Neva Lou and change

 I found this post in my drafts and wanted to publish it. I realize it's still relevant and a lesson in my parenting of Neva. She's almost three now. We gave up the paci and never looked back. And however reluctant I am to propel change with her, she always handles it well. The shift to a toddler bed, the paci, diapers. I hold off thinking she's not ready, but she always is. Maybe it's last child syndrome. I was so ready for Gracie to tackle new things. But I kinda want Neva to stay my baby. 

Neva. She's always been a bit reluctant to change.  Or so I tell myself. She's a bit more sensitive than Grace and a lot more stubborn. She spent the first two years of her life either in my arms OR begging to be back in them. 

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We got rid of Gracie's pacifier early. Right around a year. She started waking up in the middle of the night and crying for the paci and so I collected them and threw them away. And that was that. 

Neva, on the other hand, is two and a half and until this weekend, she still used her pacifier at naps and at nighttime. We set deadlines and they passed. "Oh, we'll do it after that trip to Chicago." Then she'd get sick. "Oh, after the wedding in Seattle." Then we were moving. So on and so forth. Somehow we got here. To two and half with a pacifier that she's very, very attached to. 

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She is only allowed to use it during sleeping times but occasionally, I'd walk past her room and I'd see her take a quick paci hit...a couple of quick sucks...and back under the pillow. We knew it was time to move on but I was reluctant to deal with the transition.  It was the first thing she looked for when climbing into bed. It was her lovey.

The other night, Donovan put the girls to bed and Neva couldn't find her paci and Donovan didn't help her search for it. I would have been stomach down on the floor, arms flailing through the dust bunnies under the bed but not Donovan.  He told her we'd find it in the morning. She said "okay" and went to sleep.

WHAT? She didn't cry and moan? She didn't come out begging for us to find the paci? She just went to sleep? Yep.  

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She woke up a few times requesting it but slept pretty well over all. I just told her I'd find it in the morning. And then morning came, and we didn't bother to look for it. So she went to bed the next night and we had the same conversation. We'd find it tomorrow, probably. But tomorrow came and went and we decided this was the time. Because we'd talked a lot about the "paci fairy" coming, I bought her a little stuffed animal and book and tucked it into her bed when she wasn't looking. We wrote a little note and waited for her to find it.

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I wish I had a picture of it. "Wook Gwacie! Wook at what I got!" Her smile was, is, contagious. We've made a conscious effort to stop buying stuff over the past year and that makes these moments special. Because she rarely gets new toys, when she does, it really means something. 

At least for a few hours.  

It makes me feel like our attempt to slow down and cut back, to replace our stuff with experiences, is really paying off. I like buying stuff for my kids. My family. My house. But it feels so much better when it feels meaningful.

i can't believe my baby is almost three.  

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Brown Rice Bowl with Chicken and Ginger Scallion Sauce

My friend TL inspired me to try meal planning again. She and her husband cook a lot, even with a newborn, and they eat good food. And they spend such a ridiculously small about of money on groceries compared to us, I am almost embarrassed to compare! We are feeding two additional mouths but even taking that into consideration, we spend A LOT of money on food. While we chatted, I figured (again) that my issue with food and money is that I don't plan well enough. I will run out and buy something for dinner even though I have plenty of adequate options in my fridge. And the problem with running to the store everyday, is that inevitably, I fill my cart with things we really don't need.

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Anyway, I digress. Last week, I bought a pound of pre-cooked chicken breast meat from Costco. I had walked in looking for a rotisserie chicken but they are renovating the kitchen and there weren't any available. Go figure! Anyway, our friend was sick and I wanted to make chicken noodle soup and I wanted to do it quickly, so I walked out with all this precooked meat. I made the soup (it was amazing because I had homemade broth) and then let the other 3/4 lb sit in the fridge for few days. It seemed like a good opportunity to make a change so I made up a chicken pot pie on Monday. I was so close (like SO SO SO close) to not using the rest of it last night, but reminded myself how much money I could save by just eating chicken one.more.time this week.

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What I came up with wound up being so delicious, I wanted to share it here. When I walked in, it was almost 6 o'clock so I threw on a pot of brown rice while I sorted out the rest of my plan. I took out the rest of the pre-cooked chicken and chopped it into smaller pieces and reheated it quickly. Then I made this BLOW YOUR MIND ginger scallion sauce I found a while back on Dinner A Love Story. Jenny puts it on salmon (which I've tried and it's awesome) but it worked just as well, if not better, with plain chicken. The chicken and brown rice are so simple that they don't overpower the sauce which is full of fresh, Asian flavors.

