Pop Tarts, You Say?

It’s pretty clear that we still eat some processed foods. We’re good, but we’re not that good. I only wish I had the ability to eat nothing but fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and the rare odd meat/fish. But, slowly and surely, we’re making tiny strides everyday, and THAT, my friends, is where real change occurs. Cold turkey doesn’t work for everyone, and definitely not me!

That being said, we’re pretty specific about the processed foods that we do consume. We’re avid non-GMOers, which has really reduced that spiraling, overwhelming feeling one gets while trying to make wise choices grocery shopping.

One of the brands that we’re currently cool with is Nature’s Path. They’re organic, generally less expensive (their cereals are the same as, if not cheaper than, traditional brands), taste yummy, and are free of GMOs. See their pretty little “NON GMO Project Verified” logo up there next to the organic logo? That’s my new best friend.

I’ve tried some really crappy organic Pop-Tart knock-offs before. They still had an artificial flavor that I couldn’t wrap my head around.

THESE, however, are da bomb…and I don’t use that term lightly. Actually, I never use that term. So, that’s sayin’ somethin’.

They still have upwards of 25 ingredients (I’d rather live by the 5 or less rule, but c’est la vie), but most of them are what you’d find in a pastry you’d make at home. Plus, knowing that if there’s corn starch in it that it’s non-GMO helps.

We got the unfrosted version (and apple because that’s the hub’s jam) and I’ve gotta say they are DELISH. It’s like making a homemade turnover, but (dare I say?) better. If you have the chance, even if you don’t eat organic, BUY THESE. They’re a kazillion times better than Pop-Tarts, and if you must eat toaster pastries, these are the healthier option. (Not calling them a health food. Just healthier. Yes, I know there’s a difference.)

So, that’s my 2 cents. Oh, and of COURSE when discussing Pop-Tarts I can’t help but direct the conversation to Paula Poundstone. You don’t know to what I am referring? Ooooohhhhh, what you’ve been missing. (Just watch the first couple of minutes…unless you’re that bored.)

Nursery Reveal – A Quick Peek

Now that the big man is 6+ months old, I realized it was time to let you guys have a peek at the nursery. Hopefully that’s as thrilling a phrase to you as it is to me. If not, that’s cool. At least I can look back one day and crrrryyyyy over what the monkey’s first space looked like.

It’s embarrassing as hell, but this is the only “before” picture I got of the space (which started life as a guest room…okay, let’s call a spade a spade — a catch-all room o’ crap)…


 Yeah. I know it was a mess. So, you may be surprised to see what the room has become. 
 

 


I’m planning to give some details in a couple more posts, but check out this post for my original inspiration for the nursery. I think I kind of achieved it! It’s definitely a fun space, but not too busy, with a certain amount of calm. Especially when clean. 😉 Hope you like it as much as we do!

Side note: Can you BELIEVE we had this mostly done before we had Hads and we didn’t know he’d be a boy? Standing in it, looking around, I’m not sure it would’ve suited a girl. Then again, I think he was speaking to me during the whole pregnancy, anyway, (whether I was hearing him or not) so why wouldn’t we have decorated for a boy? Hee hee.

Fat

There’s a lot of play these days for the types of fats folks use to cook with and smear over their toast. Margarine. Butter. Oils of every shape and size. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Greasy whateverness.

We’ve had an evolution in our house. We started as ICBINB folks (generally the generic kind). Then, back and forth between this (or some sort of margarine) and unsalted butter, never sure which was really “better” for us. There was a time that we even bought Earth Balance. I used to bake with Crisco and generic vegetable oil. We’ve always used olive oils (at times lighter for cooking, extra virgin for salads). It’s all over the place.

But, after years of reading and learning and re-learning, we seem to have plateaued: olive oil (it’s so damn expensive, so we get the store brand…one day I’ll find it in me to find cold-pressed organic) and straight-up butter. Until recently. Coconut oil enters stage left.

I haven’t used it yet. I’m a tad intimidated. It’s a huge jar o’ whiteness. Wait, a huge jar of green, should I say? It cost over $20. Yeah, you read that, but it’s a HUGE jar (as I said) and should last me forever and a day.

It comes in a quasi-solid, sort of the consistency of Crisco, and once heated to 73 degrees (F), it melts. I’m excited to try it and hope that its health benefits are worth the price tag.

We’ve read about the benefits of extra virgin olive oil, and heard both sides of the butter argument (Dave has slightly high cholesterol, but half the battle is getting him not to slather his toast as much as he does), and have seen and heard LOTS of crazy goodness touting coconut oil. Heck, if we’ve reached the end of our oil/fat journey, I’d be happy. But, I’m sure there’s more research and more decisions to be made. Either way, I’ll let you know how my C.O. try-outs go.

Oh, and on a side note, we DID find organic olive oil and butter recently at our local Aldi grocery store. Talk about cheaper! It’s great to have other budget options!! Let’s just hope it sticks.

Christmas…in January?

Wow. Do I occasionally get Baby Brain still, or what? Here I assumed I’d have Mommy Brain, but I’ve been surprisingly on top of things. (You would NOT agree if you saw the mountain of books I have to reshelve at school, of course.) But it took my reading a blog or two about what folks got for Christmas for me to say, “Oh, duh! I totally took pictures Christmas morning.” And why did I take pictures? Was it because it was my little man’s first experience with the big man in red? Was it just so awesome of a morning? Not really. We were beat from our Christmas Eve festivities (almost didn’t even “let Santa visit” we were so exhausted from an over-tired crying baby) and had to open half of Hadley’s presents on the 26th. But, we DID have a pretty durn tootin’ good time as a 3-human, 3-kitty family.


Of course, the 3 kitties weren’t all awake at the same time, which made their present-opening kind of moot. Sheesh, I don’t even think we did their stocking ’til a week later (not that they loved it any less). ‘Cuz, y’know, you don’t want to open their stocking when they’re not ALL available to enjoy the outpouring of crazy jingly-and-crackly cat toys. And, of course, they’re cats, and the saying regarding their wrangling is totally true. Unless you open a bag of treats. Which I did.

ANYhoo, the humans in the house did quite well — thanks, Santa, whom I assume is taking a bit of vacation time in Aruba right about now. One never knows how much Santa “can” bring from year to year, so it’s nice when the gifts are a) thoughtful and/or b) useful. While we get a lot (compared to others I know), we do way less than some other folks we know, and it’s budgeted in advance…and who knows if we’ll do this much next year. (Heck, our “limit” goes down from year to year, so odds are we won’t do as much.) Either way, if it’s something I NEED and it’s not a pile of crap I have to find a use or space for, I’m a happy duck.

Here are a few stacks of stuff I was super psyched to receive. (This isn’t bragging; just fun sharing.) Oh, and being a librarian, I felt I should organize them appropriately by groups…

So, here’s the stack of “entertainment” goodness…plus a Norman Rockwell calendar that I was over-the-top excited to get. (Side note: My gift from Hadley *finally* came later, after some mistakes on the Amazon seller’s side of things — a box set of some Shirley Temple movies for us to watch together – when he’s a tad older! Wheeee!! Oh, and Hadley got Daddy a tie, scarf and wallet.):

Here’s my kitchen commando pile (look at the gorgeousness on that cutting board…and a French rolling pin?! He’s a keeper! Oh, and I was dying for a “real” masher rather than a plastic liquifier thingamabobber.):

Oh, and of course there were a couple of “wearable” items, which I usually get for Dave, but he doesn’t attempt for me. Let’s just say I’m totally wearing the T-shirt right now. (Liz Lemon’s my jam.) And the locket (with pictures of the baby!!!) made me cry!!!

Not to mention some admittedly non-organic candy. Naughty Santa. Gotta love him!

…and some “beauty stuff”! Hooray, my old straightener/curler was going to burn the joint down. Whew!

Then there was breakfast. We tend to go kinda nuts as far as the amount of food and caloric intake of Christmas breakfasts (not that we count calories any other day). I’m sure, one day, I’ll try my mom’s strategy — make a french toast casseroley-type thing that can be made a day in advance and “soak in” overnight, then just throw it in the oven to bake off while we unwrap gifts.

But, for now, there’s just something about bacon. GOOD bacon. Farmers’ market, knew-the-pig’s-name bacon. It’s somewhat of a tradition for us, and I’m pretty sure my husband looks forward to it all year long. Sure, we eat it at other times (when we decide to pick some up, and if it’s reasonably priced), but it’s a must for Christmas, along with fresh, grass-fed eggs of some sort. In this case, it was accompanied by sweet potato hash browns, sesame bagels and juice ‘n tea. Yum!!

It gave us enough energy to make it through the rest of the family fun for the day, and then some! We had to continue our own festivities on the 26th — once the monkey seemed to be done, I didn’t feel we needed to force it, so we continued unwrapping his stuff. My favorite gift that Santa brought him? Probably the handful of Elephant (Gerald) and Piggie books (by Mo Willems) for his collection…PLUS Gerald and Piggie stuffed animals! Totally love props for book-readin’ (can you say “role play re-telling”?!), especially buddies like these. Daddy has come up with the BEST voices for them…although it took some research to find out that Piggie’s supposed to be a girl. Hmm. Well, I guess his voice can pass as a female oinker. Maybe.

Hope you all had a fabulous holiday and got to spend lots of time with loved ones — and that all your gifts were thoughtful and exactly what you wanted…or maybe even something you’ve ALWAYS wanted, which is always fun. Seriously, I got a ton, as did Dave. Do you guys do more than this? Way less? Or, are we normal and this is a completely allowable amount of splurging? I need validation, people!!

Bathroom Update

I’m naughty. It’s been 20 months since I posted about my horrific bathroom. But, since this is a bit of a “no apologies” zone, I won’t be saying sorry anytime soon. Instead, I’m going to thank the heck outta my husband and pat ourselves on our slouchy little backs. We’ve officially been jump-started.

This is what we were faced with when we bought this place…

Say goodbye to poop brown. Hello, sleek, clean white!


Sure, it’s just the trim, but it was a pretty huge undertaking — especially around Christmastime. We did one coat of primer (probably should’ve done two) and we think about 7 coats of white semi-gloss. It wasn’t low-VOC because we’ve used the same trim color throughout the house from Day One.

I did a couple of coats; the rest were Dave. Originally, I hoped to do the whole job myself.

Psht. Yeah. Right. The downfalls of motherhood. The blindness of idealism.

As it is, we’re lucky that my stepdad has offered to help with a handful of the projects, and even says that “after the painting, it’s easy.” Then again, he was a plumber by trade. Here I thought that taking up the toilet would be the rough part.

So, what’s next? I’m hoping to paint the upper half of the walls (in a low-VOC paint); Dave’s not the best at cutting in, so that’s why I’ll be working on it. (Gotta do some more sanding and spackling first. Why can’t a project be as simple as “paint, done”?) THEN, the beadboard and floors will be attached (ie toilet up, sink out — we’re replacing the sink with something more practical; ya live, ya learn). Next, a bathtub surround fix-up. Then it’s really a matter of accessorizing and art-ifying!

Oh, and we’re also replacing the teetering monstrosity of a behind-toilet shelving unit that Winston loved to jump atop. Every time he did, I thought I’d get knocked out by the thing falling over. What a way to go — sitting on the potty.

Stay tuned! Hopefully, the next update will come this year rather than 20 months from now, ifyaknowwhatImean.

Guilt-Free Green

I recently posted an update on the green goings-on in our cozy little abode. From that reflection, in addition to checking out a kazillion blogs (be they decor/DIY, personal, food or environmental), I’ve realized that a new year seems to be the time to kinda bum out on oneself.

With my self esteem, it’s easy to fall into the “man, I suck” slump. I guess it’s that whole quote from “Little Women” (the 1996 movie, not the book) referring to Transcendentalism: “With all this transcendence comes much emphasis on perfecting oneself.” Life is about transcendence from one moment to the next, but it’s sometimes difficult to just live without trying to make the next moment as good as you can, even though it’s kinda how I was raised. Grandma had a wall plaque in her kitchen that said “Good, better, best, never let it rest ’til your good is better and your better is best.” (I’ve seen the quote in other variations, but this is the one I remember.)

But, y’know what? Life, she ain’t perfect. And those of us livin’ it, we ain’t either. And all we can do is our best, even if it’s not perfection.

So, while I’m not making any resolutions for 2013, I’m trying to focus on the things I’d like to attempt…but not feel like crap if I a) don’t do ’em right, b) don’t have the time to continue or c) simply fail. After all, failure isn’t the end of the world; it’s just a chance to find something new to try.

Most of my goals involve greenin’ up our lives. The reason for this is, well, it aligns with what our beliefs are, in general. While we’ve always cared about the environment and human and animal rights causes (heck, I wish I could find a picture of me in high school; I was quite the non-drug-doin’ hippie, love beads and all), the availability of such wonderful resources for making our lives more eco-friendly just makes it a tad easier these days.

However, I’ve noticed that while there’s an overabundance of “green” blogs around this cyberplace we’ve created, I hope to add a touch of positive reinforcement and a guilt-free environment in my tiny slice of the pie. Most blogs that I prefer to read, be they green or otherwise, show that the writer is human. Duh, of course. I have yet to find a monkey-written blog. What I mean is that my favorites show that, while they sometimes paint some awfully gorgeous pictures of life, it simply is not always so. So, let’s all just let go of the idea that we’re perfect.

Soapbox moment: It breaks my heart when I see a favorite blogger post, for example, her daughters’ lunches on Facebook. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It takes a steel-hearted and -minded woman to do this. The criticism and rude questions astound me (reminds me of some my husband gets by faceless, nameless viewers that call into the newsroom). She’s doing what’s best for her family, making awesome choices AND giving the girls what they WANT to eat (not always an easy task) and it never fails — “Is that enough food?” or “Where’s the protein?” or “Why do you eat dairy? Ugh!” And those are a separate pet peeve from the folks asking questions that are easily found in the links she posts along with the lunch ingredients, but that’s irrelevant. It’s enough to make me think, “How long will she even share these wonderful tips and ideas with us with how much criticism she faces daily?”

Makes me nervous to think what the “greener than thou” folks would make of me. Hell, I don’t eat 100% organic. I don’t compost everything I should. I don’t find all my clothes pre-used. I don’t have solar panels. I say “hell.” No perfection here…but I’m learning how to be proud of that fact.

So, with a bit of feistiness and a healthy dose of cautious positivity in tow, I give you my list of “I’d like to”s:

– We’re always striving to simplify our lives more. We’ve cut out lots of TV-watching. We’re continually going through our clothes to donate what we don’t use. (That’s been a daunting task lately, since I’ve worn three sizes since the baby was born; some still fit, some don’t. Plus the maternity stuff, which we pass between family.) Dave and I like to look to the past for inspiration of living, but in a modern way, and knowing what little people lived on – happily! – helps us get our heads in the right place. So, this is a continual simplification journey.

– In the “old living in new times” realm, the idea that’s all over the web which apparently can’t be referred to in the old terminology (trademarks…sticky wickets) starts with an “h” and ends in a “steading.” It’s weird that a couple can take a term that’s been used in a historical context for decades and demand that others not use it. Oh, well. Be that as it may, folks are baking their own bread, knitting/sewing, growing tons (literally) of food, and generally getting in touch with the lifestyles of 100+ years ago. While no one’s goin’ Amish (so far as I know! And I doubt they’d be blogging about it…right?), it’s an admirable trend.

My wish, or hope? I hope to get a house with enough land to take our minimal gardening to the “small-time farming” step — to sustain our family and not rely on imported fruits ‘n veggies. With that land would hopefully come the ability to get some egg-layin’ hens (y’know…enough land for them to roam and for neighbors to not think we’re cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs). Oh, and with enough land for the kiddy to roam, when the time comes, too.

Self-sustainability would rock.

If I had the time to bake our bread (and sundry other meal ideas), knit scarves, and write books (what, people didn’t do that 100 years ago? I’m in Louisa May Alcott mindset, whoops), I’d wish for those things, too. But I work a full-time job, so that all needs to stay in the recesses of my brain…er, blog.

Given the odds that we probably won’t find our dream home with its dream plot of land, I’d be happy with doing an intentional garden this summer and making a bigger go at preserving what we get out of it. How’s that?

Streamline the ol’ blog. While this isn’t necessarily an eco-friendly endeavor, I’m hoping to make this place a clearer idea of who I am. Ha! Do I even know?! I guess that’s half the battle. Regardless, I’m wondering if “Meg, Acting Out” (or “MegActsOut”) is an appropriate label for this endeavor. I’m wondering if I need a new “look.” I’m wondering if I need to better organize projects – decor stuff, cooking stuff, green stuff, and the like. It’s tough when a lot of that overlaps. So, without guilt, I admit publicly that I’d like to work on the blog’s look and organization (even coming up with regular post ideas…anyone for “Wacky Wednesday”?! Yeah, me neither). The feel, I hope, will remain the same. And, of course, any suggestions (especially from other bloggers) are greatly appreciated!

– I live relatively close to what I feel is one of nature’s greatest gems: the Adirondack Mountains. I can count on half a hand how many times I’ve hiked one of those mountains. One of my favorite things EVER was the time we spent camping (not in a tent, but still) on Raquette Lake when I was a teen. Any and all visits to the Adirondack area, be they Old Forge or more rustic outings, have rocked my socks off.

I would love to be able to go camping with the hubby and little one (and even more family), if possible. I’d like to learn about the easier trails that I may be able to shlep Hadley on, and get the hubby into a fun hike to see if it could become a regular activity, too. If nothing else, I’ve GOTTA get Dave to the Adirondack Museum; one of my favorite places as a kid (and, admittedly, as an adult). I want to take advantage of the place we live. Why else pay so much attention to saving our environment and surroundings if we don’t enjoy them?

– Go out on a limb; challenge myself. I’m already on the path to trying new things, so be it blog and writing opportunities or maybe even trying a different yoga class (or DVD if it fits into my schedule better), I hope to keep an open mind.

Organize!!! I guess a lot of these overlap, eh? Simplification…streamlining…well, there ya go. I’ve got a desk in my office that I NEVER use. Dude, I MADE the thing. There has to be a reason (maybe comfort/ease of use?) that I choose my ratty old armchair to our office. Regardless, I’d like it to be less of a free-for-all dump space and at least more of a landing spot of handsomeness. So, even if I don’t use my laptop in the office, I hope to organize the space into a more useable place of positivity that I’ll actually WANT to use. That means throwing you out, 3-year-old catalog of Sam French plays!

Oh, and although I wish I could be zero-waste, I need paper. When the tough really get goin’, they make LISTS. So, between lists and a new binder full of women organized thoughts/projects, I think some more office organization may help me with my quest to streamline and focus the ol’ blog. One can dream, right?

Num-Nums


With a name like “The Baby Bullet,” how can you NOT be on board? (But, seriously. I know the original machine was “The Magic Bullet,” but WHO comes up with this stuff?!)

Well, I always thought that we could just use our regular blender when it came time to make the little man’s baby food. After all, who has room for one more gadget? Apparently, WE DO!! Especially when it’s lovingly passed back and forth between sisters (and was originally a gift from our parents).


So, I tried out the sucker last night. I cooked a couple of small sweet potatoes (buddy’s favorite) until they were soft — you can steam, too, but I didn’t have much time. C’mon, we hadn’t eaten dinner yet and Dr. Spaceman was making his *final* appearance on 30 Rock!! (My favorite line of the night: “That’s a wrap on Leo Spaceman. Out.” Or something to that effect. Genius! And who totally thinks Jim and Pam are going to separate at the end of “The Office”???)

After some initial issues (the durn thing wasn’t turnin’ off!!! The look on both my men’s faces was priceless. My bad, had to tighten the blade), we got it whirring and, after adding some filtered water, actually came up with a product that I deemed both texturally equal and flavor-wise BETTER than the Earth’s Best stuff we’ve been giving him. And, yes, I have tasted his. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really seem to taste that much like the food it’s supposed to be. This stuff actually tasted like a dang sweet potato. Imagine that.

Unfortunately, we didn’t use organic sweet potatoes, so this is the first thing he’s ever had that hasn’t been organic, but they’re on the clean list so I’m not losing sleep. Er, I am, but not because of this. #sleepdeprivedmama (First. Hashtag. Ever.)

We used the accompanying BPA-free containers to store the stuff; bottom silicone container in the freezer, plastic ones on top for fridge. You can even turn that little ring around to select the date you made the stuff. ‘Cuz, y’know. My memory su-hucks. I appreciate that little reminder.


I fed the monkey (how many nicknames is that now?) some of the excess from the blender and he deemed it delicious. As much as an almost-6-month-old can. Heck, he might’ve hated it, but he didn’t give me “squinty face”, so I’m calling it a success.

I was going to do bananas (said in Elephant and Piggie voice “BA-NAH-NAAAAAAS” in our house) but they’re neither on the clean list nor the dirty list, so I consider them still pretty dirty. Not XXX-tina dirrty but not baby-friendly. I can’t believe I’ve been eating nanners in an ignorant, non-organic haze. Der. Lesson learned!

But, regardless, I’m looking forward to playing around and making more nummies, especially thanks to the cost difference. Considering that the blender was free (yay!) and his lil’ Earth’s Best containers (which hold less than these) cost around .75 each (depending on where we find them), and we bought a bag o’ sweet taters for (I think!) around $3 (could’ve been less than that, with maybe 10 in the bag…could’ve been more, I don’t recall) 8 servings cost us…get this…about $.04. No, not 40 cents — FOUR CENTS. I suck at math, but even if it was 40 cents, I’d be stoked. Dude. This is crazy cheap.

It makes me feel okay about getting him only organic in the future, since SURE it’ll be more expensive, but when it comes down to the math…wowsa.

Oh, and as far as the monkey’s eating habits, he’s currently doing — “regular” feedings every 3+ hours (more time goes by when he has some extra food) with a jar of veggies in the morning with the sitter and some oatmeal mixed with a bit of applesauce for “dinner.” Next week, we’re going to have the sitter give some plain ol’ oatmeal, maybe veggies for lunch and dinner will still be oatmeal ‘n applesaaaaaauce. (Get it? Brady Bunch? No?) Yes, he eats a lot. Yes, if he eats more “real” food during the day he’ll want to feed less. I’m kind of okay with that, mostly because I’m going to pump the same amount at school and am hoping to stock-pile some more in the freezer; I’m down to ONE pouch, which will be used tonight while I go to a family wake. That will not do.

So, that’s the latest in our baby adventuring. A happy Friday to all, and to all some delicious num-nums.

Public Display of Affection

You may notice that I mention my husband around this joint from time to time (and he makes a rare occasion, especially when we’re talkin’ wedding anniversaries and traveling). We’re not huge over-sharers when it comes to our relationship and some other stuff, mostly because we try to be cautious about how public his job is and the wackos that may or may not hunt down our family. You think I joke. It’s creepy enough that folks he’s never met refer to him as “Dave” at the grocery store (or shout to him from a busy garage sale at the corner of our street) and treat him like a long-lost friend that they can bitch to. Even creepier when people chase us down in Kmart to take a gander at the baby; that one makes my skin crawl a bit.

But, I’ve gotta give credit when it’s due. For the most part, I married an A+ guy. He tries SO hard. He does SO much for his family. He keeps his chin up and deals with major work stresses only to pick up a crying baby and schlep home in the dead of winter to…me. A lady who, odds are, is already in her comfy nighttime clothes (far from sexy, closer to Punky Brewster frumpy) with my wet, uncombed hair in a messy bun…and probably exhausted and in need of dinner ideas. Last thing he needs. But, he deals with it in such a sweet, loving way, I have to remind myself to try to pick up the slack sometimes. ‘Cuz goodness knows he’d never tell me to. Maybe he just knows better. Maybe he knows how Rita I can be when provoked. Either way, he’s incredible.

Just last week, before heading back from our luxuriously long holiday break, he went grocery shopping for me. Sure, I had to remind him NOT to buy ANY seafood unless it was on sale. (He’s also fully aware of which types of seafood to buy and from which origins, to say nothing of his religious following of the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15.) And, sure, he had to call or text a few times. But, he purchased thoughtfully and made life easier for me. He accidentally got Stonybrook yogurt’s soy strawberry (have you tasted that stuff?! And why, oh why, create something soy-based that still has dairy in it? I just can’t wrap my head around it) and the wraps he purchased were rye (yeah, I’m not a fan unless I throw some Thousand Islands on that sucker to make it Reuben-ish), but he tried so hard and everything else was stellar. I also saw that he sneaked a few Chobani yogurts for himself. I love that a deed well-done is self-gratified with such a healthy, delicious treat.

But, that’s not all. He’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I’ve been wanting to soup up the ol’ blog as part of a fun, exciting opportunity or two coming down the line. While many husbands would raise an eyebrow (especially with a needy almost-6-month around the joint), he welcomed it. I’ve seriously gotta buy that guy some pom-poms. He’s a frickin’ cheerleader, that one. Even when I’m being my usually “realistic idealist” self, especially when my admittedly low self-esteem rears its ugly head (even when an absolutely wonderful opportunity arises), he’s more “rah rah!” than “blah blah” about it. My successes are his successes, and he’s like a proud papa when good things happen. It’s nice to have a buoy around when you should be enjoying a moment, rather than questioning whether you deserve it and why it couldn’t possibly work.

When it comes to that shared successes thing, I guess you could say I’m pretty darn proud of his, too. Particularly when he achieves things that are in his realm of happiness (we’re both creative people, so when we’re able to nurture those tendencies), it’s an awesome thing.

Here I thought he was wary of blogdom, especially when I first started this venture — I can’t count how many he writes for these days, from All-Star Comics to Dorky Daddy (admittedly, my favorite) to his newsroom one (which I’m so happy that he’s using to try to find missing animals for heartbroken families; a news guy with heart). From here, I’ve also gotta brag about a venture with his friend, Andy, that I find simply incredible. If you’re into comics, check this out. If you’re not…still check it out. It’s an idea that he’s been incubating for years about a very adult web comic series revolving around the bar that caters to all those holiday characters that make childhood what it is. I’m not biased here — ‘cuz if one of his projects is a flop or lacking, I’m pretty honest about it (at least he knows he can give me something to read through and I’ll be a reliable judge). It’s hysterical. And the art that Andy has done for it? Amazing.

So, just for $#!@s and giggles, let’s take a moment to appreciate…the awesomeness…that is…Dave. (Feel free to start a slow clap…or view this pictures with any number of hilarious songs, like “You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings” or “All Star” .)

Patiently waiting for me to take a blog photo…which he doesn’t realize he’s in.
His best friend. You didn’t think it was me, did you??

Green Check-In

Howdy, folks. I realized that I haven’t really checked in regarding how we’re doing in the “green department” lately. So, here we go!

I guess the main reason I haven’t done a check-in is twofold. For one thing, we haven’t necessarily implemented much in the way of new concepts/strategies. We’ve just been chugaluggin’ along. But, secondly, a lot of what we’ve been doing has become second nature, in a way.

I’ve had a lot of failures. Things I’ve said I wanted to try but haven’t gotten around to. The biggest is cloth diapering — I use them from time to time, but with some of Hadley’s idiosyncrasies otherwise (first screaming issues with gas, now screaming issues with tiredness), I don’t want to throw that monkey wrench at the babysitter (ie his grandma) right now. Others come to mind, like going zero-waste (ha…as I said…diapers?), trying composting worms (or, for that matter, continuing the ol’ composting heap), and probably a dozen others. But, y’know what? We’ve got time. This isn’t a race. And if it was meant to be tried, I’ll remember and get the guts to try it.

The successes, though? Those “second nature” things? They’re awesome. Here are a few…

Paper usage. Wow, that phrase sounds BO-RING! What I mean is that we still, consistently, use cloth napkins and a kitchen rag. On the rare occasion, we purchase a couple rolls of paper towels (made from recycled paper), but that’s mostly to fold up and use as napkins when we have guests or, let’s face it, because kitties aren’t always the cleanest animals. They’re no dogs, mind you, but they can get pretty nasty.

Food. This is a HUGE one. Our opinions on eating naturally (and, when financially plausible, organically) drive our shopping habits. We use the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen to help dictate when we should splurge on organic (apples and lettuce are a MUST) and continue to educate ourselves on what we’re putting in our bodies. We stopped buying even the organic-based dairy spreads in favor of good, old-fashioned butter. We bring a list of the companies opposed to the GMO bill (which got shot down in California, unfortunately) — it’s crazy that even some “all natural” companies don’t support transparency regarding their ingredients. Tsk, tsk. But, yeah. We eat way less meat (I wish I could say we’ve cut it out completely – our hearts break to think even of the well-treated animals and how they are murdered to make our meals – but it’s part of the chain of which we are a part). We try to buy locally. Again, I wish we were locavores, but there are several challenges facing us there. We do our best, and I’m pleased with our attempts thus far.

Oh, and just like our cats, Hadley eats better than we do. If it ain’t from me, it’s organic. Already an awesome start.

Inside/Outside. We do our damnedest to keep the chemicals to a major minimum, using cloths and eco-friendly cleaning products (although I have yet to find a way to TRULY deodorize the potty, especially since we’re infrequent flushers…yeah, I said it) and flushable kitty litter (very, very, very little ends up in the trash). And our exterior is full of green — a man-powered push lawn mower, a raised garden, zero pesticides, and a dormant attempt at composting. I hope to learn more about gardening and growing much more, but this past year was a non-issue as far as I’m concerned. Having Hads and getting the hang of BFing was the priority. Onward, ho!

Personal products. Our soaps are, generally, naturally-based. I use my vinegar/baking soda 50% of the time; the other 50% I use naturally-based shampoos that I don’t mind going down the drain. Our deodorant is completely natural (we finally found one that works for me AND is eco-friendly! Huzzah! I guess I’m one stinky mama). While I use hairspray on occasion and one or two of my makeup items are conventional, the rest are organic — and, of course, none of it’s tested on animals. I’m a minimalist when it comes to sprays and perfumes, and if it wasn’t for my BFing weight loss I’d hardly purchase clothes.

So, there are some successes and some shortcomings. I refuse

New Year, New Start?

So many folks are saying “I’m not doing a New Year resolution”, adding that there’s no reason — whether it’s too easy to falter (and feel bad about yourself) or any number of bummer reasons not to. While I’m on the same wagon — not really claiming a resolution — I’m trying to keep it positive. “I’m not doing a resolution BECAUSE I’d rather focus on the positives rather than the negatives.”

We all know it’s sometimes easier to focus on the crappy stuff and wallow in misery (particularly when those around you are doing it, too) than to try to shovel the crap out of the way and climb atop the pile, victorious. Ew. Crap pile climbing. Man, am I good at creating a visual, aren’t I? Regardless, it IS easier to be “glass half empty” than “glass half full.” Probably why so many people find optimistic folks to be downright irritating.

I’m not naturally a pessimist, nor am I by nature an optimist. I guess I’m a realistic idealist. That means about a million things, but boils down to the fact that I try to stay planted firmly on the ground but allow myself to dream and, hell, even wish things could be different. A little bit of positivity with a healthy dose of negativity to keep my head from floating away, I suppose. It can be tough, though, beating myself down so much. Besides, it’s not like other folks don’t already try to do that.

So, I’m not saying that I can altogether change the fiber of my being this year. Wouldn’t THAT be something? Definitely just as hard as the traditional resolutions. But, I do HOPE to be more conscious — aware of the fact that I LET others influence me too much, that I SHOULD allow myself to wish and dream and hope (one day, my thoughts may just land on what I need most), that I need to be less “down” upon myself. Ultimately, to let more good in and let a whole lot of bad out.

A different mindset. After all, isn’t the new year all about a fresh start? A re-charge, as it were? At least, I think so.

P.S. I’d like to say I made a new collage this year, but it’s a miracle to get a shower (or, our latest issue, to get the baby to take a nap…even a 15-minute one…he HATES going to sleep). Besides, I like the ones I made a couple of years ago so much that I’ve decided to keep them right where they are. They remind me of all we’ve accomplished, as well as help me focus on that which we have not. Pretty helpful, and cool-lookin’ to boot.

P.P.S. By the way, I didn’t do resolutions last year, either. As you can see. Ha. Still wanna get a better grasp on my finances — do have ONE goal, but I’ll get into that later — and it’s transcendent of time.