Thursday, July 25, 2013

I forgot my mantra

I love that quote by Jeff Goldblum in Annie Hall. I don't always get Woody Allen's jokes, but I get that one because it so accurately represents how I feel. I would try to meditate, but I'm certain I would forget my mantra because my pursuit of meditation would be so poorly executed. You see, I'm an ideas girl. I leave the execution of details to my life partner. We make a great team, he and I.

My church is a small congregation, and we take a break over the summer due to so many families traveling and to give our pastor some much needed time off. During the summer months, they invite speakers on Sundays to discuss any number of topics not covered over the rest of the year. Our family typically skips these non-sermons because we also need time off, but this Sunday covered spiritual meditation/prayer so we decided to give it a try. I felt I could use some lessons on learning to quiet my mind, for I lack the discipline to do so on my own. Even as I type this sentence, I'm thinking "I wonder if I have a load of laundry in the washer." Focus, girl!

It was an interesting experience just to converse with the other people who came. As it turned out, their reasons might not have been so different from my own. I have been contemplating how best to assist a family member who seems to be experiencing a mental decline lately, and it was the primary reason for my desire to meditate that day. During the candle lighting for concerns and celebrations, another member of the congregation stood up and asked us to pray for him as he helps his mother and father move into a smaller home. Then after the service, Nate called his parents and discovered his dad was also spending that weekend helping his mom move into a smaller home. Does it ever feel like you're being spoken to, LOUDLY, if you would just stop to listen?

The other immediate benefit of meditating, apart from the always wonderful shared experience I get from church, was that once I quieted my mind, solutions for a bunch of half-answered problems that have been floating around my mind suddenly jumped out at me. Could it be so easy? Whenever I have a problem, I could just sit quietly and empty my mind of thoughts, and the answer would jump out?

My theory has yet to be tested, but I like where this line of thought is headed. Slow down. Stop trying to think so much, and you might do some actual thinking. What stands out to you about this concept? Have you done any meditating?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

fun at the end of the rainbow

Thanks to Bread and Butter Publishing for giving me a chance to review this book! My opinions are my own, and I was not paid for this opportunity. 

About End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad
End of the Rainbow Fruit Salad, written by Eluka Moore, Larry Puzniak and Marianne Welsh and illustrated by Kristen Gau, is the first book in a series for toddlers and preschoolers from Kitchen Club Kids. This series of recipe adventure stories uses cooking and rhymes to educate kids about food exploration and recipe sharing, as well as numbers and colors, in an entertaining way. 

I love the illustrations, but I was actually surprised at how much the kids flipped out over this book. It's an instant favorite! I didn't even tell them it came in the mail, which would have elevated their adoration to another stratosphere. Mail is big around here. 

Charlie calls it her "pickle book" because of this little pickle who appears on every page dressed in a different hat or costume. Brilliant illustrating! Books that have a recurring character the kids can look for on every page keeps them engaged and makes reading fun. Both the girls learned something new; growing up in Boston and eating mostly local food means Vivi has yet to see a papaya.

A week into reading it, Charlie still carries it downstairs in the morning to the couch for me to read to her. I can give no better review for a book than that.

My absolute favorite part in getting to know one of the authors, Eluka Moore, is that I learned Kitchen Club Kids has a Pinterest board to which they pin great kids recipes. As you know, finding recipes the whole family will love is one of my passions. If you're interested in learning more, check out Kitchen Club Kids. Also stay tuned for a chance to win your own copy of this book later this week on my blog!

Monday, July 22, 2013

{29}: pickles and salsa

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
July 16 - 22, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.


  • Charlieism: She saw Nate's hairy chest and said, "Daddy, you have mustaches all over your body!"

My week...

  • HOT HOT HOT. Ugh. The heat finally let up to reveal the glory of breezy New England summer. Finally.
  • We missed bluegrass night at Wright-Locke's Thursday night family farm event, both because it was so hot and because Nate was stuck at work. But I hope we make it next week for movie night!


  • Oliver Sacks spoke to On Point about getting older. It's a great listen from one of my favorite authors.
  • If you're a fellow word nerd, lists of misused words aren't news to you. But I particularly like the funny way a blogger put together this list. If you like that one, here's another similar list
  • This month's Edible Boston magazine is one of the best I've read so far. Here are links to my favorite articles:
  • Stuff to laugh at:
  • Anyone seen the new Andie McDowell show yet? It's on the Hallmark channel, but it sounds like might not actually be television for idiots this time because it's based on a story by Debbie Macomber, a cool women's fiction writer who cooks and knits. Gimme your review if you caught the first episode.

  • I can't wait for it to be tomato season! I'm stalking Verrill Farm's website, lying in wait for when their heirloom varieties are in. End of July can't come soon enough. I want to try out local kitchen's spicy salsa this year. Last year we made her basic red salsa, which is delicious.
  • Edible Boston also included a great article about pickling with some recipes. I've made the refrigerator dills already. They are so good and so easy. Next time I'll forgo the Penzey's pickling spice blend for dill, coriander and mustard seeds, since the cloves and allspice seeds tend to overpower the dill. I will also cut the sugar a bit since they aren't being canned. The apple cider vinegar is a bit sweet already, so they really don't need 1/4 cup of additional sugar.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

alter egos

In the twenty years since I first got prescription eyeglasses, I've owned about six pairs of glasses. They have always been a back-up to my contact lenses, as I prefer not wearing glasses. Partly it's that I've only had one pair I thought looked good on me (very expensive and broke about a year into owning them when I stupidly put them in my luggage instead of carry-on), and partly it's that I dislike the feeling of having glasses on my face. I am so nearly blind that when wearing glasses, my peripheral vision is a blur. Plus, I love to exercise and can never quite get used to the bouncy feeling of running with glasses.

HOWEVER, I definitely need to own glasses. Back to that part about being blind. Without my contacts or glasses, I can't even tell when entering my bedroom if it's my husband in bed or a stranger with similar build and dark hair. My current glasses have been around since my last pair broke in 2005, so I figure it's about time to replace them. (Side note: it was my eye doctor who had to point out that one of my nose pieces was missing. I'm so blind without my glasses on that I didn't notice!)

The hard part is that I HATE shopping. And for the most part, I HATE the way I look in glasses.  The only specs of remaining motivation (get it? Specs! Ha) are that Nate likes the way glasses look on me and that I've been wanting to try out a new way to shop for glasses. Recently I've been hearing success stories from friends who have used online companies. I selected a company at random to try...basically I just like their name, Rivet & Sway [N.B.: They are not paying me for this endorsement.]

Rivet & Sway asked me a few questions (via an online survey) about the shape of my face and then requested a headshot of me before then sending me three pairs of glasses in the mail to try. For FREE! It only took about two days after I submitted my selections, and I was so super duper excited to get their box in the mail.

Sidenote: the box is so cute! I appreciate they mention an attempt to be eco-conscious by reusing the materials, since the postal waste was one of the hurdles in trying this process in the first place.

I took their advice and made sure my hair and makeup looked normal (erhm, not sweaty) prior to trying them on. Any luck? Well, sort of. As I suspected, I am not certain I have a winner out of these three. But I am betting it's a normal part of the process. Now I know which of the three I like, and I am hoping if I give them that feedback, the next group of three will have the winner. Before I send them back, I thought it'd be good to get your opinions. I had to take pictures of myself to send them the feedback, and it was the most challenging part of the process for me. "Selfies" ain't really my thang.

But anyway, do let me know what you think. Sigh. Here you go...

#1: Tusk (these seem crooked to me, otherwise I like them)

#2: Faster Pussycat (meh, just ok. They are growing on me, but a little too retro with the raised sides)

#3: Luna Lovegood (this is the name I gave them. Giant round eyeballs, anyone?)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

{28}: grilling

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

On the Range
July 9 - 15, 2013

My week...
  • We spent a lot of time at the local reservoir trying to cool ourselves in this ridiculous heat. Remind me why I've chosen to live in New England again? Something about it being cooler, or so I thought. At this point it feels like I might as well be back in Georgia where at least they've figured out air conditioning.
  • Vivi's kindergarten paperwork came yesterday, and we were so excited that she got the teacher we liked! We only met them for a few minutes, but Nate and I both had a good feeling about one of the three. I am relieved that what feels like our first hurdle has been passed. Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to do with all this free time I'm going to have. Decisions!



Monday, July 15, 2013

summer is happening

We are brushing our teeth with blueberries over here, after our haul of 10 lbs on Saturday (!). Want some?
It seems I am living my days in such a state of lazy summerness that I can barely find time to write. But like any habit, I know it will come easier if I just start doing it. So here I am. And there you are. Hello there!

Yesterday we had some of Nate's work friends over for relaxing dinner (Domino's delivery, nothing but the best for these folks), drinks, and games. Although someone brought a game I've heard lots about lately, "Cards Against Humanity," it was deemed too gritty for getting to know each other, so we passed it up in favor of a vintage '80's Trivial Pursuit Genus Edition. It was so hard! And FUN! I learned much about pre-'80's TV and film facts and historical tidbits that have at some point dropped out of the average dinner guest's wheelhouse. In my opinion, the best parts were the marital squabbles and the guffaw-worthy ridiculous questions (Did you know Tarzan's son's ape-name is Korak? Of course you didn't!). Another highlight was the cobbler I made with our day-old blueberries, which was decadent and delicious, if I do say so myself.

Today I stopped quickly over to the used bookstore in town to stock up on some summer paperbacks, having decided the ones I grabbed at the church rummage sale in a fit of overzealous loftiness wouldn't make the cut. I had a few on my short list, specifically James Michener's Centennial and Abraham Verghese's Cutting for Stone, but I had an open mind and wanted to leave with a bag full. Boy did I ever accomplish that goal. Upon walking around for a few minutes, I remarked to the ladies behind the counter, "I can't believe I've never been in here before!," to which they replied, "All the moms tell us that!" That sounds about right.

But then it got even better when I heard I could get store credit if I brought in some of my own books to trade. Having just been through the book shelves the day before in preparation for our get together, I raced home to grab my stack of give-aways and brought them on over. I walked away with 10 paperbacks for me and two for the girls for only $25. Winning!

Here's a list of what I grabbed if you can't see it in the picture (the first two are my Grandma Louise's recommendations, which I follow religiously):

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (store owner's recommendation)
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Caribbean by James Michener (for a trip to the very same location in two weeks!)
Centennial by James Michener
The Awakening and short stories by Kate Chopin
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and other stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
Being There by Jerzy Kosinski
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Have you read any of these? Any stand out as favorites? Let me know so I can commence sorting my GoodReads summer reading list.

Friday, July 12, 2013

motherhood isn't so bad!

A large part of my typical day looks like this...

I agree with The Atlantic's rebuttal to the recent Parent magazine statistic: 92% of moms think their job is the toughest.  If it were truly the hardest job, would so many women volunteer to do it full time? I doubt it. I wonder whether women say it's the most difficult job so we can somehow validate why we've decided to stay home in a culture that doesn't particularly value child-raising as a career a competent woman would undertake. Or perhaps the researchers called during lunchtime, which is a moment I would probably shout into the receiver, "YOU'RE DAMNED RIGHT IT'S THE HARDEST JOB! WHO WANTS TO KNOW?"

Sisyphus had it worse, but this ain't no picnic...

Rather, I appreciate that The Atlantic cited a quote by C.S. Lewis, who said that while motherhood might not be the most difficult job around, "it is the most important work in the world." I also love that they included one of my favorite Bill Burr skits, in which he compares stay-at-home motherhood to coal mining. Actually, it's kind of funny that he used coal mining as his example because Nate frequently points out that he'd rather be a coal miner than do what I do as a birth doula.

On the whole, motherhood does have some shitty moments of both the literal and figurative variety. I laughed out loud at a Jezebel commentary in which the author describes her horrifying C-section recovery, not because it was funny but what else are you going to do but laugh? I also agree with that writer that "[motherhood] pushes a woman to her absolute limits physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. It will break you." Yes, but so will lots of jobs.

What do you think about the Parent magazine findings? I suppose if the statistic holds true, you'll probably agree. OR, perhaps it's true only for people who read parenting magazines?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series (or sometimes semi-monthly series, I guess) where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

On the Range
{Weeks 21 - 27}
May 21 - July 8, 2013 

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013"...

May 21 - 27: Hung out with Grandpa Jim and family in Charlotte and then in N. GA Mtns.
May 28 - June 3rd: Cousins time! Spent time at Auntie M's and then settled in at Mom's.
June 4 - 10: The start of a truly astounding amount of rain. Not much done outside on this trip, except camp.
June 11 - 17: Vivi and I got to eat lunch together at a camp cookout. I call this one "serious face with condiments."
June 18 - 24: Vivi playing big-ball soccer. She has a blue ribbon on her head. You can tell she had no fun at camp.
June 18 - 24 (2): This is from Carnival Day, the last day of camp. We had such a good time!
June 25 - July 1: We went to Vogel State Park for a week for an annual family reunion.
July 2 - 8: We returned home to find record hot temps in the high 90s. 


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