Thursday, May 2, 2013

Absence semi-explained

some days are just so exhausting and difficult that you just don't want to write about them. You're just trying to survive them. The screaming tantrums, the jumping up and down, the yelling (me) and anger (again me). I'd rather just forget they all happened.

We appear to have maybe, possibly, turned a corner? I'm scared to say anything, fearing that, like a butterfly or a hummingbird, just speaking about it will scare this new attitude away. My boy now says "sure, happy to" and "ok" and also lets me explain the reasons for things. Please, please, please let this last. Let the last couple of months be just an aberration that can vanish from my memory until I, like my mother and mother-in-law, are saying "three? I don't remember anything bad about the threes".

Stuff I've been up to when I wasn't here....
  • I have been trying to say "sure" a lot more when he asks to do something. The way his face lights up when I do makes me smile.
  • I am searching for a way to expand his breakfast repertoire. Maybe I'm getting ready to send him off to school with a belly full of nutrition or maybe I personally am just sick of the same old same old yogurt, granola and fruit.  Today we tried peanut butter on toast, ham, Manchego cheese and strawberries. The strawberries were a huge hit (shocker [sarcastic, the boy would live on fruit if he could]) as was the cheese (this actually was a surprise and I was sad that I had eaten most of it).
  • Indeed I find myself pausing and thinking of the school run when I make breakfast now. I'm glad that his school starts at 9 and is 10 minutes from our house. I think that I may use the time to take our dog for a walk around a nearby lake. Or run an errand or two. I'm not sure what I will do with 6 hours of freedom a week.
  • We booked a long weekend to Pt. Reyes for later this month. To see the wildflowers and to eat cheeses (Cowgirl Creamery is based up there) and oysters (Hog Island), to drink wine and to hike and relax. We found a cabin to rent that allows dogs and kids and looks charming. I can't wait. Somethings just feel marvelously fabulous.
  • I've been selling stuff on craigslist - items we purchased that no longer suit us or our yard. Interesting how tastes can change so much.
  • And I've been purchasing new items that do suit our current yard and the space we have to use. D suggested a porch swing (we actually have a house that suits a porch swing just right) and I am imagining nights spent outside just swinging and talking together. Watching J play in the yard. and pillows - every porch swing needs flowered pillows.
  • We planted our tomatoes a couple of weekends ago - all 11 of them. Yeah I know. I love tomatoes.
  • D did such an amazing job with the coop that I convinced him to build a little one as a 'way station' for the chicks until they're big enough to go in with the hens. It's a little version of the big coop and it's charming.
  • Then I mentioned how nice it would be to have a new pen for the chicks and little coop and he didn't throw his phone at me so I think there will be a new pen in the chickens/mine/our future.
  • Picked the first cherries today - they weren't quite ripe but J ate them very happily. He nibbled very delicately around the pits. Last year he ate the whole thing.  
  • Tomorrow he and I are running to the mall that doesn't have an escalator and having lunch at a place called 'Melt' that only does grilled cheese. I think he and I will be very happy there.
  • I've still been posting fun stuff at and I joined the twitter nation (yes, seriously). WMW is light and makes me happy. We all need happy. And glitter polish.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I was

feeling a bit like a failure last night. As a mother.

D and I decided that in order to save my sanity, we are sending J to preschool in July rather than September as originally intended. This was not an easy decision. I had envisioned one last summer before J starts his years of schooling. Mother and son bonding time, adventures, play dates, just some serious fun. Instead it has been extremely challenging. For all that the 'terrible twos' weren't so terrible, three has been awful. It feels like we are constantly butting heads as he explores his independence. And I am wiped out and emotionally exhausted by the end of the day. Something had to give and in the end it was my idealized version of how our summer would be.

I feel like I'm admitting to a pretty big 'fail' and I really, *really* don't like to fail. But I know this is the very best choice for him. By giving up my 'idea' of how things should be, I am able to make a rational decision about what's best for J and myself.

Damn this being grown up sucks sometimes.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Today I am - parenting version

"Going to say "yes" even if its through gritted teeth

Not going to yell, raise my voice or speak in a sarcastic tone

I am going to see how J reacts/behaves with a day full of permission to do rather than a ton of dont's

I'm going to be outside while he plays"

I wrote this this morning before the day really started. It lasted up until he started throwing gravel at the windows. Now I didn't yell but I may have spoken very strongly. Also when he grabbed the gift card I had on the desk and threw it. Exhausted. I'm exhausted. And I'm seriously considering starting him in preschool this summer rather than this Fall.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Asparagus risotto

Made this last night on a whim because I had beef broth and asparagus that needed to be used and quickly. Boy do I love risotto and I always forget how easy it is to make.

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (though I used rose because that's what I had)
  • About 4 cups beef stock (or chicken or veg)
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed, tips cut off, tough skins of the spears peeled (if working with thick spears), and the spears cut into thin disks
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T butter
  • Salt and pepper

    • In a 3 or 4 quart saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent and starting to turn golden. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring until nicely coated.
    • While the onions are cooking, bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add asparagus, cook for a couple of minutes then drain.
    • Add the wine to the rice/onion mixture. Slowly stir, allowing the rice to absorb the wine. Once the wine is almost completely absorbed, add 1/2 cup of hot stock to the rice. Continue to stir until the liquid is almost completely absorbed, adding more stock in 1/2 cup increments. Stir often to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding a little bit of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until it is absorbed, until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 20-25 minutes.**
    • Gently stir in the asparagus and Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

    ** Note the stock amount given is approximate. You may need a little more or less. If you end up needing more stock and you find yourself without, just use water.


    My lovely neighbor and I were yesterday discussing the idea of freedom. Not freedom from tyranny but freedom in our every day lives. Breathing room. The ability to do things, create things, buy things. Wiggle room, space, flexibility.

    I think it's underrated. Sometimes we hold onto ideals or beliefs so tightly that we don't give ourselves the freedom to breathe or to change.

    Look at me at the beginning of the year. I was so determined to spend this entire year not buying any new clothes for myself or toys for J. Ignoring the fact that I love clothes shopping AND buying toys for J. It gives me a lot of pleasure. And we can afford for me to do these things (within reason of course, I'm not buying Balenciaga gowns and Hermes bags). I was so determined and held onto that belief that I needed to stop shopping so strongly that I self inflicted some pretty serious guilt wound every time I strayed and bought myself or J something. And of course I strayed, because it was a stranglehold, not an embrace.

    This past month, after the horrible pictures of myself at J's birthday party, I gave myself the freedom to buy a new Spring/Summer wardrobe. It was so needed. I'm still learning what looks best on my 40+ year old body but it definitely wasn't much of what I had in my closet!

    I have chosen to give myself the freedom to purchase quality items that make me feel pretty when I wear them, to buy new toys for J when I want and to do so without guilt. That's pretty freeing.

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013

    I'm starting a new blog and more!

    Seriously. Because it's not like I have anything better to do. It just came to me in a flash 'What Mom Wears'. It's going to be silly and fun and fashiony. At least I think it will be. I may have to learn how to be more photogenic. I know I'm going to have to learn to use WordPress. Thank goodness for this post!!

    I haven't been drinking enough water (have you? Go get yourself a glass right now, I'll wait). I can always tell because the *ahem* smile lines around my mouth get deeper when I'm dehydrated. How nice to have my own litmus test.

    I hate when I order something from Amazon and because I was in a hurry and not paying attention, it's the wrong type of thing. But not worth shipping back and so now I have to live with the wrong thing. Argh.

    I joined twitter. Related to the new blog but also because I really like talking. Or typing. And after being home this week due to a peanut with a cold, I'm desperate for ANY kind of communication. Even if it involves hashtags. Still trying to understand the whole thing. I need a kid to show me how to use it - maybe I should hand J my phone. He's pretty good at figuring things out.

    Speaking of J. His ability to correlate and put things together astounds me. We saw a church with a small tower out front when we ran to Trader Joes today and he asked me what it was. I said "a tower for the church" which evolved into "what's a church" and then "like in the book with the birds". "Hmm", I'm thinking "what book?". Then I got it 'This Nest Is Best'. He totally made that jump. So cool!! So of course we had to read that book for nap time :)

    Off to set up - why not?

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    Random things on my mind

    1. Apparently the only way to buy jeans these days is to buy the tightest pair you can put on and still zip up and then let them streeeeeeetch out till they're a perfect fit. Which will take about 10 minutes. Seriously what is up with jeans these days? Are companies trying to flatter me by making me buy a size or two smaller than my normal size? I buy my normal size and by the end of the day I look like one of those kids with their pants around their butt. Thank goodness for Nordstroms 'we take any and all returns' policy.

    2. Speaking of jeans, I got to go jeans shopping this weekend. All by myself. Have you ever tried clothes shopping with a three year old? No wonder I do all my ordering online. The UPS man can find my house blindfolded. Shopping in a store and at leisure felt like a luxury! I even tried on shoes! Amazing.

    3. Neon is apparently very 'in' this summer. All I can picture is my head to toe neon outfit my grandmother bought me when I was in high school. I even had a big neon green lace bow for my hair. I'm a redhead. Yeah, it looked good. (hah!). These shoes are a better idea...

    4. I have zero energy in the afternoons after I fall asleep putting J down for nap. It's an effort to do any of the things I need to do - so I'm going to fight off those naps if possible. But it's so warm and snuggly lying down with him....

    5. I'm spending this morning catching up on a ton of kitchen and home to dos. Things I have been neglecting or have just not had the energy/incentive to get moving on. Cleaning out the chicken run of random stuff, cleaning out the chick brooder (now that they're in their new digs), bread baking, granola and sauerkraut making, cheese and seed cracker baking. A very long list has been written down this morning and I'm hoping to get them all crossed off today.

    6. I refuse to feel any guilt for turning on cartoons this morning. Mama needs to get stuff done and it's just quicker and easier when I don't have my shadow.

    7. Speaking of shadows, we dropped off J's school paperwork yesterday and all he wanted to do was stay and play with the kids. The kiddo is more ready than I am.

    8. I have sold off our old outdoor furniture and ordered replacements. Very excited to have really comfortable and attractive seating!

    9. The coop is almost done - it looks so amazing. I'm SUPER proud of D for making such an awesome home for the ladies. It's attractive too - which is good since we see it out of the breakfast room window!

    10.  I'm thoroughly enjoying feeling stylish. I'm making the effort and I definitely feel good. Revelling in it actually.

    11. Loving the new Kusmi BB Detox tea. I have no idea if it's actually as beneficial as they say but it tasted delicious and vibrant.

    12. Loving also the new shoes I got from REI. They're totally cute and really comfortable. Hoorah for comfortable cute shoes!

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    I'm done with yelling

    I am so very, very tired of yelling. Yelling out of frustration, anger, exhaustion, and literally being at the end of my rope.

    Tonight I just almost collapsed from the frustration of having to say, yet again, "don't splash the water out of the tub". Again. And again. I'm just done. I'm so tired of how the anger makes me feel, of the person the frustration turn me into. I'm just done. I'm leaving that person behind and becoming...I don't know what. Not a permissive mom because permissive 'let the kid do what it wants' parenting doesn't work with me. Enforced rules work with me. Not having to yell about rules works with me. I'm going to have to figure this out but I know I can't spend the next however many years of Js life yelling at him or I will become old and bitter before my time and he will end up in therapy talking about his mother the witch. I will lose sight of the pleasure and joy in being a mom. So I'm done. I will bite my tongue when it wants to yell. I will discover another voice. What that voice may be I have no idea. I will also need to learn to keep the anger and frustration out of my voice. I need to remember that he is learning about himself through me and my actions. No pressure at all. Sigh.

    Addendum - tonight putting J to bed, I found myself saying "your behavior is making me irritated and frustrated if I get irritated enough, I will leave". Maybe this is my new voice? It certainly got a better/quicker reaction and didn't involve yelling!

    Monday, April 8, 2013

    Bad habits

    Once again I ate breakfast in front of the computer this morning and J had his on the coffee table in front of cartoons.

    This is something I have been trying to change for quite a while. If J is ever going to learn patience with eating at the table, or how to hold a conversation, or table manners, we need to eat the majority of our meals at the table.

    I did ok there for quite a while. Breakfast and lunch at the table together, dinner all together in the formal (yes we have a formal dining room, complete with chandelier) dining room. And then we went on vacation, and got sick and baseball season started (Go Giants!) and I lost the good habits that I had formed and fell back into the bad ones that were so easy and comfortable. Eating a bowl of soup while sitting on the couch watching a sporting event and flipping to an old movie is a lot of fun. But it doesn't promote conversation or teach J good habits.

    So I need to find that balance again. I don't want to restrict us to only eating at the table because sometimes Mama needs that time in the morning and we all love watching the Giants or Monday Night Football but we should be eating at the table(s) more than the couch. So as I'm feeling better and as I feel more like cooking and not so much like only heating soup from the freezer, I will work us back to eating at the tables too. Not striving for every day but searching for the balance of most of the time.

    Sunday, April 7, 2013

    Living in the greys

    I have this tendency to live in extremes. I'm either all or nothing. Black or white.

    I swore at the beginning of the year to do the compact and not purchase any new clothes for myself or toys for J. Well that lasted till March when I snapped after seeing a picture of myself at J's birthday party and, of course, I've been buying things for J all along. I can't resist. I love giving him things. I also love new clothes. So by attempting to do the compact, I was denying myself two things that I truly enjoy. And it backfired (as it usually does). I ended up buying myself a lot of new (better looking) clothes and, as I've said, I've been buying toys and books for J all along. I need to find the balance. The grey area. It's not all or nothing.

    Healthy eating falls into that too. Yes, we are still eating organic, pastured and grassfed, I'm still making and baking, we are 'no processed foods' and I still try and restrict our sugar intake. Mostly because I think this is the very best for us and man I sure do feel better eating this way. But you can go too far. I still want J to enjoy treats and I want to enjoy them myself without guilt of any kind. When we go out to eat or to a friend's home, I'm just going to enjoy the experience. I'm not going to worry about where the meat is from and if the salad is organic. I'm just going to enjoy the meal. If J has the occasional piece of candy, it's not the end of the world. (Occasional, definitely not every day). Food is about pleasure not guilt. I find that the stronger I restrict something, the more I rubber band the opposite direction. The grey area feels right here too.

    The grey area, a good balance, equilibrium, fair. This is what I want to achieve in my life. So instead of restricting things, instead of saying "no, don't, can't have", I'm going to say "yes, in moderation, balanced, fair". It feels right. I know it will take work. After so many years of being an extremist, I'm having to retrain myself. Also having to learn to let go of the guilt that walks hand in hand with denial.

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    Because we are all sick...please enjoy some gratuitous chick pictures

    Logan the Sweetheart - Golden Wynadotte - 6 weeks

    John Deere - Rhode Island Red - 7 weeks

    Chocolate - Welsummer - 5 weeks

    Chicky Chicky Chook Chook - Dark Brahma - 7 weeks

    Peanut Butter - Welsummer - 5 weeks

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    I mean just.....SPRING!!

    I feel like Spring sprung upon me this year, I went away for a weekend and I came back to all this beauty!



    Sunday, March 31, 2013

    A weekend with extended family

    This is basically a love letter to my family.

    Once a year, my whole extended family comes together from all over the country. Grandfather, aunt, uncle, my immediate family and all my cousins and my cousins children. Four generations of us gathered together ostensibly celebrating Passover but really celebrating us. Our family.

    We cook and hang out together, catch up on each others lives, marvel at how the children have grown, how big the babies are now and just revel in being together. These once-a-year long weekends are very precious to me. I adore, respect and love my cousins. They are such wonderfully fascinating people and they have all married people who are equally intelligent and fun to be around. I wouldn't mind being stuck on a desert island with any one of them.

    The children are all close in age and are really, really neat kids. Watching J start to worship his 'big cousin L' and love playing with all his cousins reminds me of how it was for me growing up with my cousins.

    The knowledge of my family surrounds me and makes me feel safe and warm. Having family that respects and accepts who you are, who loves and supports you, that you can always rely on and that is super fun to be with is such a blessing and privilege. I realize how wonderful it is that J is getting the chance to grow up with this as well. I wish my family all still lived close to each other but, as J grows older, I foresee travels to visit ahead of us. Luckily everyone lives in really neat parts of the country but even if we were stuck in Dullsville, Boringtown we would still find ourselves having a marvelous time full or laughter and creating amazing memories because its the PEOPLE, our family, who really bring joy and happiness to us.

    Thursday, March 28, 2013

    This weekend

    I refuse to worry and I refuse to dwell on things that will increase my level of stress.

    About a week ago, my right eye started twitching in the lower lid. Yesterday, my left eyelid decided to join the rhythm. Obviously something is going on with me.

    Googling eye twitches lets me know they can be caused by stress, alcohol, caffeine, lack of sleep or dry eyes. Other than caffeine (which I don't drink), I can say "yes" to all of the above. My wine intake is (relatively? comparatively?) low but the stress definitely feels high. My body is obviously telling me something is wrong. Now to just figure out how to deal with it.

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    Gutting the closet. Again.

    Over the past few days I have been pulling things out of my closet that hadn't been cut with my first overhaul. Things I'm now looking at with clearer vision and can see that I will never, ever, wear them again. Some are gifts that I kept out of guilt and some are items that used to look good on me back in the day when I had longer (redder) hair. Some I've kept hoping to fit into them again and some are tied to good memories. And some are cashmere. None of them suit me any more and none of them have been worn in the past year (or longer). It's time they found new homes.

    My style seems to be ever evolving and while I have found it very frustrating in the past, I'm getting closer to coming to terms with my changeability. I never was a person who had a 'set' way of dressing. No pearls and twinsets. No biker boots and leather. Nothing that ever defined who I was or what group I was a part of. Life would be a lot easier and I'm positive I'd have spent a lot less money if I did have 'life uniform' to adhere to.

    I currently spend most of my time in jeans. With a 3-year old this is not surprising. I have very recently discovered that wearing 'skinny' jeans makes me look thinner while baggy jeans make me look bigger. Huh. So out go the baggy jeans that looked so cute on the model and very mediocre on me. While I do spend my days in jeans, I like to look nice. A bit dressier. A nice top and some good jewelry. I can wear brighter colors now that my hair is going white so I am enjoying tops in turquoise, berry, magenta and orange. Colors I would have had to avoid like the plague when my hair was redder for fear of looking like a clown. Nice shoes too. I like nice shoes. No high heels but pretty flats. Chic boots. Am I forming a wardrobe? One that will see me through the next 5-10 years? I hope so. I really love the idea of a capsule wardrobe where I have a set amount of basic pieces that can mix and match. I just never figured to be my age and STILL figuring out how to dress myself well.

    Monday, March 25, 2013

    Chicken coop in progress pics....

    Base in place (river rocks are to keep the girls from scratching the gravel)
    Dazzling daffodil

    Helper J

    Early morning Home Depot run

    Perfectly level! The compost bin is beyond it

    Anyone experiencing saw envy?


    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    Skirt Steak with Chimuchurri Sauce

    Grilled steak with chimichurri just sings of summer to me. Yum!


    For steak:
    1 1/2 pounds trimmed skirt or flank steak
    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    For chimichurri:
    1 large garlic clove
    1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro
    1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    For steak:
    • Pat steak dry. Stir together 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, coriander, and pepper in a small bowl and rub mixture onto both sides of steak. Grill until desired doneness. You can also broil it by placing steak on a broiler pan about 4 inches from heat 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 5 minutes.
    For chimichurri:
    • Meanwhile, with motor running, add garlic to a food processor and finely chop. Add cilantro, parsley, vinegar, oil, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, then pulse until herbs are finely chopped. Serve with grilled steak.


    Saturday, March 23, 2013

    Today I am

    Working with D to plan our new coop - luckily he is organized and a planner

    Looking forward to grilled flank steak with chimichurri tonight

    Tickled that we have half a pig being processed into ham steaks, roasts, ribs, chops, bacon, etc. We're taking everything but the oink as they say

    Loving this gorgeous sunny day

    Looking VERY forward to moving the chicks out of the playroom - it's filthy in there and needs a good dusting and vaccuming so J can go back in and play again!

    Enjoying playing with the chicks still - they're so cute

    Waiting for my new clothes to arrive

    Ordering pics from J's birthday party

    Looking forward to our family reunion next weekend

    So incredibly excited for my haircut tomorrow - I'm feeling very bedraggled

    Cheering on the little fish in the NCAA tourney!

    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    Sometimes I feel like I am

    two women living in the same body. One is Earth Mother, homemade, homemaking, gardening, frugal, basic and definitely not stylish but comfortable. The other is a woman who cares deeply about appearance, loves to shop and look good, desires new clothes, wears makeup, likes painted nails, pedicures, spas, a good haircut, spends money and being attractive. I have yet to figure out a way to balance the two. I am both but it seems only in extremes.

    Google 'Life Balance' and most of what you get is work/life balance. That's great, but not what I'm looking for. I need an article that's about life/life balance, a self help program, 12 steps, something, anything, to help me figure out how to happily meld these two sides of my personality.

    Last December I removed my fake nails after 11 years. It felt right plus the thought of all the toxins I was exposing myself to every two weeks made it an easy(ish) decision. I was comfortable with the no polish, no pedicure, trim my own hair, save money, live with what I had, no shopping turn my life had taken. Then Spring hits and POW, suddenly I am shopping for a new wardrobe, making a salon appointment, painting my toes and fingers, putting on makeup, rearranging the furniture and debating spa treatments.

    While it can definitely be seasonal, I do have my triggers. This time it was a picture of myself at my son's birthday party. I looked like a lumpy, pear-shaped woman who cared nothing about what she looked like. Gross. I looked gross. And suddenly the part of me that cares about these things, really cares, culled the wardrobe, ordered (a lot of) new clothes, painted her nails, made a hair appointment, started wearing more makeup and is debating getting a facial/massage regularly.

    So how do I balance the two? How do I stay the earthy mama, frugal homemade homemaker who is totally laid back and the fashionable woman who really wants to look good, is willing to make an effort to do so and wants those treatments at the salon and new clothes? I haven't figured it out yet. I feel like they are totally counter to each other but they're both part of me.  And I'm either all one or all the other. They both feel like me but neither one makes me completely happy. I want to do all my homemade stuff and be comfortably casual, but what I'd really like is it to be effortlessly chic not just 'casual'. It's so hard. All I know is that I have to figure this out or I'm going to spend the rest of my life binging in both directions.

    Sunday, March 17, 2013

    Eco-friendly goody bags

    My son's birthday party is today. In order to keep our sanity, we are hosting it at my son's gym and having the party catered from a local sandwich/pastry shop. Totally over the top? Why yes, yes it is. I am perfectly aware that I am insane for doing a three-year old birthday party this way but it seemed completely sane at the time we booked everything.

    Anyways. In the grand birthday tradition of kids parties, I have put together goody bags for each child attending. While I think the idea of a goody bag for a kid attending a kids party is right up there with wedding favors, I actually had a really good time putting these bags together. I wanted to go as eco-friendly as possible and also create something the kids would actually use and keep. These are the things I found.

    Cotton muslin bags - rather than using throw away paper or plastic bags, I bought un-dyed muslin bags. They're sturdy enough for kid use and I hope they get played with at least a little.

    In each bag I put:

    A 'Smencil' - a scented colored pencil made from 100% recycled newspapers. They come in their own tubes so they're rather festive looking.

    A Stencil - I bought a packet of 24 and stuffed each bag with one of the. J loves drawing and doing stencils so I thought it would be a good, lasting gift to include.

    Dinosaur Notepad - teeny, tiny and super cute.

    Yummy Earth Lollipop - We try to avoid sugar, but what's a goody bag without a little treat? J loves these organic lollipops so I tucked one into each bag.

    Saturday, March 16, 2013

    Chick Update

    Man these babies grow so fast! I forget that about chicks. I am learning it about children.
    We are going to start building our new bigger coop next weekend - the older chicks are going to be ready to go outside by mid-April and I'm ready for them to be somewhere other than the play room. As much as I love visiting them and listening to their peeps, they make an INCREDIBLE amount of dust. The whole play room is going to need a thorough scrubbing after they vacate the premises. Plus they're so much bigger and more active than the chicks that are only 2 weeks younger. They pretty much ignore the babies but as Chicky Chicky and John Deere vie for 'Queen of the Coop' honors, the little ones spend a great deal of time in the corner. They're going to need more room very soon.

    The plan is to build a coop that can house up to 12 hens and put it in the chicken run we have on the side of the house. The older hens will then roost and lay eggs in that coop. The babies will go outside into our current coop/walk in pen that can be blocked off from the run. It's a perfect way station for them. The older hens can get used to the babies and the babies will be protected from the older hens until they're closer in size to them. Thanks to D for the brilliant suggestion.

    Personality-wise I really love Logan. She (fingers crossed she IS a she) is fearless, friendly and happily comes to my hand, falls asleep on my knee, likes to cuddle against my neck and runs to the door rather than away when I come in. Plus she's going to be gorgeous. Chocolate and Peanut Butter are super sweet and cuddly. I'm looking forward to them getting bigger and seeing how they develop. Chicky Chicky has definitely taken on the role of big sister to them and they cuddle up to her during naps. That may also be because she resembles a big fluffy pillow. She's the most unusual chick I've ever had. John Deere kind of resembles a vulture because she has her body feathers but nothing on her head, she also is pretty friendly. I think I lucked out with this batch of chicks.

    John Deere

    Chicky Chicky Chook Chook

    Super fluffy feathers and long feathers on her feet and legs


    The babies - Chocolate and Peanut Butter

    Feeding time!

    Friday, March 15, 2013

    This Moment and 5 Minute Friday

    This moment - a picture I want to treasure and remember from the week.

    Five minute Friday - 5 minutes of writing, no editing or backtracking

    Hah! I snorted, literally snorted, as I read the word for 5 minute Friday. Rest?! What's that?! I don't remember the last time I truly rested but it must have been about 3 years ago. Then the word left my vocabulary never to return. But that's ok. Who needs it? I get down time. No I don't. Not really. I get bits and pieces here and there. I get a little R&R at times. But I grab them in quick pinches, a handful if I'm lucky. Rest does not come easy. The body is tired, the mind knows there's more to do. There might be quiet at night, even peace, but knowing that at any time a voice may cry "MAMA!!", there's no true rest. I can't relax fully. Given my choices, I wouldn't want to. Rest or the voice of an almost three year old more precious than anything? Rest or laundry to be done and cooking to do? Rest or living? I'm comfortable with my lack of rest these days. The ice cold shock of never getting a moment to oneself has worn off. I'm comfortable with the moments I do grab. I wonder if I ever will rest again. I picture old age and a rocking chair. But then, hopefully, there will be grandchildren to watch over. Nope, no rest.


    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    Sufferin' Succotash

    I totally made this up. There are about as many different succotash recipes out there as there are people in the South and they all make them differently and they all swear their Mama's recipe is the best. I make no such claim but it was really tasty and easy. And no okra. I don't do okra (unless maybe it's deep fried, I'll eat almost anything deep fried).

    Leftovers and yes I like my bacon crispy
    (the bacon itself is actually quite dark, it's not burned I swear)

    Served 2 adults and a little kid


    4 sliced thick cut bacon (I used the black forest bacon from Whole Foods)
    1.5 cups frozen lima beans
    1.5 cups corn
    14 oz can peeled plum tomatoes
    salt and pepper to taste

    • Slice bacon into 1/4 inch slices. Fry pieces in a large skillet (cast iron if you have it). Remove and keep the bacon fat left in the skillet. You can pour out the fat if you wish but it's flavor (as D says).
    • Defrost the lima beans and corn by boiling for a couple of minutes. Drain well. Add the beans, corn and tomatoes to the grease in the skillet. Cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the bacon pieces sprinkled over.
    Soft breeze
    Friend visit
    Birthday party
    Family coming
    Birds singing
    Bees humming
    Bursting buds
    Spring here
    World awesoming
    Garden plotted
    Chicks growing
    Hens laying
    Garden sowing
    My sweet baby
    No longer
    Little boy
    Growing stronger
    Feeling happy
    Warm sun
    Heart full

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    Ok that does it.

    I am refusing to read any more mom articles, mom blogs, mom forums, mom lists, or mom books. I am done, finit, caput.

    Last night was the last straw. I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, my mind whirling with the words from one article that made the rounds on Facebook yesterday. It was about 'how your child just wants to be with you and therefore ignoring that need and being, well a human with their own needs and wants, makes you less of a parent'. I felt racked with guilt about how I had pushed J away yesterday morning when he was clingy (like a little vine he was). I had stuff I needed to get done and all he wanted to do was hang on my arm. I fell asleep thinking I was the worst parent in the world.

    I woke up knowing that I do a pretty damn good job and that I don't need that extra layer of guilt or pressure. I'm not perfect, none of us are, and there are already too many other moms to compare ourselves to. We create enough guilt on our own to have any additional pressure applied from the outside. I don't need some article telling me that I'm doing something wrong. And they ALL say we're doing something wrong. Every single damn one of them.

    I find that every time I read something that makes the rounds on Facebook or Yahoo or wherever, I feel inadequate. I'm not doing something sufficiently or to the best of my 'mom ability'. They never come out and say "you're damaging your child" but I am left feeling like I should be doing something, or everything, better than I am. I'm not paying enough attention/I'm paying too much attention, I shouldn't yell/I should be firm, co-sleep/never co-sleep, feed this/don't feed that, free play/keep an eagle eye on them, on and on and on.

    In reality, I'm doing the best I can. Some days are better than others. Some days my frustration levels are epic and other days they're mellow. Some days I feel like a banshee and some days I'm an angel. I love my kiddo more than anything in this world, I tell him he is special and wonderful and how much I love him, how much I will ALWAYS love him. I'm just doing the best I can and really, that's all I, or any mom, can ask for.

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Catalan Spinach

    Looking for something to round out our tapas meal, I searched for a spinach recipe and came across this one. Perfect, easy and I love currants and pine nuts. It's another one that I wish we had leftovers from! This fed two adults.


    2 bunches fresh spinach, washed thoroughly
    2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
    3 T pine nuts
    3 T dried currants or raisins
    Olive oil
    • Steam the spinach for only 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and allow to drain thoroughly.
    • Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil to cover the bottom of a large frying pan. Heat pan on medium and sauté garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add the currants and pine nuts to the pan and continue to sauté for 1 minute. Add the drained spinach to the pan and mix well, coating with oil. Salt to taste. 

    Patatas Bravas (Spanish Potatoes Roasted in Tomato Sauce)

    Potatoes. You can't go wrong with potatoes. Potatoes baked in tomato sauce?  They taste as good as they look. Seriously. We were all eating them out of the bowl as they cooled on the counter. YUM! The original recipe called for hot sauce but I left it out (for J).
    This will make enough for 4 adults tapas style (but I'd make more, I wish I had). This will make plenty of sauce so plan on having leftover. Maybe for a second batch the next day just for yourself...


    2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks
    Olive oil
    1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
    3 garlic cloves, chopped
    1/2 cup white wine
    2 Tbsp tomato paste
    14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
    1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1 teaspoon salt
    • Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss the potatoes with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt well. Arrange in one layer in a casserole pan or rimmed baking tray and roast until browned, about 50 minutes.
    • While the potatoes are roasting, make the sauce. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium pot set over medium-high heat. Saute the chopped onions, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, or until they begin to brown on the edges. Add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes.
    • Add the white wine to the pan and turn the heat to high. Boil on a high boil until the wine is reduced by half, then add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, and smoked paprika. Stir well and reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Let the sauce cook slowly while the potatoes roast.  Carefully puree in a blender.
    • When the potatoes are well browned, toss with the tomato sauce and return to the casserole pan. Continue to roast until the tomato sauce dries out a bit on the potatoes and caramelizes, about 10 minutes.

    Spanish Meatballs (Albondigas) in Tomato Sauce

    Our first night in Pebble Beach we went to dinner at a tapas restaurant and the food was so amazing and delicious that I decided to try making some at home. Now I'd never made tapas before but I'm a big fan of watching Spanish-oriented cooking shows and I had a vague idea of what I'd like to make. Albondigas was top of the list. There's a Mexican soup of the same name but I was looking for light meatballs in a tomato sauce - the Spanish tapas version.

    I read over several recipes and sort of merged them together to make this one. All the recipes called for egg which I left out (due to allergies). They were delicious! I will definitely be making them again. The amount made would feed 4 adults tapas style.


    1 lb. ground beef mince
    1/2 onion
    3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/4 cup parsley, chopped
    1 can diced tomatoes
    2 slices stale bread
    1/2 cup white wine
    salt and pepper
    olive oil


    Assemble the meatballs:
    • Crush 2 cloves of garlic with the parsley and mix with a dash of white wine. Place this mixture in a large bowl with the ground beef, mix well and let stand for 20 minutes.
    • Place the bread in a shallow dish and cover with the milk. Let soak for a few minutes.
    • Add the bread, salt and pepper to the beef mixture and knead until all the ingredients are mixed together.
    • Make small balls and roll each one in flour. Cook in plenty of hot oil until they turn golden brown, drain and place in a casserole dish.
    Make the sauce:

    • Add a little oil to the pan you used to saute the meatballs. Add the onion and garlic and gently fry until they begin to brown.
    • Add the diced tomatoes and about half a cup of white wine (drink the other half).
    • Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes then puree (or leave whole if you prefer a chunky sauce)
    • Pour the sauce over the meatballs and then place in a 375 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes.
    • Serve with fresh bread to dip in the sauce (we used grilled pizza dough)

    Monday, March 11, 2013

    It must be Spring

    I was overwhelmed today by this incredible urge to rearrange furniture. This is seriously my harbinger into Spring (or Winter). This need to change my living environment has been with me as long as I can remember. I rearranged almost weekly in high school and college. There is always some better way for my furniture to be, something new I haven't explored.

    Today I spent my son's nap time moving around almost every piece of furniture in my living room and dining room. Multiple times. I have a large (too large) amount of furniture, the majority which is family heirlooms or pieces that either I or D are extremely fond of. Finding a way to work it all into our space so that things flow and allow free movement and breathing space is difficult. I don't feel like I can get rid of any of the family pieces unless I give them to another family member (so far none have wanted them). But man, I crave simplicity and fewer things. The freedom from owning all this history would sometimes be very nice. Of course I probably would have been pretty bummed to have just had to buy things as well. Over the years, our Pottery Barn couches have been replaced by couches that belonged to my grandparents. A dining set by one that belonged to my grandmother. An empty formal dining room (crystal chandelier and everything) filled with the formal dining set of D's grandparents. All much better quality than what we already owned and all weighted by the knowledge of who they belonged to and how much those people meant to me/us.

    Of course the only piece I would ever truly consider getting rid of is a table we bought many years ago and is so large it's a serious piece of furniture in it's own right. It's lovely burled wood and D really likes it or I would have parted with it ages ago. Today's exercise in dead weight moving was trying to find it a perfect home. I think I have succeeded for now. Of course it necessitated the moving of every single piece of furniture in the living room and most of the dining room. Luckily I'm married to a man who walks in the door bearing Aleve. Some women get flowers but my man knows what I like.

    I may not be able to move tomorrow, but the living room is wide open for train track building and I'm feeling like maybe I made some headway. We will see, I will live with it like this for a while and see if it feels comfortable. I find I have to live in a space before I know if it will be right for me.

    ** Happy Homemaker Tip - to remove the furniture indents on your carpet, spray water on them, let it sit for 5 minutes and then rub with a towel. Voila! No more indentations.

    Sunday, March 10, 2013

    Inspiration hits and March 11th - 15th Weekly Menu

    I just got back from an absolutely amazing extended birthday weekend at my in laws place. While there, my dear father-in-law treated my husband and I to two absolutely fabulous meals out (alone! without our son!). Meals that pleased the eye as well as the tongue. Meals that served as inspiration and kicked my creativity out of the doldrums.
    I have definitely been in a rut of late. Always the same veg side dishes (kale chips, sweet potatoes or sauteed chard) and, even worse, I've gotten lazy. Very lazy. Very, very lazy. While we eat well, we don't eat WELL. Nothing that intrigues or enlivens the palette. Nothing that gets you to the table just a little bit quicker. Dinner has been something defrosted from the freezer, healthy and tasting good but safe, boring, dull. Same old same old.
    This weekend definitely served as inspiration. Not only to start cooking new and different things but also to make a larger focus on first courses and side dishes. They've always been an afterthought for me, which is funny because I love vegetables. I'll start making salads and then fall out of the habit. The side dish will be an uninspired last minute addition. They should be just as important as the main or meat course.
    I have this great desire to explore new cuisines, make our vegetable side dishes as unique as the main course and to present them in a beautiful way. I have been inspired a great deal by this blog. I have yet to make any of her recipes (that will be fixed this week) but I love the care and consideration she puts into her family's meals.
    J is turning 3 next week and he has been showing a great willingness to try new foods. I need to seize this moment while I can. I really want him to grow up with a true appreciation for food and a love of trying new things. I think that can be fostered now. Plus this is really, really good for D and I. We need things to look forward to as well and we both like trying new things. It's going to be an adjustment and I know there are days it will be hard but I think I can do it. I know I can. Cooking is such a creative outlet for me, I need to start viewing it as a pleasure again rather than a chore.

    Menu for this Week:

    Monday - Tapas night! Featuring, albondigas (Spanish meatballs), patatas bravas and Catalan spinach

    TuesdayHalibut and Brussels sprouts in garlic cream sauce cooked in parchment and crisp pea salad

    Wednesday - Grilled foccacia sandwich with prosciutto, parmesan and arugula (as good as it looks)

    Thursday - Grilled pork chops, succotash and roasted root vegetables

    Friday - Smoked salmon rolls with asparagus and spaghetti al limone

    Friday, March 8, 2013

    This moment

    This moment -

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    44 Things I have learned in 44 years

    1. Parents were people before they were parents with their own lives, dramas and joys.
    2. A stitch in time does save nine.
    3. Laughter, while not the best, is fantastic medicine.
    4. "Turn that frown upside down" while hard, can really work.
    5. Don't buy into the 'need to consume' lifestyle.
    6. Homemade is better than just about anything. Homegrown too.
    7. Spell correctly. Also use the correct words in the proper way.
    8. Actions speak louder than words.
    9. Corporate America will do anything they can to sell you anything. Don't buy it.
    10. Being a mom really IS like having your heart walk around outside your body.
    11. Being a mom is the best thing in the whole world.
    12. It's also the most frustrating.
    13. Eat well, keep moving, laugh, love, find the joy in the every day.
    14. Save your money.
    15. Don't ever give up on your hopes and dreams, they may not happen immediately or happen in the way you thought they would but they will happen.
    16. A good imagination will take you far, exercise yours daily
    17. Losing yourself in a book is a true pleasure.
    18. So is a bubble bath.
    19. Marrying the right person will add years to your life.
    20. Those ideas you have in your mind about how things are supposed to be? Give them up and you'll be much happier than you ever thought possible.
    21. Don't eat processed food.
    22. Educate yourself, never stop learning.
    23. Create, doesn't matter what it is, creating something is magical.
    24. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
    25. Life is too short to drink cheap wine or eat cheap food.
    26. Life is too short to hang around people who detract from your happiness rather than add to it.
    27. Keep in touch with your friends from days gone by.
    28. Get outside.
    29. Don't try and control other people. Also don't judge them.
    30. Practice empathy.
    31. Make love not war.
    32. Don't count your chickens before they're hatched. Or until they're full grown.
    33. This too shall pass.
    34. Glitter pens can make the most boring of lists joyful.
    35. Beauty is only skin deep.
    36. Good food is a glorious pleasure and we should all be encouraged to savor and enjoy. It should never be a cause for guilt, we should never feel bad about it nor should we abuse it.
    37. Explore your world. Travel when you can.
    38. I love bread. I also love pasta.
    39. Being close to members of your family is a marvelous thing.
    40. There is no reason to hold on to a toxic friendship. If they don't make you feel better when you're with them, then there is no need remain friends.
    41. Don't believe what everyone tells you, do your own research, figure things out for yourself.
    42. Forgive. Yourself and others.
    43. Breathe.
    44. In the words of the immortal Mame, "LIVE LIVE LIVE, life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death". 

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    Today I am

    Giving myself an attitude adjustment - every little thing J has done the past two days has driven me bats*** crazy and I need to change the way I'm dealing with it and the fact that he's not really doing anything except being three.

    Taking J to a makeup class for gymnastics which will hopefully tire him out, a little because we have...

    A HUGE list of things to do and I'm feeling overwhelmed. Plus I am....

    Picking up paperwork for J's preschool - he starts two days a week in the fall - EEK!! He's ready, and whether or not I am totally depends on the day. Yesterday I would have happily dropped him off. As i told D, there's a reason they start preschool at 3, it's so they make it to 4.

    Hanging laundry on the line before the rain tomorrow.

    Freezer diving for dinner, I'm just not in the mood to cook. There's nothing like a well-stocked freezer for those days when you're lacking inspiration.

    Sending healing and hopeful thoughts to my uncle in the hospital.

    Enjoying the Mr. Money Mustache forum - it always inspires me.

    Super glad that my immediate thought/reaction to D getting his bonus was "what investment account do you want to put it in?" versus my previous thinking of "lets shop!".

    Making do with the water containers we have for the hens instead of buying a new one - yea for frugality! Baby steps :).

    Mailing the cards I made to my 'pay it forward' people and for a birthday present - I hope they like them, I sure did love making them. Though the thought of them ending up in recycling somewhere kind of breaks my heart a little.

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Happy Monday

    So one of my hens has 'vent gleet' which is a yeast infection of their cloaca. Lovely. Actually not really, not at all. So this morning I gave her a bath in the kitchen sink and applied yeast meds to her tushy. Not how I usually spend a Monday but that's ok. Something I found very interesting is that every single site I went to suggested feeding plain yogurt and adding ACV (apple cider vinegar) to the water. Now these are things that are relatively recently being suggested for people as well who have a variety of issues. I myself have felt much better since we started drinking kefir. To think I didn't even know what it was only a couple of years ago.

    Chicken on the counter

    So how was the weekend of no phone? Well, I lasted about 2 hours before I had to send Derek a grocery related text but other than that I did pretty well with keeping it on the counter, turned off. I was still on the computer at times (Pinterest for card making ideas mostly) but no Facebook, no blogs and no site surfing. I read, I made cards, we got things done. I slept 4 hours on Saturday night so no trip to the goat farm on Sunday (boo). No idea why I couldn't sleep but the eyes wouldn't close and the brain wouldn't shut off. This very rarely happens to me but man it sucks. J and D spent Saturday night in a 'tent' in the living room that D built. Maybe that's why I couldn't sleep ;)

    The biggest news/excitement to come out of the weekend is that we're going to have to build a new bigger coop. Our current one isn't large enough to house 9 hens so a new one will have to be built. D and I spent a good portion of yesterday perusing chicken coop designs.  Now we start looking into costs and if it's cheaper to have someone else build it (someone who knows carpentry) or to have D build it himself. I personally lean towards someone else simply for the fact that I don't want to spend every weekend working on the coop. I'm selfish that way.

    I leave you with words to live/eat by:

    Saturday, March 2, 2013

    Turning off technology

    This weekend my phone is off. It's a baby step since I'm obviously sitting at my computer writing this post. But the phone is off. No checking emails or facebook constantly. Actually no facebook at all this weekend. It will have to live without me. I won't constantly be posting pictures of the adventures we're going to have or updating my status or read all the posts and articles. Instead I will be living my life and actually paying attention to what's going on around me. At least that's the theory. I plan to do these weekends this whole month. Maybe longer. If you need me, call my home.

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    New chicks - because I AM the Crazy Chicken Lady

    Because I am that woman, J and I had quite an adventure today.

    I've been enamoured with the Welsummer breed of chicken since I first learned about them a few years ago. The chocolate brown eggs - oh those eggs! I ordered one last year (in my mail order chicken debacle) and sadly the little peeper didn't make it. Note to self, shipping is not kind on chicks. When I was perusing the Concord Feed Store chick calendar this past month, I saw that they were getting Welsummers in. And in an OK (not great) window of our existing chicks being young enough to accept the new ones and us leaving town for a long weekend. You have to be very careful introducing baby chicks to girls older than two weeks because the big ones are SO much larger than the little girls. Best case is that they leave them alone and only step on them at times, worst case is that they peck them and/or keep them away from the food and water and you end up having to separate them.

    Anyhoodle, I learned when we picked up Logan the Loud, that the colored egg layers go very quickly and are usually only offered at the main location about an hour from me. J had gymnastics this morning and so we couldn't head over till that was finished. Then he wanted to stay for open gym. So we stayed. Me getting more and more antsy. I tried calling the feed store to see if they'd let me buy some over the phone but couldn't get through. I called my local branch and they called them and called me back saying that I should probably head over if I wanted the chicks because people were in there buying them RIGHT NOW. I loaded J in the car and off we drove slightly faster than the speed limit. Had to find the feed store (wrong turn, looking at the wrong side of the street, another wrong turn), walked in only to discover that they had just sold the last two "5 minutes before you got here". ARGH! One of employees overheard and said "oh I just sent 10 over to another (distant) location". Throw J back in the car and race to this other location. Got lost. (Of course). Found the place, walked in and they had just put the Welsummers out! Yahoo! We got our pick of the batch! I still feel so accomplished! I'm a Crazy Chicken Lady! I picked up two because well, they're Welsummers and because if they were going to be abused by the big girls and I needed to separate them then they'd need a buddy. Chickens are social and need a friend. And because they're Welsummers. I will now have, if they all make it and they're all girls, 9 hens. We're going to need a new coop (you listening honey?).

    The little peepers are doing fine, they've cuddled up with the big girls which I find interesting. I'd think they'd want to avoid those big feet but what do I know? I'm not a few days old chick. I'm just glad that it seems to have all gone smoothly. So far. Ah. Chickens.

    This beauty is Chocolate

    This doll is Peanut Butter

    Introducing them (slowly) to the other ladies, Logan the Loud first because she was closest in size

    Then John Deere

    And finally Chicky Chicky Chook Chook