Sunday, June 12, 2016

design your summer


Hello. Can you believe that summer is almost upon us?

At this time of year I always become anxious/contemplative about how I'm going to spend my summer.  My goal each year is to to take a big bite and get all I can out of the season.  My worry is that I'll let summer just "wash over me" and not really take advantage of my freedom and the long days.  I work in a school setting  so summer is the season when I have several weeks off from work, more time at home, more time with my family, and more time to structure my days as I wish.  Usually summer rushes by and I always enjoy it but I have a goal of me being in charge of summer instead of summer having its way with me.

I love structure and routines.  They are comforting to me and I need them to stay happy and feel in control--even if that feeling is just an illusion.  So I'm thinking of a way I can impose somewhat of a structure to my summer while still fully acknowledging we will be running around going to appointments and playdates and vacations and day trips and such.

Gretchen Rubin was talking about "designing her summer" on her podcast a week or two ago and I love the idea of designing the kind of summer I want to have.  I need to start writing some of my ideas down.  Here is some of what I've been thinking:

  • I want to make a quasi "schedule" that includes reading time for me and the kids.  My plan right now is to get up early and read by myself for an hour and 15 minutes every morning before the day really begins.  That would be huge for me and I think getting back into reading would help me so much with my anxiety and emotions.  An hour and 15 may be unrealistic but if I could manage 30 minutes that would be fantastic.  And for me and the boys I'm planning to read to them every morning at 10am when they turn off their electronic entertainments for the day and we shall have tea and Rainer can play with magnatiles or blocks if he needs to be occupied while we are reading.
  • I want to make a lot of homemade popsicles, starting with these ones.  (BTW I am over the moon happy those gross counter tops are out of my life for good.  Words cannot express . . .)
  • many trips to the beach will be ours
  • and many trips to the pool
  • we want to make a lot of iced tea and we were just introduced to a kid friendly one (I might have to order it on Amazon because I refuse to go to the chain supermarket here and I can't find it at my local market).  
  • and I would love to fit in a lot of day trips--Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, LA, Malibu, etc.  So many day trip ideas!
And I'm sure there is much more I've been thinking about but these are the big things that come to mind.  Oh, and exercise and meditation.  We'll see.  Definitely a lot of walking and hiking (and late evening trampoline jumping, when it cools off).

So--one more thing I want to mention is Snapchat.  It is super fun over there--find me at faeriemb if you wish.  I've been snapping a lot of our every day goings on, outfits, recipes/dinner ideas, and miscellaneous thoughts.  Also I've been posting a bit on my other blog, FaerieMB so please to feel free to come over there if you like to discuss clothes and outfits.  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

a dreamy/practical long weekend


It's helpful to set my intentions for the weekend.  Here we go!


:: dinner out Friday night with Ken (check!  It was fun.  We went to Yardhouse then walked around and got coffee and did a little shopping)
:: Saturday morning hike--by myself (whoop!  Love this and I'm so glad I'm getting back into the routine--this one healthy ritual sets the tone for the entire week in terms of staying active and taking care of myself).
:: take the boys to the pool (maybe more than once!)
:: dinner tonight at my parents'--lots of relatives will be there.  I'm bringing fruit.  :)
:: read something printed (!) Crazy, I know.  I never do this anymore, but I want to get back into books.
:: watch an episode of Grace and Frankie (I actually started episode one last night--looks good!)


:: clean floors.  I actually love this now since I have a new vacuum and new steam mop.  I can't get enough of clean floors!
:: declutter something.  Last weekend I decluttered a drawer and I felt pretty discouraged about it (because I felt like I couldn't get rid of enough stuff) but last night when I opened that drawer I noticed a huge difference and felt so good about it.  So, in Flylady style, I need to just do it and stop being a perfectionist about it (applies to all cleaning).
:: tons of laundry (as always)
:: return shoes to Zappos for Dieter and order larger sizes!

What are you up to this weekend?  Doing anything special for Memorial day??  We're just chillin' at home.

Also:  I'm on Snapchat now and it's so fun.  I'm @faeriemb on Snapchat (and on Instagram).  Come follow along if you like!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

maple oat nut scones

Scenes from the weekend 5/20/16
Just a quick recipe post today to tell you how to make the maple oat nut scones I mentioned last weekend.  I admit I always have to tweak this recipe a little bit because the dough tends to turn out too wet.  Still, they always turn out great.  They are easy and yummy.  I started making these because Ken really liked the maple oat nut scones they had at Starbucks, but now they don't have them, or at least he's been having trouble finding them.  I think they changed up their baked goods menu.

