Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
Be BoldHeart.
Enjoy Your Life.

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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merritt's first haircut (and Momma's too!)

Annoyed that our new hairstylist wants to charge $32.00 for Merritt's "first haircut", I took his little mohawk into my own hands.

We have a new vacuum with a very tasty cord
My first ever attempt at cutting hair wasn't quite as smooth and easy as I had envisioned (what could be so hard about snipping a little bit of baby hair?), but I'm happy with the result.  He turned 10 months old on the 18th and his new 'do let's me visualize an older, less baby-like version of our littlest guy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Homemade marshmallows

This post is from December of last year, but I'm gearing up this weekend to make a few batches and wanted to remind you that you should too!! Happy 'mallow making. The recipe can be found here. I'm curious, if you're a candy maker are there any reasonable substitutions for corn syrup?   

Hot cocoa with marshmallows is a quiet pleasure these days. With so many artisan options I've long ago given up on the classic Jet Puffed. When the Fall chill arrives I crave the gooey goodness of a melted marshmallow and this year, instead of searching high and low for a fix, I decided it was time to learn to make them myself. Years ago (before a stand mixer graced my counter top) I attempted a recipe that produced a slimy, wet, and weak little batch of marshmallows too icky to enjoy.

I'm happy to share that with my latest attempt at these heavenly confections (I made cinnamon vanilla), my confidence has been rebuilt and I will be making homemade marshmallows from now until forever.

oh yum

spread it out

liberally sprinkle with powdered sugar and let sit for 8 hours

TAH DAH! Share, and enjoy!

—--it's really more like drinking chocolate, so you don't need a lot, and topped with either sweet whipped cream or a marshmallow it's perfect any time (or all the time).

5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 oz. milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a medium bowl, combine the bittersweet chocolate with the milk chocolate. Add the boiling water and let it stand for 1 minute. Whisk the chocolate mixture until it is smooth.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and heavy cream just to a simmer. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk over moderate heat until hot. Pour into small mugs and garnish as you like!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A wreath for every door

Every day at nap time I take a walk to lull Merritt and Roscoe to sleep, but if that doesn't work out we end up cruising in the car instead. Either way I look forward to the time because it guarantees at least an hour to obsess over the amazing Christmas decorations that trim the houses here.  They are quite over the top.

My favorite trend is the magnificent wreaths adorning the front doors. Each one is meticulously detailed and emulates the spirit of each home. They are color coordinated, of course. I snapped pictures of these as we walked on Monday, and this isn't even all of them!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Feeding the birds (and the squirrels too)

You know the classic pine cone bird feeder, made by coating a pine cone with a slather of peanut butter and a generous coating of bird seed?  We couldn't find any decent sized pine cones in our yard so we decided to use twigs and sticks instead.

We started out using our hands to spread the peanut butter but it was a little too messy so we switched to a small spatula, which did the job well. 

Roscoe lost interest in the spreading once he tasted the peanut butter, so he ate while I finished up the base coats.  He was happy then to add the seeds.

We then pushed our little bird feeders into the dirt and admired them.

Later in the afternoon a family of seven crowded our feeder with their squirrley antics while we spectated from inside.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Animal encounters

Our favorite part of yesterday was making some new friends at the local zoo.

Have you ever seen a giraffe up close?  We really enjoyed it.  There is something mythic about their size and the way that their towering necks sway and bob to keep pace with their skinny legs as they walk about.  And the flock of parakeets were really fun too!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thriving on Winter's Bounty

Winter Squash Lasagna
It's wintertime even though this second week of warm and breezy weather might have me believing otherwise.  But, it's definitely December and while eating seasonally in the Spring and Summer was easy peasy, and the Fall wasn't too bad either, learning how to cook (and eat) the leaves and roots of winter is not quite as joyful. At least not at first glance.  What to do with all of the spinach, beets, carrots, parsnips, winter squash, potatoes, and sweet potatoes!

I have an extensive collection of cookbooks, but lately I've been relying on two in particular.  The Winter Harvest Cookbook has shown me that the winter dinner table can still be diverse and satisfying--exciting even!  Tonight we ate a traditional farmer's skillet supper of bacon, potatoes, and kale--we added eggs to the mix for a hearty, warm, and filling meal.

Last night I baked a winter squash lasagna with crimini mushrooms, butternut squash, and romano and mozzarella cheeses.  Red wine, garlic, tomato sauce and a from scratch bechamel sauce made for a complex flavor combination.  Roscoe finished his plate clean and Merritt was close behind him.  I was pleasantly surprised, and happy to cook squash beyond my old standby of caramelizing it. (Note: if you've never made Ina Garten's recipe for roasted butternut squash, you mustit's fantastic. But wow, it's possible to use butternut squash in other ways too!)

The recipe for Winter Squash Lasagna can be found online here. Gingered beets and brussels sprouts, cabbage with coconut, and chestnut risotto are just a few of the recipes that are going to save me this winteri just know it!

