Adios 2017, Hello 2018!

Another year is coming to a close. It feels like 2017 has flown by faster than all my previous years – I must be getting old. Or it really is like they say, time flies when you’re having a good time. Because even though it’s been a year filled with much darkness in terms of world news, for me personally it probably has been the best one yet.

I just love staying home with my Isabella. While I miss working outside the home sometimes, I wouldn’t trade what I have now for anything – and I have such a deep gratitude that I am able to be a stay-at-home-mom. Izzy and I have a pretty busy and fun filled weekly routine and I almost always feel accomplished and fulfilled at the end of each day.

For 2018, I hope to continue living with peace and gratitude in my heart. I have an amazing family, great friends, I’m in good health and I have plenty of passion to keep me going. What else could a gal really wish for? But I haven’t always been this content with life. When I was younger I would constantly be comparing my life to others, and wish I had their houses, vacations, jobs, wardrobes or what have you. I’m finally able to see all the wonderful things I have in my own life to cherish, and it’s made all the difference!

Some lovely things I will remember from 2017: Renovating the guest room! Many precious visits from family! Dressing up as Star Wars for Halloween! Watching Izzy learn how to walk, talk, make jokes – and become a little person! Countless adventures with our MOMS Club! Growing a pretty nice garden! Friday nights at the Bozrah farmers market! Flying to Sweden! Vacationing to New Hampshire! Swimming lessons with Izzy! Sitting on Santa’s lap!

Some lovely things I’m excited about for 2018: My trip to Hawaii in February! My parents coming to visit for Izzy’s 2nd Birthday! Turning our ugly bedroom into a Master Suite! Enjoying a whole summer with our awesome stock tank pool! Hosting a joint birthday party with Chuck! Planning a new family costume theme for Halloween! Growing a new garden!

A lot to be excited and grateful for, in other words! Of course there were some difficult times last year, and inevitably there will be more next year. But the good without question outweighs the bad, and with the right attitude one can conquer the world!

Happy New Year, my friends!

Birthday Reflections

So it’s been another almost six months since I last wrote on my blog. I’ve been thinking that I either have to start posting more consistently or just close it down. HOWEVER, it’s not like I’m a “professional blogger” who depends on it for a living; it’s purely for fun and to have a place to reflect on my life – so so what if I only write once in a while! Today is my birthday and I decided to give myself a little reflective writing time.

The most recent post was about our spring break, so I figured I would take some time to summarize and reflect on what’s been going on since then… Well, for starters, Izzy and I are very active in my MOMS Club, and in addition to attending/hosting play-dates regularly, I’m serving on the Eboard as the Secretary, and I spend quite a bit of my time organizing parties, planning fundraisers, maintaining member files, etc. I love the Club and it’s as good for me to have some adult interaction with other moms as it is for Izzy to play with other kids her age. While she loves her teenage brothers more than anything in the world, it’s good to practice having to share toys and use gentle hands sometimes.

Izzy also takes swimming lessons on Wednesday mornings, and we recently started our fourth “swimester” at our swim school, Bubbles to Butterfly, which is just awesome with great instructors, good student:instructor ratios, and fun toys and activities. I’m very happy that we started Izzy early, as she’s rocking and rolling in the pool doing back-floats, diving under water, and jumping into the water! It doesn’t hurt that the pool is really nice and warm, as I have to go into the water as well – and I like to pretend I’m at the spa every Wednesday morning!

What else? I’ve been volunteering at the Mystic Aquarium some. One of my good friends is the lead teacher at Sea School, the aquarium’s pre-school program, and she asked me a while back if I would be her music consultant, and bring my guitar and sing some songs with the kids once in a while – and I very excitedly said yes. As much as I’m enjoying stay-at-home-momming, I do miss teaching pre-schoolers and volunteering at Sea School totally gets me my fix! And it’s totally cool to be able to visit the beluga whales, penguins, and all other critters while we’re there!

