Books with Short Chapters

Dear readers, if you’ve been sitting around, wondering why a reading post didn’t go up on the 28th (because you know that’s when they go up, right?), I have to tell you the honest-to-goodness reason. I read nothing in September. Nada. That is so shameful for me. I cracked the cover of The Nightingale, which is on loan from a friend,* and I couldn’t get going with it. And here’s the thing. I’ve been in this too long enough to know it’s not the book in this case. It’s me. I have a dumb game I play on my phone at night while I watch Gilmore Girls. It’s such a mindless habit and I am in. Deep. It’s a hard cycle to break, the post-dinner mindless couch time. A first world problem of the highest order. Whenever I find myself in a reading rut, I reach for books with short chapters. Here’s what I’ve been working on lately.

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Read Bottom Up, by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham – I caught this on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Daily Kindle Deals email, and it sounded appealing. I checked out the reviews, and I liked the premise. I swear I read that the authors wrote this book exactly as it’s published – in real time email and text exchanges (though now I can’t find where I read it). It’s so light-hearted and fun; such a quick one to pick up and put down during small chunks of free time

One More Thing, by BJ Novak – Oh, how I love The Office, so I knew this would be a must read. This is BJ Novak’s collection of short stories, and while some fell flat for me, I was surprised at how funny I found some of the others.

Dear Fahrenheit 451, by Annie Spence – The author is a librarian, and she’s writing to her favorite, least favorite books, and everything in between. There’s a letter to Forever, because who doesn’t remember reading that book in a corner, mouth agape? There’s one to a cookbook about dieting for one (cracked me up), and her letter to the children’s section in the public library left me weeping in bed. It’s beautiful.

*I am the worst at reading books on loan from friends. AGOMYR, I know I have like 4 of your books right now, I promise I’ll read them soon! Maybe! Or just return them and buy copies for myself.

Meals This Week

Dear readers, I can’t promise I’ll share my meal plan every week, but I’m hoping that I can pop in now and again when I have it together to have one. This series was my fave, and I think a lot of you liked it too. Hopefully, seeing some real life solutions to the “What’s for dinner?” conundrum that strikes all of us from time to time will be a continued help.

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(RIP my beloved Pottery Barn meal organizer. You lived on our wall till we realized there was just no perfect spot for you anymore. I’ll miss you dearly.)

Monday – No time for grocery shopping this weekend. Thank heavens I’ve got two pot pies still in the freezer from a local market I visit every time I am in Pennsylvania. Pot pie for dinner! Meat, veggies and starch all in one dish. Pre-made food that only needs reheating. What could be better?

Tuesday – My husband is out at a meeting and I’ve got leftover pepperoni gravy to use up.

Wednesday – My husband is at a work event, which likely means avocado toast with Everything But the Bagel seasoning because it is the best, and enough of a dinner for me.

Thursday – We will be gone for the weekend, so Thursday dinner was a tricky one. We’re both home, but I don’t want to create too much mess or too many leftovers. I looked in the pantry and discovered some no-boil lasagna noodles. With some ground beef defrosted, I’ll make a quick lasagna that will feed us Thursday, and upon our return later in the weekend.

That’s it for this short week, dear readers! Thanks for playing along with our week in meals. More soon!

My Take on Emotional Work

Confession time. When I ran yesterday’s post with my favorite links, there was one I didn’t share. It’s this, via Shutterbean (best lists on the Internet, IMO), about emotional (or mental) work.

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Ah, there it is again. We’ve seen it before in this post, and this book (which I wrote about here and Everyday Reading just posted about here). Lemon Stripes just ran a post on emotional work today, too, which I found just before I posted this! Everyone is talking about it. What many women have been feeling bogged down by for so long finally has a NAME. And if it has a name then it helps us start having more productive conversations with the people we need to talk to about it. We do a lot of emotional work. Here is some of mine. (Please read this as a statement of facts, not as complaints.)

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In our household, I

  • Respond to invitations
  • Make sure we visit each of our families
  • Make the travel arrangements to make that happen
  • Order all supplies for the house (cleaning products, diapers, lightbulbs, lawn bags, batteries, etc. And there is so much etc.)
  • Meal plan
  • Grocery shop
  • Go through the mail and pay all the bills
  • Pick up and dropping off the dry cleaning
  • Do the laundry when the hamper is full, when the towels start to smell, or when I can’t remember that last time I changed the sheets
  • Schedule doctors appointments (yes, for all 3 of us)
  • Buy clothes (yes, for all 3 of us)
  • Make sure our cars have their oil changed, and get serviced when need be

Here is one thing. I am no one’s paid employee. I am a stay at home mom, and often the one closest in proximity to all these tasks. That doesn’t make any of them any more fun or exciting, but it does often make me the default person when it comes to executing.

