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zoodles!!

January 25, 2014

Did you know this little gadget can do fun things like make curly fries and vegetable noodles?

I found it for $28 last week on sale and jumped on it.  I’m on a moms’ message board I don’t check as often as I used to, but I always make time to look at the recipe section, and so many people raved about spiralizers, I decided to give it a try.  We made zucchini noodles tonight, and the kids ate them up!  So good.  It’s such a handy way to get in more veggies.  I’m hoping to do homemade sweet potato curly fries this week in my oven.  I know all of you Paleo people would use it to replace wheat noodles, but for me, the main motivation is just getting in another serving of veggies and giving some fresh ideas to my stale meal planning.

Jude loved turning the handle to create the “noodles” or zoodles as we called them.  Because it was our first try with this, I dumped marinara on top like usual spaghetti to appeal to the familiar.  (And they take 3 minutes to cook in a skillet, much faster than pasta.) We might branch out to other veggies soon.  Like this recipe, or this one, or this one.

spiralizing!!

Just passing along the recommendation.  Wild Saturday night here with veggie pasta and a blog update! Ha.  Happy weekend.

cold

January 24, 2014

January and February are never really my favorite months.  As I look back and see this,  I am reminded that seasons change and dreary skies turn to sunny ones eventually again.  I do the January doldrums every year, I suppose.  And I eventually recover.

But this year is especially cold in Atlanta.  (And everywhere, I guess.  Thanks, Polar Vortex.)  Single digits this morning and schools were even cancelled a couple of weeks ago due to such severe cold.  The ten-day forecast is not helping me feel better.  This is sticking around for a while.  Ugh.  Do I even have enough sweaters?  I guess I need to keep up on the laundry this winter.

I intend to check in about my January goals soon, but right now I am just going to vacation a moment in my old pictures.  Ahhh, summer sun.  I miss you.

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summer 2010

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Costa Rica, 2011

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Costa Rica, 2011

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Vancouver, July 2011

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Aruba, summer 2013

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Aruba, summer 2013

I hope you are staying warm wherever you are.  I am trying to enjoy the winter hibernation as best I can.  Lots of soup on the menu lately.  This one was new to me and I LOVED it earlier this week.  And this old favorite is making some reappearances as well.  Stay cozy, friends.

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January 2, 2014

January.  In some ways, this is my least favorite part of the year.  I am not a fan of cold weather, and I love the holidays.  It’s always just a little bit of a let-down as you slowly get back in the swing of things with real life schedules again.  We are currently enjoying the final day of vacation time before we all head back to work and school routines tomorrow.  The kids and I could use a trial run on a Friday before doing the real thing next week, so I like the opportunity to go back tomorrow and then having a weekend to get used to the idea.

Looking back at all of my January posts on this blog from 2011 onward, I am really good at making plans and resolutions, but not so consistent about keeping all of them.  (Some of them, yes!  But not all.)  This year, I’ve run through a long mental list of all the things I hope to accomplish ….. I want to write more here and get back into gratitude journaling.  I want to somehow create a routine that allows more space and time for myself.  I want to get my house in shape and my organization on track here at home.  I want to begin to teach my kids some good habits and make health a priority for all of us.  I want to continue to learn more about food and nutrition and use that knowledge in my own kitchen.  I want to work on making this house a home and tackle my blank-slate backyard this summer.  And my list goes on and on.

All of those things really stem from using my time more efficiently and intentionally and making thoughtful goals that get real progress.  Long-term goals are hard for me with two little kids in tow.  It’s all I can do to meal plan on a weekly basis, and I find it hard to plan much farther than month-to-month. I’m hoping to use this space as a place to set some goals and reflect on those plans – and maybe share some ideas with you as well.

So I guess my plan is to write more on this blog and to make thoughtful monthly goals expressly stated here to hold me accountable.  Some of these goals will undoubtedly be boring (drink more water, anyone?) and others more interesting. But one thing I’ve learned is that saying something aloud – whether that is in person or in print – makes it far more likely that I’ll accomplish something.

