Happy Friday!

I thought that it would be a fun way to celebrate Friday (even on shortened weeks, a Friday is well-earned lately!) to provide a lil’ guide for Black Friday.

Wait, what?!

Yep, I said Black Friday.

Dude, it’s mid-October!!

I’m aware.

But…like…we haven’t even had Halloween yet!!! Isn’t Black Friday, like, 6 weeks away??

Mhmm. BUT, Thanksgiving is wicked late this year (it even overlaps with Hanukkah for the first time, like, ever! No, that’s not true, but it’s the first time in a super long time), meaning that Black Friday, too, is super late and pretty darn close to Christmas.

So, if you’re hoping to scoop up some good deals and get a great crack at your Christmas list on that Day o’ Craziness, I’ve got some tips to help you make the most of the day — meaning spending less money, wasting less time, and maintaining some semblance of your sanity.

It’s kind of funny because we may not even keep our Black Friday tradition this year. My sister and I have been doing it since…well, at least 6 years, I think, but it might go back even further (with every gray hair that shows itself, my memory wanes a bit more). We’ve had every type of experience you can imagine, sans the violence (although there has been some national news-making violence at nearby stores while we were at a nice, safe department store…those wackos). Now, with a couple of cuties (not our husbands, though we lucked out in that department) at home, we want to be sure it’s worth our while to get up at 3, or 4, or 5 to fight the crowds. It looks 50/50 right now, depending on how our lists stack up.

Anyhoo, we still have plenty of knowledge to pass on, so here’s a list to get you ready; the name of the game is PREPARE YOURSELF!:

Know your ads! We’ve had years (last year was one of them) that we didn’t even peak at the ads until Thanksgiving evening. Not saying that’s stupid…but it’s not the smart thing to do. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sign up for email updates to see when the ads are leaking (hint: they’re already starting! I got the MACY*S one today…and, if you’re brave enough, the Walmart one is available, too.), and I even downloaded the free app to my phone from blackfriday.com (there are plenty of reliable sites like this one, too). Compare prices in advance!

Keep a list! Santa does it; you should, too. Yes, you should have a list of everyone you need to buy for and what to get them, but this is a different list. I tend to set it up by store, then item (sometimes in parenthesis I’ll jot down who it’s for…as you can see, I love a good parenthetical notation ;-)) WITH BRAND NAME, COLOR, SIZE, AND HOW MUCH IT COSTS. The last thing you want to do is grab the wrong brand name and end up paying $10 more for a shirt (this doesn’t sound like much, but this is the meaning of BF — the difference between paying $27 for a dress shirt and $17 — and don’t get me started on $9 jeans!!!). You will NOT have time at the check-out to run back and grab what you meant to get. Plus, that line of folks behind you will definitely be shooting you the Grinch-eye. Oh, and keep a polite-but-firm eye on the cash register as things get rung-up. Know thy sale item, know thy price.

Know your stores! Keep in mind what your favorite stores/products are. If you don’t usually shop at a store, it’s cool to check out their ads in advance, but generally if you don’t like their products (sorry, Sears!), it’s not worth your time and energy to go to that store. Our favorites to peruse in advance are JCP, MACY*S and Kohl’s, with the occasional Old Navy or Target check. This year, I’ll also be staring down the Toys ‘R Us ad, mostly for clothes (since we’re swimming in toys, and we let Santa get the nice, eco-friendly toys that we enjoy playing with, too ;-)). Then, we pick which ones are the most worth our time and visit them in order of relevance. Some years, JCP is our big haul (they have great sales on sheets and towels, and most of Dave’s clothes come from awesome BF sales; I over-buy and put stuff aside for his birthday, which is in February…sneaky wife), while other years Kohl’s is.

Team up! You may notice I don’t mention Kmart or Walmart. I’ve learned from past experience that Kmart is not usually worth our energy (plus, the one we go to tends to be a bit…ghetto….), and if we need something from Walmart or Best Buy, we send in the big guns: Dave’s brother-in-law and his young adult sons. I swear, they have nerves of steel and are MADE for the strategy of The Great Electronics Battle. Mary and I stay safely in our comfort zone of slippers and ties and pillows. Even Target and Old Navy are rare (unless there’s a huge deal) because folks get cut-throat at these places. Like, crazy.

There is power in numbers, though. If it’s worth the trip, (meaning, you can check a lot of items off your list) walk in the door already knowing what you need, let your partner-in-crime jump in the already-long-line and hunt down BOTH of your items. Be sure to bring along a cell phone to check in (“did you want this color blue or that color blue for John’s sweater?”).

Heck, we even have an annual early-morning phone call with our mom (she’s usually up before 5am, anyway) to let her know how our haul’s going and whether we were able to pick up the items she gave us to grab her. Oh, yeah, we also help out family with anything they may need. It’s the season of helping/loving/sharing, folks!!

And, here are some stress-lifter ideas:

Remember the reason for the season! I’m not getting all religious-y here, but I’m just reminding you that the reason you’re buying gifts is that you want to share them with the people you love the most. This is NOT about “the hunt” (much as those Target ads try to teach you); it’s about the giving. And if you can save some cash in the process, hooray for you!

That being said, back when Mary and I used to stand in line before the doors opened (I’ll get to that in a minute), we had a habit of drinking cocoa/coffee and singing Christmas carols — especially if there were flurries in the air. Some folks would start singing along; others gave us the evil eye, but we had fun! It was like we were welcoming in the holiday season in our own, crazy way. I highly suggest doing this, or even making your own tradition — go in PJs, or ugly holiday sweaters, or wear Santa hats!