One note:  you can make these without the maple flavoring, but they will lack that strong "maple" flavor that makes them super yummy.  But they will turn out good either way.  I've never been able to find pure maple extract, so I use Mapleine, which is what they stock at my local market.

Maple Oat Nut Scones

1 cup oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t. salt
1T. baking powder
1/4 c. maple syrup (start with maybe 3 T)
2 1/2 T. cold butter
1 egg
1/2 cup half and half (start with a fair bit less than this)
2 t. maple extract
2/3 c. pecans or walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

In a food processor, grind the oats.  Add flour, salt and baking powder and whirl to mix.  Still using the food processor, add in the butter and and maple syrup and pulse to blend (don't over mix).  Then add the egg, half and half, and extract and use the processor to form into a ball.  If it is too loose and wet, add more flour.  Then stir in the nuts.

Pat into a circle about 1" thick and cut into wedges.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until done.  Cool on a rack.

Mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1/2 t. maple extract and 1 T. milk to form a glaze.  Frost scones while still warmish.
Scenes from the weekend 5/20/16 Making scones

Monday, May 23, 2016

scenes from the weekend

Scenes from the weekend 5/20/16 Scenes from the weekend 5/20/16 Scenes from the weekend 5/20/16 Scenes from the weekend 5/20/16 Scenes from the weekend 5/20/16

It was a good weekend.  My question about weekends is, how can you make them last longer?  And how can you attend to all chores and errands and still have family time?  Such a conundrum!  In all seriousness, I guess I managed a decent balance but I didn't get everything done I wanted to.  Still I managed to get in a big hike (the full Shelf Road loop, which takes me about an hour and a half).  Walking and thinking and being by myself while I walk and think--I find it so restorative.  I did a fair amount of cleaning (I finally figured out mopping--I got a steam "mop" and I'm obsessed with it).  We also took the boys out to Lazy Dog and to see the live action Jungle Book on Saturday night, which was so fun and festive.  And on Sunday we went to the pool and swam and hot tubbed and ordered lunch (I got the turkey burger with salad).

So I'm happy and rested.  I made scones and granola too, (and dinner on Sunday) so I also was domestic.  I guess I really did get in a balance of things.  Still wish I had more time, though.

Granola recipe is here.
Recipe for maple-oat-nut scones is coming up this week.

Friday, May 20, 2016

dreamy :: practical -- spring weekend edition

Meadow walk

Heillo.  I'm so happy it is Friday and I'm in the mood for a little "dreamy/practical" action.  I'm so looking forward to the weekend and here is what I'd like to accomplish and do:


:: go out for Mexican food Friday night with Ken and the little boys and sit on the patio with chips and a drink
:: have coffee with half and half on a leisurely Saturday morning at home
:: go for a full hike, by myself, and walk and think.  "Long walks on the moors" is what I call these hikes
:: go to the club and swim and order lunch with the boys
:: have a chat with Ken in the back yard while the boys are playing inside (the closest thing we get to a date night lately)
:: paint my nails a fun color


:: mop the floors with my new steam mop (I'm obsessed with it!)
:: clean the bathroom (!)
:: wash the car with Dieter--we haven't done it in so long!
:: menu planning--trying to get back into a good groove

The photo above is from March, just around the Spring Equinox.  It's a local meadow preserve and it was at the height of wildflower season--so so pretty.  We should go back and see how it has progressed into late spring.

What are you up to this weekend?  I'd love to hear.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

april wrap up

nelson atkins museum
Nelson Atkins museum

for the boys
boys' dessert
scandinavian festival
scandinavian festival
Scandinavian Festival
spinach soup with chickpeas
chickpea and spinach soup
out for a swim
out for a swim

April has come and gone.  We are that much closer to summer break and I am happy about that!  In the beginning of April I was still in Kansas and Kansas City visiting my dear friend Carrie.  We had a great visit and it felt so good to get away for spring break (although the weather sadly was just as hot in the Midwest that week as in So Cal--crazy weather for March/April in the Midwest, although they didn't mind it).

In April I . . .