My January List:

  • Drink more water.
  • Spend a few hours on Sunday afternoons doing healthy food prep – baking bread, pre-chopping veggies, getting healthy lunch options in the refrigerator.
  • Get Jude on track with a chore chart.  (Ironically, we attempted this long before he was really capable, and I have not done it since he’s been old enough to actually contribute.)
  • Do one load of laundry every evening when we get home. (This one is boring but so huge for me.  Laundry has been burying me since I went back to work, and I’m sadly realizing I cannot save it all for the weekends.)
  • Put away my phone and computer after the kids are in bed each night, and use my time intentionally to do something I really want to do – knit, read, watch television, etc.  I can’t create more hours in the day, but I can use them a little more efficiently to carve some space for myself.

Thanks for reading or skimming along and holding me accountable. I hope you’re using January to stay warm with family and set some solid intentions for the months to come.  Happy 2014!

2013 – Looking Back

December 30, 2013

I am a sucker for year-end posts and reflections, and what a year it’s been.  I know that is the trite thing to say when December closes, but really this has been quite a year for me.  So many changes.  We moved to a new home, and I started working again, and our day-to-day lives are so different because of those decisions.  And of course my kids are at those ages where they grow and change with each passing week.  It’s amazing and terrifying all at once.

I’ve loved watching milestones happen with that same happy-sad feeling that comes with motherhood.

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There have been exciting trips and special occasions.

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But they were punctuated by those everyday moments which are just as sweet.

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Everyday exploring and regular life-living can feel mundane in the moment itself, but not so much as we look back.

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Cuddle buddies

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So many prayers and hopes for the new year. Health and growth for my family. Personal growth, too. But more gratitude and contentment above all else, I think.

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“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” – Walt Whitman

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Christmas Morning Breakfast Casserole

December 29, 2013

Christmas morning is pretty sacred around here.  We feel lucky to have both sides of family living close to us, and the holidays can be busy with lots of time with extended family.  So we stay put on Christmas morning until about 3:00 in the afternoon when we head over to my in-laws.  I want to make the most of that time and play with the kids rather than staying in the kitchen the whole time.

For the past few years, my Christmas breakfast menu has been these cranberry-orange scones I bake a day or two before, my favorite breakfast casserole, and mimosas.  It’s a meal that is simple, but it feels special despite the fact that I prepare all of it the day before.

This breakfast casserole is my absolute favorite.  The bread gives it some structure and crunch, so it doesn’t feel like eating a plate of scrambled eggs.  It’s from an old church cookbook my grandmother gave me.  Enjoy!

Breakfast Casserole

6 slices of toast, cubed

1 lb of sausage (I’ve used pork and chicken), browned and drained

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups milk

4 eggs

crushed cornflakes (optional)

Brown sausage and drain well.  Layer sausage, bread cubes, and grated cheese until it is all used.  (I manage 2 layers in a 8×11 pan.) Beat eggs with milk and some salt and pepper.  Poor over other ingredients, cover, and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, bake it for 45 minutes at 350.  When you’ve got about 14 minutes left, feel free to add a few crushed cornflakes (or extra cheese!) on the top if you have them.

It’s delicious and super easy.  A holiday tradition around here.

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I hope to be back in a few days to collect my thoughts on 2013.  Happy end of the year to you and yours!

Merry Christmas!

December 26, 2013
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I ended the day yesterday with a few quiet moments as Norah slept and Jude and Scott were somehow still building with Legos.  (At 10:26 pm!)  I had time to take a look at photos from the camera while deliberately ignoring the heaps of toys and mess all over the house. There were very few still and quiet moments this year with two kids at these ages.  I find myself wanting to record a few details about this Christmas before I forget and life speeds to another season.

Christmas Eve had us at my grandparents’ home.  I have spent every single Christmas Eve of my life there, not even missing one.  The same house, the same faces and voices – rooms full of loud cousins and noisy siblings.  Norah and Jude fed off the excitement the same way I did as a child, and watching them brought back so many of my own memories.

Try as we might to get children to understand the meaning of the season, it is PRESENTS PRESENTS PRESENTS at these ages, and I am totally okay with it. What better way to learn to understand love and generosity than to first understand what a joy it is to receive and give? They were so enthused about each and every package this year.