DON’T knock down the doors! Over the years, we learned that if we waited even 15 minutes, we didn’t have to wait in a line in the cold, pushing our way in (that’s not really our style, anyway); we could leisurely stroll in since the line had already dissipated into the store. The deals WON’T be gone if you wait 15 minutes, or even 30 minutes, or maybe even 1 hour. Oftentimes, we’d go to a pillow display and think they were all gone, only to have a clerk roll out a bin to re-stock. If you can’t find something, ask.

Also, a lot of these deals actually extend over the weekend, so stop by that Saturday or Sunday. The crowds will still be there (heck, that’s how it’ll be up until Christmas Eve; for me, it’s not the crowds, but the crazy drivers that drive me NUTS), but a little less exuberant/rude, and you still might get some good deals.

Stay home! Yes, I said that. We may do it this year; who knows? Some of these deals are available online. Heck, some deals are available at midnight (or 8pm on Thanksgiving…but I’m not a fan of that) online, so find out if it’ll be worth NOT fighting over a TV and try to grab it online. Oh, and a lot of these deals extend for weeks, so keep checking back over the coming weeks to see if their stock is replenished.

Know the store’s hours and procedures! Save yourself a headache. Some stores are opening up earlier and earlier, so the “doorbuster” deals may not be worth it if you show up at 5am only to realize folks scooped them up between 8pm and 12am. Also, some stores hand out vouchers to the first 50 people (or some number like that), so even if you show up at 5, the people who have been in line since their last bite of turkey the day before claim dibs on the item. This is most common at electronics stores like Best Buy (and sometimes at Walmart).

So, there you have it! Some ideas for those of us who are brave enough to venture out on Black Friday.

What about you? Have you ever done Black Friday? Any tips to add? Or do you have a post-Thanksgiving tradition (whether shopping or movie-going or cooking or decorating)? Do tell!

Side note: We do try to buy a good percentage (between 25 and 50%) of our gifts from local producers/sellers.

Image is a royalty-free image from Getty Images.

Autumn Decor – A Modern Mismatch

So, my attention had been diverted from any and all thoughts of autumn decor with our little guy’s health scare. Things are getting back to usual around here, though, and it’s nice to have a little mental break, so I’ve decided I need to join a party — a link party!

Today’s post is the mantel zshuzshing theme. Since I’ve only got a fake mantel (actually a relatively small shelf), I did some accessorizing there, as well as on the nearby “awkward places” that separate our living room and dining room. Uuuummm, yeah. The pictures help explain that a lil’ bit.

Since I haven’t been able to hit up the craft stores with going-on two weeks of family illness creating homebodies out of all of us, (and our grocery store only carried cruddy orange pumpkins…some already painted! What’s the fun in that??), I didn’t have the items I wish I had to accessorize. I know. Excuses, excuses.

So, instead I decided to work with what we have BUT to keep it simple…for once. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Given that I DID have Clementines on hand (Vitamin C!!!), I did end up with a punch of color.

I did realize that I mixed some metals, in faux mercury glass hurricane vases and some brassy accessories, and I’m surprised that I actually like the effect. I still don’t feel comfortable wearing my white gold ring with my brassy necklaces, but I’m getting over it. Am I the only one??

The “mantel” itself has a mix of textures: the shiny brass on the school bell, shimmering glass of the mini-hurricane and clock, earthiness of old wine corks and wood tones, softness of my gloves (I have another antique pair of leather ones that I’m considering switching out)…and it’s all grounded by the vintage books.



As far as the “awkward spaces”, I kept it vintage yet clean and unfussy. So, in a weird way, it comes off as modern. Scary. It’s like I planned it or something. Don’t believe it!

The left side has a project that I completed a few years ago — an old skeleton key glued to some nice textured fabric in a frame, easy peasy — as well as a simple vignette of a stack of old mags, an old mustard yellow book, a hurricane vase…and a couple of oranges to finish it off. Simple but nice.



The right side has some layering from one of my textured scarves (use whatchya got!), a vintage cake stand, another hurricane vase (to balance both sides from afar), a brassy cup filled with oranges (probably a candle holder), my spiky white urchin, and a tiny antique print. Again, a mix of old and new that somehow comes across as modern. Well, whadya know about that?





I’m sure I’ll add something here or there when I finally get out to grab the crafty items I was hoping to grab (and as I work on the other projects; rotations happen, people. That’s autumny, right? Substitutions? Football?). So, there we have it! What’re you doing to fall-ify your place?
Linking up at Thrifty Decor Chick (love her!).

Summatime Update

Back at the end of June, I shared a list of my summer plans. I’m pleased with a buttload of what we’ve been able to do; I’m a tad disappointed (or even downright bummed) that a few, I won’t be able to do. At. All. Here’s the updated list:

1. I had already started this undertaking when I posted the list, and guess what! Still not done. Of course. I had done some clothing purging, but have more to do. I have yet to touch our coat closet. I did, however, tackle the toy situation, which in itself feels like a huge victory. But, y’know how pregnant ladies (sometimes) go through their period of nesting? Once the cooler autumn weather hits, I’ll start attacking this. Promise! And I’ll share my endeavors. (Oh, you lucky, lucky people, you.)

2. Bam! Done!! Hadley and I went for some time last week (with a break in the middle of the week, just to avoid meltdowns) to a camp my mom and stepdad rented for the whole family to use. It. Was. Awesome. I needed that. And Hadman even had fun! (I mean, what says summer like this picture?!)