Brown Rice Bowl with Chicken and Ginger Scallion Sauce

(the sauce is from Dinner A Love Story which was adapted from a Momofuku recipe)

  • Cooked brown rice
  • Shredded rotisserie chicken (or any leftover chicken)
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 inch minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil (grapeseed, canola)
  • 2 tbsp soy or gluten free tamari
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • a few dashes fish sauce
  • 8-10 chopped mint leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnishes: sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, sriacha

Cook the brown rice according to the package directions and then combine with shredded chicken. For the sauce, combine the rest of the ingredients and use as much as you like, to taste, with your combination of chicken and rice.

It's a delicious, simple meal. The flavors are superb and elevate this dish to something pretty special.

Anyway, these are phone pictures. Sorry for that. I'm having some camera confusion/issues and it's causing me not to post. But I figured, let's just embrace the imperfection. Like those oil bubbles in the soy sauce up there.

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The aftermath of Stitch Fix Box #5

So yesterday I posted about Stitch Fix and I wanted to share the come to Jesus moment I had after reading your comments. I did a lot of thinking about it last night. (I am generally an overthinker anyway ;) )Although I love the idea behind Stitch Fix and not having to shop in a traditional store, using their service doesn't align with the way I'd like to live. I've spent some time simplifying my closet. Getting rid of extraneous pieces and cutting back on what I buy. I'm working hard not to be lured by the clearance rack at Target (ohhh, but those tanks would be so cute!) or the sales at stores like Gap or Old Navy. I've committed, in my head, to trying to buy high quality, ethically made pieces as much as possible.  At the very least, since I'm not in a place to afford much of anything new right now - especially high quality pieces, I can buy second hand and fix up the things I own.

 

So here goes. Some of my items are handpicked by a stylist. Not all but some. And while I appreciate the fact that Stitch Fix is a growing business with a huge clientele and is probably suffering from some growing pains, I liked the idea that I had someone picking things out for me personally. Picked especially for ME.  I hoped my stylist could look at my Pinterest style board and my feedback about the items I sent back and pick  things that pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit. I like stylish things. I just don't know how to buy them. And apparently, Stitch Fix doesn't know how to send them. A denim jacket? A white cardigan? A striped tee shirt? I'm totally capable of picking these items out myself. (And at a much better price point).

The things I kept that excited me (a black and white striped maxi dress, a polka dotted dress and a silk sleeveless blouse and a few necklaces) have only been worn a handful of times. And so although I was excited about the items because "I never would have picked that for myself," I've realized there's something to that notion. There's a REASON I wouldn't have picked those things. They don't fit into my day to day life as a stay at home mom. The maxi dress needs heels. The necklaces get tugged on by my children. And the silk blouse, well hell, it's dry clean only. Yeah, right. I can't remember the last time I ironed something. There's no way I'm going to the dry cleaners.

Additionally, because I pay a $20 styling fee, I've felt compelled to keep items from so so boxes.  I'll shell out an additional $20-30+ so as not to lose that initial $20 investment only to add more clutter to my closet. I've worked hard to pare down my closet to things I really love (well, I'm WORKING on it) and adding things that are "just okay" doesn't mesh with the vision I have for my wardrobe.

And last, but not least (I should probably put this up at the top), I'm trying hard to buy ethically and sustainably made items. That means companies who support their employees with good working conditions and living wages. I haven't researched the brands I've purchased through Stitch Fix but I'd bet that at least some of them were made by people in terrible working conditions. Most of the items I've received were from developing countries.

So, there we have it. I sent all five items back yesterday. I've been lucky enough to have enough referral credits to support most of my purchases so far but I'm done now. I see the company's place in the online market and support what they're doing. But I can say, with a little self reflection, that it's not the right subscription for me.

 

Stitch Fix #5

This month's Stitch Fix crept up on me! Maybe it was because we were on vacation with Donovan's family but it felt like I just got a box and then, bam, there's another one at my door! This is my fifth box. I feel like my relationship with the clothing has been very up and down. I love one box and am then wildly disappointed by the next. I wish that I could say that the feedback I gave them just meant my boxes kept getting better and better but it hasn't been the case. Here's what I got this month.

Stitch Fix Papermoon Waters Diamond Maxi Dress

Papermoon Waters Diamond Print Maxi Dress

The dress is comfortable but I didn't think it was very flattering. Plus, I'm 5'3'' and it felt a bit short even in flats. It looked really silly paired with wedge heels. The high neckline made it feel a bit too conservative to me even though I liked the print. I was also a little bummed that it was a rayon/spandex mix because I specifically requested natural fibers. $78

Pomelo Benny Tiered Skirt

Pomelo Benny Tiered Swing Skirt

I don't wear a lot of skirts but this one is comfortable and practical for my day to day life. I think I'd get a lot of wear out of it (in either heels or flats). My concern is that I kept a long sleeve tee from the Pomelo brand last month and even though I didn't dry it in the dryer, it didn't seem to wash up well. It shrunk a bit and now fits funny. Plus, I think $58 seems steep for such a simple skirt AND it's recommended that you dry clean it. I don't mind paying a bit more money for something basic if it's made in an ethical and sustainable manner - but this seems like something I could grab at Old Navy or Target for less than $30. What do you think?

