Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chobani vs. Stonyfield

I've stated my love for Chobani Greek yogurt here a long, long time ago. I've used it in tons of recipes (especially as a thick replacement for sour cream and in dips/dressings) and used to eat it religiously everyday as a snack. Since it's a local business doing huge things, I've generally been proud of the work they've done.

Since we've gone mostly organic, however, and now that Hadman's a toddler (ie it's cheapest/easiest to buy generally the same products), all of our milk products are made of organic milk. Any time I'm cooking with a yogurt, I'd rather it be whole milk since he'll be eating it, too (and there are plusses to whole vs. lowfat), although we "adults" still eat Greek.

So, we had to do some soul-searching on our yogurt choices.

That said, Chobani isn't the best in the world as far as its ingredient transparency. While I try not to be down about such things, especially when they're providing so many opportunities for local workers (although I have heard mixed reviews on working there), the fact that their cows are fed GMO ingredients (and, for that matter, are raised in the "traditional" less than humane way), I had mixed feelings about feeding the stuff to my son. Plus, Greek yogurt, by nature, is lowfat or 0% fat. Not the greatest thing for a youngin'.

So, we made a jump to Stonyfield. We were already buying their milk (since it's from humanely-treated, mostly grassfed cows), so it was an easy decision...once I let the guilt of not purchasing Chobani fall off my shoulders.

Stonyfield makes all kinds of yogurts, but we purchase the regular (plain is always in the fridge; once in awhile vanilla, but since it has added organic sugar, I limit this), the Greek cups for work (I love the "super fruits" flavor with pomegranate and Dave's a blueberry guy), and half the time I either buy Hadley the baby cups (way less ingredients than the toddler or kid versions, and less sugar) or make little take-along cups with my small Ball jars. Apparently we eat a lot of yogurt. ;-)

Oh, and let's just say we were shopping at a different store last week in a hurry and I found our Greek cups for $1 apiece. Let's just say I literally jumped back a couple of feet and squealed amidst the very busy dairy area, I was just that excited. Yes, folks. A proud moment for my husband, I'm sure.

Yes, it's usually kind of expensive, but not by much. Almost every week, I go onto Stonyfield's website (that's actually a link to sign up for special offers) to see if there are any printable coupons, and I receive the occasional email offer to print. Let's just say that I had a coupon that was expiring the next day and I didn't have use for the item, so when I saw a woman picking up that very item I stopped her and handed the coupon over. She couldn't believe it and kept saying "Are you sure? Are you sure??" Yep. I'm sure. Spread the organic love, folks.

Oh, and if, by rare chance, I find organic no-name yogurt at Aldi, you know I grab every last carton I can find. Cheap + organic = gold. (Probably why that lady was so shocked I was handing her a coupon.)

I feel super happy, though, knowing that the cows that have made our yogurt aren't pumping GMOs (through their corn-based feed...naughty corn), antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticides into our milk products. The fact that they're generally grassfed also helps me to sleep soundly (as soundly as one can with a toddler nearby). 

What about you? Are you a yogurt eater? Whole milk? Or Greek? What brand wins your own yogurt showdown?   

Monday, April 28, 2014

Summer Plans

Howdy! Now that the snow has sufficiently melted and we're experiencing an honest-to-goodness springtime, I feel it's safe to let my mind wander to the wonder that is S-U-M-M-E-R! Last year, I laid out a whole plan of what I hoped to accomplish and a few little "first timer" milestones I hoped to have fun with Hadley with. This year is really no different, although a lot of the stuff we'll do isn't a milestone; just "for fun."

The biggest difference this year is Hadley. He's so different, guys, it's crazy. Last year, he was afraid of grass, wasn't walking (hardly mobile at all, comparatively speaking), and couldn't communicate. This year, he's got a couple dozen (probably more) words and several gestures he uses to get his point across, walks/runs/trips/falls down/gets up/runs again, and enjoys dirt and grass and picking flowers (ie picking the heads of flowers off) and generally discovering the world around him with zeal. It's exhaustingly fun.

So, you'll notice some repeats from last year's list. However, I think the actual experiences will be insanely different -- for us AND for Hadman. Should be fun!

A touch more streamlined than last year, but still with a bit of an explanation (I'll try to keep it concise):

1. We've all (adults, that is) got a lil' family winter pudge going on. I need to be less vampirey/anti-social. Hadley loves bugs and dogs and dirt and saying "hi!!!" to big kids and attempting to run into the road. All ideal reasons to walk. A hike or two would be awesome, too.

2. T-2 1/2 months and counting until the monkey turns 2 years old (sniff, sniff). It looks like we've landed on a theme, which I'll share soon. Our ultimate goal is to keep it low-key yet fun (I can't NOT decorate, and I can't NOT have a's just not me. And he's just too darn special.) It's important for me to remember that we'll have varied ages, and only a couple of little ones, so it's not like we need much entertainment or giveaways or games. If you're interested in seeing what I'm thinking, check out my Pinterest board for what I'm thinking. (Some are from last year, too. Speaking of which, here's a link to how last year's turned out!)

3. We went last year, and it was a blast. This year, Hadley recognizes animals, can point them out, makes tons of cool noises, and is generally a funner version of Hadley 1.0, so unless a crazy meltdown occurs, this should be awesomesauce.

4. Vague, no? We're nailing it down, but Mama gets the itch to move every now and again. This could be one place far away. It could be several close-to-home trips. Who knows?

5. I've started bringing home some books for Hadley from my school library lately, but I thought it'd be fun to see if there are some family-related library events at our local book haven. If not, it's cool. I'd just like to get there with him more often so he realizes there's more than the overstuffed bookshelf in his bedroom. Plus, Mama can do a little more reading, too.

6. The sooner, the better! Maybe two!!

7. To simplify things, we're not growing from seed this year. I've already made a garden plan, so at least I know what we need to go and buy. The Easter Bunny DID get the munchkin a little kit to grow one's own basil plant, along with a cool little metal watering can and a mini trowel and cultivator, so he'll hopefully be digging around, too. Yay, wormies! Oh, and I live in upstate NY, so it's not really advisable to plant much pre-Memorial Day.

8. I'm not making any grandiose "I'm going to finish this monstrous project!!!" statements. Instead, I'm going to take a few of Hadley's naptimes a week to get outside (or in the basement) to work on some organizing...and cleaning...and maybe painting...and stuff. My grandpa was a putterer, so it's important to me to try to connect with that and have a hand in the care of the house.

9. Grilling, yes. Setting up and USING the outside table to eat, yes. Getting away from the TV set (regardless of how awesome Dick Van Dyke reruns may be), yes. I'm also hoping that our gate will fit at the top of our deck, so munchkin can eat up there with us and it'll be a low-stress environment for all involved. Oh, and I'd also love to have a picnic. With pickles. 'Cuz monkey loves a good pickle.

10. Don't care where, this just must happen. We may have a picnicking day at a state park with my sis and her little one, so that may be our chance.

11. Last year, I mentioned writing a children's book. I've got the ideas behind several simmering (and even outlined), but getting any of it on paper has remained elusive. This summer, I hope to change that. All I need is the, and an incredible artist to illustrate it. (I'm also mulling over chapter book. Loves me a good historical fiction.)

What're you looking forward to most about summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime, summertime? Am I jumping the gun thinking about summer when it's not even June yet? I think this school year has blown by so quickly (and Hadley has grown so much, so fast) that I'd rather take all the time that we can to hold on!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Cleaning Week #4ish

SIDE NOTE: Happy birthday to my awesome niece, Morgan, and my mom!!! Not that either reads the blog. ;-)

Last week's spring cleaning adventures were derailed with some intensive tearing apart/painting/re-decorating of the dining room. Now I know why it took me so long to get the project done! Exhausting!! So, while I did tons of cleaning, none of it was necessarily of the spring cleaning ilk; hence why I didn't feel it right to post any to-do lists when I, myself, wasn't holding up my end of the bargain.

So, where we left off, we had worked on any and all windows, the fridge/freezer, any downstairs bathrooms (none here!), and finally headed upstairs (or, at least, the "traditionally upstairs" places for those of you with a smaller or one-level environment) to like the office and main bathroom.

That said, here's our "to do list" this week:

- Play "catch-up." You know what I mean. Anything on the lists so far you haven't done (or anything that may need a little extra time -- like, picking up and vacuuming the living room again). Here's your get-out-of-jail-free card. Let's git 'er done.

- Bedrooms. Vacuum/sweep/mop floors. Shake area rugs. (Does anyone else get a dirty look, no pun intended, from the neighbors for shaking rugs outside? Dude, seriously? Well, excuse me for cleaning my house.) Clean ceiling fans. Vacuum lampshades and your mattress. Dust EVERYTHING. Wipe down walls and woodwork. Wash sheets, pillowcases, comforter/blankets, and curtains. (TIP: Hang those puppies up IMMEDIATELY straight from the dryer. Avoid ironing at all costs!) If you feel up to it, go through your "winter clothes" and switch stuff out for spring/summer stuff. Oh, and move everything out from under the bed and vacuum/sweep/mop there, too! Think about allergies, folks.

- Organizing. Y'know that office crap from last time? File it. (Ugh. My nemesis. Filing stuff.) Go through your linen and general storage closets. Go through all the books on your shelves and analyze whether you a) will read them, b) need them for future reference, or c) will read them again if you already have. Purge. Make a pile to donate. Keep a bag aside for any medicines that have expired (and keep an eye out for a prescription drop-off day at a local police department or pharmacy) -- this keeps it out of our drinking water, folks!! Make a list for any organizational helpers you may need, such as bins, shelves, racks, boxes, etc.

- Look around. Your house may have an extra room or two that I haven't mentioned. (I'm not talkin' basements here. That's a whole other story.) So, in your living space, analyze if there's anything left to do. Do one more walk-through to pick up, or do a quick vacuum, or a once-over with a dust rag or window cleaner. (For some reason, my TVs are endlessly filthy, and I haven't a clue why. Other than the fact that we have a toddler who apparently likes to pick Big Bird's nose. What a friend.)

That's it for now! If you want, you can officially call your spring cleaning done. If you want to go more in-depth (anything I missed, go nuts!), save it for next week. Otherwise, once I've caught up with my to-dos, I'll be sharing some "spring cleaning" (um...organizing) for some non-living space places. Read: The basement and garage...dun dun duuuuuunnnnn.

What better than a public statement on your personal blog to keep you accountable? Eh? Eh? nudge, nudge

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Embracing Self Care - Taking Some R&R

tiverylucky @
It's kind of funny that this week's theme is rest and relaxation, considering LAST week was my spring break. We all know that doesn't necessarily mean R&R, though, right? Especially whilst chasing around a little boy with more energy than half a high school football team and emptying, painting, and re-filling the dining room.

But, the truth is that this week is more about finding healthy ways of treating ourselves. Of finding that rest and relaxation in a healthy, self-kind (totally made that word up) way. In my mind, it's also about a couple of the issues I addressed during my "self assessment": life balance and making time for "us" (having fun together as a couple, having fun together as a three-peas-in-a-pod family, etc).

I thought it'd be helpful to make a list of the things that I think *would be achievable* to help bring some rest/relaxation/fun into my world (solo), our world (couple), and our world (family).

For ME:

- Reading. For me, this involves turning off the TV at the end of the day and MAKING myself read. Sounds weird, being a librarian and all, but the fact is still that I'm beyond exhausted (even if I go to bed at 9) and if the TV's on, I simply won't relax or be able to focus on what I'm reading. I literally have a STACK of books and magazines next to my bed that I've started but haven't been able to chip away at.

First things first, though. I need to look them over and see which ones I'm actually in the mood for. It feels daunting to see a stack 20 books high waiting to be read, like anxious puppies all vying for your attention. Guilt, guilt, guilt. So, the ones I'm waiting on will go in another stack, far far away from my guilt-ridden eyes. The ones I WANT (3, max) will sit...and will be read. I may not turn off the TV every single night, but every other night, it will be done. Oh, yes.

- That whole meditation thing. I talked about this during my spirituality self care conversation, but think that it overlaps into the rest and relaxation side of things, too. Finding one's center can soooooo help in handling the other side of the seesaw, can't it? 

- Research. Wait, is that fun? When it's my guilty pleasure of trolling to discover enthralling facts about my ancestors and family tree, yes. The only issue here is that the only time I tend to find to dig around is at the end of the day, pre-bedtime (and often overlapping well into bedtime...last weekend I was up until 2am one night). So, I've gotta figure out the balance between reading, ensuring that I actually pay attention to my husband after the baby goes down, and sleep in order to allow myself time to do this stuff.

For US (couple):

- Engage more. We are SO good at living life next to each other. You know the way: living in the "now" (not in that good way), making sandwiches next to each other, discussing issues ahead for that given day, scooping cat poop and changing diapers and chasing a naked toddler around...but not really TALKING to each other, or checking in about, "Hey, how you doin'?" or, well, lots of things.

I talk to my kids about "being engaged" and "actively listening and participating", but I've gotta check in with him to see how he sees us doing this. I swear we email each other more during the day about personal issues we're having than we discuss them in "real life." Not that that's a bad thing....

- Date. We haven't done this a lot since Hadman came around, but truth be told, we didn't do it much beforehand, either. Maybe back in our "courting" days (man, I sound like a Duggar; a Duggar, I ain' them, though), we did this, but the time, energy, and money don't seem there for this.

The time, I understand, but we haven't managed our time great lately. Energy...well, yeah, ya got me there. Our "dating places" tend to be 30 minutes in each direction, so it isn't an easy thing just to go out to dinner or hit up a movie. If I'm totally honest, though, these are all silly excuses. A date doesn't HAVE to be going some place special -- or even some place, at all. Dang it, we've got a Redbox about 4 blocks from our house, Dave makes the best air-popped organic popcorn EVER, and we can totally swing some half-caff to keep our eyes open after the baby hits the hay. (I'm talkin' a Friday or Saturday night.) On the other side, I'm dying to get to a REAL movie sometime, and I know he's talked a lot about hitting up Beardslee or some other locavore haunt, so the time's upon us.

For US (family):

- Plan. Sometimes the planning is as much excitement and fun as the actual doing. The anticipation and preparation for a vacation (even just an overnight trip of some sort) is enough to give you energy to see through the really sucky or depressing times. Plus, planning a totally family-oriented trip means that you'll be better prepared for traveling with a toddler and foreseeing his needs (such as planning plenty of stops to run around a grassy area -- one of his favorite things) makes the actual trip run way smoother. Win-win!

- Enjoy the now (in the good way). I mentioned "living in the now" before, but now I mean it in that "enjoy the good moments, for they'll be gone before you know it; enjoy the bad moments, for they're not so bad in the long run" sort of way. It'd be easy to get downtrodden with how many meltdowns Hadman has. It'd be easy to get downtrodden by how many times I find myself not yet showered (for time sake, I shower at night), with zero dinner plans, a fussy baby who also needs a bath, and a looming bedtime. Craziness. But, it's not the end of the world.

Above all, the best way to get some rest and relaxation is to cut yourself...and your loved ones...some slack. Isn't it strange that we're harsher on ourselves than we'd ever be on an enemy?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blogiversary 4.0

Tomorrow's Earth Day again, and you know what that means! Well, maybe you don't, but let's pretend you already know that it's my...

Yep! This marks my fourth year blogging. Pretty cool, huh? Also super cool that I share my blogiversary with Earth Day. It's only appropriate, really, although I realize I haven't written many "green posts" lately. We're just livin' it everyday, is all. This is one of my favorite weeks of the year, though, except for that whole "spring break is over" thing.

My mind was blown and I was wicked humbled when we topped 2,000 views last month -- one day being the brunt of the views with 753...yes, in one day! (I still haven't figured that out...and I MUST KNOW! I'm blaming a computer glitch. ;-)) Overall, we've had shy of 35,000 views. Considering last year we had close to 16,000 (and only around 6,000 [or 9,000, depending on who's doing the math...which would be me...which means they're probably both off] the year before), I'm floored. And happy. And, again, humbled. It's just nice to know that I'm not just writing for myself. Well, I AM, but I'm not...y'know what I mean?

I thought today I'd share a story of my love affair.

Um, no. Not that one. Or any of them, for that matter.

This is the story of my long love affair with the world wide web.

When we were kids, "computer class" was all about playing Oregon Trail and maybe even typing a paper up...maybe. That was kinda it. And I loved it. My family had an ancient Mac that my dad used, but my oldest brother got to use it after Dad passed...and I don't really remember what happened to it after that. So, our weekly computer class was pretty much the peanut butter to my jelly. Yes, I even preferred it to library. (I didn't always see eye-to-eye with my librarian in elementary school. I am TOO ready to read Little House in the Big Woods!! Forget you, lady.)

Then, one of my best friends (who happened to be better off than my family; the things we didn't wonder or feel weird about when we were kids) got a computer. It was housed in her parents' room, and every once in awhile we'd be allowed to use it. I can still remember that god-awful sound of the dial-up internet screeching and crackling making its eventual connection to the outside world. I loved it. I loved it more than my friend did, so I'm sure I irritated her when I'd (almost constantly) ask if we could hop on the computer almost every time I visited. The obsession had begun.

What did we do on this oh-so-new contraption? Why, go into chat rooms, of course! I look back and consider how a) stupid and b) innocent I was about those people we were talking to from, oh, everywhere.

I started to save up for my own computer, but given their extreme expense, I just couldn't swing it. Cue my mother's marriage to my stepdad when I was in 8th grade.

Shortly thereafter, he purchased us a laptop. A heavy, square-ish, clunky gray laptop whose fan ran at jet-level propulsion speeds and whose graphics took an hour (or more) to load. Those were the days when we'd turn it on, go let the dog out, pour some cereal, finish our social studies homework, then go back to the computer to click on Internet Explorer. Type in site (Geocities, anyone? I can't remember the other chat rooms I used; probably Yahoo), continue doing chores, let dog in, see that half of Peter Tork's face has appeared on the computer screen, finish eating cereal...and the beat goes on.

Eventually, AIM (for those too young, it was AOL's Instant Messenger, and it saw me through high school and college before MySpace) made communicating with friends from school insanely convenient and faster than a phone call. I got into writing some Monkees fanfic and started researching other musicians I enjoyed. Heck, I even "met" some fans and for the first time didn't feel like quite such an outcast for my interests.

I still recall the time we got home; my mother, Jerry and I, from Christmas Eve mass. I jumped online and found (probably from Napster, of all places) an old Bing Crosby Christmas radio show (on our fancy schmancy desktop -- movin' up in the world!) that bellowed throughout the first floor of our house. It was probably one of the first times my mom didn't despise the computer.

Years later, I've logged countless hours, as have many of us, on several computers. I now have a smartphone -- a thing that my stepdad predicted in the '90s would exist someday -- and a brand new less-than-$500 laptop that does far more, far faster than any of the $2,000+ models of yore.

Today, I still use social media -- namely Facebook, but I'm trying to learn G+, as well as Twitter (on rare occasion), Pinterest, and Instagram -- but don't have to seek out social interaction with strangers as I once did. I'm far more guarded and, hopefully, wiser about my choices on the web. I still over-share (here I am, blogging!) But, I still find my time easily getting sucked up with articles about child-rearing, blogs about how to DIY your own art, and quizzes (things never change there) about which movie character you are.

But, what's my favorite thing to do with the WWW these days? (You know, ASIDE from taking addictive Buzzfeed quizzes.) Tied with blogging comes...

I swear, I'm 90.

It's the weird "gotta find stuff out" research-based side of my brain meeting the romantic history-obsessed side in a glorious series of late-nighters. Yeah, the only time I can get much family tree-ing done in when Hadley's, and Dave. Generally next to me in bed. Snoring.

It's an adrenaline rush when you start to see pre-Civil War (and Revolutionary War) years and names popping up. When you're given extra reading to really LEARN the story behind the names, or when you realize that your direct ancestor is laid to rest at a famous historical cemetery that you've visited several times while touring Boston (or, hell, at a tiny historical cemetery less than 15 miles away at the old homestead...that I've never perused), it's exhilarating. Looking up further web sites for information about historical events those names took part in helps the names to walk and move and even talk a little.

So, that's what I'm doing thanks to good ol' technology these days. What about you? How different is your computer experience today than it was, say, 20 years ago? Clearly, you're reading my blog, so I want to give you a HUGE hug (you know the kind...the full-on happy squeeze one) and say "thanks!!!" with a tear in my eye for using a few minutes of your precious time stopping by.

While you're responding below about what you're doing on the Internet these days (um...I should say "keep it clean," but I really don't care ;-)), feel free to let me know what you LIKE, LOVE, and think NEEDS IMPROVING here at Meg, Acting Out. Any feedback helps SO much, guys!

Friday, April 18, 2014


I've spoken often of my disdain for the closed-in, burgundy monstrosity that is my dining room. Well, I can finally say that in the past tense. Ding dong, the red is dead!! For memory's sake, here's a fuzzy old picture. I tried my best to deal with it, really I did!

Just. So. Dang. DARK.

Things take twice as long when scheduling around an almost 2-year-old, don't they? Enter "bursts", stage left. I took an afternoon to empty everything out (lots o' crap in that room, I tell ya! One compound word: bookshelf), a full day to prime (with two coats of trim) and paint (again, two coats of trim for some odd reason), another nap time to prime the baseboard/built-ins/windows/kitchen door, still another nap time to paint the aforementioned stuff white...and let's just say I haven't put everything back in yet. Goodbye, Spring Break! :-P

I'm too excited not to share a couple of crappy iPhone pictures, though. :-D Can you hear me squealing where you live? It might also be my husband, though. He didn't want the red gone, but has since changed his tune and LOVES how open it is. I can't blame him. It's a huge, awesome change.

In some light, it's a light tan/beige with a gray undertone. In other lights (such as the weird, overly-bright shot here), it looks green. I promise you it's the perfect shade of greige (read: beige + gray) with no blue or flesh or purple undertones. Actually, no green undertones, either. Just the perfect neutral.

I still need to (obviously) fill the room and bookshelf, find a rad new rug to replace my, um, attempt at dealing with the red (let's just say that I've become gun-shy to decorate with all...THANK YOU, dining room! *grumbles*), and do some styling.

And, yes. So far, the Boston Massacre has survived. At least until Hadley starts questioning why we have a crude drawing of people being shot on our wall.

So...what do you think? Improvement? When all is said and done, I'll be sharing the color name and taking better pictures. Just couldn't wait to share it so far!

Time to go celebrate with the family. This is such a weight off the ol' shoulders eyes, and it's time to enjoy the last couple of days of spring break.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Embracing Self Care - Peace in the Home

Welcome back to our third installment in the "taking care of yo' self" series! (Not really; I just called it that.)

This week's "Embracing Self Care" theme involves peace in the home. Now, this can encompass many different topics -- from finding peace through organization, surrounding yourself with decor that helps you find peace (or finding decor that helps you feel at one with yourself; finding your "style"), finding a schedule/routine that works for you, etc. See? It really can mean ANYTHING! Love that!

For me, this involves a couple of things. Obviously, I'm in the midst of some "low-stress" spring cleaning. (Taking it a day at a time, folks.) When I'm done with the "cleaning" part (ie the scrubbing, dusting, mopping, vacuuming stuff), I plan to attack on the organizational front. I'm weird that way. I see cleaning as more of a "must destroy dust bunnies!" and "wash windows" sort of thing; yes, things are neat and orderly afterwards, but more in a "picked up" way.

So, after things are spic and span, I'm going to address any organizational issues that we have. This will entail looking at areas where we're falling short (like finding better uses for our closets and built-ins, and my bills...I pay them, then pretend they don't exist 'cuz, y'know, I don't like they just end up in random piles) and areas that just need our attention, like the basement and garage (y'know...the dirty places).

This is twofold for us. Yes, we want to have an organized, happy, serene environment...but we also hope to ready our house for a possible move. See? Two birds, one stone. ;-) (Hate that phrase, but it's relevant.) And, of course, I'll share any tips I pick up on the way.

The second "peace in the home" factor I hope to work on (which goes hand-in-hand with readying our house for a sale) is our style. This is the week I'm FINALLY working on painting the red out of our lives dining room, with the help of my uber-motivated mom. (Spoiler: It's already gone! Just got some trim to do before sharing.) The other rooms are relatively light and airy (our bedroom is a little moody with a green wall, which we may or may not keep) or at least neutral, and the burgundy sticks out like a sore, outdated, 1990s thumb. 

Aside from that, I've got some Pinspiration regarding other areas of the house. Our front room was a spot that helped sell us on the place originally, so I'm hoping to modernize it a bit with the help of some better window treatments (we still use the short sheers that came with the house...for shame). So, I'm on the hunt for some extra long white curtains to hang "high and wide" and a few more bamboo shades, for an effect kind of like this --

I'm also excited that my stepdad has offered to help me complete the tub surround with a ghetto he-thinks-it'll-work solution (I have my doubts), so that'll finally be a done project. I'm not happy with the art I made for that space, so I've got my eye out for other DIY art solutions that'll make me happy. Not to sound picky, but I'm not a huge fan of the word art stuff ("Brush your teeth. Wash your hands." Uuuummm. No comment.); I guess I'm more into either a graphic or a vintage botanical print type thing.

Maybe something like this... (Different colors.)
Not sure of original source :-( Hate that!
If anyone knows, let me know, please!

Or this type of botanical...
Original Source

I also recognize that a big part of moving will be weeding out things that we don't wish to drag with us to our next residence. That can be a horribly daunting task, or it can be an uplifting "ahhh" getting rid of stuff we don't NEED in our lives task. Probably 50/50, in all honesty. There's a part of me that looks forward to taking all the wine bottles off the shelf and in storage, putting only the pots and pans that we need in our cupboards, and having less "visual clutter" around the place. I'm already asking myself how many mugs we actual need to have on-hand for guests and for ourselves, how many utensils should be in our drawers, and what food we truly need around cluttering up our cabinets. Maybe it'll be therapeutic, who knows?

So, the only way that "schedule" really fits into this "finding peace in the home" concept is that we need to better schedule our "to dos" to actually, um, y'know...get them done! ;-) The goal is to remember to keep the peacefulness of our lives while working on these projects and focusing on our future, and to make sure that the monkey doesn't get his routine too knocked out of whack.

What about you? What "peace" do you hope to achieve in your own lives? How are you hoping to achieve it? Feel free to post a link to your blog (if you have one), or just share in the comments.

TThisWednesday, April 16: Peace in the Home

This can encompass home decor, fashion, organizing and decluttering, schedule and routine, etc. Whatever needs to happen in your life in order to restore peace and equilibrium will be represented during this week!

Wednesday, April 23: Taking Some R&R

This week we’ll dive into taking time to pamper ourselves, time to fully relax, putting aside the to-do list, etc. We will recognize that we need to find healthy ways of treating ourselves so that we aren’t tempted to bad habits that ultimately harm us (i.e. emotional eating of sugar, etc.)
- See more at:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dick Van Fans

It's no secret that we're kinda...yeah, we're a tad "different." We listen to eclectic music selections; we watch vintage Sesame Street; we wish Hadley could grow up in Carville while we devour our Andy Hardy movies (rest in peace, Mickey!) and other classic, black-and-white films; I love history books and Dave loves comic books. We've got all sorts of quirky up in here.

So, it should come as little surprise that we have a new favorite.

Thanks, once again, to our super basic cable package and Netflix usage, we have stumbled upon The Dick Van Dyke Show in much the same way that he tended to stumble over a wayward toy or ottoman. With great zeal!

The weird thing is that I never watched this show as a kid, and I don't think Dave did. I followed plenty of old shows (Mr. Ed, Dennis the Menace, Lassie, My Three Sons -- horrible acting, great storyline, a bunch of the old cop shows, and two personal favorites -- Batman and The Monkees), but I never saw "The Dick Van Dyke Show." But, boy, are we wicked glad we have now!

Since the winter has kept us pretty much eating in front of the TV every night, we've gotten into the habit of dragging Hadley's seat into the living room, firing up the ol' Wii sensor, and continuing on with the next show. We've become familiar with every single character and their particular quirks, and Dave has read several "trivia" pieces from the interwebs when a question or an "I wonder if they..." idea pops up.

A few of our favorites?

- The show was the first of its kind to have a character like Sally (played by Rose Marie, who just happened to guest star in two Monkees episodes), a single, independent, working woman.

- Dick Van Dyke gave up his role on Broadway to star and was such a mess on the day they taped the first show that he missed out on Kennedy's inauguration (which everyone else seemed to watch).

- He also seemed to think that Mary Tyler Moore was too young to portray his wife, and she was also meant to be a secondary character (with most of the action happening at the office). Her talent was quickly noticed and her character was given more storylines (Rose Marie didn't get along with her very well for this reason), and Dick was won over. Side note: They were said to each have crushes on the other at certain points throughout the show. *blushes* So cute!

- The show was actually based on Carl Reiner's time writing for "Your Show of Shows" with Sid Caesar. The character of Buddy was based on Mel Brooks.

- Buddy (friend and "co-writer" to Dick's character) and Mel (the "show's" producer) were actually great friends in real life despite having characters that are constantly at each other's throats. As a matter of fact, they used to get together and have drinks after work to see what zingers they could come up with.

Ohhh, it just keeps going. Of course, my favorite bit of trivia happens in our very own living room. Hadley sometimes finds himself smitten with Laura, giving the TV doe eyes and getting shy. It's these times when he decides to shout out to her -- "Mama! Mama, mama, mama!" I could possibly be flattered, but I know that anyone who appears to be a) a woman or b) in pairs, he tends to refer to that way.

We also ADORE the fact that they tried very hard to keep slang out of conversation in order to make the show seem less timely. In other words, it has held up VERY well (for the most part) and we find ourselves laughing our butts off today.

What about your family? Do you have any quirky favorites?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Food Revolution Day -- Again

It's that time again! Rollin' right around the corner, May 16th is Food Revolution Day (#frd2014), hooray!!

What's this? Well, simply, it's a way to engage with food in a public way. This can mean a bunch of things and can be achieved a kazillion ways, but in essence it's meant to bring attention to the fact that eating responsibly-grown and -raised foods is a) healthier, b) more beneficial to the local economy, and c) way better for the environment. All awesome things. It's also about learning how to cook from scratch, which tends to be a bit cheaper and healthier for all of us.

(Side note: Clearly, hittin' up McDonald's and calling it a day won't cut it. Sorry!)

Last year, I had high hopes of making an awesome meal, but the fact that Dave was out of town and I was feeling crappy took it down a peg. Luckily, I still found my own way to celebrate -- even if in a pretty private way.

This year, I'm hoping to celebrate a little more as a family since, well, Hadley eats regular food now and Dave should be home. So, while we may just do one or two of these things, it may help you get your mental juices flowing (ew) if you decide to take part, too. Here are a few ideas I've got for our family (there are a ton more to check out here, and I'm sure you could come up with a ton more far better than mine):

- Go out for a lovely dinner. I know what you're thinking: "Isn't this all about making your own food?" Yes, and I know what you mean. However, we have a handful of kick-arse locavore joints that we're dying to try out. It'd be nice to have a date night with the hubby and know that the food we're eating is Besides, we hardly ever get formal dates, so when we do we tend to try new places or old favorites (which, ahem, tend to be slightly more expensive places; we don't eat out much normally, so we put more value in what we're eating when it's locally-grown and well-prepared).

- Try something new. I'm thinking it'd be fun to trek out to the Cooperstown Farmers' Market, buy a new ingredient (plus any other "needs" we might have), then try a new recipe. My meals lately have been pretty one-note, so this might help kick-start me into getting back into the swing of preparing summer-type meals (which tend to be more creative...or to me, at least).

- Plant our garden. We've already drawn out (literally) a simple plan for our veggies (and one fruit), and one of my biggest issues is usually not planting early enough. Given that our frosts are gone for the season -- which they may NOT be, given our crazy weather patterns -- this would be the perfect weekend to buy our plants (I don't think I'm growing anything from seed this year; I'm taking the lazy mama's way out) and get 'em in the ground.

You may notice that these ideas are ones you really can't complete in one, at least, not at our house! I tend to look at Food Revolution Day as more of a weekend celebration than a one-day thing, especially since it generally lands on a Friday (a work day). It's kind of like how some celebrate the whole weekend of Memorial Day, y'know?

So, you've got a little over a month. Are you planning on doing anything for FRD? (Or FRD weekend, as it were?) If so, what? I'd love to hear! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Cleaning Week #3

The past couple of weeks, you've been dragged along with my spring cleaning drudgery adventures. Depending on what type of environment you inhabit, my to-do lists may seem far too simple -- or, for that matter, far too complicated. You may live in a two-story (or more) house. You may live in a single-story ranch. You may rent a small apartment. Since all of these scenarios are incredibly different, I'm trying to come up with a "this is what I'm's a slight variation for your situation" type of list. If I'm off-base, or if you have more time to get things done way quicker (or are more efficient with your time than I am, which is TOTALLY possible!), feel free to adjust it.

But, in order to actually get the cleaning done, I need to section it up like a huge meal. Gotta make it easier to eat and digest, right?

So, after last week, most of our downstairs (living room, dining room, kitchen, and any other "random" spaces like a sun room, if you have one) should be done, including storage spaces/closets and stuff like ceiling fans. I didn't mention doing your refrigerator or windows, which I actually undertook this week (don't worry, I totally rushed to get OTHER stuff on my list's weird how, when the cleaning bug actually does bite, you end up cleaning the most random of things), so I'll add them to the list.

- Windows, upstairs and down. You're not really supposed to clean these on a super sunny day (#streaking), but waiting for an overcast day that's not raining (#backsplashnightmare) is like waiting for a rainbow unicorn bearing ten wishes and endless chocolate. Don't hold your breath. So, even if you have to do one roomful of windows a day (then place the cleaning solution in the room you want to do the next day as a visual reminder -- by the way, I use a vinegar-based thing and rags. I'd rather use reusable than a buttload of paper towels, so I use one rag for wiping the wet stuff and a "dry" one to help with streaking), it'll get done by chipping away at it. Don't forget to wipe down the screens and that filthy "in between" know what I'm talking about.

- Fridge and freezer. I start at the top shelf and work my way down, emptying the shelf (and throwing away anything that's expired or, y'know, "questionable" -- embarrassed how often this happens), using an eco-cleaner (or hot water and dish soap) and a rag, wiping down the sides and back of the fridge, too. Pretty much the same thing goes for the freezer. Defrost if you must, but I've never had to do this. Maybe my freezer's not efficient(?)

- Head upstairs. Wipe down your bathroom walls, clean the toilet (inside, out, around, and behind...ick), clean the sink and tub/shower, attack any lime with white vinegar, mop the floor, clean the mirror...the works. {Side note: If you have a downstairs bathroom I apologize, but you'll have to clean it this week, too. The perks of being a one-bathroom household!}

- While upstairs, start attacking the office. At least do the cleaning side of things -- windows, vacuum/dust mop floors, dust, dust the walls and ceilings, clean ceiling fans, and at the very least, tidy up.

Next week: Bedrooms, any other closets, and going through office crap.

Embracing Self Care - Health & Spirituality

Last week, I did a self-analysis for the blog project hosted by The Humbled Homemaker called...

Is it weird that I feel a touch of guilt to turn the focus on myself vs. taking care of everyone else? Ack. That's what this whole thing is about, though; recognizing that it's imperative to take care of OURSELVES in order to properly care for our families and loved ones.

Anyhoo, back to the task at hand. One of the issues that I mentioned last week is that, thanks to the crazy scheduled, toddler-centric, over-tired aspects of our life, we seem to be out of touch with our spirituality.

*record scratch*

Okay. This would probably be a good time to state publicly: We're part of that growing percentage of folks who don't really identify with a religion. Read: We're non-religious. Not atheist. Not nontheist, even. Just...don't identify. I like to say that we're both recovering Catholics, and I think Dave is a mix of atheist with a good dose of Buddhist. And I'm essentially "undecided" on the checklist.

It feels terribly taboo to even make such an announcement, but since this week is all about spirituality, it seemed a good time to mention it. See, I'm not sure the last time I read a blog from someone who wasn't a known Christian. Not kidding. Most of the homestead-y blogs I follow are run by uber Christians. Even a lot of the shelter blogs I enjoy are run by super religious folks.

And I enjoy them, even when I think to myself, "Huh. I'm a tad uncomfortable that I'm not 'part of the club.'" Read: I never write about religion because I don't want to alienate anyone...
So hopefully no one's offended by our current religious decisions. It's where we are, and I'd rather be honest than mute.

I'm actually quite well versed in the religions (I was very close to majoring in philosophy in college, and as I see it, religion is all about a person's life philosophy) and have a plethora of priests/ministers on both sides of my family. I've been "converted" once [clearly didn't stick...and my mom flipped, understandably so; I was, like, 10 years old]. I've had a love-hate relationship with traditional organized religion and experimented with Eastern religions in high school. (Thanks, Beatles and Peter Tork, for your influence.)

The most "in touch" I ever was with my spiritual side was definitely when I was in about 9th grade and had read A LOT about transcendental meditation. I've gotta tell ya...that $%&# is real. Meditation helped me to find myself during a normally confusing, crazy hormonal time. It helped me to recognize the "truth" of life. It helped me learn how to cope with stress and center myself in ANY situation. It helped me to connect with my surroundings and nature in deeper consciousness levels. Heck, I used to be so in-touch with my inner being that I still remember my first out-of-body meditation experience -- in a very busy cafeteria during study hall the day of Mr. Hefner's funeral. How's that for specific? LOL.

So, let's just say, I don't judge folks for their religion if they don't judge me. Can't we all just get along? :-D


Needless to say, I'm not centered anymore. The life of a teenager is worlds away from that of a grown up mama. I can still analyze the stress level of a situation and calm myself mentally, but there's zero meditation. Zero spiritual connection. Zero gravitational pull.

Dave has mentioned an interest in meditation before, but nothing has ever come of it. I'm going to bring it up to him and see if he'd be interested in a) learning how to do it (I'm rusty, but I've got a pretty good foundation) and b) actually putting it into our schedule rotation.

Even if he's not interested, I'd like to be able to add PEACE into each day. Even a minimum of ten minutes spent with zero TV, zero phone, zero internet will hopefully help me start to center. A little at a time. :-) And I think that I'll be able to find some patience to deal with an almost-terrible-twos munchkin and an ability to focus better on Dave and his needs.


On a health note, we also need to analyze our sleep situation. We've been going to sleep earlier and earlier, to no avail. We still wake up relatively exhausted. Whuh??

According to this British article (love those!), there are a couple of things I'm doing wrong. Firstly, I hit snooze. Heck, I actually set two alarms on my phone -- an initial one, then the "bonus!" one that makes me feel like I hit the ten minute jackpot. Silly girl. No more of that.

Secondly, the thing that makes the most sense AND helps us get in touch with our spirituality (hello, 2 birds + 1 stone) is GETTING OUTSIDE. It's been one heck of a winter for, um, everyone everywhere, so we've definitely gotten in a "sit on our arses" rut. It's time for us all (as a family) to get a-walkin'.

Remember when we were kids and the first nice day hit? We'd run outside and play with anything that wasn't covered in cobwebs, or just walk around the block -- LOVING that we just had to wear our brother's hand-me-down light jacket (since we'd only needed it for, like, a week). Didn't we sleep like babies that night? Of course.

Well, that's the idea here. I wish we could do it daily, but with P/T two nights and dinner-making, I just don't think it's plausible. However, if I make a concerted effort to plan SIMPLE meals and get outside a few times each week, it might help recharge us enough to try it even more. Baby steps. :-)

How are you doing with your spiritual and health journey? Are you in need of any fine tuning in any areas? Do you ever feel uncomfortable when your religious views don't align with someone else who wears it on their sleeve? Or is that just me? ;-)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Cleaning Week #2

I mentioned last week that I'm doing my spring cleaning less in a "this room, then that room, then another room" way and more of a piecemeal concerted attack. If you're coming along for the ride (ie joining in on my suggested "to do" lists), stay tuned for this week's "homework." Hey, literally!

Since last week we did anything ceiling/wall-related (+ some) on our first floor (or the main living area of your one-floor digs), this week it's time to do some heavy-duty floor and woodwork/baseboard cleaning. Top to bottom, see? Also, it's time to turn to storage -- which, in our house means our DVD/"extemporaneous what the what?" built-ins, our main "coats 'n crap" closet, and *dun dun dun* the kitchen. Since, think about it: what's a kitchen beyond some landing pads, a couple of "specialty" areas (sink, oven, spot for cats to eat), and a buttload of storage? Am I right?

Here's my little "to-do" list to keep up for Week #2; do with it what you will:

- Scrub woodwork with Old English (or whatevs...if you want to be all eco, use olive oil and essential oils or somethin'); if it's painted, clean it with a rag and soap OR if it's really in rough shape, attack it with a Magic Eraser. Poof. As my mom would say, "You can do this with the TV on in the background!" (Easier said than done, but she says it, anyway. Do I really need to see what's happened on "Little Women" or "My Girl" for the 200th time? Beth and Thomas J. still die. *sad face*)

- Do organizational bursts. See how quickly you can get your main closet and kitchen cabinets emptied, sorted into piles (KEEP IN CLOSET/CABINET, KEEP ELSEWHERE, THROW OUT, DONATE), then (sometimes the hardest part) neatly put it all back in. If you need a new storage system or don't think what you're doing is working, jot down if you think you need baskets or to peruse the organization solutions in your favorite store to see if anything pops out at you. *So far, I've done the dining room built-ins and sidebar, as well as the front room trunks. Doesn't sound like much, but just looking at the minimally-decorated sidebar and knowing how neat and tidy it is on the inside gets me jonesin' to do more.*

- Sweep and mop the kitchen floor -- move EVERYTHING out and give this the real once-over. Wipe down all kitchen surfaces (including the grease + dust + cat fur combo that has cemented itself to the tops of the fridge and microwave, open shelving, cookbooks, etc).

- Anything you didn't complete last, admittedly, my downstairs ceiling fans. There's only two, but they're beasts, and I'm one tired mama. This isn't a "look what I can do!" run to the finish line, people. 

- Positive affirmation time! You can do this... "Because you're good're smart enough...and, doggone it, people like you!" Go one at a time. Listen to music while you unload. Make a game out of it (see how much crap you can find that you hardly/don't use!). Do whatever you have to do to empty/best use your spaces.    

Next week? Upstairs! (And any downstairs bathrooms or offices you may have. :-D) How's that sound??

Friday, April 4, 2014

Brussels Sprouts That Don't Suck

Happy Foodie Friday! Now, on with the show...

You heard me right, Universe. I know what you're thinking: Brussels sprouts, those sometimes-slimy, cabbage-like fart bombs. That you put in your mouth. And eat.

Normally, I would agree 100%. I grew up harboring a hate-hate relationship with them, and for that matter anyone who tried to make me ingest them. So. Nasty.

This relationship would've lasted for all time until my awesome brother-in-law Dan brought along his caramelized maple roasted Brussels sprouts to our last Thanksgiving feast. Consider me converted...and on a mission to convert others. 

So, all these many months later, I finally bit the bullet and bought some on-sale sprouts. I'll admit that I was nervous. I've tried roasting them before only to have Dave sweetly request that I never make them again. (Ahem. He's not really a jerk, for the record. It was one of those rare super honest moments. Can't blame him; fart bombs in your mouth aren't fun. I didn't enjoy them, either.)

But, there was no need to worry this time. Despite being in the thick of chaos and accidentally turning off the oven mid-roasting (see? Even an idiot...), these came out awesome. There's really no way to mess them up, either, so use this as a guideline and less of a real recipe. Love those.

Roasted Maple Brussels Sprouts
1 1/2-ish lbs. Brussels sprouts
Salt and pepper
Olive oil 
1/4 c. (give or take) pure maple syrup (not "pancake syrup" or whatever that is)
2 tsp. (or more) brown sugar

Trim any brown or wilted leaves (there will be a huge pile left, seriously) and wash and dry sprouts. Cut into halves and cut off bottom "stem" part.

Place on baking sheet and douse with good amount of olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes and toss. Drizzle with syrup and brown sugar and roast another 15-20 minutes or until tender and caramelized.

Seriously, it may look like a wilty, burnt pile of nothin', but it is beyond delicious. Enjoy, and let me know what you thought!

I kid you not, I was stealing wayward leaves and black bits off of the baking sheet. I have no shame.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Embracing Self Care - Know Thyself

Over the next few Wednesdays in April, I'll be taking part in a little blogging exercise (hosted by the Humbled Homemaker, woohoo!) by chatting about the different facets of self-care. You know the ones. Things like health and spirituality, finding peace in the home (this encompasses several concepts), and healthy ways to find R and R. Those things we tend to ignore on a day-to-day basis. Remember those?

I absolutely love this theme. Whether you're a student who is too busy (or too stubborn...hey, I've been there) to properly take care of yourself, or a parent who is too swamped and exhausted to think past the rest of the family, or just an individual who has gotten into a rut, anyone can relate to forgetting to take care of yourself.

There are so many more relevant, important things to worry about, right?


This is an underlying, unspoken issue that I see bubble up from time to time in my family. The Dorky Daddy and I are able to compartmentalize -- parenthood/family, work, maybe a hobby from time to time (acting or writing or working on our websites). But, those are the only constantly-present "compartments" of our lives.

What else falls to the wayside? Um. Lots. Here are some of my personal concerns:

Cleaning and true organization. Just ask the cake of dust on my bedroom TV. (What? We're the only ones watching it, and rarely at that. Why clean it often? Ahem. Yeah, I'm wrong.)

Health. (She says as she sits sneezing and nursing a headache while writing this.) But, seriously, this also relates to the fact that a lot of days we find ourselves just so exhausted or fatigued.

Inner peace. We're not what anyone might call "religious," but I know we'd both like to get in touch with our spiritual sides better.

Balance. Okay, for realsies, I've heard a lot of folks say that this simply isn't possible. Well, I'm pretty sure that's not 100% true. Life is totally a seesaw, and that's not a bad thing. But it's obvious when things are tipping far too much in one direction. For example, when Dave was working at his previous job, it didn't just take the time he was there, but additional work from home, as well as the stressful distraction that it caused for him. His seesaw is now officially WAY more balanced, and it's a better thing for ALL of us. Side note: We're still grateful for this DAILY.

"Us." This is more of a "we need to make a concerted effort to spend time together and HAVE FUN" than a "we have issues" thing. We've gotta make some dates and enjoy them. We need to focus on whether or not the other person is doing too much and try to take the load off. We need to discuss openly tasks that we have to work on around the house (or other things they need help with) and actively plan on days and times to work on them. This has all been easy to forget when so much of life revolves around a high-maintenance toddler. We need to take folks up on the offer to babysit more, and find more things that we can do as a trio (not just baby-centric stuff).

My ultimate issue is simply figuring out how to use my time wisely. There's so much I want to achieve, but getting motivated when I'm exhausted, or balancing the time between family and the rest of life, or ensuring that I don't let something important fall to the bottom of the list. Focusing on a different topic each week may help me implement a few small, achievable tips -- and I'd LOVE to hear any suggestions you have (or even to commiserate a bit about our individual issues).

Remember, our ultimate goal here is to focus on self care.

So, how well do you "know thyself"? What areas do you need to work on?

On this week, we’ll be assessing our needs and our personalities and getting a handle on what kind of self-care needs to happen in our lives. - See more at: