Blue Plate Special for July: Sweat!

picnic champagne strawberries plaid

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on


This month for our dare, we’re going to sweat.

No, not with ‘80s headbands and Olivia Newton John. (If you know her, though, please bring her along. I’d love to meet her!)

I challenge you, in icky sticky sweaty smelly July, to get outside. Go for a walk, or a run, or a swim, or a bike ride. Work in the garden or sit on your porch and drink lemonade. Listen to the birds. Feel the sweat trickle down the back of your neck.

You may be asking why. Or, if you’re like my kids, you may be asking whyyyyyyyyyy.

There are so many reasons to avoid going outside in the height of summer. I’ve experienced several pretty big ones myself.

A few years ago I had two surgeries to remove melanoma from my face—wear that sunscreen and those big floppy hats!

Last summer I was on an extensive round of antibiotics for suspected lyme disease that increased my chances for sunburn—use your bug repellant and more of the sunscreen and hats!

I’ve developed mid-life allergies—hello, Claritin!

There are all kinds of heat warnings and charts that show the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion that are downright frightening—drink water and bring some with you, much more than you think you’ll need!

But I realized this spring that I’ve missed a lot. Outside is where the birds are, and the fish and squirrels and frogs even the creepy spiders.

It’s where you can walk so long with your kids that they finally say what’s on their minds.

It’s where you can cross paths with new neighbors, and invite them over for impromptu s’mores.

It’s where a deep breath that includes mint and lilies and grass and distant water can flood you with a thousand memories at once that make you want to hug someone for no reason at all.

It’s where you can be alone, and still feel connected.

It’s where you can glimpse just how big the world really is, and dream accordingly.

Feel free to set goals if you like. I’m hoping to someday hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain, so I’m trying to expend my hiking endurance (and trying to learn how to not get lost—that’s a story for another day). But you can also just sit and breathe and take it all in—there’s an awful lot of beauty out there.

Hug the humidity. Accept the sweat. Come out and play.


More ‘80s sweating, just for fun:



Favorite Dishes

round white ceramic plate

Photo by Artem Bali on

From Kristen:

Even when I was actually a Catholic, regularly attending my home-town parish and going to parochial school, I didn’t really get the whole Patron Saints thing. What was the big deal? The best I could tell, they were Catholics who died horrible deaths, so got this special designation. What happened then? Did God grant them special powers? I will admit, the stories of healings and miracles attributed to some of them are pretty cool, though I tend to be skeptical. (Yeah, yeah, I know, call on St. Thomas for help with that.)

Anyhow, these days, now that I’ve got more years behind me than ahead of me, I’m happy to look back and see that the challenges and joys of my daily life are not extraordinary, but that there is a long line of folks who have gone through them before me. I find that having some role models to think about as I slog through tough days is comforting.

As we close out Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I would share with you these saints who can walk alongside you as you move through your own tough days.

Again, as Mary began this month, we do not take mental health lightly. We have our own struggles, and we care for others facing significant mental health issues. Yes, pray. Yes, find comfort in the stories of the saints who have struggled in the same ways you do. And, yes, please continue to see consistent, competent medical and therapeutic help.

If you haven’t found professional help, yet, here is a reminder of some available resources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)   (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, confidential, toll-free, connects you to the nearest crisis center—for the Veterans Crisis Line, call this number and press 1)


As always, if you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911.


From Mary:

My favorite things this week were far more frivolous than Kristen’s, I’m afraid. I’m still blathering on about the birds and the books and the….potatoes. You’ll see.

This video is remarkable. Crows are so beautiful, and intelligent. Warning: it’s a little creepy. The crows are actually just fine, but the mask the researcher dons is definitely reminiscent of old-school horror movies.


And this one just made me laugh:


Last, I love this list compiled by Conde Nast Traveler, detailing books recommended by 22 Ambassadors that they suggest you read before visiting their countries.

Our Favorite Dishes



Is it just Goslings in the mug, or a Dark and Stormy?


From Mary:

I make Kraken Balls around Christmas (rum balls made with Kraken rum) and usually have a fair amount of rum left over, just hanging around. Kristen the Ever-wise suggested combining it with Goslings Ginger Beer for a Dark and Stormy. I couldn’t find Goslings in sophisticated bottles like she has, but I did find a few cans. She’s right about the Dark and Stormy (it’s lovely), but I’ve actually been enjoying Goslings by itself. It’s sharp and not-too-sweet, very much like a snazzy ginger snap.



baby bird out of nest

Doesn’t the wee birdy look like he wants to peck your nose off?


I’ve mentioned before how much I’m enjoying birdwatching. I wish we’d had this handy guide last year when the kids found a baby robin on the ground; now I know it was probably a fledgling, and the balancing act one of my daughters did to return it to the nest was likely unnecessary. Next time we’ll keep a watchful eye on the little fella and let Mother Nature do her thing!

From Kristen:

Like Mary, I enjoy a good ginger beer–with or without rum–and I am a total Bird Freak. Since the unfortunate demise of our big game hunter of a cat (Mr. Elmer James Shimfizzle), our backyard has become something of a wildlife sanctuary. Last week, I was absolutely tickled to watch a pair of blue jays divebomb the cheeky squirrel that dared climb onto the roof of THEIR bird feeder. We have a pair of mourning doves nesting, along with a pair of cardinals. The purple martins, with their iridescent feathers and fascinating song, have taken up residence in the weeping cherry.  There are chickadees and wrens and swallows and robins and crows and wild turkeys and a massive flock of turkey vultures… So, yeah, my little home in the country is loaded with birds. Not to be outdone, though, the land around my classroom–in the very urban greater Boston area–is also loaded with birds. There are two robins’ nests on the light fixtures above the doorways to our playground. There are seagulls and pigeons. We are less than a mile from the Charles River (the inspiration for the Standells’ hit “Dirty Water“), so we see herons regularly. And right across from the street from our school lives this beauty of a red hawk.

Also, because I was traveling, I missed the whole Mother’s Day fuss that was going on last weekend. Traditionally, my children give me something for the garden. Several years ago, that included giving me a ridiculous garden gnome of some variety. I’m smitten with this year’s addition to the homestead. He doesn’t have a name yet (I’m open to suggestions), but I plan on flanking him with stumps for seats, and creating a small gnome & fairy village for visiting tinies to enjoy.



Oh, and my wisteria blossomed this weekend!


Our Favorite Dishes



From Kristen:

We’ve already noted that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. These two posts crossed my desk this week.

I ❤ Jesse Eisenberg and Wil Wheaton.


And on a lighter note:

I’m a preschool teacher, and a huge geek who loves all thing Marvel Comics. How could I not love this?!

Loki Arguing with Little Kids



From Mary:

I’ve been doing a lot of bird watching since my youngest started showing an interest during the winter. Some of my favorite birds to watch are the osprey that nest in the buoy at the end of our neighborhood fishing pier–and I saw the chicks peek up over the top of the nest today! I didn’t want to get too close and agitate the mama, but I hope to get some pictures after they grow a bit bigger and bolder.



This is not my osprey. My osprey is hunkered down in her nest with her chicks.



I’ve also been watching something far less peaceful—the miniseries The Terror. The story follows two British Naval warships in the 1840s (one the eponymous Terror) that set out to find the Northwest Passage. They instead become trapped in ice for years, while the crew faces horror after horror. We know from the start that things will go poorly, but the breadth and depth and sheer unexpected variety of the disasters has kept my adrenaline pumping through all the episodes so far. With only two left to go, I am astonished at how much actual terror can be found in such a bleak landscape.

You can watch past episodes here.