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Happy New Year!

I’m usually not a New Year Resolution type person. My thought is: why wait one more day to start a good habit? Or stop a bad one? (If you know me at all, you know I am totally backwards and like to start diets right before the holidays.)

But this year is different.

I ended last year taking a break from the blog, enjoying my family and the holidays. And this year I am making a resolution of sorts… a conscious effort to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life. I’m ready to listen to my kids laugh and watch a nice fire. Let’s take time to break bread with loved ones old and new… And let’s be kind to each other; it costs us nothing and could mean everything.

I hope 2017 is a fresh start that treats you well! God Bless You!

My Blogging Space

Last week, I was contacted by an associate at Wayfair.com to participate in a blogger challenge to share our home offices, or inspirational spaces if you will. Immediately I was on board. For one thing, I’ve been wanting to share a little more about myself lately, and this seemed like the perfect outlet. For another, the whole idea of it amused me. For those of you that know me at all, you know that I am a stay-at-home mother of four children ages 10 and under. The idea of a private work space sounds like something out of a movie- unfathomable almost; as illusive as my Paris kitchen, not the cookbook though- I’ve got that.

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I have this professional idea of self. This fantasy, where I am diligent with writing, editing, photographing, projecting deadlines, making layouts. I’ve had discussions with my support team (aka my husband) about setting aside a certain amount of evening hours dedicated to my job (aka blog hobby). In reality, I grasp at as many free minutes that I can quilt together to make a post. However, in true to life representation, my home office is wherever I can get it. Thank goodness for wifi and my MacBook Air… and my Nespresso machine because at any hour I can get a good cup of coffee quickly. It helps with my research… and by research I mean catching up with my fellow bloggers, scouring Pinterest and reading cookbooks- usually done in our study.

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My dining room table is most often the space I use. Followed by the kitchen table, especially while assisting the kids with homework. Of course I watch cooking shows in the family room. I can say with some conviction that I really don’t blog while I’m outdoors. Sometimes I wish I had a small desk in my bedroom, which at times feels like my only oasis (until bed time when the kids try to pile in)… but I’d have to move out that all but forgotten treadmill.

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Would you like to know something? Just one month ago there was a sitting room where I have the dining table. And the dining room was where the study is, because it’s a bigger and I love the idea of our extended families having plenty of room to gather around the table. Then I was having a party and I hated the idea of putting my cheese platter in the bat cave with basically no natural light. So in one day I moved everything, every couch, hutch and table by myself. My grandparents lived in this home before we bought it. And I moved it all back the way they had it. Except, they kept their TV where we have the study, and I moved it to the great room… so we would have more room for our family to spread out. But I’ve never been able to configure this room to satisfaction. I traded the couches between the two rooms, and I think it’s a step in the right direction. I really need a new entertainment center (Wayfair are you listening?). I probably won’t be happy until it’s exactly the same as the way it was.

What is that on the cooking channel? I think it’s ice cream in a blender.

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We actually do have a home office, complete with an autographed photo of Mohammad Ali. My husband uses it when he works from home. It’s full of papers that need to be shredded, statements needing to be filed, artwork I need to return to my parents, random items that need to be taken to Goodwill… And the kids school work. What am I supposed to do with all of the graded assignments and art projects? It’s overwhelming! I’m not crafty. I’m not a scrapbooker. But I don’t want to be that mom who has no souvenirs to show their adult children from their childhood. So, I put it in bags! Don’t judge me. I loathe this dilemma, almost as much as the laundry.

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I do like the amount of natural light.

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Just know that I am uncomfortable showing our catch-all. In general, I really try not to embarrass myself.

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And yet, at the moment, I’d rather expose myself than organize this office.

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Which would be destroyed in two minutes anyway.

Thank you Wayfair.com for inviting me to join in this blogging challenge. It was fun!