3. *sigh* Okay. The Adirondack Museum trip didn’t happen. I’ll get into the why’s at a later date, but the plans that we had made to hit it up as a family fell through. And I wasn’t about to do that without my man; he’s never been. Eh, ya win some, ya lose some. We are planning to visit the Carle VERY soon. We’re ecstatic that the munchkin will be able to see the Mo Willems exhibit. I know he’s just over one year old, but he’s a F-A-N of all things Mo. He knows his books by illustration and picks them every single story time. We’re hoping that the exhibit’s a hit with him. I know it will be for us!

4. Yeah, I suck at keeping up with the “work” part of summer. I suck. We bought a relatively eco-friendly spray that I still need to use to clean OFF the front porch (and siding on the house). I still hope to at least clean stuff up, but I’m not sure if the paint job will happen this month or not. I’m not going to beat myself up, though.

5. See camping trip above. Sand. Done. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Two birds, one stone!! (Okay, wait. Horrible metaphor. I hit what we’ve deemed to be a woodpecker on my way back up to camp and still feel like a murderer over it.)

6. Make that one “grill”. We have grilled far more than last year, but not everyday…or even once a week. A handful of times. But s’all good. Here’s my infamous grilled pizza recipe if you’re feeling like cookin’ outside.

7. The asterisk means I’m still workin’ on it, but I have at least trimmed and gotten the rest of my tile down (sans the around-the-toilet stuff, since we’ve gotta move that first) and caulked around the tub. My next step is priming and painting the base moulding that we’re reusing. (It’s still poop brown.) It’s gettin’ there!

8. Just like grilling, we’ve done SOME of this. Not everyday, but it’s been nice to get out when we feel like it. We took a few while at camp, and have done a few throughout the summer (even back for my “day in the life” post).

9. It’s in the works. I always have two main reasons that I LURVE visiting Massachusetts; the first is to see some awesome friends (yay, we’ll be able to do this!!) and the second is to hit up Concord (boo, we won’t be able to do this). But, we’re lucky we’ll be able to go at all. Oh, and we’ll be doing some fall shopping (not saying the dreaded “BTS” words out loud) at the outlets, so that’s a cool perk, too. Even Dave is in need of stuff, so it’ll be a family affair.

10. My garden this year has been a bit of a dud. I just got it planted way too late, I guess. I need to be a better planner. BUT, my tomatoes are going like gangbusters! They’re all tiny ones, and many are splitting (I think we’ve got a blight goin’ on), but the good ones I’m hoping to make a nice balsamic salad for the hubs with. So, if I do, I’ll share the recipe. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh, and we also learned that the Hadman is totally into the ‘maters. I’m not pushing my prejudice on the kid (obviously; I hate them!!!), and I think it’s awesome that he likes them.

11. Thank you, camp!!! I shared with with Hadley and it. Was. Awesome.

12. Yay!! A few Sundays ago, Daddy, Hadley and I checked out the Utica Zoo. Dave and I went as kids, and it’s perfectly sized for a baby; not too big but just big enough to entertain. He was enamored with the zebras (and they were enamored with him), but all the animals were interesting for him. And apparently they all say “oof.” Even the snakes. (One totally wanted to eat my baby. Back off, scaley!!!)

13. Dave’s done this, I’ve done this, we’re both going to see our Massy friends and I’m working on a catch-up with another buddy this week. We’re gettin’ ‘er done.

14. *deep sigh* I’ve done this. And done it again. And still again. It’s weird; I’ve had waves of calmness followed by thrusts of anxiety-driven headaches. I guess I always get that way when September starts rolling around. But, yeah, I’m working on maintaining the calm. Also depends on Hadley’s level of crazy.

15. I guess I’ve technically accomplished this. I’ve read a few magazines (I lean towards “Real Simple” and hand-me-down “This Old House” mags, with the occasional Eating Well or DIY/house ones thrown in), but have re-started Walden and this rad short compilation of essays and papers on Transcendentalism. What? That’s my idea of a good time.


16. I’m actually following my inspiration on this one. Some days I feel like working on my non-fiction piece, others I feel like working on a *top secret* sumpin’ sumpin’ I’m passionate about…so the children’s books (yes, I said “books”) have fallen to the wayside. I’m not one of those “write about something if I’m not in the mood” types of people. Maybe if I assigned it to myself, I’d be better at it. But, yeah, by Christmastime I’m hoping to have finally at least flushed out one of these.

17. Been there, done that! Haven’t gotten to our local one as much as I’d like (I’d say once or twice?) but we’ve been to the Oneida County Public Market a few times.

18. Done and done. Post forthcoming!

19. Depending on the day and my little man’s mood, we’ve achieved this. If he’s cranky, the pokey little grass blades will annoy the hell out of him. If he’s in “adventure mode”, he doesn’t think twice about it. The fact that we got him to play in the sand (even while wet and a tad cool) was a miracle.

So, that’s where we are! We’ve done some stuff beyond the list, but seeing how many we have crossed off makes me feel purdy darn good.

What about you guys? Leave a comment! How has Summer 2013 gone for you?? I know it’s been rough for many of my local friends, but let’s think about the happy stuff. Anything fun to share? Have you basked in some sunshine? Discovered a new part of your town? Do tell!

Sweet Potato Chili

Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking. Meg, it’s boiling outside and you’re making chili? Well, sure. Some people enjoy spicy stuff when it’s hot! I’m not usually one of those people, but when I tasted this recipe, I didn’t give a nugget what the temp outside was, if ya know what I’m sayin’.


