Let it Go: How Frozen is Saving our Spring Break

Let it Go has many meanings for us this week.  We’re letting go of a lot of junk as we spring clean and prepare for a yard sale.  We’re letting go of a lot of built up emotion a year after the Marathon Bombing that had us frozen in our homes during lock down on a beautiful day just like today.  I am trying to let go of the fact that I haven’t really planned for break.  I often take the kids to Wellfleet or we go to NYC.  When we don’t have a trip planned,  we at least have a few day trips scheduled, but this year spring break snuck up on me.  I love being around this time of year because the trees have tiny buds that get bigger each day, we head to the playground, we visit the babies at the farm, Cambridge Science festival keeps us busy with lots of intriguing science  happenings.  This year, instead of being excited I am anxious.  I have work to do.  My allergies have me in a full on fog.  The house is a mess. The kids are bickering. My entire neighbourhood has travelled back in time to the dust bowl era and is being dug up.  There are trucks beeping and steel plates crashing starting at 7 a.m. and I am not able to leave my house without disrupting their work and having them move some giant piece of equipment.  I am trying to let it all go, but I can’t freeze the world around me and I have nowhere to escape…or so I thought.

On the way to school the siblings would argue.  “Stop singing out loud.” she’d say.  “I can’t help it, I love this song.” he’d reply.  “I need silence.” she’d say.  “I want the radio” he’d reply.  “I hate this song.” she’d moan. “But it’s my favourite.” he’d plead.  Thank goodness our ride to school is short and we’ll soon be walking again!  But for now, school is outm the Frozen cd has replaced the radio and the arguing has stopped.  They are belting out “Beware the frozen heart! Huh!” and “Let it go!” and “Come on let’s go and play!” They sing through the first tracks and ask me to go back again from the moment the hop in the car until we arrive back home.  They’ve memorized most of the lyrics and we stopped at Staples to make a copy of the cd booklet so they can both follow along.

At home, the children completed clearing out their rooms, letting go of trinkets, books, clothing, and toys (Save the Date:  Yard Sale Saturday, May 3rd 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.), but I have plenty more rooms and closets to clear out.  Lady luck is on my side, or rather Anna, Elsa and Olaf are, because instead of a chorus of “I’m bored”s when we get home from our morning outings, I hear the chorus “Let it go!” blasting out of their bedrooms.

Isabelle has even asked for the piano score so she can learn to play it.  This is the first time she’s sat at her keyboard in a long while.

As for me, I have yet to watch the movie from start to finish.  Perhaps after a long day of cleaning, entertaining, and taxiing the children around, I will pour myself a nice freezing glass of Rosé and watch the movie from start to finish.

Posted in Animation, Boston, Cambridge, Movies, movies, movies, New England Outings, Parenthood, Parenting, Play, Spring, spring break | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Boston Marathon 2014: Race On


It is about pinning on that number, lining up and getting onto the course.

It is about pinning on that number, lining up and getting onto the course.

The Boston Marathon is the ultimate, elite running race.  The first big race I witnessed was the Barcelona Marathon because my boyfriend and I happened to be in town on race day.  When we moved to Boston, and I worked as a teacher, Marathon Monday was a vacation day for me.  Marathon Monday symbolized spring to me.  It was a celebration of the people of this city stepping outside.  It was a day of pride to be a member of this city, the city that hosts racers of all ages, religions and races with their own histories, and stories.  It was a day of breathing the air and feeling the city blooming after a long cold winter.  Marathon Monday was a day for me to head to Newton.  I’d dig up the sunscreen, find a cowbell in the basement, fill a water bottle and find a spot on the curb.  The Boston Marathon was a day for me to look in awe at the bodies abled and differently-abled working their way up Heartbreak Hill after having traveled miles (not just on the marathon route) and pushing to make it up the aptly named hill.  Heartbreak Hill is so close, yet so many steps away from the finish line.

I’m not at the finish line.  Perhaps just like how I teach, parent, and see things, it is not about the finish line.  It is always about the journey and not the destination.  As a spectator, I am standing and cheering on the curb near the top of Heartbreak Hill so I can yell out the name your son, daughter, partner, love, self have carefully drawn on your shirt.  I am trying to will your calf cramp to loosen and let you continue on.  I am a witness to the hard work you have put in for the past months, years, decades.

The 2014 marathon is about the race and the racers. This year’s marathon is about the last Boston Marathon that Dick and Rick Hoyt will be doing as a father-son team.  This year’s marathon is about American Olympian Ryan Hall, Boston Marathon first-timer Abdi Abdirahman, spouses Mathew Bowen (1st timer) and Sharon Cherop who train in Kenya.  It is about the elite men:

Dennis Kimetto
2:03:45 (Chicago 2013) CR

Lelisa Desisa
2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013)

Gebregziabher “Gebre” Gebremariam
2:04:53 (Boston, 2011)

Markos Geneti
2:04:54 (Dubai, 2012)

Ryan Hall
2:04:58 (Boston, 2011)

Wilson Chebet
2:05:27 (Rotterdam, 2011)

Tilahun Regassa
2:05:27 (Chicago, 2012)

Shami Dawud
2:05:42 (Dubai, 2012)

Eric Ndiema
2:06:07 (Amsterdam, 2011)

Frankline Chepkwony
2:06:11 (Eindhoven, 2012)

Micah Kogo
2:06:56 (Chicago, 2013)

Adil Annani
2:07:43 (London, 2012)

Paul Lonyangata
2:07:44 (Xiamen, 2013)

Joel Kimurer
2:07:48 (Gongju, 2013)

Lusapho April
2:08:32 (Hannover, 2013) CR

Abdi Abdirahman
2:08:56 (Chicago, 2006)

Mebrahtom Keflezighi
2:09:08 (Houston, 2012)

Brett Gotcher
2:10:36 (Houston, 2010)

Mathew Bowen
2:10:57 (Rennes, 2013)

Jason Hartmann
2:11:06 (Chicago 2010)

Nicholas Arciniaga
2:11:30 (Houston, 2011)

Vitaliy Shafar
2:11:52 (Frankfurt, 2013)

Jeffrey Eggleston
2:12:03 (Chicago, 2012)

It is about the elite women:
Mare Dibaba
2:19:52 (Dubai, 2012)

Rita Jeptoo
2:19:57 (Dubai, 2012)

Jemima Jelagat Sumgong
2:19:57 (Chicago, 2013)

Meseret Hailu Debele
2:20:48 (Chicago, 2013)

Eunice Kirwa
2:21:09 (Amsterdam, 2012) CR

Sharon Cherop
2:22:28 (Berlin, 2013)

Caroline Kilel
2:22:34 (Frankfurt, 2013)

Desiree Davila Linden
2:22:38 (Boston, 2011)

Flomena Chepchichir Chumba
2:23:00 (Frankfurt, 2013)

Buzunesh Deba
2:23:19 (New York, 2011)

Tatiana Petrova Arkhipova
2:23:29 (London, 2012)

Aleksandra Duliba
2:23:44 (Chicago, 2013) NR

Yeshi Esayias
2:24:06 (Frankfurt, 2013)

Philes Ongori
2:24:20 (Rotterdam, 2011)

Belaynesh Oljira
2:25:01 (Dubai, 2013)

Shalane Flanagan
2:25:38 (Houston, 2012)

Yolanda Caballero
2:26:17 (Boston, 2011)

Amy Hastings
2:27:03 (Los Angeles, 2011)

Lanni Marchant
2:28:00 (Toronto, 2013)

Serena Burla
2:28:01 (Amsterdam, 2013)

Noriko Higuchi
2:28:49 (Tokyo, 2011)

Adriana Nelson
2:28:52 (London, 2008)

Adriana Aparecida da Silva
2:29:17 (Tokyo, 2012)

The marathon is about all the charity teams, the every day people who become super-heroes for a day, the every day heroes who surprise themselves by accomplishing this huge feat on this day, the personal bests, the extra mile runners and spectators are ready to go for one another to reach a goal.  The Boston Marathon is about pinning on your number, tying your laces and putting foot in front of foot, arm over arm, hands together for the grande performance.

