3 Things I Learned on a Recent Weekend Adventure (Free Museum First Sundays For-EVAH)

We had a delightful Sunday adventure recently.  Like shockingly enjoyable.  With almost little to no planning.  I know.  I’m as incredulous as you.

It all started after waking up Sunday morning following a busy Saturday.  We hadn’t been out of town (or even out ON the town) in a bit.  I knew I wanted to do something.

Then I remembered that it was the first Sunday of the month.  This means free public museums in Rome.

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Do you run TO the crowd or FROM the crowd?

So there are lots of food-themed festivals around here, particularly in the summer and fall.   Fruit!  Porcini!  Carciofi for everyone!  I love food; sign me up!

I meant to do more.  And we will.  But we did make it to the Sagra delle Fragole (strawberry festival) in Nemi this June.

But the thing about festivals is crowds.  Shockingly, other people ALSO want to go to the cool-sounding festival with you.

I don’t really love crowds.

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ICYMI: mid May edition

The elusive double vintage shot.

The elusive double vintage shot.

On the blog:

If I had to pick a root cause of the difficulties of law firm life, this would be it.

Henry, still hilarious.

Food photos!  (I just typed foot photos.  For a split second, I thought about leaving it, but that would be super weird and gross.)

On the internets:

I heart tiny houses.  Anyone want to build our own street like these guys?

Remember how I said that fava beans are definitely a thing right nowHere is a little more background.  My version did not turn out so hot because apparently you have to shell them and then peel them?  Oh, well, I tried.

Even if billables are bad, law firms do have very generous paid leave.

Happenings & Coming up:

I feel like this week went by fast.  Henry actually made it to school all three scheduled days.  I can’t even remember the last time that happened.  Henry has also been biting his brother.  Not cool, kid.

I’m not sure what the plan is for the weekend.  I was thinking about a day trip to Comune di Sermoneta, but the weather is looking a little dicey.  A friend also just alerted me to this sweet dino exhibit in Rome.  Whatever we do, it will probably involve avoiding downtown Rome.  Tourist season is ON.  (And utility vests are definitely back BTW.)

Hope you have a great one!

ICYMI: dentist LIKE A BOSS edition

Sorry for the absenteeism!  To take full advantage of our family visitors, we’ve been trying to do ALL the things, eat ALL the food, and stay up ALL (well, half) the night.  It’s been fun, but we are run down.  I see clean eating, early bedtimes, and no vino coming up this week.

Proof of guests!

Proof of guests!

On the blog:

Check out these sweet gardens.  All excellent day trip options from Rome.  Monster posts like these are also one of the reasons I’ve been posting less.  This post took three day trips, writing 1100+ words, editing 30+ pictures, looking up links, and doing a little more research.  I’m hoping this kind of evergreen content can be useful to some down the road, but I know this isn’t super helpful to the majority of my readers in the U.S.  Sigh.

I squeezed in one more letter to Mac before his birthday.  Cake pictures to come soon!  (He went for it.  BIG TIME.)

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Not that you will look beyond the adorbs baby, but you can see my ombre hair experimentation here.

And how to host like a rock star.  I attempt humor in this one.  Consider yourself warned.

On the internets:

A friend of my friend wrote a book!  C is for Critter is a huge hit with my boys.  Letters such as “E” for echidna and “N” for narwhal make this a nice change for the parents as well.  (I challenge you to google quokka and not immediately go awwwww.)


The Cult of Busy.  These articles are my clickbait.

How Some Men Fake an 80-Hour Workweek, and Why It Matters.  The faking it could help on perception, but this strategy ultimately won’t work if you have to bill your hours.  They always know.  I do completely agree on the better to ask for forgiveness than permission approach.  My biglaw strategy was to get my work done and make myself be as accessible as possible without actually being in my office all the time.

You remember when I said I was failing at all the current events?  A sweet friend (thanks AJ!) tipped me off to the Skimm.  This weekday newsletter curates world news into a humorous, easy-to-digest format.  I promise, this one is not just more inbox clutter.  Now when friends have said, “did you hear about . . . ?”  I’m all yeah, YEAH I did.

