Wednesday, July 18, 2018

No.155: New Habits, Little by Little: Cooking at Home (June 2018)


One year ago, I wrote these words: "I've had trouble in the kitchen for a long time.  Mark cooks amazing food because he loves the creative process.  I cook so we don't go to bed hungry.  That (lazy? burnt out?) attitude has never sat well with me, though, and I really want to change."

Last July, I committed to a year of renewed interest in cooking at home.  Having moved to an area where delivery was nonexistent and fast food was a 15-minute drive, my dinner crutches were all suddenly taken away.  Sink or swim, I was going to have to figure this out!  Fast forward to today and my attitude toward the kitchen has completely changed.  The lessons I've learned are too many to count, but the biggest one is this: sometimes you just have to step out in faith, knowing you're going to stumble, and work toward your goals anyway. 

Here's to another year of delicious meals.

_____________________________________

Week 48 (cont.):
Friday, June 1: homemade pizza

Week 49:
Saturday, June 2: cold cut sandwiches/lettuce wraps with fruit and chips
Sunday, June 3: moo shu pork in tortillas
Monday, June 4: leftover moo shu with rice
Tuesday, June 5: tuscan garlic chicken with salad
Wednesday, June 6: garlic parmesan chicken thighs and broccoli
Thursday, June 7: tacos
Friday, June 8: kielbasa veggie bake with rice

Week 50:
Saturday, June 9: brats and hotdogs on the grill, chips, chocolate covered strawberries
Sunday,  June 10: pizza
Monday, June 11: Refrigerator Clean-Out Night
Tuesday, June 12: grilled pork chops and pasta salad
Wednesday, June 13: grilled pork loin, rice and asparagus
Thursday, June 14: rotisserie-style chicken, Mark's panko macaroni and cheese, and salad
Friday, June 15: homemade pesto pizza using sourdough focaccia

Week 51:
Saturday, June 16: pulled pork sandwiches, then out for ice cream cones
Sunday, June 17: Father's Day! porterhouse steak for Mark, brats for the rest of us, bacon ranch potato salad
Monday, June 18: leftover pork nachos
Tuesday, June 19: cold cut sandwiches with chips
Wednesday, June 20: roasted chicken thighs, rice and asparagus with homemade sourdough bread
Thursday, June 21: tacos
Friday, June 22: pork fried rice using up a bunch of leftovers - the kids loved this!

Week 52:
Saturday, June 23: McDonald's after baby L's first birthday party
Sunday, June 24: one pan pesto chicken, tortellini and veggies (BIG hit)
Monday, June 25: roasted pork tenderloin with rice and broccoli
Tuesday, June 26: whole chicken with carrots, onions, and potatoes - the chicken was way too small this time and everyone was still hungry, so I supplemented with popcorn and waffles after
Wednesday, June 27: tomato soup with sourdough grilled cheese sandwiches
Thursday, June 28: one pot kielbasa pasta
Friday, June 29: homemade pizza

Week 53:
Saturday, June 30: chili dogs

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

No.154: What's New? // 10 Things I Need to Tell You

This post contains affiliate links.

Hey friends!  After a month of blogging (almost) everyday, I took a much-needed Internet break and it was so good.  July has been full of great things, though, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't hard for me not to pop in and document it all.  If you lived nearby, I'd invite you over for coffee and sourdough bread so we could catch up!  In the meantime, here are ten things I have to tell you:

1 // I PAINTED MY FRONT AND SIDE DOORS AND AM HALFWAY THROUGH MY SHUTTERS.
We took advantage of Sherwin William's 40% off sale and bought one can of their exterior paint in Iron Ore.  I wasn't sure how far it would take me, but it's proven to be the can that keeps on giving!  So far, I've painted two doors and all of the shutters on the first floor of the house.  Next up is getting on the roof to assess the shutters on the second floor.  This both excites and terrifies me.

2 // WE COMPLETED OUR FIRST 100 HOURS OUTSIDE.
After cruising through the first 50 hours, we came to a screeching halt once spring allergies and rainy days arrived.  We've tried to pick up the pace this summer, but it really depends on the day: humid 90-something degree days are miserable!  In all, it took us 98 days to complete 100 hours.  Nothing to brag about, but it's a start. 

