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.

On Feeding a Toddler

Cari Faye requested a post about what I feed Gooplet so she could get some ideas for her own little one. Dear readers, if you would like to save yourself a lot of time, know this: by and large, Gooplet eats what we eat.

But if you have some time as you coast toward the weekend, read on, with the simple warning that this post is long.

I swore when Gooplet was born that this blog would not turn into a mommy blog, and I think I’ve done a good job with that. But this particular post is venturing dangerously close to mommy-blogger territory. So with it, a disclaimer. This is what I did for my kid. Because I’m his mom. And I know him best. It doesn’t have to be what you do with your kid. You know him best. This is working for us, so I share in hopes it gives you some ideas about what to feed your toddler, should you need them.

IMG_3908.JPG

And the second disclaimer is this: my kid is the worst sleeper who ever lived. The rules that well-meaning bloggers and sleep gurus everywhere list online (and they are largely the same) do not often work for him. I fully embrace that you might be in a similar situation with your child and food. You might have done all the things the internet says to do and still, it’s hot dogs or bust. I get that. It’s nothing you did or didn’t do, just like I know (in my finer moments) I am not the reason my kid is a horrible sleeper. He just is. I get it. I do. I promise.

Phew, that’s out of the way.

IMG_0233.JPG

Now what does Gooplet eat? Like I told you, whatever we do. But of course, it’s more complicated than that. First, let me give you some basics.

  • I try to make sure he eats a balanced diet over the course of the day, rather than meal by meal. Which means there are times when he eats all fruit in a meal, and all carbs at another. If he’s had a lot of milk to drink, we ease up on the cheese and yogurt, but if not, bring on the Stonyfield pouches.*
  • I put a lot of options on his tray, and none of them are ever dessert. If we are out and about, and he spots a cookie, he is going straight for it, and that is great. But at home, I have total control over what he eats, and so graham crackers and Honey Nut Cheerios are about as sweet as we get.
  • Once the options are out, I don’t care what he eats so much as I care that he eats. This is a personal decision. I have one mom friend who serves what she serves and that’s it. And that works for her. And it’s great. I can’t risk my kid waking up because he’s hungry, when he wakes up 800 times at night anyway, so if he’s not eating the two things I put on his tray, I will try something else…
  • ….and then I will put the food he didn’t eat back on his tray the next day. And maybe again in two days. And if he keeps saying no, I will keep putting it in front of him. But I won’t make it a thing if he still isn’t interested.
  • I feed him food I don’t like. Though I’m much less picky than I used to be, I have some serious food preferences. But where my diet may be lacking, his doesn’t have to be. Just because I don’t love blackberries doesn’t mean it’s not worth buying some for him to try.
  • And note to self, come back and post about deconstructed dinners. I am a firm believer in what Dinner a Love Story calls the deconstructed dinner. See Jenny’s takes on them here and here. See my take on them in another post because this one is long enough.

Now let’s get specific.

IMG_2331

Gooplet eats what we eat. But maybe not all of what we eat, and maybe not at the same time. Let me explain.

At some point during our move from single ingredient baby food jars (don’t even talk to me about making your own food) and foods that have texture and multiple ingredients, Gooplet became interested in what my husband and I were eating at each meal. So we just put pieces of it on his tray. Sometimes he went for it, sometimes he didn’t. But he kept showing interest, and even if we thought he wouldn’t like something, we figured, what’s the worst that can happen if we send some his way? (Answers to this question include: he doesn’t touch it at all; he drops it on the floor; he says, “No, no, no.”) And in just over a year of eating solids, Gooplet has gone from loving bananas, to detesting them, to loving them again. From only wanting avocados, to not touching them, to asking for, “More ah-cado.” From eating Chex by the cupful, to a preference for oatmeal for breakfast. From eating whatever meat we share with him, to not touching meat at all right now. But he’s growing, and if it’s anything like bananas and avocados, he’ll come around again. More than I want him to eat any one specific food, or type of food, I want him to continue to see a variety of foods in front of him.

IMG_1571.JPG

Here are our go-tos, meal by meal. Hopefully it’s obvious he doesn’t eat all of these at once, and that there are days, and lots of them, with copious amounts of Goldfish in between meals.

