"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mauve + Sage For Autumn

Coordinating your morning coffee with a bouquet you buy for yourself.....highly recommended. I realize that the orange/red/yellow palette is the bread and butter of fall but isn't soft pink, and dusty sage on the list as an avante guarde autumn look? It must be. I just added it to the list. 

Feeling so scattered at the moment. Lots on my mind. So many jobs and ideas that are chattering in my mind. (must make lists!) And so much fervor waiting in the wings too. I can feel the off-stage clamor. Had a long, frantic dream last night about..."OH NO...its Christmas morning and I forgot the stockings!!!! QUICK!!!! Solve that problem before the kids wake up." 

That's one way to wake up peppy. Heh. I was jazzed on stress for a while even though I woke up to a quiet house with no Christmas in sight for weeks and weeks. 

Wound down by having whispered early morning conversation in the kitchen with Lockbox while she packed her lunch. I can't even really explain how much I love having her here for the sake of companionship and warm noshing. Its like a hit of college dorm-room camaraderie minus the ridiculous exams and sob fests over boyfriends. Tonight we are going out together after dinner for a sister-outing too which means meaningful discussion + mind-relaxing laughter at both ends of the day. Perfect way to start the week.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shoes and Autumn Mornings

I got up this morning...actually when my alarm went off...and spent a half an hour alone in the living room, curled up under a blanket, reading my next bookclub assignment. It was so chilly, and I was grouchy/groggy when I first got up which was nothing that a private mug of chai tea couldn't cure. When off-track like I have been the past few days, (missed schedules, dropped self-care, over-tired....etc.)  the best thing ever is just to get back on track....and minimize the emotional self-flagellation and instead tell yourself that falling off the wagon is useful because it teaches you how sweet it really is to ride. Meaning is contexual.

This is the best time of year ever in some ways. I love the freshness of the Autumn. The way a day carries all the seasons in rotation inside itself. Wake up to the frosty chill of winter thinking of slippers and baked sweet potatoes but also spend a moment in the middle of the day weeding in the garden with a hot vernal sun baking down on your back. Have your cake and eat it too. Welcome to Fall.

 Ru has been growing a lot over the summer and Baby Pom is finally doing a little growing of his own (record breaking midget that he is!) and today I am off to Target looking for new footwear for them both. Pom will just get a new pair of leather crib shoes, no real soles yet but Ru needs yet another pair of long-suffering casual shoes. His current pair lolls open at the toes when he trips up the sidewalk like some kind of bizarre puppet. Must keep the children in shoes. These sorts of things look bad. Neighbors begin to ask questions.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Autumn Food List

A few years ago I brainstormed the idea of a seasonal food list for the side of the fridge. The idea is to "keep in mind" visually all the cozy, traditional foods that we keep dreaming of when we long for Autumn. I also really love the fact that it does a tiny bit of keeping me on track with local/seasonal eating. No better way to check off "apple dumplings"  than to turn it into a trip to the Farmer's Market or the local orchard! Compiling the list is also a fun exercise in self-examination. What speaks Autumn to me personally? What traditional Fall foods are not compelling for me but seem culturally obligatory? Ha! Mental purging! Sometimes I have a particular food that I crave and love but I don't know what time of year it "fits" in so researching its seasonality (mussels in white wine sauce was one for me) ends up being a bite-sized education. I now know that mussels are in season in Autumn. 

The first year I drew up my lists it took up a little bit of my time....but now I just have all the lists saved on my computer and I just review the appropriate list, add or remove whatever seems right and hit PRINT. The list lives on the side of the fridge and I use it when planning menus for the week or dreaming up special dishes for company. Then I keep a pen handy for scratching things off as they show up on our table. So fun! Here's my Autumnal version....

Autumnal Food

Pear Tart
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Stuffed Figs
Cinnamon Pork Chops
Cheese with Apples
Mussels and Crusty French Bread
Oyster Mushrooms Fried with Bacon
Sausages w/ Caramelized Onions
Slow Roasted Ribs
Roast Quail
Apple Dumplings
Fresh Plums
Plum Tart
Apple Turnovers
Raspberry Jam
Mulled Cider
Roast Beets
Venison Tenderloin
Braised Rabbit
Black Bean Soup
Roasted Garlic
Cranberry Bar Cookies
Buckwheat Pancakes
Scrambled Eggs W/Mushrooms
Apple Galette
Fresh Apple Cider @ The Mill
Spicy Muffins
Carrot Cake
Swedish Meatballs
Chili w/Cornbread
Pumpkin Bread
Honeybaked Ham
Chai Tea
Apple Cider Donuts
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Pot Roast
Butternut Squash Soup
Braised Pork Belly
Pumpkin Waffles
Apple Crisp
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Acorn Squash w/ Cinnamon and Maple Syrup
 Bouf Bourguignon
Cranberry Coffee Cake
Concord Grapes
Goat Cheese Cheesecake
Pumpkin Fudge

What would make your list?


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Robotic Friend

It was a rough night last night. Too hot to sleep and punctuated by 5,000 child-nightmares so I was bushed and way too grouchy all morning. At naptime I laid down and had a small catch-up and when I came back downstairs Dee showed me what he had been quietly working on with paper, markers and a roll of masking tape.
"He's a sort of friend-robot, Mommy....not really a working kind or a helping kind. He's just a friend."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Laundry Salvation

So excited about my new laundry system.  Small, home-making victories that matter!!!!

I have discussed my laundry battles before. Some woes are perpetual. I think, however, that this time I have the upper hand with my clever new scheme. On the weird side....it involves five million laundry baskets....on the plus side, its a LOT more organized, somewhat perpetually caught up, and it makes me feel like a mommy-rock star!!!

I have baskets for sorting the laundry and all the dirties get put immediately into one of these bins as soon as they enter the basement laundry zone.  Ru has just started learning to load the washer or dryer and having sorted bins of dirties makes it a much saner process. He just stuffs the washer full with his chosen color (I sort whites, lights, darks and reds) and then I add soap or bleach and start the machine when I get a chance. 

After washing and drying, all laundry gets folded and sorted into the next bank of baskets, labelled with names. Each person has a basket, neatly labelled and they stack on top of each other for space saving convenience. Love this part. So soothing to go down in the basement in early morning before the house is awake or late at night when the littles are running around crazily with toothbrushes on the 2nd floor....and just have a little sorting binge.

Just me and the laundry...each thing in its bin, every one folded and ready for putting away.

Dee loves the new system and it is bringing out his inner organizer. He goes energetically down the basement to empty his basket every morning and tells me several times a week how much he loves the new plan. Cute little kindred spirit. I am a mess on the outside and full of spontaneous creativity but I have a strong inner craving for order and aesthetic smoothness. Dee and child-me are a lot alike. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Girly Frog, Changes Clothes

Did you know frogs shed their skin????

Totally blown away by that, just a little fruit of my naptime research on Science Tuesday. The boys and I went out for a little hike this morning and found this beautiful she-frog. She's a "green frog" which is a real name, not just the obvious descriptor for her coloring. We found out she was a girl when we got home and did some digging. Girl green-frogs have a pale creamy belly (you can just see the edges of hers peeking out below her jaw), boys have a yellow throat. Lady green frogs also have an ear (that circle behind her eye) that is the same size as their eyes. Boy froggies have whopper ears. I wonder if they can hear better than the females. 

But yes...the skin. Frogs can breathe through their skin and drink through their skin and that's why they are slimey to the touch. They secrete a mucus to keep their delicate hides all perfectly in tune. If they can't drink or breathe because the works get clogged they'd be in major trouble...so they change outfits a lot...keeping their skin in perfect condition. When the old skin needs replacing they wiggle out of it (like a snake) and pull it over their heads with their front feet and then......

.....they eat it. 

Surreal, right? Nature. Its a trip.

Monday, September 9, 2013

First Day, Second Time

It was our annual First Day celebration today! Our first official day of semi-structured home learning....sorta-school. You may remember last year, our first big recognition of the occasion.