3 // WE HOSTED FOURTH OF JULY AT OUR HOUSE AGAIN THIS YEAR.
Mark took off the Monday and Tuesday before the Fourth as a little staycation and it was great!  We had guests over each day (Mark's friend, my brother and girlfriend, and my parents) and hung out and laughed and barbecued.  So nice to share our home with friends and family.   


4 // I'M GETTING "GAZELLE INTENSE" WITH DEBT REDUCTION.
In our twelve years of marriage, we've always had some sort of debt.  We've been chipping away, little by little, but new babies, new cars to fit all the babies, and real estate decisions have all been bumps on the road to financial freedom.  Now that we're in a relatively stable place, with (hopefully!) no big changes in the near future, Mark and I are ready to roll up our sleeves and really get to work!  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.     

5 // MY POST-WEANING HORMONES ARE ALLLLL OUT OF WHACK.
Today marks exactly one month since I weaned P and what a month it's been.  My hormones have been crazy!  In desperation, I went on a Googling spree looking for answers, but it's really just an issue of giving it time to regulate.       

6 // I SPENT A LONG WEEKEND WITH MY COUSINS AND BRAND NEW BABY COUSIN.
My first trip without a child (in utero or out!) in my entire adult life!  It was so relaxing and went way too fast.  It was such an honor to help with my cousin's new baby boy; we spent our mornings together while his mama got some much-needed extra rest.  I've never really had the opportunity to cuddle babies that aren't my own and I kinda love it, hah!  I came home on Sunday feeling so refreshed and thankful.   


7 // I KILLED MY HOUSEPLANT AND MY HERBS.
I'm going to blame this on insufficient sunlight, but such a bummer!  I hope I don't have a black thumb.

8 // I'M FINALLY CAUGHT UP WITH MY POSTCARD PROJECT.
I paused the project in June while I was blogging everyday, but just finished the last handful of postcards today.  So if you signed up and haven't received one yet, check your mailboxes soon!

9 // ALL OF MY LIBRARY HOLDS CAME IN AT ONCE.
You know how I feel about this...all of my other books have been put on hold and I've been a reading machine trying to get through them all!  So far, I've read Educated: A Memoir and Killers of the Flower Moon and I'm currently on Gone Girl.

10 // HOMEMADE ICE CREAM IS SO GOOD.
We bought an ice cream maker last month, checking off a task on my 100 Little Things list.  I was hesitant that it would just be another appliance to store, but it's awesome!  We've made old-fashioned vanilla twice so far, but I'm anxious to try a frozen yogurt or sorbet next. 


Your turn!  How is your summer going?  What's new in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, June 30, 2018

No.153: What I Learned in June

Linking up late with Kelly's Quick Takes!

1 // TWO NEW PLANTS DISCOVERED IN THE YARD: RED CLOVER AND MOCK STRAWBERRIES.
Lately, I've been enjoying taking walks through the property and waiting to see what catches my eye.  This month, TJ and I found these little pinky purple flowers along the tree line, which we researched and found to be red clover.  We also found a few patches of mock strawberries, which was a bummer.  We were really hoping for the real thing!

2 // IGNATIAN SPIRITUALITY COMPLEMENTS MY PERSONALITY TYPE.
Kelly mentioned Meg's series in one of her blog posts and I was curious to see where I fell.  I am an ISFJ and according to Meg, Ignatian spirituality is the best fit for my personality.  From Meg:
Ignatian prayer is often summarized as an imaginative approach to prayer by which we put ourselves into the Gospel stories and allow the Spirit to speak. (I have an explanation here and some guided meditations here.) This style of prayer uses the senses to enhance the experience, imagining what the scene looked like, what the weather was like, how the marketplace smelled, etc. More than just being a way to meditate on the Gospels, though, Ignatian prayer finds itself rooted in all of salvation history. The liturgical year is Ignatian by nature, leading us through the life of Christ each year and encouraging us to enter into his experience. It’s hard to imagine anything more Ignatian than the Triduum, where we have our feet washed, wait up with the Lord, cry out the words of the crowd, kiss the Cross, and rise again on Easter.
Ignatian types will benefit from an organized prayer regimen, often finding great fruit in traditional types of prayer, particularly the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. Reading longer passages in Scripture and seeing how it all connects can also be very helpful for them. When reading Scripture, they should look first to the Gospels and the historical books (especially Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, if you can believe it) as well as Acts, Isaiah, James, and the Psalms.
3 // WHEN IT RAINS, THE SEPTIC MAKES THE AIR SMELL LIKE ROTTEN EGGS.
We've had a string of rainy days here and one morning was particularly stinky.  Apparently, it is due to heavy air, which doesn't allow the methane gases to take off through the vent. Because of atmospheric pressure, it stays low to the ground and may smell like rotten eggs.  Good ol' country livin'.

4 // MY BABY TAKES AMAZING NAPS OUTSIDE.
He is 18 months now and fights a nap like none of my other kids ever have!  In an attempt to keep an ounce of sanity, I've resorted to pushing him up and down our driveway in the stroller.  He's out in five minutes and stays asleep for a long time.  I totally get why other countries swear by keeping napping babies in strollers outdoors now.

5 // I CHECKED OFF A TASK ON MY COUNTRY LIFE BUCKET LIST: REMOVING A TICK.
Mark found a tick on his leg and I had the privilege of carefully taking it out.  I had no idea what I was doing and was nervous, but it was a clean removal.  We then proceeded to Google everything there is to know about ticks (and scare ourselves silly).  A great reminder to be vigilant about our kids' daily "tick checks."

6 // SOCIAL SECURITY WILL BECOME INSOLVENT IN 2034.
Unfortunate news for GenXers or Millenials.  The news has been even more motivation for us to get our finances in order and save, save, save for retirement.

7 // WRITING EVERYDAY IS HARD, BUT SUCH A FUN CHALLENGE.
My final tally was 28 out of 30 days - I sort-of fizzled out at the end.  It's not perfect, but I'm proud of it anyway!  It was just the creative challenge I needed to start the summer.

Signing off for a bit!  Thanks for reading this month and see you soon. xo

Friday, June 29, 2018

No.152: My Latest Reads // June

This post contains affiliate links.


SIBLINGS WITHOUT RIVALRY: HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILDREN LIVE TOGETHER SO YOU CAN LIVE TOO by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
My Rating: ★★
The family is where we learn relationship skills.  And the way we relate to our children and teach them to relate to each other, even in the heat of battle, can be our permanent gift to them. (p.240)
Can you guess the issue we're tackling at our house lately, hah?  Siblings Without Rivalry was an easy read with approachable advice.  I zoomed through it in a matter of days and have added a few new tips to my parenting toolbelt.  Our results haven't been earth-shattering, but are definitely headed in the right direction.



A PIECE OF THE WORLD by Christina Baker Kline
My Rating: ★★ 
You can never escape the bonds of family history, no matter how far you travel. And the skeleton of a house can carry in its bones the marrow of all that came before. (4%)
I really knew nothing about this book going into it, other than the fact that the author also wrote Orphan Train.  A Piece of the World is a fictional memoir based on Andrew Wyeth's painting, Christina's World.  The story is gut-wrenching and sad, but beautiful too.  I was surprised how much I liked it - I found it hard to put down.



THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS by M.L. Stedman
My Rating: ★★
You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.
Oh man.  This book is so hard!  I really struggled with the ethics of it all and my heart was pulled in all directions.  I couldn't stop thinking that the actions of adults can drastically change the lives of innocent children, both for good and for bad.  I know I'll be thinking about this one for awhile.



HOW TO RAISE A WILD CHILD: THE ART AND SCIENCE OF FALLING IN LOVE WITH NATURE by Scott D. Sampson
My Rating: ★★ 
In the end, raising a wild child is much more about seeding love than knowledge...Antoine de Saint-Exupery expressed this point beautifully: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." 
Nature connection is the ship we're trying to build.  Our goal as mentors is not to share facts or assign tasks.  It is to be match-makers, to help children fall in love with nature so that they long to be immersed within it.  That emotional pull, if deeply entrenched, will nourish a lifelong sense of wonder and a desire to seek answers.  If you help to cultivate that longing, children will figure out the rest. (p.281)  
How to Raise a Wild Child was part of my "summer reading" and I kept notes on the blog throughout the month.  Equal parts educational and inspiring, I closed the book really feeling like I could mentor my children in this area, despite my deficiency!  Really, really good.   
 

