Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bento, Maybe?

I feel pretty stuck in a lunch hour rut.  I get bored with leftovers and grab lunch out way too often.  It makes my wallet smaller and my waist larger!  I've been trying to think of some better ideas for lunches and I keep going back to bento boxes.  Obviously the overwhelming amount of cute supplies is pretty darn enticing, but there are so many healthy bento ideas and it's total portion control.  I wasn't really sure where to start, but I have found some helpful blog posts like this one and there are loads of books.  This one has good reviews and seems pretty basic.  Now back to those cute supplies. That's probably what's most important, right?  Here's a few of the supplies I'm adding to my wish list!
There are lots of sites with bento goodies.  Even Etsy has supplies and I'm sure there are tons on eBay too.  Here's where you can find the above items-  1/2/3/4/5/6  I'd love to hear any suggestions or about experiences you've had with bento!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snow Days

We had a fairly mild day yesterday, so the boys and I spent a little time outside.  The snow piles from shoveling out all the cars are higher than the boys.  Most are higher than me!  The snow is wet and heavy and it sort of feels magical to walk on top of it all without sinking.  It's good snowman snow, but we were more concerned with throwing snowballs at each other.  Even with the mild temperature, though, things got cold quickly and we spent the rest of our last snow day together this week playing with Legos, watching cartoons, and being extra silly.  We're all pretty good at that last part!  I'm a little sad to go back to work, but I'm sure we will have more playtime and snowball fights this weekend! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Parenthood, It Ain't Easy!

I shared this cartoon on my Facebook recently, because it really rang true with me.  Having children is both the best and worst thing I ever did.  Parenthood is the most frustrating and stressful thing, but it's also amazing and rewarding.  I've never ever loved anything as stupidly and wholeheartedly as I love my boys, but they drive me bonkers sometimes and they're turning my hair grey.  I suppose having kids is like the ultimate paradox.  The cartoon is from Hurrah For Gin and does a pretty good job of summing up a day I've had many times.  If you are already a parent, you will most certainly appreciate the posts on Hurrah For Gin.  If you are thinking of having children, let this site serve as a warning that you are getting yourselves into some serious shit.  It's totally worth it, believe me, but it's not for the weak or faint of heart.  I think that social media has put this new pressure on parents and has created this false sense of what it's really like to have children.  There are entire accounts dedicated to showing every perfect moment or perfect outfit or perfect nurseries and playrooms. They're all bullshit and I almost feel like I contribute to that bullshit when I post a photo of my boys doing some activity or on some family adventure.  Surely the messy house all around them has been cropped out and my caption doesn't mention the seven tantrums we experienced in the car ride or the fact that both boys were up in the middle of the night and I am going on very little sleep.  Okay, so I totally mention those things and I'm almost certain I've shared a few messes on Instagram, but you get what I'm saying.  These aren't things we talk about enough and that leads us to being extra tough on ourselves and other parents.  Moms especially seem prone to being just a tad judgmental of other moms.

I'm typing this post at 1am, because everyone is actually asleep and I've turned off the never ending loop of Diego that plays on the television in our bedroom.  I guess my point in writing this post is twofold.  One, I want to thank Hurrah For Gin for reminding me that I'm not alone in my feelings and frustrations.  Two, I want to remind all the other parents that it's okay if sometimes your house looks like a toy store threw up and your kids have eaten three packs of fruit snacks for lunch (true story). Life with kids is far from perfect, in that aspect.  Whatever you're doing to stay sane and keep your children relatively healthy (see previous lunch comment) and mostly happy (They will not be happy when you are teaching them lessons about sharing or respect, making them do homework, or yelling at them for the tenth time to clean up their room, but these things make them into decent adults, right?), though, is actually perfect.  Now pat yourself on the back, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and enjoy a few minutes of uninterrupted silence.  You know I'm kidding on that last one!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Music for a Snow Day

We had a heck of a snowstorm that started Friday evening and lasted well into Saturday night, leaving us with a few feet of snow.  It's been cold and windy and we haven't even finished digging our cars out from underneath the heavy white stuff.  Oscar's school and my office are both closed today, so we are going to stay inside where it's warm and there's no shortage of good food and cartoons.  I spent a good part of the weekend tackling my utter disaster of a craft room, so I hope to finish that up today too.  Most of all, though, I think I'll just relax and enjoy the extra day off.  Here's a whole hour of good songs to help you relax too, even if you're just relaxing to build up the momentum to go shovel!  Stay warm and happy Monday, everyone!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Try The World

