Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Playing Together

The other morning, the kids and I stayed in our pajamas a little later than normal.  We had some playtime to do.  It was a lot of fun.  The best part is watching Burl and Fern.  She locks her eyes on him and follows him wherever he moves.  

Boy, does Burl move.  Here and there.  He is a busy little player.  Constant playing.  

Sometimes, he slows down and talks to Fern.  Then, he gives her his toys to play with.  It's more of a pile on.  He just lays his toys around her, by her, and even on her.  And it melts my heart to the point of hurting.  I dig this sibling thing.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Stuff Of Weekends

During the week, I download pictures from camera pretty regularly.  It's second nature to me.  However, when the weekend comes, I like to let the pictures pile up and do a massive download Sunday night or Monday morning.  When I see some of the pictures I'm reminded of some of the fun things that we did.  That's right: reminded.  As in, I forgot.  Forgot what I did just the day before.  

I don't forget the big stuff.
I forget the small stuff.
The big stuff is great, but the small stuff.
I LOVE the small stuff.  

Here's my stuff from this weekend.  The Big Stuff and The Small Stuff:

Big Stuff: we got together, last minute with some friends for dinner.  Texts were sent all day to coordinate what we could scrounge up for dinner, what time the husbands could get off work, etc.  

 Little Stuff: John played "ride a little horsey" with two very excited toddlers.  Lots of giggles.  Lots of details, "put on your boots.  Put on your cowboy hat.  Take the reigns."  John's got mad skills when it comes to sounding like a horse.  Put that on the resume.  

Big Stuff: Burl absolutely loves playing outside.  It's not enough for him to take his play mower out there.  He wants John to start his mower as well, while Burl mows with him.  They mowed a lawn that didn't need mowing, just going in circles.  It was heaven for Burl. 

Small Stuff: Before they left to play outside, Burl was very intentional about what he needed to bring and what John needed to bring.  He doesn't speak clear words yet, but he still talks to us. He wanted to make sure that all his stuff was taken outside, along with all of John's stuff.  Both needed to take: hat, mower, drill, hammer, saw.  He has a specific sound and motion for each. I hope I can always remember those sounds.  That picture up there captures how intent he was on talking to John.  I remember John and I exchanging a look that said, "he is precious."

Big Stuff: I tagged along with John and Joseph on their rock climbing venture.  I think I'm about to drink the rock-climbing kool aid.  It sounds delicious.

Small Stuff: While I was there, I started a new book and took a lot of pictures.  Sometimes I get uncomfortable getting my camera out to take pictures.  It just feels weird and audacious.  Like, "look at me, I think I'm a professional photographer." I get in weird positions.  I photograph awkward things.  I feel like everyone is looking at me thinking, "oh, she thinks she's so cooool with her camera."  But, this weekend, I got my camera out to take pictures of the guys climbing. They voluntarily offered advice-where to stand for a good picture that wasn't just me on the ground pointing up.  It felt good.  They didn't think it was weird that I was taking pictures.  I'm just a girl who likes to take pictures.  And read books.  And go outside.  I'm getting to be ok with saying those things about myself.  

That was our weekend.  Those big things, that's what I would say if someone asked me what we did this weekend.  Went to a friend's for dinner, played outside, went climbing, etc.  But, the small stuff, that's the stuff that I want to remember.  That's the stuff that makes the big stuff cool.

This Week's Menu

I always get an email or text from my dad if my menu isn't posted on Sundays.  "Sweet girl, where's the menu?"  Sorry, Dad, Joseph was on the computer last night.

I'm excited about my menu this week because I'm going to try two new things.  I'm going to try to make my own seafood stock so I can try making shrimp bisque.  I'll be using the recipes for both from this post on Everyday Occasions.  That's where I got the picture-I love her pictures, especially when everything is photographed against that beautiful table!

Tilapia, buttered orzo, peas and carrots (b/c I never made it last week)
Rigatoni with red sauce, fresh bread

*inspired by a meal that my mom and I used to get in Atlanta.  Not as in, "hey, we're in Atlanta, let's go to the Prime."  More like, "hey, do you have a lot of homework tonight? Can you do it in the car while we drive to Atlanta? I'm craving that bisque at the Prime."  

Friday, January 27, 2012

{this moment}

A single photo.  No words.  Capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. ~soulemama

Thursday, January 26, 2012


We walked out of Women's Bible Study and one block away there were three fire trucks.  Burl saw them.  His little buddy James saw them too.  James' mom and I took them down there to see the action-a front digger crashed into a pole.  Just like that, the worst part of one person's day became the highlight of Burl and James' day.  We stood and watched for a while.  I was loaded down with Fern strapped to me, a heavy purse with my bible study books and camera {luckily}, all while holding back a very excited Burl.  

We turned and started to walk back.  While I let Burl touch one of the trucks, the firemen approached us.  They asked if Burl would like to get in.  He gave a very enthusiastic "yeah" and I passed him off to one of the firemen.  It was a pretty big deal.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our Office Desk

There are things in my house that I'm willing to pay good money for and there are things that I am not.  For example, I'll pay good money for the perfect kitchen sink faucet.  I spend a lot of time there and it needs to be exactly what I need.  If this house was my office, then the sink would need to be as perfect as my office chair-am I right, ladies?  When it comes to my computer desk, however, I don't need anything fancy.  

With our family growing, every inch in our house has to be working efficiently.  Losing our office to Fern's room, we had to find a new place to store our computer and papers and such.  To be truthful, our "filing system" wasn't that great to begin with.  We needed something different and the requirements were:

it had to be small
it had to fit our computer
it had to store our papers and organize us well
it had to be semi-cute
most importantly, it had to be CHEAP

What I came up with: nothing on my own.  I saw this idea from my friend, Renee, who has great style and a fabulous pinterest account!  Her husband made her a desk using with red file cabinet and a wooden top.  Aborbs {how the cool girls say adorable}!  With a few calls and texts to her on how it was made, John and I figured out how to make our own version with a taupe cabinet and painted-white top.


The file cabinet sticks out just a bit in the back, but it isn't noticeable unless I look back there.  The extra room provides space for the thousands of cords.  It almost looks purposeful. 

Here's a hint about the file cabinet: they're easy to find.  Walmart sells them for about $35, they can commonly be found at thrift stores, or someone has one for free.  That's what happened to us.  I put on Facebook that I wanted one, and within 24 hours, I was going to pick one up.  for free.  from someone who was getting rid of theirs.  There is free one out there for everyone, I just know it.

It kind of bugs me that the top of the desk is mostly covered with stuff.  If I had my way, the speakers and printer would be in hiding and the cords would not be there.  Right now, there is no place for any of that to go, so I embraced the cluttered look and put a lamp up there to.  I really love lamps-especially glass based lamps. I got this one in green glass at Ikea - $20.

I like it.  It has served us well for the few months that we've had it.  I would like to redo a chair to put there; paint the legs since we painted the top; and find something creative to do with the cords.  I might get John to make me a cable box like the one that Heidi showed me.

It's nothing fancy, but it works and that's all I wanted.  Even though Pottery Barn has some cute systems, we've got our solution covered.  For less than $30.


There isn't a step by step tutorial on how to make one.  I figure if someone wants to make one, then they can probably figure it out.  We only bought three things {because the file cabinet was free}:

Home Depot sells small sheets of wood that are almost as big as deep as the cabinet and pretty long. We bought the cheapest piece of wood for around $10.  While we were there, we had them cut it to the exact length that we wanted-something they do for free and saved John some time.

We bought one piece of a square pole thing, that John cut down {with a handsaw} to make the legs.  They are the same height as the cabinet.  Around $5

We also bought a strip of wood that he cut down {with a handsaw} to go around the front and two sides.  It keeps the top from sliding around. Around $5

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Evolution of Hammer

Other possible titles:
Hammer Time
Burl Gets Hammered
Hammer: Love at First Sight 

It all started with a wooden spoon.  Somewhere along the way, Burl was constantly asking for one of my wooden spoons.  By asking, I mean he would point and grunt until I got one for him-not needy, whiny grunts, polite he-can't-talk-so-he-grunts grunt.  There really is a difference.  He would carry the spoon around banging on stuff for as long as I would let him.  Eventually, one spoon was designated just for Burl.  This little game turned into love, and soon wooden spoon went with us everywhere.  We would leave the house, making sure we had keys, cell phone, wallet, and spoon.

Strangers would approach him and say, "oh, I like your spoon.  Are you going to cook something?"  He would look at them with a puzzled face that said, "cook?  As if."  Then, he would swing his spoon like he was banging something and let out a very boyish "ah-ah" which sounds like a close cousin to "bamm-bamm."  I would interject in a very calm, this-is-normal, kind of way and explain what it was.  "No, it's not a spoon.  It's his tool.  He's working on stuff."  Secretly, on the inside, I'm proud my son is into tools and I foster that little interest.  Burl is all boy-for more proof: see forehead scar.

Then, he was given a tool set with a beautiful plastic hammer that replaced spoon.  I'm not even sure where his spoon is.  Plastic hammer was replaced by another plastic hammer, then he was given a wooden mallet (which came with this that he got at Christmas-HUGE hit!).  

Hammer goes everywhere.  When we pull into to a parking lot or up to someone else's house, Burl starts his campaign to be able to take hammer with him.  It looks like this: he let's out that same "ah-ah."  He holds up hammer.  He points to the building.
"Do you want to take hammer?" YEAH.
"It's ok.  You can take hammer." BIG SMILE 
"No.  We can't take hammer in here." Major meltdown.

The only times that he sets it down voluntarily are the times that I've laid on the couch (because I wasn't feeling well or I was sleepy).  He lays hammer beside my head.  I know, I know, break my heart, he's so sweet.  The other time that he sets it down on his own terms is to hold or love on Fern.  The rule is NO TOOLS AROUND FERN.  He gets it too.

John was telling his coworker about all the hammers that Burl has loved, especially when John gets out the Block-of-Fun that he hammers nails into.  The coworker showed up with mini-hammer to give to Burl.  We wrapped it up as a present and gave it to Burl.  It was a smash!  Pun intended.

One day, when Burl gets married, I'll give him and his wife his baby box.  Instead of a stuffed animal and blankie, I'll pass on his hammer collection.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

This Week's Menu

Just when I thought making my own bread couldn't get any better, I go and make a whole wheat version.  It's delicious and everyone in the house likes it.  Cha-ching!

Before you start to be impressed, I have a confession to make:  I ate Tuna Helper tonight, and not just any T.H.  I ate Walmart brand Tuna Helper.  I have a craving for that every other year.  Or shall I say that it takes me two years to forget what a bad idea that is.  Ugh.  Thankfully, our menu for this week looks a little bit better:

That same great salad again, rotisserie chicken on top, bread
Fettuccine Alfredo with broccoli and mushrooms
Tilapia, buttered orzo, carrots & peas
Potato Leek Soup, bread

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pit Stop

We were on our way to walk in the woods when I spotted it: Roadwork.  Live.  In Action.

We had the time.  He had the interest.  I pulled over.  Got him out.  Watched him, watching them.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fern, {Right Now}

I mentioned that Fern was allowed to come to The Women's Retreat this weekend.  She was a complete angel and it was nice to have time to devote to just her.  I felt like I learned her a little more, bonded with her, and fell deeper in love with her.  She's evolving every day and it's so fun to watch.  Big changes for a little thing.  Right now she is...

...transitioning from newborn to infant
...looking around, taking everything in
...loving being talked to
...trying hard to talk back
...beaming with surprise, excitement, and pride with she makes a noise
...being loved on by her big brother Burl
...watching every thing he does
...getting pretty close to sleeping through the night
...developing her sense of style
...anticipating warmer weather when dresses and bare legs become her wardrobe 
{really, she told me that}
...falling into a daily routine
...teaching us what she needs and what she wants
...and doing just great!

What a joy!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Plants: Know When To Fold "Em

Here I go...I'm going to start talking about houseplants again.  Houseplants is such an ugly word.  In fact, putting house in front of words makes them trashy.  Case and point: house-shoes and house-slippers.  Eeek.  Not cool.  Let's just call them potted plants.  Wonderful.  Even though house sounds cooler than pot, I'm going with it.

So, I have a huge crush on anyone who has potted plants in their homes.  It makes me so happy.  Here and here are more conversations about how wonderful I think they are.
{The second link has some great pictures!}

That picture above is rather cute with that Fern there.  Take away the potted plant, and it would be lifeless.  Really.  There would be nothing living in the picture.  Add the potted plant, and wa-la, life!  

Let me zoom in on that plant:

Uh-oh!  That life is dwindling.  I see brown!  Note to self: bad form!  
The only thing worse than not having plants and flowers in my house?  Having barely alive or dead plants in my house.  Without plants, I just have nothing living in my home.  Well, besides the five people that live here.  But, with these plants {and sometimes flowers} that start to fade, they bring in signs of death.  Ooooo-ooooo, death!  

This happens on occasion when:
1. I get lazy and forget to throw out that bouquet that is past it's prime
2. I don't maintain the plants well, but still hold onto them hoping they'll pop back
3. I buy them, never pot them, and they start to die.  {see photo below}

There are no cures for reasons #1 and #3.  It's just laziness.
However, #2, I try to cut myself some slack and remember that:

1. most potted plants won't last forever
2. even though they die over time, plants are better bang-for-my-buck than buying flowers
3. I don't have a green thumb, but I can develop one
4. If I need inspiration, then I can always look at pictures to remind me how great it is to maintain plants in my home.

For me, it makes a world of difference!  So, it's back to the nursery that I go.  I've seen some good pictures and been in great homes, and I'm wanting some more plants for my pots.

Monday, January 16, 2012

2nd Annual Women's Retreat

Need a good recipe?  I've got one for you.  It's a recipe for an allsome weekend.   {Yes, spell check, that's how I'm spelling awesome.  If you were there, spell check, then you would get it.}

Hot tub + dancing + a cute Fern + good food = a great weekend.

This weekend it became tradition.  It's our second year to do it.  Some friends and I rented a cabin, got a meal rotation down, brought a set of speakers, and had nothing on our agenda for what most people call a girls weekend.  We like to class it up and call it The Women's Retreat.  

Because Fern is still just a babe, she was allowed to come.  She was an absolute angel.  At first I was apprehensive about bringing a baby to a weekend of relaxation, but things went well. She was loved by all, everyone got a turn holding her, and I got some one-on-one time.  There is a lot that I could say here, but I won't.  I'll keep it brief: Being alone with her for 48 hours, I fell a lot more in love with her.
We bonded, like Big Time.

What I would like to say something about is girl time and time away.  It was incredible.  We only drove an hour and a half.  We were there for less than two days.  The decorations were cheesy at best.  It slept 8 even though it slept 10.  None of that mattered, because we made the best of it.  We didn't go for the decorations or the sleep.

We went to be together and to have a break.
The ladies were generous and weren't bothered by the fact that I didn't clean one dish, which was better than a professional massage.  {Thank you, ladies.}
The ladies weren't the gossiping type...they were the tell funny stories about themselves type, the type that I prefer.
They were confident women, but not proud.
They were active women. 
It was great.

I know that I'm not the first person to feel refreshed after time away.  I know I'm not the first person to love me some girl time.  I know I'm not the first person to feel the magic of combining friends, a break, and lots of laughter.  However, I'm feeling high and refreshed and I feel like it's my duty to remind us that time away is great.  Whether I'm go for a run, meet a friend for coffee, spend a weekend away, or simply go fill up the tank in the mini by myself-I benefit from the break.  I think we all do.  I hope we all take that time in whatever form it looks like.

This Week's Menu

Every week I post my menu for the week on my blog.  It's nothing special, I know that.  This week is pretty lame too.  I blew through our food budget quickly before buying for dinners.  {We do the envelope system.}  I bought fun treats for the special weekend that I just had, and I also splurged on an industrial size bag of sliced almonds.  Hopefully it will last me for several years.  For now, I'm putting them on everything-pasta, salads, oatmeal, etc.  I just can't get enough.  

Here's my menu.  On the cheap.

Lentil soup and fresh bread
New favorite salad {almonds instead of pine nuts}, add rotisserie chicken
Sausage and tomato pasta
Breakfast quiche 

Friday, January 13, 2012

"I Make Bread"

Words that I never thought would come out of my mouth.  I like to cook, but baking-notsomuch.  It's a little intimidating to me.  Besides my bread machine, I've never been interested in making fresh bread.  Eating fresh bread-yes. Baking-no.

It's just too intense for me.  It's too scientific.  I like the art of cooking, and bread involves too much precision for me to enjoy it.  Until now.  Until I pulled that loaf out of the the oven, ripped it open, spread some butter on it and baam!  Heaven.

Burl's even in love with it's crusty exterior and soft middle.  Burl waits eagerly at the oven door for this slice of goodness.  We all do, but he's the only that let's it show.  Kids are cool like that.

It's changed our lives forever.  Or, for now at least.  We're all addicted.  It accompanies many of our meals these days.  On a couple of occasions, it's been our meal.  Wonderful.  It's so easy.  I just make a big batch that lasts for several days and grab a hunk of it when I want to bake a loaf.

Bada-bing, bada-boom!

I'm so glad that I asked for this book for Christmas.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Diems, To Carpe or Not?

I consider myself a carpe-diem-kinda-gal.  I love that phrase.  I'm pretty positive and upbeat and take things with stride.  I think my place in life is awesome.  

But even this post gets to the heart of things on so many levels.  It's a great read.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home Goals, Twenty-Twelve

Setting goals for my home.
I'm going to do it.
It almost sounds too superficial to really care about.

When I read the Nester's questions to think about for our homes, it got me thinking.
I started to think about all the 10289389 things that I would like to see done around my house.
They're not big things...nothing fancy like "change my sitting room from safari themed to something more Victorian."  That's just not me.  Instead, I started to consider my stage in life and what I have time for, where my focus should be, and what is really important to me.

First, I want to focus on organization.  I consider myself pretty organized, I categorize my books and magazines by color, so yes, I like things crisp.  That's the word I'm going with.  However, when things start to slip, they fall fast.  Fallen they have.  I want to get things stream lined around here.

To all my never used stuff, rarely used stuff, and sometimes used stuff, your days are numbered.  You have to make a good case if you want to stick around here.

For example,  this is my tray of paper and folder stuff that I use.  It's currently holding a dish that does not belong to me, which is holding my grandmother's spoon collection that I almost got rid of but I'm not ready to let go of.  So, I'm going to do what I can to return the pan and I'm going to re-store my grandmother's spoons.  They meant a lot to her, so for now, they mean a lot to me.

Second, I want to focus on painting.  I'm not going to change the colors.  Instead, I hope to touch up some places that have been used and abused.  Our house works hard and there are several people who come through here, and she's starting to show signs of {what I'm going to call} love.

To my baseboards,
Burl's unofficial wall writing spot
the grease circle above Burl's timeout chair
the dirt marks leading down to the basement
the random spots, streaks, and marks in the hallways, 
you're looking rough.  Time to touch up your makeup, sweeties.

Third, I want to change up my picture displays.  I take 500-1,000 pictures every month.  Some of them are really great and capture really great moments and it's time to put them on display.

Changing a picture in a frame is hard for me. It's almost like I'm taking that memory out of my mind, and I feel guilty about that. However, I can't let guilt win this one.  New pictures and new memories {for that matter} are good and natural and I'm ready for the change.

Also, I want bigger pictures.  See you later, 4x6's and maybe even 5x7's.  The picture below is of my hallway.  I copied the shelf setup from a Pottery Barn catalog and at first I thought it was wonderful.  But, now I think it looks cluttery and wimpy.  That wall is seen by almost everyone who comes by our house and they always stop and look at the pictures.   I think it's time I give them some grander to look at.  

Fourth, I want to approach cleaning and projects with a list.  So many times I get overwhelmed at all the things that I want to do.  When I put them on a list, I can prioritize, set a mental schedule, and cross things off one-by-one.  Making a list is great for me.  Once it's written down, I don't feel the burden as much.  I see it on the list, I know it's there, and I know that I'll get to it.

, I want to take it all with a grain of salt.  We have two babies now.  Two wonderful, easy, laid back babies who seem to love each other {as much as babies love}.  I couldn't imagine any better babies.  However, they are babies.  They are two babies and they need us.  They need us to provide a safe, stable, consistent home for them.  They do not need us to keep a perfectly clean house that shows no signs of life.  My goal, more than pictures or painting or organization, is to find the balance between the two and to live freely within that balance.

That's where I want everything in my life to lead to...balance.  Balance, you just feel great!