Monday, March 31, 2014

The Third Week Of March In The Garden

Home again, home again, jiggity jog.

How was everyone's weekend?  We decided to stay an extra day at the Rock Farm, so we just got home this afternoon.  I spent three hours in the car on the way home being so car sick I could hardly see straight. We had to stop twice, just so I could get out of the moving vehicle - in fear of puking my brains out in my lap. Which is exactly what Baby did on the way there.  Twice.  Good times, good times.

Anywho, I've got more front yard pics.  Did I mention how much I love this time of year?  These are from the beginning of last week, and I've already got more piling up, so I best be postin' them already.

Look at my rhubarb, isn't he cute?!

Off to find something in the fridge to feed the monsters.
Back to real life in the morning.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Random Thoughts & Tidbits: Part 18

We're ending the kids' Spring Break by heading to the Rock Farm with my parents and my sister's family.  It has rained every day of their vacation, so it's going to be fantastic to get out of the house.

My mom brought this excerpt over one day months and months ago.  I found it again while making my grocery and to-do list for the weekend.  I haven't read the book, but these paragraphs are a good reminder of what matters.  Thought some of you could relate....

"My life contained everything I'd ever wished for -- a loving husband, two beautiful children, a healthy mind and body, and a safe and comfortable home.
Given such desirable circumstances, one would have thought I'd wake up every morning feeling grateful, happy, and content.
But that was not the case.
I woke up feeling the same way I did when I went to bed the night before -- unhappy, annoyed, and irritable.
Mentally, I could acknowledge my life's abundant blessings, but I didn't really see them or feel them because I was too focused on my life's abundant distractions. Too many commitments. Too many screens. Too many self-induced pressures to be all and do all. Too many unachievable standards. Too many to-do's and never enough time.
And when you're overbooked, hurried, and clinging to the electronic device, there's very little time to laugh, rest, play, and simply BE. And that's when the smile on your face tends to disappear.
Although I managed to plaster on a smile in public, my face wore a frown in the privacy of my home. You see, when you are living a highly distracted life, nothing -- not even the beautiful faces of your loving family -- can bring you joy.
The truth hurts but the truth heals... and brings me closer to the parent and person I want to be.
My outward discontent seemed to peak when it was time to leave the house. My children, then ages 4 and 7, knew I got a little crazy when I was trying to get everyone ready and out the door. My older daughter tried to help any way she could. Of course, her attempts to help made it take longer and were never good enough. I didn't try to hide my exasperation or annoyance.
I vividly remember getting in the car after one stressful departure. I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw my daughter picking her top lip nervously. As she pinched that tiny piece of fragile skin on her upper lip with wide eyes, I swear I could read her mind:
Mommy's mad.
Mommy's tired.
Mommy's stressed.
But there was more. I could practically hear how a young child would interpret her mother's unhappiness.
Mommy's mad at me.
Mommy's tired because of me.
Mommy's stressed because of something I did.
My older daughter's lip picking became the new routine when we got in the car to go anywhere. And much to my dismay, the habit slowly moved to other areas of her life. I attributed it to school worries, being shy, her daddy's work travels, and sibling jealousy. I read everything I could about this harmful behavior while hoping it was just a phase that would soon pass. But the lip picking didn't stop. At times, the tender skin on her upper lip would even bleed.
Around the time I felt we should seek medical attention for this problem, a light was shed on the issue -- a light that was more like a beacon of truth from which I could not hide.
In an especially chaotic rush out the door to go on a family vacation, I sat in the passenger seat fuming. Mad because I didn't have time to put the dishes in the dishwasher. Mad because we were late getting on the road. Mad because the garage door was acting up. I am talking trivial, insignificant, minor inconveniences here, but that was the state of a distracted woman who could no longer see the blessings, only the inconveniences, of her life.
And before we were about to pull out of the driveway, my husband looked at me as if someone he loved very much had died. In a barely audible whisper he said, "You're never happy anymore."
I wanted to defend.
I wanted to excuse.
I wanted to deny.
But I couldn't.
Because I knew he was right.
Where had that happy woman gone? The one who smiled at people she passed on the street just because. The one whose friends often spoke of her positive outlook on life. The one who felt happy simply because she heard her favorite song or had a pack of strawberry Twizzlers in her purse. The one who could laugh off mistakes because mistakes happen, and they are certainly not the end of the world.
Where had she gone?
And that's when I glanced to the backseat to see if my children had heard my husband's words. Staring back at me was my daughter picking her lip with worry the size of a small boulder weighing down her small shoulders.
And that's when an even more powerful question hit me.
Where had my happy little girl gone? The one who woke up with the most gorgeous bed head and good morning smile. The one who beamed at the words "sprinkler," "cotton candy," and "pet store." The one who laughed so hard tears came to her eyes. The one who licked beaters with sheer pleasure and danced happily to any song with a beat.
Where had she gone?
I knew.
I knew.
While choosing to make my own blessed life miserable, I had funneled my unhappiness straight into my daughter's once joyful heart and spirit. Her pain was a direct reflection of the expression I wore on my face.
This difficult truth was one of several powerful admissions that led to my Hands Free breakdown-breakthrough. I wasn't sure how, but I was determined to bring a smile back to my daughter's face; I knew I must bring it back to my own.
I began with one small step: looking for what was going right, instead of what was going wrong. I called it: Seeing the flowers instead of the weeds.
Yes, there was a messy room (weeds), but it was because my children had played quietly and cooperatively with each other (flowers).
Yes, her shoes were splattered with mud (weeds), but the joy on her face as she splashed in puddles was unforgettable (flowers).
Yes, she was out of bed again (weeds), but it was to give me one more goodnight kiss (flowers).
Yes, she had gotten out every pair of shorts she owned (weeds), but she'd dressed herself independently (flowers).
When I started looking for "flowers" instead of "weeds" in our daily life, the positives became more obvious, and I quickly gained a new perspective. I realized much of what aggravated me was trivial. Much of what was supposedly "ruined" were things that could be fixed or cleaned up. What mattered -- that we were safe, healthy, and alive -- were thoughts that began to overpower the negatives.
My eager-to-please, helpful older child looked different too. I saw her for who she was, not an annoyance or a bother, but a loving child with clever thoughts and ideas. For once, I could see all the things she was capable of doing -- not perfectly, but good enough for today. The tightness in my face relaxed and the smiles came more easily for both of us.
And now here I am three years into my Hands Free journey. Like any normal human being, I have moments of frustration, sadness, anger, and overwhelm... but these feelings are temporary, they are no longer the norm. I don't smile every minute of the day, but I smile a lot.
My older daughter is not so little anymore. One of her favorite activities is giving me a makeover. I sit crossed-legged in front of her and as she gently applies blush to my face, my daughter's perfectly plump lip is in my direct line of vision.
She doesn't remember picking her lip. That habit died soon after my new life perspective was born. But I won't forget. In fact, I don't want to forget the cost of distraction. It can pick your life apart until it bleeds you dry. And it can take the ones you love with you in the process.
But by letting go of the distractions that take your focus off what really matters, you begin to see clearly. You begin to see flowers instead of weeds.
By making it a daily practice to notice all that is good in your life, the joy in your heart has the tendency to overflow. And when it does, you are able to funnel that excess love and happiness straight into the hearts of those you most want to see smile."
And now, I'm gonna go finish my grocery list, my list of things I need to do and to take, and figure out something for the family to eat for dinner while I'm at the grocery store.
But first, I'm gonna go sit on the floor and play with the kids.

Have a great weekend, I'll be back next week.

This was originally posted on the Huffington Post.
I have no affiliation with the book or the author. 
I just thought I'd pass it along as food for thought.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spiced Pear Muffins

I was back on the muffin bandwagon last week.  There's a garden at the kids' school and I attend the monthly meeting.  And for some reason, I ended up being the snack mom.  I can't imagine why.  Hardy har har.  I took sweet treats the last couple of times, so I figured I'd do something a little less cavity-inducing this time around.  It's a good excuse to try out new recipes.

I had pears in the fridge, so I searched my Pear Pinterest board. These muffins jumped out.  Yum.

