Monday, April 30, 2012

A Wild Grocery Shopping Spree


This clip doesn't exactly capture just how wildly my daughter was racing around her Grand-parent's house last week. But, you get the gist.

Missing My Momma Zen



I am so in love with Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood.

I was planning on sharing some excerpts with you today. But (major head-slap), I accidentally left the book behind at my sister's house.

I kinda don't know how I'm going to get through the week. The book offers me graceful reminders on the joy of Motherhood each time I open it. Some days, I need more reminders than others (like when my daughter screams Bloody Murder because I wouldn't give her my camera...her lastest obsession).





I promise to share some of these lovely, beautifully written pearls when I get my book back.




Friday, April 27, 2012

Easy Breezy Journal




I love making books. Can you tell?

I just received in the mail, the easiest journal I ever made. Okay, well technically "Snapfish" made the journal. I spent about 2 minutes on my end picking out the photo.

I am super-happy with the results. I picked blank paper instead of lined paper (it makes me want to sketch much more) and the spiral binding over a traditional book binding (lays flat on the table, which I find helpful).

I spent a little under $14 with tax and shipping (which isn't the cheapest but I'm willing to pay to see my photo on the cover every day and not have to deal with lined paper...most journals are lined).

Many thanks to my Sissy (who spent many hours last Christmas figuring out who made the best journals). She gave me a gorgeous journal with a photo she took of a peacock on it. I'll have to post a photo of it - I'm sad I only have a few more pages left in that journal! Thanks for the inspiration, Sissy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Best Spring Cleaning Advice EVER




I just stumbled across this lovely quote by William Morris,


"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." ***


I think it's a perfect Spring Cleaning Mantra.

It's so easy to buy something because it's on sale and you kinda like it. I know I have things hanging in my closest that look okay on me. They are there because I coudn't resist the price. And they have hung there, unworn because they just looked okay.

This "Spring Cleaning Mantra" has inspired me to look around my apartment with new eyes. What is just taking up space? Have I actually used it over the last 7 months? Do I find it beautiful? I think I might actually be excited about Spring Cleaning this year.


***William Morris' name sounded familiar when I read this quote, I just couldn't place him. Wikipedia has an exceptionally nice article on his life. His life sounds fascinating, I may just have to get this book.

Monday, April 23, 2012

How About a Little Dandelion Cordial?




Sometimes you have to improvise. When, I found myself at my Mother's house helping her prepare for Easter and I spotted a lot of sunny Dandelions in her yard.

I knew they were safe to use (no chemicals had been sprayed on their yard and few dogs ever visit the property), so I pounced. And made some Dandelion Cordial.

I didn't have the time or energy to go to the liquor store. (I was busy helping my nephews make these...)




Usually, I use brandy to make a cordial, but all my Mother had on hand was rum. So, rum it was...



How to Make "Dandelion Cordial"...

1. Pick a slew of Dandelion Flowers (I made sure it was in the afternoon, so the dew had already dried).

2. Pick a glass jar and fill 1/3 of the jar with sugar (or less if you prefer).

3. Fill the jar almost up to the top with the Dandelion Flowers.

4. Add some sliced organic lemons (I only had access to bottled lemon juice, so that's what I added).

5. Fill to the top with your alcohol of choice (Like I said, I usually use brandy but this time I tried rum).

6. Shake.

7. Let sit for 2 weeks in a dark spot (shaking every day).

8. Pour your cordial (minus the flowers and lemon slices) into a pretty bottle.

9. Enjoy chilled with a slice of lemon or as a nice warm beverage with a little water and honey added to it (which hits the spot if you have a cold and have been having a coughing fit).




Why Dandelion? Dandelion contains loads of vitamins A, B, C and E and is full of phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. It's diuretic properties are very well-known. Some women make Dandelion Leaf Tea a few days before their period to help prevent water retention.


