Monday, April 16, 2018

I love....

I love.... my people. The warmth of sunshine on my skin. Stress Away oil. The crisp turning of pages in a new book.  The din of people on the train. Dogs. Always dogs. The hum of the sewing machine. Strong hugs. The way really amazing sushi kind of melts in your mouth. Clean sheets. Babies. Good chocolate. Acts of kindness. Kids laughter. Manicures. Hot stone massages. Mimosas. The feeling I get right after a cardio workout. EOS chapstick. Monograms. Watching snow coat the trees. Hydrangeas. Peonies. Long necklaces. Creating. Sand between my toes. Billy Joel. Crab cakes. Cake with lots of frosting. Buffalo. Freedom. Waking up next to my husband. Leadership. Books that make me think. The way new books smell. Baby snuggles. Sunshine. Sore muscles after a great workout. Writing. Fabric. Peppermint oil on my temples. The smell of clean laundry. How my son loves to cuddle. New shoes. Target trips sans kiddos. And that dollar section. New markers. Butter and sugar creamed together. Naps. Decorating magazines. The West Wing. Lobster rolls. Cherry pie. Apple picking. Good quotes. Hikes in the woods. Long talks with good friends. A cup of tea. Compassionate honesty. Clean laundry. Cherry blossoms. Rain boots. DIY projects. Organization. Holding hands.

Monday, March 26, 2018

On Motherhood (Part 1)

My son is four years old. Lately he is more whiny, territorial (primarily with his sister), and quicker to throw a temper tantrum. Last night he kind of lost it and ended up in his room until he could be calmer. I'm guessing this is four? That's what I've heard at least. My least favorite part of it is the "I don't like my sister" part. Because ugh. Yet, he can be ultra cuddly and delightful. That's God's wicked sense of humor right? Keep them driving you nuts right up until they need to kill you with love.
I've known I've wanted kids since I was a kid myself. I love children, always enjoyed babysitting, and believed motherhood would be rewarding and fun. And it is. But it's also a struggle. Friday it made me cry. To be fair, I was hormonal. And the kids weren't getting along. And I slipped down a hill and got dirt all over my pants, my sweatshirt and through to my underwear. (I don't do things halfway!) Thank goodness of the camaraderie of mom friends. And unlimited texting because my friend got quite a few messages.

More than anything, I want to meet my kids where they are. I want to be a calming force when they get upset. I want to help them to address all of those emotions they are feeling and unable to process. Because that's my job. I'm big. I've had a lot of time to learn stress management. I've had time to grow and develop coping mechanisms. But it's a definite challenge some days. My father was a yeller. And one of the things I don't want to be is a yeller like that. I don't want my kids to have those memories. So I'm constantly adjusting my attitude to remember to be calm.

Motherhood is tough. But it's a challenge I love.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Apricot Glazed Chicken Quinoa

I still had two packets of the boil in a bag quinoa left from my Influenster VoxBox and was itching to try something else. This time I decided to add some chicken as I know the husband is always happier with a little meat. I wanted a more Asian feel to the dish this time and figured the apricot soy sauce I love would give a nice flavor to the dish.

2 chicken breasts, cubed
2 cups vegetable broth
10 spears of asparagus
1 cup quinoa
1/4 of a cup carrots, sliced
1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger (I used a paste)

In a large skillet cook the chicken. Empty and set aside. In the same skillet add broth, quinoa, asparagus, and carrots. Simmer for about 16 minutes stirring regularly. Check the vegetables at the 15-16 minute mark to see if they are getting tender. If they are close, add chicken back in and continue stirring for 3-4 minutes.

In a separate pot, add apricot preserves, soy sauce, and ginger. Simmer over low heat until sauce is a bit runny and warm.

Dish chicken and quinoa mixture into a low bowl. Add some of the apricot glaze over the top and serve. Altogether, this should make about 4 servings.

I hope you enjoy this. I love inventing dishes. Rarely do I follow a recipe exactly (except baking because that's kind of necessary!), This dinner was only different in that no recipe inspired it. Rather, I just combined things and hoped for the best. It turned out delicious and is definitely something we'd repeat. And, if you make it I hope you'll come back and tell me what you liked or didn't like! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Shrinking Rabbit Population

One of the many blessings of my mom moving closer to us is that one day a week she comes to spend some time with the kids so I can have a little free time. In the recent past, I've used it to embroidery kiddo names on bunny ears for my Easter customers.
 These were such a joy to do.  Honestly, it's an honor to be part of someone's holiday in some way. And the majority of my customers were thrilled with the final product.
Today, I mailed the last ones out!! My bunnies have traveled to New York, Virginia, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Massachusetts, Kansas, California, Illinois, and North Carolina in addition to a number of them in the immediate vicinity to me. A big thank you to everyone who trusted me!
So, with those done I did a few quick little projects. I worked on a few key chains just for fun, I have two orders outstanding - a bib and an elephant - in addition to a bunny for my son but I knew my pocket of time wasn't too long and I should do a few faster things. Plus, I love key chains. They are simple, fun, and practical.
It was a good little crafting getaway during my mom's visit. And she stayed for dinner (new recipe to come!!) and helped me a bit with cooking. It's truly wonderful having her close by, not just for me but for my kids. We're so blessed with her company and health.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Southwest Quinoa