Ezra Evita Print Back Mixed Material Top

Ezra Evita Print Back Mixed Material Top

I didn't like this top at first because the white material in front seemed kind of clingy and my bra line showed in an awkward way but once I put a camisole on, it grew on me. I like pattern and that it's longer in back. My friend TL and I were chatting about it (she also took the photos for me - THANK YOU!) and agreed that we wouldn't spend $48 on this top normally but might through Stitch Fix. It's like at Anthro where you try on a $50 shirt that seems too expensive but then you don't hesitate to buy one that's $39 on the sale rack. The convenience of Stitch Fix makes me a bit looser with my pricing.

Baggu Melanie Canvas Bag and Mak Jaclynn Cardigan

Baggu Melanie Canvas Bag and Mak Jaclynn 3/4 Sleeve Button Up Cardigan

The bag is a cute print but too small for the beach (which my stylist recommended it for) and overpriced at $38.

The cardigan is something I had WAY too many of in my working days. I use Stitch Fix for many reasons but the primary reason is that I like that they pick out things I wouldn't normally pick out for myself. This is something I would have bought in the past but not now. $38 seems pricy, once again, and the fit is too snug (the buttons pull across the chest).

At this point, I'm torn on whether or not to continue using the service. It's been beneficial in a lot of ways. I don't love shopping and it's easy and exciting to have someone send you a box of clothes each month. But I hate the idea of losing my $20 styling fee and so I feel compelled to keep something EVEN if I don't love it. My willingness to be loose on pricing because of the convenience bothers me too. Thus far, I've been lucky enough to have referral credits to apply toward purchases. (Stitch Fix awards a $25 credit for every person who purchases a box through your unique link - thank you to those of you have used mine). Eventually, I imagine I'll run out of people to stop referring to the service.

That's to decide later though. Any thoughts on the pieces I got this month? If you have your own Stitch Fix post, please leave it in the comments! I love to see what other people are receiving.

On Asking for Help

Yesterday I woke up to two crying little girls. My mood was affected and I spent the morning short tempered and tired. As we drove to our afternoon play date, I took the toll road so I could cruise through the hills with the windows down and no traffic. We listened to Blood on the Tracks. The sun was warm, my hair blowing like crazy, and the girls were singing in the backseat. Good music and driving with the windows down almost always makes me happy and yesterday was no exception.

When we got off the highway, I noticed that we had a flat tire. Asking for help isn't something I'm particularly good at. There are times I want help (like with the dishes or bathing the kids) and then there are the times I need it. I don't need help all that often. But this was one of those times. I don't really know how to change a tire (although I've watched Donovan do it a million times), I had the girls with me, it was warm out and I was forty minutes from home. I called Donovan, even though I knew he was busy, and somewhat sheepishly asked for a hand. I felt a bit ashamed - not to ask for help - but because I had been unreasonably grumpy in the morning. Without making a big thing of it, he said he'd be out there soon. 

My friend Misha, who I was meeting at the play date, drove over to the parking lot with her three kids. My kids climbed in her car and they watched a show and waited with amazing patience. Although Misha knew how to change a tire (when she got there I had the owner's manual out trying to teach myself), and we fumbled through taking the spare off, we waited for Donovan to do the rest. Although she didn't have to, she waited with me and I am thankful for that. I wouldn't have asked her flat out (because I really suck at saying I need help) but I felt needy and I didn't want to sit in that parking lot alone. She stayed. Donovan came and changed the tire in the way he does (in like four minutes). He's had A LOT of practice.

It was a moment that could have created strife. We had five kids in a hot parking lot. My husband had an incredibly busy day (and I'm VERY thankful that he was able to sneak away to help me). But oddly, it left me feeling closer to both of them.

Needing help and having to ask for it made me feel vulnerable. Even with my husband who I could and would ask for help in any situation. But even with my husband or a good friend, asking for help is a gesture of intimacy. And it made me wonder how my relationships might change if it was something I felt more comfortable doing. If I was more comfortable with vulnerability.

Brene Brown wrote, "Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”  Something to think about, I think.

Do you ask for help easily? How do you think it affects your relationships?

P.S. Those photos aren't from yesterday. They're just a couple of old photos I have of Donovan changing tires because he does a lot of it. Maybe I should take step by step photos next time ;)
 

Prescribe Nutrition - Kids Rule

Better late than never, right?

