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Last Friday, I was down and out with a stomach bug and found myself lounging in front of the Food Channel.

I know. Stomach bug and Food Channel? I don’t get it either.

Anyway, my favorite tele-chef, Ina Garten, came on to teach me how to make a delish sandwich with salmon, bacon, guac, and arugula on ciabatta bread. What was really cool about the recipe (beyond the fact that some of my favorite foods in the world were smushed between two pieces of toasty grilled bread) was the super fast way she cooked the salmon. I usually drown it in some marinade that takes away all the yummy salmon flavor and then bake it for 30-40 minutes.

I know. I’m clearly doing something wrong.

So here’s how she did it:

Take 2-4 salmon fillets, brush ‘em with olive oil on both sides, then salt and pepper them on both sides.

SeasonedSalmon

Place ‘em, skin-side up, in a pan (she used a dry cast iron, I used a dry All-Clad) that has been sitting on medium heat.

Cook ‘em for two minutes exactly.

Flip ‘em.

FlippedSalmon

Cook ‘em for two minutes exactly again.

Transfer the pan to a preheated 400 degree oven.

OvenSalmon

Cook ‘em for two minutes one last time.

Done.

RestingSalmon

While my six-minute salmon was cooking tonight, I microwaved a bagged grain and veggie combo (4 minutes 30 seconds), and made a simple salad of baby greens and balsamic dressing (45 seconds).

SalmonSupperClose

I, along with my eight-year-old, scarfed it down in six minutes flat.

I’m still working on my six-year-old.

Happiest. Cereal. Ever.

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A few other things that made me happy recently:

The Pomodoro Technique has utterly changed the way I work. I discovered it last week, thanks to fellow Boston Mamas contributor Miriam, and it has revolutionized how I spend my day. Try it. You’ll love it.

If you’re local (Boston area) and you’re celebrating something special (or happen to have extra cash lying around), get yourself to Market. On the advice of a friend, Dave and I went there to celebrate our twelfth anniversary and OHMYGOD was it amazing. Best meal I’ve ever had in Boston, and we’ve had some damn good meals.

We’re paying dearly for our early spring 80-degree days and, sadly, my feet are showing it. There is nothing better than this and a pair of socks to make ‘em baby soft again.

I can’t wait to make one of these pretty bracelets.

And finally, this lovely lady — the one I lovingly refer to as My Dream Sherpa (or, the one who’s nearly as passionate about my dreams as I am) — has recently achieved a dream of her own by getting her first book deal (along with writing partner Asha Dornfest).  If the book is anything like her it’s going to be brilliant. Watch for it next spring.

Have a lovely weekend!

Image credit: Quaker Whole Hearts shot by Paige Lewin

It’s been 19 years in the making.

Ever since I met my husband Dave, I’ve said I would learn how to ski…someday. See, he’s a skier…an EPIC skier as skiers might say. And I, even growing up in the Northeast, had never put skis on my feet.

Every year I said I would learn. I even stated my intentions to learn when I started this blog. But every year, there was a reason I couldn’t (or wouldn’t). I was pregnant, I was nursing, we had babies, we had snowless winters, my father was in the hospital, work was too busy, Dave lost his job.

And on, and on, and on.

Dave even bought me skis one Christmas, much to my brothers’ amusement (because they knew buying me skis wasn’t going to get me on them). And those skis sat in our house, untouched, until five years later Dave sold them on Craig’s List.

I didn’t even notice they were gone.

Three years ago, our kids started skiing. And everyone said, “well now you HAVE to learn, because do you really want to have all those lonely days in the lodge or lonely weekends at home?”

Lonely, no. Time to myself? Why yes, thank you.

But then my kids started asking me why I don’t ski, and I found myself stumbling over my words. Because, the thing is, I was scared out of my mind. And telling your kids that you’re scared out of your mind to do something, and the way to handle it is to ignore it and never try is a really crappy message.

So this year, I silently committed to myself that I would face my fear and learn to ski.

The universe must have heard me because right as the holidays rolled around, my father-in-law suggested that we go to Breckenridge, CO as a family for February vacation. Dave and I almost never take vacations, so usually when school breaks come around, I take a week off of work and the boys and I muddle through five days off. (I wish I was one of those moms who revels in five days off with her two boys, but usually by the end of day one, at least one of us is crying.)

But we said yes. I said yes. I said, “I’m almost 40. Let’s get this show on the road. If I fall 37 times, or break my leg, or cry the whole day, at least I’ll have tried and I can tell my kids that I don’t ski because it’s not for me.”

We booked our plane tickets, our condo, our ski lessons (for the boys and for me), and we waited. My best friend sent me ski gear so I wouldn’t have to buy stuff I was never going to use again. And as we got to Monday of last week, I found myself incredibly tense. I chalked the tension up to trying to wrap things up at work before I left, but I think it was because I had one week until I had to put two skinny boards on my feet and fly down a mountain at an uncontrollable speed until I finally landed on my tear-stained face.

We got to Breckenridge this past Sunday. I took Monday off to grocery shop and chillax in the condo, while the rest of the group rushed to the mountain. That afternoon, our youngest came home with a bout of altitude sickness and I secretly hoped that I would need to stay home with him the next day and miss my lesson. By the evening he was happy as a clam, and I was 12 hours away from getting on the mountain.

The next morning I geared up. Long underwear, wool socks, wool ski sweater, fleece jacket, ski shell, fleece-lined snow pants, neckwarmer (x2), helmet, goggles, toe-numbing boots. Into the car, down to the gondola, ride up the mountain, check in at the ski lesson hut, then wait. WHAT a production. It was my first day and I had experienced nothing that made me understand the appeal of this sport.

