Wednesday, April 16, 2014

simple woman's day book time

Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window... all is dark and quiet as it's late ... i've been burning oil looking at houses to move into, all the while wishing we could pack up this marsh house in our truck ... 

I am thinking... that I'm so happy we are starting a new chapter of our lives in such a calm, prepared frame of mind. 

I am thankful... for our months in the marsh house, for its antiques and hardwood floors and quiet marsh backyard and all the birds who live and pass through here

In the kitchen... a mess from tonight's stir-fry -- tofu, spaghetti, mushrooms, asparagus, cashews. it was amazing asian deliciousness!! a keeper, for sure (from heart of the plate by mollie katzen). it was vegan. 

I am wearing... old yoga t-shirt, cameo necklace from my MIL, jeans, leather boots. i never seem to take these boots off. 

I am creating... another Simple Things shawl for my MIL for mother's day. a plan of action for our new life in pretty (but scarily $$$) northern va ... a way to be a better wife to my amazing husband. i'm too cranky sometimes :-) 

I am going... to take my vitamins, get in bed and read Happier at Home/Bleak House

I am wondering... where we will end up next ... 

I am reading... Dickens (bleak house). Rubin (happier at home). Wanting to start The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. 

I am hoping... that I will give as many lessons as I can to my 24 children before school's over and i wont' have those sweet faces to look at and love and guide anymore.

I am looking forward to... moving! new job! upcoming four-day weekend! indian food! reading and knitting over the long weekend! my tax refund arriving! 

I am learning... how to be a better human. how to handle money like a grownup. how to chill out sometimes. 

Around the house.. so happy i got through the stuff in the attic. cleared a ton of clutter, things i didn't need that just kept getting carted to every house. this house has just what we need with some artfully chosen antiques and keepsakes. my closet isn't full to bursting anymore. i LOVE the space in the closet. i love that we've pared down. i would like a few more enamelware refrigerator dishes for food storage. the new french press makes me happy. it was worth the splurge. we turned the heat back on, to my chagrin, few colder days ahead. i'm so hoping to keep the desk and that we won't be charged a ton for the furniture we want to keep (especially the bed!). 

I am pondering... when i should make the cookies john loves. 

One of my favorite things... staying up late after john's in bed. reading inspirational books like Simple Abundance and actually attempting to live out the principles. same for simple living blogs. 

A few plans for the rest of the week: grocery shopping, making pizza friday night, more swimming (i'm up to 25 laps and 32 is a mile!), more knitting, more reading. indian food and buying new jeans at old navy on sunday (dog ate last pair!). snuggles with hubby. walks with dog. make some contacts in moving world. 

A peek into my day... it's late ... i should be getting in bed. ... after school i gave one of my children's dads some math lessons he was wondering about ... then i went swimming at the Y. great stress reliever. i felt so good. came home and made dinner. it was a simple, decent day without too much stress. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

pictures, and some clearing.

cobb salad with the best chicken money can buy from whole foods, along with pastured eggs and pastured bacon. i do wish local farmers here in VA were allowed to cut up their birds after processing (no thanks to you big ag). i do not like working with whole pastured birds. but this chicken is animal welfare rating 3 -- enhanced outdoor environment -- out of 5, with 4 and 5 being pasture only. so. wow that was a ramble sorry!! i'm just PICKY with meat sourcing, i will NEVER EVER eat factory or simply "natural/organic" chicken. 

amazing sushi i had in texas!! (the conference was in a big fancy mall that had an ice skating rink inside)

an adorable space i came across while visiting various Montessori schools during the annual AMI conference in Houston in February. I love getting new inspiration!!

i LOVE that window!! imagine it with the sun streaming in...

these really call to a child's sense of attractiveness (as motivator) and need for order. i love Montessori color coding.

So I finally figured out that I could simply connect my Kindle to my laptop and like magic there would all the photos be. D'oho!! Hello Captain Obvious.

Thanks for being so patient while I figured that one out.

As I write this, it's the second of two absolutely glorious spring days here. Temps in the low 70's, a lovely breeze, and I'm in flip flops. Ironically it's given me inspiration inside as I worked all weekend (John was away) going through stuff in the attic. I found, as usual, massive amounts of stuff to donate/to sell/to toss. In particular, a lot of old photos/cards/letters that I kept telling myself I'd do something with but yet kept lugging the same massive tote, complete with many ex-boyfriends pictures, along. It feels so freeing to only keep the photos I know I will want for my kids to look through in the future. I also saved a few cards from family from over the years. Just can't keep everything. The nice thing about this process (which involved just a few minutes of anxiety and wistfulness and tears, I really have to work myself up to a time when I have to just do it without too much attachment involved, or without poring over every document in depth) was it made me feel so happy and grateful for the life I live now with my dear husband, the life we are just beginning, and for the oft-awkward/fumbling road back that brought me here today.

I have been reading Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home, which came in the mail from Paperback Swap recently, and one of her earliest chapters is about possessions. How they really can make us happy. How eliminating clutter and all those things "I might use" someday can free up possessions we aren't willing to part with and allow us an opportunity to bring them out and spotlight them in our daily lives. I feel this to be so true, and found that as I was finally forcing myself to go through things (some just needed consolidation, like Christmas decorations). I also did yet another clean out of my clothes closet and found something like 20 vintage dresses that I'm going to try to sell online for a few bucks. I've noticed that as I "grow up" (??!!), my style is gravitating toward a more classic, timeless look. I want good quality clothes I can spend years wearing (hello consignment shops, my new friends, not so much thrift shops anymore). Think Ann Taylor meets Banana Republic meets Target/Old Navy meets vintage-inspired indie clothing makers whose wares somehow end up in funky consignment shops. I still have a handful of vintage, but most of that stuff I was holding on to because I didn't want to just not make any money from it. I can't believe how much I've pared down my entire wardrobe over the last few years. I also put away the handful of sweaters I own and brought out all the summer dresses :-)

I say this with every move, but I am lighter than ever on the STUFF. Over the past years, I've gotten better and better about much more out than in. I don't mean to become a monk, of course, but I have met this goal I've kind of become friends with along the way. Looking at my high school and college year photos (before tossing 90 percent of them), I realize what a pack rat I used to be. Things are so much different now. It feels GREAT.

On Monday, I'll be calling the realtor that was recommended to us who will help us find a house to rent. I'm really, really excited that my amazing MIL is going to pay for MOVERS. All we'll have to do is pack and take our pets and my vintage pyrex and drive four hours northwest.

I have finally decided, amongst all this physical decluttering, to mentally declutter as well. Goodbye, Facebook (I've heard this is a process so it may take a while). Yes, for real, for good. I've reached out to those people I would like to continue corresponding with in real time, and yeah. I've had enough with "having" to check the clogged-up-with-distractions feed every day. I'm definitely keeping the blog. I feel that it inspires me and connects me in a deeper way with like-minded women whom I am constantly learning from. I apply so many ideas in my everyday life. Facebook is too surface-only for me. I crave deeper connections, both with close friends and the friends who I've been interested with on there. I'm also hoping to make new friends (in reality) where we are headed next. I do not think my life will be hurt by getting rid of one of what is now dozens of social media platforms. I'm also going to eliminate a few other bad online habits in favor of :: outdoor exercise, yoga, and swimming (I've been going several times a week now and I'm over a half a mile, headed toward the mile!), knitting, and reading. I still want to break into sewing at some point but that's not clear yet when. Also, writing more letters and sending little care packages to friends, as well as seeing friends in everyday life. I'm a serious homebody/introvert but I think the occasional lunch out or hosting a potluck dinner, or heading to knitting night ... those are good things for me.

In the past couple of weeks I've finished two projects, the shawl you saw earlier and a cowl for a wonderfully inspiring blog friend in Canada who is facing some challenging times in her family. Then I have two more shawls to finish that have been languishing forever.

The menu plans are already getting lighter. Last night, I made a meatloaf with pastured pork and bacon, and a ton of kale and spinach. Alongside a HUGE salad of wild arugula dressed simply with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Yes, it was Paleo. Tonight's dinner will also be paleo -- spaghetti squash "pasta" with sausage link pieces, and marinara sauce. Just the way it worked out in the menu plan. I'm excited that everyday smoothie days are returning. Had a lovely green one today along with the prenatal vitamins I've started taking.