About a month ago, I finished a two week program with Katie and Megan at Prescribe Nutrition. It was all about resetting the way you eat and they led our group through a gentle and totally manageable detox. I'm excited to share more about it soon but wanted to let you all know that they have a program starting today.

It's called Kids Rule and it's all about extending healthy eating habits right on down to the littlest people in your life. Click on the image below to find more information and to register.

And if you decide to move forward (I should say WHEN you decide, it's so totally worth it) my friend Stacy has a promotional code on the sidebar of Kids Stuff World.

Hello.

Oh gosh, life has been fun and busy and complicated. Donovan, the girls, and I went to spend some time in Florida with family. I love it there. His family has been visiting this island outside of Fort Myers for decades and I'm honored to be a part of the tradition. There isn't much to do in the traditional sense. We drink coffee and spend time on the boat and fish. We have cocktails ("tension tamers") every afternoon and freshly caught fish and bottles of red wine for dinner.

There is an island we visit by boat. Sometimes there are manatees in the water next to us. We usually see dolphins on the way. We park near a dilapidated dock and traipse through the mangroves (it feels a bit like a jungle) and when you get to the other side, there is white sand and blue green water and miles of empty beach. The big kids swim and the little ones look for shells and build sand castles. The moments are so full and rich that there is no cause for blogging or social media.

Cayo Costa

I traveled back to California with the girls on my own, braving an eleven hour travel day. They were amazing. Having a copy of Frozen on your iPad helps things.

Although Florida was perfect, it's always so nice to be home. The air in California is so crisp and the skies are so blue. You can close your eyes and let the wind blow through your hair and maybe, in what might be your imagination, there is the smell of saltwater and for the moment, a feeling of immortality.

Neva Lou: Sidecar Doughnuts

And then you realize, you're home. The girls play toys because they're all new again after 10 days away. You get back to your routine. You get hit with a migraine that leaves you laid up for the entire day. In the evening, you ask your husband to open the blinds because the light is soft and you watch the sky fade from blue to purple while the leaves of the tree blow in the breeze. By the next morning, you're mostly well and it's preschool and playdates and back to cooking dinner and washing dishes and dancing on bubble wrap until it stops popping.

Life is really good. On vacation. Here at home. Even the things that aren't good, and there are some, don't feel as threatening. I want to live in this moment where the past and the future are abstractions to ignore.

Gracie: Sidecar Doughnuts

Until tomorrow. Or maybe next week, xoxo.

Homemade Granola with Figs and Currants

Getting all prepped for a trip across the country with little kids is a lot of work. Trying to eat healthy with them on said trip is nearly impossible. I'll be sharing some more tips for eating healthy while traveling with kids soon over on Kids Stuff World but for now, know this granola is delicious both on the ground at 30,000 feet above sea level.

It's simple to make, full of protein and other goodness, and perfectly munchable. It's easy to swap in whatever nuts or dried fruit you have on hand. I use maple syrup because I like it better than honey but those are easily swapped too.

fig currant granola
Fig Currant Granola

 

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 3 cups of rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened flaked coconuts
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped figs (unsulphered, no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup currants

WHAT TO DO

  1. Heat coconut oil over low heat until melted. Add maple syrup and vanilla and heat until warmed through.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, pecans, almonds, and coconut with the pinch of salt and cinnamon. Stir until combined.
  3. Pour maple syrup mixture into the oat mixture and stir until coated.
  4. Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet and place in oven at 350 degrees.  Stir every 5-10 minutes until toasted (approximately 20-25 minutes).
  5. Once the granola is cooled, add dried fruit (substitute in whatever dried fruit you like but make sure there is no additional sugar added).
  6. Enjoy with some yogurt and fresh fruit, in a bowl with almond milk, or just a handful as you walk through the kitchen.
fig and current granola

Broiled Lamb Chops with Herbs de Provence

One of the things I've learned over the past few weeks of my Prescribe Nutrition RESET 14 program is that it's really important to eat nutritionally dense meals. Protein is important and so are healthy vegetables. Since we've basically cut out pastas and breads, we've been eating a bit more meat than typical. We bought these lamb chops at the Farmer's Market this weekend and didn't get to cooking them because we wound up at the beach all day Sunday (I know, tough life, right??).

Broiled Lamb Chops with Herbs de Provence

Since it was a Monday and my husband was working late, I didn't feel like lighting up our charcoal grill. He's the expert griller and although I'm competent, I'm also a bit lazy by six o'clock, so I decided to just make them in the broiler. This recipe was inspired by Jacques Pepin's Broiled Lamb recipe. It called for fresh herbs and since I didn't have any on hand, I just throw on some herbs de provence. It's one of my favorite ways to season lamb.

