Advice

Woot woot!!! So, there are a lot (tons…a plethora…a magnitude…a shitload) of quirks to work out on the blog, but here we are. No more Blogger. While I know — er, assume — it’s for the best, I definitely miss the comfort (and relative ease of making changes) of my old space. It’ll take a little while to get things in order, so please don’t mind the mess in the meantime. Kind of like any move in real life. Heck, there may be moving boxes out for months. 😉

While I’m working on finding my blogging routine again, I thought I’d just stop by with a quick question for you guys to pick your brains. I’ve been doing so much planning at school for when the baby comes, my own brain resembles that of a fried egg lately. Ew.

So, since I either know many of you in “real life” or find that many of you at least feel like you may know me a little bit, I ask you: If you were to ask me for advice, what area in your life would it touch?

Would you ask me about natural living stuff? Would you ask about recipes? Or simplifying life? Or superheroes? Would you just ask where I got my kickass boots or coral sweater?

What I’m pretty much saying is, when you think of me, what do you think I “know”? I’ve had people say “I know you know a lot about *blah blah blah*, can you explain *dum dee dum* to me?” And sometimes I’m super surprised…then realize, “Oh, yeah. I guess I know how to do that.”

So, I’m just asking what you THINK I know (whether I do or not ;-)). Any input, whether here, on Twitter or FB, or in a hand-written note, is greatly appreciated. And, promise, I’ll be writing more regularly soon.

Summer Transitions – An Update

So, clearly I’ve hit a snag switching over to WordPress. I’m fully ready on the technical end of things but, as always, the indecisiveness regarding my blog name (kind of important) is downright crippling, and I can’t make the move until I’ve settled on one. It’s a highly personal thing that I’m sure I’m over-complicating, but it also seems to be reflecting what I can only call a “blog identity crisis.” My identity in the world. So, my husband and I continue to brainstorm (and suck at it). We greatly enjoy the writing aspect of blogging, but the marketing side? Blah. I think we’ve come up with some pretty rad band names and maybe some solid investment firm branding, but nothing identifiably “me” or bloggy. Hence, you’ll know I’ve moved over…when I move over. 😉 

While I’m agonizing over the small stuff (well, that’s a catchy if not depressing title right there), I can’t just twiddle my fingers and not write. I mean, I’m writing for Thirsties and Green Child Magazine and even an awesome Arts & Analytics group that does analytic work in arts, athletics, and entertainment…but, this is my home. And I’ve got ideas and thoughts that I just can’t wait to get on with. 

So, I thought I’d share a bit of a recap of the end of summer (all things I wanted to write about in separate posts but got inundated with life and the WordPress conundrum). We’ve been back in the swing of things as far as back-to-school goes for a couple of weeks now, so it feels like summer was SO long ago, but *technically* it’s not autumn until tomorrow. See? Maybe I AM on top of things.   



The CSA – As you may have read, we decided to try out a local CSA this summer. CSA stands for “community supported agriculture” and, in our case, was quite easy to take part in. We selected a farm that uses organic practices, paid, Dave picked up at a location relatively close to his work, and had a box of fresh veggies to work with for the week. The verdict? I’m glad that we did it, but learned that the full share was WAY too much food for our little family. Hence, we wasted WAY more food than I was comfortable with.
I just couldn’t keep up. Sure, we tried a few new-to-us recipes, but between a rather picky toddler (at least he’s a fruit eater!), varying energy levels on this pregnant mama’s part, and the sheer amount of food, a half-share would’ve been fine. Definitely a lesson for next time. Oh, and I’m also rather happy that we just did the summer share rather than the whole summer/fall share. ‘Tis the season to enjoy crisp Saturday mornings at the farmers’ market! 

Su
mmer fun (and learning) – While there were days that I felt like the laziest person on Earth (and I felt awful that Hadman wasn’t getting outside nearly as much as he should), we tried to get out a time or two each week. With the sheer heat of the season, there were times that I’d slather us both up with sunblock, grab some toys, head outside…and turn around within 10 minutes because our little guy is just as anti-humidity as his daddy. Blah. Energy depleted.