I hope that spring is making you happy and energetic wherever you are and that you are taking advantage of that sunshine in whatever way suits you best!! I had a lovely 2.5 mile walk with the dog earlier.

have a beautiful week.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

happy week, still lacking pictures

this is part of a shawl i knit for my mother-in-law, who is having two upcoming surgeries. i love the simple pattern and the colors of the yarn. I used Madeline Tosh in Filigree, and the pattern is a paid pattern called Simple Things on Ravelry.

I have way more pictures than this to share but the uploader is difficult with slow Internet. Just have to be patient!

I wanted to post my menu plan here. It's Sunday so we're going to enjoy a slow-cooked grassfed beef stew and sage-rosemary mashed potatoes. I've already prepped the chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and bacon for tomorrow night's cobb salads. We're kind of on a cobb kick lately. They are so fresh!

Here is the plan for the coming week. We have been eating a mix of paleo and vegetarian meals (i'm a believer in moderation for all things, but definitely less grain/gluten overall), we almost always do tacos on tuesdays (lately grassfed beef) and homemade pizza, either meat or veg, on fridays.

I would like you to once again be reminded that I refuse to eat ANY factory (even plain "organic") meat. makes me a restaurant vegan (i sometimes eat dairy and eggs depending on my mood and whether or not i can swallow my ethics on those rare occasions).

the first set of meals is totally planned and has already been shopped for. the second set is fluid and changes throughout the week as i revisit it. i love making menu plans and looking at both online recipes, old favorites, and my numerous cookbooks (I'm currently not allowing myself to obtain ANY more cookbooks, to see which ones I currently own I actually use). Might post that list sometime, too. I'd like to get a few good paleo cookbooks as well. Any recommendations?

These are dinners. Lunches are a mixed bag, usually leftovers, simple sandwiches, apples with nut butter, homemade "trail mix" (like sunflower seeds/almonds/chocolate chips), dried nuts/fruit, tortilla chips/veggies with hummus, that sort of thing. And to be honest occasionally i flub it with planning and i go down the road and get some sort of vegetarian wrap at the coffeeshop. I plan on making salmon salad with arugula this week, too. We also have some grassfed beef chili in the freezer that reheats extremely well. for breakfasts we do green smoothies, pre-made (by me! not a company) breakfast sammies that we reheat in the toaster oven. john likes bagels and cream cheese. we both like organic raisin bran, i add pecans and dried cherries or raisins to mine. i like oatmeal too but sometimes it has a rancid taste. i need to start stashing it in the freezer.

Finally, I find that I need two small snacks a day (once before lunch, once mid-afternoon). Usually they are tiny but protein-packed.

Anyway, right, the dinners -- you will see too that I often write prep/shopping ingredients to myself within each day. I post the dinners on some scrap paper on the fridge so my husband can get excited about them too and isn't in the dark if for instance it's "leftovers" (to him this could mean Subway, or a tuna sandwich, or whatever) and I'm not home yet (working late, swimming, whatever).

mon cobb salad, make mexican rice for tuesday night :-)  -- the chicken/bacon/egg for these I prepped while making sunday's dinner. all set to be assembled and eaten quick. easy meals are awesome on mondays.

tues tacos (beef) and mexican rice (freeze leftover rice)

wed conchiglie pasta (this is an AMAZING vegetarian concoction using a homemade greek yogurt and green pea sauce, and feta, from the Jerusalem cookbook)

thurs leftovers

fri pizza (pepperoni and spinach)

sat pork and bacon meatloaf with marinara to top, side of greens (arugula dressed with oil, s&p) (paleo meal)

sun zucchini or spaghetti squash pasta with sausage and marinara (paleo meal)

mon leftovers (make shredded chicken for dinner tomorrow night, use crockpot see bookmark)

tues tacos (shredded chicken, reheated) with newman's salsa! with leftover (freezer) mexican rice, reheated

wed noodles with tofu/cashews/asparagus (heart of the plate -- sometimes I write the cookbook or say "bookmarks" if it's on the computer so I know where to find the recipe)

thurs paleo stir fry with kale (buy a bag fresh at food lion) and sausage and red pepper (paleo)

fri pizza (veggies -- onion, broccoli, red bell pepper)

