Digging In

So, the day that I shared this garden plan with you, I happened to be busy at work lugging picking up supplies, prepping the soil, and planting the darn thing. While I still have some more outdoor chores to tackle (*ahem*flowerbeds*ahem*), I’m ecstatic to have this checked off the list. After all, it can’t grow until it’s in the ground…or, in this case, the raised beds.

The drawing I showed you Monday, of course, got changed a little bit. As with all things, life seems subject to availability, doesn’t it? So, I grabbed 8 (9, although I didn’t end up using the last one; will keep it for next year) bags of organic dirt and some peat moss (as my mother calls it “poor man’s fertilizer” — although I always assumed that’d be manure), then headed out to get plants.

First, I ventured to a local joint, T&J’s, to see what they had. I got a handful of marigolds (wish I’d gotten a second tray, but whatevs) and two types of lettuce, then headed to Lowe’s. I would’ve hit up a couple of other local places, but I was on a time crunch and trying to avoid Memorial Day parades, so this was my last stop. This is where I had to hit the brakes on a couple of the veggies we were hoping for.

So, due to lack of supply, we cut out the peas (we were late planting those, anyway) and added a couple of squash plants and cucumbers (my husband’s new favorite water flavoring). I grabbed six bell pepper plants rather than, um, a ton (two red, two yellow, two green…like a stoplight) and juggled around the arrangements a bit. I also didn’t get any potatoes, but since those wouldn’t be ready until the fall I’m still considering them.

Here’s a pictorial play-by-play of how it all went down. (And feel free to use my example as a guide, but remember that I’m a trial and error type of gardener, so don’t blame me if something goes wrong!)If you already have raised beds, weed ’em. If not, build ’em. (This is the closest to how we did ours, although in hind sight we would have build them taller. Ya live, ya learn.) Yup, those are weeds, not veggies…

Then, rough up the bed and spread that dirt. We add a few bags every year to each bed; this year, we added FOUR bags each.

Oh, and that peat moss. Mix that in.

Sexy Band-Aid, lady.

 



Then, I like to take the plants out of their containers (unless they’re biodegradable) and place them where I may like them in the beds. This way, I can move them around and adjust accordingly BEFORE they’re in the ground. I also try to take into account what the packaging/tags say regarding distance from other plants and so forth.  


Then, dig your spot, plunk the plant in, and cover that business with dirt. I gently tamp it to ensure that any larger stalks are able to stand straight. It’s really pretty self-explanatory and simple.

Pretty cool, huh? So, in each of the four corners, I planted three different types of jalapenos. (Must say with inappropriate accent.) In the middles I planted four marigolds, but kind of wish I’d doubled up on both types of plants to evade cat and bug attacks.

Since the back bed is full sun (but still gets less of that super hot afternoon sunshine with a fence and tall bush/tree thingies behind it), I planted my romaine and “mixed” salad greens on the left, a cucumber in the middle, and two tomato plants (which will take over the planet if given the chance) on the right.

In the front, I planted the three types of sweet bell peppers on the left, some carrot seeds in the middle (hence lookin’ all empty), and the two squash plants on the right. And, in all honesty, I thought I was grabbing a squash and a zucchini, so this pissed me off royally.

I’ll be sure to provide some updates (weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly? Does anyone caaaaare?? ;-)) to let you know a) how it’s growin’ (see what I did there?) and b) if the neighborhood cats win the battle. You know what I’m saying, right?

Right??

Oh, and it’s SO silly easy to plant plants that, of course, we made a video. I mean, how could you not?

And the Second Birthday Theme Will Be…


Yep, we’re going kind of classic and traditional on this one. (And that greenish is totally supposed to be blue. Zoinks.)

I pondered several generic ideas (zoo, barnyard, “twinkle, twinkle little star” — not with animals present on those first two, though…I’m no Kate Gosselin) and a handful of more obvious “kidcentric” character themes he’s into (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Mo Willems, Sesame Street). It was a total tie between Sesame Street and “ducks,” and I’m not gonna lie — it was a tough decision.

I’m not too surprised, either. They’re both totally Hadley’s jam right now.

We’re not huge “buyer of trademarked stuff” people, but he’s got a Sesame Street fold-out couch that he uses to watch ANY of “his” shows (a sweet gift), a handful of hand-held character toys (let’s call them pre-action figure action figures…of cute and cuddly Muppets), and, of course, his plush dolls of Bert ‘n Ernie, Cookie Monster, Grover, The Count, Big Bird…and I’m a horrible Mommy because I’m forgetting if I left anyone out. *scratches head*

Notice we don’t have Elmo (he likes Elmo, but he’s not in LOVE with Elmo…ya get me?), or Zoe, or Abby Cadabby, or any of the newer breed of Sesame Street monsters. Let’s just say that if we’re going to show him an episode on Netflix and he demands requests a particular character, it’s usually “hee hee” (the noise Ernie makes when he laughs, you know the one) or “la la la” (Big Bird) or “ah aaaahhh” (The Count). He also does a “bam bam bam” motion (for Oscar) and a “nom nom nom” hand to mouth motion (for Cookie Monster). Um, he’s also calling lots of things “Bob” lately. That may or may not be related. Bob.