And then my lesson started.

There were about eleven of us “never-evers,” so we were broken up into two groups. Mike from Arizona was our instructor, an incredibly gentle guy in his 50s whose main concern was our safety. He asked each of us what we were most scared of, and the group offered up everything from “speed” to “being out of control” to “hurting myself” to “the chairlift.”

I had found my tribe.

Almost instantly, I was at ease. Arizona Mike’s main concern was for our safety and he started out the lesson asking us what we feared most? I suddenly felt like I was going to make it through the day.

After learning how to walk in boots, put on skis, fall down, get up, form our skis in a wedge, and side step, we graduated to the magic carpet and the first pass down a mountain. OK, yes, it was the bunny hill, but it might as well have been Mt. Washington to me.

We got to the top of the magic carpet and stared down the pitch. It was time.

I got my skis in a wedge, relaxed the top half of my body, stood tall (but not street tall), leaned forward and pushed off. And it was…exhilarating.

I stopped myself perfectly at the bottom of the slope and practically welled up I was so excited. I hadn’t skied down a slope much steeper than my lawn, but I had done it, and I wanted to do it again.

By the end of the day, with the help of Arizona Mike, I had progressed from a knee-shaking newbie who was terrified of two pieces of wood (or composite…whatever) to an actual skier. I was making parallel linked turns down green trails in 30 mph wind gusts and loving.every.minute.

I finally got it. The gear, the production, the rush to the mountain. I finally got it.

When I was on the mountain, I forgot everything. Any sadness in life, the to-do list at work, worries about our children. I forgot it. All of it. All I could do was get myself down the trail safely and enjoy the ride.

And boy, did I enjoy the ride.

Happy Friday, everyone. And thanks for listening.

- P

My older son and I had a bit of papier-mache adventure over the past two weeks. I hadn’t done papier-mache since my time in Brownies, so I did a bit of research before we dove in. After watching this little video about how to make a papier-mache mask, I felt totally confident.

Some other things that made me happy this week include:

This poster from Urban Outfitters. Visual reinforcement is always good!

Charades, which I haven’t played in 27 years and laughed my head of with my colleagues playing it one night this week (yes, we’re a bunch of nerds). Official rules can be found here.

This version of chess. Every time I play with my son, it makes me happy. It’s the single greatest way to learn the game without getting out-of-your-mind frustrated.

This Trish McEvoy lip gloss in Irresistible Petal. The sheen makes me feel like warm weather is right around the corner.

As of 3:30 this afternoon, the Lewin household is offically on vacation. If you are too, or at least have Monday off, enjoy!

- P

Color makes me happy, so you can imagine how I felt when I spotted these awesome igneous rock formations on Pinterest.

Other things that made me happy this week include:

This great Valentine’s Day book

These fabulous and inexpensive online classes (took my first one yesterday)

This amazing story of kindness

This well-deserved honor for Jenny Komenda, one of my favorite decorators and the first blogger I followed regularly

Happy Friday, everyone.

- P

I’ve loved Stevie since I was 14 years old, so this backstage video of a very young and very beautiful Miss Stephanie Lynn Nicks makes me happy.

I wrote my first Make More, Buy Less post just slightly more than two years ago. Eight posts later, I had written my last. Pretty lame, I know.

But there’s a reason.

Just a few days after I started this blog — an experiment in coming clean and finding my creative self — my husband lost his job and our world turned sideways. I would say upside down, but we were fortunate compared to others who have been laid off. My husband was provided with a decent severance package and my employer allowed me to ramp up to full time. I started a small side business to earn some extra dough in case job interviews didn’t come swiftly enough, but the phone was ringing within the first few weeks (thanks, in part, to my husband’s inability to wallow in his unemployed-ness — something I’m sure I would do). But blogging about trying to curb my spending and fulfilling some pretty lofty goals of personal growth seemed sort of pointless. Putting the brakes on my old habits was no longer optional, and trying to “make more” — crafting and sewing and cooking and exercising and all that — just seemed too overwhelming in the midst of having to sell our house (and then sell it again when our first buyers backed out), move from my dream town, and completely change our lives.

Within four months of the layoff, my husband was in a new job an hour-and-a-half away from our home. We opted to sell and move to another town, opinions of which I had formed twenty years earlier while playing against its high school field hockey team. To say I wasn’t thrilled about the move is an understatement. To say that I felt like I was dragged unwillingly by some uncontrollable force is more accurate. And while I still don’t feel like this town is my town, I do think the universe has plans and we don’t always understand them. Because, if my husband hadn’t lost his job, we would not have moved, and:

We would still be house poor.

We would still be living in my dream town, which despite all of its dreamy qualities (walkable, strong community, great schools, vibrant town center), had a lot of issues.

I would still be only 30 minutes from work, rather than nearly two hours, which forced me to assess whether I was truly happy at my job. (I wasn’t.)

I would not have actively pursued a new role — part-time webmaster, designer, and communications Jill-of-all-trades — at a school on the most gorgeous campus I have ever seen. And after a couple of interviews during which I was convinced I wouldn’t get the job, I did.

I would not be working ten minutes from my husband. We’re so close now we could meet for lunch.

I would not be working for a school that values and encourages its faculty to immerse themselves in interests outside of their job descriptions, as evidenced by my boss who has a booming jewelry design business, a colleague who ran an inn for two decades in her spare time, an athletic director who’s an amateur guitar player, and a headmaster who paints (and P.S., we’re not an art school.)

So here we are, settled in a place we didn’t plan to be two years ago, but seems to be working out pretty nicely. And I’m ready to come back to this germ of an idea I started and see where it goes.

Hope you come for the ride.

- P

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