We’re still doing pretty well with our M-F no-meat challenge, and while I made a veggie chili awhile back which used bulgur wheat, I wasn’t a fan. I guess I don’t NEED the meat texture, be it from real meat or something that’s trying hard to resemble meat. This, however, is worth sharing. It’s got some heat but has definite sweetness. And throw in whatever you want – I suggest a handful of frozen corn, which occurred to me after the fact.ย 


Sweet Potato Chili
(Serves about 6-8; I doubled the couple of recipes I worked from)
Olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, diced (with or without skin, just scrub them)
1 lg. onion, diced
2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 28 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can kidney beans
Salt ‘n pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 – 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. cumin
2 tbsp. chili powder
1-2 tsp. cayenne pepperย 
3+/- cups vegetable stock

Chop it all up! In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium and add first 6 ingredients, cooking for 8 minutes or until onion is soft (stir occasionally). Add spices and stock and cook for 20-30 minutes. Add the canned items and allow to cook for 10 more minutes, give or take.



Serve with avocado, cheese, plain yogurt and lime (or whatever you have on hand – be creative!). As with most recipes, taste – if you need more spice, add more; just don’t add too much since you can’t take it out once it’s in there! Enjoy!! We sure did. (And still are!)

(BTDubs, my iPhone pics are only worth their salt if I don’t upsize them…so, this is whatchya get today. Sorry…but have a great weekend! ;-))

Summatime, Summatime, Sum-Sum-Summatime

After a full weekend o’ fun, here we are with our first true day of summer vacation upon us. Quite awhile ago, I deemed today to be a lazy day — the only goal is to schlep Hadley over to our local farmers’ market, weather permitting. That’s. It. Hang out in bed watching Daniel Tiger? Take super long naps if Hadley wants? (Mama included.) Get zero work done around the house?

We’ll see if I actually allow it to be a lazy day or not. Only time will tell!

Friday, I posted this run-down of my summer plans —

Isn’t she purdy? I’m back with an explanation to the fun. ‘Cuz, y’know… I’m like that. Oh, and the more I think about it, there are about half a dozen extras to throw on there, but I’ll leave it with the original 19 for now. The longer the list, the more pressure (read: less fun!) you’ve got. So, here we go! (Those not listed are kind of self-explanatory.)

1. I’ve already started some of this. I got home Friday and went about in a whirlwind (until I sucked a sock up the vacuum’s tube. Way to stop a girl in her tracks, damn dust bunny sock!!) Storing clothes that don’t fit the baby or myself (and starting a bag to donate), cutting back on the number of bottles we have that aren’t being used…stuff like that. A big goal is the office, since that’s the place where some of my other goals will come to fruition, and Dave deserves a clear space to create a clear mind.

2. My mom has rented a camp for a week this summer, and I’m ecstatic about it. Different family members will be there any given day, and we may or may not stay for numerous days — but it’s close enough to home so that one of us can stop in with laundry and to check on the cats. I am SO ready to get my Thoreau on!

3. Mom has mentioned that, while camping, she’d like to go up to the Adirondack Museum, which is a place that she and I would spend ALL of our time, if possible. I’m ecstatic to get Dave there (he’s never been!) and that it’s baby stroller friendly. There is SOOOOO much to see and do, and several buildings set up by theme (a building about occupations in the Adirondacks, another area on Native Americans, still another on boats…that sounds lame, but it’s SO COOL!), PLUS if Hadman gets cranky, it’s easy to shuffle him out to the pathways and picnicking areas.

The Eric Carle Museum is another “must” since we’re looking to take a quick overnight trip to Massachusetts at some point. We’re excited to go just to see the place and what it’s all about (I mean…it’s Eric Carle!!), but we’re particularly stoked since they’ve got lots of Mo Willems activities and an exhibit of his artwork happening this summer. Considering he’s our “family author/illustrator”, it’s a given. We. Must. Go.

Ah, and I didn’t mention it here, but our local museum (I’m not sure if it’s considered a cultural center or what…I know I do), Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute has an Andy Warhol exhibit all summer. Seriously, in Utica. While this one’s mostly for Mommy and Daddy, I’d really like to see if Hadley has any reaction to the brightly-colored images and pop art. Heck, he goes NUTS for certain book illustrations. We shall see!

4. BO-RIIIIIING. But I’ll probably blog about it if I do it. You lucky, lucky people.

5. Gotta stick my feet in some sand. It’s been a LONG while. Plus, I know the PERFECT place to bring a little one. Can’t wait to see how it goes and share!

6. I don’t think we cracked the thing open once last year. (Dave says we did, but I’m not buying it.) And now that he’s decided to try to find a CSA (that might, just might accept latecomers) it’ll be awesome to have veggies to grill. And it isn’t summer without a grilled pizza, folks.

7. Slowly, slowly, said the Sloth. That’s my new nickname.

8. Not much to add.

9. We’ve got some buddies in Mass who are expecting, and still others that we just haven’t caught up with. Honestly, we miss them, like, everyday. It’s like being away from family. And, the last time we saw them was when Dave went out for a conference — Hadley and I missed out! So, I’ve got withdrawal.

To top that off, I’m hoping to drag my guys further eastward (not all the way to Boston — not this year, at least) to hit up my version of “the happiest place on Earth” — Concord. *happy sigh*

10. Garden + Potted Herbs + Possible CSA Purchase = New Recipes

11. Probably not organic. We shall deal. Hand-in-hand with this goes FIRE PIT!!! Probably whilst camping.

12. Too early to bring a baby to see wild creatures? We shall see!!

13. Getting this underway already. I had a very random, very welcome invitation to have a girlie get-together with one of Dave’s friends (which, strangely enough, is how I’ve earned myself some of the best friends…love that!) and a fire was lit. I’m not very social (those who knew me in high school may be shocked to hear that now), so I need to push my head out of my shell once in awhile.

14. Mentally. SOOOOO in need of this. Lots of self-analysis and figurin’ life out. I don’t expect to accomplish nirvana by the end of the summer, but y’know…a little every day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

15. A magazine. A book. The back of a cereal box. ANYTHING. I’ve got at least four stacks next to the bed. I don’t have to read them all. Just one. Is that too much to ask?