Of course, Chuck and I have been knocking off some house projects. We purchased and installed new Andersen replacement windows in the house – and we are expecting them to be as much of an energy efficiency improvement as they are a cosmetic improvement! Chuck also just recently finished our living room cherry coffee table that’s been on my wishlist for a veeeeery long time. In addition to that, we decided to improve our patio area over the summer. We get some awesome HOT summers here, and I really wanted a swimming pool. The initial plan was to take over our Uncle Jim’s 30′ oval above ground pool, but then I stumbled onto this idea on instagram, that you can take a watering trough and just drill holes for a pump & filter, and turn it into a pool! Off to the farm supply store we went, and OMG how I love my pool! I literally still have bikini tan lines from being in the pool every single nice day last summer! And next year will be even better, as we added a deck that bridges between the patio & pool. With electricity, a better table, a pergola, and some twinkle lights, it will become our own little exclusive backyard resort!

Speaking of summer, it was rather hectic this year between shuttling my stepsons to and from summer camps & volunteering, vacations, and having a lot of lovely house guests visiting. But I very much prefer life being a little too busy over too slow, and we all had a great summer. The only drawback of it being so eventful was that I didn’t get to go to the gym as much as I like. Now that the boys are back in school and we have settled back into a routine, I’ve been trying to go twice a week. I only do group classes, I hate the machines, and my two favorites are Zumba on Tuesday nights and yoga on Sunday mornings. Sometimes if I can make it work, I will hit circuit training on Thursday nights. It’s AMAZING what exercise does to one’s physical and mental health!

Another highlight was my and Izzy’s trip to Sweden in September. With the exception of a rough return trip (missing flights, sick kid, having no stroller, ugh) we had a fantastic time! We got to see most of our extended family, and spend a lot of fun time playing with my nephew, Izzy’s cousin, Olle, who is only six months younger than Izzy. It is very, very difficult for me to have my family so far away, so the times we do get together are truly precious. We were lucky to have two amazing weeks “back home”! Thank goodness for FaceTime though – we video chat with everyone as often as we can, and it’s really nice to have such a fast, convenient – and free! – way to communicate Face to Face with your loved ones. Izzy loves giving kisses and hugs to her “momo” and “mofassss” on the iPad!

We came home from our Sweden trip to a beautiful Fall foliage Connecticut! It’s been a very lovely season this far with many refreshing hikes in the woods, countless cups of pumpkin spice Dunkin Donuts coffee, and nice and warm temps into November. One of the most fun Fall activities this year was Halloween! I was a theater major back in high school in Sweden, and I love to dress up and invite (read: force) my family to do so as well. Well, I think it’s starting to grow on them and this year we did a family Star Wars costume theme. Chuck got to fulfill a boyhood dream and be Han Solo. I was Princess Leia, of course. Will wasn’t overly excited but joined us anyway as Luke Skywalker. Izzy was the Grand Master of the Jedi – Yoda. Ben had the best costume of us all, and put in a lot of work, time, and creativity into making his impressive costume as a Y wing fighter pilot! We got to wish “May the force be with you” twice, once at the MOMS Club Halloween Party, and once at trick-or-treating down at the Olde Mistick Village. Oh what fun! We are already debating what our theme should be for next year…

Anyways, I should wrap up before this turns in to a book. All in all, I’ve had a pretty great six months since I last wrote on here, and I can’t quite fathom all the wonderful things I have in my life to be thankful for. I’m hoping to write here a little more often (even if only Chuck reads it sometimes, haha) – but if not, here’s hoping that the next six months are just as wonderful! I wish all of my friends and family the same! PEACE AND LOVE!



Spring break!

This week was the boys spring break and Easter. Though as a stay-at-home mom, weekends and breaks tend to be more work for me than when school is in session. While I worked outside the home, it was “Thank God it’s Friday.” Now it’s rather “Thank God it’s Monday.” I like having my weekday routines. Though I wouldn’t want to be without the special times and the holidays – after all they’re what makes one appreciate those ordinary Mondays!

Spring break has been an amazingly fun and successful week with glorious weather and fabulous company! We’ve been very busy, and I figured I’d take some time and summarize it. 

Monday: Chuck went to work. All three kids and I spent the morning at the Preston park playing and picnicking with my MOMS Club. We came home and had quesadillas for lunch. Chuck came home early and took the boys to get six new baby chicks for our chicken coop. (I had resisted agreeing to more chickens for a long time, but then I decided that I reeeeally wanted a new living room area rug, so I made a deal with Chuck and let him have chicks if I could get a new rug. It was an easy sell and I’m crazy excited about picking out a new rug that will go much better with our newish furniture.) For dinner, I made a new favorite meal, halloumi stroganoff, and later in the evening we watched a movie (“Coraline.”) Perfect start to our week!