Do you ever have so much to say and just not enough time to actually put the proverbial pen to paper? (Because let's admit, I'm more apt to type it!) I've got a lot of notes accumulated in my phone and I'm hoping to share them soon. Writing in therapeutic for me and I always hope my words resonate with someone.

Until then, I am going to share a few fun things. First off, our recipe from dinner tonight. I received a package of boil in bag quinoa from Influenster and decided to make a southwest dish. 

I tablespoon olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth
1 small onion
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 can of corn
1 clove garlic
1 cup quinoa (we used two boil in bags from Success)
cilantro to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

In a large skillet, add the oil, onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is tender, about 2 minutes. Add in the vegetable broth, quinoa and corn and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add salt, pepper, cilantro, beans, and tomatoes and chili powder. Allow to simmer another 5 minutes or so. Serve in a bowl and enjoy! Just don't serve to my toddler - he's not a fan.

4 servings total

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Can I Escape Perfectionism? Doubtful.

 I don't know about you but I can be a bit of a perfectionist. I love crafting but am always a bit disappointed in myself when something is just a wee bit off. Yes, I try to subscribe to the quilters adage about the only perfect things being created by God. But it's a struggle sometimes. So when I embroidered this tote bag I was a little frustrated that after lining things up and double checking, the S still looks crooked. Then I saw the embroidery pattern in my Etsy account. I didn't make a mistake. It is crooked by design!! I don't know if I have relief (I have relief) or too much concern with having everything close to perfect. Anyway, I'm pretty excited to add these bags to my list of order options. I'll be sharing order opportunities on our Facebook page soon.
I have also been working on these valentine envelopes. I picked up a bunch of them the other day to test them out and I have to admit, I'm pretty obsessed. I love creating something a little personalized for my kiddos. I'm planning to send the boy's valentines to school in the pouch.

Side story: Got the coolest valentines in the dollar spot at Target today! They are those sticky stretchy monkeys on cards saying "I'm bananas for you".

I made one for the girl too. I'm thinking of doing something fun on Valentine's Day morning for the kids..... just need to figure out what. I might make some for the grandmothers too so we can put drawings inside.
If you're interested, I'm taking orders. Hit me up.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hostess Gifting

I've been in full on holiday prep. I have made a few of our gifts and have finished Christmas pajamas for the kids. (The hubs and I don't match them. I'm pretty sure he'd revolt if I asked him to!) Now to decorate our tree, plan our big meals, and get gifts wrapped. I can't believe it's almost here!

One of the things I've been thinking about a lot has been holiday hostess gifts. We don't have a ton of parties but I recently saw a Facebook post asking for ideas and it's continued bouncing around in my head. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

  • Homemade scrub in a mason jar. I got some brown sugar scrub as a gift and love it. It smells good and makes my feet so much smoother. I also recently made a sugar scrub for my face with white sugar and coconut oil. Put these in a cute little mason jar with ribbon around the top and throw it in a gift bag = super easy and a nice little pampering gift for your hostess. 
  • Holiday hand towels. This set or this one from Target is cute and would be lovely to receive.  And they are under $5! Plus you know you'll be in Target anyway!
  • Always, a bottle of wine. I like Salmon Run wines and I'll never say no to a Gewurztraminer. Dr. Frank's is my favorite.
  • A holiday table runner. My holiday gift for my son's teachers are Target dollar bin table runners that I appliqued Christmas trees on to. It's (almost - he's got two teachers) one of a kind and looks like it cost more than $3. Shop at craft fairs or again check out Target's selection. 
  • A candle. When I first met my mother-in-law, I brought her a candle with the cutest mini chalkboard on top with "thank you" written on it. It was small, she didn't need to open it right away, and it was practical. This one is a pretty option.
  • A tree ornament. If you have an inside joke or share a common love for something, find an ornament that reflects that and gift that to your hostess. Every time she sees it, she'll think of you!
  • Notecards. I love writing notes and always welcome a new set of notecards, especially when they are a high quality paper. 
  • For a friend who is still a kid at heart, one of the under $10 lego sets is such a fun idea. Again, put it in a gift bag for them to open later. Include a little note about wanting them to have some fun post party. 
What are some of your favorite hostess gifts?