Broiled Lamb Chops with herbs de provence

I had six bone-in lamb chops each weighing about 1/4 pound. I let them sit at room temperature while I oven roasted some purple potatoes and steamed some green beans. Then I seasoned them with the herbs de provence and freshly cracked pepper. I dipped each side in olive oil I had poured on the plate and then salted them with kosher salt. When the broiler was ready, I cooked them about 3 minutes on each side and they came out perfectly medium rare. We use an instant read thermometer (LIFE CHANGING TOOL - this is America's Test Kitchen recommendation and it's amazing. After all, why spend a ton of money on high quality, organic meat and then risk ruining it?) and took them out at 115 degrees*. Let them rest for about five minutes and then enjoy. A simple way to make an absolutely delicious and healthy weeknight dinner

Broiled Lamb Chops with Herbs de Provence

This allowed for two lamb chops per adult and one for each of the girls. It's not a ton of meat per person so adjust accordingly depending on your appetite and the number of people you're serving.

Broiled Lamb Chops with Herbs de Provence

slightly adapted from Essential Pepin by Jacques Pepin

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 6-8 bone-in loin lamb chops
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp herbs de provence
  • black pepper and salt to taste

WHAT TO DO

  1. Season your lamb with black pepper and herbs de provence. Dip each side in olive oil.
  2. Place them on a cookie sheet covered in tin foil. Place them in the broiler about 4-5 inches from the heat.
  3. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 115 degrees for medium rare and 135 degrees medium.

*The USDA recommends cooking lamb to 160 degrees. We follow the temperature recommendations in Kurt Beecher Dammeir's Pure Flavor.

Kid Made Modern Ukulele Craft

Although I'm trying to stay out of Target (I am, I swear!), I popped into today to grab some things for our upcoming trip. I almost made it out without any superfluous purchases when I stumbled on these cute ukulele crafts from Kid Made Modern. I've almost bought them before (when they were $17 and then $12) but when I saw they had been marked down to $5, I couldn't pass them up.

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One of the things I struggle with when crafting with my kids is that the crafts are almost always instantly forgotten once we're done making them. The cute rainbow with Fruit Loops got tossed a few days after making it. Same with the almost everything else we craft. So I liked this because for $5, not only did we get to make something, we were also left with a really fun ukulele.

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The box says ages 6+ and it's probably because it includes non-washable paints. It's also kind of hard to paint under the strings. I did most of the painting but the girls had fun picking the colors and decorating them with stickers afterward. There are stencils included to add names or words. If you're looking for a cheap, fun activity, hurry in and see if your Target has any left. I grabbed the last two on the clearance rack.

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In case you are wondering, you are singing Let it Go. Duh. 

Happy Monday. Xoxoxo.  

 

One simple thing // 05 // green ice cubes

If you like smoothies and find yourself with some extra greens in your fridge, blend them with some water and pop them in an ice cube tray. When they're frozen, pop them in a plastic bag and save them to throw in a green smoothie. So much better than letting those greens die a slow death and having to pitch them, right? Plus, you get an extra cold smoothie. 

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Have a fabulous weekend. xoxo. 

Stitch Fix time again!

It's been a few months since I shared a Stitch Fix box with you but I've got a pretty solid line up of items. And I had the most adorable little four year old helping to take my pictures. It's amazing how capable and willing her little hands are. She kept snapping away, looking at the photo preview, saying "oh, yes. good job, mom." Thanks, Gracie.

Stitch Fix takes the mystery out of shopping. The gist of it is that you fill out an online style profile and then they send you some items they think you will like. If you like them, fabulous. Keep them and they'll charge you. If you don't like them, no big deal - send them back. (There is a $20 styling fee per box which can be applied to the purchase). I thought the first box was pretty good (considering it was the first time around too!), the second box was great, the third box was underwhelming and ill fitting, and this is my fourth box. Although I was disappointed by the third box, the stylists were really receptive to my feedback and we sent a few emails back and forth so I could clarify what I liked. They took me seriously and I appreciated it. Good, receptive customer service is such a wonderful thing.

Stitch Fix Review

Mavi Gold Aiden Ankle Length Skinny Jean & 41 Hawthorn Garner Sleeveless Silk Mixed Print Blouse

First, I am shocked these jeans fit me. But they did and that made me happy. I've really changed my diet in the past few weeks and this might be motivation to look at the cleanse I've been doing as a permanent life change and not just an interlude. (But seriously if I even smell a slice of pizza...I might cave). I like the jeans. I don't own skinny jeans like these and am seriously considering keeping them. I also love the blouse. I tend to wear a lot of cotton but this silk blend is really soft. I would have never tried this on in the store and that's one of the major benefits of a service like Stitch Fix. They get you in something other than your normal stuff.

