Easter journaling cards

I created these cards last year and shared here but wanted to pop them back up to the top in case you missed them and would like to download them for Easter projects. Just click to enlarge and right click to save - enjoy!



Issue number 2 of my newly started collection of National Geographic magazines came in the mail yesterday.

I can't think of anything I really collect. Definitely not magazines (I don't have any of the magazines that I've been published in - all recycled...every one of them.) Ever since I was little though I've loved National Geographic and the idea of an entire shelf of the bright yellow makes me happy. I mean, how can you not swoon over this:

We're in an eternal state of remodeling around here but I'm excited to figure out where and how I'll display my new collection. At least I have a few months before I really need to nail down a home for these!

Totally unrelated, doesn't that dark knot in the wood look like a rubber ducky? I'm constantly staring at that thing and hearing Ernie's voice singing in my head.



I'm still addicted to chai. This recipe really is good but this concentrate works awesomely well and is so much easier ;) (and in an example of my superior intellect, I almost balked at the $4.50 price until I realized that for the 8 servings, I'd pay almost 10x that much at Starbucks...and triple my calories) It's a tiny bit sweet for me so I don't quite do the 50/50 ratio...more like 40/60.

Juice from 1/2 of a blood orange + soda water = perfection. Also, the container of cucumber + mint water I have in the fridge - so refreshing!

Roasted sweet potatoes with brown rice and salad has been my go-to lunch. Twice last week and again today. There is something so nice about preparing a real lunch.
Struggling through this book. I finally finished it yesterday but it was a long one. I really enjoyed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter so I thought I would like this one as well. Nope, not so much. Though I'm not a huge Austen fan so there's that.

Slowly trying to plan a new quilt for Izzy's bed.

Three seasons of Justified on Amazon Prime keeps me on the treadmill 6 days a week. Three seasons =  30+ hours = almost 150 miles.


eating this week

I'm excited to try some new recipes this week from the cook book check out binge I've been on at the library. I'll let you know next week how they go over!

Monday tortilla soup
Tuesday lentil soup + naan new
Wednesday lentil meatballs new
Thursday kale salad (from True Food) white beans and cabbage (from Super Natural Every Day) new
Friday sweet potato and millet cakes with poblano cream (from Whole Grains for a New Generation) + salad new
Saturday lasagna
Sunday broccoli cheddar soup

from last week:
The biggest hit of the week was absolutely the brussels sprouts w/ avocado + lime. Everyone loved it. I added roasted corn to replace the bacon and also one cup of quinoa (just simply cooked in vegetable broth.) A big scoop over a plate of mixed greens was perfect!


eating this week

Monday bok choy, broccoli and edamame skillet I'm going to try barley rather than millet (new)
Tuesday tomato basil parmesan soup (crock pot) + bread (new)
Wednesday pasta w/ braised broccoli + tomato + garlic bread
Thursday lentil tacos + pickled red onions
Friday brussels sprouts w/ avocado + lime over greens (new)
Saturday tortilla soup
Sunday chinese orange tofu + brown rice & broccoli

and a couple of lunch items for the week:
roasted cabbage
wilted spinach & feta salad (new)

from last week:
The feta ricotta spinach rolls were pretty good but I'm not sure they were good enough to justify the calories. Carlos really liked them though and the kids ate them (though none were thrilled.)

The refried bean tacos were so easy and really tasty. I'm not a huge fan of refried beans but the addition of the onions and tomatoes made a huge difference.

Dill pickle fries? Oh, hell yes.


so tempting

you know I need to bring back that cliche "dance like no one is watching" layout title for these.


making stuff

So to update on March, I've knocked out a couple more simple projects.

A custom papercut that Izzy adores (so, I'll be cutting a second, apparently.) This isn't even on my list of projects but I still wanted to share because I dig it.

A baby blanket for my soon-to-be niece or nephew. A yard of grey + white chevron plus a yard of super soft minky. And no, I would never sew a white blanket for one of my own children. And yes, this is barely sewing and kind of cheating but that's OK...hoping to knock out something else still this month.