Tuesday: Chuck and Izzy had some special daddy/daughter time while I took my dear stepsons to lunch at Chilis and to the archery range Halls Arrow in Manchester. We all had a blast and shooting those arrows is addictingly fun – but tiring. Amazingly enough I still had energy for my Tuesday night Zumba class! 

Wednesday: Chuck went and picked up grandma Mary at the airport while the boys and I cleaned the house and Izzy made new messes. After grandma and daddy arrived, we hung out and later made grandma’s delicious almond stir fry and quinoa! 

Thursday: I started the day with a MOMS Club board meeting. On the way home I stopped at Target and couldn’t resist a pair of bunny ears for Izzy to wear at Easter. After lunch at home, grandma Mary and I did our grocery shopping. We had grilled marinated salmon, brown rice and green beans that night. Yum!

Friday: The whole family spent the morning at the Mystic aquarium, and I think everyone had the best time! We are lucky to be so close to such a cool place to visit. We had lunch out at an Asian fusion restaurant in the Olde Mistick Village, Pink Basil. Definitely a recommend! We came home and rested, and spent some time outside in the sun. Then it was time to make dinner again – good thing Mary and I love to cook together! We made another favorite – butternut squash/kale/lentil Indian curry, served with rice, Naan bread, and Greek yogurt. DELICIOUS! We even have enough leftovers for tonight (Sunday)!

Saturday: In the morning, we went to the annual Easter picnic and egg hunt with my awesome MOMS Club. Lots of yummy food and fun searching for treatfilled eggs (though Isabella is a little on the young side to really get it.) We came home to yet another delicious meal, an Italian vegetarian soup cooking in the crockpot that Mary had started in the morning. After dinner, we   hard boiled and dyed some eggs in preparation for our Easter Sunday brunch the next morning. 

Sunday (today): We invited Chuck’s uncle and aunt and set up a pretty great Easter brunch, if I may say so myself: hard boiled eggs, five kinds of sweet bread, yogurt, fresh fruit, granola and brownies. Our guests just left before I started writing this, and as I wrap up the blog post I can see that it’s really no wonder that I feel tired. But it’s a good tired. It’s been a fun, fun, fun week. Tomorrow life goes back to normal, and that’s okay too. 

Happy spring everyone!

Weekend getaway!

After months of snowy and cold weather, sicknesses, and being stuck inside, Chuck and I decided that we needed a break from home and a change of scenery. We spent some of Chuck’s Hilton honors points and booked a room at the Homewood Suites down in Stratford, CT (just outside New Haven.) Okay so it was not Paris or NYC, but good enough for a much needed weekend getaway!

We headed out shortly after breakfast. I kept hoping that Izzy would sleep in the car since her afternoon nap would likely be delayed… well that didn’t happen, but she was pretty good on the drive as long as she had her snacks, books and toys. 

Our first stop was to walk around downtown New Haven. Being from Europe, I very much miss “authentic” outdoor city shopping areas and I’m not too fond of malls or Walmart. The small cities in our part of CT don’t really have the same vibrancy and energy I’m used to from back home. So I was very pleased to find that the shops at Yale and the theater district in downtown New Haven were super nice to walk around! Of course it would have been even more pleasant in the spring, but we all had fun checking out the shops (LOVE Urban Outfitters!!) and eating lunch at a downtown restaurant. Chuck had spinach/Gorgonzola flatbread, Izzy had a grilled cheese sandwich and I had a Caesar salad. 

After lunch we checked into the hotel, put Izzy down for a nap in the pack n play and hung out. When Izzy woke up, we got changed into bathing suits and went for a nice swim in the pool. Izzy got to show Daddy everything she’s learned in swim class!

We got semi-dressed up and headed out to dinner in the center of Stratford. Chuck picked the restaurant “The Sitting Duck.” Izzy devoured half a plate of mac and cheese, I had shrimp pasta, and Chuck celebrated St Paddies Day with an Irish lamb stew. With a Guinness and a white Sangria, it was a yummy dinner for sure!

