Have you heard this catchy little tune by Echosmith? When it comes on the radio Quinn always ask me to turn it up “like a party” and he sings along to the lyrics:
“I wish that I could be like the cool kids,
‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in…
I wish that I could be like the cool kids,
‘Cause all the cool kids they seem to get it.”
It breaks my heart a little bit each time.
Don’t you remember those kids? The ones who seemed to always have the right clothes and the right hair and could always say and do the right thing? Their shiny perfection made everything a regular kid did seem dull in comparison.
I wasn’t one of the cool kids. Although I had plenty of friends, I certainly wasn’t in the upper social stratosphere. Somehow I survived school, and even eventually went back to revisit those days for a couple of reunions – the 10th, the 21st (don’t ask), the 25th. What I’ve learned over the years, though, is we all have more in common than we ever would have allowed ourselves to imagine when we were fellow students. We each have strengths and weaknesses, parts which are attractive and some which are less appealing and successes and failures. We’re human.
Every September is a reunion for school kids. I want my children to understand that being one of the cool kids in school isn’t a guarantee of a lifetime of happiness. Summer experiences and growth have the potential to impact every child. Attitudes and preferences change and each new academic year is a clean slate of opportunity for everyone. Getting that is ultimately far more important than fitting in.
Is it me or have the cherries this year been terrific? I’ve really been enjoying them with plain Greek yogurt and granola as a light lunch or pre-run snack in recent weeks and will be sad to see the season end. Especially since I just bought a new kitchen gadget to make eating even easier. Meet my new favorite kitchen toy – the cherry pitter!
You may be familiar with my resistance to buying one-trick wonder items. I’m more into multitasking, you know. When I hit up Utilities in Provincetown for my annual shopping spree, though, I was willing to take a break from my usual state of efficiency to simplify my life by buying a cherry pitter. Of course, as always, when I go to a store seeking a specific item they were sold out. Boo.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to reside in the pits for long because Vineyard Haven has an awesome home store, Le Roux, that had exactly what I was seeking – in three different versions! I went with the Cadillac version in the hopes that I will never have to make this purchase again. At least that’s what the salesman promised.
So? How does it work? It’s pretty damn amazing! Stem the cherries and place them in the pitter and press. Bam! The pit drops out and you’re left with a nearly intact cherry. Easy-peasy, as they say. As a matter of fact, I just may pick up a couple of more to have on hand for gifts for friends who are tired of living in the pits.
How was your Independence Day? Do you agree with me that it should always fall on the first Friday of July? It was such a great way to begin a beautiful weekend!
I’ve been spending a little time remembering previous 4th of Julys and am a little surprised by how many distinctive memories I have of this particular holiday. I guess those fireworks aren’t always mere colorful explosions in the atmosphere. Sometimes they’re more earthshaking.
July 4th, 1976 was the first time I ever met my friend Virginia. We were at a marina on the west shore of Greenwood Lake, probably waiting for fireworks to go off from Chapel Island. Although I moved that summer and wouldn’t attend the same school as Virginia until two years later, I’ve never forgotten that exact moment, under a sky filled with anticipation, when we met.
I once flew into NYC on Independence Day. I had been out of the country for 5 weeks and I recall being greeted at JFK by friendly faced strangers giving away American flags. It felt like a hug. Another year, I had the unforgettable experience of being on a hop on/hop off tour bus in London on July 4th. As I glanced to my right the historic marker on a row house caught my eye – Home of Benedict Arnold. How perfect.
There was the year spent at a campground somewhere in Washington State’s Yakima River Valley. We had been camping for about a week and the somewhat seedy location of the campground seemed a major step down after the beautiful campsite we had enjoyed at Doe Bay on Orcas Island. My perspective shifted after spending the afternoon getting to know some of the residents – and I do mean residents. It turns out a tremendous percentage of our fellow campers actually lived at the sad campground at which we had found ourselves. I was struck by the threat of combustibility which was present, the result of close quarters and even closer budgets. I was happy to get back on the road the next morning.
This year, I enjoyed a perfectly colorful and delightfully explosive holiday. A morning spent with someone who inspires me to be my best, an afternoon watching World Cup soccer and an evening with the ideal view of Albany’s annual pyrotechnic display. Freedom was appreciated. More memories were made. There were fireworks.
Ever have one of those days when you’ve taken something out of the freezer to cook for dinner with an idea that becomes less appealing as the day goes on? Yeah, me, too. Earlier this week I took a pound of 16-20 shrimp and some thinly sliced chicken breasts out to thaw with a plan to make some sort of garlicky scampi with pasta. It sounded like just what I wanted at 6:00 a.m., but as the day progressed I reconsidered. I wanted something with more vegetables and some spice…
I did a quick search on epicurious using shrimp and chicken as my search terms and came up with a super simple recipe for paella that I knew would work, both in terms of ingredients on hand and Lilly boy preferences. In less than 30 minutes, dinner was ready to go in the oven and I was ready for a quick run. Not a bad Tuesday at all.