I want the boys to feel special, for learning to be ardently celebrated and yet to avoid the pale, cheesy, chasing after "normal," pretend about making a xerox-of-a-public-school here in the living room. Walking that line. I was going for warm tradition capped with a little buzz and hoping to avoid wanna-be mimicry. We had warm apple dumplings for breakfast...apples because they are a modern symbol of teaching and dumplings because they are a once a year treat that goes down delightfully sweet and fallish. Each boy came down to a special congratulatory sign on his plate, welcoming him to his new grade level. And then I put a candle in each boy's dumpling and A and I sang to them "Happy First Day to you, Happy First Day to you, Happy First Day, happy first day of schoooool, Happy First Day to you!" So fun to see big sparkling eyes and happy grins, over the top of the flickering flames.

Then we hopped in the van for our 2nd annual drive around the block to the street in front of the neighborhood school where we hooted and hollered and honked the horn and then wheeled back around and took Daddy A to the train station for work. Once we were home we had a big dance party in the kitchen and commenced the formal learnin'.

Mondays we will studying My Place In This World which is a self-composed course about micro-geography. Our street, our neighborhood, our city, and eventually our state and then a sketch of how that connects to the country and the world. Right now we are going to focus small and work from the concrete things they can easily grasp: What is an address? Where are N S E W in relation to my front door? What is a neighborhood? And move outward.

Tuesdays we will be studying Science, right we will be talking about Fungi, Molds and Their Kin. Lots of hikes and experiments in our future. Hopefully a lot of mushroom picking!

Wednesday will be Art day. We'll be mixing together some big art projects (weaving! beading! drawing in perspective!) and sometimes field trips or artist studies with our new basic piano instruction plan. I am not a piano professional but this a bite sized nobler book about beginner theory on reading and counting music and even I can hack it.

Thursday we will have another mama-hatched ideas, a Social Skills class. This will be like a modern manners course mixed with Life Skills for kids: how to make a friend, how to tell a joke smoothly, how to read body language, cultivating empathy, good listening tips, appropriate greetings, how to read expressively etc. Am excited about this concept and about the many field trips required to make sure my boys get a lot of practice building these skills into instincts.

And we 'll round out the week.with History. We are still going to be in the ancient world moving on past the Mesopotamians, Sumerians and Baylonians to Greece, Egypt and Rome. So much good stuff to read, experiment with and go see together! Very exciting.

Reading, writing and math all happen every day in addition to the daily topic.

Here's to the next learning season! Happy First Day, y'all! Photobucket

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Food For The Soul

Eating without refined sugar or grains is very good. I feel good, really good. I have basically no headaches or stomachaches not related to sickness, I am effortlessly trim, my moods stay super stable and I have more endurance physically (though its hard to tell if that's because of weight loss or good diet).  I'm not sure exactly where I stand on the celiac/gluten intolerance spectrum but I firmly believe my body doesn't like wheat. I have to say though, I notice similarly dramatic reactions to sugar consumption in my body. A handful of chocolate chips consumed on a bad day can put me off kilter with headaches and irrational mood-swings for another 48 hours. The individual psychology of eating sugar-less and grain-free is pretty easy too. I tell people all the time that I still can eat a LOT of stuff. All meats, all dairy, all vegetables (save the potato) and all fruits. That doesn't sound so spare, right?

I truly thought a lot of this stuff was hokum insanity whipped up by kill-joy hippies, obsessed with controlling their whole existence and I am ashamed to admit that I have made fun of people talking like I do now or even just quietly eating in a careful way on the sidelines. I have been flabbergasted by how extremely hard it is for me to choose a different path with food and still be part of mainstream culture. People have been angry with me over my food choices, argumentative about the things I have read, pushy about what they'd like me to put in my mouth and verbally ridiculing about the things I am choosing to politely decline. I felt blindsided by people being threatening and mean about silly things like cake and hot dog buns. I think I might have been better able to handle the negativity if I had had any idea it was coming. I assumed in this age of rampant food allergy and vegetarian, local, vegan eating that people wouldn't bat an eye and I'd have to have very few actual conversations about my new eating. I was super wrong. Note: To Those Considering Eliminating Refined Sugar and Grains....people are not ready for this...prepare for a lot of judgement and skeptical questioning.

Its good to learn compassion by needing it yourself, to learn acceptance by seeing how important it really can be for you and to learn to love humility and secure space for a no answer after being pushed and prodded by those who are uber sure they're right. Did I mention that the theme of my year this year is acceptance? Even food has lessons to offer. All things are windows into the soul, even the way we cook, eat and serve our meals.