What’s New This Week 6.1.15

Hi, again. Let’s just get one thing straight: I do not like being told what to do…especially when I’m the one doing the telling. I can want to do something, but this funny thing happens when I tell myself I need to or should do it. It kills it for me and I stick it to the man (in this story, I am “the man”…in the anarchistic sense, not the first-bumping sense). If I should eat an apple every day, I suddenly never want to see another apple ever again. Tracking with me? It’s weird. I’m a little weird. Hence, the no writing thing.

But, that’s okay. Because today, I made ghee. Coconut ghee.

I also listened to jazz. Jazz and Diana Ross.

And before that, I went on a date with our three-year-old “Rocket” daughter, which ended in her stripping off her flamingo patterned dress, grabbing my hand, and running into the ocean. A pretty decent way to kick off a new month.

Now for the ghee recipe: (This recipe will yield 1.5 cups total: 3/4 cup of ghee + 3/4 cup of coconut oil)
1. Melt 1 cup of unsalted, grass-fed butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat.
2. Once it comes to a gentle boil, the milk solids will start to come to the surface. Let it simmer for 8-10 minutes.
3. During the simmering process, a nice layer of foam will form on the surface and browned bits will fall to the bottom. (You can skim the foam off the top or just strain it out in the next step)
4. Cover the top of your jar or other small storage container with a few layers of cheesecloth OR a coffee filter. Pour the hot butter oil in and discard whatever brown bits are left over.
5. If you want to double the goodness of this ghee, add an equal amount of organic cold-pressed coconut oil and enjoy!
*No need to refrigerate, but if solid oil is your thing, then knock yourself out!
You can cook with it, use it as part of your nutritional plan to help heal cavities (what I am doing with our newly snaggletoothed five-year-old), or just eat it plain if you feel so moved.
I won’t mention anything else that I’m researching or hoping to do until I’ve actually done it or at least have a foot firmly in the door of said thing. Because, ya know, anarchy and stuff.
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I Am Not a Blogger

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Here’s a little bit of everything to catch you up, people.

2014 has been pretty great so far. We’ve been able to have some fun as a family in the unpredictable Florida weather, we’ve eaten a ghastly amount of cookies. I’ve learned-slash-admitted a few more things about myself. It’s been like having tiny lightbulbs flicker on while I do laundry or take a shower or talk to someone (I’m an external processor all.the.way.). It’s been a month of mini-epiphanies. Nothing huge or world-rocking, more just “hmmm, ya, I think that’s true/good/ok”.

Some of my gleanings:

-I am horrible at waking up.

-I am a professional guilt-carrier.

-The shared freedom in both of the above reminders is the realization that sleep is SUPER important to me (this is one of those “duh” kind of ideas, but my stubborn brain has tried to convince me that I can still run on four hours of sleep–a la college days–and happily take care of a family the next morning) aaaand that guilt sucks. It’s just stupid. And I tend to feel it most about things that truly don’t matter, like whether or not I woke up early in January. Fugget about it.

-Cookies made with oatmeal and applesauce–never mind what else is in them–are completely acceptable for breakfast. And your children will love you.

-People are walking miracles. Cue the sappy music, but c’mon! Good grief. Tons of miracles walking around. Seeing this truth is slowly growing a longer pause in my unthinking and graceless words.

-I complain. Even if it isn’t always out loud. It’s grody. The seeing miracles and living in and living out grace thing, though, gives me far fewer reasons to whine.

-I’ve been reading more and writing a little less. Not on purpose, it’s just worked out that way.

-I really love reading and I really love writing.

This podcast, listened to in three parts–while cooking dinner, cleaning up, and after kids were tucked in for the night–was so well timed that I goofy-grinned while shredding cheese that evening. I’m not a blogger. I love reading blogs and I love writing them, but I’m not a blogger. I am a writer. Even saying those words, thinking them, typing them out, makes me feel arrogant (or like I’m setting myself up for embarrassment), but I think it’s true. No matter what weird phases I’ve gone through, those two things, reading and writing, have been my constants.

-Blogs with tips, projects, and daily posts are amazing. I love visiting them and have learned some wonderful things from them, but I can’t do it. I’m far too flighty and forgetful to write something worth reading every day. Aaaand exhale…I did it. I admitted that I am not “good” at blogging. I don’t have a writing schedule or tons of helpful advice. And, when I have time to write in the evenings, all I really want to do is read, sleep, talk or watch The West Wing (we’re on Season 3 in case you’re wondering–pleated pants and shoulder pads for days).

-I don’t know what this blog will become or if it will fizzle out entirely. I never say never anymore. For now, I’ll keep reading, talking, and writing. I don’t know what about, but if I think it’s worth sharing, you’ll hear about it. Promise. Just as soon as I finish ooone more episode of West Wing.

Oh, and the “goal” for February is to be extra aware of and picky about what’s going on our calendar. Making space for that Philippians 4:8 stuff.

What’s New This Week 12.2.13

Hi, friends! Well, how was your Thanksgiving? I hope it was something you were able to find the good and the thankfulness in. This year, ours was made up of a hodgepodge of sweet folks.

Some we met for the first time as they walked through the door, but once we dug into our Breakfast for Dinner Feast and laughed about our shared disdain for cats, we bonded. Eight hours, a couple of holiday movies, and one rousing game of Settlers of Catan later, the house emptied and we prepared ourselves for a whole lotta nothing to come the next day. Bliss.
Now it’s December and, with the new calendar posted, I’m grabbing my inner extroverted planner by the shoulders, looking deep into her eyes and reminding her to “Calm down, woman!”. I love love love love parties, people, presents, platters…? (I was on a roll), but I have to pull myself back down to earth sometimes–meaning basically every day–and be here.  
Fun is really only fun if you can share it, so we’re trying to leave plenty of white space on that calendar to share with our someones and the someones who don’t have any. It’s a hard thing for me to do, but I’ll just be sure to give my inner extrovert a daily dose of very strong eggnog. That oughta calm her down a bit.
Yesterday we kicked off Advent in our house. Here’s a little peak!
Listening
 

Reading

Learning

  • This week in the “School at Home” as Teagan calls it, we’re learning “All About Me”. We’ll talk about how they were “knit together”, what makes them each unique, study their fingerprints and talk about what they notice and appreciate about the people around them!

Cooking

  • This is month I’ll DEFINITELY be doing a repeat of November’s Monthly Meal Plan. I loved how well (albeit imperfectly) it worked last month!!! I’m a believer! 

Creating

 
  •  Decking the halls, reminding myself to slow down and love people, and trying not to burn the house down.

Enjoying

  • Watching the girls wake up to find “Abby”, our special friend who’s visiting this month (more on her later)!

What’s New This Week 11.27.13

Hi, friends!
Tomorrow is the day! The whole month has been leading up to this. Thanksgiving. Let’s make it a day about giving thanks (duh!)…but really. Let’s not beat ourselves (or anyone else) up for not posting what we’re thankful for any of the 27 days before. Don’t fret over how ungrateful we’ll once again realize we are.
I was recently reminded by a friend (who shall remain unnamed for now, but who needs to start her own one of these blog things…her name starts with a B. ok that’s all I’m saying) that life is a vapor. So much of what we think is important or urgent or will improve our lives somehow just isn’t. Is it wrong to list what you’re thankful for? Heck no! Keep it up! Is it wrong to be a scrooge? Uh, yes. But let’s not forget that we each need a daily head-to-toe bath in grace.
Let’s just make it a far more regular tradition to gather together, to open our homes to those who have none, to cherish the ones we’ve been fit into this vapor with, to pray with humble and genuine hearts that God’s Hope, Love, Peace and Joy would change our perceptions of priority. Let’s live out thankfulness.
That’s my spiel. I love you all.
Now here’s what’s been happening in our house for the last couple of weeks:
Listening
  • The Rend Collective Experiment
  • “Cold Weather Music”. Mind you, this is NOT holiday music…just as close as I can get without anyone singing the word “Christmas”

Reading

Learning

Cooking

Our 2nd Annual Breakfast for Dinner Thanksgiving Feast! I say annual, but who knows if we’ll do it again. We tried it out with some equally exhausted fellow parents of a newborn a couple of years ago and loved it! Who doesn’t love bacon?!

Creating

  • Our super simple (and cheap!) advent calendar
  • An advent wreath (Also cheap…it’s kind of our thing)

Doing

  •  Looking for just the right little elf to encourage kindness and wonder in our home a la The Imagination Tree.

Enjoying

  • The feel of the rain on my head and in my shoes last night.
  • Money for good food.
  • People to share life with.

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What’s New This Week 11.4.13

I did my stretches, I jogged in place, and attracted more than a few stares as I careened through the aisles of Costco, gathering a mountain of food for this first ever monthly menu plan attempt. Today, friends, is Bean, Meat and Chicken Day. This house will reek of black and pinto beans, lentils, ground and “bacon-y” turkey, and I will be elbow-deep in chicken grease as I tap into my Biology 101 skills and dissect three rotisserie-d beauties.

Oh, and I’ll also need to return a few perishable (Costco-sized) items that I bought in my uber-planned haze, but won’t need for three more weeks. You can have a bullet-pointed list or you can have your brain. You can’t have both, folks. Bananas, Spinach and Pepperoni Pizza, I’ll be back for you…in three weeks. It’s nothing personal, Mamma just wasn’t thinking.

It the midst of what may turn out to be The Time I Cried Over Baked Beans, I’ll take heart in the following. Be strong, friends, and, if you see smoke or hear cursing, be a doll and call the Fire Department. Kthanks 🙂   

Listening
 
  • Bluegrass (Kylie wanted to hear “cow music”????)
  • Fleet Foxes

Reading

Learning

  • We just finished up our “M” for “Music” unit study. We talked about, listened to and played music (on the only instrument I could “craft”–a toilet paper tube “flute”, er, wind instrument). Music history is not all that interesting to the girls just yet. We covered the basics (using The Children’s Book of Music) and it was fun! 
  • For the next two weeks, we’re studying “A” for “Art”!!! I’ve been looking forward to this one. We’ll be going through The Children’s Book of Art and this series as we hit the high points of art history, make collages, forage for art supplies, paint, sculpt, and generally just get messy. I hope the girls are as excited as I am!

Cooking

Creating
 

Doing

  • Filling our Thankfulness Notebook with anything that strikes us as wonderful.

Enjoying

  • Cool breezes under sunny skies. 
  • New growth in our garden! Hooray for not killing it!
  • Free bike seats (Thanks, Kampfe’s!!!!)
  • The fountain out back that sounds like a waterfall from just the right angle.
Have a marvelous Monday, friends!

What’s New This Week 10.2.13

“The days drag on, but the weeks fly by”. Is that a thing? Or did I just hear one person say it and make it a thing? Either way, it sounds like a pretty appropriate summation of life lately.

Now, now, don’t go feeling sorry for me (or tell me to be quiet–I might punch you…in love…no, it would just be a punch). We’ve just felt a bit like our world is still spinning since our move. Yes, it was six months ago, but I guess making the change back to East coast time threw us for more of a loop than we realized. I say that with a smile, but it’s probably more of a panicked, self-assuring grin than what I think of when I think of a smile. We’re happy knowing that we are where we feel we should be, but some days (ok, alot of days) I feel like I’m balancing on a tiny little rock that offers just enough surface area to keep my nostrils above water.

So, ya. There’s my little brain vomit for you. Bleh. I’m good. I’m pretty happy. Potty training could be better, but she’s a really cute kid, so I just remind myself that “this too shall, one day, not happen any more”.

Here’s what I’ve gotten decently right this week. Just know that there’s been plenty of behind-the-scenes imbalance to balance everything out. Happy Wednesday, friends. 

Listening
 

Reading

  • Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots by Sharon Lovejoy. It’s one of the most successful blends of useful information and sheer cuteness I’ve seen in a long time. 

Learning

  • We’re testing the homeschooling waters this year. The focus is on unit studies–one for every letter of the alphabet. This week is the letter “G” and we’re studying G-G-Gardens! We chose our plot in the community garden, bought our seeds and are studying the life cycle of seeds and anything else a 4 year old is interested in falling under the general subject. Planting this weekend! Side note: Would anyone be interested in a link to the unit studies? I’m winging it, but happy to share!

Cooking

    • Gluten-free pancakes:
      • 1 egg
      • 1 cup gluten-free flour (we use the Namaste brand)
      • 3/4 cup milk
      • 1/2 tbsp honey
      • 2 tbsp applesauce
      • 3 tsp baking powder
      • 1/2 tsp salt
        • When we don’t have maple syrup, we whip up some fancy pants fruit spread (just fruit preserves and water)…delish!
    • Gluten-free blueberry muffins (lots of substitutions, but so worth it)
    • Sub sandwiches! It’s been so long since we’ve made these! I’m willing to cook gluten-free for my sweet husband, but there was no way in the world I was going to pay that much for two tiny sub rolls. Until last week. I found these guys at a local, amazing discount food store (still well within the range of their expiration date) for $.20 per each pack of two. I bought 10. Victory tastes like gluten-free sourdough, my friends. 
    • Gluten-free meatloaf:
      • 1-1.5 lb ground beef or turkey
      • 1/2 cup oatmeal
      • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
      • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
      • 1/2 cup milk
      • 1 egg
      • 1/2 cup chopped onion
      • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
      • 1/2 cup ketchup (spread on top of loaf) 
        • bake at 350 for 1hr to 1hr 15min
    • Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
    • Smoothies (right now our favorite is a mix of blueberries, bananas, pineapple and apple juice)
    • Tacos with plenty of pico de gallo and guacamole
    • Big ol’ salads (the “Italian Sisters’ Salad”)
    • Apple Crisp (except times 10)

Creating

  • I’ll be totally honest here. I’m not feeling very creative this week. Yesterday I colored in the illustrations on the “life cycle of a seed” worksheet for our lesson today. It wasn’t for creativity’s sake, though; we just don’t have a color printer. 

Doing

  • Menu planning and budgeting. I let this slip a little last month and I had to pray for forgiveness when I cleaned out the fridge last week. Eeek.

Enjoying

  • Cool mornings. Fall is coming! Fall for Florida, anyway. Anything below 75 is jacket weather for me! Wally and Adele (my Maine in-laws), if you’re reading this, don’t judge me, please.
P.S. I want to share my thankfulness with you. As a reminder to myself (and to you if you’ve forgotten), I’ll be taking our thankfulness journal from the notebook on the kitchen table to the interwebs. It will hopefully remind me (and you) that there is so much good to be really and truly blown away by. 

What’s New This Week 8.12.13

A new week. It’s here. Brimming with possibilities!

Doesn’t that sound awesome?!
I really am an optimist in my mind, but sometimes that grody ol’ cynicism busts in and starts trashing the joint. Other days it’s worry that gets the best of my would-be positivity. And then there are those days where I (wrongfully) give myself a free pass to be in a bad mood because I didn’t get my full eight hours or somebody peed on the floor again.

Whatever the case. My not-so-great days are salvaged by hope. When I have no idea what I’ve done, what I’m doing, what I’ll do, or why I’m even doing any of it (I’d like to go on record saying that this is most of the time), there is hope. Hope that little changes do add up and that one day lightbulbs will go off in all of our little beautiful brains. Hope in the knowledge that I am definitely not enough…and that this is the best possible news.
So, ya. There’s your motivational, inspirational, feel good stuff from a recovering cynic. (I would also like to go on record saying that cynicism is never funny, but sarcasm can be darn funny, so that won’t be going anywhere. Just FYI.)
Here’s what we’re doing this week, the one brimming with possibilities! Join us happy folks and party-poopers, alike!
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Listening

Reading

  • Grow Vegetables in Pots. I like a good self-explanatory title. It called out to me from the Non-Fiction New Releases shelf at the library with a quiet, but reassuring confidence in what it will teach me. We shall see, Book. We shall see.

Learning

  • How much I have really, truly, madly, and deeply fallen in love with solid sleep. Staying up on Pinterest or cleaning dishes? Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.

Cooking

  • Clean Cocoa Roasted Amonds
  • Biscuit Topped Chicken Pot Pie
  • What I have dubbed the “Italian Sisters’ Salad Supreme” (I have these friends, you see, and they’re all sisters. They’re all Italian. They all make a salad that goes with everything. It’s successful reproduction has eluded me…until now.)
    • Romaine lettuce
    • Spinach
    • Tomatoes
    • Feta Cheese
    • Green Olives
    • Red Onions (this ingredient wasn’t mentioned, but I know I’ve seen them in it before!)
    • Olive Oil (~1 cup)
    • Balsamic Vinegar (~1/4 cup)
    • Garlic, 1 clove, crushed (or Garlic Powder)
    • Brown Sugar, a pinch
      • Mix these things together and prepare yourself to feel like a Salad Queen! I know some of you are laughing at the simplicity of this, but I don’t even care. I have finally defeated raw spinach!
  • Chicken Stir Fry with Rice Noodles

Creating

  • I’ll stretch a bit here and say that I’m creating, or cultivating friendships this week. The Extrovert is ready for “Pop-Ins”!

Doing

  • I’m going to a writer’s workshop for the next six weeks. I’m either going to rock it…or go hide under a rock. Actually, I’m claustrophobic, so the rock thing would never work.

Enjoying

  • The pool. I would live in it if I could. (Fact: I’ve always secretly wanted to believe that mermaids are real. The National Enquirer “Half Human, Half Fish” headlines I saw in the checkout line as a kid put a pretty big damper on this, though. Even so, I still pretended to be a mermaid for every summer between the ages of 5 and 12.)