SHOP (every 2-3 weeks due to living FAR from tj's/wfm, usually on friday nights or somewhere thereabouts. the stores are dead at this time, they're also dead early sunday mornings and monday nights)

I felt like the last plan was really meat heavy, so this will eventually mix more veggie meals in. Remember -- eat food, mostly plants, not too much. my current manifesto :-) Obviously these meals aren't definitively planned yet but they are sketched. Do we ever deviate from the plan? Rarely -- saves us money on going out, and keeps food waste from happening -- but yeah, of course. There are DAYS. Where we end up at our favorite Mexican watering hole with a huge burrito in front of us. Sometimes I swap an easier meal if a slightly harder one is planned and I just don't feel like it. Sometimes I forget to soak beans or defrost meat and that's why swaps occur. We often put off pizza for a day if there are too many leftovers or dinner just has to happen too late for some reason. This is life, folks. Not set in stone. But the menu plans, boy do they help. Especially with shopping.

ANYway .... here's the second plan for this month. So far.

sat mashed potato bar :-) :-) toppings :: bacon/scallions/sour cream/(see Heather's page for ideas)
sun paleo
mon off - shredded chicken tacos in the crockpot with mexican rice
tues -- leftover tacos and rice
wed-- paleo
thurs salmon burgers and ???
fri pizza (sausage, bacon, onion)
sat vegetarian
sun pork roast with mashed potatoes and veg of some sort
m leftovers from sunday
tu tacos (beef)
we vegetarian -- pasta dish?
th premade burgers, homemade french fries, fresh greens salad (cold) -- VERY simple
fr pizza (vegetarian)
sat hearty vegetarian dish

Another 2 rules in the kitchen I've learned to faithfully abide by ::

mise en place (everything ready and portioned/chopped/prepped appropriately before just reading the recipe and happily watching it come together)

clean as you go. when you cook from scratch the downside is a TON of dishes (my husband always notices this one ... .lucky for me he's so good about taking out the trash, which I hate)

I'm interested in beginning to save some vegetable peelings to make stock, once we move we might have an additional freezer in the house. Would love a good chicken or beef stock recipe if you have it. We're not composters for now, but I hate just throwing all this good organic matter away, or to my dog.

I've just polished off my second bowl of beef stew. If you are going to eat like this remember to exercise (I walked two miles and swam nearly 3/4 mile today). In fact just because I'm on a roll here is what I ate today, and it's how I try to eat every day.

guilty indulgences :: 3 sea salt dark chocolate covered almonds, one small caramel cashew cookie from tj's (bought those for hubby, a cookie freak. i can take or leave cookies.)

breakfast:: smoothie -- almond milk, 2% yogurt, raw kale, chia seeds, maca powder, honey, frozen bananas, cinnamon, vanilla extract, sunflower seed butter

2 mile walk

lunch :: spicy brussels sprouts stir fry with snap peas and walnuts, salmon burger on a 100% whole wheat bun (if i wasn't going to the gym I would have skipped the bread, I do not think even this organic bread is good for our bodies overall but it won't hurt a workout)

3/4 mile swim (laps)

post-workout snack :: fresh strawberries and a few small pieces of sharp cheddar cheese, also a hard-boiled egg b/c i was still hungry

dinner :: two bowls of beef stew and mashed potatoes.

In other news ...

I've finished Four Spirits and am back on to Dickens' Bleak House. I also really want to read The Snow Child. From the library I have out Eating on the Wild Side.

I've started taking prenatal vitamins (holy 6 per day!!) and a DHA supplement. I swear my hair is already softer.

I'm finishing two shawls and a cowl that have been on the needles far too long before I start anything else. Then I want to start a mother's day shawl (same as the one pictured but more of a slate gray color) and work on a long-forgotten shawl for my grandma and try making a dishcloth leftover from the hibernate retreat i took with Heather this winter. I have some pretty purple Aunt Lydia's crochet thread for that.

No, I am not pregnant!! Just erm ... prepping the vessel :-)

There are just 9 more weeks of school and then a 10-day break until I jump right back in at the new school. Yikes !!

Happy week, everyone ...

love and light,