A few months ago, I saw an ad for Try The World, a subscription box full of foods from around the world.  I thought it seemed like a really interesting and tasty idea and I happened to have a code to get a free box, so I went for it.  Every two months, subscribers receive a box with several full size items from a specific country, a booklet of recipes, cultural information, party ideas, etc., and a postcard with information about each item included in the box.  So far, we've received France, Japan, Spain, and, most recently, a special holiday box with items from several countries.
The goodies always come in these pretty turquoise boxes and are packaged so nicely.  I promise that once you remove your items, you will never get them to fit back in the box well enough for the lid to fully go on!  
Here are all the goodies from the holiday box.  Clockwise from the top are ginger snaps from Sweden, hazelnut cream from Italy, orange peel cookies from Morocco, cocoa truffles from Canada, acai sauce from Brazil, olive oil from Israel, panettone from Italy, and tea from the UK.  The neat thing about this service is that, if you get something you really love, you can buy it from their online shop.  A few past boxes are available for sale, too.
Here's the information that's included each month.  The symbols below each product's name designate things such as family owned company, locally sourced item, organic, etc.  The flip side of this foldout card contains recipes using included items and suggestions on how to use your box.  The suggestions usually include party ideas and a suggested playlist of songs.  We haven't had a chance to try any of the recipes, but I really want to start trying at least one from each box.  I have found myself using items from past boxes.  A smoked paprika from the Spain box is a definite favorite on eggs!
Part of why I decided to subscribe to this box was to get the boys excited about trying new foods and learning about other cultures.  Oscar especially gets excited when a new box comes and the boys and I sampled everything in this box, except for the olive oil.  I'll definitely be using that soon, though.  It was all delicious!  That hazelnut cream is seriously amazing and we ended up dipping our gingersnaps right into it!  I would say the gingersnaps were a definite favorite for the boys, but my favorite was this panettone.  It reminded me of a good homemade bread, but with some sweetness. There were little bits of candied fruit and raisins that added to the sweetness.  I could definitely eat this year round!

You can get your own box here.  A subscription costs around $40 every two months, but you can use the code TRAVELERFRIEND to get $15 off the price of your first box.  This is one I highly recommend!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sing it, Ladies!

This is a really positive post, but I need to first get something negative out of the way.  I really hate the stereotypical and tired portrayal of women as these catty back stabbers who are in constant competition with each other.  Sure some women fit that description.  Some men do too.  And yeah, I will totally fess up to sometimes fitting that description at various times in my life.  That's a terrible way to be, though.  I want to see other women succeed and as I get older, I want other positive women in my life.  That's what this post is really about and I need to tell you what has inspired it, because it's the pretty much the best.  I have a really amazing core group of female friends in my life outside of the internet and they are seriously the best group of friends a gal could have, but this post is specifically about some ladies I haven't actually had the pleasure of meeting just yet.
We all know by now that Instagram is my favorite social media and for good reason.  The amount of drama and creeps have been really minimal and easily solved by blocking and reporting.  Instagram is my happy place where I know I can get support, encouragement, empathy.   I've made so many connections and friendships via this silly photo sharing app and that's what I want to talk about today. There was a little bit of Instagram drama recently, but I think it's really resulted in even closer connections and that brings me to the whole point of this post.  There is the absolute best thing happening right now, Instagram karaoke.  You read that correctly, karaoke.  I feel so damn lucky to be a part of this.  It was the brilliant idea of one amazing gal to start a group message, completely overflowing with my lady crushes, where we take turns posting video clips of us singing verses to a song.  One person starts a song and everyone takes turns until it's finished.  It sounds a little silly and it totally is, but what happens after someone posts their clip is the most beautiful thing ever.  It's all completely positive and encouraging, women complimenting and empowering each other, and everyone feeling so safe and comfortable to just be themselves.  I feel like shouting this group's praises from the hills and I suppose this is the internet equivalent to that really.  This is what I need in my life and what I wish for each and every woman to have-a group of friends who are all amazing, talented, beautiful, and fun in their own right, a group who celebrates all of that and encourages it to blossom.  No cattiness.  No competition.  I haven't really made any resolutions for the new year, but I think my first will be to continue surrounding myself with women like the ones in our fun little karaoke group!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Winter Adventures

