LITTLE THINGS THIS WEEK.

a weekly exercise in gratitude for the little things in my very ordinary life.

1. this new plant friend…
img_0182from our first sunday supper guests.

2. these toddler height hooks, and adult height hooks above…
img_0170
for beautifying a very empty hallway in a very practical way.

3. this cute pipe cleaner ring…
img_9397
that my older students are making the next couple of weeks in the library for valentine’s day (make your own here!)

4. this travel mug…
img_0165
for getting me through nearly 100 school days so far.

5. this cozy, shapeless sweater…
img_0162
for keeping me warm this week while we had temperatures in the 40s!

in other news:

it was a long, short week, wasn’t it? around wednesday during school weeks, i start falling asleep on the couch around 7:30 barely able to keep my eyes open through one show, and even with monday off, this week was no exception. the weekend is due. mike’s getting home early today (pizza friday!), and after a week with him working late, it’s going to be so nice to have him home for dinner.

it was a week of sweaters, hats, and heat on in the car with temperatures down in the 40’s. charlie came over to me this morning with the blanket and asked to ‘get cozy’ which is maybe my favorite thing he’s ever said to me. we snuggled for the briefest of moments before it was time to head to school, and it’s made me so look forward to a weekend of ‘getting cozy’ at home with my boys.

my parents are coming down for the month of february and it’s getting SO CLOSE. next week!! i can’t even express how excited i am. i’ve done zero things to prepare, but as long as there is wine and good weather, then all parties will be happy! have a beautiful weekend getting cozy, friends!

 

MY NEW FAVORITE BROWNIE RECIPE.

img_9825If you couldn’t tell yet, I’m a huge fan of traditions. Weekly rituals that provide stability and comfort to my family, and they mostly revolve around food. I remember these kinds of traditions growing up myself and I want my kids to have the same feelings when the look back on their own childhoods. 

In that vein – we’re starting a new tradition this year: Sunday Supper. We’re making a big cozy, shareable family meal like we always do on Sundays – think Shepherd’s Pie, Spaghetti, a big pot of soup with crusty bread – but inviting someone or several someones to come join us for an early dinner. It just seems like a really nice thing to start doing. We had our first Sunday Supper this past weekend, inviting over some friends that haven’t seen our new house yet. Mike made a gigantic batch of spaghetti, we joined forces to make a green salad, garlic bread, and I made the most amazing brownies for dessert. Our friends raved over them, texting later that they were still dreaming about the brownies. 

I much prefer to bake from scratch than from a box, but even I have to admit that boxed brownies are amazing. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to bake things from the ground up. These brownies are worth every speck of extra effort expended. I googled “best brownies”, and after reading about 10 of the some 9000 (!) rave reviews on AllRecipes, it was settled. These were the brownies I would be making for Sunday Supper. I adjusted a few things, and have reflected the changes in my recipe – such as doubling the whole recipe, and a few changes in the frosting. But if you would like the pure unadulterated original, just click here for Angie’s original, much smaller batch recipe. 

I know I’ll be making these again for Sunday Supper in the not too distant future, and I know that these are the brownies that my boys are going to remember that their mom made when they were growing up.   

Best Brownies
Adapted from this recipe. 

For the Brownies:
What you need: 

– 1 cup butter
– 2 cups white sugar
– 4 eggs, beaten
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the Frosting
What you need:

– 3 tablespoons butter, softened
– 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 tablespoon maple syrup
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
– 2 tablespoons milk

What to do: 

+ Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

+ Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan.

+ In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat

+ Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla. 

+ Add cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder until no dry bits are left. Mix with a wooden spoon so as to not overmix the batter. 

+ Spread batter into prepared pan.

+ Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To Make Frosting:

+ Combine softened butter, cocoa, maple syrup, vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar and milk. Stir until silky smooth.

+ Frost brownies while they are still warm.

Enjoy for the brief moments that they last before they’re all gobbled up!

LITTLE THINGS THIS WEEK.