THE YEAR OF LIVING DANISHLY: UNCOVERING THE SECRETS OF THE WORLD'S HAPPIEST COUNTRY by Helen Russell
My Rating: ★★
If living in Sticksville has taught me one thing, it’s that cutting down on choice can take some of the hassle out of modern life. Too many options for things to do, places to eat (ha!) or what to wear (hello London wardrobe) can feel like a burden rather than a benefit. Danes specialise in stress-free simplicity and freedom within boundaries. (99%)
I love a good year-long experiment book and this one on living Danishly seemed right up my alley.  Similar to Gretchen Rubin's books, it blended studies and facts with personal experience.  All in all, I would say the book was interesting, but I often found myself distracted and constantly putting it down.  That behavior tends to tell me that it wasn't great.  Good, but not great.


THE DRY by Jane Harper
My Rating: ★★
Death rarely changes how we feel about someone. Heightens it, more often than not. (61%)
Another book set in Australia!  The Dry is a page turner about a small town with big secrets.  The story kept me guessing and I didn't predict the end, which is huge!  (I'm getting pretty good at figuring out the plot early on in these types of books, hah!)  A good mystery - I liked it.



_____________________________

MY 2018 READING IN NUMBERS
Books Read: 39
Fiction: 23  // Non-Fiction: 16
Kindle Books: 21  // Paper Books: 18
Original 2018 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 443 // Current "to-read" total: 433

Thursday, June 28, 2018

No.151: 2018 Goals & Projects: Mid-Year Review

It's been almost six months since I wrote my 2018 goals/project list, so I think I'm due for an update!


HOUSE TO HOME PROJECTS


✔ Find a special piece of artwork to add to the master bedroom.
I've had a limited-edition print from Caitlin Connolly on my wishlist for years.  I finally snagged it with Christmas money and I'm so glad I did - it was print #48/50!  I sent it to be matted and framed at Framebridge and was impressed with the entire process.  

✔ Buy a console table for the front hallway and decorate.
I have the console but am still working on the decorations.  For now, I've been pulling things I already own: a black and white photo of my grandmother as a child at the farmhouse, a few books, a milk glass jar that will eventually hold a plant, etc.  I'm also on the lookout for a lamp, but no luck yet.

✔ Work on the little boys room: paint their headboards, purchase one more mattress and decide on bedding.
Small progress: I bought the boxsprings and mattress in February and went with the same striped duvets from Ikea that the bigger boys have.  Now to paint their headboards navy!  I might experiment with chalk paint.

✔ Add one more rocking chair and a porch swing to the front.
We bought the rocking chair and are saving up for the porch swing.

✔ Have dead and fallen trees removed from our property.
Two guys came out with a bobcat and a chainsaw.  My kids watched from the window in awe!  We had one tree that had been ripped by the roots, but was dangling precariously on two other trees.  Watching them take down that tree (which, as we counted the rings afterward, looked to be over 30 years old!) was amazing!

✔ Build a 10-foot table for the back porch.
Our builder friend moved out of state, so we decided to just buy one with our tax return. I'ts not quite 10 feet long, but big enough to fit eight. We love it!

✔ Plan out and create front flower beds. (Possibly hire out?)
We contacted a local landscape architect and worked with her to create beds around the front of the house.  She also did a brick walkway that connects the driveway to the porch.  The result is fantastic and well worth the investment.

✔ Hang curtains in the dining room.
I had my favorite white linen ones from Ikea shipped to the house.  I love how it softens up the room.

Still on the list:
  • Paint the first floor. 
  • Paint Sophia's and the little boys' room.
  • Paint the shutters and the exterior doors. 
  • Strip and restain/seal the front porch.
  • Hire an electrician to replace the living room fan, front hallway light, dining room chandelier and outdoor lanterns.
  • Create a gallery wall of black and white family photos in the living room.
  • Paint the headboards in the little boys' room.
  • Add a porch swing to the front.