But here is the other thing. I do a LOT of these tasks because I’d rather do them my way. I read and loved this from Erin Loechner earlier in the year.  Erin’s post is about what we’re doing for ourselves and ourselves alone. Because here’s where this all gets tricky. You or I could absolutely delegate some of our mental work. But we’d have to be a billion percent willing to let it go. Let it go. Turn away and slam the door. The tasks we delegate would not be done the same way we would do them. Nor would they be done on our timelines. Because if we’re truly giving them up, we’re no longer talking about ourselves anymore.

Dear readers, this feels like a lot of rambling. I guess what I’m saying is that I do like the subject matter these posts have brought to light. But I don’t like all these blog posts being like, hey ladies, isn’t THIS exactly how you feel? Are YOU managing all the mental work in your house? You should probably yell at your spouse tonight. (Okay, that last part is more implied.) Read the posts for yourselves. Think deeply and critically about the way your household runs. And then make choices for yourself.

IMPORTANT PS – The very first person who ever introduced me to glimmers of this concept was Gretchen Rubin, in a book I love beyond most others, The Happiness Project. Gretchen is vehemently against nagging. She’s got lots to say about the topic here, here, and here.

The Best Stuff on the Internet

Sharing some of my favorite recent links today, dear readers. Enjoy!

triple layer chocolate chip cookie cake.

(This is the most beautiful chocolate chip cakechocolate chip cake.)

As we make more and more friends with young kids, I’m learning that it’s almost innate for some parents to compare what their kids are doing and what yours are. When I saw this post via Brown Eyed Baker, I teared up. This is what all kids and parents should know. Let’s work on these. We’ve got a long way to go.

I’m not crying, you’re crying. If you need a laugh, try this. I’ve watched it about 8000 times. (Also, it kind of reminded me of this, which is not humorous, nor incredibly appealing to many of you, but was interesting to me.)

Whenever Janssen rounds up kids’ books, I’m listening. I can’t wait to pore over her list of I-Spy books. I put The Odd One Out on my Christmas list, and yes, it’s early October, and I said Christmas. Not sorry.

Joy the Baker shared a recipe for Detroit Style Pizza. I didn’t know that was a thing, but I do know pizza and salad is one of my favorite combinations, and this looks like a great, easy weeknight dinner if you make it on French Bread instead of making your own dough. Sign me up.

Backing up my iPhone. Ugh! I haven’t done it since I got a replacement phone a while back. It’s on that list of to-do’s that are necessary, but not urgent, so it doesn’t get done, and it doesn’t get done, and if I lose all my photos of Goop I’m going to cry. I need to get on it!

Mondays, Am I Right?

Dear readers, so far Monday is kicking me in the pants. I had a meeting this morning, and Gooplet went and woke up even earlier than usual, throwing off our morning mojo. I said I’d bring coffee to the other two folks I was meeting with, and ended up spilling half of it down my sweatshirt and jeans before I arrived. Oof!

Looking for a bright and colorful way to display your favorite trinkets? Try making this easy Rainbow Ledge DIY to give any room a pop of color!

This is your reminder that Shutterbean’s Intentions for the Week posts are the all time best, and if you read the comments, you’ll see I’ve got a call with a home organizer to schedule. Here’s to being more functional and less hot mess.

(And I’m currently obsessed with all things rainbow, especially when it comes to our basement. This image is from Land of Nod, but I can’t recreate it because the green bar is sold out! What’s a girl to do?)

 

What Do You Do All Day?

Without a doubt, some of my favorite blog posts are typical day, or day in the life posts. Dear readers, yesterday, I took a lot of notes as I went through life, and I finally have an answer to “What do you do all day?” Or at least, “What did you do yesterday?” See below.

?: This is it. I hear Gooplet babbling in his crib, and I never have any idea whether it’s 4:45 or 7:00. Wait for it. Eyes open. 5:23. Ugh, too early. Begin mental adjustment of plans for the day based on a way too early wakeup.

5:30 – My husband gets out of bed to start showering and getting ready, while Gooplet continues to babble and I drift in and out of sleep for as long as I still can.

6:15 – The babbling has turned to whining, my husband is done, so I quickly jump in the shower, and he gets the young master.

6:18 – Someone has come storming into the bathroom in a fit of rage that a) I was not the one who greeted him, and b) he needs a new diaper. I finish shaving my legs with a chorus of howls right in front of me.

6:25 – My husband decides if he’s wailing anyway, we might as well go for that diaper. I hurriedly get dressed so that I’m ready when Gooplet is.

6:27 – Snuggles on the chair in Gooplet’s room while we all recover from the last 15 minutes of our lives. Wander downstairs for breakfast. Cereal for me and my husband, oatmeal for Goop. (He barely touches it, which is weird because he loves oatmeal.)

7:03 – Upstairs to brush our teeth. Despite my thinking that it could be a challenge to get out the door for an 8:00 a.m. dentist appointment, we’ve got gobs of time. Commence family time in our room with toys and hairbrushes (Goop loves them) and running around throwing the light up balls that CV(D) got him.

7:40 – My husband leaves for the dentist. At some point in time there was another tantrum about something so I suggest TV, because there is only so much a person who has been up since 5:23 can take. Gooplet goes back in his chair and we try again with the oatmeal. I open a million canned goods, and put dinner in the slow cooker. Then it’s time to leave.

8:05 – We start getting ready to go, load up bags and buckle car seats. Set off in the car, and I realize I forgot the checkbook. Begin internal debate. Do I beg forgiveness and ask the dentist to bill me, or turn around? We have the time so I turn around, grab the checkbook and run back to the car.

8:45 – Time to get my teeth cleaned. This is one of my least favorite things in the world. Gooplet, of course, shows no signs of being miserable earlier in the morning, and charms the pants off the dental staff. He walks out with a toothbrush, toothpaste, a blown up glove balloon, and a prize from the prize box. I walk out with a clean bill of health and call it good enough. Kiss the husband goodbye and he’s off to work.

9:20 – Coffee. Oh my gracious, how has there been none of that yet today? Venti iced vanilla latte for me and a banana for the wee one. We eat outside at a table away from the masses, and it is a lovely morning, and for approximately 8 minutes, there is peace.

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9:40 – Realize that if we make a quick stop at the bank, we will be right by Crate and Barrel when it opens, and can test out sofas. Also realize with a kid who’s been up too long already, I’m pushing my luck. But what’s motherhood if not a giant risk that your kid will lose it when you’re in public? We go for it, and it’s all (even the diaper change in the back of the car) a rip roaring success. I take pictures of sofas and measurements, and Gooplet gets a chance to peek through a hole right at his level that allows him to watch the construction trucks next door. Win-win!

10:50 – We arrive at home and commence playing outside in the sandbox and on the slide. Until Goop hears the sweet song of a truck backing up and we rush to see what is happening in the front yard. After this it’s time to get serious about lunch. After all, there was very little breakfast happening in the morning.

11:30 – As Gooplet grows increasingly tired, he also has lots of opinions about lunch and where it can be best enjoyed. He starts crying and the next 3 or so minutes sound like this, “Broccoli, no broccoli, no no no, broccoli, no broccoli.” Dear readers, I literally set the container of broccoli on the floor and walk away, hoping that he’ll figure his life out and come eat soon enough. It works! I put some Goldfish in another dish. This is not the lunch of my dreams, but he is eating, and hopefully this means he will not wake up hungry from the nap he will take soon. Soon? I hope it’s soon. He later discovers we have clementines and eats two before I cut him off. That’s enough with the fruit, son. You’re bound to go crazy with it again in the afternoon.

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11:45 – Seems like he’s slowing down on the lunch front. I put a pot of water on for myself (hello, my favorite garlic noodles), and remember that I started a load of laundry in the morning. We go down to the basement and Gooplet helps me push the buttons to start the dryer, then we measure the width of some of the sofas I liked at Crate and Barrel. There is some dancing to Moana in there too, and a couple trips upstairs so I can keep my noodles going. When they’re done, I cover them with the lid, and run back down. Gooplet grabs books and comes to sit on my lap. After a couple rounds of Where is Baby’s Beach Ball, Llama Llama Red Pajama, and Olivia, he says, “Sleepy.” It’s already way later than he should have been sleeping, but somehow we haven’t gotten him upstairs yet.

12:15 – I change Goop’s diaper, and we read two more stories. There is a crisis moment in which he absolutely does not want his light turned off. I amazingly manage to have another internal worry sesh that he’s afraid of the dark, and it’s going to ruin all of our lives, but I insist the light must be turned off, sing to him, and deposit him safely into his crib. He whines, but seems to be over the whole light thing.

12:30 – I come downstairs for noodles, and to write the morning half of this post. Finish my lunch and it’s time to take the sheets of the bed, get them in the wash, put new sheets on the bed, fold the newly dry clothes, send a couple of emails, and re-measure the basement for the couches with proper (read: child-free) time to agonize about what we want down there. Then I remember I need to order a gift for a 2nd birthday party Gooplet has coming up.

2:30 – Gooplet is up! He never naps this well – it’s a good day. He asks for a pouch and a clementine and I happily oblige. Then he promptly flips out for the next 15 minutes, and I snap my mom friends: I thought meltdowns happened when kids didn’t get what they want. He is inconsolable, and I resort to screentime. That calms him down, he eats his snack, we move on with life.

3:45 – Some Thursdays I have a mother’s helper who comes to entertain Gooplet while I attempt to get things done. He’s not exactly excited because he thinks I’m about to leave. I’m not leaving, Goop! They “paint” with a bucket of water and paintbrushes (or “toothbrushes,” as he calls them) outside, set up a pretend grocery store inside, and read books in the basement while I fold laundry and open the computer. I absolutely cannot open the computer when Gooplet is around because he will come bang on ALL THE KEYS.

5:15 – At 5:15 we take our mother’s helper home, and chat with her and her mom for a little while. We leave at 5:45 to start thinking about dinner.

6:00 – We don’t have to think about dinner because it’s been in the slow cooker all day. At this point, my husband is home and we all dance to “Moana,” while I simultaneously shred the chicken to pieces. Gooplet eats a bowl of chili and we start in on all the dishes of the day. It is astounding just how many dishes collect in a sink when your kid eats out of little bowls and Tupperware containers. We can barely stay on top of it all.

6:30 – Gooplet doesn’t need a bath so we go down to the basement. I think it’s possible to show my husband the couch measurements with Gooplet underfoot, and LOL, it is not. So we hang around until he starts yawning and rubbing his eyes around 7:00. In my dreams, my husband will put him to bed, but my dreams are not reality right now. Last weekend I was away for two nights, and since I’ve been back, I’m all he wants at bedtime. Tonight we manage a compromise, both Mommy and Daddy will put him to bed.

7:15 – By this time, Gooplet is working on falling asleep and I’m wolfing two slices of avocado toast because I’ve got to run to Ali’s to pick up a double stroller before the next day, when we’ll start watching Gooplet’s little friend for the weekend. The best news is my husband has buckets of work to do, Ali’s husband is at basketball, and there is a bottle of wine with our names on it. We hadn’t seen each other all week, so it was good to catch up and gossip.

10:00 – I leave Ali’s house, head home, and get in bed.

 

What Do You Want to Know?

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While I take this Monday to try to climb back into real life after a wonderful whirlwind wedding weekend for Sous Chef Lauren, I figure I’ll let you guys boss me around a little. What questions do you have for me? They can be food-related, or not, ask anything! Let me know in the comments and I’ll pull my answers together soon.

On Podcasts

A quick search on this blog tells me I have never dedicated an entire post to podcasts. That seems impossible. (I did write one for my sorority’s blog; find it here.) I am a huge podcast listener. So here we are, at A Glass of Milk’s inaugural podcast post. I have two suggestions for you, dear readers, and a whole lotta podcasts I love. Ready?

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(In my head this image is totally the kind of place where someone would sit down to record an episode, no?0

Suggestion 1: Don’t Listen to the First Episode

If you’re starting a podcast that’s been going on for years, don’t start with the first episode (unless they’re meant to be listened to in order). Sounds crazy, but much like TV shows, podcasts can sometimes take a couple episodes to find their groove. What you hear in the first episode may not be indicative of where the podcast is now. Pick and choose a couple of episodes to download, and if you like the gist of those, by all means, go forth and listen in whatever order you deem logical.

Suggestion 2: Don’t (Only) Listen to the Episodes that Sound Good

Here is something I heard on a podcast that I should have known all along: you’ll get more out of listening to episodes you might not think to try at first. For example: in listening to The Slow Home Podcast (see below) I am going to gravitate toward anything about decluttering and/or time management, but in many cases, I’ll be getting new tidbits of information mixed in with principles I already know and understand. But if I try out new episodes, I could be opening my eyes (ears?) to something completely new and exciting.

Longtime Faves:

Podcasts I’m Trying:

 

 

Renovation Tips and Tricks

Dear readers, I’ve got houses on the brain. This past weekend I got a sneak peek at Sous Chef Lauren’s new (and newly decorated) house, and we’re almost to the finish line of our basement renovation here at La Moneda. Wooden Nickels asked if I think I’m finished making big changes at our house for a little while, and while there is something my husband and I want to do to this place in the long run, it’s not likely to happen until preschool tuition payments are a thing of the past. Just gives me more time to plan and save and dream. If you’re thinking of renovating, dear readers, I strongly encourage you to do it. Here are my words of wisdom, even though you didn’t ask.

biiiig.

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Bite the bullet: If you’re thinking of an improvement, big or small, and you have the funds to make it happen, do it! There isn’t going to be a convenient time, and you might have to live with your in-laws for a year, and the front door slamming open and closed 85 times a day might cut nap time short once or twice, but do it anyway. If you have a vision, or an idea you stole from Pinterest or HGTV, and you’re excited about it, make it happen!

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(Even if you won’t be in your house forever): As I said above, there are always reasons not to make a big change to your house, and it not being your “forever house,” is certainly at the top of the list. But a couple of thoughts on that. One, I can’t tell you how many people in my very own neighborhood have told me, “We thought we wouldn’t be here for so long, but…….” insert any number of job/school/life-related reasons here. We all think we know where we’ll settle down and sometimes life happens and we end up somewhere else. And also, your happiness is worth it. If there is something you want to do to change a space, and it will bring you happiness to see it completed, you should do it. Even if you’re only in that space for six months, or a year, or five years, if seeing a change would make you remarkably happier, make the change.

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Work with someone you love: We’ve always been happier with our renovations when we’ve had a great relationship with our contractor. The man who was in charge of our first big addition had a great sense of humor, and we loved chatting with him. I baked him chocolate chip cookies when he was working in the snow, and never felt silly asking him questions or sharing things I was worried about. Similarly, one of his subcontractors still does handyman work for us because we love him just as much. When we were planning our kitchen, we had two estimates, and though we loved the woman behind one of them, we ended up going with someone who gave us a lower quote. Dear readers, one of my biggest regrets in life is not going with the pricier kitchen company, because we got what we paid for when it came to customer service on that less expensive quote. I wish we had spent more (it’s wasn’t like it would have doubled the cost), and gone with the person behind the steeper numbers.

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Have patience: It’s not news that no matter how much you love your contractor, the renovation process will take longer than he or she lets on in the beginning. But patience remains important as you fill whatever space you’ve just designed. What we’ve found, being in what we are almost certain is our forever home, is that when you’ve designed a space exactly how you want it, you’ve got to show some judgement when it comes to filling the space. When I was in an apartment, and when we owned our first home (aw, #tbt to Casa Glass of Milk), there were times we bought things on the cheap, to fill a need quickly. Those things do not have a place in the forever house, at least not parts of it that are renovated exactly how you want. I’d rather live with a light bulb hanging from the wall until we find the perfect fixture, than slap something up quickly, and let it be just okay for way too long.

What’s New

It has been forever since I added another list to the internet, dear readers, so after way too long, today is the day. Here’s what’s new with me. Tell me what’s new with you in the comments.

  1. Are you even kidding me with this glass of milk Land of Nod bedding? I need it, and plan on purchasing as soon as we figure out which furniture goes where, post-basement renovation.
  2. I watched the Emmys last weekend. I wasn’t going to because I typically love the Golden Globes and the Oscars so much more, and I was tired, but dear readers, the show was awesome. Great outfits, speeches, winners, and the cherry on top was that it opened in song (as obviously all awards shows should).
  3. I spent the night away from Gooplet for the first time last weekend too, and I’ve got two more nights away in the near future. It should have felt amazing, and in many ways it was, but mostly, I just like when our little family of three is under the same roof. I am so out of sorts when we’re not. So curious to see if this feeling changes the more I up and leave.
  4. Speaking of Gooplet, when we collect him from his crib in the morning, he asks where people are. “Daddy? Moo? Coco?” and then he makes his next request, “Mo-ah?” And we proceed to listen to the Moana soundtrack on repeat for the rest of the day. Dear readers, I’m over it.
  5. Queen Cupcake is back on the East Coast, and before too much longer we will have seen each other three times in a month! That’s gotta be a record for us, at least post-2002. We’ve got plans for a November get together, and another a couple months after that. I can hardly contain my excitement.
  6. Will I send you into a pumpkin-spiced panic if I tell you how excited I am for Halloween and Thanksgiving this year? Dying to host the latter since we all know I was still a hot mess of a mom last year, and couldn’t cook my own turkey. I will? Okay, never mind, forget I brought it up.