July 30, 2023

Summer Yummies: Vegetarian Soft Tacos

How do you combine all of the amazing flavors of summer in one dish? 
Ratatouille? Vegetable Soup?  How about soft tacos!
I've made a version of these many times before, usually when zucchini is at its growing-like-a-weed stage and the corn is fresh and sweet.
It's pretty simple to just throw in whatever you have a taste for or whatever looks best at the farmer's market.  For this dish, I used zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, and corn.  I would have loved to have added some peppers, but ours aren't ripe just yet.

1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 zucchini
1 summer squash
1 tomatillo, diced
1 red pepper, sliced
3-4 plum tomatoes, diced
3 ears of corn, kernels sliced off
1 can of black beans
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp chipotle pepper sauce (from a can)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
corn tortillas (8-12)
shredded cheddar cheese

Heat a pan over medium heat, then add the oil when the pan is warm. When the oil glistens, add cumin seeds to toast, then add the onion and sautee until brown.  Add the garlic, red pepper, chipotle sauce, the rest of the vegetables and black beans and cook until soft, 8-10 minutes.
Sprinkle with the chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.  I added some minced herbs like chives, oregano and cilantro right before serving.  If I had an avocado, I'd dice that and toss it on the tacos too.  Mmmmmm.

To serve, wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds until soft and pliable.  Top them with the mixture and shredded cheese and enjoy, preferably with limeade, a margarita or a Corona. 

July 27, 2023

Christmas Cookies and the Art of Faking It

You probably have those random parenting moments where, out of the blue, everything falls into place.  Cookies get baked, art gets created, and somehow the house magically cleans itself (ok, let's not go THAT far).
Wednesday was one of those days.  While singing for the kids in my characteristic goofy, giggle-inducing falsetto voice, I started a game of "name that Christmas tune." Which then led to the realization that it was indeed Christmas in July, the 25th of the month.

In the excitement of this realization, I created a quick Pandora channel of kids' Christmas music (which Jude heartily enjoyed, based on his own style of seated dancing), pulled out the crafts box, and asked the kids (the neighbors were here too) if they wanted to make some cookies and crafts.
Believe me, Mom of the Year I am not.  But sometimes a good day just comes together and you go with it.
And of course I (usually) only share the best in this space, composing a picture of a fun life, just for you (and mostly for me) to remember.
Most often my days look like this: sweaty, unwashed, grumpy and in need of someone, anyone to talk to who doesn't need to be prompted and begged to take a potty break every hour.  And in need of a potty break myself, postponed and postponed due to the needs of littler creatures.
You can't tell in this pic, but I'm in need of a shower.
I guess I'm not so much as faking it, because I really don't care what "the neighbors" (including you, gentle reader, are a neighbor in a way) think, but just wanting to highlight the good times, when I'm proud of my creative approach to the day and when the dishes and cleaning and endless laundry fade into the background.  It gets me through the really hard days, remembering these good ones.

What gets you through the bad days? Coffee? Blogging? Wine? A good cry? (yes, yes, sometimes, and yes for me).

July 24, 2023

Bathroom Renovation: Mission Complete!

Well friends, we've been living with our completed bathroom for a week now, our contractor having finished last Monday.  I was lax about posting photos because there were a few touch-ups to finish, but I'm very pleased to present it to you.  Drumroll.....
If you haven't been following along, this is what the space used to look like.  A monstrosity to say the least (minus that sweet little baby head peeking out of the corner).
Cramped, awkward, dingy, dirty and filled with too many crevices and unmatched surfaces to clean.
The Psycho bathroom looks like a spa, relative to this one.  Enough hyperbole, and onto some more pics.
We're very much enjoying this space, though it is hard not to tiptoe through it, worried that we're going to muss it up.
Though we didn't do any of the work, Chris and I decided upon the look and style of the room, which was then implemented by those much more capable and time-abundant than ourselves.  Well worth the chunk of change that drained our poor savings account.
We did end up getting that claw foot tub that we dreamed of.  It's gorgeous!
Admittedly, it's taking some time to get used to showering in.  But I knew it wasn't going to be smooth soaking.  Surprisingly, it's easy to bathe the kids in.  The high walls keep splashes inside of the tub.
As I said, showering is a little awkward, with the shower plumbing being exposed and the tub being freestanding.  I worry about water trickling out the back, but so far we haven't had any wet floors.
We love the old-fashioned feel of the room, which is in keeping with our 100+ year old house.  Subway tile on the walls, hex tiles on the floor, chrome details and a train rack for storing towels on the wall.
The Schoolhouse light in the ceiling was bookmarked on my laptop for almost a year.  It really set the tone for the style I wanted the room to look like.
The sole piece of artwork in the room is this vintage map of Spain, found on Etsy ,which is quite charming.  It appealed to me since we honeymooned there.
Because the room is so small (9'x5'), it lacked a steam radiator like the rooms in the rest of the house.  Rather than install a baseboard, we chose radiant floor heating, which should be really nice when taking a hot winter bath.
It's a pleasure and a relief to finally have this bathroom as we hoped it would be.  When we bought our house, we knew one day this space would have to be gutted, and that day finally has come and gone.
We're utterly spoiled and supremely thankful for such a bright, relaxing area to retreat to in our busy home. Baths are on us if you come visit!
Curious about where the goods came from?  Here's the rundown:
  • Lighting: Rejeuvenation
  • Sink/Toiler: Memoires by Kohler
  • Faucet: Devonshire by Kohler
  • Subway and Hex tile: Datile
  • Tub and fixtures: Vintage Tub and Bath
  • Paint: Watery by Sherwin Williams
  • Towel bar and holder, robe hook, glass shelf: Inspirations by Moen
  • Train rack: Amazon.com
  • Shower curtain and striped hand towels: West Elm
  • Bath rugs: World Market (no longer available in yellow)
  • Medicine cabinet: Restoration Hardware
  • Artwork: Etsy
  • Soap dispenser, cup: Kohls?? Leftover from the bathroom's previous incarnation.
  • Towels: Home Goods
  • Trash can, toilet brush, and yellow lidded can (which holds the kids' shampoos and cleaning supplies): IKEA