But, we made the summer count, I think. We went to Kindermusik weekly (which sounds like nothing, but the energy it took to drive the round-trip hour at the end of those hot days…again, apparently I was a tired pregnant woman this summer!) and worked on almost-daily workbooks that the little guy loved. His focus is still hit-or-miss, but by doing a “letter of the day”, a very focused coloring page (like coloring a blank shape in an otherwise colored picture), and a “same/different” book, I saw major progression from the beginning of the summer. Plus, he ALWAYS asked to do it and generally enjoyed himself. Call me a proud mama.

And, of course there was Old Forge, the beach, and Sesame Place. We felt awful that we couldn’t see our friends in Massachusetts as we’d planned, but Hadley and I both got sick, then his turned into pneumonia. By the end of the summer, we were just glad not to have to use a nebulizer and to be generally back to our own selves. I’d still like to call it a productive yet relaxing time…for the most part.

Big changes – Oh, yeah. And talk about transitions!

We struggled, succeeded, and struggled again with potty training. I’m pretty sure that I waited too long to start, so that by the time we made a concerted effort, his heels were dug rather deeply. He’ll still occasionally whine, “But I don’t HAFTA go potty!!!” and has the occasional accident, but he’s finally started feeling a sense of urgency about the thing. About two or three times a week, he’ll have an accident on the way to the potty (which he urgently runs to), but the fact that he’s not just sitting there in his pee with no regard to the wetness is a HUGE deal. So, I’d say we’re *almost* there; I’d call him mostly trained and 100% in his “big boy underwear” (actually those cloth Gerber trainers that give a bit of extra protection that feel totally like underwear). Oh, and #1 is our only problem; we’ve never had issues with him as far as #2 is concerned. I’m sure you can sleep well knowing that tidbit of information.
  
We ALSO threw at the little man a shift in his sleeping situation. Since we’re slowly-but-surely transitioning the office to ALSO house the nursery space, we finally moved my old DIY desk to the basement (it was nothing but a landing pad, I swear; I almost never sat at the thing! Works much better near our laundry area) and, eep, scooched Hadley’s crib into the office. So, I sanded, primed, painted, and reassembled an awesome hand-me-down toddler bed for the little man. Verdict? He’s done pretty damn great with it. Some days he wants two pillows, some days not, and he lets you KNOW about it. Little stuff like that. But, he knows not to leave the bed on his own (we’ve got stairs that, for a few days, we used our baby gate on…not really necessary, though), and we’ve got the added peace of mind that we’re still using the monitor with a motion sensor under his mattress, so we know if he gets up immediately.

I was melancholy, but I think Dave took it even harder. Here’s his two cents on the whole “big boy bed” change. I can’t blame him. I just wanted to try to keep the shift as positive and Hadley-centric (rather than baby-centric) as possible, regardless of my “he’s not our baby anymore!” emotions. And, as it was, the little man seemed to fully understand that he’d need to share it whenever the baby comes along, anyway. (And, as it is, we’ll probably use a cradle in our room for the first couple of months, just like we did with Hadman, so things won’t shift so dramatically, anyway.)    

Home searching 
– And, then, there was another shift. We checked out numerous (the word “crapload” comes to mind) houses throughout the summer and all were either a) too small, b) out of our price range (particularly with work that needed to be done on some), or c) just…no. I like to think that we’re not picky, but maybe it’s simply not true. Given the fact that we’re busy with a 3-year-old (and an infant shortly!), jobs and side gigs, we’re trying to be realistic about the sheer amount of energy, time, and effort we can put into a house. We’re simply not as young as we used to be, either. *hips creak*
But, seriously, we’re not one of those HGTV couples who poo-poo wallpaper or completely outdated furnishings. I even completely planned on refinishing any wood floors before moving in, should they need it, as well as painting plenty of walls and doing general updating over time. It’s expected. But, a full bathroom or kitchen gut might be difficult, even down the road, and would often put it as a price point that we simply couldn’t reach. And, we also wanted to make sure that we didn’t get a house that would juuuuuust squeeze our 3+ people and 3 cats in; we’d like to be able to spread out and grow a bit (without having too much space to take care of). Okay, maybe we are picky. 