***A reminder….I’m not an MD, so have a chat with yours before taking any herbs or supplements. The info I am providing is for educational purposes only…Thank you! Hope this is helpful!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Simple P.A.I.R.S. Tool...Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad

Sometimes in rush of our daily lives, we don't even realize we are mad about something. Or sad. We shove everything down just to get through the day. And it builds up. That's why one of my favorite "P.A.I.R.S." tool is "Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad." 
Here's some back-ground. It's been almost two months, since my husband and I attended the four-day "Marriage Enrichment Class" taught by the Amazing Duo of Ellen and Chuck Purcell. (If you are living in driving distance of VA, check them out. One of the couples in our class, drove 8 hours to attend their class. At the end of the class, the couple said it was totally worth the drive).
P.A.I.R.S. has been around for 30 years or so and is known and respected by countless therapists (many of whom are trained in P.A.I.R.S.).
I highly recommend attending a workshop…if there is one in your area. But, they are few and far between...so that’s why I’m periodically sharing some of my favorite P.A.I.R.S. tools.
Like the “Daily Temperature Readings," "Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad," feels contrived and artificial in the beginning. But once they become part of your daily vocabulary, you stop feeling so self-conscious.  


To do this exercise, it's important to remember to...

1. Always ask your partner if they have ten minutes to do the exercise. If they don't, ask them why and when would be a good time.

2. Sit in the "leveling position." (Both people facing each other, knees touching, looking each other in the eyes and holding hands).

3. Stick to the format of Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad.

4. Save the discussions until afterwards.

5. Hug, Kiss, Give a little Appreciation when you are finished.



Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad Format

1.  Person # 1 asks "What are you mad about?" (doesn't have to be about their partner, could be about anything).

2. Person #2 says "I am mad about..."

3. Person #1 repeats back what they heard. If correct, Person #2 says okay. If not correct, Person #2 clarifies and Person #1 attempts again.

4. Repeat Steps 1-3.

5. Person # 1 asks "Is there anything else you are mad about?"

6. If Person # 2 says there is nothing, then you move on to sad.

7. Person #1 asks "What are you sad about?"

8. Repeat Steps 2-6.

9. Person # 1 asks "What are you scared about?"

10. Repeat Steps 2-6.

11. Person #1 asks "What are you glad about?"

12. Hug.

13. Switch roles. Person #2 does all the asking and repeating back, while Person #1 does all the sharing.

14. Hug.


***Many couples alternate daily Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad with Daily Temperature Readings. (The whole point being, if you airing out your emotions on a regular basis, you will be less likely to have super big blow-outs).



Phew...you got that? It looks more complicated in print than it is in real-life. It's very, very easy to do once you try it a few times.

This exercise only takes ten minutes or so but you feel so much more connected to your partner than spending 2 hours in front of the T.V. together. Try it a few times and tell me what you think.

During our workshop, I was taken aback by the surprising things that came out of my mouth when we were doing Mad, Sad, Scared, Glad. I didn't even KNOW I was feeling those things (which is surprising since I'm a pretty introspective kind of person).

I think this is a particularly powerful tool for partners who struggle to express their feelings. They have a safe space to express exactly what they are feeling. And they are being listened to with empathy. And that's all any of us really want, you know?

Hope you are able to glean a little something from this post. If you missed them, go check out my other P.A.I.R.S. posts on a Daily Temperature Reading and Caring Behaviors.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Simple Organic Children's T-shirts vs Mucho Sleaziness



I have a Love-Hate relationship "American Apparel". On the one hand, it's very, very difficult to find brightly-colored simple t-shirts for children that do not have any images or sayings on them. It's even harder to find ones that are made of organic cotton, are sewn in American factories and are affordable. American Apparel fits the bill.

On the other hand, the owner of American Apparel is not someone I want to help get richer. Check out some of his sleaziness here. As a woman and the mother of a daughter, I am disturbed by many of the images of American Apparel models.

What to do? What to do?

I would say 90% of my daughter's clothes has been found at yard sales, consignment shops or been hand-me-downs. The other 9.9% has been new clothes she has received as presents. I think over the last year, I have bought her maybe three new pieces of clothes.