Posted in Boston, Boston, Do it., Events, New England Outings, Sports | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Whole Wheat Carrot Pancakes with Honey and Almonds (Recipe)

In this recipe, Chef Jeremy Sewall uses ripe bananas as the sugar.  They have plenty of sweetness themselves but go ahead and top them with a drizzle of honey and almonds for a little “icing on the cake”.  They are also dairy-free, but feel free to use cow’s milk rather than almond milk if that’s what you have at home.

Carrot pancakes.  Thanks to their texture these work well to pre-make and freeze.  I toss them in the toaster oven for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack.

Carrot pancakes. Thanks to their texture these work well to pre-make and freeze. I toss them in the toaster oven for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack.

I believe they are out of stock for the season, but next fall stock up on Sofra Bakery and Café’s pumpkin jam.  It makes the perfect sweet topping for these.

Whole Wheat Carrot Pancakes
with honey and almonds

  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded/grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds (optional topping)
  • 1/4 cup honey (optional topping)

Mash bananas thoroughly.
Mix bananas, eggs, flour, salt, milk or almond milk, and baking soda, beating until you have a smooth mixture. Mix in carrots.
Warm a non-stick pan over medium heat adding 1/2 tsp of canola oil or use an oil spray to lightly coat the pan.
Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan (as many times as your pan allows without crowding the pancakes).  The pancakes won’t bubble quite as much as traditional pancakes so watch closely and you can peek underneath to see if the pancakes are ready to flip.  They will be slightly browning.
Flip pancakes, repeat with the rest of the batter.

©Jeremy Sewall

Serve warm with toasted almonds and a bit of honey.  Or as I like it, with a little dollop of pumpkin jam or apple butter.

Posted in Boston, Breakfast, chef, dairy free, Dessert, Dinner, Do it., eggs, Food, Parenting, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Virus Action: Heartbleed & Passwords

The only good thing these viruses, computer bugs, and security breaches do for me is remind me how reliant I am on a tool that I barely understand. They make me want to learn more.

The way we use computers with little knowledge of the language is a bit like driving a car and not knowing how to change a flat, check the oil and add pressure to the tires and having a manual written in Korean.

The other thing I am is thankful that I have an Apple computer. I seem to have far fewer issues with viruses thanks to Apple. I am also thankful for resources like my tech-savvy friends, bloggers and Mashable.

Here is an overview from Mashable regarding what to do about the latest and greatest bug Heartbleed. Most importantly, which passwords to change.


Posted in Parenting | Leave a comment

Two Ice Cream Guys Walk Into a Bar: Ben & Jerry’s New Name for Toffee Heath Bar Crunch

Maybe you noticed something different when you stopped in for free cone day yesterday. Or, maybe you’ll just continue asking for it by it ‘s old name. Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch has a new name and not just for kicks.

In an effort to do the good that Ben and Jerry’s has always tried to do, the Heath bar no longer cuts muster and is being replaced by fair trade non GMO toffee bars.

So go ahead, bite into your creamy, crunchy, sweet coffee toffee bar crunch. Plus, ithe new name has a nice ring to it.

Posted in Buy it., Food, ice cream | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring 2014: A little if this & a little of that

It is spring in Boston and we all still have our shovels and ice scrapers at the ready lest we jinx the season. We smell the damp spring air. We see the crocuses in bloom, and our hearts sing just a little.

Spring is also Easter and Passover, and perhaps even more festive the marathon, but there is also a great somber shadow of the unpleasant anniversary.

There is a lot to celebrate: how far so many have come, how much more tightly our communities have become knit, how we have continued to live and be #BostonStrong.

Underneath it all, I still feel myself unravelling, so I’m just going to take it all in bit by bit. I’m going to try to be more aware of what I’m feeling and be ok with it not judge or smother it. I will eaf through the pages of my newly ordered book Bled For Boston. . Consider visiting or not, but maybe the items on display at the Boston Public Library. And popping in solo, or with my daughter, or solo to the Bled For Boston exhibit at BCAE.

And I’m going to revisit and reread Trouble Finding Joy because a year is a long time but as we get closer it seems like yesterday. We’re strong and we’re fragile. We need to be alone and we need one another.