We finally reached a point where, sure, I get daily Zillow updates and check out some new listings once in awhile, but our active search has gone dormant. No more “let’s just see what it’s like on the inside” if we’re not positive it’s for us. We’re trying to slow down a lot of our activities in preparation for the new baby (and in hopes of getting some fun time in with our “only child” while the title still fits), so the overwhelming rollercoaster emotions of “is this THE house???” have been put to rest. Yes, we’ll continue the search at some point, but for now? We’re hibernating.

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So, those are my updates, for now! I’ve also been hitting up the semi-occasional Periscope here and there (username is still “megactsout”, if anyone wants to follow along), but it definitely has me feeling the “wow, when did my childhood lisp come back?” self-consciousness. If I have something to share, though, I just go for it. *shrugs* What’s the harm? While I’m at it, I’m doing a bit of nursery hunting for some of the stuff I mentioned in 
my inspiration post — of which I’m officially leaning towards mint and coral accents. See? I still find ways to relax. 😉

How are you guys doing with your own transition from summer to fall? We’re LOVING the slightly cooler temperatures (still not “fall” enough for us, but it’s a start!) and sleeping with our windows open. Anyone else looking forward to apple picking and super comfy sweater season? (Or, in my case, over-sized maternity sweatpants.) I’m pretty excited to do some baking, personally. What about you guys?

Moving…Virtually

Nope, not moving to a new house. (We wish…although, stability is a good thing. ;-))

MegActsOut is packing its bags to make a move from Blogger to WordPress.

I’ve used WordPress on and off for other projects and while I find the dashboard (or whatever the heck they call it) to be more…juvenile-looking, I guess…it should make blog maintenance and growth easier than it has been. Plus, there are a lot of built-in features that I’m itching to play with.

So, I’m hoping to make the migration this weekend sometime. If you follow me, be sure to check back here for an updated link to the new page. Heck, I may have even finalized a brand new blog name by then and everythin’. 😉

As always, thanks SO much for reading. Hopefully, this is only the start of bigger and better things.

Nursery Inspiration

We live in this tiny little sphere of the universe called Limbo. It’s a slightly unsettled, anxious place where the daily norm is that of the unknown. After you live there awhile, you find yourself adjusting to the feelings, and actually find calm in preparing for all the various “what if” scenarios that might unfold.

In other words, still no news on the house hunting front. There are other balls being juggled, too, that we’re figuring out, but that’s one of the biggest. So, with each week blowing by, closer and closer to the baby’s arrival in November, we’re pushing forward with any and all possibilities: in this case, turning our office into an office-slash-nursery (I kid not).

I’m hoping that whatever general scheme we go with for the space will fit swimmingly into a new place, should one pop up, as well.

See? Prepare for the future, in whatever possible incarnation it may be. 😉

That said, these are the two different mood boards I whipped up to decide between. We’re fighting a losing battle with an outdated, cheap diamond-patterned brown and tan carpet (which simply isn’t worth replacing with the crappy paint splatters someone left underneath) and, well, the fact that the place is also A (not large) OFFICE. Dave may or may not allow me to replace his fur-covered black office chair. (Beardslee sleeps on it during the day…and night…and forces Dave to abandon desk when he so pleases to use the damn thing. It’s hilariously sad to view.) But, dude, Mama needs a nursing spot, so we’ll see who wins this one. Admittedly, I used our bed the first time around which wasn’t always comfortable.

We also painted the walls when we first moved in and the color is neutral enough to help sell the house…even if it is a tad pink-ish for my taste. (It’s tan…but with a fleshy undertone, if that makes sense.) The background on these boards indicates a facsimile of the color. So, nope, we’re not painting!

So, check these out and weigh in down below (comments, please)! I’m not saying which has been floating in my head far more…so your results may have me in tears. Or not. I’m not THAT hormonal. Oh, and the inspiration colors will be accent colors that will work their way in as bedding, art, and possibly a painted furniture piece or something.