16. Sounds nuts? Well, I’ve already started. I have at least three complete stories floating around in my head; just gotta put pen to paper. One is underway. The REAL challenge lies in the “now what?” once the story’s written. Self-illustrate? Self-publish? What next?

17. Given!


18. Woot, woot! Workin’ on it. And, didn’t I jinx myself??? Staples has been a royal PITA. Oh, well. Homey’s rollin’ wit da punches.ย 

19. This actually means that I want to get Hadley outside this summer. Currently, he’s a tad leery of those sharp little blades of grass, even when wearing pants and sitting on a blanket. (I guess they pierce through. How dare they!) So, I’d like to get him over this, even if it’s just heading outside and playing with it more, or playing ON it more. He will hold onto loose blades that I pick up for him and seems to enjoy it. I know this won’t always be an issue, so I’m not obsessing about it. It’ll just be nice to have a kid who enjoys nature.

So, that’s generally what I’ve got in mind for summer vacation. I’m sure we’ll do more than this; heck, we may do LESS than this. Either way, it’ll all be about enjoying life as a family. So, even if you don’t have a vacation (or if your vacation will only last a few days), what will you be doing to enjoy the summer? Any trips? Grilling? Naming your baby after a direction?

Hoppin’ Down the Bunny Trail…

I recently mentioned that I’m not a huge Easter fan as far as the bunny and stuff like that goes. But with a baby in the mix, things are shifting.

“The tiiiimes they aaaare a-chaaangin’!”

I’m pretty sure that I’m a bigger Easter do-er than the hubs. The first year we were together, I put together a basket for him, complete with a yo-yo, candy, and ubiquitous plastic “Easter grass”. He was grateful, but generally confused as hell. This was when I first realized that I’m apparently an Easter celebrator. Whether I like it or not, I. Must. Observe. It.

So, I’d like to get into the habit of not making the holiday an uber-candyfest. I’m resigned to the fact that there will be candy (like “There Will Be Blood”…isn’t that a freaking incredible movie?! “I…drink…your…milkshake!!!” I heart Daniel Day Lewis) on certain holidays. Hell, I even look a little forward to certain candy. For example, I’m into Cadbury Cream Eggs (just need one) and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, and Dave’s a Jelly Belly guy all year ’round. So, that’s all we’ll be getting from the Easter Bunny this year. That’s it. Not organic, but it’s not 365 days a year.

Otherwise, like with my childhood, it’s all about getting JUUUUUST a basketful of goodies that meet both practical and play needs; pretty much a 50/50 split. There are a handful of outfits that he needs in a certain size, so the EB will provide that (in the future, it’ll be PJs, a new pair of sneakers, and maybe an outfit).

Then comes “the fun.” There are a handful of items that I got as a kid that he can have now — but with adult supervision (and sometimes adult use, actually). Like bubbles. I’m excited to see how he reacts to seeing them float up and fly around, popping on grass and cement and fingers. No jump ropes or anything this year, but perhaps a ball to roll and bounce this summer, a pail and little shovel (which may act as his “basket” — use whatchya got), and, of course, some of the larger plastic “refillable” eggs (empty this year) that we can reuse year-to-year. I also prefer the filler grass to be paper so that it’s at least recyclable (and maybe reusable, we’ll see).

Oh. And, of course, a book or two. That’s as much for Daddy as it is the Hadman.

We won’t be decorating any eggs this year since it’s not like he’ll be able to get his craft on very easily, anyway, but we’ll hunt for a few hidden eggs.

As far as the day goes, it’s not like we have to do present-opening or anything nuts like that. More like, “Oh, look what you got! Thank you, Easter Buuuunnnyyyy!!! Let’s go get changed and watch ‘Mohawk Valley Living’ and ‘CBS Sunday Morning.'” Then, it looks like we’ll be putting on a small brunch (ha! If you know me, you know “small” is a complete joke) for Dave’s folks, which I’m really, really looking forward to. Why do I love making brunch so much?? It’s a sickness, people. You can go as fancy as you like, or not. You can sneak in delicious free-range, humanely treated chicken eggs and organic fruits and veggies and no one’s the wiser (and no one says “this hotdog tastes funny”). Brunch is da bomb. Can we please bring back “da bomb”??

Then, after brunching it up, we’ll do a little dinner visit with my side of the family. If it’s nice out, the EB hides eggs outside. It’s always hysterical to see our almost-17-year-old nephew playing along as much as the younger ones (OMG, his sister’s a big girl now, too…when did that happen?!). There’s a story concerning a “little red riding hood” outfit that we’ll embarrass him with for years to come.

So, even though I’m not into the whole Easter Bunny side of things, consider me officially a stowaway on the bandwagon that is Easter.

Spring Fever

I’m usually the type of person who’s pretty able to appreciate the ‘now.’ I don’t hate any seasons by any means, and simply enjoy the feeling when one transitions to the next. It’s refreshing and rejuvenating, isn’t it?

This year, I still feel this way, but I find myself excitedly looking forward to things. Much of it…okay, probably all of it has to do with the baby. You’d think I’d be grabbing at every square inch of time (yes, I know time isn’t measured in inches) with the little man before he turns into, well, a real man. At 7 1/2 months, he’s certainly growing up fast, and I’m not necessarily excited about it. He’s teething up a storm (none have appeared yet, but he’s fussing enough for a mouthful), days or weeks away from crawling, and LOVES his walker. You can see the longing in his eyes to be able to get closer to those darn cats.

So…close…ahhh, gotchya. Wait. Wait! Come back!!

