggy board. Lucy is absolutely obsessed and I love keeping her close when I want to.

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We adapted my Schwinn Meridian Trike to take a Yepp stem mounted rear seat for Lucy. I lovelovelove the stability of the trike when I’m biking with her. I won’t be winning any road races, but it’s fun to cruise to the beach.

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Deck progress! Finally! Sean was really slammed with other jobs, but he’s finally back and working through the weekend with his helper and Pete to get the deck going. The gravel covers the swale we dug for drainage and the concrete footings for the deck. They still have to attach a ledger board to the house before the framing can get going.

So! That’s whats been happening. Oh, I also started meds for our FET(happening in mid July) and have had migraines like twice a week, which is why I haven’t been posting much. I’m not eager to add any more heavy duty meds to my regime so I’ve been trying to just tough them out with tylenol. I did pick up a homeopathic remedy that I’m eager to try – normally I wouldn’t have much faith in that sort of thing, but I’m trying to be more open minded. So! That’s what’s been happening around here. I also completely rearranged our living room, but I’m waiting for a few more details to come together before I put it on the ol’ blog.

Hope you all are well!

xx-H

Tourists at home.

On Saturday Pete had to go into his office so Lucy and I tagged along. His office is a hop, skip, and a jump away from Millennium Park, so after a little retail therapy Lucy and I headed over to people watch.

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IMG_4112Pete tried to convince Lucy that a Ti-83 is as enticing as an iphone. She remains unconvinced.

IMG_4128Some parts of the park are still closed for winter (and there was no water in the fountains), but we still had fun. Peter proposed to me here and I got my BFA across the street at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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IMG_4118$5 sunglasses from the H&M on State St. were the best investment of the weekend.

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IMG_4141Lucy watched some crazy kids lying under the bean to take pictures and thought she should give it a shot.

IMG_4144She has basically not taken  her sunglasses off all weekend – and now this song song is stuck in my head, and now yours too? Sorry.

IMG_4154Also – this kid is a little unclear on the concept of hide and seek. “Ok tree, here I go! Im pwaying hidenseek now! I’m hiding.” Honestly. it lasted like 15 very entertaining minutes.

I can’t even tell you how amazing it was to just amble around outside this weekend. I felt…. better, more myself, and just generally less angry at the world. We celebrated some birthdays – our nephew’s, and Peter’s. We didn’t really celebrate Easter, unless you count a joyous morning walk by the lake (I sure do.)

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I hope you had a great weekend.

xoxoH

It’s Friday!

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and my mister is coming home tomorrow! Thank goodness, because the last two weeks have felt like two months. Lucy and I do pretty well on our own, but nothing beats being all together as a family. I’m looking forward to some solid fam time and to having a free minute to pore  (yes it’s “poring over”, not “pouring over”, look it up!) over these wonderful books that I got for Christmas. Some other fun stuff from around the interwebs…

I found an awesome blog thats targeted at moms – very real-life approachable fashion (just the way I like it!)

This home tour is super amazing. I find myself more and more drawn to traditional and eclectic decor.

Speaking of fashion, I’m seriously tempted by this sale. Winter Water Factory has kids and womens clothing thats gorgeous. Everything is 40% off (!!!)

An thoughtful  and witty essay about the movie “Heathers” written by someone from my home town.

Happy Weekend!

xx-H

Favorite Sunday Recipe

It rained yesterday evening and when the temperature dipped below freezing over night we were left with a sheen of ice over everything. Lucinda and I are cozied up inside watching too much tv as usual, so I thought I’d make one of my favorite warm-up recipes, courtesy of Ina Garten (really, i’m obsessed with her and her blog is the cutest). I always have the ingredients for this on hand, they are pantry staples. I usually halve the recipe if it’s just for two people. Don’t forget the vinegar at the end! – it really brightens up the flavor. It would be easy to make this vegetarian, just switch the chicken broth out for a veggie version.

Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes (Serves 6 to 8)

Copyright 2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved


Photo: Quentin Bacon

2 teaspoons good olive oil
2 cups large-diced yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups large-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup French green lentils (7 ounces)
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Meanwhile, place the canned plum tomatoes, including the juice, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse several times until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no stones in the package.

Add the tomatoes, lentils, chicken stock, curry powder, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pan. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Check occasionally to be sure the liquid is still simmering. Remove from the heat and allow the lentils to sit covered for another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, season to taste, and serve hot.

Lucy’s Dance Party

On Sunday we celebrated Lucy’s 2nd birthday with family and friends. Her actual birthday was yesterday, but we wanted to give the main celebration a little breathing room from Christmas. The first ingredient in a successful 2 year old birthday celebration/dance party is this.

disco ball

This is the best $30 bucks I’ve spent in awhile.  Seriously. Go buy one. Lucy is obsessed with the “di-co yite” and wants to have it on whenever possible. It comes with a base/turntable  and a spot light that you can set anywhere to create instant dance party awesomeness. Pk and I created a huge dance music playlist (Madonna, Deeelite, Stevie Wonder, etc) to play during the party and cleared out some furniture to make a dance floor.

IMG_3930IMG_3931 While the adults were grooving, the kids were mostly trashing the playroom (which is exactly what playrooms are for).

