The Christmas Season, etc.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The longer I stay away from writing here, the harder it is to come back! Why is this?

And I don't know why, either, this idea has wormed itself into my head, of not having anything to share with the world-wide internet when I don't feel like I'm knocking any area of my life out of the park currently. That's probably dumb because then the only person who could write on blogs would be Martha Stewart.

My kids are happy and busy, they love to sing, play and be with each other. They are not perfect angels all the time, by any means, but we've been having fun together with our extra time in the afternoons.

What I want to remember about Juliette on December 16, 2014: 

- She loves loves her books, and loves to sleep with them in her bed, mostly on top of one (whatever is the favorite du jour), and she will set up her stuffed animals likewise. We'll often go in after she's asleep and see her and three of her "friends" sleeping on top of a book also. So cute.

- Always the cruise director, she is either orchestrating picnics, slumber parties, or "dinner" for Molly and herself, and oftentimes me too. The activities include an ever-changing and ever-specific set of instructions that sometimes include the words "it would be amazing" thrown in there for good measure.

- She loves to speak for her and Molly collectively--like, "we don't want to do that" or "we're ready to get up and play." I love this so much, and Molly just grins and nods.

- Loves coloring/art-type projects more and more. I hope Santa knows this.


What I want to remember about Molly on December 16, 2014:

- She loves to hide, and will sneak off with a little grin on her face and say, "it's hiiide!"

- She can often be found wandering the house, calling, "Juuuu...Juuuu"

- Getting really good at singing! She'll chime in with perfect timing on words in songs like Jingle Bells (we've been listening to the Bing Crosby/Andrews Sisters version and Michael Buble version), Sleigh Ride, and some Ben Kweller and Weezer songs. Ha! They love music so much.

- You can't talk this girl into anything she has her mind set against. Iron will, I think.


It's next to impossible to get a good photo of the two of them. These are the kinds of photos I end up with regularly:


Neither of them want to look at me, or one of them is making a weird face or moving or something. I guess this is typical little kid-photo stuff, but sheesh.

OK so Christmas! Once again, we've been enjoying Betsy's (a friend of a friend I admire so much) Advent Readings for the Very Young, which are wonderful. We have the Little People nativity set (I got it on super sale a few years back), which works well with this series too. I love teaching them about the Christmas story throughout the month, especially now that Juliette can retain this information a little better than last year (Molly likes to chew on the wise men, but that's par for the course right now, I suppose).

I've also been loving Oh Come Let Us Adore Him study book from SheReadsTruth. It's been so refreshing to my heart and mind to be in scriptures surrounding the story of Jesus' birth. Amazing, really. Also, we made the peppermint play-dough from the book, too! There are several recipes sprinkled throughout the study book, which I love! (Recipe posted here, but I used food coloring, not beets, with peppermint oil, and we only made one color--pink of course!)

It's so fun having kids at stages where their expectations for Christmas Day are nil. They don't really comprehend what "next week" means right now, and Juliette keeps telling us she wants Santa to bring her a candy cane. How great is that.

Everything we do (holiday activities/outings) is sort of a bonus, we can do as little or as much as we want. I hope we can always hold these parts of the Christmas season at arm's length--the traditions that can feel inhibiting, the gifts you think are "absolutely necessary" (not), and all the "stuff" of the season that is entirely besides the point of celebrating the birth of a Savior come to earth in the flesh. How marvelous, how hopeful, how joyful!


Baby 3 update - all is going well. I posted on instagram the other day that Juliette's name suggestions were "Captain Hook" and "Captain Von Trapp" over the course of a couple of weeks. Then this morning, she called the baby "Captain Von Trapp" again so we may have found ourselves with an in-utero nickname (we've never really done that before). I couldn't be happier with the selection. :)


End-of-year stuff: our 2015 planners are still for sale, and my 2015 one-page calendars available for download here. One week til Christmas (give or take a day)! I'm so excited!

2015 Day Planners!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The 2015 version of our "Long Leaf Planners" are here!



Almost identical to the August-August version we published a few months back, just a couple of subtle font tweaks!

If you're unfamiliar with this, here are a couple of features:

- 6.5" wide x 8.5" long x 2"ish thick (half a lettersheet)
- thick laminated cover and back cover
- weekly and monthly spreads
- meal planning line in weekly spreads
- plenty of notes pages in the back

Purchase here (and see more photos)!


On a similar note, 2015 one-page calendar available for free download through this link!

It's Cold = Chicken Pot Pie

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holy cow, it's been cold! According to my iPhone, it's not just us either. Pregnant or not, if it's cold out, I prefer to really bundle up...scarf, gloves, layers, boots, etc. (You'll likely never catch me in ballet flats in the winter, my feet get too cold!) (I realize that cold for us here in Memphis is relative to other parts of the country...but we've had several days over the past week or so that have stayed in the low/mid thirties. That is objectively cold, I don't care where you are.)

All I've been craving (yes, craving) since the legit cold came has been chicken pot pie. I posted a shortcut-easy chicken pot pie recipe several years ago that tastes good too, but I daresay I liked this one even better (and it doesn't use any cream of ______ soups). I have a few friends who have sung the praises of Real Simple's chicken pot pie recipe for years.



Like any mom, I've been trying to sneak in more veggies, so I was drawn to trying their Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pie recipe. I adapted a few things (of course), so here's my version:

Ingredients
1 pound rotisserie chicken, de-boned, chicken chopped
1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil
2 onions chopped (or frozen chopped onions, if you're me. #sorrynotsorry)
10-ish oz. slightly defrosted/chopped "Normandy" blend veggies (mine are that organic bag from Costco) - includes broccoli, cauliflower, yellow and orange carrots - or you can just chop 4 carrots
3 T all-purpose flour (I used white-whole wheat)
1/2 cup dry white cooking wine (I used water)
2 cups whole milk (that's all we keep now)
1 10 oz package frozen peas
1 T thyme, scant
kosher salt & black pepper
1 store-bought 9" pie crust (found this brand in the organic section, tasted great)

  1. Heat oven to 400° F. De-bone rotisserie chicken and chop.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan (I used my dutch oven pot) over medium heat. Add the onions and "Normandy blend" veggies, stirring, until they begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes (do not let them darken much). Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Add the wine (or water or chicken broth, whatever you have) and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, thyme, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Transfer to a shallow 1½- to 2-quart baking dish.
  4. Lay the crust on top, pressing to seal. Cut several vents in the crust. Place the pot pie on a baking sheet (I forgot this and now I have to clean my oven! drats) and bake until bubbling and the crust is golden, 30-35 minutes.

I really thought this was a winner. Not too goopy or rich, the cauliflower kind of camouflaged as potatoes (so paleo of them), and I do like that thyme flavor. I should've used a cuter casserole dish but I am the worst at gauging how big of a container one needs for a container transfer.

I don't know if yall have heard of/seen this Mark Bittman Time Magazine article that published in October--basically exhorting Americans to get back to the kitchen, for health, family, sanity. But the basic premise of his argument is always close in my mind, no matter how bad I've been doing at cooking recently (I'll blame pregnancy, but I'm a perennial hot-and-cold cook). 

Want to know exactly what's in your food? Make it yourself. Besides the pie crust (which I tried to improve upon a little), the ingredients in recipes like this are in their intended form, simple and straightforward, and the recipe wasn't complicated. I like it.


In other news, how awesome is JT (again)? #Grizzlies

Predictable / Good News / October Report

Friday, November 07, 2014

(Editor's note: I started this post on 10/27...this is just how life has been.)

A whole month of no posts. I can't believe it. This blog is in the back of my mind daily, seriously. The weeks just evaporate with their own craziness, exhaustion and....

BABY! 


(Grainy mirror selfie at your service.)

Yes, that's right! We're expecting baby #3 in May of next year, and we're so excited.

This was taken at a mere 13 weeks. The baby definitely wants to make him/herself known, but they say that's what happens each subsequent time (?).

Something fun about this pregnancy is that we're not going to find out the gender this time. I'm so excited about the mystery of it all! The girls will move into Juliette's big girl room together, and then I'll get to neutralize the nursery a little bit (very ready for a change in there after two baby girls anyway). So excited.

Please accept my apologies for the ole predictable first-trimester-blog-break. We get the girls to bed at night (or I do), and I immediately crawl into mine!

What else has occurred? Hmm...

Halloween of course! Mary Poppins & Burt graced our porch & neighborhood this year.


I found Juliette's suit/dickie on eBay and spruced up the hat with some Michaels accoutrements, and Molly's chimney sweep get-up was a jacket and hat loan from my friend Anna (thank you, Anna!). They had fun, but were fine with trick or treating at about three houses. Gonna ride that train while we can.

The Mary Poppins costume was Juliette's idea (one of her favorite movies right now, thanks to my rigorous training). I figured we could still get away with Molly in whatever, so just went with the Burt accompaniment. So cute.

Also in October, the girls and I were in my friend Laura's wedding, in New Orleans. It was a very warm and sweltery weekend, but we made some great family memories and enjoyed seeing some famous New Orleans sights. I will say, it was a bit tough with morning sickness + Cajun food (which is usually my jam). Oh well. 

Look at my sweet flower girl.

Molly had sort of had enough of everything by this point in the day (she came down with something the day of the wedding, unfortunately), so we didn't get too many photos of her in her get-up. 

Before the wedding day, we went a few days early and got to take the girls to the Aquarium, walk the French Quarter/Jackson Square, and of course, eat some beignets (we of course walked by Cafe du Monde (just out of the shot of the below photo), but ate at Cafe Beignet this time. I think the ones we got were too hot or something because the girls just licked off the powdered sugar. Lovely :)



We had a couple of rough nights sleeping (Molly not feeling well and such), but overall, they did really well traveling and rolling with all the punches of the weekend. 

So happy for George & Laura, the wedding was so lovely! Happiest of wishes to my dear friend "Eve." 

If you're traveling to New Orleans with kids, I definitely appreciate this post from Love Taza--we ended up breakfasting at Elizabeth's as a result, which was my favorite meal of the whole trip. Definitely recommend!

October, you were good to us! Though I'm happy to be speeding into the second trimester and (hopefully) feeling a little bit better.


I promise I'll be back here more soon. I made a good soup this week that deserves to be on the internet.

One Year Ago

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

As it turns out, a year really isn't very long.

The hurt still stings when I remember the new reality, this new world order...tears can spring to my eyes instantly when it registers, yet again, that this is how things are now.

The person who taught me how the word "charisma" could be embodied, my best friend from high school is gone from this world too soon.

There have been so many times in this year I wanted to come here and write about this grief. 2013 was such a strange year; we welcomed Molly into the world and our family. We lost my precious Granny, after 93 full years. Then suddenly, bona fide tragedy, losing this friend also.

The juxtaposition of the two different griefs, along with the new life--it was too stark to bear sometimes. I missed (still miss) my Granny... but I can think about the last time I laid eyes on her, asleep forever, peacefully in her bed, after almost a century of life on this earth, and I can grieve with a peaceful heart. With thankfulness.

With the other...it has just simply taken my breath away. At thirty years old, my childhood has (obviously) been completed, with plenty of time for reflection, and thus the Important Memories have risen to the surface to possess always. For a bulk of my formative teenage years, in those memories that have risen to the top, so.freaking.many of them are with her, around her. Being such a magnet of a personality, she was a party in and of herself.

We took years of French together (and even made a summer trip, just the two of us, to Nice, France to study and live with a family there). My French classroom name was Lise, her Juliette. Yes, my firecracker/shining star of a friend sparked my love of the name. A namesake for my firstborn, in a way.

Adulthood led us in different daily directions. But the weight of her impact on my life supersedes how often we were getting together for lunch at the time of her death. I simply miss her, and think of her in a state of disbelief that the world no longer has her in it.

They say time heals all wounds. But this...for all of us who knew her, we will likely carry these scars of grief always. I've learned more about grief over the past year than the in the 29 years preceding. But I do remain enormously thankful for the myriad happy memories that go along with that electric smile.


miss you, kelly
xo
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