Tuesday, January 31, 2012

30 Day Photo Challenge {Days 22-31, minus a few days}

Days 22-31 prompts: Distance | Flowers | Smile | Leaves | Body parts | Hands | Self portrait

** Once again, I got tired a couple of days this past week and didn't get my daily picture in.  That being said, this was a fun little challenge, it gave me something different to look for each day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Kitchen

We are food people.  It's at the heart of everything  we do.  I like it when Uriah makes dinner for me, I feel special and a bit decadent sitting back and watching the show as it unfolds before me in our kitchen.  I remember the first meal he ever made for me; I remember holding hands as we walked through the grocery store - a bit self-conscious because I was never part of one of those couples that held hands in public and yet, it seemed to come so easily to Uriah, squeezing my fingers as he thought out loud all of the things that he could make for me and then systematically vetoing his own ideas.  And then, as if he had a moment of inspiration, he  decided what it was he was going to make and suddenly we were racing through the aisles as he grabbed what he needed, me tagging behind and breathlessly telling him the items I already had at home as he pulled things off of shelves and from inside freezers.  That first meal, the flutter of activity in my kitchen and my heart - a man cooking just for me - is one of my favorite memories.  It was the beginning.  

All of our important conversations seem to take place in the kitchen.  Debating whether or not we could fit four people in our already-too-small apartment, our subsequent decision to move out of the apartment in Kansas City - bittersweet because it was our first home together - before Finn was born.  Conversations that took place in the smallest kitchen ever, me leaning against the Pates Baroni print and pushing it off center with my shoulder, Uriah leaning against against the stove, his feet nearly touching the cabinets across from him; no more than a foot between us as we stared at each other, both giddy and nervous that in the span of 4 months we'd gotten married, gotten pregnant and were suddenly about to move.  The decision not to move to Duluth took place in the kitchen over a period of dark winter evenings with our somber images mirrored back at us in the blackness of the window over the kitchen sink.  Back and forth went the conversation; back and forth went my resolve; back and forth went my nerves.  In the end, it wasn't right the right fit or the right time and we ended the conversation in the same place it began: the kitchen.  And yes, even the decision to move to Iowa took place in the kitchen - debating the merits, the final phone call, accepting the offer - all took place with Finn rolling around on the floor between us, Uriah back and forth between the conversation inside and the grill outside and me back and forth between being completely calm with the idea that I would be, basically, a single parent packing up our house for the following six weeks and then completely freaking out because...I was going to be a single parent for six weeks while packing up our house.  Somewhere there is a picture that my sister took of me on our last day in Kansas City, standing in our empty kitchen, in the house where I brought my son home from the hospital, cupboard doors open and the smell of Pinesol so heavy in the air, I feel it must have seeped into the picture and curled the edges.

My escape has always been the kitchen.  I can loose myself in a recipe, in the exact science of baking and the leeway I'm allowed with cooking.  I can stand at the counter for hours, reading recipes and making our weekly menus come alive with papers torn from magazines and post-it notes tuck inside cookbooks documenting changes that I've made or ingredients that I've added.  I feel good and right with the world when I'm feeding my family - three times a day, I have the opportunity to fill their bellies and feed their souls.  

This week, I want to share with you some of my kitchen, some of the recipes that we've grown to love here and a few of the new ones that are going to become old favorites.  So, I invite you to check back throughout the week for some new ideas to add to your kitchen; some new love to share with your families.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Online shopping. It's not for the faint of heart.

Sometimes I just have to walk away from what I'm doing to get some perspective.  In this case, I took a little "virtual online" walk away over here to this new tab on my browser to write to you.  I want some new clothes (and I don't want to buy them from the Wals-Mart), so I'm thinking I'm going to have to get a few pieces online.  I'm always nervous about buying online because my body belongs on the Island of Misfit Toys.  It's randomly put together and I usually have to try things on to make sure that they'll fit my short, stubby legs and my...ahem...well endowed top parts.  Anyway, suffice it to say that since the shopping here is less than stellar and I'm not in the mood to drive an hour and a half to where there are actually real stores, I'm just going to have to buy online and return it if it's not quite right.

Wish me luck.  I'm going to go back to look at my shopping cart and make some hard decisions.

**I know what you're thinking.  What in the hell does the picture have to do with online shopping?  Nothing, actually.  That picture just makes me feel good on the insides and I wanted to share that feeling with you.  You're welcome.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

All you need is love.