But, the word “duck” comes out of his mouth about 50+ times a day lately. I bring home duck books (fiction and non-fiction) from school. He quacks. He carries rubber duckies around whenever the thought occurs to him. He didn’t want to leave the flower shop we visited just before Easter that has an awesome annual display of a dozen happy, splashing baby ducks.


Kid’s obsessed.

And it’s just so sweet.

After some more conversation, Dave and I realized that next year, he’ll probably still be into Sesame Street. If that’s the case (hopefully it is), we can do a Sesame theme next year, or something else he’s super into. But, he isn’t always going to be into such an endearing little thing like duckies. Plus, it was a huge theme for his baby shower, so it makes this mama a tad sentimental to think about the evolution from shower to second *sniff, sniff* birthday.

Duckies, it is. Plus, Hadley agreed to it when we asked him to pick between the two. That clinched the deal. Not that he in any way knew what he was really voting on.


So, what’s this theme about? The invite is just a quick mock-up (sans the place or RSVP info…not even sure of the time yet, really), but can you really have a two-year-old’s duck party without the ubiquitous rubber ducky? Didn’t think so.

Side note: If we do Sesame Street next year, you know I’m repurposing rubber duckies for an Ernie connection. #usewhatyouvegot

Speaking of reusing, most of the stuff I made last year (cake topper, big poufs, even utensils and plates), I’m using this year…if the tissue paper poufs have held up being squished in a bag all year. (Ahem.) 

Last year’s party was mostly a colored theme (orange, yellow, blue, green), which all totally work with duckies.

The food will most likely be simple (if you really know me, you’re laughing at the use of that word — last year was SUPPOSED to be simple) – fruits and veggies with dip on ice, either pizza or BBQ-type stuff, pretzels/chips, and dessert. There is much pinning to be done, but we’ll either do a nice big cake with yellow frosting or cupcakes (mini duck toppers, anyone?) and a small cake for monkey to dive into. Why do I think he’ll dive a bit more this year?

Decor, well, yeah. Ducks. But to keep it cohesive with the mix of last year’s colors, blue and yellow tablecloths (blue = water) should do the trick. As the invitation implies, I hope to make some buntings to drape, either across the seating area or behind the food table…or both. Maybe some blue or yellow streamers. En masse, they can pack a punch. And I’m sure I’ll probably make a couple of ducky posters or a “year in pictures” poster to hang.

I’ve seen some cute ideas for the food area, like rafia (hay) as fillers, but the thing I’ve noticed most is that the thing that makes a table is its organization. Rows, my dears. Rows. Oh, and cute signage. Preferably on sticks. (“Quackers”, anyone?)

Beverages can be chilled in a baby pool or galvanized tub (whatever is handy) and an additional small tub can be used as a fun game: everyone picks a duck out and the ones with an “H” (or whatever) marked on the bottom wins a prize.

Oh, and since these shindigs tend to be adult-centric for now (he has one best friend/cousin about a year older; then two teenaged cousins who are incredible…just way older; otherwise, friends in far-off places), those gifts will be, like, plants or candles or something. We’ll see. 

I’d do a duck piñata, but like I said, it’s gonna be mostly adults. (Although, the image of our moms whacking away blindly is kind of awesome.) We keep things low-key at our events since our friends and family are pretty good at mingling and finding their own fun. One day when more kids are involved, they’ll need more fun/structure (structure does not equal zero fun, I promise…says the boring librarian ;-)), so we’ll do more games/activities at that point.

For now, just digging out the sidewalk chalk and balls for catch will be just fine, I think.

If you want to see what else I’ve got up my sleeve, check back on my Pinterest board for Hadley’s birthday. (There are also some ideas I picked last year that I never used, which may help me in my future parties, too.) Check back often; I’m sure it’ll be growing a ton.

What Women Want

{Wasn’t that a wonderfully atrocious movie? Or am I the only one who saw it? I don’t remember at what point Mel Gibson became unwatchable, but it was just around that time…}

Anyhoo, extra post this week!! This one is about gifting the ladies. Heck, this could be about gifting anybody, but around our house, ’tis the season for Mom. Er, me.

I have a tough time receiving gifts, mostly because a) I’m uncomfortable being the center of attention (yes, I’m an actress…why do you ask? ;-)) and b) I’m always concerned that I won’t like the thing, and I ALWAYS try to find the “isn’t that wonderful???” joy in gifts. I’m not picky, I’m just…um…exclusive about what I want to keep around my house. I can’t really put a percentage on what I don’t keep, but if I don’t really like it or if it doesn’t find use after a certain amount of time…out it goes. (Wow, I sound brutal. I’m really not!)

Since today’s my birthday (woohoo, I’m old! Like, the age my mom always told me to tell my teachers SHE was, old) and Mother’s Day is coming up, I thought I’d share a few items that you might not have thought of when perusing the shops for your lady friend/sister/mother/etc. These may not be every lady’s cup of tea, but they’re mine — the type of lady who’s into history, who doesn’t tend to let her bits and pieces hang out in public (ie dressing for “clubbing”…do the kids still call it that? “Clubbing”?), who’s equal parts simple yet highly particular.