 

Technically I’m Griping

So I’ve decided to transfer my website to something called “self hosting”. The process seems like it would be copacetic, moving my site within the same parent company, from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. It comes highly recommended from several bloggers I follow. It allows more liberty for things like plugins and widgets, behind the scenes applications for fun little items like printable recipe cards and links to social media sites. It also opens the door for exciting prospects like advertising- if the opportunity were ever to present itself. But what it really means is making almost everything you know obsolete. It equates to actually paying a third party a monthly fee to host your site. It means losing every one of the cherished “likes” I’ve earned up until this new starting point. It consists of not seeing my reader’s comments. (Temporarily I hope and BTW if I haven’t responded to you, it’s because I never received it.) It translates to my WordPress phone app no longer complying. My pictures are uploading weird. Coincidence? I think not! It translates as headache.

Since I really know nothing about computer matters, and don’t have the time (or frankly interest) to learn, I paid to have WordPress do the actual transfer for me. After all, this is what I enjoy to do- my outlet. I don’t buy designer shoes, or expensive jewelry- so I justified the cost. I’m a cook, a mom, a photographer, an aspiring writer, not a computer programmer. It wasn’t like a life changing amount, but not free. I’d consider it to be about the price of an American Girl Doll and shipping. It’s supposed to come with 2 weeks of (ahem) tech support. Lining up time to work with the help of people who know what their doing is difficult… especially since when I was available, they were not. “…Across the country employee meetings.” (Perhaps useful information to be told before I made the decision?) And when I have been able to get a reply to an email, it comes in the form of trouble shooting ideas I can try. Nice. How about this: I am a technical idiot, that’s why I paid for the service! Could you please resolve the issue?

It’s going to be worth it in the end. (Right?)

Loving Lately 🎓

Loving Lately: Learning

Can I just get a shout out for perpetual learners? Students of life… Most of the time I wear this title proudly. I mean, there’s always room to grow and more to know. Especially since things are constantly changing. Kudos to accountants out there keeping up with the tax laws, and lawyers out there keeping up with legislation. I’m baffled by computer people always stepping up their firewalls and encryption games while the hackers consistently rise to the challenge. I won’t even start to get into all of the science and medical data that constantly proves itself wrong with the latest testing. But sometimes wouldn’t it just be nice to know the answers?

Afterall, I only want to know how to run a blog! Thankfully there are many people willing to share their information. Take for example the husband and wife team from PinchofYum.com. He handles the technical stuff and she does the recipes; together they’ve been pretty successful and kindly enough they tell us how!

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Click here for info on How To Start a Food Blog from Pinch of Yum

Like my dad says “I could fill a library with the stuff I don’t know.” Isn’t that the truth! However, school is in session: for the kids and their momma.  And I’m trying to cram as much knowledge as I can. If you know me at all, you know I have nothing else to do. 😉

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For 10 Tips of Working From Home Like a Pro by MyDomaine click here

I recently read tips from one of my favorite blogger/instagram-ers, What’s Gaby Cooking about how to make an editorial calendar. She likes to schedule with her photographer and stylist, in the studio, 4-6 weeks out.  (Wow.) I’m not going to hide it, that sounds amazing.

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For the info by Gaby click here.

Another of my faves, she’s local… but she doesn’t know it- was recently doing a shoot, I think for her cookbook coming out next year or the video promotions associated with it? Anyway, Rachel Schultz thank you for keeping it real and showing a little behind the scenes.

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For more about the shoot and Rachel Schultz click here

Needless to say, I have a long way to go.

Visions of Grandeur – Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom

I love my family. I love my children. I love that we, as a family, have the opportunity for me to stay-at-home. I never want to take that for granted. That said, I have more to give! Ok that’s an overstatement, I’m exhausted. Maybe it is more accurate to say I desire to do more.

I don’t want to quit my day job. I don’t want to give up my nights and weekends, sacrificing our only all-member family time, for a part-time job. But I do want a connection to the outside world. As of late, that yearning has lead me down a path of expression through blogging; writing and dabbling in the art of photography- specifically food photography. I’m inspired to write short stories, mostly in the form of plays and dialogues- but first I need to get the kids on the bus. It’s the regular routine of changing the baby’s diaper, making breakfast, packing lunches, cleaning up breakfast, getting the kids dressed (or checking what they have dressed themselves in), inspecting teeth, braiding hair, etc. It’s a sigh of relief when the oldest two out of four are on the bus and on their way fully prepared.

Now would be a great time to enjoy a cup of coffee and jot down that funny thought I had earlier! What was that line again? …But realistically, first I should probably start the dishwasher anyway. That reminds me I have a load of dish towels in the dryer. Crap, the dish towels are still in the washing machine. I need to bring this load of boys clothes upstairs so I can dry the dish towels. “Kids, we’re going upstairs.”

Laundry, my nemesis. They say write about what you know. How can I personify laundry? A dark, looming presence always growing in strength, a force my heroine has to face head on. A little dark maybe, but not untrue. Meanwhile in the real world, what is Noah playing with? It looks like he is in his sister’s jewelry box.

“Oh no, mom, you have to see this!” Elijah yells. Ah! Noah has painted his bangs with nail polish. Oh Noah, I’ve already cleaned up two large spills from you this morning! (Which meant his sister wasn’t on the bus fully prepared, because her baby brother swiped her water bottle -that he poured all over my comfy chair- as if I was going to sit down anyway).

“Noah, No!” I say realizing that at this point it’s not going to make a difference. Let’s get you into the tub. Where is my nail polish remover without acetone… “Stay here.” Okay, I’m back let’s get off that diaper. Plop! Are you kidding me? I just changed a poopy diaper 20 minutes ago!

“Don’t move!” Thankfully it’s in a tub right? (Optimism gets me through the day.) Poop has been transferred to the toilet, now to disinfect. Joys of motherhood. And finally, let’s get to that hair. That is not coming off. I can’t use acetone, this is too close to your eye. What am I going to do? Shave your head? Well, looks like you are going to live with it for a while.

I have a headache. “Everybody downstairs.” I am not doing laundry right now, someone has to keep an eye on the baby. Drats laundry, you win again.

“Yes, Elijah you can have your snack now.” While we’re in the kitchen I should get started on dinner. Crockpot dinner tonight! We need to eat early because Naomi has gymnastics. 

Still, somehow I know these are the best days of my life. I want to cherish every moment. A couple weeks ago, my then still 3 year old said when it was raining “maybe the clouds are crying” -a theory he discovered all on his own. A couple days later, my 5 year old daughter was not feeling well and misquoted a popular saying by explaining “I’m feeling over the weather.” People always say it goes by so fast, and I know it’s true. In the midst of it, it feels fleeting.

So, I am by choice a stay-at-home mom. Coincidingly, I realize the importance of “mommy time”, the need to preserve my sanity and identity. I still have goals! However for me, right now, it’s a necessity that takes a back seat to the priority of “being mommy”. As for my writing career, my prospective coffee shop, my strategy du jour; I’m still dreaming.

Loving Lately 💡

Loving Lately: Fresh Blogging Inspiration

I don’t know what it is exactly. Maybe it’s the drop in temperature? Maybe it’s buying all of those exciting school supplies? I’ve always had a thing for stationery. It probably has a lot to do with all of the fall themed recipes that are making their annual debut on the Internet; pumpkin lattes and donuts, Yum! Whatever it is, I feel it. I’m ready for self-enrichment and self-improvement. I want to take a writing class. I’ve ordered books and I’m scouring the Internet for tips on food photography. I am humbled and proud to say I finally know the definition of aperture and shutter speed. (I’m a little surprised with my lack of knowledge that my blog has any photos at all.) I’m ready to give her an overhaul! (Can I refer to my blog is of her? I mean it in the most empowering way. Like you would a ship or a storm; as in she is my vessel and a force -my exercised voice.) Apologies for the sidenote/monologue. The point is I am inspired. I’ve got some ideas… And it feels good!

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If a picture is worth a thousand words; this is the my definition of mommy blogging. Something’s got to give in order to make it happen. 

