Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just Words and Simple Lives

I sit down here each week and have so much to say. So many things on my mind.  When I first started engaging in the internet, I had that awful experience that often comes with a new job: I practiced it in my sleep.  I'd dream of things I wanted to post, or witty retorts to things other people had said.  The only thing that helped me get through that was time and staying away.  Now I do my best to limit screen time, not because of some philosophical opposition but because it's just the best choice for me in practice.  Staying away, waiting, gives me some clarity.  I have immense respect for bloggers who post every day because I simply don't have the courage. I need time to process before I'm ready to share.
I lie in bed at night and think about the lessons I've learned as a parent (and human) that day, the battles I've fought and won and those that I've lost.  I think about the women who came before me, and those who will come after, not least of all my daughter, and what this world holds for them.
Each night, I try to unpack my load.  I try to process what has happened to me. How it could have been different and how I have been changed.  I try to leave the day behind fully by shining my attention onto its significance for a few moments and then letting it go, watching it float away in the roaring river that is time passing.  (And that river flows much faster now that I'm a parent and older.)
I think about this space, "the blog", and how it has evolved.  I wonder if you like my thoughts about life and parenting, or if you just scroll past them to see the pictures and recipes.  (I assure you that either is totally fine with me.)  I debate about whether it's ok for me to share things about my daughter without her consent.  I try not to talk about her here in great detail because her life is not mine.
I want to be clear, though, I also think about all kinds of silly, shallow things.  I consider sharing my post-pregnancy skin-care routine and wardrobe strategies as a working mom.  I wonder if you'd be interested in anecdotes about my students or dog.
When it comes down to it, I just have to decide. I just have to get the ball rolling and words flowing.
Today I am going to share a few quick links that I've enjoyed recently because these are the things that are on my mind right now.
My social networking, for all its faults, leads me to some incredibly interesting and thought provoking stuff. Here are some thing I've been taking that you might like:

This letter from Finoa Apple about why she needed to cancel her tour to be home with her dying dog. Yes, it's verbose and dramatic, but there are some very thoughtful and poignant parts.  Specifically these spoke to me (emphasis mine):

"If I go away again, I’m afraid she'll die and I won't have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out. Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes to pick which socks to wear to bed. But this decision is instant. These are the choices we make, which define us.
I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love and friendship. 
I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments. I need to do my damnedest to be there for that. Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I've ever known. When she dies."
The last paragraph struck me the most because it's so personal, this idea of what can be a beautiful, intense experience.  It could be the death of a dog or the birth of a child. It is so telling of the person and what they value in life. 

This video that has been going around facebook featuring the transofrmation of an overweight  disabled vet from being unable to walk to a headstanding yogi.  It's just incredible to watch the life enter his eyes and his muscles and spirit grow stronger. It's easy to let healthy routines like exercise slide, but watching someone struggle and succeed to pull themselves out of years of neglect reminded me how necessary it really is.  (And just how important prevention is.)

These dehydrated veggies and fruits have replaced puffs as easy snacks when we're on the go. I'm trying to reduce the grains that we eat and Ellie likes the peas best.  

Tim actually agreed to do this somewhat dorky countdown to Christmas with me. I wrote 24 different ideas for us to spend time together and we'll pick a different thing each day.  My list includes big and little things, including a walk to look at Christmas lights, reading a Christmas book with Ellie, wrapping gifts and drinking wine, and baking his favorite chocolate crinkle cookies.  It's important to me to carve out a little time each day for us. 

I enjoyed this post about holiday shopping, and particularly love the idea about giving kids the expectation of only four gifts each year: one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they wear, one thing they read.  We don't normally exchange gifts but now that Ellie is more aware I'd like Christmas to be special but not out of hand. We've already established the tradition of spending Christmas Eve and Day at home just the three of us and hanging around in new pajamas.  

This photo.
I have a crafting bug. Right now I want to do this and this and this.

This is an interesting study that suggests children of higher socioeconomic status are more likely to have peanut allergies.

Have you heard of Rolling Jubilee? They buy debt for cents on the dollar and just forgive it. Incredible. Maybe there's someone special in your life who would appreciate a donation in their name to this organization as their holiday gift.  

We're trying to keep the grocery bill low but still make healthy food and this recipe seems to fit the bill. I can't wait to try it.

I love this blog, and I really love her point in this post, that we can find time in the everyday child rearing activities to engage and be mindful. I really appreciate the idea that we don't have to set time aside to meditate to see its benefits throughout our day. We try to make the everyday minutia of caring for children a fun thing that we do together rather than a chore that we rush through.  One step in that direction for us has been setting up Ellie's self-care area, which I'll show you soon.

If you like little stuff like this, check out my Pinterest and that of the Simple Lives posters.

Speaking of Simple Lives, it's Thursday so it's time to link up!  Please share your posts below, read the other great contributions, and be sure to link back to my blog or a host blog when you do post. How are you keeping life simple these days? The holidays, especially in the time of Pinterest!) can be so overwhelming.  I hope this blog hop helps you, as it helps me, remember that keeping it simple is what's best for you and your family.

Soon I plan to tell you about breastfeeding into the second year, Ellie's Montessori nursery makeover, her self-care area, and all the food we're eating to celebrate the season.  (Spoiler alert: citrus.)

1. 10 Tips for Healthy Eating During the Holidays by Montana Solar Creations. "As part of my journey to eat healthier, not just during the holidays but year around, I thought it would be fun to share some tips I've learned and incorporate into my eating habits to help you all eat a little healthier during the holidays."
2. Homemade Wood Butter by Prudent Pantry. "Wood butter is a wonderful homemade product that you can use for all of your wood kitchen items from wooden spoons to cutting boards."
3. Quick Cuban Bread by LightlyCrunchy. "This is the fastest, easiest and as a bonus, possibly the cheapest bread you can make."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Full Days and Simple Lives

Despite the fact that the daylight hours are getting shorter and shorter, we have been filling them with more and more.  (Side note: toddlers totally don't understand daylight savings time.)
I've been baking granola and cookies.  
We have been making pork fried rice with eggs and broccoli. It's a fast weeknight dinner and a good way to get in lots of veggies. 
More pancakes.
It's addicting.
Remember when I told you about pan fried apples?  Have you tried pan fried bananas? So good. The little ones love them.
This little one in particular.
If you have a moment, please check out my dear friend Maggie's latest work, her 2013 cyanotype letterpress calendars.  There is so much love and meaning in each piece. Can you think of a better gift for that person on your list who can be so hard to buy for?

Finally it's Thursday and time for Simple Lives.  Please grab this badge and link up your posts.  **Be sure to link back to this blog or one of the other two host blogs so we can choose your post for our featured posts next week!**

Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS
Diana from Spain in Iowa

1. Festive Pumpkin Stew by Always Learning. "This is a 'one of a kind' dish."
2. Re-purposed Clothes to Artwork by Practical Stewardship. "This clothes artwork might be a great Christmas gift. This is a really quick and easy craft that you could do with kids."
3. How to turn any Recipe into a Real Food Recipe by Homemade Mommy. "This is the question I get most often. How do I turn my old favorite recipes into Real Food recipes."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Orchard Visit and Pan Fried Apples + SLT

Last week we took the little one for her first visit to Wilson's apple orchard just outside of town.  We couldn't have picked a more beautiful day.

One of the best parts about living in Iowa is that views like this are never more than a few moments away.

She will grow up knowing these places.  Like I said in my last post, children connect with the outdoors on a very deep level, and I will do my best to keep her out there as much as I can.

Almost all the apples were already gone from the trees thanks to an early frost.
But we had fun touching the leaves and talking about them anyway.  (She has started hugging us recently. It might be the best thing ever.)
We had some apple turnovers and hot coffee. 
They were flaky and perfect. 
I had intended to make a pie because this is American dammit, but decided to do something nice and simple with some of the apples we bought.  We're still not comfortable giving Ellie raw apples (I'll talk more about how we feed her in a post very soon) so we had been roasting them.  We decided to simply pan fry some in just a little butter, honey, and cinnamon.  She loved them.
To prepare apples I always slice them in half and then use a melon baller to remove the core and seeds. It's so easy and fast.  If you're going to pan fry apples, be sure to use firm ones. 
I used 2 tbsp. butter for 2 apples over medium heat. 
Once the apples soften and the edges start to brown, add just a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. 
These were soft on the edges but still had a little crunch in the middle, and the heat really brought out all their sweetness and flavor. 
We had them with some Salt Fork Farms eggs, maple sausage from the Stamps Family farm, and Wilson's apples.  That's a 100% local breakfast!

The little pumpkin celebrated Halloween by painting a pumpkin with her initial on it.  In a way this is her first real Halloween, but next year will be even more real
It's Thursday and that means it's time for Simple Lives! 

I just wanted to remind everybody that we three blogs host

Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS
Diana from Spain in Iowa
and me.

and that we'd really appreciate it if you'd link back to one of the host blogs in your post.  We love choosing the featured posts each week but we cannot feature your post if you don't link back to one of our host blogs.  

Please check out the amazing features and link up below the jump!

1. Upcycled Pantry Organization by Girl Going Country. "I love organizational "stuff". Nooks and crannies. Secret compartments in my car. Boxes and containers. But the cost of all the "cute" organizational items can really add up. I realized I had the perfect organizational "bin" for my pantry but they just weren't cute."


2. Canning Clingstone Peaches Without Sugar by Simply Homemaking. " I bought 100 pounds of peaches...these peaches are not freestone. Often, you can at least twist half of a peach off of the clingstone variety, but in this case, it wasn't working. One half would just get squished. What do do... What to do..."


3. How I Shopped My Own Closet by The Shoestring Contessa. "I subscribe to a few fashion magazines, and one of my favorite things to do is figure out how to recreate the outfits that I see in those pages using what I already have in my own closet..."

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