Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Black Lives Matter

Our Commitment to Black Lives Matter | Planned Parenthood ...

I thought I'd write today to state my support for Black Lives Matter and say a little bit about what I've been doing to support Black lives lately.

A bit of background--in February, I was lucky enough to travel to Florida to visit with my BFF Sylvia and we were able to tack on some side trips to Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina.  Both cities were lovely and I was so happy to be there.  I took several house tours and thought a lot about the lives of the enslaved men and women (and children) who made all the wealth and beauty of the South possible.  I returned to my normal life having a real sense of wanting to support the Black community somehow, but, other than reading more Black authors, I didn't move forward.

After the murder of George Floyd in May, there was increased national attention to the systemic racism that Black people have to navigate every single day of their lives and I was exposed to a lot more resources and ideas for how I can help.  I've been contemplating my white privilege, and trying to educate myself more about how white supremacy is something I've benefitted from without even knowing or thinking about it.  I want to be an ally and at the same time I'm a very shy/fearful/not well spoken/non-articulate person and I recognize that I've fallen short of being a true ally.  But now, more recently, I've been trying to at least make a difference in small ways, and I've progressed beyond the point where I was in February, when I just had a vague sense of wanting to help but wasn't really doing anything.

When resources were flying around Instagram, I started making notes of what I was doing so I could keep track and refer back to them to track my progress.  One of the first things I did (which I honestly should have been doing before) was set up recurring small donations to several organizations.  I specifically signed up for recurring donations that will go on forever, not just right now in a "moment."  The organizations I chose are NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Equal Justice Initiative, The Loveland Foundation, and the ACLU.  I also made a number of one time donations to other organizations (bail funds, Go Fund Me campaigns, etc.)   It's also important to support Black creatives and writers, so I signed up to support  LaTonya Yvette monthly on her Patreon.  I'm learning more about how it benefits everyone to donate directly to writers rather than have them rely entirely on ad revenue--ads by definition are designed to promote dissatisfaction with ourselves and excessive spending.  I'm purchasing more books (full price from locally owned or Black owned bookstores, no Amazon) by Black authors (fiction) and also reading a non-fiction history of racism in America "Stamped from the Beginning" by Ibram X. Kendi, which is excellent but I'm reading it slowly because history is a bit slower/harder for me to fathom.  

On the consumeristic side of things, I'm supporting more Black owned businesses.  In particular, Two Days Off (a clothing brand, I bought 2 dresses and they are excellent), Aliya Wanek (I bought one of her sweatshirts and it is excellent), Tree Fairfax (I bought a black crossbody bag--it is stiff and sturdy and I love it but it will be even better over time when it softens), and also I bought two Luv Scrubs (also really enjoying this product).  I'm trying to be mindful in general of where I spend my dollar and have sworn off Amazon and Whole Foods (and Audible and Zappos) and am supporting smaller brands in general and Black owned brands in particular.

I'm making one time donations, signing petitions, and making a few select phone calls (regarding phonecalls, I suck at them and they are hard for me, so that will be an area of growth over time), and I always vote.  I've bookmarked a number of podcasts to delve more into the topic of racism and white privilege, but so far, since I'm not working and don't commute right now, I haven't listened to them.  

One more fun thing:  I donated $100 to "Clear the Shelves for Chicago Students" which is an organization that provides books to Black Chicago kids/teens for free.   The neat thing about it is that the kids can go shopping in the Black owned/Woman owned Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago and choose anything to their liking.  It's a wonderful organization.  I heard about it on  Caroline Moss's podcast,(Gee Thanks, Just Bought it) episode 28, with Danni Mullen, which I highly recommend you listen to--it's a great episode.  Danni Mullen is the owner Semicolon Bookstore and I just loved hearing her talk about it and the Clear the Shelves project.  

I've been told that as a white woman, if I'm not speaking up about these issues then I'm part of the problem.  I've come to see that not talking about it, or just thinking and processing it on my own quietly, is a privilege.  I know I can and should be doing more.  Just wanted to share where I'm at with this journey--it's inadequate and imperfect, but I intend to continue to grow in this area.    Sending love to you all and out into the universe today.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

What are you doing to feel summery this year?

This is such a weird, challenging year, and I hate to think/admit it, but it seems like these dark, challenging times are here to stay.  Certainly the coronavirus is here for the long haul and the political uncertainties feel heavy.   Nonetheless, it is summer and I want to make it feel different than normal quarantine times.  

For the most part, we are all "straight chillin'" (as my kids would say) and we haven't given the boys limits on their screen time.  We have done a few things to make the most of the fact that it is summer--

  • we were able to get away for a little socially distanced vacation in the Santa Cruz area and it was lovely just to have a break from our normal surroundings. We stayed in a cabin with its own little kitchen and access to a small river for playing.   During the days we hiked in the Henry Cowell redwoods and the Big Basin redwoods.  Redwood forests are so magical and fairy-like.  To make things feel a bit vacationy we bought lunches out and "to go" (and we ordered and picked up as socially distanced as possible) and picked up pastries for breakfast a couple times.  We cooked all dinners in the cabin.  I found a place to get soft-serve ice cream because that feels like a retro summery thing to do.  In fact, the whole vacation felt like a 70's inspired getaway.  
  • trips to the beach feel authentically summery and fairly safe.  We're still getting a feel for finding uncrowded beaches, but even when there are more people there than I'd like, there is a constant breeze blowing and people respect a certain amount of distance.  We've been packing a lunch to eat on the beach and I alwys take a book.  It's good to just listen to the ocean and read and look up for the views and to see the boys playing in the waves.  
  • It's hard to find a board game that engages all of us but we keep casting about.  In the cabin we played Conga and Uno.   Recently we purchased Rummikub when I saw Cup of Jo mention it, and so far it looks promising.  I think I"m going to clear our game cabinets and see what else might be lurking in there that would engage us all.  
  • we have an outdoor bookstore locally (Bart's Books) and we are very lucky to be able to walk there and browse.  It feels good to support small businesses these days, and I'm shopping locally more than I used to.  
  • Wearing a different summery dress every day helps to lift my spirits a bit.   Inspired by the show Normal People, I've been pairing summery dresses with canvas sneakers.  
  • we went to an outdoor cars-only live performance in Ventura (live band and singer).  It felt quite dystopian and at the same time was also was a nice break from routine.
  • reading a lot during the day, fiction and one non-fiction, Stamped from the Beginning, which I love but am reading slowly.  
How is your summer going so far?  

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Quarantine Birthday

I celebrated a birthday in June, during the global pandemic.  Sadly, as the pandemic wears on, it seems likely we will all celebrate a birthday under quarantine, if not two birthdays (or three?!?).   

The day turned out lovely, and I thought I'd record it here.  Something that I have found during this time, is that what I thought I needed and wanted generally (restaurant meals, shopping, being out and about, big vacations, general consumption), are not things that I miss as much as I thought I would.  It turns out that a birthday under quarantine was calm and restorative.

To begin the day, we had pastries and coffee at home.  Instead of trying to find pastries at a bakery, I had purchased some almond croissants and cinnamon rolls at Trader Joe's in advance, and baked them up fresh in the morning.  I wanted it to feel indulgent, which is why I got two kinds (the frozen almond croissants are excellent!).  

I packed a simple picnic (crackers, cheeses, leftover cold steak, a ceramic bowl of home grown plums) and we loaded the car.  We drove to Santa Barbara and listened to music on the way.  Ken drove and I got to gaze at pretty scenery out the window.  I do love the drive into Santa Barbara.

Our first stop was Chaucer's, a bookstore in SB.  I had ordered my books a week before and they were ready and waiting for me.  Chaucer's is only open right now for curbside pickup (no entering the store or browsing), so I've been ordering either online or by phone.  The pickup process is very safe and specific.  Everyone wears a mask.  When you arrive at the store, you knock on the door and then step back behind the line (6 feet).  The person answers the door and asks for your name and whether the order is pre-paid.  Then they go back into the store, door closed, and come back out with your bag and set it on a little card table they have set up for that purpose.  After they go back inside and lock the door you may step forward and get your bag.  I appreciate this type of specificity and attention to safety!  

On this day, my birthday, I had ordered such a wonderful stack of books.  It was thrilling to browse through my stack.  Our next stop was Rocky Nook Park.  I thought of this park because it felt kind of out of the way and likely to be uncrowded.  We didn't know for sure if it would be open but we thought, "let's just play it by ear and see what happens."  Luckily, we found it open, and easily found a table in the lower part of the park that was empty and uncrowded.  We had a simple picnic under the oaks.  

After lunch, we headed to the beach at Carpinteria (Rincon Beach Park--my favorite beach).  It was open and not terribly crowded.  We felt safe.  We wore masks to walk down the path to the beach but then removed them when we found a space to set up.  Mostly , we didn't sit still.  We walked and the kids played.  I did have a chance to start one of my books from my birthday haul.  It was so nice to be at the ocean after so many months of quarantine!  Nature is so restorative.  The beach in particular has so many sensations--the feel of the sand, the coldness of the water, the white noise of the surf, the breeze, the ocean smell--all very healing and bolstering.  

After the beach, I wanted to stop by Starbucks in Carpinteria and have a nice something to sip on the way home.  It felt so festive.  Everyone got a drink and a treat.  I tried a new coffee--an oat milk iced coffee.  We ordered and paid through the app so I only had to go pick it up quickly inside the store without lingering indoors.  It went very smoothly. 

In the evening we were back at home, and I read my book some more and we ordered sushi take-out that night for dinner.  For a movie I chose I Capture the Castle because I had just finished a re-read of the book (one of my favorite books).  The movie is really not as good as the book, but the casting is excellent and I love the scenery and costumes.

And that was it!  Have  you celebrated a birthday yet under quarantine?  Our next birthday coming up is Rainer's birthday in October.  

Also, I want to thank you all for your sweet words and greetings on my last post.  I wish I had threaded comments so I could reply to you individually.  I'll try to see if I can adjust that in the settings, but I'm very bad at this (blogging) now.  Thank you so much for commenting and chiming in!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Test post

It's been 6 years since I blogged, but now, with more time on my hands (thanks to the global pandemic), I feel drawn (maybe) to write here.  I have so many thoughts!  I'm not sure if anyone is still out there reading--this is just a little test post.  I think I'd like to come back later with a post on my quarantine birthday and then just see what arises from there.  

How are you all?  I doubt I have many readers at this point, but I'm thinking it would be so nice to write my thoughts, send them out into the universe, and maybe 4 or 5 kindred souls might see them and hopefully something here might resonate with someone?  Who knows.  

If you do feel moved to leave a comment, I will be checking them once again.  Take care.  Sending love out into the universe this morning.  

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?