Have a good weekend! (I’ll just be over here cleaning up…)

Coffee House Chat

My friend Roberta does these lovely little blog chats as if you were besties, sitting across from each other at your favorite coffee house with your drink of choice. I love these little posts, they’re so personal and friendly. So being that I haven’t really gotten creative in the kitchen or with my camera lately, I thought I’d give it a try. On any other given day I’d probably just order a small dark roast, but on such occasion with time to indulge I think I would order a mocha (that is to say chocolate in flavor- not regionally specific coffee beans) but of course with skim, because obviously calories matter. You probably noticed that I limped over to the table with a cane, trying to balance the purse on my shoulder and carry a coffee without trying to draw more attention to myself by spilling it. I still haven’t gotten the knack of making it all look smooth and seamless. You see, I still have a rather large lump on the left side of my backside from my recent fall down the stairs. It is rather obvious, so I’d probably try to crack a joke. Maybe ask to find a table for three? You, me and my hematoma. When we would go to sit at our café table I should probably squirm a little on the wooden chair. Ugh. Naturally, I wouldn’t want to bore you with the details of the fall, I’d want to know what was new with you! And you would be so gracious, I’m sure, going along like nothing was out of the ordinary. You would talk about life and the weather… how warm it’s been and how you’ve been spending the summer.

In turn, I’d tell you how great the summer started off, camping in our new travel trailer and visiting my parent’s cabin in Michigan’s upper peninsula. I’d probably complain about how I have no good pictures to prove any of it. I might share with you the exciting news that we purchased a vacation home off of Lake Michigan, but cry to you about not being able to spend any time there -since all I do is try and mend my aching bum. You would assure me that there is plenty of time for that ahead. And I would agree with you that I know you’re right… as I wince from the annoying pain from this darn bump that keeps pushing on my nerve endings. Then I would probably tell you about the frustration of finding the right pain medicine. You would already know, because you know me so well, that I hate relying on medicine (and perpetuating the industry) and loathe taking Tylenol let alone anything stronger. And I would express to you my joy that most days I can get through with Motrin, and my optimism about the night soon-to-come that I can sleep in comfort. I’d probably be disappointed in myself that the conversation turned again towards my inconvenient situation, so I’d ask you if you’ve tried any new recipes lately.

You would be thrilled to tell me about a new method you used to cook a recent meal, because you know how enthusiastic I get about food. I’d ask you to tell me every detail. We’d get lost in conversation for a few minutes, and it would be so nice to be distracted from my pain, not to mention to get away from the political discussions that are saturating all media. Next I’d ask you about your family. You would let me know what they have been up to and how they are all doing. I’d have to tell you how guilty I feel that my family has dedicated their entire summer to helping me… And I would realize that no matter how hard I tried my conversation always came back to my injury. I confess I am not good company, but I appreciate that you visit with me anyway. <3

Gone Camping

It’s happened. I have checked out. You know how various people place those “Gone Fishing” signs on their door? It’s like that. I kind of wish I was a fisherwoman and could escape to my favorite fishing hole, just a walk away from work. Well, not really- because I travel with a lot of kids. But equally as enticing (for me at this moment), is camping.

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We are exploring. We are unplugged.

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We are watching the sunsets in swing sets.

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And making ice cream mustaches (or goatees).

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So don’t come looking for me for a while, because I’m out.

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But I’ll be back. 😉

Loving Lately ❤️

Loving Lately: Blogger Love

This is my last Loving Lately post of the year. And as this year is coming to an end I’m sure we are all reflecting on a number of things. In life I have so much to be thankful for and I feel truly blessed. It’s really no different as it pertains to my blog. I started this journey as an outlet, a way to express myself, maintain a level of sanity (to be overly dramatic), and fill a need for a level of communication I seemed to be lacking in my every day existence as a stay-at-home mom. I really had no expectations, just a strong desire that something I might have to say would resonate with someone else and even better- that I could actually make a positive contribution by sharing something useful. What I have received is beyond expectation. I was surprised to find out that this endless void of world-wide-web, where my typed-out thoughts seem like drops in the pond, in reality -or in my experience- turned out to be a tight-knit community of support and appreciation. I’ve gotten to know some really great people! What I could not have anticipated was the feeling I’d get when someone replied that they enjoyed my recipe or how something I said reminded them of an experience in their own life- even half way across the globe. Heart-warming to say the least.