I’ve been warned enough that once he’s mobile, life’s never the same.

Duh, we know. We knew that life would never be the same when we found out that we were having our awesome little guy in the first place. We knew about this whole sleep-deprived, slightly-controlled lifestyle that we’d be undertaking. Or, so we THOUGHT we knew.

I’m thinking this is one reason I’m kind of cool with him getting a tad older. We’ve had some rough patches. *gasp* Wait. Did I just admit for the whole world to see that life isn’t perfect? No sunshine? No rose petals? No perfect baby, no perfect life??

Yup! But don’t be mistaken, please. I LOVE OUR LIFE. Well, most of it. As far as our home life goes, we’re lucky enough to be stronger today than we were, hell, when we got married. Parenthood has made us fall even more in love with each other. We’re supportive (most of the time; sleep deprivation has its residual effects), and our priorities are completely one and the same. Our cats are hysterical bits of daily entertainment that we feel downright blessed to have in our lives. Our families, as annoying or over-reactionary or misunderstanding as they may sometimes be, are incredible and truly have our backs.

We wouldn’t ask for any other baby. Hadley is in-stinkin’-credible. Not that looks matter, but the kid’s got ’em. We even considered getting him into baby modeling, if we were in a more conducive environment to do so. (I kid you not!) Somehow, he’s masculine but uber-sensitive at the same time. He’s pensive. He’s expressive. His giggle is beyond adorable, and infectious…then when he hears us laugh, he does this laugh that resembles a cough (like he’s forcing a laugh) because he’s mimicking what he thinks a “grown-up laugh” is. When he sees me after a short absence, his face beams in a way that doesn’t beam for anyone else. I’m here, honey. I’ll try to never leave you in a forever way.

Yeah, he’s a mama’s boy, through and through. Tough as nails in some ways and incredibly needy in the other. Therein lies some of the issue. We’ve gotten through most of his early gassy issues (in which he would SCREAM incessantly for quite awhile, which made a huge challenge for his grandma/sitter) but the kid. Won’t. Sleep.

There was a time (many months, actually) that he’d sleep a full night. Lately, we’ve gotten one of those nights in the past month. With a break from school last week, I realized that between BFing all day and night, I was up every three hours (one night he gave me a 4-hour span…halleluiah!) from Friday night to the NEXT Monday morning. But, I wouldn’t mind that so much as I do the fact that he won’t nap for his grandma. No, he DOESN’T WANT to nap. He hates it. He cries. He doesn’t like being put down on his back. He doesn’t want to be left alone. He wakes up almost immediately when you put him down already asleep. It’s rough.

Some days, I think it’s teething. (Partly, possibly.) Other times, I think he’s just so attached (as Dave puts it, the kid’s a spokesbaby for attachment parenting…which we don’t really subscribe to). Some might call him “spoiled.” How does one spoil a 7-month-old?! Well, regardless, it’s a phase and I remind myself that this, too, shall pass. I’m thinking that once he starts crawling and expending energy that he may welcome naps and nighttime a tad more.

Which is where my spring fever comes in. I’m allowing myself not to wish, but to daydream about all the wonderful things coming down the line for our family with the coming of a new season.

March is one hell of a long month, isn’t it? February’s so obnoxiously cute in its shortness; March is obnoxious in its sheer length. I shouldn’t complain since educators get mega time off, but it’s rough to go from mid-winter break through the month — we’ve got Good Friday off, then the second week in April is (finally) SPRIIIING BREEEEAAAAK.

I’m itching to get this kid in his stroller to hit the pavement. Talking about the smells in the air, the singing birds, the squirmy wormies, the hints of green popping up all around.

To get back to farmers’ markets with their young asparagus, fiddleheads, garlic scapes, and fresh herbs I didn’t have the time to grow on a hardly-gets-sun kitchen shelf. Planning and planting our own garden, showing Hadley what happens when we put something special in dirt and take care of it.

Finally getting a thorough spring cleaning done (I don’t know the last time I truly did the spring cleaning that my mother would approve), even if it means requesting that my mom come and assist me while the hubs watches the baby. Cleaning every square inch, including those damn glass ceiling fan light covers. Yes, even under and behind the couch. Organizing the basement and giving *someone* a chance to finish painting. Piling stuff for the annual garage sale.

Considering our summer vacation, or even grabbing a quick spring getaway to another state to visit friends without the fear of sudden winter weather thwarting our plans.

And Easter. Honestly, Easter was never my favorite holidays, although I’ve always had reverence for Lent and self sacrifice in order to cleanse one’s spirit; mind you, the only part of Lent I’ve participated in this year is the Almighty Fish Fry. (As a child, I gave things up, went to church…all that.)

I was always incredibly wary of the Easter Bunny. Was he a small (normal-sized) rabbit? A human-sized bunny? A guy in a fuzzy suit? Either way, how would a rabbit have the ability to hide eggs AND carry those cheap-o baskets full of stuff to everyone…with bunny paws? Santa, somehow, was relatively believable. Easter Bunny? Not s’much.

But, it’s the fact that we can start our own tradition. That it’s not a huge gift-driven holiday that can be ruined by the best intentions of relatives. That WE can get a handful of useful, fun items (an outfit or two, a summer hat and sunglasses, some bubbles to watch us blow, a couple of books) for the EB to bring him. I look forward to the days when we can insert sidewalk chalk and a jump rope, and color and hide eggs (although we’ll have to buy regular white ones; he won’t know they come in any color but brown). That we can have a fun day. It’s nostalgic for me, I guess.