My God. I’m my mother. And my grandmother.

– Speaking of “cup of tea”, tea. Definitely tea. If she’s into tea, hook her up with a basket of her faves. If she likes it loose (hee hee), hit up a quality store in the area and get her some nice supplies — like one of those ball thingies, a bag/box of loose, and a sweet little mug. (Check out Etsy for some Mom mugs that don’t suck. You know what I mean. ;-))

If she’s a coffee-drinker, get that same mug but hook her (I wrote that “hooker” the first time around…where am I today??) up with a gift card to her favorite cafe or, yes, even Dunkin Donuts if it’s more convenient for her. These things sound so simple, but they don’t take up a ton of space, they’re thoughtful, and she’ll USE them. That’s the main point here.

And, okay, okay. If she’s a wine drinker, a NICE (nice doesn’t always mean expensive) bottle of wine (and maybe the suggestion that you’ll cook or pick up dinner for the night)  

Sunglasses. Observe the style of glasses that your particular lady uses (that’s the important part; you don’t want to go getting aviators when she likes a John Lennon style) and get a pair as similar as you can find. These can be as cheap or expensive as you like, but buy them knowing that one can NEVER have enough pairs of sunglasses. I had a great pair at the end of fall last year and I have no idea where they ran to…so, I had to buy a new pair. (Kohl’s for around $8. Not too shabby.) Always great to have several, especially with kids around who mangle them and accident-prone folks who sit on them.

Flowers. This may sound traditional or cheesy or “duh, Meg”, but I tell you I’m always flattered by flowers. They add some joy to the house, tell you without having to TELL you that you’re loved, and they don’t clutter the joint up for too long (ahem). And if you’re like us and you have a slew of cats, you can either check out this site for some safe options (there are way too many non-safe ones to mention, and they’re unfortunately far too often the popular choices) or grab a potted plant or two for her to plant outside. (Hanging plants are cool, too.) Either way, flowers are a grand gesture of romanticism and even sweeter when you have your little one hand them over. *melt*

Something handmade. Speaking of little ones, what’s better than kiddie art?? This can be wicked simple: have your munchkin draw a picture (even the little kids can “make” something that turns out to be wickedly cool and abstract) on a sheet of computer paper. Then purchase a nice frame that’ll go with your house decor (can’t go wrong with a chic black or white one, but if she’s into traditional or rustic, buy a wood one). A beautiful frame really elevates the sketch into a work of art that she can hang anywhere in the house or at work, and the thought behind it will mean even more.

A magazine or bookmark. Okay, follow me here. I love reading. But, my time these days is either too full to do so or way too exhausted to follow a storyline (sad but true). So, if your lady is like me, check the magazine aisles at Barnes and Noble and grab a new one you think she might like. Put some thought into what her interests are, and I guarantee you there’s at least one magazine to suit those interests. By purchasing one, you’re seeing how she likes it; if she does, tell her you’ll get the full subscription. (If she doesn’t, at least you haven’t bought an entire wasteful subscription; offer to buy her one of her choosing, in this case.) And if she DOES have time to read, those funky bookmarks at B&N (or on Etsy) are wicked cool and way more fun to use than, say, a wayward receipt or (ahem) a few sheets of toilet paper. 

Cheesy coupons. While I know for a fact that my mom still has some of these leftover from when both my sister and I made some for her, I think I’d really appreciate a handmade (or computer-printed) stack of these coupons. You know what I’m talking about: “These coupon good for one night of washing dishes.” “This coupon good for one diaper change.” And so on. Think about what she really does a lot of around the house and what you and your kids could do. (Hadley couldn’t really do these, although he could “help.” This is more from Daddy in our case.) Right now a “This coupon good for one good, long hug” coupon isn’t really relevant (we do plenty of that all over the place at our house), but when Hadman’s a teenager, I’d probably kill for one of those. Ack. Don’t make me think about it!

A subscription to Ancestry.com. This is actually what I requested for my combination birthday/Mother’s Day. I had received a 6-month subscription for Christmas and I have absolutely LOVED digging into our family history — all the way back to the late 1400s, in some cases. Seeing that I’ll have a touch more time this summer to dig even more, I decided to ask for an “extension” when it runs out in June. It’s not cheap (hence asking for it for my birthday AND Mother’s Day), but I have to say it’s the best gift I think I’ve ever received. That good. 

So, what do you think? Would you want any of these things? What would you add to the list, ladies? (Notice I said ladies, ha.)   

Summer Plans

Howdy! Now that the snow has sufficiently melted and we’re experiencing an honest-to-goodness springtime, I feel it’s safe to let my mind wander to the wonder that is S-U-M-M-E-R! Last year, I laid out a whole plan of what I hoped to accomplish and a few little “first timer” milestones I hoped to have fun with Hadley with. This year is really no different, although a lot of the stuff we’ll do isn’t a milestone; just “for fun.”

The biggest difference this year is Hadley. He’s so different, guys, it’s crazy. Last year, he was afraid of grass, wasn’t walking (hardly mobile at all, comparatively speaking), and couldn’t communicate. This year, he’s got a couple dozen (probably more) words and several gestures he uses to get his point across, walks/runs/trips/falls down/gets up/runs again, and enjoys dirt and grass and picking flowers (ie picking the heads of flowers off) and generally discovering the world around him with zeal. It’s exhaustingly fun.

So, you’ll notice some repeats from last year’s list. However, I think the actual experiences will be insanely different — for us AND for Hadman. Should be fun!

A touch more streamlined than last year, but still with a bit of an explanation (I’ll try to keep it concise):

1. We’ve all (adults, that is) got a lil’ family winter pudge going on. I need to be less vampirey/anti-social. Hadley loves bugs and dogs and dirt and saying “hi!!!” to big kids and attempting to run into the road. All ideal reasons to walk. A hike or two would be awesome, too.

2. T-2 1/2 months and counting until the monkey turns 2 years old (sniff, sniff). It looks like we’ve landed on a theme, which I’ll share soon. Our ultimate goal is to keep it low-key yet fun (I can’t NOT decorate, and I can’t NOT have a theme…it’s just not me. And he’s just too darn special.) It’s important for me to remember that we’ll have varied ages, and only a couple of little ones, so it’s not like we need much entertainment or giveaways or games. If you’re interested in seeing what I’m thinking, check out my Pinterest board for what I’m thinking. (Some are from last year, too. Speaking of which, here’s a link to how last year’s turned out!)

3. We went last year, and it was a blast. This year, Hadley recognizes animals, can point them out, makes tons of cool noises, and is generally a funner version of Hadley 1.0, so unless a crazy meltdown occurs, this should be awesomesauce.

4. Vague, no? We’re nailing it down, but Mama gets the itch to move every now and again. This could be one place far away. It could be several close-to-home trips. Who knows?

5. I’ve started bringing home some books for Hadley from my school library lately, but I thought it’d be fun to see if there are some family-related library events at our local book haven. If not, it’s cool. I’d just like to get there with him more often so he realizes there’s more than the overstuffed bookshelf in his bedroom. Plus, Mama can do a little more reading, too.

6. The sooner, the better! Maybe two!!

7. To simplify things, we’re not growing from seed this year. I’ve already made a garden plan, so at least I know what we need to go and buy. The Easter Bunny DID get the munchkin a little kit to grow one’s own basil plant, along with a cool little metal watering can and a mini trowel and cultivator, so he’ll hopefully be digging around, too. Yay, wormies! Oh, and I live in upstate NY, so it’s not really advisable to plant much pre-Memorial Day.

8. I’m not making any grandiose “I’m going to finish this monstrous project!!!” statements. Instead, I’m going to take a few of Hadley’s naptimes a week to get outside (or in the basement) to work on some organizing…and cleaning…and maybe painting…and stuff. My grandpa was a putterer, so it’s important to me to try to connect with that and have a hand in the care of the house.

9. Grilling, yes. Setting up and USING the outside table to eat, yes. Getting away from the TV set (regardless of how awesome Dick Van Dyke reruns may be), yes. I’m also hoping that our gate will fit at the top of our deck, so munchkin can eat up there with us and it’ll be a low-stress environment for all involved. Oh, and I’d also love to have a picnic. With pickles. ‘Cuz monkey loves a good pickle.

10. Don’t care where, this just must happen. We may have a picnicking day at a state park with my sis and her little one, so that may be our chance.

11. Last year, I mentioned writing a children’s book. I’ve got the ideas behind several simmering (and even outlined), but getting any of it on paper has remained elusive. This summer, I hope to change that. All I need is the focus…um, and an incredible artist to illustrate it. (I’m also mulling over chapter book. Loves me a good historical fiction.)

What’re you looking forward to most about summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime, summertime? Am I jumping the gun thinking about summer when it’s not even June yet? I think this school year has blown by so quickly (and Hadley has grown so much, so fast) that I’d rather take all the time that we can to hold on!

Embracing Self Care – Peace in the Home

Welcome back to our third installment in the “taking care of yo’ self” series! (Not really; I just called it that.)



This week’s “Embracing Self Care” theme involves peace in the home. Now, this can encompass many different topics — from finding peace through organization, surrounding yourself with decor that helps you find peace (or finding decor that helps you feel at one with yourself; finding your “style”), finding a schedule/routine that works for you, etc. See? It really can mean ANYTHING! Love that!

For me, this involves a couple of things. Obviously, I’m in the midst of some “low-stress” spring cleaning. (Taking it a day at a time, folks.) When I’m done with the “cleaning” part (ie the scrubbing, dusting, mopping, vacuuming stuff), I plan to attack on the organizational front. I’m weird that way. I see cleaning as more of a “must destroy dust bunnies!” and “wash windows” sort of thing; yes, things are neat and orderly afterwards, but more in a “picked up” way.

So, after things are spic and span, I’m going to address any organizational issues that we have. This will entail looking at areas where we’re falling short (like finding better uses for our closets and built-ins, and my bills…I pay them, then pretend they don’t exist ‘cuz, y’know, I don’t like them…so they just end up in random piles) and areas that just need our attention, like the basement and garage (y’know…the dirty places).

This is twofold for us. Yes, we want to have an organized, happy, serene environment…but we also hope to ready our house for a possible move. See? Two birds, one stone. 😉 (Hate that phrase, but it’s relevant.) And, of course, I’ll share any tips I pick up on the way.

The second “peace in the home” factor I hope to work on (which goes hand-in-hand with readying our house for a sale) is our style. This is the week I’m FINALLY working on painting the red out of our lives dining room, with the help of my uber-motivated mom. (Spoiler: It’s already gone! Just got some trim to do before sharing.) The other rooms are relatively light and airy (our bedroom is a little moody with a green wall, which we may or may not keep) or at least neutral, and the burgundy sticks out like a sore, outdated, 1990s thumb. 

Aside from that, I’ve got some Pinspiration regarding other areas of the house. Our front room was a spot that helped sell us on the place originally, so I’m hoping to modernize it a bit with the help of some better window treatments (we still use the short sheers that came with the house…for shame). So, I’m on the hunt for some extra long white curtains to hang “high and wide” and a few more bamboo shades, for an effect kind of like this —

I’m also excited that my stepdad has offered to help me complete the tub surround with a ghetto he-thinks-it’ll-work solution (I have my doubts), so that’ll finally be a done project. I’m not happy with the art I made for that space, so I’ve got my eye out for other DIY art solutions that’ll make me happy. Not to sound picky, but I’m not a huge fan of the word art stuff (“Brush your teeth. Wash your hands.” Uuuummm. No comment.); I guess I’m more into either a graphic or a vintage botanical print type thing.

Maybe something like this… (Different colors.)

Not sure of original source 🙁 Hate that!
If anyone knows, let me know, please!

Or this type of botanical…

Original Source

I also recognize that a big part of moving will be weeding out things that we don’t wish to drag with us to our next residence. That can be a horribly daunting task, or it can be an uplifting “ahhh” getting rid of stuff we don’t NEED in our lives task. Probably 50/50, in all honesty. There’s a part of me that looks forward to taking all the wine bottles off the shelf and in storage, putting only the pots and pans that we need in our cupboards, and having less “visual clutter” around the place. I’m already asking myself how many mugs we actual need to have on-hand for guests and for ourselves, how many utensils should be in our drawers, and what food we truly need around cluttering up our cabinets. Maybe it’ll be therapeutic, who knows?

So, the only way that “schedule” really fits into this “finding peace in the home” concept is that we need to better schedule our “to dos” to actually, um, y’know…get them done! 😉 The goal is to remember to keep the peacefulness of our lives while working on these projects and focusing on our future, and to make sure that the monkey doesn’t get his routine too knocked out of whack.

What about you? What “peace” do you hope to achieve in your own lives? How are you hoping to achieve it? Feel free to post a link to your blog (if you have one), or just share in the comments.

 

TThisWednesday, April 16: Peace in the Home

This can encompass home decor, fashion, organizing and decluttering, schedule and routine, etc. Whatever needs to happen in your life in order to restore peace and equilibrium will be represented during this week!

Wednesday, April 23: Taking Some R&R

This week we’ll dive into taking time to pamper ourselves, time to fully relax, putting aside the to-do list, etc. We will recognize that we need to find healthy ways of treating ourselves so that we aren’t tempted to bad habits that ultimately harm us (i.e. emotional eating of sugar, etc.)
– See more at: http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2014/03/embracing-self-care-community-blogging-project.html#sthash.aWSSQQGz.dpuf

Food Revolution Day — Again

It’s that time again! Rollin’ right around the corner, May 16th is Food Revolution Day (#frd2014), hooray!!

What’s this? Well, simply, it’s a way to engage with food in a public way. This can mean a bunch of things and can be achieved a kazillion ways, but in essence it’s meant to bring attention to the fact that eating responsibly-grown and -raised foods is a) healthier, b) more beneficial to the local economy, and c) way better for the environment. All awesome things. It’s also about learning how to cook from scratch, which tends to be a bit cheaper and healthier for all of us.

(Side note: Clearly, hittin’ up McDonald’s and calling it a day won’t cut it. Sorry!)

Last year, I had high hopes of making an awesome meal, but the fact that Dave was out of town and I was feeling crappy took it down a peg. Luckily, I still found my own way to celebrate — even if in a pretty private way.

This year, I’m hoping to celebrate a little more as a family since, well, Hadley eats regular food now and Dave should be home. So, while we may just do one or two of these things, it may help you get your mental juices flowing (ew) if you decide to take part, too. Here are a few ideas I’ve got for our family (there are a ton more to check out here, and I’m sure you could come up with a ton more far better than mine):

Go out for a lovely dinner. I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t this all about making your own food?” Yes, and I know what you mean. However, we have a handful of kick-arse locavore joints that we’re dying to try out. It’d be nice to have a date night with the hubby and know that the food we’re eating is Besides, we hardly ever get formal dates, so when we do we tend to try new places or old favorites (which, ahem, tend to be slightly more expensive places; we don’t eat out much normally, so we put more value in what we’re eating when it’s locally-grown and well-prepared).

Try something new. I’m thinking it’d be fun to trek out to the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market, buy a new ingredient (plus any other “needs” we might have), then try a new recipe. My meals lately have been pretty one-note, so this might help kick-start me into getting back into the swing of preparing summer-type meals (which tend to be more creative…or to me, at least).

