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trader joe's hack

so, you know that thing where people buy a standard-issue ikea item, then they take it home and go all "outside of the box" on it? and hack it into something amazing?

i did that. but with trader joe's.

my friend tj has these simple little soup bowl mixes. kind of like ramen, but with less msg and shorter noodles.


i saw these and my brain instantly had this soup idea. so i bought six, along with some other ingredients, and set about making actual soup out of instant soup.

verdict? uh-mazing. and even better on day two, which almost NEVER happens with a noodle soup.

so, here's what you need:


trader joe's hacked spring onion soup

- 4 pkg spring onion soup bowls (i used six and we had enough leftover for probably 2-3 more servings. so four packages would probably feed four people sufficiently. but keep in mind: better on day two!)

- 4 baby bok choy - trimmed and chopped into smaller pieces

- about a pound of snow peas, sliced into smaller pieces

- 1 onion, diced

- 1 pint of small button mushrooms, sliced

- 3-4 chicken breasts

- 1.5 tb tamari (or soy sauce. or aminos. whatever you prefer.)

- 1/4 tsp ground ginger

- 1/4 tsp garlic

(i used dried garlic and ginger, but next time will use the fresh stuff.)


1. the soup packages require about 2 c water each, so get 8 cups of water - along with the spice and oil packets from the packages - boiling in a pot.

2. cut up the chicken into small pieces and cook in a hot wok or pot with some olive oil until done. set aside.

3. in the chicken pot, saute the diced up onion for a few minutes in another tablespoon or so of olive oil. (if using fresh garlic and ginger, i would add these to the pan at this time, too.) once the onions start to soften, add the rest of the veggies. saute until tender, then add the chicken back to the pan. then add the tamari. (if using dried garlic and ginger, mix it into the tamari before adding it to the pan)

4. while the veggies are cooking, add the rice noodles to the boiling, seasoned water. cook for 3-4 mins, until the noodles are ready.

5. add the veggies and chicken to the noodle pot, and let it all warm up and mingle for a few minutes. then serve.


the tamari, garlic, and ginger can be adjusted according to taste. also, the soup packages come with these little hot oil packets ... i used half, because harper is not a fan of the hot oil thing. marc and henry each added another packet to their own bowls. we also put sriracha in our bowls, but harp did not.

and that's it. such a yummy ad hoc soup.


and - i repeat - better on day two.

go forth and hack away.

living the dream

i was sent a copy of "love the home you have" by melissa michaels, who is behind the blog the inspired room, and have been both devouring it and savoring it, if it's possible to do both. i read a chapter with eagerness, then realize at the end of it that i really want to read it again and take notes. so i do. and i'm going to share some of those notes and thoughts over time, but in the opening pages of her book, this little sentiment drew me in and hooked me, for there are no truer words that describe my relationship and mindset with regards to architecture, design, and the feeling you get when you drive through certain cities and neighborhoods:


when marc and i discuss our "dream" houses, he says he would love to be in something ultra-modern: all concrete and glass and exposed steel and wood. sleek, clutter-free, and technologically superior to the average house. then he asks if i could live in such a house and i say, "sure ... maybe ..."

because the truth is, i want to live in about five different houses.

i want the 100-year-old farmhouse, with beautiful old trees, a split rail fence, overgrown lilac bushes, and a squeaky screen door. windows with glass so old that it's waviness distorts the view. a wide cast iron sink in the kitchen. a deep front porch. a tree swing in the front yard.



but i also want the beautiful old home in the charming small town, with a lovely staircase, leaded glass windows, tall rooms. woodwork that recalls the days when skill mattered. a pedestal sink. period fixtures. a small but charming lot, and walking distance to the adorable town, where i know the name of the bookstore owner, the coffee shop guy, the baker who knows harper prefers bavarian cream donuts while henry prefers glazed.


or maybe by "charming small town" i mean "nantucket." and i will ride my bike to the local market for lobstahs. and keep a jar on a shelf in the kitchen for seashells and sea glass that i find on my walks on the beach.