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I made cupcakes and a star shaped cake and we put out a bunch of finger food and drinks for thirsty dancers (pink prosecco for the adults, juice boxes for the kiddos)

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IMG_3959We had such a good time. It was so great to show off all the work we’ve done on the house and to see how all those things make a great space for having get togethers and celebrations. I love that we have a party girl (or at least I love it now – not sure how I’ll feel when she’s a teenager sneaking out to the club!) I think the disco ball might stick around – at least through the new year.

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Even though we had a great time, I think all the parents in the room celebrated with a heavy heart. The tragedy in Newtown is so hard to fathom. While we were celebrating I thought about all the families who were planning for their babies funerals instead of parties. It’s hard to think about Lucy growing up in this world, and harder still to think that there will be a time when she’s not always right next to me. That’s the terrible reality of parenting though, you devote your everything to this tiny being and then set them loose in the world to experience everything that is both wonderful and horrific about humanity. My deepest hope for Lucy that it’s mostly wonderful, and I feel a both great and terrible responsibility to make the parts of her life that are with me as wonderful and full as possible. I love you baby girl. These have been the best two years…

AB Chao Design Camp

Y’all, as AB herself would say, camp is so fun! On Saturday I got to spend the day with the designer and blogger AB Chao and other like minded decor obsessed ladies.

IMG_3880Here we are gaining pearls of decorating wisdom.

You can read more about what the camp is here, but suffice to say, it was super fun and too short. We also had a surprise visit from another favorite blogger of mine, Nicole Balch from Making it Lovely.

IMG_3885Nicole chatted with us about local resources and about mixing patterns- which she is super good at (hello cute tights!) There was much guzzling of coffee and champagne, a lot of Q&A, and a fast and furious flower arranging session.

IMG_3914AB is making those flowers submit to her will.IMG_3921Next time she comes to Chicago you should all go to camp too (unless you aren’t from Chicago in which case you can check out the 2013 camp locations), but in the meanwhile go check out AB’s blog and her incredible portfolio.

IMG_3902Look at how much fun we’re having!

Hope you had a good weekend too!

xx-H

your sunday night black and white edition

Guys. We had a fantastic weekend. We co-hosted Pks holiday party for work and had such a wonderful time. It was also our first night away from Lucy overnight (gulp!) Lucy and her grandma had a successful sleepover and Pk and I got to spend a great evening out with his coworkers and stay in a hotel. It was so. much. fun. to get out after a long week home alone with my baby girl. We woke up early to get home to our peanut and, needless to say, I’m a bit fuzzy today. Here’s some pics from this weekend for your viewing pleasure.

dressLucy and DaddyMayaBath party!Lucymother's helper

 

I hope you had a great weekend!

xx-H

ps. I finally joined Instagram. I’ve been using Hipstamatic for a while, but I thought I ought to spread the love. My user name is helenhandmaid (truly I have no idea how instagram works, can anyone give me any tips? Can I follow you? I want to see your beautifully filtered lives!)

Thankful indeed.

I can’t believe Thanksgiving weekend is almost over. It’s been wonderful to have Pk home (and not at work!) since Tuesday. We have had multiple gatherings, but Thanksgiving day was with Pk’s family. They sure know how to host! The food was amazing and as always, the house was beautiful.

Lucy had her own place at the table (though she only sat for about 3 minutes) It was so fun to watch her excitement grow as our family gathered. She greeted everyone who came in with “happy Fanksgibing!!!”

Yesterday we ventured downtown so Pete could stop by his office before his next trip. He has such an amazing view of Millennium  Park and Lake Michigan from his office.

Downtown is definitely getting its glitter on. Lucy was a bit sketched out by the music coming from the planter boxes on State street but she got used to it. By the time we dragged her through Macy’s she was squealing with glee every time she saw a Christmas ornament. We did a little shopping and then we headed home to pick out a Christmas tree. It was basically a perfect holiday weekend and I’m so thankful that my hardworking husband was able to relax a little bit before he heads off to a new country tonight. Lucy and I will be decorating for Christmas, planning for her 2nd birthday party (any ideas on where to get a disco ball?) and generally holding down the fort while he’s away. I hope you all had a fantastic and relaxing holiday weekend!!!

xo- H

Hogeye Festival – AKA BBQ Heaven

On Saturday we went to the Hogeye Festival in Elgin, Texas (near Austin.) Elgin is a picturesque small town where my Great Grandparents lived and where my Grandmom grew up. My dad has fond memories of spending his summers there. It was so fun to visit during the Hogeye festival which is basically a street fair with a hefty dose of unbelievably delicious competitive BBQing.

That’s the face Lucy made while she gnawed on a piece of slow cooked pork. That’s my girl. The food was ah-mazing.

There were tons of cool cars on display, both antique and crazy souped up new ones. Can you see the longhorns mounted on the orange car?

The Ferris wheel was charming.

Eventually the kiddos got a little overwhelmed; that’s my half-brother Calvin sitting on my Dad’s shoulders. We wrapped it up pretty early, but I would have gladly stayed and continued to stuff my face.

We had a blast!

-Hxx

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