Plant our garden. We’ve already drawn out (literally) a simple plan for our veggies (and one fruit), and one of my biggest issues is usually not planting early enough. Given that our frosts are gone for the season — which they may NOT be, given our crazy weather patterns — this would be the perfect weekend to buy our plants (I don’t think I’m growing anything from seed this year; I’m taking the lazy mama’s way out) and get ’em in the ground.

You may notice that these ideas are ones you really can’t complete in one day…er, at least, not at our house! I tend to look at Food Revolution Day as more of a weekend celebration than a one-day thing, especially since it generally lands on a Friday (a work day). It’s kind of like how some celebrate the whole weekend of Memorial Day, y’know?

So, you’ve got a little over a month. Are you planning on doing anything for FRD? (Or FRD weekend, as it were?) If so, what? I’d love to hear! 

Embracing Self Care – Know Thyself

Over the next few Wednesdays in April, I’ll be taking part in a little blogging exercise (hosted by the Humbled Homemaker, woohoo!) by chatting about the different facets of self-care. You know the ones. Things like health and spirituality, finding peace in the home (this encompasses several concepts), and healthy ways to find R and R. Those things we tend to ignore on a day-to-day basis. Remember those?


I absolutely love this theme. Whether you’re a student who is too busy (or too stubborn…hey, I’ve been there) to properly take care of yourself, or a parent who is too swamped and exhausted to think past the rest of the family, or just an individual who has gotten into a rut, anyone can relate to forgetting to take care of yourself.

There are so many more relevant, important things to worry about, right?

Wrong.

This is an underlying, unspoken issue that I see bubble up from time to time in my family. The Dorky Daddy and I are able to compartmentalize — parenthood/family, work, maybe a hobby from time to time (acting or writing or working on our websites). But, those are the only constantly-present “compartments” of our lives.

What else falls to the wayside? Um. Lots. Here are some of my personal concerns:

Cleaning and true organization. Just ask the cake of dust on my bedroom TV. (What? We’re the only ones watching it, and rarely at that. Why clean it often? Ahem. Yeah, I’m wrong.)

Health. (She says as she sits sneezing and nursing a headache while writing this.) But, seriously, this also relates to the fact that a lot of days we find ourselves just so exhausted or fatigued.

Inner peace. We’re not what anyone might call “religious,” but I know we’d both like to get in touch with our spiritual sides better.

Balance. Okay, for realsies, I’ve heard a lot of folks say that this simply isn’t possible. Well, I’m pretty sure that’s not 100% true. Life is totally a seesaw, and that’s not a bad thing. But it’s obvious when things are tipping far too much in one direction. For example, when Dave was working at his previous job, it didn’t just take the time he was there, but additional work from home, as well as the stressful distraction that it caused for him. His seesaw is now officially WAY more balanced, and it’s a better thing for ALL of us. Side note: We’re still grateful for this DAILY.

“Us.” This is more of a “we need to make a concerted effort to spend time together and HAVE FUN” than a “we have issues” thing. We’ve gotta make some dates and enjoy them. We need to focus on whether or not the other person is doing too much and try to take the load off. We need to discuss openly tasks that we have to work on around the house (or other things they need help with) and actively plan on days and times to work on them. This has all been easy to forget when so much of life revolves around a high-maintenance toddler. We need to take folks up on the offer to babysit more, and find more things that we can do as a trio (not just baby-centric stuff).

My ultimate issue is simply figuring out how to use my time wisely. There’s so much I want to achieve, but getting motivated when I’m exhausted, or balancing the time between family and the rest of life, or ensuring that I don’t let something important fall to the bottom of the list. Focusing on a different topic each week may help me implement a few small, achievable tips — and I’d LOVE to hear any suggestions you have (or even to commiserate a bit about our individual issues).

Remember, our ultimate goal here is to focus on self care.

So, how well do you “know thyself”? What areas do you need to work on?

On this week, we’ll be assessing our needs and our personalities and getting a handle on what kind of self-care needs to happen in our lives. – See more at: http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2014/03/embracing-self-care-community-blogging-project.html#sthash.USyLHbo4.dpuf

Freaking Yes

I found a new blog that I’m SO excited about that I couldn’t contain myself in sharing it with y’all! So much so that I’m even posting on a usual “off” blogging day. Can ya believe it?! I know. Crazy town.

I equally love and dislike finding a rad new website or blog. Hear me out.

Love? Finding someone who can entertain you and educate you simultaneously.

Dislike? That they’ve been writing so long that there’s a huge cache of incredible information. *Brain explodes.*

Love? Relating (probably too much) to their humor.

Dislike? Wait…where did the last three hours go? My tea’s cold and the baby’s awake?? What has happened to my life???

Love? Helpful, relatable tips that are immediately applicable to my life. They’re watching me. They must be.

Dislike? What a sleek, modern, yet inviting appearance. My blog looks like it walked into a poopy willow store — or a free background Google search, either way.