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I watched them with their cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Family ties feel so much stronger during the holidays somehow, don’t they?

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By the time we got home Christmas Eve, it was something like 9:30. Add getting the kids in bed and the car unloaded, and I felt depleted. But the second you start getting ready to play Santa, you get a burst of energy because really and truly, there are not many things about parenthood that are as fun as Christmas morning. That unadulterated joy and genuine excitement when two pajama-clad kids walk down the stairs? Priceless.

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I found an awesome play teepee on Land of Nod, and Norah’s toys were mostly baby dolls this year with a stroller and a cradle, while Jude got Lego sets and Transformers which have only allowed him to come downstairs for a moment to grab lunch. He LOVES building sets and such. It astounds me. For a moment, I think I got a glimpse of what Christmas morning will feel like in another five years when they rip into presents and stay busy all day while I crack open a book for some leisure time (what is that!?) This year had me burping and feeding baby dolls until Norah’s nap time though. I’m okay with the attention she needs seeing how fast Jude has grown and how independent he has become this year.

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After naptime, we headed over to my in-laws for round three. Lots of craziness with four under five, but they loved it.

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It’s such an intense season of parenting we’re in right now. But I know for certain that God sees it best to reward your extra efforts with such big doses of magic. Am I sleep-deprived and exhausted and rarely organized? Yes. But these years of believing in magic without question and being so impressed with even the tiniest toys and gifts? I know they are short, and while my holidays will be far more relaxed one day soon enough, I get to see Christmas through the eyes of these two right now, and it really is a pretty magical sight.

Happy Christmas to you and yours, and I wish you the best in the last days of 2013. The end of the year always has me a little reflective and, honestly, a little sad. Life is sweet, and each year is precious. Make the most of this one. Happy Holidays, friends! Praying for peace on Earth and in the hearts of all of us.

officially holiday’ing!

December 8, 2013

On Friday, I graded my last exam as I  hurriedly inhaled a sandwich at my desk.  As I began my position in August, it felt like SO MUCH  desk time and many office hours compared to my previous teaching days in a high school setting.  I thought I’d always be caught-up and that grading would never feel like a push.  It hasn’t turned out that way entirely though.  Between Writing Center tasks and other odds and ends that come up, it still feels like a push to get all the grading done at the end of the semester.  And when that last one was finished?  Such a feeling of relief.  I am staring at four full weeks of a break, and I’m excited to slow down and do a little bit of nothing and keep whatever pace we feel up to.  As always, I can’t help but keep a list of goals in my head and consider all the things that need attention right now – specifically house projects that never happened after the move.  But really, they are not essential and whatever gets done will be.  Whatever doesn’t, doesn’t.  I’m just ready to relax and enjoy the last bit of the year with my little family.

We had a great Thanksgiving, and Jude helped – truly helped – with a few kitchen tasks as I prepared a ton of food for family.  He has always loved helping in the kitchen, but recently it really is a true help unlike the “help” a toddler can give.  I’ll give him a bowl and a spoon and he can stir something while I move on to another dish.  Or the other night we made muffins for his teachers, and he actually portioned out all the muffin liners and the batter on his own.  It’s so fun to watch, and he is ridiculously proud when he makes something.  I love his interest in food and his genuine desire to help.

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We also saw a great production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with some friends at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta last weekend. It was awesome, and I definitely suggest it to anyone with kids in Atlanta.  Norah was squirmy as expected, but Jude loved it.  I know next year she’ll follow it more closely, and I’d love to make it an annual tradition.  We got to follow the production with a workshop making puppets.  This snow monster has been played with constantly since, and Jude even wrote “puppets” on his Santa list earlier this week.

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Other than that, the last week has been mostly full of Elf on a Shelf shenanigans (so fun this year!) and time spent at home.

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I’m looking forward to more of that in the days and weeks to come. Cookie baking, present wrapping, Santa planning, and reflecting on the year that’s passed. There’s so much to enjoy in the Advent season – especially with kids these ages. Magic is so real to them, and it’s a joy to watch.

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