I don’t want to give either a “theme” because, well, then it turns into a whole thing. Like collecting. If you say you like one thing, the flood of “I know you like owls!” gifts begin…and continue 10 years past when you gave up on the things. So, no. But you can still guess the vibe I’m going for, right?

I’m loving the golden brass lately. If you told me I’d be into it 5 years ago, I’d have smacked you…or at least raised a cynical eyebrow. But, anyhoo, mixing it with the walnut tones we already have going on (with the crib, desk, and one bookcase…we have three, sigh) and neutrals gives some glam and texture to the space. Toss that with a deep green and fuhgetaboutit.

And, speaking of texture: can you say “DIY pouf”? Because that’s all my itchy Pinterest finger can peruse. Can’t wait to hit up Goodwill to see what sweaters they have in store. Mwahaha.

As far as art, we don’t have a TON of space, and I’d like the whole room to just accept its bipolarity and enjoy the ride – so, if there’s an inspirational wall hanging, it must inspire child and office-user alike. Throw in a vintage map and it screams “Oh, the places you’ll go!” as much as it does “this is a rad office, where’s the scotch?”

Mmm. Booze. I miss booze.

Can you tell I kinda want that Target chair? I’m still searching for something with a small footprint that’s upholstered on wheels that can be used as an office chair OR a spot to comfortably nurse, so this is just a thought for now. Hoooooly crap, am I picky? But, clearly arrows are non-negotiable. And tassel garland. Which I fully plan to make. I guess I have a thing about DIY art in a kid’s room. Maybe I need some in our room while we’re at it.

Notice the fluffy white rug, too? It’d be nice to have a landing pad on the floor and soften up the place. Plus, major points for detracting from the diamond monstrosity currently enveloping the space. I truly think that a well-placed layer like this will make the carpet read more like a neutral. #fingerscrossed

In this board, I clearly am all about the mint accents. Sure, a bit of peachy coral helps, but there’s just something about mint + brass in a neutral room lately. Yum.


So, here’s what it’s your turn! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments (and maybe even a vote or two for which is your fave). As usual, all the stuff shown depends on availability and whether I find (or make) something a million times cooler, but they give you the general vibe I’m going for.

Please and thanks for any thoughts!

Oh, and nope. We’re not finding out the baby’s gender in advance. Happy picking! 😉

Sesame Place Trip

We had a lot of fun this summer. Some relaxation with picnics and a local beach visit, plenty of work around the house (with still more to do, of course), and lots of learning with some simple workbooks and Kindermusik. Throw in trial-and-error attempts at potty-training, a few bouts of illness, simply being pregnant, and it’s been a pretty full summer!

In our pre-summer planning, we had wanted to take plenty of trips. While we took some local trips, one of our most-anticipated trips to visit friends in Massachusetts fell through, with Hadman coming down with a cough and fever. It ended up lasting quite awhile and turning into pneumonia, so we’re glad that the week prior we were able to take at least one kid-centric trip.

(And we fully plan on attempting a quick day trip back to Mass this fall…SOMETIME! Pre-baby, is my guess. *wink*)

Planned well in advance, we had decided on taking the little guy to Sesame Place. We had plenty of reasons for heading here, but the most important was to do something that we could all enjoy together before becoming a family of 4 (7, including cats…which we do). Goodness knows if/what we’ll be doing next year!

Dave took a 3-day weekend and we left for Pennsylvania. I’ll admit, the driving took longer than expected and both adults were rather beat by all the driving of the weekend. But, along our way, we saw what, to my guys, can only be described as a mirage on the road…


Wait, what?! Yup. The 1960s Batmobile. (Not THE original, but still…a perfect replica. Not kidding.) Sitting in front of a bar, in a field. Like, seriously.


Can you feel the excitement? I know I can. We already knew it would be a memorable weekend.

So, after numerous hours of driving, a Thomas DVD on a borrowed portable player (we’ve become those parents, apparently), and zero naps, we reached our hotel. This part of the trip worked perfectly: the hotel had a shuttle service that ran quite frequently to bring us back and forth to the park. So, since we had tickets for two days (BOGO, for the win!), we got ready for the dry rides and headed over.