  1. this afternoon tea ritual…because decompression after school is a necessity, especially this week.
  2. this sourdough starter…because it’s been 9 days and i’m still at it, resolutions and all that.
  3. this book…because while i’ve already started another, i’m still living in that world.
  4. this chair & the five other just like it…a project completed and enjoyed every single day {details forthcoming}.
  5. this toy cell phone…for jingling suddenly at school and making me laugh and laugh.

This week was long and I felt like I couldn’t see the end of it while we were in it. But now we’re here and I’m having a glass of wine and it’s glorious and I’m happy as I ever was. Have a wonderful weekend friends!

20 FOR 2020 {and my word of the year}.

img_8109

Resolutions, goals, aspirations, whatever you call them, I’m into them. Every year, come January, I sit down with my journal for some soul searching. I reflect on the past year and try to envision who I want to be in the next. The vision is often the same or similar from year to year – eat better! Exercise! Write more! Read more! Be more organized! Be kinder! Be positive! And I love it. No matter my follow-through, I find it inspiring to take the blank slate of the year, and envision with it what I will. So much can happen in a single year and it all just makes my heart swell with potential.

My resolutions are often vague ideas of the idea of person I’d like to be and things I might like to do. And when you look at goal setting and habit change, that’s what’s a key failure in most people’s resolutions. The lack of concrete action steps. So this year, I’m taking a page out of Gretchen Rubin’s book (one of my favorite self-help authors and podcasters), and I’m doing a 20 for 2020 list. This is a list of 20 things I’d like to accomplish in 2020. Some are easy, one-off things that I can cross off of my list, and others are extended projects that will continue all year.

Here they are!

  1. Make sourdough bread {because i love it and want to be someone who bakes her own bread. follow along with this journey on instagram}
  2. Write our will. {so important now that we have two little guys counting on us}
  3. Remodel our kitchen. {along with this goes saving up for it for the next months to come}
  4. Run a 5k. {my running goals this year are to become a more consistent runner – tuesdays, thursdays, and a family run on saturdays}
  5. Quit shampoo. {my sister just found out a few months ago that she’s allergic to sulfates – the stuff that makes cleaning products foam, so i’ve become very aware of how bad sulfates really are}  
  6. Grow a pumpkin for Halloween. {a whimsy little goal that the boys will love} 
  7. Read 52 books. {a book a week!}
  8. Knit a hat. {i’ve got the yarn, i’ve got the pattern, i’ve got the needles. just gotta do it}
  9. Go strawberry picking. {i’ve wanted to do this for years and this is my year}
  10. Print photos for our album at the end of each month. {my photos need to live on the outside of my phone or my boys won’t have any when they get older}
  11. Consistently blog 5 days a week. {because i love it when i do it!}
  12. Remember and celebrate special dates. {april fools day! birthdays! left handed day!}
  13. Reach a 100 day streak in Spanish on Duolingo. {i got to 53 last year, and broke my phone, losing all of my progress. gonna get past that again!}
  14. Do a 30 day yoga challenge. {i’ve had plans to do this, but no follow through}
  15. See a dermatologist. {my dad had skin cancer years ago, and as a fair skinned lady living in florida, i just need to get myself there this year. 
  16. Meditate every night. {for the soul and to keep my sanity}
  17. Grow a salad. {how fun would it be to just go outside and snip my family a salad from the garden. i’m told that arugula grows like a week here!}
  18. Give up plastic bags. {because the environment needs me to.}
  19. Have a hand in managing our money. {because i am a modern woman}
  20. Start writing a book. {this one scares me a bit. when? how? what about? but mike’s been motivating me over the past decade, and i think i need to just do it. just start it.}

I’ll be honest. I have about 5 or 6 more that I really want to do too, but 20 seems like enough right? Have to save enough for 2021! 🙂

My word of the year is {drumroll}: Follow-through. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and one of my worst habits is saying that I’m going to do something (and I mean it when I say it! I really do!) but then I just don’t get it done. So this year, when I say that I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. It’s going to happen.

What about you? Do you have any things you’d like to accomplish this year? Any resolutions you’ve made? Do you have a word of the year? I’d love to hear it if you do.  

WELCOME TO 2020.

img_7578I’m trying hard to wrap my mind around the new year, and I have a still evolving idea of what I want my goals to be this year. Details are forthcoming, but in the meantime, before I’m fully back with both feet firmly planted on earth, I’m basking in the glow left by the sweetest holiday at home with my boys. A few photos from our annual trip to the beach down the road on New Year’s Day.

img_6859img_7662img_0897img_0900img_7595

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I’ve been soaking up my time with my family while we’re all home for the next couple of weeks! It was such a perfectly sunny and lovely Christmas Day with my boys and with Mike’s parents, opening presents, munching on yummy food and sipping on wassail. We’re off all next week too and I’m sending the boys in to daycare on Monday so I can get some little projects done around the house. These are sweet precious holiday days together and we’re loving every moment! I hope your Christmas was great!

DREAMING ABOUT: A SNOW DAY.

dreaming aboutIt’s 82 degrees and humid in southern Florida today. Despite the wreaths on every door, decorated trees and festive lights adorning the houses in our neighborhood, it doesn’t feel quite like the Christmas season. I remember that feeling of waking up in the morning to a magical winter wonderland outside my window. That feeling of joy when my mom came in to wake me saying that a snow day had been called. It pains me to think that my boys may never feel that! The bundling up for outside play, tracking down my mittens, the hot chocolate by the fire, the thick quilt covering me, and settling down with a good book. How nice would it be to wake up tomorrow with the news that school was canceled? Here’s a little list that I’m dreaming about for that make-believe snow day.

A cozy chair and a quarter to snuggle into for the day.

A warm sweater to pull over my head.

A cheery quilt to keep me warm.

An electric stove to warm cold hands in front of.

Marshmallows and chocolate for homemade hot chocolate on the stove.

A handmade mug to put it in.

Knit slipper socks to wear all winter.

Leggings because on a snow day – comfort is key.

Two good books to read – this and this.

OUR WEEK AT A GLANCE. {vol. 7}

img_5256ONE MORE WEEK! Five days. That’s it! That’s practically nothing. We can do this. Five little days stand between me and two whole weeks off with my boys at home. Lots of holiday events happening this week. The school concert, Charlie’s class party, Charlie’s school performance, school parties at my school. etc. etc. It’s going to go by soooo fast.

week at a glance (1).png

As for meals, Mike made meat sauce tonight for spaghetti tomorrow night, so that’s super easy. He never uses a recipe, just wings it and does it by muscle memory and tasting along the way. It’s the best. We switched over to ground turkey years ago, and haven’t looked by, but he does throw in a link of italian sausage for seasoning. Tuesday is BLTs. I got sourdough bread to toast, Hellman’s mayo, thick bacon, beefsteak tomatoes, and a head of iceberg lettuce. One of my favorite meals. I always do the bacon in the oven instead of the stove. If you aren’t doing it that way, you need to switch. asap. Set your oven to 400, line a cookie sheet with foil, and bake for about 15 minutes, checking frequently. Transfer to paper towels as normal. Wednesday, I’m trying a new recipe for Tuscan White Bean Soup from No Spoon Necessary. Thursday – leftovers, always, and Pizza Friday is basically a weekly holiday for us. I made Cranberry Walnut Bread this weekend too. I’m going to share the recipe this weekend! Such a good holiday loaf.

Many things remain on my to do list this week. You get just a little taste here. There is much, much more not shown. Mike’s parents arrive on Sunday, so we’re trying to get things together for them to visit, and to make sure Santa visits our house on time next week! Can you believe it’s only ten days until Christmas? It really crept up on me. This weekend was lovely though. Charlie started saying one of my favorite phases on repeat -“oh gosh” (hilarious) and has taken to calling for us by saying “honey!” in the exact tone that Mike and I use call to each other. Ben is so into everything, laughs every time Charlie laughs, and is only getting faster at crawling (lots of “oh gosh” for that).

Also this weekend – after much hunting, we finally got a chair for our bedroom reading nook. Remember when I was looking for all my favorites? We got none of those, and wound up with something that’s even more perfect. We also made it to the Christmas village today at our church and all I can say is wow. They really went all out. There was even SNOW! I think I was more excited than Charlie.

I hope your weekend was lovely too! I’ve got a couple good little posts planned for this week, so I hope you come back by to see!

img_5504-1img_5535

LITTLE THINGS THIS WEEK.

1. this santa garland…img_4921and the little boy who shouts ‘santa! santa!’ every time he sees it.

2. these chunky crayons…img_5026for being easy to wipe of tables, chairs, but not quite so easily off of walls. {i swear, you look away for ten seconds and that’s all it takes!}

3. this tiny salad dressing jar…img_5146because it makes salads at lunch a whole lot cuter.

4. this christmas card…img_4935for being delayed and then suddenly, unexpectedly ready for pick up!

5. these enchiladas and jar of beer…img_4897for being just the thing to soothe my soul.

in other news:

only five more days until i have two whole weeks off with my loves. there’s a mile long list of things to do before mike’s parents arrive next sunday, so we’re going to try to cross somethings off this weekend. a holiday party with friends on saturday, and then the christmas village at our church on sunday is going to make for a busy little weekend. i’m going to fit in some baking of cranberry bread, some granola bars for the week, some serious boy snuggles and we are going to clean, clean, clean the house from top to bottom. it’s going to be a good one, you guys.

THE VERY BEST GRANOLA RECIPE.

img_4633On school days, our morning are, in an understatement, hectic. As much as I try to prepare at night for the next day, there’s only so much you can do. Diaper changes, bottles, long snuggles, teeth brushing, throwing things into lunchboxes, turning on the crockpot, not to mention getting ready myself. These are the days though. I live for those morning snuggles before school, at the cost of eating breakfast myself. With the gift of forethought this weekend, I made my very favorite granola, cooking it low and slow this past Saturday in the oven while the boys took turns napping and pulling every toy off the shelves in the playroom. I’ve gotten in the habit of tucking a little jar of granola with yogurt into my lunchbox to eat when I get to school in that blissful half hour before students arrive at the library for my first class. 

Mornings are tinged at this time of year (in south florida!) with a cool breeze and it’s just the best time of year to make granola. I’m sure it’s an even better time for it in the cold and wintry north. Let’s be honest, who wants to leave their oven on for an hour during any other time of year? I’ve tried many recipes for granola over the years, and this is the one scrawled on an index card, but nearly memorized. It’s adapted from Alton Brown, and it’s just my favorite. This isn’t just any granola, but a hearty and satisfying mix that’s not too sweet (the failing of most granola), a little bit salty with a nice crunch that pairs perfectly with a bit of plain greek yogurt. It is, of course, highly adaptable. Choose your favorite dried fruit, variety of nut, extra mix ins. 

img_4635

Granola
adapted from Alton Brown

What you need:

– 3 cups oats
– 1 cup mixed nuts, chopped (this mix is my favorite from aldi)
– 3/4 cup shredded coconut, sweet or regular
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp brown sugar
– 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp maple syrup
– 1/4 cup neutral oil (I use canola)
– 1 cup dried fruit (this is my favorite)

What to do: 

+ Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

+ Mix oats, nuts, coconut, salt, and brown sugar in a large oven-safe dutch oven, or baking dish.

+ In a small bowl, stir together syrup and oil.

+ Pour oil and sugar over oat mixture and stir to combine.

+ Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

+ Let cool, then mix in dried fruit.

+ Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week.

+ Enjoy over yogurt or milk!

img_4638

Do you eat breakfast? I’ve gone through phases this year of breakfasting and not, and I’m in a decidedly breakfasting phase.