The other book that I keep returning to is called Simply in Season.  What I love most about this book is the way that it's organized. Corresponding to the four seasons, there are four sections and within each section is a list of the seasonal produce that you might expect to find at that time of year.  Every page offers a new recipe and the seasonal ingredients used in each one are highlighted from the larger list found in the margin, which means you can search by ingredient with a quick flip through the pages.  It has a great reference section in the front too. Root vegetable crumble (with cashews!), stuffed beets, and golden carrot salad are up next.

I also want to check out the kid version, Simply in Season for Children.

If you eat seasonally, how do you cope with the limitations of winter's bounty?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Counting down to the 25th

In addition to a more traditional chocolate and treats advent calendar, we decided this year to do an activity advent to build excitement for the season and to savor the joy that lies in every day that leads up to Christmas day.

I first read about the idea in the online magazine House of Fifty, which I am new to and love! We compiled a list of 25 things to do in the month of December and I wrote them out in one big long colorful list. (It proved to be a relaxing after-the-kids-go-to-sleep activity and it made me feel like a kid again to get creative with a box of crayons.) Then we hung it in a hallway that gets plenty of foot traffic so it is handy to reference and because it is fun to look at.

On our list we included events like the local christmas parade and a train show that's coming to town next weekend.  We also chose activities and crafts that we can enjoy doing together like making a bird feeder and decorating a gingerbread house. Some items are about us, and some are about others like baking a treat for a neighbor and contributing to a local cause that directly impacts children in our area.

On Thursday we decorated the kids' rooms with lights and a miniature christmas tree.  Last night we crossed two activities off our list when we attended the Grand Illumination, which counts down to the annual lighting of the city skyline, and then joined the masses after dark to check out the tacky lights tour.

Tonight, we're building our first fire of the season and reading bedtime stories fireside.

How do you count down to Christmas?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Good Feeling

Like many of you, we're feeling all warm and fuzzy about life and love and family this month.

For one, Merritt turned nine months and Roscoe turned two and a half on the 18th and 19th. Merritt recently started crawling and pulls up now to stand. Roscoe has been testing limits and surprising us daily with the way that he strings together his thoughts, and his incredible vocabulary and imagination.

We closed on our old house today. We are very, very happily no longer home owners!  We relocated to the capital of Virginia two weekends ago, and the last 25% of our stuff has yet to be unpacked and organized. Despite the fact that the kitchen—what I would consider the engine and workhouse of our home—is currently held hostage by miscellaneous gadgets and servingware without space enough to be given a home, the (more important) stockings are hung along with the rest of our Christmas cheer.

I've fallen in love with our little place and pretty much everything around us. I go on walks every day with the kids and remain fascinated by the grand architecture and idyllic nature of this small city. The people are charming, the community is authentic, and I am a huge fan. Of course, we were familiar with this area before now—both Andy and I have degrees from the local university—when we lived here for seven years and bought our very first home across the river in 2003. Living here again, and looking at all that the area offers from the perspective of a parent and as an adult, all I can say is that Richmond is a true gem and I'm so thankful we get to call it home.

Speaking of which, it is weird to me how quickly this house and this neighborhood felt like home once our furniture was placed.  It's like we never skipped a beat.  It's also unreal how drastically our daily life has changed for the better.

I'm thankful for early morning walks to Black Hand for a new favorite the Dirty Chai (a chai latte with two shots of espresso) and breakfast sandwiches

I'm appreciative and grateful to have nearby a year 'round farmer's market where, on our first Saturday, we met farmers offering raw milk cow shares (we're signing up!), a berry CSA (this too!), local seafood and pasta vendors, not to mention some pre-tty ahmazing sourdough doughnuts.

We're thankful for a wildly fun and equally popular neighborhood playground just around the block that has served well to burn off energy before (and after) dinner on many a night.

On Saturday I walked (an unheard of luxury in our old county) to Carytown, with Merritt in the ErgoBaby, to shop for Christmas and to pick out some treats for our advent calendar. New neighbors, with equally cumbersome double strollers and volatile two year olds, have welcomed us warmly and our ability to get around town on foot has alleviated any lingering post-Northern Virginia sense of disconnection or isolation.

The boys' new nanny starts tomorrow, marking the end of a long and twisted search for good help. I'm relieved that I'll be able to work in peace and hope that she'll stay with us for the remaining 6 months of my position.

And then there's the cupcakery down the street. No really, I think they rival Georgetown's.

This week holds more of the same unpacking, ongoing Christmas decorating, and city exploring.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!  What are you most thankful for this season?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In the throes of moving

Our approach has been to pack up a little at a time, when we find time.  It was easy to feel overwhelmed at first, but I've been pleasantly surprised with the number of boxes we can fill up in a few hours set aside for the purpose. We've made several trips South to drop off the latest boxes, and slowly but surely one house fills up as the other one empties. Next Saturday is our official move-out day, and we're hiring help for all the big and heavy stuff--mainly furniture, and boxes and boxes of books.

Motivated by the thrill of a more streamlined abode on the other side, we've been throwing out and giving away clothes and decor that we've outgrown, a hoard of stacked and filed papers from past jobs and college projects, old textbooks (why did we think we would need those?!), and an embarrassing number of magazine back issues. It feels good to lighten up and our smaller digs will be brighter for not bringing with us unnecessary clutter.

Roscoe is an enthusiastic packer and throws whatever is nearby into the designated cardboard boxes. We've had to keep a close eye on him though, because we've found trash in the packing boxes and toys, books, and other miscellaneous items in the trash.

We dismantled Merritt's nursery a couple days ago. The move has me feeling sentimental about very few things, but the babies' spaces are an exception. I hate that we can't deconstruct Roscoe's tree from it's sunny little place on his wall but, sadly, we can't take it with us. Roscoe has become very protective of the contents of his room and so we have decided to leave it intact until the last moment, when the guys will be packing up whatever is left here and the kids and I will be entertaining ourselves with unpacking at the new house.

The boys and I have taken many weekday trips to our new city to check things out and to interview a range of potential nannies. I can't seem to stay away for very long because my excitement for our future there feels so big, I wish we lived there now. The kids inevitably fall asleep on the ride down and then we have the whole afternoon for marveling at nature in the backyard, or traipsing around town in search for a treat, or waiting around for nanny's who stand us up.  That has become an unfortunate trend.

In less than two weeks I imagine we'll be unpacked, and settling in for Thanksgiving feast!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween 2011

The day began with chocolate and ended with chocolate, the way it should have I think.

We built suspense this afternoon by decorating Roscoe's room with spider webs and pumpkin lights, watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (I was disappointed to find it toddler-unfriendly due to the bullying of Linus by the rest of the Peanuts) and listening to spooky music all day. By dusk, Roscoe had perfected his rendition of "Trick or Treaties!"

We've been feeling in the spirit all month long with Halloween inspired crafts and baking, lots and lots of apple cider, and plenty of pumpkin patch festivities.

This year, I sewed Roscoe's costume.  He was an alligator.  Merritt was an interpretation of a pumpkin because I like my babies to be comfy in their costumes.

October was a great month, and I can't believe that November begins tomorrow.  The holidays are here!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

We're moving!

Four months later, and our short-sale has been approved.  We found out two weeks ago, and have been eagerly scouting houses ever since.  Yesterday afternoon we signed the lease for a little cape cod in the hub of Richmond City.  

Our home for the next few years sits on a mature lot with a fenced in yard, has a screened in porch, a fireplace, and 5 bedrooms. The kitchen will take some getting used to I think, but the charm of an older home with architectural appeal and lots of surprising nooks and crannies is feeling just right for us. It has a teeny, steep staircase that leads up to two really unique rooms that join together, one of which includes a bathroom with what appears to be a miniature toilet and sink--it will be so perfect and so fun for Roscoe and Merritt to share. We're just one block from a sought-after elementary school and within walking distance to quintessential Richmond shopping. We can get anywhere in the greater Richmond area in about 15 minutes, with traffic.  Awesome.  

We close on our house on the 25th of November, so we have less than three weeks to pack up and make the move--of course there would be a holiday the day before closing.

Today we boxed up most of our stuff on the third floor.  The walls are bare and it's sinking in that we are really leaving.  Pursued on a whim, our decision to attempt a short-sale was at once a last ditch effort for a better quality of life and an uncalculated experiment to see just what might come of it.  My interest was piqued when we initially put the house on the market, but I wasn't very optimistic. If the sale hadn't been approved we would have resumed our discontented suburban life in Northern Virginia and hoped with all of our might for a faster than projected market turn.

But instead, we took a risk and it paid off.  We feel pretty lucky. And hopeful.  And excited!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chloe girl

Chloe, our dog, had a seizure this morning.  It was her second in two weeks, but the first that we witnessed.

Gripped by convulsions, I was sure that she was dying. Afterward, she lay panting, frothing at the mouth, and the best we could do was to rub her and tell her that everything would be ok.

She tried to get on her feet, but fell down as she stumbled into the wall. I sensed her terror but was helpless. The hair on her back bristled and I felt then the same hesitation to trust her as I did the night that she wandered into our yard 7 years ago, a young pit bull with an unknown past.

The vet says that it is probably brain cancer and that we should expect the seizures to increase in frequency and severity.  We ran some preliminary tests that didn't offer any answers. We don't plan to order anything more to confirm or deny our vet's intuition.

Since Roscoe was born, the place that our pets held in our hearts has been filled-in with life stresses and parental responsibilities. Our focus and our priorities are so different now than before, and our jaded perception of pet ownership (animals captive in homes) looms large. (Does anyone else ever think of this is an odd phenomenon!?) We feel guilty every day over the seismic shift in our attitude and, as genuinely as we loved Chloe (and still do in so many ways), it's hard to admit.

Chloe has always been such a sweet and loyal dog, our little bully.  I often feel that she deserves so much more than we can offer her now, life is just so demanding.

Knowing that she is sick, now makes the guilt feel even heavier than before. Two whole years have elapsed. I hope that we have time to make it up to her.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Sneak Peak, and a Look Back

Merritt, Gunner, Mary Anna, Jonathan, Lillian, Roscoe

Roscoe, Gunner, Jonathan, Lillian

Sammy, Lillian, Evan, Gunner, Roscoe, Jonathan

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