To tally up my progress:

  • knit something DONE
  • crochet something
  • sew something DONE
  • build something
  • repurpose something (project planned)
  • scrapbook something
  • finish something (project picked)
  • cook something
  • mold something
  • update something (project planned)

I have a lot of work to do in the next 18 days.


eating this week

Monday chopped salad with quinoa, sweet potatoes + apples (new)
Tuesday lemon dill pasta (I halve dressing and skip the asparagus)
Wednesday feta ricotta spinach rolls (new) + salad
Thursday apple pancakes + veggie sausage
Friday broccoli gribriche
Saturday grilled cheese + dill pickle fries (new)
Sunday refried beans tacos (new)

And I wanted to share this easy, homey vegetarian "chicken" and dumplings recipe I made by mashing together this recipe (for a cream based soup without the can + chemicals) and this recipe. The only reason I'm sharing my mashed up version is because I used quite a few vegan/vegetarian variations on the basic ingredients and it worked well.

1 T  Earth Balance
3 T flour (whole wheat)
1/2 C vegetable broth
1/2 C almond milk

In a cast iron pan (or other oven proof,) melt butter and whisk in flour. Add the broth and milk and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

1.5 C almond milk
2 C frozen vegetables (I used the kid classic corn/peas/carrot/green bean mix)
1 bag Quorn chicken tenders
2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T vegetable shortening
2/3 C almond milk

Add milk, vegetables, Quorn and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to the pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, salt and shortening. Stir in milk until just mixed. Drop spoonfuls of biscuit mix on top of filling. Cook on low for 10 minutes uncovered and then 10 minutes covered. Remove cover and put pan in a 350 oven until biscuits just begin to brown.



Well this is kind of perfect for my March something, huh?

from Pam Garrison's etsy shop.


when my eight year old became a published author

I don't have many moments where I feel like a really good mom. I feel adequate most of the time and occasionally, really shitty.

We've had our ups and downs with Zack - I've documented some of it here. Whenever he shows an interest in something constructive though, I do my damnedest to encourage it in hopes that he'll redirect his energy into something more positive. Writing is such a great outlet for him. It quiets his mind, provides a way to unleash some of his negativity in a productive way and he has a physical product in the end; something that proves his hard work has paid off.

A couple of months ago, he set out to write a book. It consumed him for hours each week. He made a detailed cover, a few illustrations, chapter and page numbers but mostly - it was words. Lots of words. When he finished it, I typed it up, scanned his artwork, did a little manipulation (per his very specific instruction) and plopped into a quick photoshop template I designed. After much deliberation and some input from friends, I decided to type it just as written - spelling and punctuation intact from his original. He did end up having his big brother proofread it for him but there is still evidence there that I didn't make any changes myself.

I ordered a soft cover copy of the book from Blurb and it arrived on Wednesday. To say he was giddy holding that book in his hands would be an absolute understatement. Seeing an idea come to fruition...that feeling of accomplishment knowing you started with a small seed and nurtured it along. Such a proud moment for him.

And I have to mention Johnathan Rand and the American Chillers series of books. To say Zack is obsessed wouldn't be giving full credit to the extent of this kid's love of that series. He is completely enamored and the fact that the author is based in Michigan only amplifies the feeling. Rand answered both a letter Zack wrote with a letter in kind as well as an email he had sent. You have to admire that kind of devotion to your fans. Rand and his wife run a writing camp for kids a few times a year. Needless to say, Zack is bummed he's not old enough to attend yet but counting down until the time he is. Hope he's just as interested in going once he's finally old enough!

Blurb allows you to use templates but if you'd rather work in Photoshop/Elements and upload the pages as jpegs, you can download the simple layouts I used for Zack's book. I added a slight cushion on the binded edge of each page as well as footer/chapter fields. We ordered the 5x8" to make it most appropriately sized to a softcover novel. I have a left page, right page, combined page and author page set up. Simple designs but good templates for making it easy to copy and paste in from the Word doc I typed the chapters up in. I also added scans of the internal drawings Zack had in his original draft. For the chapters that extended past one page, I just deleted the chapter number field. Here are photos of a few of the inside pages as well as his draft and finished product (after some intense time photoshopping per his artistic direction):

I just added the page numbers, text and photos, flattened and uploaded to Blurb (using their downloadable software) as jpegs. If you want the templates you can download them here :)


do something: wrapping up February...onward to March

A few days late: an update on February and introduction to March.

