Saturday, August 31, 2013

31 August :: Just two days of summer vacation left

Yes, so hard to believe, but tomorrow is Sept. 1!

The children start back on Tuesday. The classroom is ready to go with the exception of one or two last-minute items I can do quickly on Monday.

I'm excited but always a little sad to see summer go, and a little shocked at how quickly it has seemed to pass. We have been so busy though, between completely changing the classroom, planning our wedding, and moving to a new home closer to work.

I have started knitting like crazy. Must be nearly fall. I've really come into my own with this gentle craft, have gotten serious about learning new skills and just overall do it much more often. I would like to try to knit for an hour or two every day. I also just taught myself how to wind my own hank of yarn into a ball. I found it so relaxing! Are you on Ravelry? My page is just in the beginning stages, but feel free to friend me at karbear1103.

I'm also gearing up to start spending more time in the kitchen! Already a warming lentil dish has made its way onto the menu plan for the coming week. On another food note, I've decided to go back to eating strictly vegetarian. I know I waffle on this a lot, but I'm diving in now and I'm a little nervous about it sticking for me again (last time I tried it stuck for nearly six years, the meat eating has only stuck for 16 months off and on, and not without a lot of hesitation on my part as far as health, ethics, etc. go). The good news is that John seems to be okay with being vegetarian in the house. He has recently told me that he is sure I've added years to his life with the way I cook. I'll never forget what was in his fridge when I moved in :: a loaf of zucchini bread from his sister, a bottle of ketchup, and a huge 2-liter of Mountain Dew. Oh my ... how far we have come from those days :-) I LOVE feeding myself and those I love. Tomorrow is my at-home all day day, where I "laze around" by prepping (hee) -- on deck is pizza dough, homemade crackers and hummus, zucchini raisin muffins, zucchini to freeze, and I will prep lasagna for dinner. Two weeks or so till our big grocery shop so I'm trying to get creative with what we already have with maybe just a store run for stuff like parsley. One dish I'm excited about is baked tofu nuggets (homemade) with homemade tartar sauce and a homemade slaw with green apple and toasted sunflower seeds mixed with just a bit of vegan mayo and cider vinegar. YUM. fast food MY way. I recently experimented with a very yummy homemade pizza sauce, after it gets a bit more tweaking I'll probably try to freeze some for future use. We usually do homemade pizza about three times a month (once a week, on Fridays) and the fourth one we do pizza at a local parlor for a break for me. But some weeks we might just do all homemade. It just depends.

We have gotten tons better at not going out to eat. There are slips here and there of course, it's life after all but I've learned to not be super hard on myself as I work to further entrench myself in a frugal lifestyle. I can easily say "no" to so many things now (except this one dreamy red and white enamel-top and wood bottom table, but I've been pondering that for weeks, it's a wonder it hasn't been scooped up yet. A practical investment purchase, though, for use as a kitchen or craft table for um, the rest of my life....) ... I have been writing down everything I spend not to nickel and dime myself but to hold myself accountable for what I'm doing. In fact I read something recently that had me deciding to switch from a line-item subtraction type budget to a spending plan where I basically split off monthly fixed costs from discretionary income. After the wedding, it looks like I actually have a good amount there. I hope to start socking some away in the savings and also start contributing again to my retirement plan after not contributing at all the past 2-3 years. I also want to pay almost double on one of my student loans. So ... all good things. I'm not perfect on the spending stuff yet but I've come so, so far. And all the good things I do that I can just think of off the top of my head that never would have occurred to me when I was so plastic-happy (debit card included, oy) over the last five years as I struggled to begin this frugal journey :: I menu plan, I consistently go through pantry and fridge to keep things organized so leftovers are utilized, and waste is minimized, I plan to make a pair of slippers I need instead of buying them at a much higher price, I convinced myself not to order a pricey bachelorette night dress online, instead opting to try and find both this and a wedding rehearsal dress at a consignment shop, I only buy yarn and needles I'm actually going to use rather than buying because it's pretty and I "might" make something with it someday, I use cloth napkins, I don't buy makeup (okay, mascara from Aveda), I use the same antique furniture from place to place and only buy another antique bowl, or table, or utensil if it's something I know will both please my aesthetic and get a lot of use, I use paperback swap and have a real ability to wait for the books I want or scour thrift stores for useful tomes, I am at the moment considering eliminating my YMCA membership because they don't offer one just for a pool (I'll take super long walks instead) and putting that money toward debt or savings ... and, the list really goes on similarly. I can be proud of where I'm at, don't you think?

Wow. Guess I had a lot to say!! Thanks for listening. September just feels like a time of renewal for me, even more so than January, but I do think those two times of the year are when the most personal growth is begun.

Hoping you have a peaceful week filled with the things and people you love best.