Earlier in the week I asked Uriah if he'd been wishing for anything in particular (secretly hoping he'd say Girl Scout cookies so that I could try out the Thin Mint recipe that I found.).  He said plain old Rice Krispie Treats.  Nothing fancy...Scotcharoos were out because he doesn't like peanut butter, just some butter, marshmallows, and rice krispies.  All I could think was boring.  I've tried to limit my baking to once a week (that includes bread, quick breads, muffins, cookies...I feel as though my creativity in the kitchen is being stifled and Beverly is going to find someone new to be her BFF.).  In reality, cakes and cookies are not conducive to loosing weight, I get that.  But I like the creative outlet that baking provides, and I love my husband, so I acquiesced to plain old, dull Rice Krispie Treats.

Or not...

I have this minor flaw in that I'm very OCD when I cook and I don't like people (side eye to Uriah and Abby) getting up in my business before I'm completely finished.  Unfortunately for Uriah and Abby, they decided to eat the rice krispie scraps as I was cutting out the hearts, which irritated the love right out of me.  I scolded.  I reprimanded.  To no avail.  So I told them that if they wanted to eat the hearts, and coincidentally,  the rest of the scraps, they had to list all of the reasons they love me - and it had to be heartfelt.  And the list had to be long.

Or I would let Finn eat the entire pan of rice krispie treats - hearts, scraps and all.

Let me tell you, what started out as kind of a joke, turned out to be a really warm and fuzzy moment.  Sometimes we forget how much we mean to people; and sometimes we forget to tell the ones we love how much they mean to us.  My heart felt a little bit fuller after hearing them list the things that they love about me.  And I think it helped to show them that maybe they've taken for granted some of the stuff that I do for them out of love.  Do I like folding underwear and socks?  No, but I do it because I love them and I don't want them to be the stinky ones at school and work.  Do I like to vacuum the floors?  No, but I do it because I love Finn and I don't want him to pick up random "snacks" off the floor and choke.

Abby said she loves me because I make her do things that she doesn't want to do and then it turns out in her favor in the end (she didn't want to do a list of chores on her snow day on Friday, but she got to go to a movie and a sleep over because they were all done when I got home from work.).  I guess that's all a parent can ask for...the light bulb to go off in their kid's head once in awhile.  And to be present to see it shine.

Uriah's was pretty simple:  he loves me because I make him laugh.  And I love him for the same reason.  And also because he usually takes the morning shift with Finn because he knows how much I hate morning.

I'm going to try to do something sweet for my loves in February during the days leading up to Valentine's Day, and the days after it, too.  I'm currently scouring Pinterest for ideas.  If you have any good ones, I'd love for you to share.  Just drop a note in the comments section about something romantic/loving you've done for someone  or something someone has done for you (and it doesn't have to be limited to just Valentine's Day, either!).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

30 Day Photo Challenge {Days 16-21, minus 18}

Days 16, 17 & 19-21 prompts: Fun | Nature | Something yellow | Clothes | Close up

On Wednesday the prompt was labels and I was already in bed when I remembered I hadn't taken my photo of the day.  I was also comfy and cozy and nose deep into Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and not about to dip one teeny tiny toe outside of my covers, so, no Day 18 photo this month.  I will be back tomorrow with a fun Valentine's Day project (that we did today, you know, weeks before Valentine's Day.).  I think I'm going to make V-Day big this year.  Big.

If you want to see the previous days pictures:
Days 1-3
Days 4-7
Day 8
Days 9-15

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter, you fickle tease.

Dang...I got my wish, winter has come and it is cold!  It snowed just enough earlier this week to cover the gross brown grass and give everything a fresh, cold, white wash.  We are expected to get some more snow over night tonight and into tomorrow and I intend to be prepared!

  • I am going to make these colored ice cubes to play with outside this weekend.
  • Stew is on the menu, and nothing goes better with stew than fresh bread.  These are too cute.
  • If I'm going to go green, I'm going to bring my groceries home in these cute totes.  I adjusted the directions a little bit, because I used fabric (that was on super clearance at the Wals-Mart) instead of pillow cases.  But the idea is the same.  Maybe I'll start teaching Abby how to make them this weekend if we're snowed in.
  • And, since I haven't baked in awhile, I think we might embark on making our own Girl Scout Cookies this weekend.
We stumbled upon story time at our local library last Thursday morning and we went again this morning.  There were probably 8 or 9 other kids between the ages of 1 and 4 at story time this morning and Finn is proving to be...well, not shy.  He sidled up to the librarian as she pulled out the second story book (probably because it had a cat on the cover and he loves cats!) and then turned his little self around and plopped right into her lap!  I love that he loves to read and we stocked up on new books this morning to get us through our snowy weekend.  

Happy Thursday, friends!  Bundle up, it's awfully cold outside!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where does the time go?

There are a few things on my mind this evening.  First of all, how did this:

...turn into this so quickly?

I'm not sure, but I am sure that my mind is blown.