Breakfast: fruit, and lots of it (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, bananas, peaches, pineapple, grapes, you name it), pancakes, toast with peanut butter, cheese, overnight oats, an English muffin with avocado, or if he’s truly lucky and I need something sweet, Nutella, yogurt, lots of green smoothies from a sippy cup with a straw (though I hate cleaning them), egg bakes in which sometimes he goes crazy, and sometimes I pick out the veggies and meat in the egg bakes and he only eats them, toast with peanut butter, and cereal by the handful when we can’t think of anything else.

Lunch: this shouldn’t even be its own category because lunch is whatever little bits of food I have saved in the fridge because he didn’t eat them at breakfast or dinner the night before. I have been known to rip apart a good cheese or turkey slice here, but nothing fancy happens.

Dinner: risotto, any sort of pasta with sauce (sometimes he just eats meat sauce), grilled chicken galore, salads, especially if they are drenched in dressing, green beans, broccoli, tacos and taco-bowl-type situations, mac and cheese (duh), Mediterranean chicken and couscous (yes, the little grains fly everywhere), pretty much anything that has pesto, meatballs, pulled pork, pizza, um, and lately we’ve had a million barbecues and he straight up eats the rolls because he wants nothing to do with hot dogs or hamburgers. Also I can’t stress enough that we eat a ton of chicken around here.

*But if you can find me a flavored yogurt without sugar as the second ingredient, I’ll switch to what you use!

When Something is Better Than Nothing

This concept has come up in my life a couple of times lately, and nothing makes for a better blog post than something that keeps popping up in front of me.

reminder.

(image)

Something is better than nothing must be a cousin of done is better than perfect, as both are mantras I’m working on embracing in my on-going quest to do all the things.

A couple of real life examples from the last 5 minutes (give or take) of my life right now:

  • Even if I am still eating Goldfish by the (massive) handful, eating more fruits and vegetables during the day is better than massive amounts of Goldfish alone.*
  • Even if I am not back at the barre 4 times a week, going when I can make the time is better than sitting on the couch for another episode of Gilmore Girls.
  • Even if I my weekly meal plan has gone off the rails, getting creative with the remnants of the fridge is better than Annie’s mac and cheese for dinner again. Often way better.

*Flavor Blasted Goldfish forever, though.

Pasta Plans

During the summer I visited a local Italian market near my parents’ house. It’s the most wonderful place. The husband and wife owners make pot pies each week that you have to order in advance because they sell out so fast. Whenever I’m in town I get 4. Two to eat right away when I get home, and two for the freezer.

On my last trip, I chatted with one of the owners for a bit, and also ended up buying a bunch of short cut, dried pastas. (That’s a lie – Wooden Nickels treated me. Thanks, Wooden Nickels!) I’m thinking the rigatoni I got will be used for a Boursin cheese, bacon, and pea type of situation, similar to this, but I still haven’t found a night with 20 free minutes to make dinner yet!

salt-as-you-go-pasta

In the meantime, dear readers, I leave you with Bon Appetit’s 19 Easy Pasta Recipes for Emergency Dinners. I’m loving the sound of all of these, but particularly the orzo and pink lady apples one, and the freezer veggies + a chili lime burger!

On Drinking the Kool Aid

When I was little, there were weekend days when Wooden Nickels would declare we kids had to clean our rooms. Ughhhhhhh. I dreaded those days. You never quite knew when one would hit, and while I’m sure she was strategic in planning them, in my (hyperbolic) mind, we were missing out on soooooo many activities that would be a hundred times more fun. FOMO is real, even for an 8 year old.

It was on those days she taught me about pitch-it moods. You know, when you’re looking in your pantry or closet, or that random shoe basket by the door, and you think, this all has to go?

That’s a pitch-it mood.

As I grew older, I would try to go through my room and clean it up on days I was in a pitch-it mood. Those were the days you could make the most headway.

©AlyssaRosenheck2016 for Rue Magazine with The Home Edit and Alyssa Rosenheck

(image)

Dear readers, I don’t know how else to tell you except to say I’ve been in a pitch it mood for about two months now.

I’ve been thinning out the vast collection of crap in my house in the small increments of time made available to me by the whims of my toddler, and the moments my husband can devote to taking care of him.

When your pantry shelves are narrow, pick product that takes advantage of every square inch.

(image)

Without a doubt, I am drinking the decluttering Kool Aid. But here’s the thing. I am drinking it, again and again, every day. Decluttering is not natural to my hoarding tendencies. It feels strange to purge and purge and purge until there is empty space on a shelf. But if Gretchen Rubin is right that “outer order leads to inner calm” (and I totally think that she is), then it’s what I need to do. I need to watch The Minimalists documentary. To read Simplicity Parenting, and of course, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Even if these aren’t things I’m going to dive into in full, I need to keep inundating myself with messages that I don’t need more. I have enough. Here’s what my Kool Aid has consisted of lately:

home edit

(image)

Tracy’s Intentions for the Week posts.

YHL Podcast Episode 45: Why We Got Rid of Half the Toys in Our House

YHL Podcast Episode 60: Game-Changing Organization Tips from the Pros (Those pros are Clea and Joanna from The Home Edit, and all three pictures are their gorgeous work.)

Sorta Awesome Podcast Episode 39: Seeking Rest, Finding Delight

Minimalism (documentary)

Loving My Actual Life, by Alexandra Kuykendall

Emily Ley’s spring cleaning list and simplified challenges.

On Not Doing it All (Again)

On the one hand, it’s a compliment to hear “How do you do it all.” Because having the question directed at you means that the asker believes you do do it all.

I try my hardest to smile sincerely at anyone who asks me that question, but in truth, my gut reaction would be to burst into hysterical laughter. I don’t do it all. I don’t even do half of it. What is it, anyway?

But I do understand where the question comes from, and perhaps I’ve even asked it myself a time or two. I think what we’re really asking when we ask, “How do you do it all?” is How do you do this one thing that I can’t seem to even begin to think about?

IMG_3923.JPG

For me, that thing is often entertaining. And while cleaning up from this week’s Sunday dinner, I realized one way I make entertaining easier for our family.

Last week’s dinner was a big one, with ten guests in attendance. And while I always work to keep the menu as simple and low maintenance as possible, the truth is, cooking for 10 people is a bit of undertaking no matter what you’re making. So one way life looks easier after entertaining is in my leftover game. Dear readers, I’m going to brag for a moment when I tell you that my leftover game is strong. After Sunday Dinners, I take whatever salads we have on hand (which in this case were this and this), add some shredded rotisserie chicken, and call it a complete meal. Fancy it is not, but it’s certainly worth it to avoid another big night of cooking right after having guests.

In Which We Discuss Serving Vessels

While I was reading the best reader comments on Cup of Jo the other day, I loved the one about not putting out enough chairs for your guests when they come over. It makes everyone cozy up and make friends, even if they’re initially feeling a little awkward.

whaaaaaaaaat.

(I can’t even with these pizza fries.)

Which reminded me I read a somewhat similar tip about serving food when you’re entertaining. I’ve completely forgotten the source, but they said to choose containers a bit too small, so that it looks like you have a surplus of whatever you made, as opposed to leaving something in a container with room at the top.

Peach and Prosciutto Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette - Cookie Monster Cooking

(A late summer peach and prosciutto salad is sounding just right.)

Dear readers. This is hysterical because I am notoriously awful at judging how much space there is for something. Filling Tupperware and other such storing and serving vessels is always something I miss the mark on, but I’ve been keeping this tip in mind and trying to plan a little better for our next Sunday Dinner.

Wins of the Summer

A long blog break means we are so behind on celebrating wins of the month. So, wins of the summer are here!

IMG_2777.JPG

  • We went on vacation. And it felt like a vacation!
  • I celebrated a birthday with an amazing cake and some amazing friends.
  • Gooplet and I hit the road and visited Wooden Nickels for her birthday.
  • We started renovations on our basement, which will be finished any day now.
  • We all went to church together without losing our minds in the process (so much harder than it might sound).
  • We kept Sunday dinners going, and loved all the time outside.

 

2017 Reading Challenge, an Update

Dear readers, when I went radio silent for what I thought was a month, but my dear sister-in-law told me was actually two (gasp), I failed to give you my annual mid-year reading update. I wouldn’t want to disappoint. Here is where I am with the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. Nothing is linked because dang, that takes a long time. But my guess is if you found the blog, you can figure out where to find these books.

IMG_3760

A book recommended by a librarian:

A book that’s been on your TBR list too long:

Confessions of a Slacker Wife, by Muffy Mead Ferro

A book of letters:

An audiobook:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by JK Rowling

A book written by a person of color:

The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas

A book with one of seasons in the title:

Summer Rental, by Mary Kay Andrews

A story within a story:

This is How it Always Is, by Laurie Frankel

A book with multiple authors:

The Happiest Kids in the World, by Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison

An espionage thriller:

A book with a cat on the cover:

A book written by an author who uses a pseudonym:

A best seller in a genre you don’t usually read:

A book about a person with disability:

A book involving travel:

My Year of Living Danishly, by Helen Russell

A book with a subtitle:

Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, by Mara Wilson

A book published in 2017:

Windfall, by Jennifer E. Smith

A book involving mythical creature:

Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate (Imaginary friends are mythical, no?)

A book you’ve read before that always makes you smile:

A book about food:

The Wellness Project, by Phoebe Lapine

A book with career advice:

Deconstructing Penguins, by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

A book written from a nonhuman perspective:

A steampunk novel:

A book with a red spine:

Saving Red, by Sonya Sones

A book set in the wilderness:

Orphan Island, by Laurel Snyder

A book you loved as a child:

A book written by an author from a country you’ve never visited:

A book with a title that’s a characters name:

Juniper, by Kelley and Thomas French

A book set during wartime:

The Red Pencil, by Andrea Davis Pinkney

A book with an unreliable narrator:

You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott

A book with pictures:

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon

A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you:

When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon

A book about an interesting woman:

A book set in two time periods:

Towers Falling, by Jewell Parker Rhodes

A book with a month or day of the week in title:

Sabbath in the Suburbs, by Mary Ann McKibben Dana

A book set in a hotel:

Rose Harbor Inn, by Debbie Macomber

A book written by someone you admire:

A book becoming movie in 2017:

A book set around a holiday not Christmas:

The first book in series you haven’t read before:

A book you bought on trip:

A book recommended by an author you love:

A bestseller from 2016:

Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple

A book with a family member term in title:

The Mothers, by Britt Bennett

A book that takes place over a character’s life span:

A book about an immigrant or refugee:

The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon

A book from a genre/sub genre you’ve never heard of:

A book with an eccentric character:

A book that’s more than 800 pages:

A book you got from a used book sale:

The Island House, by Nancy Thayer

A book that’s been mentioned in another book:

A book about a difficult topic:

Columbine, by Dave Cullen

A book based on mythology:

Traveling with Pomegranates, by Sue and Ann Monk Kidd

See my plans about the challenge here.

Want to see the books I read that don’t fit into these categories? Let’s be friends on Goodreads.

 

On Having a Uniform

Dear readers, I had the most gloriously carefree summer, and now my planner is conspiring against me, and staring me in the face with a little smirk. Like, hey girl, remember all the responsibilities and commitments you avoided during the days you could run to the pool every afternoon? They didn’t go anywhere. Oh, and they all need attention. Now.

instagram: @stephens_louisa

UGH!

fall is coming.

At least I have the cutest planner ever. While I figure out how to arrange for childcare, make well-visit appointments at any number of doctors, and get the oil changed for two cars, I’ve decided I’m adopting a fall uniform.

rocking the scarf.

Jeans with cute tops or sweaters.

neutrals.  always.

Yep.

weekend.

Sounds boring, I know, but scrolling through my Pinterest revealed it’s actually the only look I’ve ever pinned for cooler temps. (Warmer temps? Shifts for life.)

anthro top via @Clara Artschwager

The key to making it look less like the same thing I wore every day of middle school and high school, and more like I’m trying is the perfect pair of jeans, of course. I am head over heels in love with AG Jeans, which are found (and $$$) at Anthropologie, but also on my beloved ThredUp. When a good pair pops up in my size, I am super quick to order it.

iloveyousomuch.

Have I ever told you about my obsession with the Olsens? Another time, then. Cheers to not overthinking your wardrobe decisions.