Friday, August 23, 2013

23 August :: all aflutter ... and a new way to make popcorn

i'm making some walnut-maple popcorn and i have a great internet signal, so .... hello from the marshes! the air is gorgeous out there ... i can hear birds of all sorts ... i took one day off from this nutty week of school prep and we spent it getting our marriage license, having yummy black bean wraps at the local coffeeshop, and meeting with the chefs at the restaurant where we're having our rehearsal dinner. i've knitted up almost an entire dishcloth from debbie bliss cotton yarn. it's been a good day. also got a two-mile walk in and received a small unexpected cash windfall in the mail.

so, to wrap up, here are some pictures of lately, and mostly of food. really, do you expect any less by now? i'm just sorry i haven't been able to be in this space more. things are busy here, and in a good way, but i'm just trying to keep a healthy balance and keep my personal life humming happily. school starts in less than two weeks! the room looks beautiful and i am really excited to be with my little ones again. and am i really getting married in six weeks? holy cow, the invites go out this coming week! it was crazy addressing them and my hand hurt but they are truly beautiful, thanks to the loving creative eyes and hands of one Ms. Bonnie Wildwood and her husband Jake. Thanks you two!! They are so perfect for us.

Oh yeah ... the pics!

mmm fresh mozz

cheese and onion pie made from scratch

pad thai of sorts, added egg to the tofu at the very last minute for extra protein. rice noodles made this gluten free, the tamari was GF too

quick breakfast

gifted zucchini bread with sunflower seeds

local and organic

a HUGE hit here ... adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance

look at that leaves-on beauty from the farmer's market flaunting her stuff!

heather's amazing veggie burgers on an Udi's bun, slightly burnt oops

yes, all homemade :-)

this recipe comes together in mere minutes and is wonderful and gluten free

john made the john-lette. they are really really good. this one had spinach and goat cheese in it. the eggs are from a local farm.

prepping egg, feta, and spinach pie with sunflower seeds. this was REALLY good leftover, cold

using zucchini from the farmer's market

LOVE fresh salads. this had chickpeas and goat cheese added. i eat my salads out of mixing bowls, no joke.

quinoa, the magical protein grain

always on the fence about the occasional meat, this was a yummy dinner made with chicken sausages from trader joe's. a very rare indulgence as i have major issues with chicken. but john doesn't and he likes these.

Sometimes I feel like I don't do "enough." I think I'm comparing myself to the housewives who don't work outside the home. I wish I wouldn't do that. On any given day, not only can I plow through 8 hours of creative work at the school, I can make breakfast for 2, bake a loaf of zucchini bread for a friend, do loads of laundry, wash dishes two or three times over, get a few rows of knitting done, walk the dog, tackle an organizing or cleaning project that needs doing ... and so on. I really think we are too hard on ourselves sometimes. Just something I try to remember when I think, "I wish I could do more at home."

if you want the popcorn recipe, let me know. you need real organic corn kernels, a lunch bag, and a microwave. i do it on the stove too, but i can't believe i never thought of using the micro for "real" popped corn too! i usually love my corn with just loads of butter and salt so we'll see how i like this batch.

next time i pop in i'll try and show you more pics of the house. but i leave you with our adorable child ::

happy weekend! see you soon.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

8 August :: turning outward

i love to eat, and i love providing our family of 2 with nourishing food that also tastes delicious. the tomatoes and basil in the last few photos are from the farmer's market here, which we are now so much closer to since our move. john told me yesterday that i'm the only person i know who makes cooked beans in a simmering pot from dried bulk beans. really? i told him it's so different in blogland. but he has a point. neither my mom nor grandma did this either! is it a modern day fad? i mean i like it but the only people i know of who do this kind of from-scratch slow food prep are modern day earth mama types like those of us who read and keep similar-minded blogs. i'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject. i feel so far from the "norm" sometimes even when it's become second nature to me!

here is a sneak peek at some of the spaces in the place we'll call home for the next 11 months or so. we're still in a transitioning-to-putting roots down phase so we're going to make the most of it. i call it "summer camp" because the sad internet service there and zero cable and bad cell service make it feel more like our 1980s childhoods. it's an adjustment, more for john than me but i so miss my podcasts while knitting. looks like i'll be updating this once weekly from the adorable bakery down the road. i do hope you'll still drop in.

i can't believe we are two months away from the wedding. so many thoughts and feelings about that but thankfully stress is so minimally one of them. i'm already looking at ways to keep our marriage strong before it begins. :-) is that too weird? lol.

i've also begun setting up my classroom for the next year, and i'm very happy with how that's turning out. i'll share those pictures soon, too.

finally, i just want to get out and enjoy some of those marsh views you see below from our kitchen window. can't forget the bug spray they can be nasty here. i'm still knitting, a hat and a shawl for myself. forgot to photograph the last one i knit up so hopefully my friend bonnie will be kind enough. it was for her.

we still have somewhat of a mess to put away but i have plenty to do on weekdays so that will have to be a weekend job. i've been planning a sleeping, menu plan, and exercise schedule so i can be more organized when school starts in september. we also have to reserve our honeymoon hotel. have i told you? we're driving to pretty savannah, georgia.

enjoy the rest of your week, the weekend, and the rest of your summer.

go easy.