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,


Sunday, March 30, 2014

on social media and friendships, quality of life, a reflective

hello friends,

internet has not allowed me to post pics from my Kindle lately even though i have them to share. only 2 more months till we're in real Internet land again. so, sorry but i did not want to stay silent.

i've been having some reflective thoughts lately, a lot of them centered around maintaining real friendships in this new era (to me) of social media. i haven't truly heard from any of my core group of friends in ages, though i must admit that i'm not much better. i did recently send some of them postcards (in the real mail). the funny thing is, they don't seem to be online much, either. so their lives stay dark to me. and that's hard when some of us are scattered in faraway miles. when i was much younger, i wrote frequent letters to my sixth-grade best friend who moved one state over. for a long time until we just naturally drifted apart, we stayed very close this way, even visiting each other from time to time as our parents allowed.

then there are the people who i knew in real life at some point that i've made some positive connections with on facebook, more so than we ever did when we knew each other in real life. i don't want to lose those, in fact i'd like to continue to communicate -- swap recipes, etc. to those people, i'll probably provide with my blog and email as well as snail mail addresses. i'm really not a phone person, in fact i'm considering going down to a pay per use type phone (no texting) and getting a landline at home when we move this summer. facebook ... even since i've gone down to fewer than 50 friends, it still "suggests" pages and posts i like, people post inane quizzes and quotes, etc., and it's basically a time-waster apart from the tiny bits of meaningful connection i've managed to find there.

i also think it might just be time for me to make a few new friends where we are going. this isn't easy for me as a super happy introvert, but i do think it's necessary. for potluck suppers, mama (one day) gatherings, and the like.

in the end, i'm also trying to build my attention span up again to what it was (or as close as possible) when i was younger. i try to spend my days focused on DOING things i enjoy, knitting and reading and cooking and baking. today i read a REAL book, with paper pages, for two hours. that felt so liberating. sad, right? but true. even i, who spend less time online than just about anybody i know, have suffered the negative consequences of too much screen time.

here's what i do on the computer on any given day.

candy crush
checking news articles, mostly a few glances around CNN
blog reading and updating
facebook ... the feed, need i say more? scrollscrollscroll (thank goodness for 48 "friends")
ravelry (knitting website)
look up recipes
manage my ongoing menu plans/shopping lists
and, because i have a strange hobby of checking up on missing people/conspiracy theories, i tend to get sucked into those types of stories and message boards.

in full honesty, that's what i do on the internet. i also suffer from that from one window to another syndrome, something makes me wonder, so i click, the same thing happens again, i click, next thing i know i've navigated through dozens of windows and hours of REAL time have elapsed. i don't want to do all of these activities every day, to be honest i'd like to see my computer turned off more often than not. i'd like to have it on just once a week. i have a kindle that does all the same stuff but really the reason i got it was so it could be easier to cook in the kitchen using a bookmarked recipe or doing knitting using a bookmarked pattern. not to mindlessly surf the net or get sucked into games on a daily basis and don't get me started on how instantaneously people expect you to return emails ...

if you've made it this far, thank you! it's just been something i guess i needed to get off my chest. i keep thinking, "what will you do with your one precious life?" and realizing more and more one answer is, "be offline." and BE ENGAGED. with real people and reality. to sleep knowing i've worked with my REAL HANDS, whether at something that interests me, or challenges me, or both. i want a long attention span again, even if this means subscribing to offline pubs like the new yorker rather than scanning through virtual text. seriously, i can't even read indepth online articles anymore without getting all jumpy and antsy and wanting to skip around or "read more later" while clicking to another window. this is scary stuff, folks. do any of you ever reflect on it?

i guess that's the stuff of this post. for now. stay tuned ....

love and light,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

fits and starts

we are getting spring here, in fits and starts. yesterday was sunny and 70's. but we're forecasted for more snow on tuesday. i'm loving the increased strength (and amount) of sunshine each day. i think most of us are very tired of this long, difficult winter. 

this is the last day of our spring break. we spent it mostly at home, i unfortunately contracted a mild case of food poisoning that had me more down than usual for the first few days. i got to realize how burned i was from work. it was good to focus on some things in my personal life again. i'm knitting a shawl for my MIL for mother's day which is already almost finished. i'm pleased with my commitment to it. 

also, i am currently focusing more on eating well and exercising more. i'm also going to start taking prenatal vitamins ;-) (not yet...just preparing). i'd like to lose 10-15 lbs. through summer. i don't think that's unreasonable. yesterday i swam 1/2 a mile. 