I check in with several blogs. Most are DIY/design blogs (as you may well know). Some are family blogs. Some are just plain hysterical. (#neonfresh) When I find a lifestyle or food blog, I tend not to follow it regularly, for whatever reason. Wait, I know. I tend to use them for one purpose, then move on. (Is that catty? I don’t mean to be. Sorry, blogs-I-only-check-out-once! I have a family to feed and bathe and watch Cary Grant movies with!)

Through a favorite blog, I found Our Freaking Budget. I KNOW, RIGHT?! With a name like that, how can it not be a) hilarious, b) informative, c) entertaining, or d) all of the above.

(Here’s a hint, kids. Always pick “all of the above” if it’s an option. The odds are in your favor. *wink*)

Since we’re still on quite the financial trip over here (short story – Dave’s got mad college debt (but is impeccable with his budget and tracking of financials) and I’m the anti-budgeter…and Hadley eats like a 16-year-old boy, I swear.), I’m finding tons of value in every post I’m reading on their site.

Here are just a few articles that have me either chuckling or nodding…or both:

How to Organize Your Financial Paperwork – Wait. I can throw out bank statements?! *Clouds part, angels sing*

All Things Budgeting – This is where I need the most work…so I read. The link includes numerous posts on this topic. I’m totally going to steal borrow their “Everything Else” concept. I love the looseness in that. It’s got “Meg!!! It’s so easy even YOU can do it!” written all over it.

It’s not super financial-related (although, if it costs money, isn’t it ALWAYS financial-related?), but I love the He Says/She Says: Pillows debate. As a lady who loves a good, practically useless decorative throw pillow, my heart goes out. Although, with a toddler, they’ve come in handy for breastfeeding…and he always likes the cushiony squishiness under-head during a diaper change, so there’s that. See? Purpose served!

LOVE this Are You a Dave or a Suze? post about the differences between Dave Ramsey (guru of attacking and mercilessly murdering one’s debt) and Suze Orman (whom I can only picture as an SNL character, no matter how hard I try otherwise). Best part of the post? That they refer the mix of their styles as “Duze.” 

I’m not a “Breaking Bad” follower (heck, if my heart can’t take the ups and downs of Downton Abbey, how can I handle meth heads? Is that what the kids are calling them these days? Meth heads?), but the branding on this Breaking Bad Budgets post cracks me up — and the content is aces.

This one, Budgeting Means You Don’t Like Nice Stuff (clearly not true), hits the nail on the head so well, I shared it on Facebook already. If you know how infrequently I share stuff, you know that’s kind of a big deal for me.

I could go on and on. There’s. Just. Too. Much. GOOD. So, finally, I will give you…

Inbox Zero: How to Whip Your Emails into Shape – I don’t remember how many email ACCOUNTS I have. I still mainly use my Yahoo, although I’d like to make the switch over to Gmail for good. It’s kind of like how I still haven’t found the courage/energy/time to switch to a closer credit union. Anyhoo, my Yahoo account has 6,211. Strangely, the oldest in my inbox is from April 24, 2008. And…OMG…I’m seeing professors emailing me about graduate classes that I’ve long since completed. Oye. Yes, this needs chipping away, for sure.

My financial must-have of the year is a new computer. I’ve hemmed and hawed for years over a replacement. Another Windows OS or refurbished Apple? For awhile I even considered next to no programs and just utilizing Google’s free apps — Google Drive, etc. (My current Dell was purchased over 4 years ago, I believe. There’s something wrong with the video card so there’s a big bar splitting the screen in half vertically, the caps lock key was torn off by a certain baby, — who shall remain nameless — and the “r” sticks like mad (hardly working one minute and snapping too much at others). Rrridiculous.

Since I don’t/won’t put any purchases on a credit card, I’m working on it.

The other financial “whoa” is that we’re hoping to meet with some financial folks to see how viable a possible move would be. (Not too, too far.) There, I said that publicly. Now we won’t qualify for squat. 😉 But, seriously, analyzing what our fix-ups need to be (cough-driveway-cough)

So, happening upon a blog that shows that financial freedom can work for normal folks like me, who are more on the creative side of things than the practical side, gives me some hope and doesn’t stress me out like other sites. I guess this one is a ton more “love” than “dislike.” Now, off to mysteriously lose several more hours of my life. *poof*

SIDE NOTE: WHO SAW DOWNTON SUNDAY?? ARGH! I knew someone was getting (spoiler) this season, but I didn’t expect it to be (spoiler). I hope (spoiler) doesn’t go postal.

Christmas Decorating, Act Two – SHINY + RUSTIC

I recently told you about our Christmas tree and outdoor decorating. Today, I’m back to share with you the final act of our little saga — or, as I call it, SHINY + RUSTIC (yes, I’m saying that loudly…in a dramatic, humorous Shakespearean tone).

We’re already surrounded by tones of brown and tan, neutrals (and I kept the lighter blues…frosty and wintry, is where my head is). I introduced some greens — lighter, more pea green/puce tones as well as natural evergreens. The only red I used came in the form of accents — through my cute “JOY” pillow ($1 at Target), stockings, and on my “card clothesline.” Otherwise, the dining room boasts more than enough red (ick) on its own. It sounds like a hodgepodge, and maybe it is, but I also sprinkled a handful of clementines around for a traditional nod to the past while throwing in a pop of modern color.