then again, a lake cottage would be lovely. a small, cozy spot with a beautiful view and lots of trees. where i can drink my morning coffee in a kayak, and sit by the fire in the evening. maybe some exposed beams, a screen porch, bedrooms tucked under angled ceilings of the roofline.



and i can understand marc's attraction to "modern", because there is a certain draw to streamlined simplicity. and if all the windows look at something lovely, and the exposed metal is dark and industrial, and the exposed wood is warm and reclaimed, with life still in it instead of stripped down and shiny, i could see the attraction. as long as the house isn't something that looks like an office building or a sci-fi movie set.


and then there's that part of me that would embrace the industrial, urban aesthetic wholeheartedly if it was in an urban setting ... like a warehouse loft. preferably in boston.



although i'm pretty sure my boston plans include a beacon hill brownstone.



the thing is, i just love houses. and really, location means as much to me - if not more - than the house. because while a dream house is just wood and glass and nails, a dream "home" is the whole package. and truthfully, any home can be transformed into something beautiful, but a crummy location cannot.

on mother's day, i took my family for a walk through one of my favorite areas of minneapolis - a neighborhood near lake harriet. walking through those streets of old homes and large trees always makes me happy. i loved our years in our bungalow, but always wished that it had been a little closer to the lake and on the quieter, lovelier (ie more expensive) side of the highway. the homes are mostly well-kept, and the yards full of beautiful flowers. there is obvious pride of ownership. and every now and then, when we would see one that had seen better days, i would exclaim, "i'll love you!! just let me have you!"

okay: i love my house. we built as close to a perfect house as we could, given constraints of the location and budget at the time. and i really do "love the home i have". however, the location is - while great right now for the kids - not where we want to be. it's too neighborhood-y to be our long-term happy place. we want more age, history. maybe something prettier to look at than a park and the backside of our neighbors' houses. and while i would love to go back to minneapolis, i know we would be equally satisfied somewhere else. we never feel tied to any one place.

i don't know if that's good or bad.

but if our kids stay here, i think we would be happy to stay here, too. but head closer to lake harriet.

because it's lovely.














we toss around new ideas all the time: the coast of oregon, boston, maine, minneapolis, italy (okay ... maybe that one is just me). and every time we talk about a different place, i get a different vision of what we'll live in. i am undaunted by the idea of fixing up something to be just what we want. loving the home you have is easy with a little patience and creativity. but what makes it a home is loving the life it gives you. and for me, that's more about the "where" than the "what."

imaginary presents

so, mother's day is coming. again. didn't we just have one of those? i mean, seriously ... moms are celebrated all the friggin' time. enough already ... i don't need any more appreciation showered upon me or offers from others to clean the house for a change, or the family giving me quiet time in my own home without interruption or someone needing a ride somewhere. it's too much! show someone else how much you care for a change!

oh, wait ...

so in honor of the imaginary love-and-gratitudefest that motherhood is, i've put together an imaginary list of things i would love to receive for mother's day:



because all good days start with coffee.




because "zen" and "coloring book" in the same sentence is a win.



because i love my purse, but it doesn't close at the top. and every time it falls over, all my stuff falls out. that's getting annoying. and we all know what happens when little annoying things happen throughout mama's day and just keep piling up and piling up ...




because my husband knows my love for jadeite and my obsession with bowls, so this one seems like a no-brainer, right?




because, bill murray.




because it is mother's day, after all.


truth be told, some sweet handmade cards (that were made with a little time and thought, not made in a rush on sunday morning because no one reminded the kids until then that they needed to have a card for me. not that i'm speaking from previous experience or anything.), lunch at a place i want to go to, a walk around the lake, cooperative and happy picture-taking-time of the kids, and a bouquet of pretty flowers (the ones i like, not the ones marc thinks i like because he actually likes them ahemliliesahem) would suffice, as long as everyone is happy and gets along.

and then leaves me alone with a book for the afternoon.

happy mother's day, friends.