Let’s just say that Dave wins the award for the fact that I couldn’t go on a vast majority of the rides with a baby bump. So, he had to ride with the little guy. Did I mention that he has issues with certain rides? Like, with the height and spinning and…stuff. So, clearly he gets the “Best Dad” badge for not only hitting up numerous rides but for keeping his cool and smiling while doing it. *starts a slow clap*

 


Anyhoo, we stayed for a few hours and enjoyed the Sesame-ness of the place (it really is awesome), then headed back to the hotel. We used the hotel pool, which was a hit for a non-swimming kiddo like ours, then hit the hay.

The next day, we had our complimentary breakfast and struck out for the far longer lines of a Saturday. I highly suggest renting a locker in advance; it worked out great for our changes and general ease of movement.

Okay, this is totally my favorite picture ever. My beach bums (who both HATE the heat). I’m the embarrassing spouse/mom, clearly. 


So, we spent a long, very hot morning there doing water stuff, getting splashed, and generally enjoying the place. But, with how long the lunch lines were, we quickly decided to buy any souvenirs we wanted, then head back to the hotel. We actually ended up ordering a quick lunch and eating at the hotel, then ALL took naps (my first clue that our systems weren’t adjusting well to travel). When we finally came to, we got ready and went to Hadley’s favorite place – Barnes and Noble – to play with the Thomas train and look at books before going out to a crappy dinner then back to try the pool again.

Between the food that our systems weren’t used to, being rundown from the trip itself, and any kid germs we came in touch with, we were all feeling pretty blah and ready to come home Sunday. On our way, we happened upon a “Taste of New York” boutique at a rest stop and, I’ve gotta say, it was the best meal we had the whole weekend. Some of the fruit I brought along mixed with a bunch of local, fresh snacks from around the state (and super local grassfed Greek yogurt and cheese curds), and we were able to make it home feeling a little more like ourselves.

But, by the end of the week, 2/3 of us were sick. I’ve definitely learned that I need to try to up our immune system protection before we take trips. Big-time.

All in all, though, the trip was SO worth it. Hadman is way more into Sesame Street lately, so he LOVED “meeting” several of the characters (namely, Count, even if the Count’s splash area upset him, hee hee). It was fun to see the diversity of people visiting and thinking, “Wow, this is what Sesame Street has promoted from the beginning!” It was also interesting to hear people in one of our shuttle vans say that their daughter isn’t really a fan of Sesame and wondering, “Wait, why are you spending all this money to…nevermind.” 😉 Eh, no judging. Anyone could have a blast there.



Gotta say, we all had a great time. And Mama got a new “cookie mug” for my milk and organic cookies…win-win! Three guesses which character mug the Dorky Daddy got.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Donna Reed, I am not.

Apparently.

I’m one of those “I’ll do laundry today” people who starts a load, gets distracted by life, then gets back to it a couple of days later. Please tell me I’m not alone.

So, I assumed it was my own laziness that led to THE STANK. You know THE STANK. It’s not necessarily a mold/mildew smell, but it’s that scent that, should you happen to finish the load without rewashing (SUCH a waste of energy and water, my Lord) and actually wear the clothing, your nose is perma-wrinkled all day. It’s a lingering smell that is downright distracting. THE STANK.

Then, I stumbled upon a little tip about washing one’s washing machine, particularly if it’s an HE. At first, I thought it was a total Danny Tanner move, like cleaning his rubber gloves or vacuuming the vacuum (which I’ve actually done…doesn’t work great). But, then I thought to myself, “Huh. Maybe this would help with THE STANK.” See, even after an overnight, THE STANK was seeping in quicker and quicker and getting to be a terrible nuisance.

So, I tried the tip and it worked. Here I am to pass along the wealth.

As with most of my natural cleaning favorites, this tip comes courtesy Clean Mama. Seriously, what doesn’t she know how to clean? Her post has great advice depending on the type of washing machine you have, and suggests either chlorine-free bleach or white vinegar. I’m working with a HE top-loader and, of course, used white vinegar.

Yup. Just that easy. And it has worked phenomenally! No more wasting precious resources (water and, of course, the soap!) to re-wash stinky clothes. You can do this monthly or as needed.

Bam!


Oh, and stop by last week’s post to weigh in about, well, this here blog. Please and thanks!

Things ‘n Stuff

I’ve obviously been pretty sporadic (at best) with my blogging this summer. I don’t have any excuses for that, but I have spent my time well: hanging out with an awesome toddler, working on getting said toddler potty-trained, doing fun family stuff, letting my brain sit and stew, and writing for Green Child Magazine and Thirsties cloth diapers. While I’ve had ideas galore for blog posts, every time I sat down…nada. And that’s okay.

Over the past year or so, the blogosphere has taken an interesting turn. There’s definitely a sea change going on, isn’t there? Some of my favorite bloggers have called it quits, and that sucks (I still mourn Young House Love…daily), but I can’t blame them…or anyone. The pressure, especially when you’re getting tons of hits and tons of money, is incredible.

Luckily, I don’t have that problem. My hits took a hit (ha) this summer, and I’m fine with that. I make $0 here on the blog currently. Yet, I enjoy writing and sharing, and I’m not ready to give it up. So, even though things will be getting busier, I’ll be easing back into posting more.

That said, things will be different.

I’m looking to streamline my posts. As you may know, I’m a pretty random writer. Seriously, I talked about pickles yesterday and have a post about cleaning your washing machine coming up. Personal posts about trips and others about nursery decor. It’s how I write and who I am. That aspect won’t change, necessarily.

The focus, however, will. Ultimately, we’re a pretty normal, down-to-earth (I like to think) family. What makes us a little different than most is the fact that we’re trying to live a simpler, more natural life.

So, that’s where I’m going here. I’m planning on doing a complete blog overhaul (which may take a month…or a year…no big hurry, we’re dealing with enough of that lately) with better organization, particularly regarding the topics that I love talking about that may help people in living a happier, simpler life.

What I’m asking for today is a little input of your own. No SurveyMonkey, no quiz – just leave your thoughts in the comments. Where do your interests lie? What visual style do you prefer for a blog? What do you already like here and what do you dislike? Go ahead and share!

Oh, and one of the most important changes I’ll be making? My name. I’ve loved “Meg Acts Out” (or “Meg, Acting Out” — I never figured out how the heck to use it), but considering that a) I haven’t had much time for community theater acting and b) I’m ready for a fresh start, I’m starting new.

I’m brainstorming everything from “Simply Meg” to titles not utilizing my name to jumping on Dave’s “The Dorky Daddy” bandwagon with a “The Dorky Family” (because, let’s face it…we are). That last one may not align well with the natural thing, though. So, I’m always up for suggestions. Heck, it’s how I got my original blog title. 😉

A little rambly, but you guys are used to that, right? Please and thanks for any comments, and I welcome you along on the ride!

Pickles!

How can you not smile, at the very least, at the word “pickles?” Seriously. (It also brings me back to the early days of Nick Toons…) Say it three times. Feel good?
Awesome.

And who doesn’t love the taste? My husband. That’s who.

Regardless, he was enamored with the pickle-making process. I threw these together the day before our mini-vacation (is three days a mini-vacation, including driving? Or is it a full-blown vacation?) to use up a bunch of the cucumbers we’d been hoarding from our weekly CSA boxes. Of course, we still have more, but I figured 6 pints would do us just fine and help with the glut of cukes.

You can make these refrigerator pickles and make this quick as well as easy. But, nope, in the midst of cleaning, doing laundry, packing, and the usual toddler-watching rigmarole, I undertook the delight of washing and sterilizing mason jars, rings and lids. Silly girl.

It really wasn’t that bad. I’d call it “easy” if you follow the steps. Just not quick. And, of course, I went rogue, so we’ll see how they turn out in the end!

I used the recipe blogged about on Elephant Journal, but made some adjustments. I left out the green onions (more room for cukes! Shove ’em in until you can’t shoves no more, folks!) and tried one with more garlic, another with some habanero pepper. But, when it was time to process the jars in hot water, I’m afraid I might’ve ruined the texture of ’em — one site I read said to process for 5 minutes after reaching a boil, which meant that NONE of the jars sealed. Attempt #2, they all sealed. However, that means that the final pickles will probably be a little limp. If they taste good, though, I’m happy. 😉

I’m thinking about giving the green and yellow beans I’ve got a “dilly bean” treatment. Can you believe I’ve never tried ’em? I know. Bad, BAD natural mama.

Oh, and if you’re wondering: Hadman loves pickles. He’s been picky about a lot of veggies lately (fruits, however, he could survive on, so thank goodness for small victories), but I think if I continue to preserve and save – and I totally mean in a “zucchini muffins” way – them in ways like these, he won’t know what hit him.

Mwahaha.

So, here’s my version of the recipe…

Homemade Dill Pickles (for 6, 1-pint containers)  

– 6-8 cucumbers, washed and sliced (however you like them, but the bigger they are the better texture they’ll have)
– dill seed (NOT weed), about 1 tsp. per jar
– lots of garlic, smashed, 3+ per jar
– red pepper flakes, pinch per jar (or more)
– ground pepper or peppercorns, 1/2 tsp. or so per jar
– thinly sliced jalapeno or habanero pepper, optional

Put spices in the bottom of each jar. Tightly fill with cucumbers (and pepper, if using). Pour following brine to cover cucumbers, cover with lids, and seal.

Brine – Simmer the following until dissolved: 3/4 c. apple cider vinegar, scant 1/4 c. white vinegar, scant 1/2 c. water, and 3/4 T. salt PER JAR {for me, this came to about 4 1/2 c. ACV, between 1 1/4 & 1 1/2 c. white, about 2 c. water, and 4 1/2 T. salt total}. Slowly pour into each jar before processing.

So, who else attempts pickling? What’s YOUR favorite recipe? I’d love to try different ones out.

Best. Day. Ever.

Our trip to Old Forge last year was kinda lackluster. I can never say that a trip is a waste because we always seem to have fun regardless of the situation, so it wasn’t a waste and did rejuvenate. But, between the rather cool temperatures (for August), rain, and just general stuff like that, it wasn’t great.

So, we gave it a go again this year. We only took a handful of pictures, but it was a lucky happenstance that we hadn’t cleaned off our phones’ memory; we were able to enjoy the moment far better. Especially since we fit in so. Much. Fun.

We left early enough to grab some discounted tickets to Enchanted Forest Water Safari, extra cash and breakfast on the road. This was the first year we were going to try hitting up the park with the little guy, knowing full well that most of the rides weren’t for him. Being some of the first in the park definitely helped – we were able to meander around the storybook area (PERFECT for a kid his age), check out the petting zoo (the animals bummed us out), do the few “dry” rides (first time on a merry-go-round!), hit the little kid splash pad area, and try the Lazy River together by noon.


Bam. We could’ve eaten and headed home at that point and it would’ve been an awesome day.

But, nope. We went on a walk to try Nutty Putty golf (something Dave and I used to do as children, then years later when we started dating), which was probably the “low” part of the day. Hadley was clearly getting tired, which made for lots of tripping and falling on the uneven parts of the “course.” But, we all seemed to have fun, followed by some ice cream before heading back to our car to get the stroller.

So, the fact that the little man took a nap in the stroller mean a) he must’ve been EXHAUSTED and b) some sort of miracle must have occurred; he hasn’t done that in a long, long time. We had a chance to look around the hardware store (SO much more than a hardware store!), do some Christmas shopping, then wander over to rest and watch ducks swim around.

While naptime continued at the bench, a little dramatic duckling rescue ensued. We observed a mama duck with her three ducklings go to a chained-off area of the lake next to a drainage waterfall area…with two babies taking the leap. Off ran Dave (I wanted to, but had to stay with the little man), along with two young guys, before the mama duck attacked one of the kids for interfering. Before too long (although our hearts were in our throats, seriously), she showed them how to hop back up where they belonged.

Whew. After that, we hit up The Mill Restaurant, another place Dave and I visited in our dating days. By the way we headed home, we all were exhausted but happy. A rain shower even produced this view (that happens to be my school, LOL)…


I mean…seriously. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Not the most eloquent description on Earth, but it was an AWESOME day. Hadley’s asked several times why we can’t go to Water Safari EVERY day. Good lesson to learn.

Oh, and while we were still on the “having fun” kick, I upped the ante with some blueberry picking the next morning. Best. Weekend. Ever. (Even if Sunday was “let’s do some crap around the house” day. They can’t all be winners.)

    
Knowing that next summer may look different (okay, definitely…it’s definitely going to look different) with another little one in the mix, we’ve totally been making this summer count.

How have you guys been enjoying your summers? 🙂 

The Organizational Snowball

Sometimes the most empowering achievements in life are the simplest, aren’t they?

As you guys know, we’ve been doing plenty of organizing, purging and simplification around our humble abode lately. Some are big (why hello, there, basement), others are what I call “steps” (I’m attacking my side of the office a little at a time), and still others are a quick one-and-done attack.

Today, I’m sharing one that’s made a big impact, although you wouldn’t know it by walking around my house. I feel like playing the “colder, hotter” game with you all. No, seriously, keep looking. Not in the living room. Nope, cold, stay out of the kitchen. Dining room? Warmer. Getting warmer.


HOT! Bingo. That’s our dining room sideboard. Or server. Or console. (Not really, too big for that.) Thingamajigger that holds china and other random sundries.

We fell in love with its ’20s/’30s vibe when we were in Vermont on our honeymoon. We filled it with gorgeous china (the stuff we use once a year…maybe), decor stuff, and…crap. Crap, crap and, just for fun, a touch more crap.

It had reached the point where the top two drawers were so full that I’d pull them open a couple of inches, toss an item back in, then close it as quickly as possible (pushing pretty hard to jam it shut). Just. So. Cluttered. But, those were the only drawers that I used with any regularity. (Remember: extemporaneous china in the bottom drawers/cabinets.)

We’ll just put you through one of the drawers’ craziness.

I had a dream of purging and making one side into decor-type stuff and the other one into a kidcentric spot. Turns out, it wasn’t too hard. And I need bigger dreams.

Just had to recycle a couple dozen super old magazines. That seems to be the theme with my house purging; magazines multiply.


I mean, really. Just check out that kid side. It has made our summertime projects and “lessons” (a couple of workbooks) so pleasant. Well, the workbooks are pretty fun, anyway, but being organized has made it such a simple, more enjoyable thing.

Aaaaand the other side. My grandmother’s dictionary, some thank you notes, random decor stuff…and a cat toy that we’ve gotta keep in hiding. Ultra special, that dangly toy.


Aside from stuff that got tossed, here are things that either a) went in the basement (rafia, red and white ball garland that I LOVE using at Christmastime, homemade pennant garland, some random hardware, hardly-used trays) or b) off to Goodwill (frames!).

I utilized my good ol’ tips of 1) usage: figuring out what still has a purpose (sorry, old magazines), 2) placement: what actually needs to be there, in the dining room area and 3) getting creative: using organizational tools in different ways (a silverware organizer turned into our art supply caddy). Super helpful, super simple.

Somehow, heading to the basement after seeing such an organized little space was the kickstart I needed to dig in down there. And, the rest is history. Er. Mostly done. (We’re having the walls painted this weekend, then can move the stuff back to have an ultimately super organized space after that. Squeal!)

So, there you have it. The snowball that started the avalanche of purging. Here’s what’s up for the next few weeks:

– Finishing the basement stuff
– Office stuff (and possibly even moving ALL my stuff outta there…we’ll see)
– Hadman’s closet
– My clothes 

Anyone else using summer as an excuse to organize crap? Or are you just, y’know, having fun like most people? 😉 Do tell!