Posted in Boston, Cambridge, giving back, news, Passover | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chef Jeremy Sewall’s Cucumber Lime Mint Mocktail (Recipe)

Refresh and wake up the palate with an aperitif before dinner.

Refresh and wake up the palate with an aperitif before dinner.

Chef Sewall, of Lineage, Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34, talked about the virtues of mint not just in your cocktail or mocktail.  He suggested tossing a little in with your salad to brighten it up.  You can also shred (or chiffonnade) a few mint leaves to sprinkle on fish.  Lastly, a couple of leaves torn into a grain such as farro, barley, rice or (non-grain) couscous adds wonderful flavour.

Cucumber Lime Mint Mocktail
Serves 4

  • 4 large English cucumbers peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, plus 1 TBSP for garnish
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Serve over ice and garnish with mint.

© Jeremy Sewall
Shared with permission on this blog.

For a variation and because of the rising cost of limes, you could substitute lemon juice.  If you do not have agave you could use honey.

Posted in Boston, chef, Dinner, Do it., Menu, mocktails, Parenting, recipe, virgin cocktails | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

National Nutrition Month: Healthy Eating a Menu by Chef Jeremy Sewall

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era.  I know the reality of it is that I’m glad I live in the modern world. (Who am I kidding? I get annoyed if my computer is slow for a few minutes.) In terms of cooking and shopping I imagine bartering with neighbours, shopping the markets, feeding scraps to the pigs and never stepping foot in a grocery store.  I like to shop f0r food on a day by day basis (even though I don’t really do that – who has the time?)  I do shop around a lot though.  I like my fish from the fish monger, my meat from the butcher, my eggs from a local farm, etc. etc.  Now with Instacart you can actually send someone to all those stores for you if you don’t have the time or patience.

I recently attended an event with one of my favourite local chefs Jeremy Sewall of Lineage, Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34.  It was hosted by Boston University’s Gastronomy Program (check them out they have lots of interesting classes and events for students and community members alike).  It was an event put on my Stop & Shop, which happens to be one of the grocery stores I go to the least (mostly because it is not convenient for me).  I do go the extra distance once a year though, because they have the most Passover foods.

I learned a lot of interesting things at this Healthy Cooking class.  What really interested me was that Stop & Shop has a staff nutritionist, Julie Menounos, (based in the Chelmsford store).  Julie healps people find healthy options in store, but she also writes recipes for their in store magazine.  She also teaches tips and tricks for creating tasty meals while cutting out some of chef’s favourite fats and lightening that heavy handed sprinkle of salt.  Next time I walk by the stack of in store magazines I’m not going to turn my nose.  Even though I consider myself a fairly educated cook, there is always a little tidbit or something to learn.  It’s also helpful to have little reminders about creating flavour and cutting back on unhealthy ingredients.

For our cooking class and dinner we helped make and then enjoyed the following menu:

Cucumber, Lime & Mint Mocktail

Whole Wheat Carrot Pancakes with Honey and Almond

Mixed Green Salad with Toasted Spice Vinaigrette

Slow Roasted Salmon with Toasted Barley and Fennel

Mango Pops

The mocktail was so refreshing and light.  I can’t wait for warmer weather to enjoy one on the porch while the kids are doing there homework.  You can even make extra and add a shot of vodka for a pre-dinner drink.

The pancakes are so tasty and easy to make.  They also have a really good consistency to freeze.  I made a batch and stuck them in the freezer so I can toast one or two up for breakfast.  If I want an afternoon pick me up, I top one with some of Sofra Bakery & Café’s pumpkin spoon sweets.

The mixed green salad was really something new and unexpected with the spices in the vinaigrette.

I’ve already made the slow roasted salmon twice since the dinner we had with Chef Sewall.  It is such an easy preparation and the fish is cooked to perfection.

The mango pops were so creamy made with coconut milk.  I am definitely going to incorporate coconut in my smoothies if I’m looking for something a bit more indulgent as an afternoon treat or a healthier version of a milkshake.

Julie provided a great page entitled “Tips & tricks to spice up your meals”.  I’m going to try to track it down to share with you.  They are simple tips that we can all refer to in our every day culinary lives.