Stitch Fix Review

Pomelo Downing Knit Stripe Shirt

Oh, what's that? Did I say normal clothing? Well, they hit my style right on the head because if you put a striped cotton tee in front of me, chances are I will buy it. It's a bit more expensive than I'd pay normally for a tee but it's comfy and cute. Undecided.

Stitch Fix

YUMI Jodie Chambray Dot Print Fit and Flare Dress

What's that? I look WHAT?

No, I'm not pregnant.

I want to like this dress and even though it wouldn't fit into every day wear for me, I thought it would be a good addition to my closet. I tried it on with these yellow sandals and a mustard cardigan and it was cute. I'm telling you, though, in every single photo but this one, I looked like I was rocking a 16 week belly. Here I'm like 12 weeks. I don't know if it's just that the thin belt/flared skirt is unflattering on me or the belt rode up in a funny way or I just didn't look in the mirror before walking outside but this is the only shot I even kind of liked. What do you think? Yes....no?

Rosemary Trio Floral Bib Neckace by Bay to Baubles

I own approximately ten pieces of jewelry. I like this and think it would be cute with some boyfriend jeans and a tank. And there's the dress again.

I'd love to know what you think of the pieces. I count on other people's opinions (like it or hate it, it's just a truth about me. Hello Libra.). And if you click on any of the Stitch Fix links, it will bring you to the start up page. It will also credit me with a referral fee at no cost to yourself (only if you actually order a box). Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave your impressions of Stitch Fix in the comments.

And the photographer kept snapping away :-)

Homemade Cashew Butter

One of the things I've started to realize in the past few months is how easy it is to make your own pantry staples. I mean, sure, it takes a bit of time but the quality is incomparable. The only downside is the dishes. For every twenty minutes I spend cooking or baking something, I swear I spend at least double that amount of time on dishes.

Dishes come and dishes go....just not quite as quickly as this delicious cashew butter with coconut.

I originally discovered cashew butter through this Milk Chocolate Version on How Sweet It Is. Since I've cut sugar, gluten, and dairy for two weeks, I decided to start brainstorming ways to liven up (both in flavor profile and nutritional content) my snacks. There are lots of great things about cashews - they're full of good fat and fiber, have no cholesterol, and lots of magnesium (which I've recently discovered protects against migraines....and let's face it, headaches are the worst, right?).

I'm told you can do this in your "high powered blender" but I was nervous when I put it in my Vitamix. It didn't mix up right and I had to scrape it A LOT and I kept thinking the motor was going to burn out. So I just moved it into my food processor and have made it there since. It worked better for me.

Coconut Cashew Butter

Start with raw cashews. The middle picture shows the cashews after about 3 1/2 minutes - kind of like a chunky cashew flour. The last picture is at 9 minutes, it's more like butter but not quite smooth enough. After a few more minutes, 3 for me so 12 minutes total, I wound up with a warm, creamy, smooth cashew butter.

Coconut Cashew Butter

At this point, I added some shredded coconut and turned the food processor on high for another 3 minutes. You can continue processing until it's your desired smoothness. I don't mind a bit of texture.

And that's it. Wham, bam, you've got cashew butter.

I spread this on apples or oat muffins, turn my girls' lunches into CB&J's, and sometimes just take a spoonful walking by. It's crazy creamy and delightful. I added coconut to my version because it adds a bit of sweetness and because coconut is amazing. You can just as easily leave it out if you disagree.

 

Coconut Cashew Butter

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 2 cups of raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut

WHAT TO DO

 

  1. Add 2 cups of cashews to the food process, scraping the sides down as needed, for approximately 12 minutes or until the cashews are smooth and buttery.

  2. Add 1/4 cup of coconut to the cashew butter and process until smooth.

One Simple Thing / 04 / Cleaning glass shower doors

This is a really little thing that has completely changed my bathroom cleaning routine for the better. Our home has two showers with glass doors. Those doors used to be my least favorite thing to clean but after discovering this combination, there's very little scrubbing involved - even if the glass is covered in soap and hard water stains.


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WHAT YOU NEED

  • A kitchen dish scrubber with a soap dispenser attached. This is my favorite.
  • A few drops of dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Water

Combine the vinegar, a few drops of dish soap, and a bit of water in the wand and watch the stains disappear! I typically just leave it in the shower and just clean it every so often while I'm in there. Scrub gently, rinse, and if you don't wait tooooo long, you're done. If there is substantial stains, you might need to give it another go around.


