Friday, December 4, 2015

Goals Update: November in Review

1. Sew one garment a month: I finally finished that striped shirt!  I need to take some pics, and tell you about my adventures in pattern matching.
2. Post an article a month: Dos! In addition to my last goals update, too!
3. Run at least 2 5K races: Failing miserably at this one...
Thanksgiving baby selfie!
4. Exercise 3 times a week: Not really making those 10K steps, and I've not been running at ALL this past month.  In fact, I came in dead last in my FitBit friends last week...
5. Have one date with my husband a month: Got our first suburban babysitter for a night of work engagements, and managed to squeeze in a drink on our ways home.  It's not glamorous and it was with my husband's boss, but it's what we got and I'm taking it.
6. Become better at expressing my curiosity, and be more clear in the intent of my curiosity: I didn't get any complaints in November...I'm going to count that as a win.
7. Read 10 books: Apparently I mis-counted somewhere along the line--at least according to my Good Reads account, and as of Nov. 30 at 1159pm I had read 7 books! (and finished another the very next day which is annoying since I'd like to type 8).  7 down, 3 to go (but really 8 and 2) with a month left.  I've got a book in hand now, but I need one last short book suggestion.

4 out of 7 this month, again.  Maybe I can figure out how to read while I run, and then I can accomplish it all!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

5 Reasons to Love Your Crockpot This Month

Although the past week or so has been hiding this fact, it's November and the colder weather is coming.

Here are 5 easy ways to show your crockpot (and wallet and sanity) some love this month:
1. Roasted Squash.  I was totally afraid of this one at first.  But seriously, wash a butternut squash, cut it in half, and just throw it in and put the lid on.  No seeding, no peeling, nada.  High for ~4 hours or low for ~6.  Then just scoop out the roasted yummy goodness (after scooping the seeds out if you don't want to eat them).
2. Roasted Chicken and Vegetables.  3 whole peeled carrots, 3 trimmed stalks of celery on the bottom, a seasoned (salt, pepper, paprika to keep it simple) whole fryer chicken stuffed with a bay leaf, a clove of garlic and a small onion on top.  Put the lid on, turn it on low for ~8 hours.  Eat the breasts and then get onto...
3. Chicken soup.  Leave everything in the crockpot but the whole chicken from #2, add back in the meat you picked off of that chicken after your meal for #2, add about 4 cups of water and voila!  Soup.  You don't even have to turn the crockpot on for this one.
4. Chili.  After browning about a pound of ground beef (or turkey), add it to the crock pot with two big cans of whole tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, a chopped onion, a chopped green pepper, a chopped (and seeded if you like) jalapeno, a can of black beans, a clove of garlic, and 4 diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (1/2 a small can).  ~2 hours on high; ~4 hours on low.
5. Coq au Vin.  Whether you prefer it red (I recommend cote du rhone) or white (Nigella and I say Riesling), just get some skinless chicken thighs (4-5), coarsely chopped onion, carrot, celery, 2 bay leaves, and 2 cloves of garlic into that crockpot!  Serve it over some buttered egg noodles or just with some crusty bread.  ~4 hours on high or ~6 on low.

Happy slow cooking!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Pattern Review: Baby Go-To Leggings

I had found a free pattern for baby leggings online a long time ago, have some random bits of UFO (unfinished object) fabric that I need to stop looking at, and some 50 year-old elastic laying around.  YAY!

So why not try out the free pattern on the little lady (who is just over a year now)?

Here are my experiences with the Baby Go-To Leggings Pattern.

The good news:
This is a pattern with VERY well-written instructions.  Even as a first-time project, I think someone would have a very easy time putting these together.  There are explanations of terminology, explanations of fabric (and how to determine that you're using a correct fabric), and an explanation on how to piece the pattern together from the 4 pages of letter-size paper.  And thankfully, it includes the seam allowance in the pattern, and since I've found many PDF patterns (especially the free ones) don't this is pretty awesome.

This also took less than an hour to cut the pattern, tape it together, cut the pieces, and sew it all up!

The bad news:
I think this was drafted for a very short, very fat baby.  I was so worried about the waist (which was spot on and even allows for some growth for my kid) that I didn't pay much attention to the length.  Little lady ended up with pants that are 2 inches too short...

I will definitely be using this pattern again.  I will definitely add a cuff at the ankle, though.

Pattern--Free (with newsletter subscription for Go To Patterns)
Fabric--Free, as I was really killing a UFO and stashbusting
Notions--Free, from my hoarding of my grandmother's sewing stuff

All opinions expressed in this post are my own and have in no way been solicited for nor have I received compensation or sponsorship.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Goals Update: October in Review

I'm starting to realize I should have been a bit less ambitious with my goals.  I seem to get progress made in some categories at the expense of others at this point... 

