Monday, July 30, 2012

The Peach

This weekend was peach weekend, I do declare.  Apparently the season is coming to a close.  It had an early showing in our parts, and I'm afraid that I might have missed it's peak.  The in-laws brought us a basket of peaches on Saturday and they are ripening slowly, giving us just a couple to enjoy at each meal.  It's perfect timing on mother nature's part.  This house loves peaches.

During cooking club last week, we were each given a bag and told to pick a few peaches to take home.  With the light of fireflies and stringed bulbs, we reached our hands high into the tree and got our share of peaches (and of ants).  

To top it off, I saw came across the cutest video called Ode To The Peach.  Watch it and enjoy.

We like ours cobblered, grilled, frozen, or blended, but nothing beats a fresh peach-runny juices and all.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

This Week's Menu

Every Sunday, I post my menu for the week.  I usually forget what I've planned by the next day, so it is helpful to have it hear, complete with links to the recipes.  Although I don't think it's anything fancy, I'm sharing it with everyone.  May the meals we make be something fun and new, something old and comforting, something complex and detailed, and something easy and quick.  It helps to have a balance.  Overall, may we share our meals with others.

Mulligatawny Reboot, a new chicken soup that I'm trying
Purple Cabbage Slaw, Lettuce-wrapped tacos
Ribs, Asian slaw, sweet potato fries

Spaghetti squash with tomatoes and basil, peaches & strawberries 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Sweet 16

Set in the heat of July with the sound of humming fans and a chorus of cicadas, girls walk carefully in fun shoes and beautiful dresses.  They walk past the house, down the driveway, and into the backyard.  They great each other with squeals and hugs and kind compliments.  They pour drinks in glass goblets and try to stay cool.  The homemade card stock fans covered with old sewing patterns play an important role.    

I'm only a neighbor who is there taking pictures, but I get to see a little bit of the night unfold.  Proud parents, helpful friends, and handmade beauty have come together to create a special celebration for a Sweet 16 birthday.  Behind the camera, I observe the party.  Even though I love a well celebrated birthday, that's not what I love most about this night.  The thing that I loved most was the teenage girls' enjoyment of beauty.  Every girl wore a dress, put special effort into getting ready, and crossed their legs when they talked with friends.  As they arrived and sunk deeper into the evening, the girls responded to a setting that was as beautiful as they were.  It was a fancy night to remember.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Freeing Part Of {Small} Purging

I'm a big, huge fan of purging.  I like purging on a big scale and on a small scale.  There are so many pros to it.  First of all, it gets rid of excess, and no one likes excess.  Second, it means someone else gets the stuff (thrift store shopper, friend, etc.).  Third, it keeps things looking nice and tidy, and let's face it, tidy is a good thing.  Fourth, the clutter stops weighing us down, and that is my favorite one!  For me, it feels so good to get rid of stuff.  {I've been known to compare it to a good counseling session.}

There was an article in Real Simple a while ago written by a counselor or life coach or something.  She said that she advises a lot of her clients who are feeling overwhelmed to go home and get rid five things.  Five things that need to be discarded.  Something about the process is helpful.  I wish I could remember the science and reasoning behind it, but I don't.  What I do know is the feeling that I get when I clean something out, discarding the un-needed, un-used, un-wanted excess in my life.  

This morning, I had to bleach the spice/canned food cabinet because of ants.  I threw away old, expired spices and canned goods-including a can of chopped spinach that my brother bought the first time he lived with us.  Two years ago.

I felt so empowered by that little job that I moved onto our tiny coffee cabinet, then to our larger cabinet where we keep all of our mugs.  We are rich in mugs but poor in space, so I purged our excess mugs right to goodwill and one to my sister-in-law.  It felt good.  My whole house hasn't been cleaned out, but I definitely feel a sense of calm when I go to the cabinets, and I wanted to encourage everyone out there who is feeling overwhelmed by clutter.  Start small.  The pile of tank tops.  Old magazines.  That random stack of papers.  The junk drawer.  It's all small steps to a bigger goal.

Sort of like running.  No matter how slow you go, it's still faster than if I was on the couch.  