Here’s the dining room —

 
It’s really a simple variation on what I did for autumn. I kept the gauzy scarf (there’s the 2nd scarf! See the tree post for the first…) as a runner and the antique drawer for the centerpiece, as well as a couple of candles and stuff, but otherwise, I just sprinkled in some greenery, pine cones, clementines, mercury glass…and some Christmas magic, of course.

I tried to keep it simple with a few smaller vignettes. Here’s my “sweater” vase, an antique creamer with a clementine stuck in (my people were dairy farmers…but, yeah, the orange makes no sense, but ’tis cute), and the musical snow globe my mom bought for Hadley last year. LOVE all the texture just on that thing alone, with its rough-hewn reindeer, cozy soft fabric, and leather and wood accents.

On the other side is a little woodland vignette. I bought the “tree” on clearance at Target, stood a pine cone up to appear tree-like, and put a couple of bottles and a more bronzy mercury glass candleholder (under a buck at Goodwill!) in a random pattern. Oh, and the bottle with the greenery is from my family’s own dairy farm — just sayin’.

And for the sideboard, all I really did was put a huge, green hurricane filled with silver bead garland and a candle on a vintage cake stand, a cute (but pitiful) plant and mercury votive on some magazines, and a vintage teacup full of cinnamon sticks throughout the front.

One of these days, I’ll clean everything behind this stuff off, but I like most of it too much — books, old and new; Waterford sugar/creamer set; a McCoy pottery teapot; a very old pewter pitcher; booze in case we’re ever cool enough to have anyone over (along with the mixer)…oh, and Hadley’s first piece of art. What’s not to love?

And here’s the living room —


We pick up the white “urchin” whenever our toddler “urchin” gets interested in poking his eyes out with it. Oh, and this is yet another “use whatchya got – decorate with a scarf” instance. (Third. Bam.)



Our “landing strip” between the living room and dining room, which houses our “Card Clothesline.” For incoming Christmas cards (and a wayward Santa hat), I strung some twine between two nails, added some clothespins and a couple of stockings, and voila. We’re also putting cards on the opposite side so the dining room doesn’t feel left out. 🙂


Simple — Vintage cake stand (from our wedding), twine-wrapped candleholder/vase, mercury glass + gold candleholders (I feel rebellious mixing metals here), and a handful of outdoorsy pieces (greenery, pine cones, cinnamon sticks).

Across the “strip”, I mimicked the mercury glass, but piled it a bit more. (See below for details.)


My faux mantle. (No fireplace here — le sigh.) Very understated — just added a sprig from the tree, an orange, and a mercury glass votive, but there’s just enough texture and variation to make it less than boring.


Just Hadley’s stocking, hung from a shiny silver holder. I threw an orange on each holder for interest, but in the future I’ll put labels or a toy representing the receiver of said stocking (this year, it would be one of his “Little People” — either Superman (which has mysteriously gone missing) or the blond elf who looks suspiciously like Hadman). Or, maybe it’s where we’ll leave our Santa letters. 🙂


A fun little close-up of the textural variation. Atop a stack of old magazines, I put a very vintage copy of “The Complete Home” (I bought antiquing years ago), a replica of vintage playing cards, a pine cone, a clementine, and a large mercury hurricane (which also has more pine cones and a sprig of green). Oh, and if you look closely you can see me with my red “Keep Calm and Carry On” iPhone case and gray hoodie — the uniform of champions.

The chalkboard on our wall o’ frames had been home to this lovely thought since…maybe Valentine’s Day(?) —



For the holidays this year, it says this
(and probably will until Valentine’s Day again; I don’t look upward enough) —

And on that sentimental note, I think we’ll end our little tour. How do you decorate for the holidays? Do you make it a blatant Christmas-centric thing, or do you add a bit of shimmer and “season” (I kind of did both — red and green, and Santa’s hat, of course…but it’ll be easy to transition into a winter theme). Do you do bright modern (think “shiny aluminum Christmas tree”), cozy traditional (reds, greens, evergreen), or a fun hodgepodge of sentimental, hand-made stuff? I love hearing how others choose to deck their halls for the holidays.

Green Child 2013 Holiday Edition

Taking a week off from Foodie Friday. I've been cooking, but only basics (y'know...to keep the ol' family alive while in the midst of a raging book fair at work), but hope to do some baking or holiday sides to share.

It's here again! The latest issue of Green Child Magazine (which I'm proud to be a little ol' contributor to) is out, and it's awesome. It's the perfect breather from the hustle and bustle that takes over this time of year, with eco gift ideas, thought-provoking (and relaxing) articles, and tips up the wazoo. And there, on pages 55-59, sit I. :-)



I am in LOVE the simplification ideas. That's really all I want for Christmas -- less stuff, more memories and coziness and joy together. And those soup recipes? Get out. ;-) No, don't really.

Honestly, there isn't a single piece I didn't beam while poring over; they were all just that good.

If you need a break from the crazy, check it out (and, nope, I'm not perked for writing this). I'm currently an unpaid contributor, and I'd be a fan regardless of whether I write for them. :-) Enjoy!!