Monday, June 25, 2012

The Start of Summer

Well, summer is in full force here in the Nutmeg State. Let me walk you through what we've been up to these past two weeks - in chronological order. (Warning - major photo dump ahead.)

About 15 minutes after I posted my last blog entry, Sammy walked for the first time! I was fiddling with my phone, about to take a picture of his awesome outfit above (I pulled up the socks - he was responsible for the Flashdance-inspired off the shoulder look), when all of a sudden, he took about seven steps toward me! He did it a few more times that day, and has since walked at least once a day, though isn't in any hurry to make it his primary mode of transportation.

The next day, Sammy figured out how to pull Puffs out of his snack container. We've had these little containers for awhile, but he's never been able to navigate it until now. At this rate, he'll have mastered quantum physics by age two.

A couple days later, James and I hosted our inaugural patio dinner. As promised, we toasted the refurbished patio with rose!

Though because the dinner was on a Thursday, I kept the menu pretty simple. We had lemon and parsley grilled chicken, grilled corn and asparagus, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, and Ina's sun-dried tomato pasta salad.

That weekend, we celebrated Danielle and Doug's arrival back to the mainland with a barbecue. We had a great time catching up with them, as well as some friends we haven't seen in awhile. The photo above makes me laugh not only because of the babies-gone-crazy aspect, but because just a few years ago, I spent many a night with the other two babies' parents, drinking and laughing until the wee hours of the morning. Apparently the second generation has now arrived.

The next day was James' first official Father's Day. Early in the morning, I squeezed lime juice for Ina's tequila lime chicken, which I would serve later that day.

We had a fantastic day that began with gifts for James, breakfast outside in town, and a trip to the park.

You may notice that I haven't posted a Tuesdays with Dorie entry in a bit. Our last assignment for a French strawberry cake, which sounded right up my alley. I planned on serving it as our Father's Day dessert. Until I screwed up the genoise cake. The pancake above was supposed to be sliced into three layers.

One thing I didn't mess up was my homemade guacamole. My version (which is actually a friend's version, passed down to me a few years ago) contains two avocados, a plum tomato, two cloves of garlic, half a red onion, one jalapeƱo, the juice of two limes, and salt and pepper. I'm not sure that this recipe is different than any others out there (I doubt it), but it always tastes better to me than most other recipes.

We had my dad and mom over for our Father's Day dinner, and moved Sammy's highchair out to the patio so he could join in on the fun. The photo above is one of my most favorite photos - ever. To me, these are the three best guys in the world.

Sammy got to try out corn on the cob that night.

In addition to the guac, tequila lime chicken, grilled corn on the cob and some homemade margaritas, I made Ina's brown rice, tomatoes and basil. Love this dish, though it looks soupy in the photo above.

Feeling restless with no upcoming races on my docket, I registered for a local 5k, which is now two weeks away. My goal is to beat my previous 5k PR of 22:22 (from March), and so I'm in the midst of cramming some heavy duty speed training into three weeks - last week being week #1 of said training. I made my way to the track early Tuesday morning and had a fantastic workout.

Later on that day, Sammy and I met up with our friends Melissa and Grant. Melissa and I played on the same outdoor soccer team a few years ago, and then coerced our husbands into playing on an indoor coed team with us. We all became fast friends and were super sad when they moved to New Hampshire two years ago. Anyway, Melissa and I ended up having little boys just a few months apart, and last saw each in December, back when Grant amazed us with his sitting up skills, and Sammy amazed us with his laying stills skills. Clearly things have changed.

(Sidenote: I love the photo above as right as I said, "say cheese," my little ham started smiling away.) 

This was Sammy's first time playing in the sand. I looked away one second only to be met with mud mouth. We'll be holding off on the sandbox for a bit....

From Wednesday on last week, the weather was ridiculously hot and humid. After much whining, I finally gave in and allowed Sammy to have his own popsicle. (Um, at least it was sugar free?)

We took a break from the comfort of central air and spent some time in Sammy's baby pool. (Apologies if you are offended by the photo above - I simply couldn't not include it.)

Though the heat was painful, last week was an especially nice week as Auntie Kate got to spend a few days with us. Sammy is a lucky boy to have such great aunties! (And yes - we need a larger pool.)

After the previous week, I didn't think there was anything left for Sammy to learn. But then he figured out how to dribble a (mini) basketball. (Okay - he really just learned how to throw it. The dribbling will take a bit more coordination.)

