Monday, October 13, 2014

it's already october!

my new toys!

ignore ugly blind ... soon to be gorgeous light block wood looking blinds

first skein wound from my winder/swift combo!

i'm so proud!

gift knit 

quite messy craft room corner 











** all pictures above of the fibery goodness in my life lately. Most are from the recent Shenandoah Fiber Festival here in VA. Look at that gorgeous alpaca in the blue bowl! I was so happy to pick that up (the greens and the white) for a baby blanket.

Well, well!

I never intend to go so very long without blogging -- especially as some of my favorite bloggers do so every day! Of course the majority of these are SAHM's. And I work full-time as a Montessori guide. Work's been very busy, between the start of the new school year, getting to know the families (lots and lots of email with a few in-person meetings, and a big presentation for upcoming parent ed night). It will continue to be busy as I work out the details of my maternity leave and train my replacement.

I have been really getting back into knitting lately. I love that about the fall. I'm trying to make more daily space for that, and for reading real books. I love Netflix and Amazon Prime for TV series watching, but I tend to go overboard with the screen. I do sleep much better if I don't have a show on before turning in.

Yesterday was our first wedding anniversary. We took a train ride into DC and attended a symphony performance, followed by Balkan tapas in a funky neighborhood southeast of Capitol Hill. I also bought a small cake from a local-to-us bakery that we love.

I have been flirting lately with learning how to dye yarn. There's a lot of great indie dyers out there. I know you can use your own oven as part of the process. I would love to start a small side business to help pay down debt. But there's a lot of research involved first. We shall see. I'm always open to new ideas. The idea someday is to be debt-free and to work less .. or work the same, but on more creative exploits. I love what I do, but it's very work-intensive. Add a commute to that and it kind of sucks the life out of you sometimes. At least, I have that personality type.

With that said, I hope to enjoy tons of knitting these next months as I start Christmas and baby projects!

Things have been warming up in the kitchen, as it's my favorite season for homemade goods. However, I've  been trying to keep meals very simple so they don't take too long to prepare and overwhelm me with what little free time I find myself with in the late afternoons/early evenings. I've been enjoying the granola recipe and the one for chocolate chip/walnut/oatmeal cookies from Food for the Whole Family which I do not want to give back to the library! I am making the year's first batch of homemade pizza dough this afternoon.

Here are a few more pictures for you to enjoy. It's a gorgeous rainy fall day here in Virginia. A great day for snuggly socks and gentle activities at home. Hope you are cozy where you are, too. xo

we started baby's room. this color looks great in every weather and light. 



recent hike, Shenandoah National Park. Look at that color!!

hiking with unborn peanut wasn't too bad, but very challenging on the last (very short) steep uphill portion!

perfect lunch spot!

since getting pregnant I can't get enough of this combo.

treasure sent along by mom-in-law, from her basement! it's an old planter that will likely have a new life holding yarn-y things!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

My favorite month

a household favorite :: vegetable-stuffed potatoes. also makes a great lunch the next day.

new car. 


SURPRISE!! 10 week belly :: just a little more rounded than usual ... 

labor day weekend wedding, delaware :: hubby (far left) and best friends

bride and groom presiding over picnic dinner. i LOVE simple, homey yard weddings!

my gorgeous hubby

photo shoot scenery, post-nuptials


Well, technically it starts tomorrow.

I haven't meant to be away from the blog so much. Time management after some major life upheavals this summer hasn't been an easy one to pin down, especially with the way I've been feeling lately, which, you should know, is because ....

I'm pregnant!!!!

Not quite Facebook-announcement ready yet, it's still first trimester (just over 10 weeks). But we saw a strong heartbeat at 8.5 weeks so we're hoping everything continues just fine :-) I have another appointment in about 2 weeks. I have been incredibly lucky and haven't had morning sickness. But I've been more exhausted than I've ever felt before, and my appetite was REALLY weird for a while (all I've been wanting are frequent tiny meals, and mostly lemonade, bagels with cream cheese, and fruit). The exhaustion means I was too drained to do much other than take long naps after work and sleep nine to ten-hour nights. Lots of TV watching online, but very little exercise, reading, or knitting. Cooking went to "breakfast for dinner" and takeout. I've felt terrible about becoming such a zombie but then again ... it's almost the second tri now and things should start returning to normal(ish!). ... the past couple days I've already been feeling a bit more like my old self.

Anyway, back to the reason for this post. September!!  Cooling weather, return to gradually heavier cooking and baking, indoor swimming, daily walks at dusk. Knitting needles clacking again. Literal and mental clutter cleared (I have a date with my closets, which might actually be in October, more on that in a minute). "Fresh start" time. I am streaming prenatal yoga and very happy with the much-reduced prices versus taking a "real life" class. For $22 I can spend a day swimming at my local rec center and buy TWO yoga classes online (which I can keep and repeat whenever I wish), versus $20 for ONE studio yoga class. Score!

I have been very recently making good use of the local library, checking out books on pregnancy/parenting/frugal living/baking/homemaking. I went hog wild and put my name on a waiting list for a plot in a nearby community garden! I managed to keep a tomato plant (barely) alive, but it didn't exactly prosper. Next year I'll try again but add basil to the pot which I've heard helps the tomatoes.

Plans for this month (and next) include a trip home to New England, several fall fairs/festivals, two fiber festivals, and a fancy dinner and symphony date for our first wedding anniversary. Yes, I also bought a new car ... the old one finally died after 13 years of loving service. I love my 2014 Nissan Sentra :-)

Projects:

Turn craft room into a dual craft room/guest room.
Clean and organize all closets in house
Paint living room walls.
Paint and prepare the nursery (Montessori style...no crib!)
Keep eyes open for clearance/thrifted treasures to make living room homey


Tomorrow I'm baking some banana bread to welcome September. How I adore you!

For now, I'm off to enjoy a late-summer thunderstorm that's brewing outside and a dusk walk.

blessings
xo

Sunday, August 3, 2014

the confusion








The pictures above are from my recent trip to Fredericksburg. The last photo is a summer favorite -- orzo summer pasta salad (minus pasta). 


I swear, I'm not intentionally going so long without posting.

I have so many thoughts today though, so perhaps that will make up for the void. It's been a rough weekend, between my car of 13 years finally going into transmission fail and worries about money along with other anxieties I don't yet feel comfortable sharing publicly (we are fine though!). Luckily Friday was our last day for the summer with children so I'm just not going in tomorrow because I need a day to catch up on home life and to destress.

My brain has been feeling a bit convoluted lately. I think it started in part when my parents came in last week and spent a few days here. It was wonderful time with them, but it threw off my routine/menu plan and even though I was decently flexible with shifting things around I realize how good I've gotten at my illusion of control (same with losing a car, which will likely be the case for the next few weeks as I research getting a "new" one) and how dependent I've become on it.

Sometimes (more often than not) I still very much love what I'm doing. But other times, I realize how hard it is to do what I do, both in terms of being able to practice the Montessori method purely in the context of a school, and in terms of making what I'm truly worth and being able to live without feeling so financially fragile. Sigh. Seems to be the sticking point for our entire generation. ALL of my friends and DH's friends are struggling to make ends meet let alone afford things like a vacation (we're talking a simple two nights away in a cabin somewhere!! forget it!!) or paint/curtains for our new living room. Sometimes I want to get back into writing, not journalism but freelance. Sometimes I just want a decent "grind" job like I had at trader joe's or at a coffee shop/yarn shop (no money there either though and other issues like random hours/working holidays). Sometimes I want to just go be a hippie homesteader (tell that to DH...!). I'm feeling just a bit disillusioned with this extremely short life. I want to do what i WANT to do. selfish? yes. truthful? yes.

I won't go on into a full-on complain fest, poor DH got the brunt of it earlier and was so very kind and understanding. I even skipped the politics of it all for his sake.

I just wish I had more time. For crafting. For gardening/canning. For reading. For overall self/family enrichment. I fill all of it as it is with full-time work and being a proud part-time "homemaker." There just always seems to be less time than what I have ideas for :-)

This area has been a particularly difficult one to adjust to. It's not a demographic we are at all familiar with -- I'll leave it there. I can usually find ways to be happy anywhere but neither of us is having a good go of it. I think once I get the used car situation nailed down I would like to be more proactive about making a master list of frugal things to experience. Saving up the stores again. And making some connections. But we're also "keeping the options open" as much as it pains us to do so (we are SO ready to settle).

So many blogs present life as this endless panoramic of wildflowers, nearly fully-knitted items made with pricey yarn, baskets overflowing with large garden goodness, and serene life with young children. I love all of that but they're lacking honesty. So I turn to my own blog for that, obviously :-) This is how I keep me accountable to ME.

And now if you'll excuse me I'm totally feeling a Sunday nap coming on ..... I do hope to see you all again much sooner than the last time I posted!!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Back from the edges ... !!












Well, hello!!

That was certainly a very unexpected, but apparently very necessary, blog break! Has it really been one month since we moved? Wow. Life was certainly very, very busy there for a while, a whirlwhind of busyness and emotion and just the getting-used-to-it-all. I won't lie, we still don't have all our paintings and pictures hung and there are still a few boxes lying around. But overall, we're feeling like it's home. This three-day weekend certainly helped.

Last time I wrote, I talked about a place in Alexandria. Well, we were approved for that place but as fate would have it we wound up in a town much closer to work in a much larger townhouse. We are pleasantly surprised by how quiet and peaceful it is here. We are very close to a wooded walking/biking trail that goes for miles, so I've put the kibosh on swimming/yoga for now as I'm more interested in having more money to save and put towards debt, anyway. That was a difficult decision, but no doubt the right one, for now. It feels wonderful to be in "civilization" again after two years of living smack in the middle of nowhere! I am growing a tomato plant, and purchased a bird feeder and birdbath. I go to the farmer's market on Sundays and buy pastured eggs/meat, and organic vegetables (probably will look for a CSA next year). We signed a two-year lease to start. It feels good to have some settledness. Our jobs are challenging and a bit uphill but on my end it feels wonderful after three years to be going "deeper" into this very profound method I use with children. Classroom management? Relatively easy at this point. Now I find I'm focusing much more on observing myself, and also being able to look at the "child" more globally. This might not make sense if you are not familiar with Montessori but it feels really good to be on the verge of this point in my career.

I feel that this blog may be shifting soon, yet again. I'm not sure how, but I know I'll keep writing for sure. There are changes that aren't ready yet for these pages, so many of which are just seeds within me. So I wouldn't even call them changes. Still just dreams, mainly. But I may not always be doing what I'm doing now. Which I've always been fine with. For now, I'm very happy.

Oh!! One thing I must mention is that John and I have gone on the Whole30 diet for a month (today was day 20 actually). This is a strict Paleo diet. We have both seen incredible changes, most notably more energy, reduced cravings, an ability to feel full faster without nasty side effects like bloating/fatigue/blood sugar drops. In 10 days we add back eliminated foods gradually in an effort to help us see what might be causing our problems. We both suspect gluten sensitivity. It gets a bit tiresome as it requires lots of planning (and eating out is dicey but doable), but I haven't found it hard to "stay on" one bit. I also seem to have already lost 5-8 pounds.

I hope to be back again very soon. For now, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday with Bleak House (halfway through!). Much Lark Rise/Downton Abbey was had this weekend, along with fireworks and breakfast out and we saw Jersey Boys which despite all the swearing (not my favorite) was a great movie (love that music!!). Some time alone with my book is in order!

Love and light,
K.


Friday, July 4, 2014

I'm still here ... !!

Oops, a month and a half has passed since I last blogged!! Life has been super nuts with our move and transitioning to new jobs. I am going to try and give an update this weekend. I've really missed blogging it just didn't have a place there for a while with all the upheaval. If you are still there thank you!!

love and light,

karen

Sunday, May 18, 2014

finding and savoring the simple order and peaceful harmony in enough





I've been thinking a lot lately about the way we live our lives. As each year has gone by, I've parted with more and more "stuff." It feels GOOD to see empty floors in closets, and half empty clothing racks. There is more to cull, but at this point I am very happy with the kitchen supplies and furniture and clothing we have. We don't NEED more (although I'd like a tart pan and some new cookie sheets). I have finally, after six years of my journey into living simply and frugally (it really IS a process that reverses so much of what we absorb growing up in such a harried, materialistic culture), felt the SEA change in myself regarding the way in which I want to live. I almost can't believe it, yet there it is, firmly planted somewhere in the center of my being. I first felt it strongly the day I bought organic half and half because the awful grocery store here had it stocked for the first time, even though I knew full well we had at least 2 perfectly good non-dairy milks at home (I have learned that I prefer good half and half in my coffee to vanilla-flavored nondairy milk, which is what my DH prefers). It was $3 I hadn't wanted to spend. It was an "aha!" moment which is weird because I've certainly had those dilemmas before. It made me WANT to be intentional but not stressed about those types of choices. Usually, there is one choice. Do without and make do! So I have begun applying that to everything. Also, of course, less being more -- a little less laundry powder each time I wash, washing in cold water for 99 percent of loads (our most recent electric bill was HALF the previous month's!!). We are using the drying rack to hang towels that have had dishes drying on them and it has drastically cut down on how often we wash kitchen towels. I just bought the EXACT bathing suit (well, very close) I had been researching online for lap swimming (priced at $60-80+) at a thrift store for $9. It wasn't the perfect suit, but darn good enough for that price! Saved me a bundle, plus I also was able to purchase a new work-appropriate top for $4. Still way less than the price of one suit. I have been packing a meal for grocery shopping trips and saving $10 or more on the cost of dinner, say, at the Whole Foods salad bar.

We have been crazy busy here trying to find our place to live in northern Virginia. We may have settled on a place (!!) in Alexandria. Now, this place is not perfect. It's SMALL. But it does have great storage should we need to stow a chair, our books, etc. for the next year or two. Our master plan is to rent a single family home in a year, or two, depending how it goes. The rent is a little cheaper than the blandblah (yes, my word creation) townhouses/condos rampant in that entire area that we are SO not fond of. Not much, but it puts more wiggle room in a tight, but not unbreathable, budget. I have found that if I stick to the budget, I will have some for savings, some for joining a pool and yoga (NOT extras in my opinion, as health is thy medicine!), and plenty for bills. I also found a few loopholes to begin paying down debt. DH having a full-time salary at last helps too. Alexandria is farther from work, but a vibrant city full of life and amenities (and lots of free entertainment, in addition to what's a short train ride away in DC!). I think we're going to like it. We should know for sure in a couple of days on whether we get this place, and then I'll post some pictures for you.

I am struggling with not having a summer vacation this year, as the school year here winds down (2 more weeks of school days!) and I get into my usual pattern of "too hard to get up" and getting to school much later than I normally would, not having breakfasts and lunches planned, etc. But I think the new environment will refresh and keep me occupied and summer nights are long :-)

Food here has been quickly lightening up. We are doing a lot more smoothies and salads. There are just a couple more roasts and stews planned. Lunches have been hard-boiled eggs, grassfed hot dogs, homemade trail mixes. I love this time of year, a nice break from all the cooking/baking/heavier foods of winter. It's a great time to lose some weight, although I find that my diet keeps the weight steady :-( Not sure if that's good or bad, as the weight is much higher than I'd like it to be. But I always do seem to lose some this time of year. The heat does make one eat less, I find.

Well, this is quite enough rambling for one update. Speaking of food, today will be spent in the kitchen doing some prep work for pizzas. I'm going to make crockpot baked beans, quinoa, and -- for dinner later -- a lamb roast with mashed potatoes. If I don't get it all done, well that's okay too.

I hope you've been enjoying a wonderful spring.

Love and light,

K.