As a child, even if it was still REALLY cold, we’d run outside to at least try out our bubbles. Even if the sticky solution ran down our hands and arms in freezing cold streams. Sometimes, a simple walk around town (whether before or after dinner) was invigorating, probably because we hadn’t walked during winter. It also meant that we’d be hauling our bikes out of storage in the garage soon, wiping the cobwebs and mud from the previous year off and filling the tires with air. That we could switch out our fluffy, warm winter coats with thinner jackets.

So, what can I say? I’m allowing myself to be excited. Of course, I’m enjoying the time we have together now, but what’s wrong with a little daydreaming about what’s to come? Any readers excited about the new season?? (Besides getting rid of the cruddy weather. Mind you, I’m in the midst of a snow day right now.)

And don’t even get me started on the summertime. Squeeeeeeaaaal!
(The night that I wrote this, the baby slept. What’re the odds? Could be a handful of reasons, but I’m not complaining!)

I Shopped Walmart

I haven’t set foot inside our local Walmart since my uber awesome sister-in-law helped me escape the doldrums of “life with a newborn” (back when he was nursing every 2 hours and I didn’t have a pump). Although it was at WallyWorld, I welcomed (with massive amounts of anxiety thrown in) my first bit of time away from the little man. Let’s consider that my annual trek.

Except, this holiday season I purchased Walmart goods. Sure, I didn’t go TO Walmart, but I shopped their online wares, which in my mind is still patronizing the place. Needless to say, I’m simply not a fan of the place these days. Their unsavory business practices and maltreatment of workers leave a nasty taste in my mouth, and I’m not in the habit of tasting yuckiness.

Anyhoo, why did I “shop” through walmart.com? After lots of searching, I found that their clothes were the cheapest option I had. See, we’re giving to a couple of kids off of our “giving tree” at school, and their wishes consisted of clothes. I went elsewhere for the (admittedly overboard) toys and activities that we gave. And since I’m sure you’re wondering (or not, hee hee), there was a girl and a younger boy (not sure if they’re in the same families or not) and I got everything for the girl, the clothes for the boy, and Dave picked out toys for the boy. She got a coat, boots, hat/mitten set, PJs, and since it said her interests were “jewelry” I got some costume jewelry and a set that she can use to make her own jewelry. The boy got snow pants, boots, hat/mitten set, PJs, some Batman/Joker toys, and a comic book. Oh, and they each got new crayons and a coloring book, and, of course, a container of Play-Doh — because what parent doesn’t want their kids grinding that into the carpet? Mwahaha.

Yeah, we overdid it. Not to say our son isn’t making out well this year — but he’s not even one yet, so mass amounts of toys aren’t necessary.

But, it made me think — is it okay to go against one’s principles when you’re helping someone in need (buying cheap-o stuff, be it toy or foodstuff)? Or should those in need get items that are just as…um…”at a premium”?

We also gave two full-sized meals to needy families this year. I went to Aldi and grabbed two of everything (except the protein) — 2 boxes of stuffing, 2 boxes of mashed potatoes (ick), 4 cans of veggies, 2 cans of fruit (in fruit juice!), 2 packages of gravy, 2 boxes of pudding and 2 graham cracker pie crusts (dessert!). Oh, and a couple of boxes of macaroni and cheese, considering not everyday is a holiday, and you still need to eat. Now, not that we’re elitist, but we wouldn’t eat any of this stuff if we were purchasing food for our house. If someone OFFERED us a meal of this, we wouldn’t say anything and would eat it happily (but probably feel yucky later — not figuratively, it’s really true what they say about feeling better when you eat better quality food), but our daily choice veers in the all-natural/organic arena. It’s just how we live.

I should probably feel happy that I was able to give at all, but it’s hard not to feel a little guilty. Heck, even when my husband’s work was sponsoring a “Stuff the Bus” campaign for toys, I stopped by with two toys — from the cheap toy section at Kmart. Mind you, they seemed like wicked fun toys (and I would know!), but does it matter that they were $5 each?

So, what do you think? Is it better to give at all? Or does equality factor into the equation?

Side note: I found ORGANIC BUTTER at Aldi yesterday!! I nearly fell over!!! (And HAD to text a picture of it to the hubs. Confused onlookers be damned.) Last time, I found Kerrygold Irish cheese (grassfed, INCREDIBLE cheese!!!) and this time organic butter! I am growing more and more impressed by the place.

I Shopped WalMart

I haven’t set foot inside our local Walmart since my uber awesome sister-in-law helped me escape the doldrums of “life with a newborn” (back when he was nursing every 2 hours and I didn’t have a pump). Although it was at WallyWorld, I welcomed (with massive amounts of anxiety thrown in) my first bit of time away from the little man. Let’s consider that my annual trek.

Except, this holiday season I purchased Walmart goods. Sure, I didn’t go TO Walmart, but I shopped their online wares, which in my mind is still patronizing the place. Needless to say, I’m simply not a fan of the place these days. Their unsavory business practices and maltreatment of workers leave a nasty taste in my mouth, and I’m not in the habit of tasting yuckiness.

Anyhoo, why did I “shop” through walmart.com? After lots of searching, I found that their clothes were the cheapest option I had. See, we’re giving to a couple of kids off of our “giving tree” at school, and their wishes consisted of clothes. I went elsewhere for the (admittedly overboard) toys and activities that we gave. And since I’m sure you’re wondering (or not, hee hee), there was a girl and a younger boy (not sure if they’re in the same families or not) and I got everything for the girl, the clothes for the boy, and Dave picked out toys for the boy. She got a coat, boots, hat/mitten set, PJs, and since it said her interests were “jewelry” I got some costume jewelry and a set that she can use to make her own jewelry. The boy got snow pants, boots, hat/mitten set, PJs, some Batman/Joker toys, and a comic book. Oh, and they each got new crayons and a coloring book, and, of course, a container of Play-Doh — because what parent doesn’t want their kids grinding that into the carpet? Mwahaha.