For the very last day of winter break, we decided to let Oscar choose how we should spend the day. He's been really having some separation anxiety in the mornings again, so we thought that making the day a celebration would make for a smoother transition back to school.  He was great at quickly coming up with the idea of packing some snacks, taking a walk in the woods, and then stopping to eat our snacks when we got hungry.  We headed to one of our fairly regular spots, because he wanted a forest with streams and bridges and we knew this part of the Appalachian Trail has some picnic tables that happen to be perfect for stopping for snacks.  The weather and wind were quite chilly, but the sun was shining and the little waterfalls on the stream were lovely.  
After making it back to the warmth of our car, we asked Oscar what he wanted to do next.  He asked to go to a museum, not an easy task at 2pm on a Sunday and while in the middle of the woods.  We realized that we weren't far from Mister Ed's, though, and that totally counts as a proper museum!  I do really love this little place and, no matter how many times we visit, I'm certain I see something new every time.  The boys were probably most excited to buy some candy, but they really enjoy exploring the grounds outside the shop and museum too.
Oscar definitely knows how to plan a fun day!  His final choice of the day was to eat pancakes at Cracker Barrel, one of his two favorite restaurants.  After that, we headed home pretty tired from the day's adventure, but ready to start the week!

Monday, January 11, 2016

My First Musical Monday of the Year

I know this isn't the first Monday of the year, but this is the first Monday this year that I've done a post.  This is a good one, too!  I spent almost all of last week at home getting my butt kicked by a chest cold.  Most of that time was spent in bed resting, so there was a lot of downtime to look online and play on my phone and all that other unproductive stuff involving electronic devices.  You know how you sometimes watch a video, click a related link, and then, before you know it, you've spent two hours watching videos?  That's how I discovered Rubblebucket, specifically their Tiny Desk Concert.  If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen the link I posted to that.  I'm hooked on their catchy songs and their lead singer.  I think I want to be her friend.  Maybe I want to be friends with the whole band.  I think I ramble even more than usual when under the influence of cold medicine!  I'll stop now and just post the videos.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Catching My Breath

Hello there, long time no see!  The month of December has completely flown by and there wasn't a blog post in sight.  December started off really poorly for our family, as my step brother passed away. I have struggled with whether I really want to write about this, but I still haven't decided.  I think it's still something that's very fresh for my step mom and step sisters, so I don't really want to pull the band-aid off their freshly healing wounds.  The first half of the month was really a blur, though, and blogging was the last thing on my mind.  This post is off to a sad start, but I promise it gets better.

In the midst of the family stuff, I traveled to Pittsburgh on the 5th for Handmade Arcade.  Heidi came along, because she's the best friend and craft show helper a gal could ever ask for.  I think the show went really well.  I so love interacting with customers, seeing old friends, and meeting up with new ones!  I'm finding, though, that craft shows are just really too consuming for me right now.  I think I may stick to just applying to this one again this year, if I apply to any at all.
I was pretty gosh darn pleased with my set up at this show!  My grandma was sweet enough to entertain my idea of doll face stockings by making me over twenty adorable lined stockings, so I had to come up with some displays for my new additions.  Most of what's pictured here has gone off to new homes, but you can check out my shop for leftovers.

It didn't feel like I could properly relax or even think about the holidays until after the craft show stuff was wrapped up, but that still gave me plenty of time to get into the spirit.  I just realized that I didn't take any photos of this year's decorations, with the exception of some Instagram photos, so you'll just have to take my word that our house was definitely festive.  I'm always a little sad to see it go!  I am so grateful that we always have such a lovely Christmas, full of family and fun, and this one was no exception.
Did I mention there were plenty of gifts too?  Our New Year's celebration was lovely as well, spent at home playing games and eating ice cream and finger foods.  It has to be good luck to end a year with ice cream, right?  So this brings us to January and a new year, one that I'm pretty excited to start.  I think this year is going to bring really great things and now that the dust has settled from what was left of last year, let's hope I can get back to some regular posting.  :)