First off, February:

28 areas to purge/organize/streamline

  • clothes x5 (hand-me-downs, donate, toss)
  • digital (back up files, clean up email + blogs, phone apps + photos)
  • paperwork (file + shred)
  • bathroom cabinet
  • kitchen sink sprayer (fix the damn thing)
  • izzy's closet
  • kitchen island
  • scrapbook stuff
  • bookshelf
  • fridge
  • linens
  • living room side table
  • photos
  • school projects + art
  • cleaning supplies (toss + consolidate in one spot)
  • shoes
  • playroom closet
  • combine both of our closets (old bedroom + new bedroom)
  • kitchen cabinets + drawers
  • knitting stuff
  • toy box
  • laundry room
  • carlos' school stuff (old textbooks)
  • electronics "junk" (old software, headphones, mice, plugs, CDs, etc)
  • boys' nightstand
  • boys' cabinet
  • coat closet
  • movies
Overall, progress I'm happy with. February was a success not because I finished every item on the list but because I did fix stuff; I did make stuff easier to find; I did eliminate stuff we just don't need. And I'm not quitting just because February is over...I'll finish the list (and tackle those items that have become a more apparent need since eliminating other junk.)

I did another 50 miles in February and started the C25K app (again.)

Baby steps.

Onward to March.

Since January and February weren't exactly "fun" somethings (even though I'm beyond happy about the results of both) and because March is my birthday month, I thought it was time to add a more enjoyable task to the mix. Other than a few thrown together Valentines, it's been a crafting desert around here since the pre-Christmas rush. So for March, my goal is simply to Make Stuff. I'm doing this with Intention though, right? So I have some specifics in mind.

  • knit something: I knocked this one out already but have other stuff I may attempt as well.
  • crochet something: This is an obstacle to overcome as I've toyed with crochet but haven't begun to master it or even complete a single crochet project.
  • sew something: A few possibilities here including a simple baby blanket for my niece.nephew to be EDD June, 2013 as well as a new quilt (again, super simple) for Izzy's bed.
  • build something: You know, with wood!
  • repurpose something: Put to use some of the stuff I have saved for future projects (like the other headboard from the crib.)
  • scrapbook something: You would think this would be a gimme but you'd be wrong. Now that I've purged my stash down to practically nothing, I have the urge to do a paper layout - something I haven't done in years other than some project life spreads.
  • finish something: I have, um, more than a handful of half finished projects of various provenance lying around. Time to finish one or ten.
  • cook something: I cook daily and try tons of new recipes but I want to challenge myself with a scary recipe that requires a lot of time and effort and possibly even equipment I'm not familiar with.
  • mold something: I've pinned tons of little concrete projects and absolutely love the simple + utilitarian look of them. this month, I'll tackle one!
  • update something: A few ideas for this but one in particular that's maybe not so expected.

That put's me at about one project every three days. Ambitious now that I look at it. I've knocked out one though and hope to finish another today.

On Friday I started a scarf for Izzy - a pink one like she's been requesting for a few weeks now. It took awhile to find a pink that didn't make me nauseous (why are they all so pepto bismol-y?) and even this one, a foot into the knitting, had me regretting my choice.

The results were worth it though. She kind of loves it.

I just did a simple diagonal stitch pattern. Rather than knitting on the bias though with increases and decreases (which in my experience, tugs the corners so it's not a rectangle but more of a parallelogram) I did a K2 P2 and just shifted the pattern one stitch each row...like this:

c/o 30 stitches (I used an aran weight yarn - I could have gone a few stitches less, it's rather wide)
row 1: K2P2 until end of row ending with a K2
row 2: P1 K2 *P2 K2* P1
row 3: P2K2 until end of row ending with a P2
row 4: K1 P2 *K2 P2* K1

Repeat until you reach your desired length - super easy! I used maybe 2/3 of the skein so probably around 200 yards or so.

And I'm obviously not a pattern writer so I wouldn't be at all surprised if I managed to confuse you on even a simple pattern like this.


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