  • wrapped up spring break and got back to work for the final push towards summer
  • had a fun Easter at my parents' house
  • started my 7-week diet and "no Diet Coke" arc (still going with that--I'll do a separate post soon to report on my diet)
  • went to Scandinavian Festival with my mom and the boys (fun!  Dieter was obsessed with the Norwegian Elkhounds again)
  • continued with my hill walks (good!  I'm so glad I'm finally finding some regular exercise that I like and will do and is a bit taxing)
  • saw two movies:  "While We're Young" (I enjoyed it, Ken hated it); and "Home" (took the boys--it was pretty cute, not super great)

Goals check-in--

Walking--as I mentioned above, I'm doing really well and have walked 3-4 times per week except for the week that Ken was out of town for a swim meet.

Losing weight--yes, I've been doing it!  I'm down 9-ish pounds.  More on that in a weight-loss post.

No Diet Coke--I've been totally doing this.  No cheats at all.  I've been drinking iced tea and the occasional La Croix.

Would love to hear about your month and goals!  And happy May!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

some scenes from easter and april goals

easter 2015 Eggs dyed. easter 2015 easter 2015 easter 2015 easter 2015 easter 2015 Easter egg hunt. easter 2015
We had a quiet and fun Easter. On Saturday we dyed eggs and on Sunday we went down to my parent's house for lunch and an egg hunt.  I like simple holidays.

So want to know how I did on my March goals?
:: for the health goal I did really well on walking.  I'm loving my hill walks and Saturday hikes!  This is a huge win for me because I'm naturally so sedentary.  So yay!  I plan to keep this up.  For the water and oranges--meh.  Didn't really do those goals (and instead of losing weight, I gained)!
:: reading.  I did read some of my book but I'm only about 20% through.  This continues to be a challenging habit to get into (until I find a book that really sucks me in).
:: spending freeze.  Win!  I didn't buy stuff or online shop until the end of the month when I visited Carrie.  Yay!

April Goals
:: walk.  I'm continuing my walking goal and aim to do 3 (uphill) walks per week (or 4 if I can swing it).
:: lose weight.  I know I said just last month that I don't want to do hard core dieting, but now I have to.  My weight is ridiculous.  My aim is to do 1400 calories a day.  My hard lines are NO cookies or sweets with the boys in the evenings, and NO going completely off the diet all weekend long.  Just those two changes should make a big difference.  Will report back at the end of the month.
:: no Diet Coke.  For at least two months I'm giving up all Diet Coke and switching to iced tea (unsweetened, obviously) instead.  This is hard for me but I hope it will help with my weight loss and cravings.

What are your goals this month?

PS--I've been posting a little bit on my style blog.  FaerieMB if you'd like to check it out.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

what do you eat each week?

What do you eat each week?  I wrote up a little schedule for us a few months ago.  It has changed a bit from previous years.  Currently for dinner we eat . . .

Monday--some sort of rice based dinner--probably our favorite type of dinner.  The photo shows the Sweet Soy Chicken from The Family Flavor.  We love this meal.  I always stir in some steamed broccoli.  Another huge rice-based favorite is the Southwest Chicken Salad from Summer Harms.  Oh, and another is her Maple-Mustard chicken.  (Love her recipes--wish she'd start blogging again).

Tuesday--pizza (this is take out.  We have a good pizza place locally).

Wednesday--soup or chili.  Love this night!

Thursday--leftovers.  If we don't have enough food left over then I whip something up from what we have on hand.

Friday--Mexican!  This is also take out from a local restaurant, or we eat there.

Saturday--date night.  Ken and I eat out and the kids usually go to my parents' house.

Sunday--"Sunday dinner."  Actually, it could be anything--likely it is something I don't have time to make during the week.  Tonight we are having chicken pot pie.  That sort of thing.  Or something special like steak.

I loved this post when I saw it on Cup of Jo.  Apparently these weekly rotations are trendy now?  The concept of eating the same thing every week used to be the butt of jokes, I think.  Personally, I love it because it is a comforting routine for the children and for us too--at it's easy to plan and do.

Do you eat the same thing every week?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

mid-march check in

View from my hike My new breakfast Orange blossoms in full bloom right now

March is half over now. It feels more like summer here these last few days, rather than technically still winter. Oh my. Winters lately in Southern California.  To tell  you the truth, I'm feeling pretty anxious about the lack of rain, the record drought conditions, and the ever hotter winters.  I'm not sure what else to say about that. I hope that human beings adapt to this new climate . . .

Good things that have been happening in March--my walks are getting more regular and I'm liking them more.  This is a good sign.  I'll refrain from getting overly optimistic too soon.  I think having a hill to walk up gives me enough challenge and novelty that it feels new and fresh to me--not my usual super boring walk around the block.  And on Saturdays (two weeks in a row now) I've been going to the top of my normal hill and then entering the trailhead at the top and doing the entire loop.  I call it a hike, but I think most would call it more of a walk.  Anyway, it is beautiful and the views from the top are sweeping (see photo 1).  It takes me an hour and a half to do the full loop.  It's exciting to have this.

I've been listening to a new podcast-- Happier with Gretchen Rubin.  You know I like her blog and books, right?  The podcast is in its infancy, but it's pretty fun.  Her sister is her co-host.  Her sister is located in Southern California and she also commented on a local hiking trail she has been enjoying and that what passes for "hiking" in So Cal would most likely be known as "walking" everywhere else.  It made me smile for sure!  What podcasts are you listening to lately?  I hear Invisibilia is worth checking out.  I listened to one episode (the one they aired on This American Life) but I need to download more episodes and give it a fair chance.  How about you?

In other news, I have a new breakfast (photo #2).  Faith sent me a picture of her breakfast one morning this week, and I was fully inspired.  Hers was eggs, avocado, and tomatoes.  I subbed spinach for the avo and have been having it ever since.  I think it's making me healthier already!  ;)

Also--the orange blossoms are fully in bloom and they are fragrant and lovely.  I love this time of year--so expectant and hopeful.  I love making plans for summer and the longer evenings (after the sleep deprivation is over).

I did a bit of a closet cleanup today and am heading to Buffalo Exchange tomorrow after work to sell some stuff.  I'm continuing my goal to transition to a capsule wardrobe.  I feel like I'm making some good self discoveries in the process (e.g. buy less and don't expect to like it forever, so adjust your spending accordingly.  I think I've mentioned Jennifer L. Scott's YouTube videos before, yes?  She is very helpful in this process).

Thank you so much for the comments you have been leaving!  I haven't been getting e-mail notifications lately (not sure why), but discovered today comments I hadn't seen before.  Thanks again!  How is your March going?

Monday, March 2, 2015

march goals

At the museum

I decided to do some goals for March. I feel that things have finally calmed down a bit (since the holidays?  since the beginning of the school year?  LOL) and I'm finally ready to make some monthly goals.  All joking aside, life does feel pretty intense in the fall, getting school up and running, and then the holidays start, and then the January birthdays hit, and then this year February contained an out of town conference and a jury duty stint (albeit one day, but still).  So it actually does feel like a little exhale right now.

I absolutely love seeing the goals that others make on their blogs.  So here are mine:

1.  Drink a  glass of water each morning upon waking, eat two oranges per day, and take a hill-walk three times a week.  Those three mini-goals are all wrapped together as one health related goal.  I hate dieting and feeling deprived and cutting way back on calories.  I actually feel that those days in my life are past and I'm entering the next phase.  So here is my first step.  Bonus:  eating two oranges a day will help to use up some of our huge surplus.

2. Read a book.  I've gotten SO out of the habit of reading and it distresses me.  The internet has ruined my attention span for sure.  I'm trying to read The Luminaries right now, but it's taking awhile to get into.  Instead, for now, I'd like to read the book that The Theory of Everything is based on (a memoir by Stephen Hawking's first wife).  I'll let you know how it goes! I'm hoping it's available for the Kindle.

3.  A little spending freeze until I go to see my friend Carrie at the end of the month.  We'll do some shopping together in Kansas, but until then, no shopping for me.

I'd love to hear your March goals if you have any!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

february wrap-up

chicken pie
homemade chicken pie
the new kitchen
sleeping on the floor
sleeping on the floor at the Hilton

March has come!  I thought I'd do a little February wrap-up.  I started the month up in Santa Cruz with Faith.  I had a little getaway weekend at the end of January and drove home on the first of February.  I can't tell you how refreshing it was to spend a weekend with my daughter.  We ate out, saw a movie, shopped at Bookshop Santa Cruz (so fun!  I overspent on books!), got pedicures, and watched City.Ballet on her laptop under her fully quits.  Mother-daughter time at its finest.  The movie we saw was The Imitation Game and we cried so much.  I drove home Sunday and that Monday I had a day off so Ken and I had breakfast out.  So it was a really  nice weekend over all.

Mid-month I attended the CSNO conference in Anaheim.  It is the yearly school nurses' conference that is held in different parts of California each year.  Last year was in Sacramento, which I loved.  Getting away to Anaheim is less exciting, but I still leaned a lot and it is always nice to bond with the other nurses.

For the Oscars we had a super fun "party" at my parents' house.  And by "party" I mean it was just them and us.  My mom made a lovely spread of food and we watched the entire thing.  Even the boys were mesmerized because we don't have broadcast TV at home, so it's a treat to watch an actual show.

And, I also had jury duty one day.  It stressed by out!  But fortunately I did not get selected to serve on a long trial.  Next time perhaps I'll be a bit more prepared, but this time I was not and was so thankful to be released after serving my one day.

And now we are on to March!  It even rained a little today to welcome the new month.  Do you have any March goals?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

corners of my home :: kitchen remodel

the new kitchen

Welcome to our new kitchen!  Sorry it has taken me so long to post pictures of the remodel.  It honestly seemed daunting to try to photograph it and I've really fallen out of the habit of blogging at all.  But some of you have been asking about it, so here we go.  The above photo shows a view from outdoors in the evening.  This is a new door and it looks out onto the back yard.  Come on inside!

the new kitchen

Our previous kitchen was old, yellow tiled, and basically crumbling apart. I hated it but I had to bide my time. Finally this summer we decided to go forward with the remodel (and took out a home equity line).  In the meantime, I'd been pinning kitchen ideas like mad, in the hopes of a someday kitchen remodel.  I wanted open, airy, clean, white, and non-dated.  Having Pinterest available as a tool for gathering ideas was great.  In the days before Pinterest, I honestly don't know how I would have figured out what I liked or what's available these days since I rarely go into other people's kitchens (although I am so curious about others' domestic lives--I just don't usually get the opportunity to see in).

the new kitchen

Here is a view of the long run of counter space.  You can see part of the door that I showed in the top photo.  This is leading out to the back yard.  The counters are Caesarstone quartz in Misty Carrera or Frosty Carrina (can't quite remember which, but I do know I ended up going with the lighter and whiter of the two).  It has a greyish vein going through that looks marble-like.  Love love love this coutertop! The open shelves are really thick planks of oak, stained dark to match the flooring.  I love that the wood of the door leading out back is natural/stained clear.  I like that contrast.  The cabinets are hand made in maple by a local cabinet maker guy named Logan.

the new kitchen

I got rid of maybe 2/3 of my kitchen stuff. I'm loving the minimalism of this. And we haven't missed all the clutter and junk one bit!

the new kitchen the new kitchen the new kitchen

I haven't hung any art or framed prints, but art from the boys brightens up the place.  I suppose with this much white there's a risk of the space looking sterile or severe, but I love it.  I honestly don't care.  I'm so happy to have it be clean, bright and open.

the new kitchen

This is the only view that shows the refrigerator. The footprint and the layout are almost exactly the same as before. The fridge, sink, and stove are placed identically. But the doorway to the dining room was widened significantly so the kitchen seems more open.

the new kitchen

And here is one of my favorite parts--(low) open shelves to store and display my Le Creuset.  This serves a dual purpose of displaying the colorful pieces and having easy access since they are heavy.  Oh, and we love having the microwave down low.

the new kitchen

Here is where we made the biggest change.  Formerly this space in the back of the kitchen was a laundry room--a very ugly, crumbly, non-functional space.  Now it is a tri-use area:  breakfast nook + open pantry + laundry room.  I'm so thrilled to have all this open shelving to store pantry goods.  And the breakfast nook makes a great homework area and laundry folding station.  This corner is so functional now.

the new kitchen

Here is another view. So if you are sitting at the little breakfast nook, the washing machine and dryer are behind you.

the new kitchen

And one final view from the back yard.  Just to be clear, we didn't DIY any of this.  We hired a wonderful local contractor named Johnny, and he handled everything.  Last summer we just "made do" without a kitchen (we had a temporary set-up in our breezeway, outside) and in 3 months it was done and we were moving back in!

Thanks for going on this little kitchen tour with me.  Words honestly cannot express what a dream come true this is for me.  I'm so happy every time I step into this space.