We slept okay. But that was okay since we got to wake up to a delicious breakfast buffet! We all enjoyed the omelet, fresh fruit and French toast. Yum! Izzy ate like a pie eating contestant, and kept signing for “more”! I guess she will soon grow out of her 18mo sized clothes…

After breakfast, we packed up our bags and checked out. We ended our getaway with a short stop at IKEA. We picked up a few things for the house, and had lunch and Swedish dessert in the restaurant. A trip to IKEA is always kind of like “coming home” for me!

All in all, our little trio had a nice getaway with lots of yummy food, walking around, snuggles and playtime with Izzy, and a break from house chores. I’d call it a success!

Spring forward!

We woke up to a wet and cold snow storm this morning. The day has involved shoveling, keeping warm under a blanket, and baking pizzas and cookies. No school for the boys and no work for Chuck. It’s cozy and all – but I’m SO OVER winter! And I know I’m far from unique here – but every year in March, without fail, I become  so indescribably IMPATIENT for spring! 

I don’t want: any more snow, bare trees, school and play date cancellations, boot/glove/hat messes in the kitchen, or such cold temps that make it almost impossible to enjoy even a walk down the road. 

I want: warm evening walks, ice cream in the sun, trees in bloom, the sound of singing birds and the smells of flowers, visits to the playground with Izzy and friends, and the dreams of summer that spring brings…

But the thing I’m most excited about right now is to plant my 2017 garden! I started my tomato and pepper seeds a few days ago, but the rest will have to wait until the last frost. My growing plan this year is to keep it pretty similar as last year. 2016 was the first year with the new layout, a small 10’x10′-ish square, which I will be keeping and filling it half way with veggies (beefsteak tomatoes, a color blend of bell peppers, carrots, and probably some herbs) and half way with lovely annual flowers.

 In addition to that, I will plant a sunflower mix by Chuck’s workshop barn, flowers in my window boxes, and elf sunflowers in pots on the south side of the house. I grew the elfs last year, but went to Sweden for three weeks while they were in bloom in August – this year I want to see them IRL and booked Izzy’s and my trip home for September. 

It’s time to go cook up the pizzas I made the dough for earlier today, but here are some shots of my 2016 garden to get me through the remainder of this snowy snowy day…

Five photos that make me happy

My beautiful children (at my childhood home in Sweden)! One I carried inside my uterus, two I carried inside my heart. I absolutely loved breastfeeding! The best six months of my life! Here in Central Park…Our wedding day! Such a fantastic day filled with love, joy, laughter and fun! Love my sweet, generous, snuggly, handy man husband!Our vacay to Cancun, Mexico! A wonderful memory I will cherish for a lifetime!! Håkan Hellström took Manhattan! And I was there! Such a SPIRITUAL experience!

Study makeover!

We have been blessed with a baby who has been sleeping through the night since she was a month old, and who takes consistent and fairly long naps every day. So because of that and because I’m no longer working outside the home, I really needed a project. Our downstairs study/guest room was in desperate need of a makeover; it was the only room left with a different trim color than the rest of the house, did not have a light switch, the wall color was awful and way too dark, the windows were in terrible shape, and the furniture just… bad. It seemed like a good room to take on as a nap time project!

View of old study, picture taken at the boys Minecraft party.

I started off in September last year by restoring the two windows. Working in the basement, I used my “silent paint remover,” a tool that uses infrared heat to remove paint from wood – no yucky chemicals needed – to get all the paint off the frames. Paired with a good sanding, it does a fantastic job and I love my SPR! Once the frames were all stripped and sanded, I ordered new glass panes from the local glass store as well as glaze from Advanced Repair Technology. I already had a caulk gun from restoring the mudroom windows a few years ago. I inserted the glass and glazed the windows, which is easily the most fun part of window work! The final step of the process was to paint the frames – Classic Ivory on the insides and Rockwood Green (both from Sherwin-Williams) on the outside. Voila! It may sound a bit odd, but I genuinely enjoy doing this. And the best part is that it all happens down in the basement – very non-intrusive to our everyday life.