Yeah, we overdid it. Not to say our son isn’t making out well this year — but he’s not even one yet, so mass amounts of toys aren’t necessary.

But, it made me think — is it okay to go against one’s principles when you’re helping someone in need (buying cheap-o stuff, be it toy or foodstuff)? Or should those in need get items that are just as…um…”at a premium”?

We also gave two full-sized meals to needy families this year. I went to Aldi and grabbed two of everything (except the protein) — 2 boxes of stuffing, 2 boxes of mashed potatoes (ick), 4 cans of veggies, 2 cans of fruit (in fruit juice!), 2 packages of gravy, 2 boxes of pudding and 2 graham cracker pie crusts (dessert!). Oh, and a couple of boxes of macaroni and cheese, considering not everyday is a holiday, and you still need to eat. Now, not that we’re elitist, but we wouldn’t eat any of this stuff if we were purchasing food for our house. If someone OFFERED us a meal of this, we wouldn’t say anything and would eat it happily (but probably feel yucky later — not figuratively, it’s really true what they say about feeling better when you eat better quality food), but our daily choice veers in the all-natural/organic arena. It’s just how we live.

I should probably feel happy that I was able to give at all, but it’s hard not to feel a little guilty. Heck, even when my husband’s work was sponsoring a “Stuff the Bus” campaign for toys, I stopped by with two toys — from the cheap toy section at Kmart. Mind you, they seemed like wicked fun toys (and I would know!), but does it matter that they were $5 each?

So, what do you think? Is it better to give at all? Or does equality factor into the equation?

Side note: I found ORGANIC BUTTER at Aldi yesterday!! I nearly fell over!!! (And HAD to text a picture of it to the hubs. Confused onlookers be damned.) Last time, I found Kerrygold Irish cheese (grassfed, INCREDIBLE cheese!!!) and this time organic butter! I am growing more and more impressed by the place.

Here Comes the Sun

I feel that it is safe to throw caution to the wind, ignore my usually superstitious self and admit publicly (deep breath) that it seems spring has finally arrived. I know it’s only the first week of April, but we’ve had an unseasonably cold few weeks here, made worse by the fact that the first day of spring taunted us by snowing. Upstate NY is just one of those places. On a local weather blog I read, someone mentioned that last year we had four months without snow. Four out of twelve. It’s a wonder my garden grew at all.ย 


My energy lately has been pretty low, so at first, the last thing I wanted to do was go for a spring walk. But, once the cool-but-warmer-than-we’ve-had air hit my face, I knew what I had to do. Besides, I was meaning to stop by the post office…and maybe the library while I was at it. Plus, my mother and I are sticking our noses in and house shopping for the daughter of her co-worker; I can’t help window (and door…and floor…and roof….) shopping, especially when it’s not my cash! AND I’ve heard so darn much about how good walking is for you and I haven’t been the healthiest as far as my exercising is concerned that I really couldn’t feign ignorance anymore. Now, if only my tennis partner didn’t work ’til dark Monday – Friday.

So, I threw on my gray zip-up sweatshirt and sneakers and took to the streets. I suddenly felt like I was a child, albeit more out-of-shape and fatigued. Perhaps my outfit was reminiscent of what I wore as a child when spring hit. Well, it DEFINITELY was. But it’s my comfort.

I meandered through our side streets, realizing that some of the areas felt safer than usual – but also noticing some shabbiness that I hadn’t seen before. So much room for improvement and refurbishment. Sigh. This is why Dave and I would like to get more active with Herkimer Now, a local revitalization group that really has its crap together.

After stopping in at the post office, giddily opening up my tiny package (which was an article that my dear friend sent me, how thoughtful and informative) and walking through the library, I continued on Main Street towards my guilty pleasure. There’s an empty space, surrounded by tattoo parlors, crappy bars, and the occasional useful shop, that I have a crush on. A major crush.

See, we’ve always felt that the area is missing a coffee shop — y’know, like a REAL coffee shop, with a small stage for open mic, shabby chic decor and delicious coffee (and eventually light morning and lunch-type foods…made with local ingredients whenever possible). And, of course, it’s my dream to open the place up someday. Well, when you look at THIS space, it provides enough room for all of the above, along with comfy lounge areas and community space for meetings, classes, workshops, bigger musical acts, theater, and more. Yeah. It could be a hub.

Ah, dreams. “We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we all have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.” I never knew Louisa May Alcott (a hero of mine) as much of a rhymer, but this seemed appropriate.ย 

So, I stopped by and gave a little hug to my crush. What’s wrong with that? I’m sure Dave won’t mind. I then headed home to scope out some known houses for sale and call my mom to inform her about them (while trying not to trespass TOO much. “Let’s see, their windows are in good shape – oh – OH! I’m jealous! All their woodwork is original!!”). Along the way, I spoke with a neighbor who was yard workin’ it, so I figured I’d get a little rakey-rake and broomy-broom action done, too.


There’s something about that first day that you can go outside with a different jacket on. There’s something about the smell of grass attempting to revive itself. There’s something about seeing the first open bud of some hearty flower specimen. There’s something about the tired muscles you feel at the end of your first long spring walk. There’s something about hearing your former-outside kitty chattering away at the birds he pines for through the window. There’s something about carrying that same cat outside to feel the breeze on his face — and having him simply cling to my shoulder and cuddle rather than try to make a run for it. There’s something about turning down the heat. There’s something about wanting to make mushroom paninis again…and dreaming about making them for others for a price.