1. Sew one garment a month: I completed another Renfew (my 3rd?), and a pair of Go-To baby leggings!  I also was able to make some progress on a UFO dress from 4 years ago, and get started my stripes-matching
pajama project (which I hope to post on soon).
2. Post an article a month: Nada.  I focused on the doing of projects and never wrote about it.  I'm okay with that one, but I'd like to post about a few things to document them for me.
3. Run at least 2 5K races: Signed up for one that happened Oct. 3rd, but forewent it because of some last-minute travel plans.  I might just run a 5K around my neighborhood one day...
4. Exercise 3 times a week: Doing a pretty good job of making those 10K steps,but I've not been running at ALL this month.
5. Have one date with my husband a month: Grandparents to the rescue once again!  This time the in-laws borrowed the children to allow my husband and I to attend a volunteer leadership meeting at the Linc (work), a political fundraiser (work), and some post-work drinks at the bar by our house.  We followed that up with 45 minutes of sleeping in on Sunday.  I say that's a win.
6. Become better at expressing my curiosity, and be more clear in the intent of my curiosity: Not sure if anyone noticed, but I've been trying to keep my mouth shut in October.  Practicing the listening part pretty intensely, and not voicing an unsolicited opinion unless I genuinely fear Armageddon (or its professional counterpart).
7. Read 10 books: 3/4 of the way done with The Goldfinch.  5 down, 5 to go and 2 months to do it in.  Now that I'm taking the train, I expect to do pretty good with this one.  Short book suggestions welcome.

4 out of 7 this month, which seems to be my limit.  Maybe I can knock #'s 2 & 3 off in November...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Goals Update: September in Review

The last few months have been pretty hectic, and I feel like we're finally settling into our new life in the suburbs.  Once you move in, there's still more work to be done in getting your schedule together and truly adjusting to a whole new way of doing everything.  And it's finally starting to feel comfortable...and productive!

How am I doing on my goals?  Not too bad!

1. Sew one garment a month: Nothing in September, but I was able to get a lot of my sewing projects lined up and ready to go, including getting my sewing table set-up and ready to go. I cut out another Renfew T-shirt just after Labor Day only to discover that I couldn't find my serger pedal anywhere.  The new one came in the mail last week, so October promises to be a much more productive sewing month.
2. Post an article a month: I posted twice, but neglected an August goals update and an ode to my little Lady who turned one. Meh.
3. Run at least 2 5K races: Signed up for one that happened Oct. 3rd...I'm trying to find another one to do before the fall is over.  Any suggestions?
4. Exercise 3 times a week: Doing a pretty good job of making those 10K steps, and I ran once or twice a week in September to get ready for my October 5K.  
5. Have one date with my husband a month: Thanks to a Nana visit, we went neighborhood bar hopping one night.  I think we were home and in bed b 1030pm, but it was a date and we had fun.
6. Become better at expressing my curiosity, and be more clear in the intent of my curiosity: Following my last post, I've been speaking with some friends and colleagues about how I'm working on this.  I think that by stating my anticipated goal (or that there isn't one) for a conversation has made communication in both social and professional situations more productive and enjoyable.
7. Read 10 books: Finally finished "All the President's Men".  Picked up "The Goldfinch" not realizing it's almost 800 pages...whoops! I think I'll be sorting my GoodReads lists on page count (if that's possible) next time.  5 down, 5 to go and a little under 3 months to do it in.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Goals Update: Intent is key

On the path to better communication, I've been in search of snippets of wisdom.  This week, one came in the form of a tweet from a man after my heart with his Twitter handle (@recoveringengineer).

Paired with a news spot I heard on NPR on the way into work the same morning, I realized I have been taking my partner, my friends & family, and most likely many of my co-workers for granted when it comes to communication.

Throw in an email chain earlier this week with one of my besties in which we're scheduling an activity to do together on completely different weekends, and I'm going to make a sub-goal #6 on better expressing my curiosity:

I'm going to be more clear in the intent of my curiosity.

Rather than just assuming that those with whom I'm communicating know my goals, I'm going to tell them.  I'm a very process-driven individual, so knowing where we're going before we get in the car is REALLY helpful for me--it'll be interesting to see how this works with others who are less-so.  So here we go:

My intent with this change in communication style is share my ideas in a more succinct and less confusing manner in order to maximize collaboration and good-will while minimizing frustration for all parties concerned.

How do you all communicate effectively? What kinds of "rules" might you have given yourself to become a better communicator?

I'll keep you posted on my progress, so please let me know if this is helping you, too!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Goals Update: I actually RAN!

For months I've been lamenting the fact that I haven't been out running.  With less than 4 weeks to my second 5K of the year, I decided I have to get serious about this.

This morning, I packed away all my excuses and got out of bed at the first alarm (640am) to put on some running tights and go running.

My expectations were pretty low--especially since I was told to take a dog with me--but I'm actually kind of proud of how I did.  With the exception of a brief stop for the previously mentioned dog to use some facilities, I ran the whole time, wasn't winded until the very end, and kept a pretty good pace as I was home in less than 15 minutes.

I was surprised at the amount of outside activity in my neighborhood in the morning, and at how much friendlier people are in the morning vs. the evening, especially since I had a pitbull at my side.  I guess not everyone could stay in bed all day like our family.

If you're looking for some running inspiration, check out my friend's blog, Vito Runs 365.  After a pretty annoying and goal-killing Achilles issue, he's finally up and running again and his enthusiasm is pretty contagious.  Oh, and I'm stealing his run summary...Thanks, Chris!

Day 1: 1.1 miles, 18:41 (Weather: Clear, 56 degrees)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Suburbs Bound: I think I like it here...

You guys, I can't believe I'm going to type this, but I think I like it in the suburbs.

I wrote about the things I was already enjoying during our first week in the suburbs a few weeks ago, and I'm continually impressed by new things.

Grampa is enjoying the new yard!
Privacy.   Something I hadn't thought about when moving out of a twin (and previous row homes and apartments over the last 15+ years) into a single family home: it's really, REALLY nice to not share a wall or floor or ceiling with another family.  I don't need to know when the neighbors are up in the morning, or home from work, or having a bad day... I can let my kid tantrum it out without worrying the neighbors will call the family services (it's happened to friends...note the plurality on that one).  I can give my social security number to my husband verbally, and not worry that my neighbor is at the wall attempting to steal my identity.  I can sing in the shower without shielding my face from annoyed neighbors because I finally learned all the words to the chorus of "Shake it off."

I'm really impressed by the amount of nature that comes through our yard.  Part of the reason is our newly discovered pear tree.  No partridge yet, but there are bunnies, lots of birds, squirrels, and I even got to peep a frog in one of the bird baths with Mikey last night.

And did I mention the quiet? The lack of ambient city noise is pretty amazing.  I didn't realize how stressful it is to have noise like that all the time.  No wonder city folk have a reputation as being more gruff and quick to pounce.

Something I don't like:  I feel a bit more uneasy with unleashing the full scope of Kim onto our new neighborhood than I ever have before, but it's mostly because of the sense of permanence this move has brought.  We're in this house in the suburbs for the long haul--20 years or more most likely--and so are our neighbors.  I hate tempering myself, but I also know that most people just seriously can't handle all that is Kim without an easy intro period.  Here's to hoping it's not a long intro...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Goals Update: July in Review

Man, am I bad at updating things!  I thought June was a whirl-wind month, but throw in a bed-ridden case of strep throat and July definitely had June beat.  And hence the obligatory blog self-loathing begins...

So how'd I do in July with my goals?  Pretty good actually!

1. Sew one garment a month: Nothing.  That sewing room I was supposed to get is now Little Man's room (no monsters in that one), and a lack of a usable space to cut, sew, and/or plan things gets in the way of doing things. I may or may not have continued to impulse purchase patterns...
2. Post an article a month: Only one in the beginning of the month, but all things considered I'm proud of that.
3. Run at least 2 5K races: Still signed up for one in October.  Still haven't run a single step.  
4. Exercise 3 times a week: Still making sure I get those 10K steps in every day.  Doing okay with it, but not as good as before.  Frankly, it's been too hot to move.
5. Have one date with my husband a month: Mini weekend away for a friend's wedding, and lots of take out paired with Shameless and True Detective in our living room.  It counts...seriously guys.  It counts!
6. Become better at expressing my curiosity: Still to my knowledge, I haven't pissed anyone off.  In fact, I was able to address some potentially high-emotion issues with no issues last month.  SCORE!
7. Read 10 books: Reading "All the President's Men".  It's not a quick read by any means.  I need to find some "beach books" like Jennifer Weinder or something if I want to reach this goal.  Reading non-fiction is a bit more laborious and time intensive... Still 4 down, 6 to go and 5 months to do it in.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

I did a Whole30, and it wasn't awful

A typical breakfast
During the month of June, I went on my first "diet".  For me, it wasn't about losing weight, getting skinny, etc., though those are nice side effects.  Since my Little Lady joined the family, I've just been eating terribly and been feeling pretty strung out.

"But you've got a 10-month old baby!" is what a lot people have said.

But that doesn't mean I should be sustaining myself on caffeine and sugar just to get through the day, I say.  I needed to make a change, just didn't know what it should be.  Luckily, I had two friends who were feeling the same way, and we made a pact to support each other in our quest to just start eating better.  Problem was, we didn't really have a plan on how to eat better yet.

Just after Memorial Day, I read about this thing called the Whole30 on some blog or other.  It seemed trendy (it's all over the interwebs right now) so I was automatically turned off by it.  But, I googled it, checked out their website, and after numerous conversations with a friend who eats in the style of paleo but drinks beer and doesn't completely hate life, I called my ladies and said, "this ish is on!"

The nice thing about June for me was that this is a 30 day program, June has 30 days, and June began on a Monday.  Plus, since we were moving, we weren't traveling to see any family and friends so we'd be home to make dinners and lunches and not relying on take out or road food.

Fish Tacos with Mango Jalapeno Salsa
and Lettuce Wraps
The simple explanation of this way of eating--just eat meat and veggies.  No grains, no dairy, no sweeteners, no beans (including peanuts).

Things learned (or re-affirmed):
-Eggs are pretty much amazing on anything.  Seriously.  On sauteed kale for breakfast, on salads, on burgers, on sausage and greens, whatever.  And poached eggs--holy crap.  Amazing.
-That super full feeling that I relied on to tell me I was done eating isn't necessary.  It was bloat, not being full.  And it was from far too much bread and pasta.
-Having someone to vent to/celebrate with when doing something different like this is key.  I'm not sure if I would have been as successful if I didn't have my two friends doing it with me, sharing our frustrations, fun food finds to keep us "Whole30 compliant", and texting skinny pics back and forth.  Plus, having a really deep bench of supportive co-workers made lunchtime a lot easier.
-I eat pretty well already.  Aside from relying too heavily on grain-based foods to round out my meals before this, I was already making most of my food from scratch, and eating a ton of nuts and fruits and veggies.  Just needed to add some more of that...
-I love butter.  This restricts dairy, but allows clarified butters and ghee.  I have to admit though, butter without its dairy solids is just not as amazing.  Plus, I think I wasted a lot of butter parts, clarifying that ish.

The results?
Work version of breakfast.
- I lost 6 pounds during the month of June (and I had pizza and beer the day we moved on the 24th, so according to the Whole30, I didn't actually do a Whole30).  I've lost another two in the last 10 days by mostly sticking with the plan.
- I'm fitting into clothes I just started fitting back into when I got pregnant with #2 and hadn't really worn since before I got pregnant with #1 4+ years ago.  I'm also not fitting into a lot of things, since they're too big.
- My energy level is MUCH more consistent during the day now that I'm not having bread (read bagels, croissants) for breakfast and eating eggs on greens most days.
- I've stopped using moisturizer.  I think because I'm eating more fats and oils, my skin is as dry as it was.  And it's just as clear if not clearer as before.
- My teeth are whiter.  I had some staining kind of in between some of the teeth, and that's pretty much gone away.
- I've lost the hanger.  Amazing, I know.  After a hard first week on my body (and my mind) adjusting to life without all that sugar, and figuring out how much and when to eat, I'm not having those energy crashes that result in pure, unadulterated, ravenously, angry hunger acts.
- My husband has lost weight.  He wasn't completely on board with the plan ("I'll eat what gets put in front of me."), but I've noticed his belly is smaller and his pants are looser on him.

We're continuing this lack of grains in our daily lives, but I must say, I'm glad to be able to drink beer again.

I'm curious to hear about how others have found ways to eat a bit healthier.  Let me know 

Friday, July 10, 2015

On a roll!: June Goals Update

Even though we moved this month, I was still able to accomplish quite a bit.   Here's how I did:

1. Sew one garment a month: Nothing.  But I now have a sewing room which I'm in the process of setting up, and I impulse purchased some new patterns...
2. Post an article a month: 3!
3. Run at least 2 5K races: After last month's update, I signed up for my fall 5K.  Thanks, Amanda!  
4. Exercise 3 times a week: I have been doing a great job at getting in my 10K steps every day, and actually was the "top stepper" according to my FitBit circle one week (I used to come in around 5 every week).  Kind of a lame accomplishment, but one I'm super proud of nonetheless.
5. Have one date with my husband a month: Lots of mini dates to celebrate the selling and buying of houses.  A beer at Union Jack's, fancy coffee in Chestnut Hill, dinner in Keswick Village with the kids...
6. Become better at expressing my curiosity: To my knowledge, I haven't pissed anyone off, so I'm counting that as progress.
7. Read 10 books: I finished two books this month!  I'm onto my next one, which will probably not get finished in July (it's on Watergate and has a LOT of facts and doings to keep straight to read it too quickly).  4 down, 6 to go and 6 months to do it in.  I think I can do this!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

10 Things I Like About the Suburbs So Far

It's been a week since I took my city self and put her into the 'burbs.  And, I must say (albeit begrudgingly), I'm really freaking liking it so far!

Here's a list of 10 things I've found to be really awesome so far:
1. Neighbors.  So far, the ones we've met are awesome.  They brought us wine, they invited us to a party, and they've offered to help with all sorts of things like babysitting and breaking down boxes.
This showed up during a downpour
with a party invitation
2. Joe's Market.  I can walk 3 blocks to this awesome little cash-only grocery store and (a real, actual, honest-to-Jeebus) butcher.  And it's awesome stuff.  And that awesome stuff is reasonably priced.
3. Trains.  I'm a 15 minute walk from two train stations (20 minutes walk to a third).  And they're on 2 different train lines, so I get a lot of bang for that buck.
4. Union Jack's.  Again, a 15 minute walk to a really awesome pub, with a great beer selection (on tap and in bottles) and some legendary wings (which we've yet to try). Oh, and they started taking credit cards the week before we moved in, so that's pretty good timing on our behalf.
5. It's quiet.  At first, both me and the Big Guy thought the quiet would freak us out, but the quiet is good.  And teenagers running each other over with their bikes in the street in front of my house is way better than the constant sirens, helicopters, crazy folk, and poor neglected barking pit bull from the old place.
6. Grocery stores. They're cleaner, quieter, cheaper, and now closer. Even the Peapod delivery guy gave us a gift (and asked if he could offer a lollipop to Little Man).
7. People are NICE! The township administrators are actually helpful, courteous, and answered even more than my actual questions.  I called asking about trash, and ended up being told about a township welcome packet, and got signed up to receive it!
8. I have a driveway.  Never thought this would matter to me, but it's really nice have a place to park my car without worrying about it.
9. The commute.  Since I can take the train (when Mark takes the kids to school or eventually when the daycare near our house has a spot for the little gal), my commute is 30 minutes.  And that includes the walking to the stations part, which I love!  I can't wait until I'm taking the train every day, and not fighting for parking, or dodging crack heads as I drive past Temple Hospital.
10. Books.  Not sure why exactly, but I've been reading a lot more in the past week.  I actually finished two since we've moved in.  Fios isn't hooked up yet, but I don't even want to watch movies or anything.  I just want to sit and enjoy the quiet (see #5), and read a book...
Our first dinner out as official residents of the suburbs.
Okay suburbs, you're winning the race here, and it's only been a week.  I think we're going to like it here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

#SuburbsBound: Packing and moving

This week makes our journey to the suburbs official--Wednesday I pay some (probably) burly men to move all our family's possessions from our Victorian twin in Philadelphia to a stately Colonial Revival in the suburbs.  And hopefully nothing gets broken...

Over the weekend, we finished packing everything up.  The kitchen, the basement, the bedrooms...

I thought I would be most struck with nostalgia while packing up the kids' rooms--the blankets, tiny clothes, toys, and gifts from loved ones all getting stuffed away.  But I actually felt empowered packing their things away, remembering that we're moving so that they will grow up in a better way than what we could offer them while still within the city's borders.  They'll grow up with clean streets, a playground without drunks hanging out on benches, and a night sky (mostly) devoid of police helicopters and the inbound air traffic for Philadelphia International.

So after my freak outs last week about being a sell-out and becoming a soccer mom, I had a therapy session by means of cathartic box packing, and I am--dare I type it!?--looking forward to moving to the suburbs.

Look out, Glenside, the Bickertons are officially #SuburbsBound!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Keep on Keepin' On: May Goals Update!

May was a pretty productive month for me!  For brevity's sake, here's my new fangled way of letting you know how I'm doing: 

1. Sew one garment a month: Not a one.
2. Post an article a month: three in fact!3. Run at least 2 5K races: Spring 5K down, but I still need to find one in the Fall to register for4. Exercise 3 times a week: I'm trying to reach 10K steps every day on my fit bit--most days I at least come REALLY close!5. Have one date with my husband a month: My sorority's 90 Anniversary Gala.6. Become better at expressing my curiosity: still stronger on the professional side, but we're getting there...7. Read 10 books: I actually started and finished a book last month, and I'm about halfway through another. So 2.5 down, and 7 months to go!

In June, I expect to have a pretty similar looking goals progress report.  With my sewing stuff in storage, I'm not going to be able to sew anything until after July 1 (moving post to come soon!), and taking the time to find a 5K is going to be really rough when my brain power is required to help support all the odds and ends of moving.

The exercise thing has really been the toughest--how do people with jobs and children find the time to actually exercise?  I'm either too tired or too busy to have a real exercise session, so I've resorted to standing whenever I can, parking far away, and taking the stairs all the time in a half-hearted effort to be active. Any tips you all on the inter-webs may have would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Portobello Mushroom "Burger" with Peppers and Fresh Mozz!

Served with a baked sweet potato
Meatless Mondays.  It's a thing.  And for a gal who would rather eat veggies, it's a great excuse to have some fun with vegetable main dishes.

This is what we had for dinner last night, and I'm so glad I saw those mushroom caps at the grocery store on Sunday!  All said, this took about 30 minutes to make, and most of that was waiting for the peppers and onions to cook down and caramelize.

Portobello Mushroom "Burger" 
Serves 3

3 portobello Mushroom Caps
1 red pepper (med/large), finely chopped
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 cup baby arugula
3 English muffins, toasted
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 slices fresh mozzarella (1/4 thick)
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Lay mushrooms stem side up on a plate.  Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat pan over medium heat.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil, peppers, and onions when pan is hot.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover.  Cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to caramelize.  Move from pan into bowl; set aside.

Put mushrooms in pan, stem side down, with balsamic vinegar over medium heat.  Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Flip mushrooms, cover, and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until tender.

In the pan, spoon peppers and onions on the stem side of mushroom.  Top with cheese, and cover until cheese melts slightly.

Serve on a toasted bun (or English muffin) with 1/3 cup of baby arugula.

Friday, May 8, 2015

I'm on Pinterest!

When we had Little Man, we knew we were on a 5-year countdown to the suburbs.  Once Little Lady arrived, a fire was lit, and we got really busy looking for a place.  After more than 6 months of serious searching, hard-core cleaning, and a few months of storage unit rentals, I am happy to announce that our Philadelphia house will be sold in late June and that our future home in the suburbs will likely be ours a week before that.

Now comes the fun part of figuring out how to decorate the new place!

I've finally joined the rest of the world (and even my mother!) on Pinterest to help me organize and keep track of the furnishings and ideas that I'm interested in pursuing.  It's organized by room, and I'm just starting to accumulate ideas so it's a little sparse at the moment.

Frankly, I can't believe I didn't do this before!  All of the awesome sewing inspirations I've come across totally should have gotten their own pins to a board of mine YEARS ago.  Then I'd be able to remember them!

Let me know if you have any great ways of using Pinterest.  I'm new to this, and I'd love to hear any ideas or tips!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Making some (April) progress

Wow.  March and April went by in a flash.  Between work, getting our house listed and now under contract with a buyer, and trying to find a place for us to move to, life has been pretty hectic.  FUN! But hectic.

And amazingly, in April, I was able to actually put in some serious work towards my goals.

Here they are in case you forgot:
1. Sew one garment a month
2. Post an article a month
3. Run at least 2 5K races
4. Exercise 3 times a week
5. Have one date with my husband a month
6. Become better at expressing my curiosity.
7. Read 10 books

1.  No sewing happened--sewing stuff is all packed up in a storage unit.  I did download a few fun patterns though, including the Prefontaine Shorts and some Go-To baby leggings (which is a free patern, BTW).
2. Only my March goals re-cap, though I started another article at the end of March which I've been plugging away at...Maybe this month?
3. I ran the Temple University Alumni Weekend 5K...well part of it.  I had on way too many layers at the start (it was like 40 degrees and I naively didn't realize that running would make me hot--I know...) so I stopped after the first mile.  I ran a mile under 12 minutes, so I'm pretty excited about that.  Now to find one in the fall to register for!
4. I've been making a concerted effort to reach the 10K steps that my FitBit wants me to take each day, but I've been REALLY bad at making time to exercise.
5. We actually had two dates--and both were out of the house!  It was kind of awesome, and we did a really good job of not talking about just work and kids the whole time.
6. Bad job on the personal side here this month: I was able to offend at least 3 of my friends by not successfully expressing my surprise that they have grey hair--they're just so incredibly good looking and have such great hair that I never would have suspected there's a stylist behind that.  Because they're that awesome!  Nonetheless, I didn't say that...and pissed them off.  Sorry again, gals.  You're just so good looking...!
7.  I finally finished reading the same GD book I've been reading since September.  So 1 down, 9 to go.  I'm on to "The End of Your Life Book Club", and so far so good.  I may need some suggestions on quick reads if I'm going to make the most of these last seven months, though.

So...Progress on 4 1/2 out 7 overall.  I'll call that a win.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Almost a month late and always a dollar short...

Now that it's almost May, I finally have time to update you on my progress from March.  My, how time flies when you're having fun (and squashing some goals)!

Goals re-cap:
Just another snow day out fit from the Little Man
1. Sew one garment a month
2. Post an article a month
3. Run at least 2 5K races
4. Exercise 3 times a week
5. Have one date with my husband a month
6. Become better at expressing my curiosity.
7. Read 10 books

And my progress?
1.  I didn't sew anything, as I packed up all of my sewing stuff and put it into storage (more to come on that topic)
2. I actually posted 2 articles in March (cookies and a minor rant), and started writing a 3rd (which I'm hoping to finish this week so I can meet my April goal).
3. & 4. I actually ran a few times to train for the Temple Alumni Weekend race and did an okay job of meeting or exceeding the 10K steps each day that FitBit deems necessary.
5. We actually went on a date--to my husband's fraternity's anniversary gala.  It was the first time we've left the Little Lady with our babysitter and we had a great time.  And I still fit into the same dress I wore to the last fraternity formal I went to in (2004 or 5 with the help of some spanx), so it was an overall win of an evening.
6. I feel like I'm doing a great job of this at work and in professional situations, but not so much in my personal life.  Might be time to find a Ted Talk or something on the matter...
7. The book that won't die: Songs in Ordinary Time.  I've even been keeping the book that's next in the queue on my desk so that I have to look at it all the time to remind me, have kept to my self-imposed 15 minutes or more of reading this damn book every day, and still it won't end...

April is another month, which I'll be reporting on shortly.  Some highlights to come?
- TU Alumni Weekend 5K
- A great exercise in stress to force me into more poignantly expressed curiosity

Friday, March 13, 2015

Breakfast Cookies

Coming back from vacation, I realized that I had gained 8 lbs.  In one week, I gained 8 lbs.  The same week I had a crazy stomach bug during which I purged an entire day's worth of food. 8 lbs!

Since I'm not a diet/salad/deprive myself kind of girl, I was super excited to see breakfast cookies in my Bloglovin' feed last week from Ambitious Kitchen.  And not because I ever planned on eating these for breakfast (though it's a pretty awesome idea), but because I need to take the ravenous 545pm beast that tries to wrangle ninos, start dinner, and pick up the morning's mayhem while keeping the hanger at bay. 

Yes, I get hangry.  If I'm cranky, please offer me food.  I'll be much nicer to you.

Back to the cookies...

Here's the link to the recipe.
Before Baking

Some notes for making the cookies:
- Cool down the nuts before incorporating the other ingredients (my chocolate chips melted)
- The "batter" doesn't really hold together too well when forming the cookies
- They look super ugly on the cookie sheet out of the oven.  Don't be scared
- Cherries are a better idea than cranberries.  It's just better.

Right Out of the Oven
Some notes on eating:
- Crumbly.  Messy.  Don't eat this in front of people you're trying to impress or in bed.
- Let them sit for a couple days in a ziplock bag or container.  It helps with the messy factor a bit.

You could probably make these vegan by using a banana in lieu of an egg.

I will be making these again.  It's a, easy to make, great recipe and mostly guilt-free. 

And they're delicious.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It takes a village, but I'm the mayor...

It occurs to me that everyone has a parenting philosophy--even those without children.  And that's fine, but please remember this one thing:

Mom is always the mayor of village in which her children reside.

This doesn't mean that Dad isn't Deputy Mayor, taking over the reigns on a very frequent basis to cover important issues that Mayor isn't able to handle.  Personally, I'm so glad that he does! 

But that peanut gallery has just got to pipe down.

There are a few reasons for this:
1. It's really just rude.
2. You're confusing my kids.
3. Your interventions are likely counterproductive to what we're trying to achieve as parents.
4. Kids are smart and know how to achieve their goals (and get around Mom and Dad if they can).

I'm very grateful for the support we get from family and friends, and frankly I don't think that we would be successful parents without it.  But support means backing us up, and not making rumblings under your breath or flat out disagreeing with me in front of my child.

I know I'm not the only one out there with this gripe.  How do you deal with the peanut gallery?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

February Goals Progress

As you sit on pins and needles, wanting to know how I've been doing on my goals, let's re-cap what they are exactly:

Successful Nap Time
1. Sew one garment a month
2. Post an article a month
3. Run at least 2 5K races
4. Exercise 3 times a week
5. Have one date with my husband a month
6. Become better at expressing my curiosity. (I seem to engage people in a way that they think I'm questioning them vs. inquiring things about them.)
7. Read 10 books

So, how'd I do in February?  Honestly, not so hot.
I didn't sew a GD thing
My only February posting was my last update
I haven't run at all (unless you count chasing Little Man)
My ski vacation turned into an "everyone is sick" cation
We did manage to have a family date for Valentine's Day which was really nice at the Franklin Institute, though this goal was achieved mostly by my loving husband and I cannot take credit for it.
I did reassess myself using the DISC model, which helps to zero in on my communication styles and gives some easy leads on identifying those of others (and what motivates them and/or decentivizes them).
This freaking book "In Ordinary Time" just won't finish.  I've got 250 pages to go, which means I've finally made it to the 2/3 mark after seriously 6 months of trying to read it.  And I've been reading it.

Something fun I did accomplish that's not part of the list--I finished listening to the Serial podcast.  Such a good story, and a real life "Who-Dun-It" caper.  If you haven't listened to it yet, go to and find their pod casts section.  It's worth it.  I promise.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Goals Update

For those of you not glued to my blog (and why aren't you?), I came up with a few goals I wanted to accomplish in 2015:
1. Sew one garment a month
2. Post an article a month
3. Run at least 2 5K races
4. Exercise 3 times a week
5. Have one date with my husband a month
6. Become better at expressing my curiosity. (I seem to engage people in a way that they think I'm questioning them vs. inquiring things about them.)
7. Read 10 books

My thinking is that if I put these goals out into the world, I might be held a bit more accountable for them--basically shaming myself into getting them done.  So how did I do in January?

1. Sew one garment a month--Nope
- I didn't sew a darn thing.  I really didn't have much time last month to wash clothes, let alone create new ones.

2. Post an article a month--Yup!
I deserve at least one gold star...
- I posted two!

3. Run at least 2 5K races--Getting there
- As previously mentioned, I'm already signed up for one in April, with the second likely to happen in the fall.

4. Exercise 3 times a week--Getting there
- I've been teaching (skiing) on weekends, so I'm spending a lot of time running around on snow.  If I could fit in one gym session during the week, I think I'd be meeting this goal completely.  I'm also committed to getting as close to the 10K steps as I can (thank you FitBit for my new random obsession), so I'm walking a lot more and taking the stairs even more than usual.  I also realized this weekend that my arm muscles have definition for the first time in about 4 years, so I'm pretty excited about that.

5. Have one date with my husband a month--Yup!
- We had an in-home sushi date for our anniversary with the kids last week.  It was sweet and frankly probably as much of a date night as either of us have the energy to muster up right now.

6. Become better at expressing my curiosity--Getting there
- I've had discussions with people about this, and while I feel kind of stuck in qualifying/justifying my actions to others, I'm seeing this as a first step.  Oh the plight of the outgoing introvert...

7. Read 10 books--Getting there
- I've definitely been reading.  But thanks to Mary McGarry Morris, I'm stuck on the same book I've been reading (3+ hours a week) since August.  My upcoming business trip to SoCal should afford me some time to finish that book so I can move onto my next.

I'm actually pretty impressed with myself given how hectic life was in January.  I don't anticipate a lot of calming to happen in February, but knowing that I can get about 2/3 of the way there keeps my spirits high and is pretty motivating, actually.

Wish me luck this month!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Goals for 2015

I usually hate it when people talk about New Year's resolutions.  Don't "resolve" to do something, just do it.  Yoda said so himself--there is only do.  I like the term goals, and I'm making a blog post about mine--mostly to keep me accountable, but to also give me a format for tracking my progress.

1. Sew one garment a month
2. Post an article a month
3. Run at least 2 5K races (I've already been suckered into one in April)--and not walk in either
4. Exercise 3 times a week (run or use eliptical at home)
5. Have one date with my husband a month
6. Become better at expressing my curiosity. (I seem to engage people in a way that they think I'm questioning them vs. inquiring things about them.)
7. Read 10 books

So far, I've already accomplished #2 & #5, and have made progress toward #6 & #7.   #4 begets #3, so I'll have to start working on those, though I have made a point of keeping to that 10K steps a day thing that seems so important.  And #1 really depends on a synchronized nap time on a weekend I think. 

We'll see!  Go 2015!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds.  I just realized that these were the same seeds that you put on a chia pet.  Which is probably a good thing or I doubt I would have started eating them...or maybe I would have because then I could say I ate a chia pet.

Chia are some good stuff.  They're pretty amazing little buggers nutritionally, are great thickeners, really don't taste like much, and are so easy to add to pretty much anything (salads, smoothies, soups, etc.).  And they're pretty cheap (I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill at Giant for $8 last week which will last me a solid 2 months).

Whilst pregnant during the dog days of summer, all I wanted was something refreshing to eat that was also healthy and easy to make.  Since a girl can only cut up so much watermelon, I went hunting and found that chia seed puddings are kind of thing and ridiculously easy to make.  And the texture is similar to tapioca, which I adore.

Here's what I came up with after doing some internet and taste-testing research:
1. Use coconut milk:  It's easy, you don't have to add sugar to make it awesome, and I always have a can in the pantry (ironically sitting next to the jar of chia seeds) so I have an instant desert now.
2. Top with fresh fruit:  In addition to making it look prettier, it was a great way to use up that bumper crop of raspberries I had this summer.  I used blueberries, peaches, and grapes (I don't really recommend the grapes), but I'd imagine most anything would be good.
3. Use mini chocolate chips:  normal size are just too big. Dark chocolate is awesome.
4. Anything that doesn't require preparations with heat in the summer are awesome.
5. Maple syrup is a good sweetener if you decide you need it.
6. This is one of the few desserts that should satisfy all of your friends' weird dietary habits (vegan, paleo, low carb, etc.)

Chia Seed Pudding
makes 4 servings
1 12oz. can coconut milk (full or low-fat)
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup fresh fruit for garnish

Mix coconut milk, chia seeds and chocolate in a bowl.  Cover and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes up to an hour.  Scoop into serving cups and top with fresh fruit.

Remaining pudding can be stored for up to a week in the fridge.  FYI: it might separate, but will stir back into prettiness easily.