Very old window, in very bad shape

Scrape, sand and glaze…

Once the windows were done, I (with help from Chuck and the boys) cleared the room out. We gave away our old tan sofa sleeper which was AWFUL to sleep on and really too big anyway. We had a big chest of drawers that only aided in accumulating useless junk – this is now in the workshop in which I don’t care if there’s clutter. We kept the rest of the furniture (a desk, filing cabinet, and bookshelf) and added a twin day bed. We already had a box spring and mattress and our neighbor let us have a frame that she wasn’t using anymore – so we didn’t actually have to buy any new furniture at all!

While Chuck was away traveling for work, I painted the radiator, desk and filing cabinet. Love how all three came out! When Chuck returned, we worked together to install a light switch in the room. There used to be a big ugly ceiling fan with pull strings, so now with a regular light fixture it feels soooo much more open and spacious! We had to cut two holes, one in the ceiling and one in the wall, to be able to run the wires. This made for some extra work having to mud and sand repair the holes, but that is okay. It’s so worth having a switch!

By January it was finally time to paint – walls, trim and ceiling. Having painted almost every room in the house at least once, and not to mention the entire exterior, I have become somewhat of a master and this one small room was a breeze. It came out super nice too I must say, and I can tell that I’m getting more experienced. The only thing I’m a tiny bit bummed about is that the wall color that I picked (SW Chelsea Mauve) looks almost identical to the mudroom’s Queen Anne Lilac. I had expected it to be closer to beige/gray than purple. OH WELL.

The final stage entailed my #1 favorite activity: to decorate! It’s a shame that this is the quickest part of the process… Izzy and I took a trip to Target to get some new throw pillows for the daybed, a lovely table lamp, and some other decorations. I made an inspiration display out of our plain old cork board. I hung two paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe I found laying around. Chuck set up the computer and printer. We moved our dear robot vacuum, Sheldon, into the room. Here are some photos of the end result – enjoy:

Love our new study/guest room!

Daybed and art

Bookshelf made by Chuck

New fave hangout spot!

My inspiration board!

View into study from dining room…

I must say I’m very, very happy with how it came out! It’s a huge relief that our house guests will no longer have to stay in that ugly, cluttered dungeon it used to be… It’s also really cool to have some additional space downstairs where one can sit and read a book or do a Sudoku puzzle. I find myself hanging out in here a lot while the boys watch Battlestar Galactica.

It’s the greatest feeling to have a project be completed! Now to take a little break from house projects and enjoy my family who will be visiting later in the month. But once it warms up outside we are going to tackle the next big challenge – adding an above ground swimming pool to the yard! Wish us luck and stay tuned!



10 of my favorite things

So I guess I haven’t written on my blog in about two years. But tonight, I thought to myself that it might be cool to start it up again. I like having a place to gather and organize some thoughts, and I gave up on Facebook since there’s so much drama as well as that it tends to eat up too much of my time. So here we go blogging!

We’ve had a bit of a rough stretch in the Curtis family, with everyone taking turns being sick plus my drawn out (no pun intended) recovery from wisdom tooth removal a few weeks ago. So I’d like to pull a Maria from “Sound of Music” and when I feel sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad… list 10 of my favorite things!