The gifts we give our children

Yesterday, I was having a text conversation with some friends that turned to the topic of parenting.  The question was asked: if you could teach or show your kids one thing, what would it be?

What one thing would you teach your children?

It was interesting to see the answers. I said contentment. Being comfortable with who you are, what you have, and where you stand in the present moment seems like the ultimate gift to me. Not that I don't want my kids to strive for more and achieve big things but I do think there is a beautiful power in being content. Seeing that it's something I struggle with and work on, contentment is often at the front of my mind.

Other answers included self worth, respect (both for others and for oneself), independence and self-reliance. All great, right?

Whatever the answer, though, the gravity of our answers got me thinking. It's not like we said " to ride a bike" or "tie their shoes." We gave honest, hard answers about what we want to pass on to our kids and at the same time, defined what it means to be a mother. We are molders and shapers of people. If we want our children to be content, respectful, independent - we must model this to them on a daily basis.

And that is what makes being a mother the most important, rewarding and difficult job on the planet.

(In case you wonder what I worry about at night - this is it. Who am I kidding? I worry about stuff all day. And I worry about worrying. Trust me, my brain is not a fun place sometimes ;) )

If you could teach or show your child one thing, what would it be? I'd love to know in the comments.

March Mini-Resolutions (and an update on February)

I can't say I really rocked my February goals. I can't blame winter or anything else. I've been drinking water and eating green stuff but the technology after 9 and the getting out of bed in the morning, ummm, not so much. I'm tired. I've been tired. And that's not changing.

About a year ago, I discovered I was super anemic. Although I take daily iron supplements and try to eat iron rich food, my iron levels haven't changed much. And so my lack of energy hasn't changed much either. I'm just drained. A lot.

I have targeted some things that seem to make me feel more energetic even if I'm not 100%. Drinking water helps and so does exercise. I haven't really figured out how my relationship with food affects my energy but I'm going to (more on that in a minute).

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So here's my list for March:

  1. Figure out how food affects my energy levels. This is simpler because I'm not doing it alone. I'll be backing away from dairy, gluten, and all but small amounts of natural sugar. On Monday, I started participating in RESET: 14 from Prescribe Nutrition. A reset on your health, discovering food triggers, and tons and tons of support from two awesome registered dieticians and the PN community. If you'd like to join in too, I'm sure it's not too late to start. (Stacy of Kids Stuff World has a great discount code available too). I'm really excited and I'll be sharing more about this over the next two weeks.
  2. Drink more water. I'm doing well here but can still do better. I don't drink anything but coffee, water, and the occasional adult beverage (although not in the next two weeks) but I'm still not always drinking enough water.
  3. Schedule two days a week at the gym. I love going to the gym. It's MY time because my kids are in the hands of the wonderful child care center at the Y. But I tend to be willy nilly about my schedule. Scheduling every day doesn't work out but I have fallen into a natural routine at least a few days a week. On days when Grace isn't in preschool, there is a morning class that is easy for me to head to. I like the teacher, it's hard work, and I leave feeling really good about myself. I'll get there other times too but I'm putting those 2 hours on my calendar.
  4. Continue to be more Hands Free during the day. Amazing book. It's given me a lot to think about. I want to be less connected to technology and more connected to the present moment. Even the little changes I make lead to better, richer days.

What are your goals for March? Do you feel like setting mini-resolutions for yourself is working?

 

 

Part Two: The Closet Project // Dressing for your Season in Life

For a long time, and sometimes even now, I've felt like my closet needed to be full of stuff to cover every possible occasion. Sure, I have jeans and t-shirts and sweaters and comfy shoes for the day to day (probably way too many of these too - that's for an upcoming post), but I also have things like a gold, sequined tank top from Banana Republic just in case I go to a New Year's Eve Party. I have a sheer black blouse to layer over a tank for a date night that I've owned for two years and never worn. I have multiple dresses that I bought to wear to weddings or fancier occasions that I've only worn one each. And I have a stock pile of sweaters that range back to high school.

When I started cleaning out my closet, these were some of the first things to go. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't get rid of everything that didn't fit into my day to day life - but all these "what if" pieces seemed to be the most rational place to pare down.

What is my season?

I'm a stay at home mom to two little girls ages 4 and 2. My days are spent at park play dates, driving to a preschool, in or around the house playing and cooking and doing household chores, or at the gym. I currently live in Southern California which means the temperature fluctuates between oh, 55 and 85 degrees during the course of the entire year. (#sorrynotsorry) How many sweaters does a girl in Southern California really need?

 On occasion, my husband and I go out on a date or meet for lunch during the week. I meet up with friends in a book club once a month. And probably once every 4-6 months, I have an actual "special" occasion to attend like a holiday party.

When I broke it down like that, it seemed like a no-brainer. Since 90% of my time is spent doing things where comfort is critical, I figure my closet should be 90% clothes that I can wear during those times. Additionally, many of these items - nicer jeans, cute tank tops, or a cotton blouse - could be dressed up with accessories or shoes to qualify as totally appropriate for date night/book club/etc.

Discovering this felt so freeing to me. There was no need to hang on to all of that other stuff (maybe just a few special pieces) because I needed them so rarely, if ever.

These are some of the questions I asked myself when thinking about "my season."

  • Where do I spend most of my time?
  • What are the activities I do the most?
  • What kinds of clothing are most appropriate for those activities?
  • What kinds of clothes make me feel my best?
  • What kind of weather do I need to account for?

Maybe they'll help you in your efforts too. And please, if you think of anything else to reflect on in your relationship between season of life and clothing, leave it in the comments.

This is a series called The Happy Closet. Other posts can be found here

xoxo.

 

 

One Simple Thing / 03

Today's tip has to do with cooking. I've been really inspired after reading An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. The chapters are full of practical advice and her voice is warm and encouraging. I'm sure I'll have more to say on it after I'm finished but for now, here is a piece of advice I've already put into practice.

One Simple Thing: make the most out of your heated oven.

// When your oven is heated, make the most of it. //

Here's how this looked in practice yesterday. First I heated the oven to make chocolate chip cookies. Since it was three o'clock, my mind wasn't really on dinner, but I opened the fridge to a head of cauliflower and romanesco. I chopped them up, threw some olive oil and salt and pepper on them and roasted them after the cookies. I figured we could either eat it for dinner tonight or I could use it later in the week to make soup. It felt so fabulously efficient. So next came beets. Then some nuts on a cookie sheet. I turned off the oven and stuck a baguette in it to use the dying heat to warm it up for dinner.  Adler says, if it's cold outside (or inside), why not just pop open that door and let it warm your kitchen?  I love it.

(I should also tell you, while this was going on, I also made her core/root/leaf pesto. I chopped the core of the cauliflower and romanesco, the greens and stems of the beets and chard, and simmered it gently in a bit of water, garlic, and olive oil. When it was soft and smushy, I pureed it. Shockingly, the sauce is full of amazing flavor. She recommends it on bread, in pasta with parmesan, or simply eaten on the side of some fish or meat. To think, I used all the stuff that I normally would have tossed in the trash to make a delicious spread)

Have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back later to talk about my February mini-goals.

Speaking of mini-goals, my friend, Lacy, is back with her Living on Love project for March with the goal of waking up happy. This was one of my mini-goals for Feburary and I love her outlook for March. Check it out and join along on instagram at #livingonlove.

*This post uses an affiliate link. If you click on the link and purchase the item, a very small amount of money will go to support One Simple Thing Blog. At no cost to you.

Homemade Almond Milk with dates, cinnamon and vanilla

I've been making almond milk on and off for the past few years. It always seemed like a bit of a hassle. But my new blender makes it go quickly and I finally bought  a nut milk bag (amazing! and cheap! although cheesecloth works too). The nut milk bag is a fine enough mesh that very little of the almond meal gets through. Also I love that it's reusable. I always felt a little guilty tossing the cheesecloth in the trash afterward. And although I haven't used the pulp yet (shame on me), I know you can dry it and toast it and use it like almond meal. I'm also thinking about making these lovely crackers.

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We use almond milk in our oatmeal, coffee, and smoothies. It will keep for a few days in the fridge and although we almost always use it quickly, I've seen people freezing it in ice cube trays to lengthen it's life. Almond milk ice cubes, anyone? It will add a nice chill to a smoothie.

Although the girls typically prefer cow's milk to drink, they were very happy to drink it during the photo shoot. They begged me for it and seemed to like it so maybe we'll give it another try in the morning (they've requested milk first thing in the morning, every morning since they could talk).

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WHAT YOU NEED

  • 1 cup of almonds
  • 3.5 cups of water
  • 2-3 dates
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch of salt
  • nut milk bag (optional) or cheesecloth

WHAT YOU DO

  1. Place your almonds in a glass of water for at least an hour but preferably overnight. The soaking makes the almonds plump and moist and much more easily digested.
  2. When your almonds have soaked for long enough, drain and rinse. Put in blender with water, dates, vanilla bean (chopped up or scraped out), cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Blend away! I use a vitamix and it takes about 30 seconds on high.
  4. Place nut milk bag over a bowl. Pour nut milk into bag, squeezing what is in the big until all the milk is out. You'll be left with a bag full of almond pulp.
  5. I use a wide mouth funnel to put the milk in a mason jar and then pop it into the fridge.
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Have a happy Tuesday! xoxo.