Category Archives: Christopher James

around the house lately.

Hope you are all having a great Saturday! Here are a few snaps of what’s been happening in our world this first week of April.

Just a girl enjoying a high thread count.IMG_0373And a nice pillow.IMG_0394I’m making a shade for our kitchen and had these three fabric choices up – I ended up going with the swatch on the far right. Fun fact: These were “delivered” on Thursday but our UPS driver LIED about the delivery and has now LIED about package deliveries FOUR TIMES and I informed UPS that they have a CROOKED driver. I AM NOT PLEASED. IMG_0412But I am please about Sunday Dinner ! Chris made roast and it was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.IMG_0461Kait slept over after dinner and we noticed that our work uniforms are a little…different.
: ) I would much prefer the sweatshirt!!IMG_0462I taught my last Acting 101 class on Monday night. I was so proud of the way everything turned out – not just of my students, but of myself! I was so nervous the first four classes but was able to really get into it, thoughtfully plan the lessons, and enjoy my students. I liked it so much that I’m doing it again this summer!

Chris and I went out for margaritas after the show – he waited outside the stage door with flowers, just like the old days : )IMG_0476THIS COOKIE CAKE HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. I’ll be posting the recipe shortly, don’t you worry.IMG_0486And this was from yesterday – maybe we need to embrace colors other than blue and white? Perhaps?IMG_0524Enjoy the rest of your weekend! xo

our trip to jamaica.

Christopher and I just got back from a whirlwind trip down to Jamaica.

IMG_0671IMG_0672We were only there for three days, but it was so perfect. This was the first vacation we’ve taken together since our honeymoon 3 1/2 years ago – we resolved to never going that long without getting away together again! Even escaping for two nights makes such a big difference. IMG_0670We stayed in Montego Bay, which is a touristy part of the island. Our hotel was an all-inclusive, which I highly recommend for a short trip. Since we were there for only a few days, we probably wouldn’t have ventured too far outside of our resort anyway, and being at an all-inclusive meant we could just stay put and soak in all of the amenities. IMG_0676The breakfast at the hotel was delicious – fresh watermelon juice, nova, scrambled eggs and SO MUCH FRUIT. The abundance of fruit and vegetables was incredible. Everywhere we went, another delivery of fresh fruit or vegetables was making its way into the kitchen. They also had a juice bar at our hotel where we could get fresh squeezed juice from morning to night – I had so much cucumber melon juice and I’m still dreaming about it. IMG_0640The view from our balcony! Each morning, we had room service deliver us hot coffee carafes and read the paper overlooking the ocean. It. was. heaven. IMG_0677One night, we got dressed up for dinner at the hotel. We didn’t end up sitting down until almost 9 p.m. – those bars are hopping!IMG_0673IMG_0674IMG_0675From the second we got on the plane at JFK, everyone was incredibly accomodating and helpful – they kept asking us if we were having a good time and if we needed anything! The Montego Bay airport was a breeze, check-in was a breeze, everything was so easy and quick – we were sitting on the beach four hours after we took off. Our hotel even had amazing entertainment each  night, so we spent our nights dancing to the steel drum bands and meeting other families from around the world. Our days were obviously spent drifting along the lazy river 🙂

We had such an incredible time and returned so rested and ready to tackle the rest of this winter. We can’t wait to go back – the culture, the food, the SUN! It was such a blast.

xo

if you are going through hell, keep on going – and get a dog.

This week marks one WHOLE year since we brought Grace home.

At first, this felt like one of the biggest mistakes – no, actually the biggest mistake – we had ever made. We adopted a lab puppy in a one bedroom apartment with no outdoor space. In the middle of winter. What were we thinking?

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 FOOLS.IMG_7450

To make matters worse, from the start, this puppy had health issues  (cataracts, heart arrthythmia, joint trouble) and of course, ENDLESS AMOUNTS OF ENERGY. The kind of energy you would expect from a lab puppy who is forced to live in a square box.

We adopted her on the eve of New England’s first snow storm of 2015.  It was too cold to go outside, so we threw tennis balls down our hallway to tire her out. This is not really an effective method. She did, however, enjoy watching exercise videos on tv. We don’t really know why, but that did hold her attention for small periods of time.

We were in the wrong space and constantly snowed in. Grace became a bad dog. She acted out, destroyed things. We couldn’t get on the same page about training her and were both mastering two completely different and incommunicable methods. For the first two months, I really wanted to get rid of Grace. I didn’t feel attached and I felt so, so overwhelmed.

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And then my mother-in-law got really sick.  My husband was needed in Florida and we had just bought a home in Connecticut. I felt so incredibly silly – who buys a house and adopts a puppy in the middle of a monumental crisis?  As everything started to come down around us, the issues with Grace felt a hell of a lot smaller.