Susanna's sunflowers

  1. My family! Chuck, Will, Ben, and Isabella. My core. My support system. My gang. I don’t know what I’d do without them. Also my extended family – my parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, nephews, and Chuck’s parents and step parents!
  2. Music! I honestly don’t think I could survive without music. I need to consume it as well as create it every single day; if I don’t I feel malnourished somehow. I love singing with Izzy and her friends at my baby music group. Going to concerts. Playing the piano with a glass of wine. Blasting Spotify in the car. Music has saved my life so many times over!
  3. Good food & drink. I find myself daydreaming about what I’ll be eating for dinner several times per day. There is nothing better than going out for sushi or Indian or a good veggie burger with someone you hold dear. I love to cook too! Crispy stir fries with lots of garlic and ginger, homemade pizzas, fresh seafood dishes, or a hot wintery soup in the crockpot. What did we do to deserve this savory pleasure?
  4. Zumba! This is a newfound love. I finally joined a gym last year that offers Zumba classes. I had expected that I’d be DRAGGING my lazy butt over there, but it turns out that it’s a BLAST, and every week I can hardly wait for Zumba night! It’s not as much a workout as it is a Latin dance party. My serotonin levels are awesome and I’m happier than ever!
  5. Summer! She’s a dear old friend, and I long for her with such passion. I want long days on the beach. The smells of a hundred kinds of flowers. Bare legs and sandals and painted toe nails.
  6. Adventures! I like being at home and living my sweet, predictable life in Preston most of the time. But sometimes a girl just needs a good adventure. Traveling somewhere new, meeting new people, creating new memories. I loved my volunteer vacation at a kids camp in Greece, Chuck’s and my trip to Australia, and taking the boys to Cancun.
  7. Fighting for my core values! We all sing with the same voice. It’s true. I may risk sounding naive or whatever, but I will never stop believing in a more fair and loving world. I will never stop fighting for (in my own way) the things that I really care about – gender equality, multiculturalism, LGBTQ and women&kids rights.
  8. Relaxing in my neat & clean home! Nothing stresses me out like having my house be filthy or disorganized. I have become a Monica Geller type – I clean all the time and my best friend is a robot vacuum. Other people have hobbies. I just clean while listening to NPR!
  9. My friends! I joined my awesome Moms Club before I was even a mom, because I know that I only thrive when I have friends and a community around me. They’re awesome, and we have so much fun together. I love all my other friends too – I’m really fortunate that they’re too many to list – but you know who you are! I love spending time with you all!
  10. Beautiful things. I’m like a magpie bird. Love things that sparkle, glitter and shine. Whether it’s a sequin dress, or a golden piece of wall decor – nothing can lift my spirits like beautiful things. Planning outfits and decorating my home are two of my greatest passions. And if I don’t have my finger nails painted… actually not sure how to finish that sentence – my finger nails are always painted!

There. Now I feel much better. Hopefully it’ll hold me through tomorrow’s snow storm.

Making Art!

On President’s Day, Monday 2/16/2015, we invited Anne Marie Boroughs (artist and preschool teacher) to the house to do an art workshop with us.  Anne Marie had previously told me about her special technique of using one’s fingertips to make impressionist style paintings, and I had immediately thought to myself that having her make one with us would be an amazing experience to share with Will and Ben. The perfect opportunity to do it arose with William’s 12th birthday, and since it was his gift, he got to pick the motive and decided to go for a hummingbird (his “spirit animal.”)

The process started with Will picking a photo of a hummingbird to use as inspiration. It took him about ten seconds to find one:



Anne Marie showed up and we had lunch together. Afterwards we set up the canvas and all the supplies. Anne Marie drew a grid over both the photo as well as the canvas, then numbered the squares. We (Will, Ben, Chuck, Anne Marie and I) each picked one or two squares from the photo and started to sketch on the corresponding square on the canvas. No erasing allowed! We learned that it doesn’t matter if the drawings are exact, they will just work as a guide.

Once we were finished with our pencils, we got a lesson in color study. We learned what the primary colors are, and how a color wheel works. After that the truly fun part began! We started mixing up the colors and painted the bird, flowers, and background with their OPPOSITE colors on the color wheel (at this point using brushes.) It was kind of odd to see green flowers and red background, but the purpose is to make the art more interesting and have the background layer make the top layer “POP.”

We finished the bottom layered, drank some coffee and let the paint dry. We used acrylics so it dried pretty quickly. At least dry enough to make the top part. This is where our fingertips got to get busy! We simply dipped them in the paint and lightly tapped them onto the painting. Wow it was so awesome to feel the paint on your fingers, mix colors up and go “dot dot dot” over the canvas.

The entire process took less than two hours and was amazingly fun! I was a tad nervous if the boys would enjoy it, but Will said “this is kinda fun” and Ben said “that’s probably the best painting I’ve ever seen.” It makes me so happy that Will is always going to have this piece of art that has such a special meaning and story behind it. (And I’m going to print this blog post and tape it to the back of the painting.) The final result is pretty darn nice, if I may say so myself. Thank you Anne Marie for giving us all this fun experience…it’s good to have talented friends!

Sketching Outlines Brushing Bottom Layer Dot Dot Dot Williams Hummingbird