July 23, 2023

The Children's Brewing Company

In our town, we have a tavern and brewery that we occasionally nosh at.  While waiting for our meals to arrive, Chris and I often walk Soren around the mash kettles and fermentation tanks, which are right inside the restaurant.

This morning, while busily working with Legos, Soren presented us with his very own Brewery.
Despite it being, well, a replica of an alcohol manufacturing facility, it's really impressive, for a 4 year old amateur Lego enthusiast.

I'm surprised at how accurate it was, especially since we haven't been there in a few months.  He got the lab-looking area right, with its glass windows, "mechanical stuff" and pipes.
It yet more proof that kids are paying attention to EVERYTHING.  Kind of scary, huh?

I love how focused SoJo is when he's with his Legos; frankly it's the only toy that gets more than a few minutes of play.  I half-joke to Chris that we should just toss everything but the Legos.  I don't think anyone would mind.  Except Jude, who's a fan of just dumping bins of toys and not playing with them.

So onto brewing what Soren deems "Grandpa's Beer."  Since of course he's the one that drinks the most of it, according to a certain 4 year old.   Sorry, Dad.

The Lost Weekend

Well, friends, I'm finally back.  Poor Chris was a single dad all weekend while I lay miserably on the couch, feverish and weak.  He gave me the "luxury" of being sick without having to tend children.  He's a saint, that man.

It's odd that illness kicks my butt so thoroughly; usually I'm up and about in a day or so.  After a visit to the doctor, it seems I either have Strep throat or Hand, Foot and Mouth.  Ewww!

The weekend was a blur, between those sick, hallucinogenic dreams and watching way too much Netflix (Tiny Furniture, not worth it, Breaking Bad: Season 4, definitely), but it maybe was a way of telling me that I just need to sink into cushions and do nothing else.  Leave it to illness to force us to rest.  And to unwavering, supportive husbands to facilitate it, while hanging out laundry on the line, cleaning the kitchen and taking the kids to his in-laws, alone. 

July 12, 2023

White Flag

I've finally done it!  I've given up on housework!  And caring!

Not entirely, of course.  I don't want my kids touching a filthy toilet seat or eating out of an overflowing garbage can.  This isn't Hoarders or anything close.  But sometimes the dishes sit in the sink overnight (those darned ants love that--but give me a break, our whole neighborhood is under attack) and often I let the floors go unswept for a week.  It lends itself to a fun game called "what's Jude eating now?"

I've certainly allowed myself to become more lax about picking up toys all day long or even caring that Kid A's room has books strewn across the floor.  And I didn't get mad when I nearly slipped on one when checking on him last night in his bed.

It feel SO good to surrender, really it does.  We spend so much of our lives fighting for things to be orderly, perfect, under control.  That applies to our homes, our kids, our appearance, our thoughts.  And in that fight, we really don't enjoy our lives very much, do we?
This weekend we're hosting a small picnic in honor of Jude's first birthday.  And I haven't done a damn thing yet.  I'm just so tired, which makes surrender so much easier, that I just don't care about fixin' things up purty.  I'll throw up the shade tent, grab some buckets of water for the kids, have Chris tend the grill.  I may even pick up a pizza along with the tubs of ice cream.   Thank goodness I have a great baker for a Mother-in-law, who's bringing the cake, and a friend who's pitching in with a salad.

So next time you have a big event planned, hang out that white flag.  You may just enjoy yourself!  Or maybe someone will just think you've lost your mind and use it to slap you back into reality.