There were a lot of things up in the air, including Christopher, who was constantly flying across the country. In those weeks, and the months that have followed, Grace became an unbelievable blessing to me in my grief. I needed to care for something – to channel all of my energy, to put all of this sadness into something positive, to love something with all my heart.

Hey, Grace – right place, right time.

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The most important takeaway, in Grace’s first year with us (other than read Cesar Millan and stock your apartment with a case of wine in the off chance you are barricaded in a one bedroom apartment during a snowstorm with an eight-week-old puppy) is:

If you are going through hell, keep on going – and get a dog. We adopted Grace during what turned out to be the worst time for our family. But having her in our home, and embracing the routine of owning a dog (especially a dog with tons of energy, like Grace), helped us put things back together again.

You should get a dog because:

You need to get out of bed. In the early days, doing the small things felt very overwhelming. I didn’t really know what was the first step in starting everything up again. When you have a dog, especially a puppy, you have to get out of bed because they need to go outside. You need to get dressed and go to the store because they need food. You need to put your sneakers on and get fresh air because they need a walk. Grace helped me get back into a normal routine, especially when I was feeling anything but normal.

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You can get mad at a dog. I had a lot of anger that I didn’t know what to do with, the kind of angry that you can’t really do anything about or fix. I was just angry and foul. Enter Grace. I could get mad at Grace – for not coming when I called her, for chewing a toy on the couch, for unraveling the toilet paper and spreading it around the downstairs of our house.  I was able to overreact, which was a huge relief. Grace never took it personally because she doesn’t take anything personally because she is a dog.

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Dogs can’t talk. When someone close to you dies, everyone says that they just don’t know what to say. And I don’t either – there is no a magical phrase (other than I’m so sorry or This just sucks) that is the right thing to say. I found comfort in Grace’s silence this summer. Honestly, there is nothing to say. And that is one of the hardest parts for me – sometimes I thought diving into it would make me feel better, but it’s the silence that has always brought me the most peace. Grace helped with that. Chris also made a great point: dogs can’t talk, but they really are great listeners.

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You need to laughDogs can’t read the room. They have no idea if this is a bad time to fart audibly or to put their face into the mixing bowl full of flour. Grace helped me re-find my silly – something I desperately needed this year.

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Sometimes you need to think outside of your grief. When it was time for me to go to Florida, I was paralyzed. I couldn’t book a flight, couldn’t pack a bag. And then I turned around and realized I had Grace. I had to mobilize quickly, because she too would have to be handled. I threw her in the car and drove to LGA, thinking I would figure it out on the way. If someone had said to me, “You really look like you need a distraction! Would you like to fly to Miami with a five month old puppy who needs to needs to poop but can’t find grass so is going to poop in the middle of the American Airlines terminal? Would that be nice for you?” I would have said, “THANK YOU NO THANK YOU.” But I know that I would have been a sobbing mess without her – instead, I had to focus on Grace not attacking the other passengers on our flight for the next three hours.

You need a buddy.  Grace really likes to watch tv and go on long walks. She likes to sleep in the crook of my arm and on my legs. She has so many nicknames because she answers to any and everything I’ve ever called her – she is just so happy to be called! She wakes up with me at 6 a.m. and trots up the stairs to tuck me in each night.

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Grace, watching a video about Golden Retrievers. 

Grace always keeps me in her line of vision. When I work from home, Grace nudges the door open and sits in the doorway so she can keep an eye on me. It’s like she knows she is dealing with someone who might need some tending to, and she is just the girl to do it.

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There were so many times during this journey with Grace that I wanted to turn around. She was a huge commitment and came at the absolute worst time. I had to show up, and I’m so glad I did.

Thank you for such a great first year, Grace. I promise no more lobster costumes in Year Two!

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our first snow.

Yesterday, Fairfield County woke up to a light dusting of snow overnight! It was our first homeowner snow – which is more delightful, for some reason? Even though we were responsible for shoveling it.

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Grace didn’t know quite what to do with herself – even though she saw PLENTY OF SNOW last winter – and Harley was not impressed (as always).

This sweet guy shoveling our driveway.

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I love this house in every single season.

Happy Tuesday! xo

happy birthday, christopher james!

12466372_10102792345174736_1235704489324149791_oMy sweetheart turned 29 on Wednesday!

Christopher, you are an absolute delight and joy to everyone who knows you – thank you for all that you do for our family. You make each day so much FUN. Thank you for making me laugh every single day of my life –

I love you, I love you, I love you!

Here’s to the best year yet – I know this is going to be so great. XO

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beer & brats birthday party

For Christopher’s 29th birthday, I made all of his dreams come true: in the spur of the moment, I threw him a beer and brats birthday party at our house.

IMG_4421We moved our porch table into the dining room and used that for the food – it worked out really well! Since I was wrangling a lot of dishes, I laid everything out the night before so that I would make sure I didn’t forget any serving pieces when everyone was here – this helped a lot! I definitely recommend doing that if you are serving a bunch of people, or if you have five different kinds of mustard 🙂IMG_0285I used my Juliska Berry & Thread serving pieces and gold Target flatware. I think I may give those girls a whole post of their own, since I am SO happy with them and love whipping them out!

For the beer, I did a LOT of research (beer does not come naturally to me) and paired craft beers with all of the yummy sausage we got: IMG_4431We got the sausage from Fleishers Craft Butchery in Saugatuck – and they were delicious! I picked up the Sweet Italian, Spicy Italian and Lamb on Saturday; we also served kielbasa which was just from our local grocery store. IMG_4423IMG_4416IMG_4419IMG_4420IMG_4424We also had a tray of ziti and a big fresh salad for those who don’t love a tray full of assorted meats. I made chimichurri and peppers and onions, plus we had aforementioned mustards, sauerkraut, and relish. Oh! And we had a Carvel football cake for dessert, which was a HUGE hit. It was so much fun!

Happy (early) 29th birthday, my love!IMG_1681

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and so this was christmas…

We’ve just gotten back from Christmas in Miami – and two twenty hour drives with Harley and Grace – and we’re settling back into life at home. I only have a few pictures from our Christmas, if you’d like to see:

A new ornament for our tree, which I adore:IMG_0046Christopher introducing our tiny pony to our tiny tree:IMG_1885Our house is all lit up from the inside, which is not a bad way to be:IMG_0049Home for the holiday:IMG_0172Gosh, there really is so much to say about a different kind of Christmas. We all rallied as a family and did our best to enjoy the holiday – I just need to say that this was a tough one. A tough month, really, as Christmas is not just 24 hours! It’s a whole freakin month! WHAT A TRICK! I did feel a bit bamboozled – you think you are in for just such a hard day on the 25th, but then it all comes rushing in when those lights start going up, the commercials start – I mean, I cried when I got a Black Friday email from Best Buy. So.

In all honesty, my heart wasn’t in it it like it usually is – I’ll get back there, of course of course, but it was just a different kind of Christmas this year. Thinking about where we were when I packed up all of our decorations last Christmas, and unpacking them again this year, in this new life… Going through these motions felt like it was a bit too soon and almost like a strange exercise in moving through grief; it’s like an entire year of all of the hardest parts of losing someone you love, all packed into one tough month.  But we lived through it – and the first holidays are behind us – and now, we are approaching my favorite holiday of the entire year: Christopher’s birthday is next week!!!

I hope you had such a nice few days with your family. I was able to get some great time in with my grandmother and our entire family down in Florida – which is all so much sweeter now, for some reason.

I also – in really epic news – have discovered chocolate saltine bark? Which is really gonna shake up your life in a way you are NOT ready for. That recipe is coming straight at you soon and I think you should just go on a liquid diet starting now to prepare. It. Is. Bananas.

xo

 

 

our connecticut thanksgiving.

IMG_4248Chris and I hosted Thanksgiving at our home this year. It was a huge holiday for us for many reasons – our first holiday ever hosted in our home, our families came up all the way from Miami, and it was (oh this is still just really hard for me to type) our first holiday without my mother-in-law. I do think we had some magical fairy dust sprinkled over us  – because it was just an incredibly special day. So many people I love so dearly, in my favorite place in the world, eating delicious food and watching lots of football. IMG_4151I served dinner on my mother-in-law’s china, which she gave me for my bridal shower. It is so weird to read that post now, especially knowing that I just had our first Thanksgiving on those beautiful dishes. They are truly spectacular in person and I feel so, so, so grateful to have them in our home.

I planned the menu out the weekend before, and I am so proud to say that everything went along swimmingly! No big fires, everything tasted the way we intended, and we sat down on time – at 1:30! I couldn’t believe it. Even the dogs behaved themselves.

Here are a few photos, if you’d like to see:IMG_4150We tried so hard to take a Christmas card photo – it is SO DIFFICULT with these nuts. Grace is giving so much attitude in this photo!IMG_4158My Sicuso ladies 🙂IMG_4192I know this is weird, but I really love this photo. Just the two of us getting everything ready! Makin his mama’s stuffing.IMG_4207These guys made the day so, so special.IMG_4210The BIRD! My mom and stepdad made an AMAZING turkey. They are just incredible in the turkey department.IMG_4234IMG_4262IMG_4275We ended up using this photo for our Christmas card (taken by my father-in-law!) and I really think the quote we chose sums it all up:Christmas picHere’s to the good that found you, and the great that awaits.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday! xo

roasted vegetable rigatoni bake

After the post yesterday about “how much food I’ve been cooking”, I threw in the towel and told Chris I was NOT GOING TO BE COOKING TONIGHT. He said, “Okay great I’ll cook.” I said no – no one would be cooking. We were going to get take out from the grocery store like normal people do on Wednesday nights. He abstained, I bought a rotisserie chicken (“Do you even know what time that was made? It’s been sitting under lamps since 9 a.m.” – Food Snob Husband) and he, Food Snob that he is, ate a Domino’s pizza. It’s a glamorous life, folks.
But when we WERE cooking on weeknights (which we will commence on Friday – tonight we are going here for dinner and I am pumped to overload on complex carbs before the weekend), we made a little something like this – no meat, lots of veggies, and for CJ – three. kinds. of. cheese. Is cheese Christopher’s love language? Perhaps.Vegetable Lasagna

Roasted Vegetable Rigatoni Bake

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 bell peppers, sliced thin
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced thin
  • 2 yellow squash, sliced thin
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups tomato sauce (A quick 5 minute sauce: saute onions and garlic in olive oil, add salt and pepper, then add a large can of pureed tomatoes)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh shredded mozzarella
  • 8 oz ricotta
  • 1/2 cup of fresh grated parmesan
  • One box of whole wheat rigatoni

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Preheat your oven to 450
  • Line a baking tray with foil and lay your veggies on that. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a little Italian seasoning (if you have it!)
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15
  • While your veggies are cooking, heat up or make your sauce
  • Put on a large pot of water for pasta. When that has boiled, add your pasta and cook for 6 minutes – it should still be al dente when you take it off
  • When your veggies are done, transfer them to a large bowl. Add the drained pasta and sauce. Add a cup of mozzarella, the ricotta, and half of your parmesan
  • Scoop the mixture into a 15 X 10 baking pan. Top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
  • Cover with foil and cook for about 20 minutes at 450, or until the cheese is bubbling and brown.

Enjoy! xo

oregano & thyme chicken with brown rice, beets & goat cheese (because food is my love language)

I think I’ve always been a pretty okay cook – I follow directions well, like most type A people. This summer, I really dove head first into cooking. I’ve been kind of a maniac. Not saying it’s all been good, but I am saying there has been A LOT of fresh food in our house ALL OF THE TIME.

Maybe it was because it was the first few months in our new house with our new kitchen… but I really believe it’s because food is my love language. For someone who talks a lot, it’s really hard for me to put into words just how sad I am or how sorry I am that this all went down…but I’ve found that a nice baked pasta dish can heal a heart in ways words rarely can.

In my love language, this recipe was an all-out “race to Newark airport to stop you from getting on the plane to Paris.” I recreated one of the Blue Apron dishes, subbing with ingredients that we had on hand or were readily available (za’atar is hard to find in CT!). IMG_1419It’s really just a fancy chicken and rice dish – aside from grilling the chicken and cooking the rice, it requires only about ten minutes of prep. And it’s pretty freaking delish.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A generous amount of thyme and oregano for the chicken
  • A mix of chicken breasts and thighs (about a pound left us with generous leftovers for the week)
  • 3 cups short grain brown rice (DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE MAGIC OF SHORT GRAIN BROWN RICE. I WILL PAY WHATEVER IT COSTS. IT IS SO WORTH IT.)
  • 2 fist fulls of arugula, finely chopped
  • beets, peeled and chopped
  • shallot, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pistachios 
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
  • fresh mint (chopped)

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Boil water for the rice and a small pot of salted water for the beets.
  2. Thoroughly dry your chicken with paper towels. Season with salt, pepper, thyme and oregano on both sides.
  3. Cook your rice (I added a smidge of olive oil and Earth Balance). Short grain brown rice usually takes between 20-25 minutes.
  4. When your second pot is boiling, add your chopped beets. Cook for 12-14 minutes, then strain in a colander and rinse under cool water to stop them from cooking.
  5. Add your beets, shallot and red wine vinegar in a small bowl to marinate.
  6. Grill your chicken – we used a stovetop grill pan which worked really well. They took about 6-8 minutes per side (but of course – depends on the thickness of the bird!). Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.
  7. When your rice is finished cooking, add the arugula and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Plate your meal! Lay your grilled chicken over the rice, then top with your beet salad, crumbled goat cheese, pistachios and mint.

Enjoy! xo

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