It's all progress towards a bigger goal.  And progress always beats stagnant every time.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

This Week's Menu

My just-Publix run is getting a little cloudy these days.  A friend finally convinced me to go to Aldi, which has some of the yummiest, cheapest fruit that I've ever tasted.  Also, I've become addicted to shopping in bulk, kind of.  I hate going to Sam's, but I have to go to buy things for the offices that I clean.  Once I noticed that their almonds where very cheap.  Then the craisins.  Then the avocados.  Then the individually wrapped & frozen tilapia.  And once again, grocery shopping has layers.  Instead of getting frustrated, I wish I felt more grateful for finding better and cheaper places to buy good food.  Lord, help this be so.  

Here's my little ritual of posting my menu for the upcoming week:

Lettuce-wrapped burgers, sweet potato fries
Cowboy breakfast skillet, melon
Spagetti Carbonara, smoothies
Tilapia, broccoli, fruit salad

Saturday, July 21, 2012

DIY A-Frame Tent For Kids

In the mood for a quick project for the kids?  Let me introduce the quick DIY A-frame.

When we realized that we would be sharing a hotel room with Burl during our crazy wedding weekend, I tried to figure out a way to make him a special space.  I saw this and thought it would be perfect.

I must have taken my crazy pill, because I can't believe I packed it in the mini and lugged it up our hotel room.  I definitely got some looks.  Back at home, it's been a big hit.  

The fabric was a $4.47 sheet from Walmart and the wood and PVC pipe was not much more than that.  I think it took John 30 minutes to build it, at most, and it took me about 5 minutes to attach the fabric while trying to keep Burl off of it.  

Very easy.  Very cheap.  Very fun.  Thank you Pinterest.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Barefoot Day

Yesterday was pretty great.  We had a wonderful time playing. at home. all day.  

I would like to ask those women of grown children what they remember about their time with babies?  When they think about their days taking care of toddlers, what is it that they picture?

I finally got the tripod working, so I have taught Burl how to stand behind the camera, push the button, and run jump in the picture.  He's so proud of himself when it works.

Recently I talked to someone with adult children and several grandchildren.  She was laughing as she told us what she remembers from those days: she had three or four children and a set of newborn twins.  The older children would pile in her lap and around her and on top of her with books as she nursed the babies (both at the same time).  She was laughing while she told it, and so was her adult daughter.  I asked her what she remembered about those days.  I can't remember what she said, but I remember she was smiling a lot and looked very happy.  Then, I asked her what kind of mom she was during that crazy time.  Was she a mom who let the standards slip and she just played with the kids, or did she run a tight ship and manage to do it all?

I respect this mom, and I know that whatever answer she gave that she did a good job raising her children.  This is how she responded: she paused for a moment and said, "I managed to do it all and get everything done and I regret it."  Meaning, she ran a tight ship and she wish she just rode the waves, and I get that.  

Yesterday, I rode the waves.  I let the day take us wherever it wanted.  Usually our days are a good balance of structure and unscheduled time, as well as staying in our home and going on fun or mundane outings (adventures or errands).  Rarely are we gone all day.  And once in a while, we'll have an entire day at home.   I think that's going to change.

Yesterday was full of joy and excitement, and I think that I'm going to try and enforce a little staycation into our lives every once and a while.  It's just too good not to.  

Sometimes he needs to take a break and just recline for a minute.

A key ingredient for a good day at home is having someone come over.  Burl is all about having friends over to play.  He's been known to ask for specific people to come to "uh my home."  Yesterday, I called my sister-in-law to see if she wanted to bring the kids over to play.  Burl's three cousins came over, and he enjoyed them so much, he always does.  This boy might look like his daddy, but his personality is all mama!  He needs his people, and he prefers family every time.  He might love some time at home, but he needs a good element of people to make it exciting.  

They were here for less than two hours, and Burl enjoyed it.  He talked about it after they left.  He told John what they played with while they were here.  To see Burl love and enjoy people is such a cool thing.  If there is something that this life is about, it's people.  People matter.  We need each other.  He's getting it.

Fern loves mealtime.  She also loves the camera.  She was being a bit somber, then I grabbed the camera to take a picture and she flashed this rowdy smile.

The other thing that he's getting is playtime.  Fern is too.  Fern is content to sit in the floor and go from toy-to-toy, putting them in her mouth.  I think that I can officially say that she is crawling now, but only short distances.  For the most part, she stays in a little plot of carpet and plays with nearby toys.  

Burl asked for his big boots.  Even though it messed with the title of this blog post, I allowed it.  It really completed the full scene of what he's doing here.  Collecting toys in the cart? Nope.  Loading sticks in the wheelbarrow.  

Burl, well he is getting more purposeful and more imaginative with his play.  Yesterday he made leaps and bounds.  With loads of unscheduled playtime, Burl sunk deeper and deeper into his imagination and intention.  He was busy.  All day long.  He was active.  All day long.  He played harder and better than I've ever seen him play.  I give the credit to time.  The more time he has to devote to playing, the more his mind can focus on the possibilities of his toys.

The next two pictures almost make me weep.  We were sitting in Burl's room, which we do often.  I'm usually sitting there with a cup of coffee, keeping an eye on what Fern puts in her mouth, and occasionally participating on whatever Burl asks me to do.  I used to feel bad that it was that easy to play with my kids.  I felt like I should be engaging both of them, sweeping their imaginations into the wonderful land of make-believe, and making them laugh and wonder how I got to be such a cool mom.  However, I've decided that it's ok to let them drive the car.  I sit there and enjoy them.  I watch them play.  When Burl wants me to be involved, I'm there to do it.  

Yesterday, I noticed that all the toys were off of Burl's shelves and on the floor and I thought it would be a funny picture to take of all those toys scattered on the floor.  I went in the hallway, got completely flat on the floor and snapped some pictures.  

Mamas out there: can I please beg you to take an awkward moment and get on the floor and take a picture like this?  Don't stand and point the camera down, don't squat low.  Put that tummy on the floor and get on their level.  It will melt your hearts.  I don't see the funny amount of toys on the floor.  I see those two babies of mine.  Being babies. On their level. 

This is what I think that I'm going to remember when they're grown.  Playing on the floor.  Toys everywhere.  They are just babies being babies and I love them for it.

When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I used to say barefoot and pregnant.  They laughed and I explained that I wanted to wear maternity dresses and have babies and children run around the house all day.  Yesterday was one of those days from my childhood dreams {except I'm currently not pregnant.}.  Besides my morning run and going to see the midnight showing of Batman {with the youth group at church-and losing a lot of sleep}, I was barefoot.  And it was great.

And those pretty hydrangeas that have showed up twice?  They're a fresh bouquet that I cut yesterday morning.  The debri on the table was left by the previous bouquet that died and fell apart.  I left the mess there and only replaced the flowers.  It's kinda of like a really lame symbol of the day: leave the mess and focus on the beautiful things.

In several years, I'm not going to remember the few little messes.  I'm going to remember {and very much miss} the sweet times we just played at home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Updated Pages

There are two pages that I've updated on my sidebar.  There is a page called My Family that I use to introduce husband and children, and there is a page called Me & My Blog where I talk about myself and why I blog.  They are both recently updated.  

{My Family}  

This is my family.  John, Me, Burl, and Fern.  While most like to say we're opposites, we'll tell you differently.  John is quiet and stable and strong, while I am loud and excited and energetic.  However, we both long for adventures, time with our children, having friends over for dinner, and to be more authentic in everything we do.  Read more...

{Me & My Blog}

There is a special place between two worlds.  It's between a girl who has dirt in her hair and lives on a farm off the grid and a girl who wears freshly pressed dresses and goes to fundraiser luncheons.  I want to live in that special place with my family.  Read more...

Between rewriting those pages and writing about my 31st birthday, I got a little worn out from being so focused on myself.  Woa.  I got a little bored and a little exhausted, but it also felt good to process all that by writing.  Feel free to read them, and again, thanks for reading my blog.

Monday, July 16, 2012

This 31st Birthday Of Mine

I'm coming off a pretty good weekend.  My birthday was Saturday, and like any other birthday, I scheduled a couple days of things that make me the happiest.  Here's the rundown.  

John asked me what I wanted for my birthday and here's what I said: a day swimming in blue holes with him, an external hard drive, a cool picture project for the house, and dinner with my family without the children.  That's basically what we did.  Friday he took a day off of work, which means a lot to me because he doesn't get many vacation days.  We dropped the kids off at his parents and went to Rainbow Lake.  

The last time we were there was about 9 years and 1 month ago.  That was when he proposed.  I remember going to Rainbow Lake several times while we were dating, but we haven't been back since.  

After an hour or two of hiking, we finally decided that we figured out where the spot was that he proposed.  It's the rock that we're standing on in the picture above.  I wasn't expecting to have that sweet memory, so I'm just giving birthday magic the credit for that one.  Sweet times.

Just like I always do, I got a little crazy in the woods.  It was early enough that there was a thin layer of mist on the trail, which is enough to have me making plans to hike there every single day.  It's too good not to.  Being outside like that is a slice of heaven in my mind, and it takes me about 3 minutes of hiking to be reminded of just how good it is for me to be there.  

There is something about walking down a path with dew coated branches brushing against me that makes me breath deeper and relax into every step that I take.  The feeling is somewhere between recharge and restart for me. 

Swinging bridges and chaco'd feet?  Yes please.  For at least 30 minutes, we kept asking ourselves why we don't do this more.  I started to think about those people who live at the beach.  Do you know people who are full time beachers?  I do.  They don't go to the beach much and it shocks me!  I try and figure out why they wouldn't go by to see the most grand and beautiful thing that covers this planet.  But, with all these mountains, trails, babbling brooks, someone could ask me the same thing about not going on little adventures.

Well, to those people, I would explain that there is no reason for at all.  I'm neglecting a big part of my need for creation and this weekend I made a little vow to myself.  To get out there.  More often.  Connect to the beauty that the Lord has created us to enjoy.  For those who crave mountains and trails and would throw their arms up at me because I don't get out there enough, I would say this: Sorry.  I understand now.  I'm going to change that.

After the trail, we grabbed some lunch, picked the kids up, headed home for a good, quiet afternoon of cat-napping and reading.

Friday night I went out.  I was invited to a sweet friend's baby shower.  Many of my friends were there, and it was just good, laid back fun.  I had arranged for a few of those friends to join me after the shower for a little girl-party time.  

With three of my friends, I enjoyed some night air under an outdoor ceiling fan, protected by a full screened-in porch.  Perfection.  We talked, we laughed, and we yawned big.  Staying up, talking until 1am, is no small feet for me.  I enjoyed every minute of it, but good heavens, we are lame.  And things are different these days.  I might say it's because I'm 31, but really I think that I go and do and play all day long, so when I stop and sit down, I just get sleepy.  

Yawns or no yawns, it was a great night and really fun for me.  I love the picture above of the feet.  I'm about the most casually-dressed person out of everyone I know and this picture is perfect evidence.  Plain feet and chacos?  That's my jam!  Painted nails and high sandals, that's my saucy friend.  

The next day was very laid back.  We had the whole morning to ourselves, playing with a new toy, being lazy, and living in PJ's.  

For lunch, we went to a local burrito place that gives free meals on your birthday.  We ran into James (Burl's best little buddy).  James' mom just had a birthday, but she missed it because she was busy giving birth to her daughter.  She came by to see if they would still honor her free birthday burrito, which they did.  It was such a treat to eat lunch with them.  

They even joined us for some creek time.  Right next to the burrito joint is a fun park with a cute little creek that has a little shade, a little sun, shallow water, and a few small boulders.  Creeks are the theme of our summer this year and this one was just perfect for some fun little birthday memories.

Burl's at a fun age of playing with a lot of expression.  He's a funny boy and what we call "rascally."  The faces he makes are so fun and I'm frequently catching a wide variety of them with me camera.  

Little Fern is just has happy as can be sitting on someone's hip.  She is totally content being in our arms and we bet that she could be there all day if our muscles would hold up.  We like to call her our little accessory, and we are known to pre-schedule who gets to hold her and for how long before we get to parties and such.

For dinner, my brothers and parents joined us at a new restaurant.  We left the kids home with a babysitter, and I got my family all to myself without my cute kids hogging the attention.  Not that I got a lot of attention nor a captive audience to many of my stories, but it's ok.  I got to focus all of my attention on listening to my rowdy brothers' stories and quotes of stand-up comedy routines.  I tried to tell them that they had to act interested in my stories since it was my birthday.  They didn't buy that line. In our little family, if you want to be the funny one, then you have to earn it.  That night, I gave up the fight and just laughed.

We all had a good laugh at my brother's little espresso.  They ragged me "for being that person" who took pictures inside, but that little mug in front of his arm is too funny.  I also played the birthday card and asked them to pose for a group shout.  Don't let those smiles fool you, I forced them to do this.  And they were less than eager to oblige.  

My smile was real.  I was happy.  I had a great birthday.  Part of the reason it was great is because inside I am full of joy.  This year has been the best year of my life.  I can honestly say that.  I've been doing a great deal of processing lately, so I've got some thoughts to share.  About this year.  About myself.  About this blog.  Hopefully, those things will be popping up in the week to come.  I'm ready to write.  I'm ready to share.  I'm ready for more.  31 really feels like the beginning, and what a great beginning it has been.