One night I made peach grilled chicken, grilled potatoes and a salad, yet again shamelessly stolen from one of my favorite blogs. The chicken was very good, but the potatoes - ridiculously tasty. Please make these the next time you grill.

Lately I find myself buying different kinds of sippy cups on a weekly basis for Sammy. With the arrival of his one-year-birthday (aka the time period that bottles become frowned upon), I am becoming increasingly nervous that the sippy-cup-all-the-time transition is not going to happen quite so easily. Last week I learned that I should stop wasting my money and just fork my own water bottles over to him.

Still here? We've only got one more weekend to recap, I promise. And this past weekend began with a quick stop at our 11-year-old neighbor's birthday party. Our neighbor is quite possibly the coolest 11-year-old girl ever (her birthday party invitation featured a picture of her with Hope Solo, if that's any indication), and she loves Sammy. Anyway, we plopped a birthday hat on him and within a minute of our arrival to the party, he was surrounded by 11 11-year-old girls. I can't say that I blame them. Who doesn't love a guy in a striped birthday hat?

Despite having the blackest thumb in the world, Saturday I decided to take a stab at container gardening, and planted tomatoes in two of the barrels on our patio. I went to a local nursery and had to stop myself from buying a million other flowers.

James treated me to some cute gardening gloves, which I claimed were imperative to me achieving gardening success.

I followed this tutorial I found via Pinterest, and had a pretty easy go at the job. Though I now realize that I put my tomato cages in upside down. Awesome.

That night we had another (impromptu) barbecue on the patio, and feasted on turkey and feta burgers, heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella (I can't get enough of either in the summer), Ina's Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad (God forbid we have one meal without an Ina dish), more grilled corn, more grilled asparagus, grilled broccolini, and for dessert, we roasted marshmallows over a fire. You can't get much easier than that.

Sunday morning I was up bright and early with my sister and Christina (my running partner / Em's roommate) to cheer our other running partner Sara as she tackled her first olympic distance triathlon - the Litchfield Hills Triathlon. Christina's boyfriend Rob was also participating in the event for the second year in a row.

It was a gorgeous morning out, and the lake at which the race started could not have been more beautiful. This was the first triathlon I've ever spectated at in person, and prior to the start, I was a bundle of nerves for the participants. I can only imagine how they were feeling!

Here is Rob as he finished up the swim. Though we are screaming our lungs off, he does not acknowledge us. (We later learned he had in his ear plugs.)

There's a reason that this is called the Litchfield Hills Triathlon. I did not envy the participants, especially during the bike portion. We stood at the top of a hill right before the final transition and had so much fun screaming our heads off. (In the photo above, I think Em is trying to show off her newly sculpted boot camp muscle.)

Rob did awesome and placed 33rd overall and something like 7th in his age group. I guess that's what happens when you have an Ironman as your girlfriend.

Sara totally killed it as well, and though for selfish reasons, I usually hate to be on the spectator side of the fence, it was so awesome to cheer for someone I've watched go through the training process. I am seriously in awe of what she accomplished that day. I totally *heart* my running partners! 

Oh - did I say I had one more weekend to recap? I meant one weekend and a day. I snapped the above photo this afternoon from our garden. Due to the shade in our backyard, everything seems to take a bit longer to bloom. Our hydrangeas are finally rearing their pretty heads.

Finally, tonight, I made a life-changing dinner. I've been wanting to make this corn and tomato pie ever since I originally saw it in Gourmet magazine (RIP, Gourmet - ::sob::), and I wanted to make it even more when it was featured on Smitten Kitchen. Years later, I finally did it. And now I want to strangle myself for waiting so long. OMG. Tastiest, cheesiest (and yet light and refreshing), not-for-the-faint-of-heart (there's almost a cup of mayonnaise in it) summer dish ever. 

Please don't wait as long as I did to try this out. (And when you do, use less salt than the recipe calls for.)

Hope everyone's summer is off to an equally great start!


  1. What a great start to the summer. A couple of things: love my Smartie Sammy! You forgot to add swedish fish to grillout menu. Wow my on-the-knees push ups at bootcamp may actually be working on my arms!!

  2. How many things you did!! I love the barbacue picture, I have so many memories in the US involving barbacues!!!

  3. Good food. Good friends. Sweet summertime!

  4. Thanks for visiting and since we live so close to each other...I see no good reason why you shouldn't invite me for dinner;)