Have I mentioned that it is starting to get really hot here?  I don’t usually adulterate my sparkling wine, but I may have to work my way through this list of cocktails this summer.

Happenings & Coming up:

Speaking of hot, I’m very happy that Mac can wear his new-to-him summer wardrobe, which aligns surprisingly well with Henry sizing.  Chunky baby thighs on display make me happy.

I made a version of this.   Even without adding cheese, it turned out nicely.  Eggplant stuffing, who knew?

I also made pulled out the slow cooker to make this.  Excellent flavor, but this was more work than I like from my crockpot recipes.  You want me to cut the meat, sear the meat, cook on high for an hour, and then switch to low?  This one is not destined to be in regular rotation.

I’m very excited about summer produce.  Melon season has arrived, and these are some of the best cantaloupes I’ve had in my life.  Also, apparently fava beans are a big thing now.  I picked some up today; will have to figure out what to do with them.

Mac is pro peach

Mac is pro peach

Henry dentisted this week for the first time.  He killed it!  I was so impressed.  They did an actual cleaning, with an ultrasonic water pick thing and everything.  I sat there with my eyes welling up because how did my little boy get this big??  (Dentist here is just like back home BTW.)

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For this weekend, I actually have no idea what we are up to.  We’ll try to squeeze in one more adventure with James’s parents.  We are also planning to attend a 70s-themed block party.  Pics if I’m brave!

What are you up to?  Any birthdays?  Dentist?  Questionable hair dyes?  Hope you have a good one!

Happy Mother’s Day!

ICYMI: Finishing Out Food Week


Does it get more Italian than this?

On the blog:

To kick off food week, I shared about my love/hate/love relationship with food.  Also, some deets on the Mercato Esquilino in there.

Breakfast is, without a doubt, our most consistently paleo meal of the day.  Here is our version of a “sexy” paleo breakfast.

And I talked about one of my favorite restaurants in Rome, a decidedly non-paleo place.  #pastaporn

On the internets:

“But the thing is — it’s not good for children to have infinitely patient, saintly mothers, because the world is not infinitely patient and saintly. . . . It’s good for kids to recognize the incipient stages of someone losing their shit.”  Interesting thoughts.

I need to try this immediately.  Mayo, who knew?

Ever planned a girls’ get together of any kind?  This podcast will make you snort your coffee.  Hey Ladies . . . (Yeah, for now, continuing with podcasting.  Listening anyways.  No immediate plans to launch a Roman Reboot podcast.)

Check out this doodle diary of a new mom.  Yup.

Coming up:

My sis, BIL, and my absolutely adorbs niece are here!  We’ll be trying to see as much as we can with three kids under three.  At least the weather seems to be cooperating.  Hope you have a good one!

You can’t fight the food

It is food week here on Roman Reboot!  (You know, until I change my mind or get overwhelmed and stop posting.)  But until then, let’s talk about one of my favorite things.  FOOD.

Something that continues to surprise me about my new gig is how often I think about food.  It’s all the time.

I am always purchasing food.  Some of it is because I can only fit so much under the stroller.  Some of it is because I just can’t seem to meal plan.  But it is always something.  When we have enough veggies, we are running low on meats.  When we have enough meats, we are running low on eggs and yogurt.  When we have enough eggs and yogurt, we are running low on canned tomatoes and olive oil.  It is always something.

On the home front, I think about food constantly.  What am I going to make for dinner?  Will there be leftovers for lunch?  If no, what am I going to make for lunch?  What snack can Mac eat?  If I use the ground beef for chili, what should I do with the rest of the onions?

Once I pick a location for a Saturday adventure, the next thing I start researching is food.  Where can we find food?  What time does the restaurant open?  Do I need to bring food?  How much food?

They say the army moves on its stomach.  I say the family moves on its stomach.  There is no faster way to ruin a fun time than to wait too long to eat and have everyone dissolving into cranky puddles of messes.  And I don’t just mean the kids.

I used to spend lots of time thinking about food, but it was more fun.  Less utilitarian.  Ooo, which sandwich place should I walk to for lunch?  Which restaurant should James and I hit next?  Where should we order takeout from this evening?  Now I am a grinder cook.  You need dinner in 20 minutes using only bananas, bean sprouts, and chicken broth?  I can do that.

I recently read Shauna Niequist’s Bread & Wine.   I saw bits of myself in this book, and not just because our children coincidentally have the same names.  I too ran a marathon when I didn’t ever think I’d be able to.  She talks about being on a punishing book tour, eating a club sandwich from room service at the end of the day, and needing that sandwich more than she knew anyone should ever need a sandwich.  This reminded me of some dark moments from biglaw where I sat clutching a blondie or some sushi and thinking this food was the only thing keeping me from crying.  Niequist’s stories are beautiful and real and un-put-downable.  In case not your thing, a heads up that she does talk about her faith, but it is very organic.  I’d definitely recommend the book.

Mostly though, I found another lover of food.  Niequist is definitely that.  She says it took her years to be comfortable with her love of food, but now she is not afraid to own it.  She gives people the gift of hospitality, coming together over a delicious meal and knowing they are loved.

I love eating delicious food.  I also quite enjoy hosting.  But somehow I haven’t been willing to put in the work to make this happen.

I’m trying to choose my words carefully here because I am worried about unintentionally offending.  This is just me and my hangups here.  In my 20s, I’d say I valued my career more than homemaking.  It wasn’t that I didn’t value taking time at home.  It just somehow felt like something I shouldn’t be spending time on, at least not as much as I should be focusing on work things.  No, no, I can’t mess with making stock from scratch; I’m much too busy and important.  I did have time.  But with all the narrative on outsourcing, being efficient, and maximizing all of your time, spending more time in the kitchen was not something I was trying to do.

Now, I usually crank out three meals a day.*  This can be a chore.  Something to be endured.  Or it can be an opportunity to be creative.  To try something new.  Food is a basic need.  A a mom, I’ve been worried about their intake levels from day one.  Why not show them love through tasty and healthy meals?

And that busy busy busy narrative just doesn’t hold water here.  That is one of the things I wanted for our time in Rome.  Opportunities to slow down.  To take time to breathe.  To savor the day to day.

This is a market culture.  I can stroll a few blocks and pick out fresh veggies, meats, fish, cheese, and bread.  Granted, some errands can be tough with both kids, but we do have the time to explore.   To find out which vendor has the best tomatoes.  To ask for a cheese recommendation.  To slowly learn Italian while trying to communicate how ripe I’d like my avocados.  I still hit the grocery store, but I’m trying to make it to the market each week as well.  And when I’m there, I’m trying to hit new vendors and stands.

I’m also branching out to new markets.  A few weeks ago we made it to the Esquilino Market, also known as the Asian market, near Termini.  WHOA.  This place is HUGE.  The market has clothing and other durables, but the real show is the food.  Esquilino has, by far, the biggest selection of seafood I’ve found in the city.  They also have vats of fresh spices.  Noodles and sauces.  And other things I never thought of as exotic until we moved here, like cilantro, bean sprouts, and jalapeno peppers.  We stocked up on those and some candied ginger and dried pineapple.  I didn’t price out every item, but many things seemed cheaper than markets by us.  For example, avocados seem to be about half of what I usually pay.

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When we brought our precious cargo home, I wanted to take some time.  Make something special.  Nowadays, thankfully, if you can internet you can cook.  I love to punch in a few of the ingredients I have and see what Dr. Google recommends.

For our “exotic” treasures, I made lemon cilantro roast chicken and a roasted sweet potato and black bean salad.  They both involved busting out the food processor, but it really wasn’t hard.  I also made a darn tasty pork fried rice and a faux pho that turned out better than expected.

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I’ve been using Niequist for inspiration as well.  Her book is packed with tasty recipes.  So far I’ve tried her breakfast cookies, cheese-stuffed dates, mini mac and cheese, maple balsamic pork, and risotto.  Ah, the risotto.  You really can do anything with it.  I’ve made sausage and mushroom, lemon and pea, and strawberry balsamic.

3.24_food 7

I’ll never be a precise cook.  (This is why James is leery of any of the rare times that I bake.)  I don’t follow recipes exactly.  But there is a lot of inspiration to be had, both from the internets and the amazing seasonal food here.  So I’m trying.  There could even be cooking classes in my future.  I’m committed to enjoying food again.  There will be fails.  But I will try.

(Unless you are one of the many house guests coming over the next few weeks.  In that case, please keep all of your expectations as low as possible.  Thank you in advance.)

*Please don’t think I’m cracking on James.  About this anyway.  🙂  He was primary on food for years, and he does plenty else around the house.  The current division of labor just has me as primary cook.

Are you in a slump or have you been food inspired these days?  Any tasty recipes or techniques to pass on?

Another day in the life

Last year, I told you about a typical day around these parts.  Since then, Henry is doing a few hours a week at Italian day care which we are treating as preschool.  Here’s our new usual routine on a school day.  You know, until it all changes again in 2.2 seconds.

4:50 Mac is awake.  I give him a few minutes to settle down.  No luck.  I go to feed him.
6:56 James’s alarm goes off.  I pull the covers over my head.  Why am I so tired?  Is it really just Monday?
7:30 – 8:05 Shower, get dressed, makeup.  Say goodbye to James.
8:05 – 8:15 Wake up Mac to feed him.  Normally, I’d let him sleep, but we already run behind enough as is on school days.
8:15 – 8:25 Head into Henry’s room.  New diapers for the boys.  Get everyone dressed.
8:25 – 8:35 Into the kitchen for breakfast.  Normally we have eggs plus fruit, avocado, or sweet potato.  But we only have one egg left so it is oatmeal with apples and cinnamon.  I work on the oatmeal and fill watered down juice cups.
8:35 – 8:55 We eat.  For someone who loves all food, Mac is being pretty picky about the oatmeal.  Henry is showing off and taking big bites.  I talk about school and how much fun it will be to try to get Henry pumped up.
8:55 – 9:00 Clean that kitchen.
9:00 – 9:20 A dreaded part of my day: getting us out the door for school.  Thankfully, Henry is feeling cooperative today.  At 9:20, we have new diapers, coats, and are locked and loaded in the stroller.

3.25_day 6

Temporarily waylaid after I snap a pic and Henry wants to take a picture of his brother.

3.25_day 5

9:20 – 9:32 We walk to school.  These posts are good for me too because they force me to face reality that, yes, it does take longer than 5 minutes to get places.
9:32 – 9:40 Unload the kids, walk Henry into school, and remove his coat and shoes.  Henry is being Clingy McClingerson today.  His teacher, Valentina, has to actually peel him off me in the end.  No screams; he’s just being a little timid.
9:40 – 9:52 Mac and I are on the town!  After I reload him, we walk to a playground at Villa Ada.
9:52 – 10:27 I give Mac a chance to stretch his legs.  We do some time on the swings, but mostly I just help him pull up AKA his most favorite thing ever.  I also try to keep him from eating rocks, another favorite pursuit of his.
10:27 – 10:50 I recline Mac in the stroller and provide a pacifier to encourage napping.  We walk to the market, and sure enough, Mac closes his eyes right before we get there.
10:50 – 11:05 I visit my new bestie, AKA the egg lady.  Picture giant eggs with Auburn Tiger colored yolks.  Delish.  Once you go egg lady, you can’t go back, they say round these parts.  (20 eggs/6 euro)

Guess which one is the supermarket egg

Guess which one is the supermarket egg

We also visit our produce stall.  We picked this one because they have sweet potatoes, and now I’m working on becoming a regular.  After learning I’m from DC, Duder (I’ll get his name soon) introduces me to another customer who he says is from LA.  (Turns out to be San Francisco.)  But I love everything about this; I’m slowly starting to feel like a regular.

3.25_day 3

I was going to work up the courage to visit the fishmonger (almost all the fish are whole and will involve an interesting display of broken Italian and hand gestures on my part to make them manageable), but no fish on Mondays apparently.  This makes sense because fishermen are probably not out on Sundays.

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11:05 – 11:35 Mac is still asleep.  I decide to enjoy the sunny weather and just walk around for a bit.  I turn down a few new streets because why not.

3.25_day 4

11:35 – 11:42 Back to school for Henry.  The kids are running around in the play area outside.  This is awesome (1) because Henry looks longingly at all the toys outside every time I coax him inside so I’m glad he got to experience it and (2) he is ALREADY wearing his coat and shoes.  SCORE.
11:42 – 11:54 We walk back home.  It still takes longer than 5 minutes.
11:54 – 11:56 We circle the building because Henry wants to see our car.
11:56 – 12:06 Unloading, de-coating, re-diapering.
12:06 – 12:30 We play.  I keep expecting Henry to ask to watch TV, but he only asks for potato chips.  I can work with that.
12:30 – 1:00 Lunch time!  Henry has yogurt, clementines, and potato chips.  Mac and I have leftovers and clementines.  I try to ask Henry about his time at school.  After spending so much time together, it intrigues me that he now has stuff of his own.  Because he is an unreliable narrator, I don’t even know what some of this stuff is.  Maybe they played with legos or maybe they went to the moon.  Who knows?
1:00 – 1:15 Prep for nap.  Story time.  Henry down.
1:15 – 1:20 Feed Mac.  Mac down.
1:20 – 1:25 Start a load of laundry.  Make popcorn.  Pull some stock out of the freezer for dinner.
1:25 – 1:40 Browse the internets while munching on popcorn and the last of the truffle pecorino from our trip to Pienza that I still need to tell you guys about.
1:40 – 2:45 Get my blog on.  Some combination of writing, photo editing, and link linking.  And Publish!
 2:45 – 2:55 Look up some recipe ideas for dinner.  Glance at a few other websites.
 2:55 – 2:56  Henry is awake and screaming.  They shorted me!  I know it is only a few minutes, but it feels significant.  Henry cannot be persuaded to stop screaming.  Now Mac is also screaming.  Coincidence . . . I think not.
 2:56 – 3:05  Screaming.
 3:05 – 4:00  Everyone is rediapered and has ceased screaming.  We play in the living room.
 4:00 – 4:05 And I have reached capacity.  I offer Mac a top up.  (Mac never refuses a top up.)  I announce that we are heading to the park.
 4:05 – 4:20 Shoes, coats, check diapers.  Finally they are loaded in the stroller with snack packs for their munching pleasure.
 4:20 – 4:40 We walk to Villa Borghese.  On the way, we run into one of James’s coworkers.  His family is out of town, and I extend a dinner invitation.
 4:40 – 5:25 We play in the park.  Henry runs around like a maniac.  I try to persuade Mac NOT to eat the rocks.

Someone seemed to be filming a very Rebecca Black style video here today

Someone seemed to be filming a very Rebecca Black style video here today

 5:25 – 6:00 We walk home.  De-coat.  Rediaper.  De-shoe.
 6:00 – 6:36 James gets home.  We debrief, and I head in to cook dinner.  I abandon whatever my plan for the chicken stock was and make chili.
6:36 – 7:30 James’s coworker arrives.  We sit to enjoy the cheesy chili goodness.
7:30 – 8:00 Prep the kids for bed.  Toothbrushing.  Diapers.  PJs.  Storytime.  I go put Mac down while James finishes up with Henry.
8:00 – 8:25 While James cleans the kitchen, I dork around on my phone.  I eventually abandon facebook and go in and talk to James.
 8:25 – 8:45 I’m beat.  I get ready for bed.
8:45 – 10:06  In bed reading.  I’m currently reading Book 2 of the Outlander series.  I was warned this would be addictive and it is.  The first book felt a little bodice-rippy, but I think it was just where the characters were then.  The writing is good, the story hums along, and it makes me want to plan a trip to Scotland immediately.

So that’s our new school day routine.  Henry goes three days a week, except when he doesn’t.  Like if it is raining.  Or we just don’t feel like it.  More on school soon.

Two hours feels incredibly short, but I try to have some dolce vita moments with Mac while Henry is at school.  We go on walks.  We hit markets.  We explore.  We’ve even gone to get cappuccino with James.  Good times.