The recipe is here:  Spiced Pear Muffins With Crumb Topping

I had Bosc and something green, so I used one of each.  The recipe said it made a dozen, so I decided to make minis to stretch the amount.  Um, I'm not sure if it was something I did, but there was no way it would only make twelve.  I got 24 minis and 12 standard-sized muffins.  So I'm gonna go ahead and say it makes two dozen.

Here they are, hot out of the oven, at my house:

Good enough to eat.

Baby and I sampled a couple of the big ones to see if they were photo worthy.
The things I do for this blog.
All this eating of food.
You'd think I actually liked it or something.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

My Etsy Shop

You guys, how long have I been talking about doing this?


I set up my Etsy shop in 2011.  And then it sat.  Empty.  Until today.

It is officially open for business.  Wha-what?!

I still can't believe I just typed that.

So.....I got this comment on a post over the weekend:

Hello there,
That is a totally cool meal. I wish someone would make that for me....ha ha. Very creative! So now when are you going to open your Etsy store. Your New Year's comments inspired me and I opened up my shop this weekend. I think I am going to have garden inspired jewelry once I get a kiln..which will be a little while. So thanks for the inspiration Mindy!!
If you want to check out my site here's the link (sorry to leave this in your comments section...)

Okay, so how amazingly awesome is that?!  Something I randomly said in a post gave someone a kick in the pants to do something they were wanting to do.  So I thought about her comment all day.  And then, I sat my ass down at the computer while Baby napped and put photos in my shop.  I have a ton more I'd like to add (I literally have thousands of flower photos), but if I wait until I'm "ready", it will never happen.  So I just put on my big girl pants and made myself do it.

It would make my day if you clicked over to check it out.  And I would love any and all feedback.  I wanna know what you think about it visually, the wording in the listings, the prices, etc.  This is definitely my first rodeo, so any advice you have is welcome.

Here's the link to my shop:

I also put a fun little widget on my right sidebar with thumbnails of some of the photographs I put in the shop.  At this point, I'm doing downloadable files, opposed to printing and shipping myself. Maybe when I have more time in my life, I can gradually go the latter direction, but for now, if someone makes a purchase, they'll be buying a JPEG file that they can use to print whatever size they want.  Ooooh, I sound all technical. Buwhahahahaha.

Okay, before I go, I want to say THANK YOU to Susan.  I'm so excited that she got her shop up and running and I can't thank her enough for leaving me that comment.  I needed it.

You can check out Susan's amazing garden blog here:
All About My Garden

And her new fancy schmancy Etsy Shop is here:

Tuna & Hummus Sammies

Leave it to Ina.  My sister has several of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and last time we were over there, she had one open to this page.  And it looked deeeelicious.  And I wanted it.  And then my BIL tagged me on Facebook in a photo of the version from their house.  And then I knew for sure it would be mine.

This is so easy, but it was super yummy.  The canned tuna I had was in water, so I used olive oil to make up for it.  I didn't have anything in my fridge with a cornichon label on it, so I used pickles, but I think next time I'll use capers.  Just 'cause I have a Costco-sized jar that I need more uses for.  Also, I bought the hummus instead of making it.  GASP.

The kids aren't super on board with tuna right now, so I made them grilled cheese.  The Dad and I tore up three of these each. Or was it four?  Let's say three, ahem.

You can get the recipe here:  Tuna & Hummus Sandwiches

Here's dinner on my plate:

I had hummus and some of the tuna mix leftover, so I used carrots, cucumbers and baby bell peppers, as dunkers for lunch the next two days.  
Super easy, I-don't-feel-like-cooking busy weeknight meal.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

S Is For Spring: A Kid Lunch

It's like flashback Friday!  I know, I kinda stopped making these once Baby came along.  Then, the Girl started kindergarten and I just got out of the habit.  But Baby's two now, so I figured she's old enough to appreciate Fun Food Friday.  What better way to ring in the first day of spring than with flowers on your plate!?

The center of the sun is hummus.  Orange bell pepper for the rays.  Cucumber and cantaloupe flowers. Cucumber peel and spinach for the grass, stems and leaves.  Cheese crackers around the rim and a gummy butterfly.

It was fun to get my box of cutters out again.
Here's Baby, scarfin' down her first Fun Food Friday lunch.

Don't hold me to it, but I might try to do these every Friday again.
Or maybe every other Friday.  ;o)

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