Posted in appetizer, Boston, Brookline, chef, Cocktails, Dessert, Dinner, Do it., health and safety, lunch, salad, seafood, Smoothies, vegetables, virgin cocktails | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Motherhood: Sidestepping the Rat Race or Stomping on the Tails

It’s nothing new “housewife”, “stay at home parent”, “full time mom”, are all given lip service as something somewhere between “the hardest job on earth” and “must be so nice”.  I say “something” because it is not often regarded as a job in the traditional sense.

The Oxford English Dictionary has two definitions of job:

A paid position of regular employment.
A task or piece of work, especially one that is paid.

Stay at home parenthood lacks one of the aforementioned things: pay.

A recent post by Erin Almond on Cognoscenti Why Do We Continue To Stigmatize Stay at Home Moms? written as a reaction to a story about back stabbing housewives in Boston Magazine, has brought the topic up for discussion again.  I don’t have any answers and I know it is a very complex issue.  Parenthood and work are two very touchy issues especially for women.  Some of the problems have to do with just parenthood and others have to do with just work.  Somehow, we think they can be intertwined and that we can figure out one perfect solution and an answer the ultimate question:  Who is better than whom? which is as we all know a totally misguided question.

All I really want to say on the topic is that many years ago, if I remember correctly it was before children or I may have just had my daughter, I was at a work party with my husband.  After already being mocked for not being “one of us” at this business world holiday party, I was a teacher at the time and apparently stuck out like a sore thumb, I moved on and continued the horrific task of small talk with a bunch of people with whom I had nothing in common.  I met a woman and asked her what she did, and she replied “I raise three girls.”  Those four words made the room feel just a bit brighter and just made so much sense to me.  I swore I’d use that reply when the time came, but for some reason I rarely do.

Yes, most of my job is to be home for my family and raise my children.  I chose to do so.  I love that I have the freedom to do so.  I also choose to do other work on the side for my own sanity.  My choices are not a judgement on anyone else’s choices or lack thereof. Just like Erin, I hesitate to use the word stay at home mom because, just like teacher, just like chef, just like baker, just like engineer, just like dancer we have a stereotypical image of what that looks like in our minds.  The truth is I don’t know what my husband does for a living.  I don’t know what it means to be an engineer.  I don’t know what it means to be a chef (or a #WomeninWhite).  I don’t know what it means to be a dancer. We bring assumptions to our mental picture of each of these jobs.

Let’s just admit that we really don’t know each other all that well.  Sometimes what we do for a living matters.  Sometimes what we did for a living mattered.  Sometimes who we are as people, employees, community members matters a whole lot more.

Posted in Parenthood | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Five Essential Apps for Blogging On the Go

I recently wrote on Habitual Home a post with a photo of my mussed bed and the header “This is where the magic happens”. Get your mind out of the gutter I am talking about blogging here. I am a busy person. We are all busy people. Our days are filled with dropped balls, juggling, letting things go and squeezing things in. Here are 5 apps I swear by to get a post on the blog before I even toss my covers off in the morning and step out of bed.

Most of us have photos on our phones and I’ve found that going straight from phone to blog post helps get a story up quickly.

Wordpress App: I blog just as often via the WordPress app as I do on my laptop. I can upload photos straight from my phone to the post, add links, tags and categories all from my phone.

Google: the indispensable Google. Just because you’re half awake, or on the go doesn’t mean you can’t do your research. I use Google to cross check facts, double check word meanings, and find links to support my story.

Rhonna Designs: The Rhonna Designs app is almost my entire design team. I love their app and graphics. It is useful for creating Pictograms (off to Google that to be sure it’s the word I want) infographics, jazz up pictures, and create eye-catching images to make your post Pinterest worthy.

A Beautiful Mess: Another member of my design team is A Beautiful Mess. I like the backgrounds and doodles in the app so I tend to use A Beautiful Mess in tandem with Rhonna Designs. I’ll save a background and graphic in A Beautiful Mess and add the rest of the design elements and text in Rhonna Designs.

A great post is not so effective if no one reads it. I use Bitly to shrink and track my links. You can post one of your beautiful images or photos on Instagram Google+, Twitter and add the Bitly link too.>

Posted in Blog World, Do it. | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment