Saturday, March 31, 2012

sharing is caring: {blogger lessons}

I'm sharing this post because I've been asked my opinion by bloggy friends on some web tools, so I thought I'd blab my thoughts with y'all on what I've been reading and learning about recently. I'll be back tomorrow to dish on some of my inaugural canning lessons (spoiler alert: I broke my jar cherry..and broke a jar!); if blogging isn't your thing, I hope you'll catch me on the flip side. If, however, you are a blogger, I hope you'll find this information useful. On a related note, I also wrote a few tutorials a while back that you might be interested in: How to make a blog button and How to make a social media bar.

A quick disclaimer: I'm sharing what I know as I learn, but if you feel like something I say doesn't jive with your knowhow, please speak up! I hope this blog will be a positive learning space for everyone, including and perhaps most notably me.

Friday, March 30, 2012

the crock pot: play more, cook less

I have been looking for new crock pot recipes lately for many reasons. My minimalist approach to parenting makes me gravitate toward healthy meals that require less of my time in the kitchen--no small feat. Plus I know I'll be running out on last-minute calls to my doula clients and don't want to leave my family in the lurch. Finally, I have a crock pot, a wedding gift I was very excited to receive over seven years ago (thanks Corinne!), and I almost never use it due to lack of inspiration and knowledge.

Mommy, play? How could I say no to this face?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

one-drink mommy bakes, and other tales

N.B.: My post title is an homage to Mike Birbiglia, one of my favorite comedians, and his bit called "Two-drink Mike." Alternate titles I could have chosen are:

This is Why I Follow Recipes 

Evidence My Husband Needs to Come Home Soon

Lately I have been having a cocktail in the afternoon evening. And I've been baking more often. Would you like to know what happens when a mojito-filled, overconfident mom decides that coconut rum banana bread with lime glaze sounds so delicious that she just has to make it?

Disaster. That's what. Prepare yourself...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

simplicity vs. minimalism

Are they the same thing? Which of these titles do you prefer? Perhaps it's best not to ponder that question too much, or risk defeating the purpose of both words. Ah, yes, it's a paradox. Or is it a conundrum?

As I've begun to define my parenting philosophy over the years, I have vacillated between the two terms. A quick search on Pinterest demonstrates there IS a subtle difference between the two.

Simplicity can get you this...

Not what I call simple.

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 challenges update: The Urban Farm Handbook

Did you notice my two challenge buttons on the sidebar? I mentioned the Urban Farm Handbook challenge a while back, but I want to share more information about how it's going; I will discuss the other Get Real 2012 challenge in a separate post. You might think I've over-challenged myself, but I look at these challenges as inspiration. When I feel like taking steps forward and pushing myself, I look to them as my guides, and when I'm too busy, I simply ignore them. There are no deadlines or consequences, only rewards in the form of positive life changes!

The Urban Farm Handbook is an educational, enlightening read so far. I've been waiting over a month to get it from the library reserve queue, so I'm only a few chapters in, but I can already tell I love it. In fact, I went ahead and added it to my Amazon wish list to purchase my own copy. It is an excellent reference book that I can see going back to time and again for recipes, reminders, and inspiration. One of my favorite parts about the book is that it is written from the perspective of two people with individual philosophies on urban farming and different methods for feeding their families. One author, who rides the metaphorical self-described "Crazy Bus," is raising a family completely outside of the modern grocery store. She shops at farmer's markets and barters with friends, and the rest of her food is produced at home via gardening, canning/preserving, and even grinding her own grain. The second author takes a less extreme approach, choosing to create a small roster of homegrown meals.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

homemade avocado nutella


Avocado is the secret to much food happiness in my life. When Nate's not around, I live on avocado as my primary healthy fat and protein source. Last week I used inspiration from Pinterest to make an avocado grilled cheese sandwich, but I upped the ante by adding a runny fried egg. Wowza, was it ever good. I was originally planning to put this pic in my {What's for Dinner?} series, which could partially explain why half the sandwich is out of the picture. Partially.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

spinning workout {6}: Arcade Fire

Good morning! I'm headed out to the gym to catch my Pioneer Woman cooking show, but before I go, here's another one-hour spinning workout (check out the rest of the series here). Remember that even if you're not into spinning, the music is great for any exercise or as background motivation for cleaning the house. I'm calling it "Arcade Fire" because I used a few of their songs. This workout follows the rhythm of workout {4}:upbeat closely; I enjoy the upbeat pattern and sought to repeat it. As always, you can check out the playlist on Spotify. Get moving!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

calabacitas: your new favorite veggie side

Annie's bachelorette party in Knoxville. SO fun. '06.
AnnaLysa is my best good friend. She calls me Bean. I call her Annie, because let's be honest, she's more creative than me. She is brilliant, in fact. She befriended me when we were four years old, and I was shier than a baby turtle. She brought me out of my shell and continued to coax me patiently back out every time we encountered a scary milestone (middle school...ack! high school...eek! prom...barf!). Speaking of prom, she was the prom queen. I tell everyone we meet that little nugget. There never was a more deserving person on this earth of that award. She is an exceptional person, and should you ever meet her in person I know you will agree. I owe the fact that I give hugs and compliments to my many years spent modeling her. She does not betray an ounce of judgment or fear across her face when meeting a person who is disfigured or handicapped in some way, and I truly believe it's because she feels no judgment or fear.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

calling all birth stories!

I learned today that 100% of my Facebook followers are women. 100%! Which got me thinking. If the comments y'all leave me are any inkling, most of you reading this post are also women (which may not be fair in this case, considering the post has birth in the title. Men undoubtedly ran screaming). I'm writing today to see if any of you lovely readers are interested in posting your birth stories on my new doula website.

When I was pregnant, the #1 source of help to me was hearing and reading mothers' birth stories. I read Spiritual Midwifery from cover to cover, which is a collection of birth stories that took place on Ina May Gaskin's farm in Tennessee. It was empowering to discover that many women not only gave birth without much outside assistance but that they frequently enjoyed the birth experience. Unfortunately being pregnant also seemed to draw out the random strangers (or even members of my family) who had very challenging labors, and I heard some traumatic stories too.

wordless Wednesday: this week on the range

Real St. Paddy's Green

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

spring cleaning and preparing

Happy first day of spring! I adore spring. Doesn't everyone? Did you see the Marimekko Google doodle today? I've mentioned once or a thousand times that a favorite spring tradition is bargain hunting. A less-loved though no less necessary activity is spring cleaning. Have you begun your cleaning yet? I am enjoying Simple Mom's {Project Simplify 2012} series because it gives me certain areas to focus on each week, providing interest to an otherwise boring operation. I must say that I do LOVE the purging part of spring cleaning. Simple Mom's area of focus in the last week of the challenge is "choose your own adventure." For me, this adventure is emergency preparedness.

Monday, March 19, 2012

my minimalist manifesto


While you read what I'm sharing today, I'd like you to ponder the following question: When is adequate enough? In other words, when is it okay just to be normal instead of the best at everything? When is it okay to have less than others, but enough for you?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

love the place you live: Walden Pond

I love Thoreau. I have a copy of Walden that I cherish. I purchased the book back when I was collecting the fake gold-leaf Barnes & Noble leather-bound books in my early twenties. Do you remember when they re-published the classics? I enjoy them tremendously, even if they are cheap knock-offs of the originals. Among them, my favorites are Walden and the collected works of Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe. I love my copies not just because of the obvious reason they are so well-written, but also because seeing them reminds me of when I used to purchase random objects with abandon in my early twenties--without the experience of moving heavy books a hundred times to weigh down my decision. I had no further plans to do anything with them (or read them, for that matter), I just thought they might enhance my life in some way someday. In that far-off dwelling of twenty-somethings' fantasies. And they have!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

behind the scenes

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! I hope you're doing something merry and preferably without ingesting too much artificial green dye. We are off to spend our morning on my favorite local farm, where we will see the farmers harvest maple syrup and eat loads of pancakes. It promises to be memorable and filling. And after a fruitless ransacking for green in Vivi's wardrobe, she is planning to wear her frog costume, which is apparently the only green thing she owns. There will be pictures.

Along the lines of the {a day in the life} post I wrote a while back, I thought I'd share some of what happens behind the scenes at our Home on the Range. I can typically be found in the kitchen, where we get lots of natural light. My basic life philosophy is that where the food resides, so do I. The girls like hanging out with me here, so the kitchen is also the location of impromptu dance parties and story hours on the floor.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the wisdom of the lady with the alligator purse

Vivi loves this book, The Lady with the Alligator Purse. Back in my day, I remember the song well (it starts "Miss Lucy had a baby. His name was Tiny Tim. She put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim"). I can't remember if it was one that we sang on the playground (a la "Miss Mary Mack" and "Down by the Banks") or if my grandma sang it to me while I played in the bathtub. She sang lots of cute songs to me. Either way, Vivi's recent fondness for it is bringing back nice memories of being a child. There's another post about reliving my childhood through my kids in all this rambling, but it's not why I'm writing about that book today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

on bathroom talk and blooming relationships

Pics taken with Nate's smart phone, which I pirated while he's gone

We are having glorious weather this week. Last year at this time we had definitely not broken out the shorts sleeves for a few weeks yet. We went to the park again yesterday and had such fun. On our walk, my mind was wandering to what I might write about today on the blog. I thought to myself "I haven't posted Vivisms in a while. I should remember to write down the next funny thing she says." Then literally twenty seconds later, Vivi nearly fell in the road and exclaimed "Oh! I almost tripped on that butt crack in the street!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

did you read? round 2

Very funny, Sam

The tax man has a sense of humor. Unfortunately, I think he prefers sardonic wit. Case in point: the image above is of three letters from the IRS we received on the same day. The good news is that Uncle Sam reconciled a past error he made, and we only owe him $17. The bad news is that it took him three pieces of paper to tell us this news, in three different envelopes, all on the same day. Your tax dollars at work (ah, irony). I don't have anything else to say on this topic, but I didn't have a picture for my {Did you read?} series post, so I thought I'd share. Now onto stuff I've read lately...

Monday, March 12, 2012

what's for dinner?, round 2

We had a quiet, lovely weekend. Do you love daylight savings as much as I do? What's not to love? The kids sleep in until 8am, and it's still light at 6pm. Winning! On the flip side of feelings, I am greatly missing the hubster, who is still abroad on his work trip. Vivi misses him too of course and talks a lot about how she's going to show him "her pretty dress." She is quite the girly girl, preferring to get dressed up in a nice frock on a daily basis if she's not going to school or gymnastics class. Here's one of her get-ups from this weekend; she completely put it together herself. I'm sharing this pic on Steppin' Out Saturday.

Jacket & Dress: Target (Thrift); Knit leggings: Savannah (TJ Maxx);
Boots: Michael Kors (Marshall's); Tiara: Hand-me-down from a cousin

Sunday, March 11, 2012

spinning workout #5: club hits

When I was in high school, I loved making mixed tapes. My dad turned me onto the practice, which became something of an obsession during the High Fidelity era--as did all other things associated with John Cusack. {Swoon.}

Back in my mixed tape days. I'm on the left.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

on compulsory tiger stripes


I LOVE this picture. I had to draw in a little pitchfork (my very own crappy picture) because it looks so American Gothic-y. Seeing how grown-up the girls look in that snapshot makes me realize I haven't given an update on them in a while.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Erin go braugh (or "the Dude abides")

I'll begin by saying I really do not like the word vomit. I don't like when people say "I vomited in my mouth a little" to be funny. It is not funny to imagine you vomiting in your mouth a little. Having said that, I went grocery shopping yesterday, and it looked like St. Patrick's Day vomited everywhere. I'm not even joking. I only wish I could show you the NINE pictures I took with my phone of the NINE St. Patrick's Day displays in Stop 'N Shop, but my phone is evil and hates me and refuses to allow me to share. Darn you, dumb phone. I will definitely be swapping my phone for Nate's in a matter of days. But I digress.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

dirt therapy: sowing seeds to plant roots

Yes, that is a camping shovel. Don't judge me.

I just filled out Vivi's summer camp paperwork. I can hardly stand it, I am so excited for her. To be honest, I've been mentally making plans for her to attend camp ever since I got pregnant. I remember thinking, "How old can she be when she starts camp?," and when I discovered I had to wait a whole four years, I was crestfallen. But now the wait is over! The time is upon us...

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

my-doula oblongata

My birth doula training (doula= non-medical labor coach) took place this weekend, and it was wonderful. I also had a great day today full of calls, texts, and emails from friends and family asking me how it went. I feel so loved and supported. Thank you!

I want to share some of the best parts of the two-day training. But first I want to share this chubby angel...

Is he the sweetest thing you've ever seen or what? This little guy is the best four-month-old baby in the world; he tagged along with his still-breastfeeding mama to the training and basically slept, smiled, and ate the whole time. After being around him for a full weekend, all I can say is that Nate is lucky he is currently across several continents and a giant ocean. I was in full-on baby-crazed mode.

Monday, March 05, 2012

DIY reading nook: my first guest post {squeal!}

Y'all probably know by now I'm not a squealer, so my news today must mean a great deal to me because I can't stop squealing when I see it: my first guest post on another blog! I was so pleased that Emily from S.A.H.M. i AM asked me to return the favor she did for me a few weeks back. Emily is a great friend, and she shares the unique distinction of being the only virtual-world bestie of mine; I've never met her in person but we've gabbed by phone, e-mail, and gobs of blog comments. I was drawn to her blog the first time I participated in NaBloPoMo, so I emailed her to tell her how much I loved it, and the rest is history. And get this...we even share a birthday!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

peace out, princesses. don't let the door hit ya'...

I've been struggling with and mulling over whether to tell you what I'm about to say, but I made a pledge to be more honest with you, Reader, and I am sticking to it. The thing is, I'm not quite sure what to say. I'll just get going with it then.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

practicing simplicity

I'll start with a quick aside about parenting philosophy. I don't know about you, but my philosophy can be a moving target. Occasionally, I like to take time to ponder thoughtfully the mom I want to be. I keep a leather notebook (Yes, I know, in the days of smart phones and iPads and crackberries, I still keep a pad and pen) where I write down thoughts that pop into my head. It's how I make sense out of the apparent randomness in my stream-of-conscience life. Lately I am honing in on some words that make me smile and that I want to incorporate into our lives. Here are a few of the scribbled notes from my pad:

Do more with less. 
Slow down. 
Start as you mean to go on. 
Enjoy the little things. 
Don't sweat the small stuff. 
Achieve peace and quiet, happiness and relaxation.

Before I had kids, I thought it would be easy to keep things simple. It seemed to me that the only way clutter could get into your home is if you allow it there, so as long as I kept it out, I'd be fine, right?

Friday, March 02, 2012

poop talk = good?

Do you live in a world where discussions of poop are a good day? I've been waiting to start Charlie on potty training, but if I'm honest with myself, I couldn't really say why. She has been talking about the whole general concept for a few months now. "Pee pee!" is announced every time one of us goes to the bathroom, and she even says "Uh oh, poop" and runs to stand in the vicinity of the potty when she's about to go. Yeah, it probably doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure she's ready.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

opening up about not opening up

I find it challenging to be candid, even with close friends and family, in ways that may make me appear vulnerable. Yesterday I had a nice convo with my friend Emily about many topics; one of my favorites was our frank and honest discussion about how difficult parenting can be. Does it seem like a taboo subject to you? What do you think are the reasons for our struggle to admit the hardships of parenthood? Is it a part of our cultural folkways or mores? Sociology majors, help me out.


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