looks like i will be purchasing a new (to me) car this summer. when i hit the deer a few months back my insurance would not cover the damage and i don't think the car will pass inspection without me getting it fixed for a hefty cost. also i've been driving the same car for 13 years now, nearly. it's time. once we are settled i think i'll be able to save some money towards it. i am getting so excited about our move. i found an artisan butcher, pools to swim in, yoga centers, a yarn shop, at least three trader joe's and a whole foods. now all we need is a house to live in ;-)

i can't seem to keep myself from buying some new clothes (consignment/thrift "new") lately. this was not my intention at the new year. must be cabin fever. i am trying to rein it in but also be gentle on myself. i buy high quality clothes that last a long time. also i just sent a huge bag to an online consignment shop and i hope anything i make from that will go right into the savings toward our security deposit and first months' rent. also i really wanted to spend the other day so i played around with clothing in a "cart" for a while then deleted all of it and went over to my student loan website and "spent" the $ ... hee hee. i'm TRYING. it's hard. I'd still like to make my own laundry soap, it's one of the only cleaners (that and dish soap) I still buy. I make my own deodorant and all-purpose spray, and use baking soda and vinegar to clean tubs and toilets. I am guilty of using clorox wipes to clean the outer toilet parts, I don't really want to keep a sponge just for the toilet cleaning purposes kind of grosses me out but maybe I can figure out how to make my own wipes with old t-shirt pieces and then just wash them in hot water to reuse. we'll see. i do love saving money. 

we plan to join a CSA where we are next. 

i'm TRYING. you know, it's all a process ... an evolution. fits and starts, those happen for sure. 

next weekend i plan on another decluttering session. there might be things i can donate/sell on craigslist. like, my banjo. i realize i do love the banjo and i love bluegrass music but i'm not sure actually playing an instrument was something i actually meant to do. has that ever happened to you? i really would like to learn how to sew though, so the machine will stay. i'm sure i can find some classes where we're going. 

this morning i made breakfast sandwiches for the week. i plan on getting to work an hour before school starts each day and staying after for an hour most days. this will be my new schedule in june (7:30-4:30) so I figure it'd be good to get used to it now even though I'll be working more hours than what my salary (currently) allows. I feel frazzled without the professional development time that my new job is going to give me, so perhaps this will help. It has been a BUSY year. Montessori is not for the faint of heart though it's a VERY rewarding calling. Oh yeah, food. We will have orzo pasta salad for lunches this week. Menu plans have been simpler lately as I've been trying to save some money at the grocery store. 

Are you interested in our weekly menu plans? Here is this week's. 

Sunday (tonight) -- conchiglie pasta (from Jerusalem)

Monday -- leftovers/snacky dinner

Tuesday -- tacos (with veg meat)

Wednesday -- bacon-wrapped roasted chicken, broccoli, quinoa

Thursday -- cobb salads

Friday -- cheese pizza (homemade) with sliced red bell pepper on the side

Saturday -- grassfed burgers and broccoli/carrot slaw with toasted sunflower seeds

Sunday -- tunisian chickpea soup 

i have been trying to eliminate screen time an hour before bed each night. i find that when i spend the last hour of my day reading a book before turning out my light, i sleep much better. i've also been trying to take ginny sheller's advice and knit for at least an hour each day. i need to take REAL lunch breaks at work (i get an hour for this at my new job, eek!!), currently i work through them but if i adjust my schedule for the hour before and after school i think it would be good to take knitting along and actually sit to eat and breathe, and maybe leave work once a week to grab a coffee and some fresh air. i know i would feel happier and more balanced. you know, balance is so important to me!! 

if you've made it this far, thanks for tuning in. i'm sorry my blogging has been so spotty. a lot of it is that it's hard to upload pictures because of our unreliable internet. we will miss the quiet here but we are so ready to feel we are among the living once again. just two more months, hard to believe!! 

happy spring to you wherever you are ... let's hope this next bout of cold, snowy weather is the last of it!!

love and light,
k. ~ xo

Saturday, March 1, 2014

still here ... with some big news!

Ok, no picture yet but ... it's been 3 weeks since I last posted. Yikes. I just haven't been too picture-happy lately is all.

Things here are good, and there's MAJOR news I am happy to announce :: I have found a NEW JOB! That's right, in just over three months from now we'll be moving out of the sticks and into the Washington, D.C. area (!!). I'll be working at a year-round Montessori school and DH has a good chance of getting a job there, too. This will be my first experience with year-round Montessori so I have mixed feelings but we are very, very happy to be getting off the Shore which has been a mixed bag (loved my job but hated a lot about this area, honestly) the last two years. This also means my job will start in June with not much time off in between but the school is very professional and well set-up with a lot of support. It's a beautiful school really. Of course there won't be a lag in pay between jobs which is really really great. We plan, if all goes well, to be in this area for quite a long time. I'm a bit nervous about green space, but I love being virtually ON the Amtrak path which can shoot me to New England and other greener points fairly quickly, there are also some major state parks to the west in VA and WVA about three hours or less away.

So that's the first major bit of news for us, post-marriage! We are so excited to have many personal, professional, and cultural opportunities to pursue. It will be a great area to raise a family in I think.

On the homefront, I'm just trying to take March to relax. February was quite a whirlwind of activity with traveling for job interviews, for the annual Montessori conference in Texas, not many weekends home for balance and I was more than a little out of sorts about that. Spent today doing some deep cleaning and I feel my home mojo is back :-) I made homemade deodorant, froze bananas for smoothies, and prepped breakfast sandwiches for the week ahead. We're also on solid menu plans again.

I would like to get my meals even simpler. I know this happens naturally moving toward spring and summer, when we live off smoothies and cold salads mostly it seems, and grilled stuff (thank you Staub grill pan wedding gift!). But the grocery spending ... oh my. I'm excited about possibly joining a CSA for the first time ever since we are finally settling in an area for a long while. Have I mentioned how excited i am to finally start settling somewhere? Yeah. We're ready for it.

I have some long-neglected knitting and knitting podcasts to get to, so ... I won't stay here too much longer today. Promise to post photos as I have them. I've realized that I can't be like the mama bloggers out there. I don't stay home (yet .... fingers crossed for someday....), and I can't cook every single night. I just can't. So those nights there might be pizza or Subway. I mean, I work FULL time. And the house can't always look perfect like some blogs out there make theirs out to be. I can do what I can do as far as homemaking stuff and working out and have to let the rest go. This is hard for me to accept because I'm "all about the self-improvement" as my DH puts it. If I can't let go sometimes, my personal hobbies suffer, my relationships suffer, my body suffers, and life just needs to feel fun and spontaneous sometimes. Yes, I'm working on it.

Have a lovely week!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

so much winter yet

homemade braided bread with fresh herbs and olive oil poured on top
before it was bread, on my recently-oiled cutting board
fresh sage and rosemary sprigs/garlic/grassfed butter
we finally got a snowstorm! almost two weeks off from school between two of them 
as you can see, road crews are uncommon in this part of va. this is our street looking away from our house
five or six inches on the bedroom balcony
crazy icicle outside my bedroom window!
peaceful snowy marsh

I've been trying to live as slowly and gently with as much time at home as possible. Some of it's been just given to me by the weather! I've entered the "dreamy" phase of winter as a result. Thinking and planning for the near future when things will rev up again and our lives are going to change once more. Ah. Life, it's change for sure. 

I've created a bucket list of sorts for the rest of winter, which for me lasts until the end of March. So much time yet. Trying to flow with it and when I feel a bit down I just take in more sleep/elderberry syrup/vitamin D/b complex/maca powder in smoothies. We have not been sick yet ... not even one cold. I credit exercise and amazingly healthy food (however I'm still keen on much reducing my portion sizes! Tell that to my hibernate-y body .... ). And loads of sleep though I do find myself playing catchup on weekends. Mostly from getting up before the sun. Very, very hard. 

anyway, here is my semi-composed bucket list: 

bake a great cake

crochet lesson

meditative art

felted bowls


finish 2 shawls

daily yoga stretches

dinner out to a NICE intimate cafe for john and i in march (our only dinner out)

more fresh air

make elderberry syrup from scratch (my elderberries from Mountain Rose Herbs just arrived!)

send tiny care packages to five best friends

make lavash wraps from scratch

make healing salve

make face cleansing oil

1-2 more all-day home retreats

every now and again, a hot towel scrub or dry brushing (both with lavender or tea tree oil) prior to a shower -- remove toxins and increase circulation

make more time to read books. feeling a bit of screen burnout again which is funny considering i'm really not online as much as most people (and just about 5 percent of my work involves the computer at present)

how's that? i don't think it's too much at all ... just enough to keep me busy for the next 6-7 weeks till spring comes 'round once more. I'm thankful for taking such a lovely, intimate online retreat with Heather (Hiberate). So many wonderful ideas, some of which have helped to form the list above. 

tonight i took about three hours and made a slow grassfed beef stew over rosemary sage mashed potatoes for john and i. last night i made grassfed beef chili with kidney beans and veg and took it to dinner with my knitting friends. it was a cozy, warm evening. wine has featured both nights! it's my favorite time of year for hearty, rustic, simple dishes that are filling and energizing. i have an easier time with eating mostly vegan in the late spring and summer (in fact i plan to live off my vitamix in a few months!! love that thing!! we've been enjoying many a blueberry-banana water-based smoothie with cashews for breakfast recently). that's probably what i'll do. for now, i find i'm doing well with good meat once a week or so in very small amounts. we buy only the best, budget be damned. it's so important that we eat unprocessed, whole foods. 

eat food. mostly plants. not too much. 

i think our only processed "sin" is the occasional bag of health food store potato chips/blue corn tortilla chips. john is haagen-daas (i don't like ice cream, only crave it once or twice a year, mostly in summer and i think that's nostalgia). we eat almost no dairy, but i recently found out sour cream is fermented so that's allowed for me again esp. as i just don't like yogurt plain, in a bowl (i do use it a ton in other things). trying to adhere to the adage "nibble cheese like a mouse" of course that goes out the window on homemade pizza night fridays ;-) 

whew enough rambles about my diet!! it's good, though. really, really good. i feel so blessed (although budgeting is a nightmare .... it basically just doesn't happen). 

i hope to update very soon with some exciting news. remember we have some major life projects in the works for this year? yeah. it's been moving along behind the scenes. 

if you are a knitter i'd love to meet on ravelry. i am karbear1103. 

i hope you are enjoying winter as much as i have. i'm pretty proud of myself though i do feel an undercurrent of impatience with it at present. this, too, shall pass.

have a happy week! I'm headed to TEXAS midweek (70 degree temps, oh my!!!) for an amazing montessori conference. 



Sunday, January 26, 2014

test post kindle fire edition

antique store find. for washing every knitted item i make including shawls!! it's huge. i LOVE enamelware. especially in cobalt blue!

another find, $10. to be used for making herbal this-and-that (non edibles, though many are made with foodsafe ingreds)). needs a baking soda scrub first. i'm in love with it. in very good condition aside from the lip.

dining room table. i try to almost always have fresh flowers on hand. john bought me the amber depression glass plate for christmas. i made the vase at one of those pottery places.

my recently-demolded cutting board. looks almost like new again!

just waiting for pastured eggs. we eat these throughout the week. the ham and cheese are from applegate farms. the butter is grassfed. the muffins from VT bread co.

living room arrangement. LOVE blue mason jars.

right now i'm knitting the honey cowl for a blog friend. it will be hard to part ways with this beauty.

sorry i had no idea how to rotate this. it's my new kindle fire cover from etsy. the sweet crafter made it custom for my kindle's larger size.

bedroom, with knitting basket. we're going to see if my landlord will let us keep the desk (it rolls down to reveal many compartments and drawers) when we leave here.

typical evening. those are vegan banh mi sandwiches with shitake mushrooms and homemade almond paste with siracha. i'm watching my favorite knitting podcast. i've just cast on for the honey cowl and that's probably YOGI peppermint tea. 

pecan-pumpkin bread for the freezer.

what menu planning typically looks like around here.

getting ready to make pizza dough. i do this about every two weeks. we usually eat homemade pizza on friday nights. i also make homemade sauce. it's very easy! i use Vegan With a Vengeance as a guide for both. That Kitchen Aid has been moved for the Vitamix!

i think i'm making a curry? can't remember. 

when she's not meowing, she's sleeping. Amelia.

making some homemade all-purpose spray with orange essential oil. i LOVE this spray. i love using it in the kitchen so there are no chemical residues around where food is prepped.

prepping lentils

yay!! i'm so happy my Kindle takes such beautiful photos. I'm still playing with it but I'm fairly sure this will be my stand-in until I can afford one of those fancypants DSLR ... ???'s you all tote along so beautifully. I love the quality, and the pics are also wide. 

hope you enjoyed the show. finally! 

enjoy your week, and stay warm!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

just ahead of the weekend (drip, drip)

this is part of the shawl i knit for christmas a while back. i still have no idea how to upload photos from my Kindle to this blog. When I do, there will probably be a massive picture post here. Thanks for your patience.

We've been having issues with dry air in the house. I wake up with my sinuses a mess. I looked at Rite Aid tonight at $30+ humidifiers, then realized I didn't want the expense OR the noise (I need absolute quiet to sleep). So, as usual, I took to the Internet and found some good, frugal home-grown ideas. 

hang wet laundry on a rack in your room.

place a bowl of water near a heat source in the room. 

place a pot of hot water with a few drops of eucalyptus or lavender oil in the room.

put a houseplant in the room (i have one that doesn't seem to do much but look pretty on the dresser). 

open the bathroom door during a hot shower (my room is right next to the bathroom).

Also, I'm going to experiment with ordering dried elderberries from Mountain Rose Herbs so I can make my own elderberry syrup. It really really works, but I'm almost out of the SUPER expensive Gaia bottle in my fridge and I was dreading re-ordering it. Thanks SO very much to Ginny for the idea. Also, please check out her blog. It's wonderful! (I particularly admire her knitting projects!)

I also have plans to make the foot salve or the oil face wash, or both, from Hibernate. Check out Heather's blog too. She's been another source of inspiration for me over the years! Thanks Heather! 

I guess those are my frugal tips for today :-) We enjoyed some homemade pizza tonight, which we usually do on Fridays. I just defrost the crust/sauce/leftover sausage, cut up some fresh mozzarella, tonight i added a handful of frozen (thawed under hot water in the sink and dried up well in dish towel first) broccoli. YUM. So easy. 

SO looking forward to a quiet weekend with date night thrown in tomorrow (Indian food!!). Also looking forward to a high of 42. that seems balmy lately!! We can stop dripping the damned kitchen faucet. 

Hope your weekend is simple, slow, and wonderful. My only plans aside from knitting and reading are getting out to the gym, and maybe prepping some homemade breakfast sandwiches on Sunday. 

Be well, and stay warm and healthy!! 

xo xo 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

warmth and unusual rest

it's my third day off from work this week! monday was a holiday, wednesday and today were due to weather (snow!). it's been a BLESSING especially because all these days were graced with plentiful sunshine despite the fact that we are dripping our kitchen faucets so they won't freeze up (one did anyway but we got it to thaw) and i've been knitting for literally HOURS on each of these bonus days. i currently have three projects on the needles -- two shawls and a cowl. On sunday i had worked to clean the house top to bottom which included dragging the christmas tree out to the porch and boxing up all the decorations for the year. the above photo is my bedroom, which i cleaned and dusted to make like a real sanctuary. it's so peaceful in there. it's part of the Hibernate workshop I've been so enjoying these past two weeks. I feel so very rested and balanced and I realize I could definitely stay home full-time. I'm so not ready for that yet, though. Must keep stashing away money at every opportunity. I'm putting myself out there to try a couple of yarn commissions this year. If you are interested do get in touch. (

this is the honey cowl, a free pattern by Madeline Tosh on Ravelry. It's for a blog friend....
I've been enjoying the Simple Abundance book and have started a gratitude journal. Each night before bed I write down five things I was grateful for that day. It promises to transform my life. We'll see .... :-) 

I have a busy February coming up with a bunch of travel involved. Part of some behind-the-scenes things in motion here that I will be ready to talk about one day on here. I've been feeling grounded by the menu plans I'm creating while I am here at home. I think for the next one I'll focus on things like bean soup with roasted vegetables on the side. Simple, hearty/rustic meals that keep the budget low. Eating WELL can be so expensive. You'd probably fall over if you saw what I spend each month. So sometimes i try to remember that less is more so the more expensive stock-up type/try new recipe weeks are balanced by old favorites like tacos (we're currently loving TVP "meat"). Being frugal in this area is HARD. When we move again at some point we are inheriting my mother-in-law's stand-alone freezer. I can't wait. I rely on the freezer so much for semi "fast" food :-) Currently in there i have homemade Indian food, chickpea-spinach soup, pecan-pumpkin bread, cherry bars for special treats, and banana-chocolate-oat "healthy" cookies that work well as pre-workout or after-school snacks. I also stash homemade pizza dough and sauce and leftover meat/veggie sausages which we throw on top. And then there are bagels, frozen fruit and veg, well... you get the picture. That thing gets stuffed full!! 

I'm going to work on some laundry and e-mails and then I have a HUGE charles dickens novel to do some reading on!! Hope you are warm where you are .... 

blessings -