Friday, September 8, 2017


I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea – and the practice – of team work lately. Having worked in student affairs for 15+ years, I think I took it for granted that people generally knew how to develop a team. Sure, we all had student affairs bosses that didn’t work to create a team. But those were more the exception than the rule.

Now, I do a bunch of smaller things. And although the policies and practices highlight a “team”, that’s not truly actualized. It’s not to say that some people aren’t doing it. I’m certain they are, as some people just have that skillset and desire. But generally, it doesn’t seem to be a priority. There aren’t rewards for cohesion. There isn’t training on developing a team atmosphere amongst the people you recruit into an organization.

I’m a firm believer in the need to build trust and teamwork, especially between hierarchal “officers” in an organization. You need to believe in the people above you. You need to know they are invested in you. As a manager or leader, you need to invest in, support, and challenge those below you. Ideally, as a manager or leader, you’ll work to ensure your supervisees know each other and can support and challenge each other. That can be difficult - but is not impossible – when you are decentralized.

How do we reward teamwork? How do we clearly identify teams that are working cooperatively and are invested in each other? How can we better train teams – especially in part time or volunteer roles – to challenge and support each other? What guidance and rewards do we give to a team leader who goes out of their way to build a supportive, cohesive team?

I do know that every time I’ve been in a non-functioning team or with a leader who is unable, either though desire, time, or skill, to develop a proper team I have learned a little bit more of what not to do. I know I love bringing people together to talk about their strengths, goals, and how they can work collectively. I know that leadership means regularly checking in, questioning, and committing to helping others advance.

I’m so grateful for my time in student affairs, as it let me work with others to develop teams. It allowed me the opportunity to serve as a part of strong, functioning, involved teams. It taught me teambuilding – how to bring people together. I hope I can impart that gift for others.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Being an Ally

Let's talk for a minute about allyship. (Yeah, I'm creating words - sue me.) I've been thinking a lot over the last few months - and especially these last few days - on how I can be a better, more vocal ally.

Being an ally - by definition - means "to unite or form a connection or relation between". Generally I'm pretty open and accepting with people who might be a different race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation than me. I've probably grown the most in my allyship (see, it's a word now. I've used it twice!) with those who identify as LGBTQ. I have a number of people I care deeply about who identify as LGBT and I see no reason they should be treated differently from me due to one part of who they are. The area where I've identified needing continual growth has been my allyship with those who identify as black. Not because I don't sympathize or have people I care deeply for who identify as such. But I haven't been as outspoken as I could be. I need to use my white privilege to challenge racial bias.

There are a few things I'm committed to doing in the next few months to be a better ally.
  1. I will talk with the director at my son's school about adding more diversity in toys and curriculum. I'd love to bring in a preschool entertainer who can talk about race and acceptance. 
  2. If I hear something at the booth next to me or in line at the store, I will find a way to say something. I'll be polite but direct. This will role model for my kids how we stand up for others and value diversity.   
  3. I will make the time to read at least one book that will enhance my understanding or ability to be an ally. (Recommendations? Leave them in the comments PLEASE!!)
  4. I will do at least one fundraiser for the ACLU. This is already in progress. If you're interested in helping, shop here. I'm hoping to do another in the future!
I've really struggled with being able to do all that I want while balancing being a wife, mother, crafter, and small business owner. But now is when we need to step up. My kids are watching. We can't allow those who don't value the mosaic of our country to win.

Monday, August 14, 2017

When Hate Visited Charlotteville

I stood in Panera on Saturday reading the news out of Charlottesville on my phone, on the edge of tears. Tears for my country. Tears for my friends who are brown and black who live each day worrying about what their countrymen might do to them. Tears for those soldiers of color who fight for the right of those white supremacists to protest. As if they really have a legitimate right to protest things being a little more equal. 

I never fail to be astounded by the awfulness of some people. People who fail to see humanity. People who fail to see the gifts black, brown, native, and others have given to our country and world. Music, science, social justice, sports, math and other areas advanced by the sharing of those gifts. 
Retrieved from Google 8/14/17

More than anything I want my kids to see people for who they are. Yes they will see color but that is a small part of what makes a person tick. I was them to see the content of someone's character, to see equality, to embrace differences, to lead by example. 

Although I care deeply for social justice, I also acknowledge I still have a lot to learn. The best way for me to make an impact right now is to listen. To not be defensive but to truly hear. To call out judgement and prejudice when I can - in both myself and others. To go beyond tolerance to love. 

Events like Charlottesville keep happening. And they will continue to happen until We the People stand up and challenge them. 

As white people we've sat back for too long. We may acknowledge the problem but have not been willing to be embrace discomfort enough to be part of the solution. It's not up to our black and brown brothers and sisters to solve this hate and discrimination. If it were that easy we'd truly live in a post racial society. No, it's on us. Let's wipe away our tears and our shock over what happened, roll up our sleeves, listen to our black and brown peers, and start working.