HEALTH AND FITNESS


✔ Pace myself. 
I certainly have room for improvement, but I'm proud of my work in this area so far.  When I'm feeling frazzled or overwhelmed, I know it's time to pull back and slow down.  This has taken the form of a week-long internet break or even just a semi-regular nap.  We're heading into July and I haven't felt burnt out yet - HUGE.

✔ Make major progress on the Amerithon Running Challenge.
I wouldn't say major progress yet (I was sidelined for three months due to my injury), but I've recently made it to another checkpoint, which is exciting.  My first since last November!  

✔ Drastically reduce my sugar intake. 
This goal has ebbed and flowed...I was 99% sugar-free in January, fell off the wagon a bit in February, went back to about 75% for Lent...and on and on.  It's a marathon, not a sprint, hah!

🗙 Run another half marathon and decide about running a full.
Due to the hip/groin injury I had in January, this goal has been postponed for now.

Still on the list:
Learn a few self-defense techniques.


FAMILY


✔ Learn new things directly from the source.
I've started an (almost!) monthly thrifting day with my mom - she has such a good eye and knows the best places to go!  She also taught me how to make strawberry freezer jam and helped me with my sourdough starter.

✔ Brainstorm new ways to spend time with my siblings. 
Small progress, but lots of room for improvement here: I've been texting more frequently just to say hello or share something funny.  My brother and I spent an afternoon completing a Finders Seekers subscription box, which was so fun.

✔ Start a savings account for traveling to see out-of-state relatives. 
I created the fund but haven't been specific about adding money to it.  Need to add that to our budget!  

✔ Create new memories with my husband and my kids. 
My first thought was that this goal was a big fail.  We haven't traveled anywhere exciting or done anything really big and new.  But on further reflection, we've made a ton of memories so far this year: reading together by the fireplace, snow days, science experiments, being without power for three days, baking all the things, watching baby birds hatch, playing baseball in the front yard, water gun battles, even making homemade ice cream!  It's a simple life, but it's still so good.

A HODGE-PODGE OF EVERYTHING ELSE


✔ Keep up with a year-long photo project.
We just wrapped up Year #1 and began Year #2 of One Second Everyday.  (We started the day we moved into the farmhouse.)  Can I just say how thankful I am for beginning this project?  In a little over six minutes, you can watch an entire year's worth of memories and laughter and kids growing.  You watch P go from a little six-month-old baby to a busy toddler.  You see the seasons change, the house change, and the kids change.  This little video has become one of my most prized possessions.  I can't wait to keep going.
I'm also going strong on my 2018 Coffee Project!

✔ Start a One Line a Day five year journal.
I started this in January and haven't missed a day yet!  It has become almost a gratitude journal, making me reflect on the best part of each day before I go to bed.

✔ Check off tasks on my 100 Little Things list.
As of this writing, I've completed 38 tasks, including: reading a book over 500 pages, learning a new card game, making bread in the dutch oven, potty training TJ, buying an ice cream maker and tweaking the Week in the Life projects to a monthly Day in the Life.  So many fun things still to do, so I need to get them on the calendar.  Just a month to go!

✔ Read 25 books.
My current total is 38 books!  I'm reading more than ever.  (Check out my Book Report posts for details on all the books.)

✔ Dip my toes into homesteading.
I started with baking bread and have sort-of stopped there, hah!  It's a skill that takes time and effort and I'm pleased with my results so far.  I'm sure I'll be ready to move on to new things soon. 

✔ Invest in our new community.
Baby steps in this area are better than nothing, right?  We ate dinner at Chick-Fil-A for a spirit day supporting a new pregnancy center.  Mark volunteered to teach CCD again in the fall.  M is altar serving at church.  The boys started Trail Life.  Our neighbor passed our house on a walk and we jogged over to chat (with acreage between our houses, we don't see them very often!).  Writing this out sounds pathetic but we'll get there, little by little. 

✔ Dive deep into faith.
This is slow going because I tend to read religious books slower and more intentionally. But the "Into the Depths of Catholicism" series is still alive!

✔ Be creative again.
I wanted this goal to be purposefully vague since creativity can manifest in so many ways.  So far this year, I've cross-stitched, done some scrapbooking, had fun with snail mail, dabbled in home decorating and design...and this blog!  Probably my favorite creative hobby to date.

How are your 2018 goals going?  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...