July 10, 2023

Little Seed from Elizabeth Mitchell {Giveaway}

As you might know from prior posts, I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Mitchell and her soothing, happy, folksy songs for kids and the adults who love them.  We have a few of her albums as well as a Pandora channel dedicated to her.  Her music always puts us in a good mood, both inside the house and in the car.
Elizabeth, her husband Daniel and daughter Storey, who also sing and play on her albums
Today, July 10th, the singer/songwriter has released her newest album, an homage to Woody Guthrie, titled "Little Seed: Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie" from Smithsonian Folkways.  How fitting that Guthrie's 100th birthday will be celebrated on July 14th.
No surprise: I love this album.  Not just because of Mitchell, but because I like Woody Guthrie's music.  So many of the songs are familiar, not just from Elizabeth's albums, but from growing up hearing them sung at home and at school.

The album contains Mitchell's take on 13 classic songs for children.  I really had no clue how much music for children that Woody Guthrie wrote, and we've been enjoying the discovery of some new pieces.  It's a great album to listen to, with or without the kids.

You can take a listen to "Bling, Blang" and "This Land is Your Land", both perennial favorites that you'll probably recognize.
One lucky reader will win a copy of Little Seed.  Leave a comment below with your favorite song from the album.  You can get an extra entry if you're an email subscriber, Facebook fan, or for sharing on Twitter.  Leave an additional comment for each entry.

Contest ends Monday July 23rd, 11:59pmEST.  US mailing addresses only.
UPDATE: WINNER #9, Julie Rogers
Disclosure: I received a sample album for review.

Tea-Licious Threads from Tea Collection {Giveaway}

While I'm not one to fawn over kids' clothes, particularly boys', I must say that I have a fondness and excitement for the Tea Collection.

The clothing designers at Tea really know how to style modern classics (oxymoron, I know, but you will get what I'm saying if you visit their collections).  The fact that they're celebrating their 10th anniversary this year is a no-brainer; their designs are timeless and their clothes are soft and durable.

We've added a few more items from Tea into the boys' wardrobes, including pieces from the new Danish Modern collection.
The Copenhagen Tee
I love the blocky, modern prints on the boys' tees, depicting life in a city and on bicycles.  And I'm always drawn to anything inspired by Scandinavia (hence my eldest son's name, Soren).
My younger son Jude's City Biker tee is like a well-loved, worn in t-shirt.  It's easier to see in its entirety below.  I like that it is inspired by modernist art, like those of the 20th Century Constructivists.
Even better than the soft, comfy shirts are Tea's shorts.  By far, these are THE best shorts for boys that I've come across.
Tea's shorts are durable, easy to slide on, and fit the boys perfectly.  I have such trouble finding shorts without buttons and zippers, which are still tricky for Soren to navigate.  Tea's shorts are great because they are cargos with elastic, and are easy to get on and off.

They've held up great, even after multiple washings.  I actually hate when they're dirty because they're my favorite ones to put on the boys.

We also received some other pieces from the Danish Modern collection, the Lapa Polo shirt for Soren
and the Mod Stripe tee for Jude, both of which are stylin' but not too fussy for boys.  Seriously, I just LOVE their threads.
I like how unique these pieces are; my kids will definitely be visible at the playground.

You can find so many more gorgeous clothes for boys, girls, and even adults at Tea.  Though they are generally more pricey than what you'd get in a big box store, the quality and style of their clothing is worth the cost.
One lucky reader will win a $100 Gift Certificate to Tea!!
Enter via Rafflecopter below, s'il vous plait.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received sample items from Tea for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

July 9, 2023


Every day with a baby is bittersweet.  I eagerly await that first something, whether it's a first word, first step, first tooth.  At the same time, I'm wistfully yearning for those plump  baby features that are quickly merging into those of a little boy.
It's weird that I'm homesick during these moments with Jude, even before they've passed.  It's like I'm missing them already, even when trying to be present with the experience (does this make sense???).  Since he's my last baby, I try to hang onto everything about this sweet, happy little person.
Last week, Jude officially turned one.  One!  I remember eagerly and nervously awaiting his birth last summer,
then finally getting to meet him, perfectly healthy and beautiful, even covered in thick vernix.
It's been an amazing, chaotic, tearful and wonderful year, being the mother to this Little Bitty Pretty One (the boys love that song).
What can I say that hasn't been said by millions of mothers throughout space and time regarding how quickly their children grow up.  Yet here he is, eating cake and ice cream by himself at the table, one short year later.  It blows my mind.
I have no regrets having added another person to our family, and am happy to see his smile every morning and cuddle him throughout the day.  He is the most pleasant and easy little being, and I'm so grateful that he came into our lives 360-some days ago.
Jude, happy, happy birthday my sweet one!  xoxoxoxo
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