Now that she has out-grown most of her t-shirts (I much prefer t-shirts over onesies), I am contemplating buying some from American Apparel. In honor of "Earth Day", there is a Sale going on right now...25% off select Organic items. So, now would definitely be the time to buy. It's a hard decision. Being a conscious consumer isn't very easy, is it?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Simple Hand-washing Station



My Mama is a wizard. She's got magical fingertips when it comes to finding "Neat Old Things". She bought this amazing antique "Child's Hand-washing Station from the 1930's". I spotted it recently in her Attic and asked if we could borrow it for a bit. Lina loves washing her hands ALL BY HERSELF....THANKYOUVERYMUCH. So, this was perfect.




Our kitchen is small and I had to squeeze it into an awkward spot by our entrance door. It works well because her favorite part of this set-up is when I add water by turning on the "drink dispenser" (which has been used at our Wedding, Lina's First Birthday and at many Get-Togethers). I always hold onto the dispenser when I open the spigot....but this time I stepped back for a second to get a photo.






The Hand-washing Station provides much joy in our house-hold right now. I usually throw in the bowl a bar of soap and a wash-cloth. I stand right next to her and am almost always able to prevent the entire bowl from being upended. If not, it just means the kitchen floor gets extra clean! I make sure she is not wearing a lot of clothes during this activity.





Monday, April 16, 2012

A Sad Face, a Tumbleweed and Some Cough Syrup



The four days of my Weaning Weekend had their highs and lows.



Lows:

I was away from this face for four days (she's started to dress herself, can you tell?)




I laid in bed for several days with the most intense pain as I tried to convince my breasts to retire from the excellent job they've been doing over the past 12 months (I didn't have any photos of that experience to share, don't worry).




Highs:

I spent time at my sister's house (my former and very missed abode).







I drunk in the sun while picking Sweet Violets.







I made a bottle of very treasured Violet Cough Syrup for my daughter. ****




I collected some Self-Heal to make a Herbal Salve. ****




I managed to drive around D.C. without getting completely and utterly lost.




And, I FINALLY got to see a "Tumbleweed Tiny House" in person (one more thing I can check off my Bucket List). ****














****More on this Later.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Tumbleweed in our Nation's Capital



By pure randomness, I just stumbled across a Huffington Post article announcing a Tumbleweed Tiny House was visiting D.C. this weekend. The Open House is tomorrow (April 15th) at Wangari Gardens from 12-4pm. I'm doing a modified Happy Dance (if I was feeling better, you couldn't hold me back).

Didn't I just share with you Tumbleweed's Box Bungalow this week? Funny, funny, funny.

Enjoy your Weekend! Hope to see you there!



*****The Source of this photo are the lovely folks at Tiny House Blog

Friday, April 13, 2012

Simplicity Month...Homemade Natural Insecticidal Soap



The Dervaes Family fascinate me. While living a mere 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, they have created a working homestead that produces 6,000 lbs of organic food each year. And they do this on only a 1/10 of an acre!

They support themselves by growing their own food and selling the surplus to restaurants and neighbors. They raise citified-animals (goats, chickens and ducks) and attempt to live as lightly on the land as possible.

They are living proof that you don't have to a 200 acre farm in the country to be self-sufficient.

Their blog is a constant source of valuable information. Recently, I read a post on how to make "homemade natural insecticidial soap" here.

It's brilliantly simple. Take pure neem oil and mix it with Dr. Bronner's Soap. Spray it on your plants in the early morning or late afternoon.

The chemicals in the neem oil enters the insect's body and disrupts their hormonal system. The insect "forgets" to eat, breed, lay eggs, etc... The neem oil doesn't affect the "good" bugs because a bug has to ingest the oil for it to work. Since, the "good" bugs aren't eating your plants, they are safe!

Just make sure to only spray during the very early morning or late afternoon. If you spray other times, you may accidentally suffocate the "good" bugs.

The spray doesn't immediately kill the harmful insects, so you have to exhibit a bit of patient. But, it seems worth it, doesn't it? Neem oil is even safe enough to even use as bug repellent!

Her Last Supper



Wednesday, I dropped my daughter off at my parent's house. I've decided  to completely wean her, so Wednesday night was last time she will ever have her Mama's milk. She relished every drop of her "Last Supper." 

I'm sad. I'm very, very sad. My daughter has no idea what's in store for her. I'm surprised at how much I've cried over the last 36 hours. I had planned on having a baby-led weaning. I thought she'd nurse for another 6 months or so (at least). But, like most plans...it didn't match with reality.

My daughter LOVES to nurse. Her eye-rolling and humming and sighs of contentment always made me so happy. 




But, I found myself becoming resentful of her constant nursing. I found myself being more and more impatient with her requesting to nurse. I would pick her up, position her, lift up my shirt...all for her to then pop off after a minute or two because she was distracted by the tiniest of sounds. Ten minutes later, she would be back asking for some more.

I tried nursing her in quiet, dark rooms. I tried offering water or other snacks or toys when she asked to nurse (again for the third time in an hour or so). It helped a little...but not enough.

I realized that in the delicate balance of weighing my child's needs against my own, only her needs were being met. 

It's recommended that you wean children gradually. Cut back on a feeding here, a feeding there. That doesn't exactly work with your child is still nursing 16-20 times a day. It doesn't work when you have a spirited child with a tremendous amount of persistence.

So, I am sitting here drinking my sage tea...in agony. I had a whole list of things I wanted to accomplish while spending time away from my child. At this moment, my breasts hurt so much, I can barely get up off the couch. But, that's okay because right now I'm taking care of myself. And, I know that to be the best mother I can be...I always have to remember to take care of myself first. The thank-you cards and the laundry can wait.



  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rosemary to the Rescue!




Today, Lina had great fun racing around Old Town's Waterfront. We fed the birds, she pushed her stroller and a new little friend received lots and lots of hugs.

Unfortunately, she also had a spectacular face-plant....on the bricks. The not fun part of the day.

There was no blood and all her teeth are still in her mouth, so I'm grateful.

When we got home, I washed off her face and was about to put some Comfrey Oil on her scrapes, when I remembered.... I just made Rosemary Oil over the weekend.

It hasn't been two weeks (the amount of time it takes to make Solar Infused Herbal Oil). But, I opened it up and smelled the Olive Oil. It definitely smelled like Rosemary. It may not be very potent right now, but I gave it a try.

An hour later, Lina's scrapes were looking slightly less prominent (although her bruises were getting deeper). I put some more on before bedtime. Tomorrow, I will use the Comfrey Oil.


Why did I use Rosemary?

Rosemary contains volatile oils that have antibacterial properties. It has been used as an antiseptic for hundreds of years.


How do you make a Solar Infused Oil?

1. Place dry or freshly wilted herbs in a quart jar (they SHOULD NOT be damp at all). Fill the jar with the herb(s) leaving an inch or two at the top.

2. Fill the jar with an Oil (Olive, Apricot Kernel, Almond or Grape Seed). Make sure all the plant material is covered completely by the Oil. Any herb not covered with introduce bacteria into the mix.

3. Screw on a nice, tight lid.

4. Put the jar in a sunny, warm location for 2 weeks.

5. Shake whenever you remember.

6. Strain and place Herbal Oil in a cool, shaded place.

7. If you want to make an even stronger Herbal Oil....repeat procedure and introduce new plant material into your Oil.

8. Enjoy!





Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Simplicity Month....Box Bungalow




I've been a fan of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses  for a while. Recently, Tumbleweed released their lastest line of houses. They are called Box Bungalows and unlike many of the other Tumbleweed Houses, they don't have to be built on a trailer.

All are under 120 square feet (to get past zoning laws that require permits on structures over 120 square feet) and can be purchased as a kit.





I'm digging these "Craftsman-style" houses. From the photos I've seen, the workmanship is quite nice.

This particular house is called the Gifford; a kit starts at $12,000, an assembled house starts at $14,000 and plans can be purchased for $100.  The base prices are a little misleading because they DO NOT include those gorgeous windows ($800-$1,200 a piece...gulp), interior siding or exterior painted siding.




You can customize the lay-out of the house. In this particular one, you enter the kitchen and a closet is on your immediate left, followed by the bathroom. Then you enter the "Great Room." The cozy bedroom is found in the loft.

Living in a home this size requires a lot of "pruning" of stuff. Many people are drawn to these houses because of a desire for a simpler lifestyle. So, since I'm talking about Simplicity this Month, I thought I'd share these photos with you.

I found out about the Gifford through the Tiny House's Blog. You can see the original post here. Check out Jay's tour of the house.




***** Photos courtesy of  the Tiny House Blog






Monday, April 9, 2012

Howling at the Moon and Sipping Some Tea




Here is the Lemon Balm I made during the recent Full Moon. I've made plenty of Solar Infusions before, but never a Lunar Infusion.




To make a Lunar Infusion, you fill up a crystal or glass bowl with the herb you've chosen and some water. Set it out uncovered over-night. Drink when you first wake-up. Easy, right?

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a relaxing herb that primarily acts as a sedative and is mildly anti-spasmodic. I drink Lemon Balm tea when I'm very exhausted. It's also terrific for mild stomach aliments, plus it has a great lemon taste! Yummy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Simple Meal....Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Who doesn't love Cheesy Broccoli Soup? Everyone in my family is bonkers for this meal. It takes less than 10 minutes to assemble and is super child friendly. I found the recipe at A Year of Slow Cooking (this woman is a Crock-pot Genius).


Ingredients

--1 qt chicken broth (or vegetable)

--2 cups milk (I used 2% cow's)

--2 10 oz bags of frozen broccoli florets

--1/2 diced white onion

--1/2 t black pepper

--1/2 t kosher salt

--1/2 t ground nutmeg

--1 cup each of three different cheeses, I used jarlsberg, gruyere, and cheddar.


The Directions


Mince the onion into really small pieces. I used my pampered chef chopper thingy. The onions are going to soften in the milk and the broth, and need to be quite small so you don't crunch on onion pieces when the soup is complete.


Add the onion to your Crockpot, and top with the milk, broth, and spices. Stir in the two frozen bags of broccoli.


Cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 4-6. The broth is done when the onion is cooked nicely.


20 minutes or so before serving, shred all the cheese you are going to use, and stir it in. The cheese will be stringy and will stick to the broccoli florets---that's okay!



Serve with your favorite rolls or drop biscuits.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Birthing Month Round-up



I've moved on to writing about Simplicity already. But, I thought I should do a basic round-up of what I shared about Birthing (and Creating) last Month.

I wrote about....

a local place to check out New Mama and New Baby animals   (and maybe even check out a live birth!)

breathing new life into an old sofa

a gorgeous compost bin (to help you bring forth more productive gardens)

a helpful book when beginning new relationships (or deepening established relationships)

birthing a closer marriage (through Caring Behaviors)


a Birthday Cupcake recipe (bananas are healthy, right?)


an awesome writing class for Mamas (it's online, so you can find the time)


a little help for those have the time to sleep but can't (I'm trying not to be jealous of those with this problem)


a relationship tip that takes 10 minutes and makes all the difference (from our P.A.I.R.S class)


a brief re-telling of my Birth Story through my Husband's lens (I knew I wasn't going to get an entire story out of him, so I just asked a few questions)


should be every woman's friend


for the pregnant Mamas out there (I know a lot of you)


books that kept me company while I was pregnant (I love to read, what can I say?)


10 Assumptions I Made


There she is...My Lovely Round-up. I didn't include all the Catch-Up Letters I posted and some of my Birthday Party posts...I'm sure you are a bit tired of those ones, so I refrained from including those ones.

Wow...these Round-up Posts are fun! It makes me realize that I've kept up my intention to write, write, write. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Checking Off March's Intentions




When I wrote out my intentions for March, I purposefully kept those bad-boys brief. I knew I was going to running around preparing for a birthday party that kinda ended up being like an intimate DIY wedding (aka...a lot of work).


First things, first.

Here are the Things that I Let Slide...

  • Add monthly photos to the Christmas calendar I'm making (I picked a few photos but didn't download them to Shutterfly)

  • Watch the Trauma Release Exercises at least once a week (I didn't even try, all my free time was spent working on the Party)

  • Paint Lina's rocker as a Birthday present (not enough time)

  • Go to at least one Ballet class at the new studio that just opened down the street (ran out of time)


Here are the Intentions I Can Check-off...

  • Keep writing weekly in Lina's Baby Book

  • Celebrate surviving the 1st Year by buying a pretty dress (VERY happy with what I found)

  • Plan garden (still not finalized but I have a better idea now)

  • Create Lina's Monthly Book of Letters and Photos (YES!!!!)

  • Organize Birthday Time Capsule (post coming on this one...it turned out well)

  • Go to a Community Acupuncture Class at least once (Yup and I took my Mama)

  • Go with my Sissy to her Pin-Up Photo Shoot (I wrote about it here)

  • Plan Lina's First Birthday Party (this was the big one this month...thankfully, it all came together)

  • Bake cupcakes on her actual Birthday (I wrote out the recipe here)

  • Celebrate with Friends and Family (YES...both her actual Birthday and the Party were wonderful in their own ways)

  • Take Lina swimming once (she wasn't thrilled but I think it had to do with the giant life preserver her Grandfather put on her)

  • Go to SpaWorld once (I wrote about SpaWorld here and here)

  • Take Lina on a hike at least once (she had a blast at Cunningham Falls, photos are here)


Bye-Bye...March....Can't wait to see what you bring us, Ms. April!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Simplicity Month....Tiny Arizona Casita


Screens separate kitchen/ living room and bedroom.


One way to simplify your life is to live in a smaller house. Here is a tiny gem of a house that proves that small can still be stylish. It's one of my favorite Tiny House designs. It's 425 square feet of pure WOW.



A steel breakfast bar opens into a full kitchen with downsized appliances. Shelves below the counter/sink offer storage space, with shutters as cabinet doors.



Architect Lila Cohen and designer Teina Manu rehabbed this former shed built in 1914.  The property came with a house which they promptly turned into their office. They turned their creative energies on designing an affordable and green "casita." I think they succeeded.



Through creative design, the bathroom feels downright roomy.


I first read about this home at the Tiny House Blog. Go check out their post on this house, if you are craving more info! This article has more eye candy. I'd love to see more "before" photos, wouldn't you?



Teina Manu designed and built this modern bed frame. The small bedroom also boasts a walk-in closet.




Lila Cohen and Teina Manu's tiny 425-square foot Phoenix home is featured on the 2011 Architects' Own Homes Tour.


****Photos courtesy of Gavin Parsons and azcentral.com

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

This Month's Theme is.....Simplicity




Ciao, March...and writing about Birth. This Month my theme will be Simplicity.  For those new readers, I wrote about my Month Themes here.

I am looking forward to sharing a few effortless and beloved recipes, my easy, breezy method for keeping a Baby Journal, a recipe for Dandelion Cordial and a Teething Tincture, some advice from a Mama (who also happens to be a Buddhist priest), several exquisitely perfect Tiny Homes, an uncomplicated Art project for toddlers (and beyond), another quick P.A.I.R.S. tool, and Lina's easy Hand-washing station.

Thanks for joining me!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Lovely First Birthday Party




We did it. Yesterday, we threw Lina's First Birthday Party for 80 of our closest family and friends. Today, we are recovering. (Although, honestly, it will probably take all week).

It was lovely. Everything came together at the last minute and it couldn't have been more right. And feeling all that Love in the room was pretty indescribable. So many people helped out and some many people made an effort to come celebrate this special milestone with our special Little Girl. I'm feeling pretty Lucky right now.

I'll tell you more about the party, soon. Right now, the Birthday Girl is napping and I think I'm going to go join her...


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