I started with a chopped onion and a bag of frozen chopped peppers from my Field Goods service. Talk about easy – cut open the bag and toss it into the pan! When the veggies were softened, I removed them from the pan and sautéed the chicken, which I had cut into 1.5-2″ chunks, in the same deep pan. When the chicken was almost cooked through, using a slotted spoon, I removed it and put it aside.
Next, I placed about 3.5 cups of chicken broth (a combination of homemade and boxed) in the same pan and turned the heat up to high. When the broth was almost boiling, I threw in 1.5 cups of arborio rice along with about 1.5 t of smoked paprika. I turned the heat down to medium and stirred the rice every few minutes (while I changed into my running clothes) until it was al dente.
The final step was reincorporating the vegetables and chicken and adding the uncooked shrimp. I removed the pan from the heat, covered it and took off for my five mile loop. After returning home, I placed the covered pan in the oven at 300 degrees to warm through for about 10 minutes. Boom! A fast, tasty dinner which everyone enjoyed. If I had some saffron, I certainly would have used it, but I instead seasoned simply with salt and pepper to taste and spiced up my own portion with a delicious pepper jelly I had picked up in New Orleans.
This “recipe” is incredibly versatile – chorizo, leftover ham or chicken thighs could easily be swapped in for the protein choices I made. The flavor profile could be varied by adding beans and/or some hearty greens or trade the paprika for some fresh thyme or flat leaf parsley. Go crazy – it’s just dinner.
What I did today:
- Slept in until 7:15
- Ate breakfast
- Did a little dusting and windexed everything
- Picked up two children
- Dropped two children off
- Was at Oktoberfest by 10:00
- Did wrist bands until 2:30
- Stopped at Wine Bar to deliver some herbs from my garden
- Went home, started cooking
- Ate pineapple and yogurt with granola
- Sat on the stoop with him
- Made chicken thighs, roasted parsnips and beets, stir fried red peppers and broccoli
- Cleaned up the kitchen
- Folded a bin of laundry
- Went for a 5 mile run
- Prepared a beet and bleu cheese salad for dinner
- Sat down and ate beet salad
- Opened a bottle of wine
- Watched SNL and ate popcorn with the teens
I loved my day.
What my son did today:
- Watched SportsCenter
- Watched a marathon of SNL prepping for tonight’s episode
My day was better.
48 hours after the Allman Brothers’ show, I found myself again at the gates of SPAC, this time for a show by a couple of pretty boys, Phillip Phillips and John Mayer. Seeing as how I’m smitten by a handsome man, I was there, though, purely for the music. American Idol winner, Phillip Phillips, charmed with his enthusiasm and excitement, seemingly thrilled to be playing such a special venue. His voice and vibe remind me of Dave Matthews and I’ve been guilty of hearing his songs on the radio and attributing them to DMB, much to my son’s dismay. I enjoyed his set and was pretty impressed by his voice as well as his ability to fill the seats as an opener. The place was packed!
Speaking of filling seats, side note to the incredibly entitled girls standing in front of us for most of the opening act: when the entire audience is sitting down in their $80 + seats and you are preventing dozens of people from seeing the performance because you are the only ones standing up, it is obnoxiously rude. Now you know.
And John Mayer? Well, for a guy who has a reputation for being an ass, he was a delight. I caught his show last time around (which I very much enjoyed) and detected a bit more humility Friday night. He was exceedingly complimentary about the audience and the venue and played with a graciousness that was refreshing. I loved his sampling of Marvin Gaye and Jimi Hendrix and his cover of the Dead’s Friend of the Devil was a lot of fun.
Mayer’s last two albums have been a bit of a detour from his previous work, but I really like Born and Raised and his latest effort, Paradise Alley, is growing on me. I’m particularly diggin’ track #3, Waitin’ on the Day and the duet he sings (and co-wrote) with Katy Perry. The sound is definitely different, but I’m kind of enjoying the grown up John Mayer. His guitar skills are as impressive as ever and if you have a chance to catch him, get yourself there. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Here are some pic from the show – it may have been the biggest crowd I saw all season.
Until next summer, SPAC.
I’m not here to talk to you about the likelihood of spotting a leprechaun or the intense greenness of the countryside. No, I’m here to tell you about some things you may not know. For instance, are you familiar with the phrase “going out for a bit of craic?” True confession: the first time I was in Ireland and my cousin suggested we partake in some craic, I was worried. Come to find out that “craic” is a term for fun. This craic isn’t whack – promise.
Another thing that I found confusing are the road signs, particularly one that says “Ramps.” This word refers to neither the entrance or exit to a motorway or those spring onions for which everyone goes crazy. Instead “Ramps” essentially mean speed bumps in the road. You’re welcome.
Most Americans have figured out that chips are fries and crisps are chips, but how about aubergines? Familiar? Well, aubergines are eggplants and they seem to be pretty popular, especially in Asian cuisine and vegetarian dishes. It is a much more elegant word for those purple orbs, don’t you think?
Speaking of colors, it is possible to get a lovely tan in Ireland if you happen to visit during the best summer in years. As a matter of fact, if you neglect to put sunscreen on your feet you just might end up with sunburn on your feet. At least that’s what a leprechaun once told me.