I want to thank Parul Singhal of Gharkepakwan Healthy and Nutritious Vegetarian Recipies who recently nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award! I am honored by your kindness! I am in awe of your vast knowledge  of one of my favorite cuisines, Indian food!

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In participation, here are seven random facts about myself:

  1. I am a pretty big Audrey Hepburn fan
  2. I can tolerate but do not love cloves
  3. I am a philatelist
  4. I sing at home a lot. I’m a singer. My kids love it. They say things like “Mom, I can’t hear the TV!”
  5. I love the smell of waffle cones, and am always disappointed that they do not live up to their hype
  6. I have yet to use my wedding china for more than display (look out 2016 baby!)
  7. Sometimes I prefer my pasta cold

Thank you so much to Amaya from Life of an El Paso Woman for your nomination of the Liebster Award. I appreciate so much your diversity in what you share while maintaining such an engaging and personal connection.

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To answer your questions…

•What’s your favorite holiday? It has to be Christmas. I’m sappy with all of the hubbub.
•What is your favorite thing to cook or bake? I know it’s vague, but anything my family enjoys. Kids can be so picky, it’s  such an accomplishment when they actually eat my food.
•What’s the best thing about the city where you live? Relatives. Oddly we don’t see each other often, but I live within a mile of like 5 uncles, 4 aunts, a great-aunt and numerous cousins. In fact, one uncle is my next-door neighbor.
•What are some of your favorite movies? I’m one of those romantic comedy nuts. I love Pride and Prejudice, While You Were Sleeping, You’ve Got Mail, Something’s Gotta Give…
• What was one of the hardest thing you’ve ever done in life so far? Motherhood.
•Who are you the closest with in your family? I’m blessed to have a very close family. I’m close to my dad, mom and my sister… But I’d have to say my husband. He sees it all, “the good, the bad and the ugly” (of course so do my dad, mom and sister, lol).
•Why did you start blogging? It was a desire for pretense of professionalism
•Is the glass half empty or half full? Oh, it’s very full 🙂
•Are you a Star Wars fan? Yes. But not like a crazy fan.
•What was your favorite toy growing up? Barbie!

Another thank you to Practical By Default for another Liebster Award nomination! I’m just now starting to get to know you, and I see we have a lot in common!

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Your Questions for me…

•What language would you love to learn? I’ve studied a few, and there’s so much I don’t know! Maybe Portuguese or Gaelic?
•Would you prefer to read, watch or be told how to do something? At this point, I think I would appreciate more time to read.
•What’s your favorite hobby? Besides blogging, I recently got a metal detector… I’m a nerd.
•What’s your dream job? A mommy blogger. I’m living the dream, lol.
•Dog or cat? Neither, my mother is allergic and couldn’t visit if I chose either. But when pressed, a dog.
•The name of the teacher that influenced you the most? …Can I say two? Mrs. Urbani and Madame Rowley
•Book or Movie? Movie… maybe
•Why did you start blogging? For mental health
•Cook or bake or eat? Eat, let’s be honest
•What are you is your best “I did it!” moment? I’ve had four; Isaiah, Naomi, Elijah and Noah
•Blogging what do you love/hate doing? I love taking pictures, typing on my laptop and drinking coffee. I pretend I’m in a magazine publication office.

In lieu of nominees I would like to do more like honorable mentions. My all-time favorites and friends of 2015, you’ve made blogging a pleasure. In alphabetical (by blog) order:

Roberta of Chorizo & Thyme

Anna Life Bellissima

Lynn of Lynz Real Cooking

Katie of Quirky and Wonderful

Jasmine of The Richmond Avenue

Bec of What’s Bec Cooking

Happy New Year!!!