Second, I phoned in blogging this week, in case you didn't notice.  I decided to basically be busy doing life.  I worked a lot.  Uriah worked a lot.  And when we were home together, we really just wanted to veg out and watch old episodes of Cake Boss on Netflix.  Because of Cake Boss, I am convinced that I will be able to make a) a super Valentine's Day cake, b) Uriah's birthday cake, and c) make Finn the most fantastic themed-birthday cake ever.  I'm also convinced I need to practice making cakes daily.  So far I have been able to resist the urge, but heaven help the next person who decides to visit because it will be an excuse for me to bake a cake.

In other news, Abby joined basketball, so she has practice every day after school and comes home starving.  She is convinced that she practically needs to take a full meal to eat between school and practice and dinner always takes so long.  She's also "trying out" a new instrument in band - the saxophone.  There is a cacophony of sound emanating from her room and I'm not sure if I'd rather hear band practice or Justin Bieber.

Finn and I tried to get a walk in outside almost every day last week.  We were mostly successful.  I was hoping for good numbers on the scale because of our vigorous outdoor exercise, and when that didn't happen, I had a pity party for myself.  And then the weather turned poorly at the end of the week and the treadmill just seems like punishment after walking outside, so I phoned in a couple of work-outs, too.  We were back outside today and hopefully will be able to get a couple of walks in this coming week.  Although, I know we could use the snow, so I won't be at all upset if it does, in fact, snow and I have to use the bastard treadmill.

Finally, my goal is to be better next week.  Better at writing.  Better at exercising.  Better at rolling with the punches.

30 Day Photo Challenge {Days 9-15}

Days 9-15 Prompts: Happiness | Fruit | Night time | Something old | Eyes | Shoes | Favorite color

Sunday, January 8, 2012

30 Day Photo Project {Day 8}

Today's prompt was transportation and I'm using it very liberally with this photo.  Finn is wearing Cars pajamas and he's reading a Disney Cars book...hence, my transportation.

Today I will make better choices.

Around Thanksgiving, as I was bitching about being fat, being out of breath, having flabby arms and a jiggly bum, too many chins and obese earlobes - and probably making a batch Extra Chocolaty Chocolate Chip Cookies while I was doing it - Uriah finally got fed up and told me to "shit or get off the pot."  We have an open relationship like that, so I didn't throw the mixing bowl of cookie dough at his head and run into another room crying.  Instead, I listened to what he had to say, and if we're being honest, what he'd been saying for awhile: I could either do something about my weight or I could just shut-up about it.  Because talking, talking, talking - and I'm very good at talking - was getting me nowhere.

I find it sort of amusing that I use pictures to track how big Finn is getting because I don't really realize how much he changes until I put two pictures side by side.  The same could be said of me - I didn't realize how big I was getting until I put two pictures side by side.  Some day, I'll show you a picture of me right before we moved from Kansas City, when I was at my heaviest, and a current picture.  When I work up the nerve.  It's not pretty and it's causing me to dig deeper into why I eat.  I can't blame my weight on being "big boned" or being "ill-proportioned."  There are clearly other reasons.  So when we came back from Thanksgiving I started to control my portions, I eat off of a small plate whenever possible, I eat more salads and most importantly,  I track what I eat.  Every. Single. Thing.  And let me tell you, all those Christmas cookies that I baked did not get eaten by me because I didn't want to write down: Lunch: 5 sugar cookies, 2 gingerbread men and 3 chocolate drops.  Did I have a couple of Christmas cookies this year?  Of course, just not as a meal and not every day.  Is this tracking working for me?  Slowly, but the scale goes down every week, so something must be going right.

Today, I made some not so great food choices; what I thought was a decent breakfast turned out to be a death-trap in disguise.  I logged what I ate and it started back at me in huge bold letters: POOR CHOICE, HEATHER.  My heart beat a little faster, my palms were a little sweaty and I thought about quitting.  Tossing in the towel and saying, "Mother eff it.  I'm done.  Cause that breakfast was delicious!"

But I didn't.

Instead, I looked at the choices that I'd made and thought about what I can do different next time.  And that's key for me; that's a big step.  I didn't focus on what I should have done differently, because I'd already made those choices and I know that I can't go back and undo them.  But I can learn from them and I can make better choices next time.

And then I showed myself a little grace.  We all stumble sometimes.  The question is, are we going to lay in the middle of the road and continue to let cars run over us?  Or are we going to pick ourselves up, brush off the dust and continue forward?  I chose to move forward 4 miles with Finn in the stroller and by the time I got back home, I'd forgiven myself an indulgent morning and vowed to do better at dinner.

With that in mind, I really only have 3 New Year's Resolutions for 2012:
  1. Make good choices, be it food, exercise, or words; but be kind to myself if I teeter a little (as I surely will). 
  2. Loose weight.  Not necessarily to get to a magic number, although I do have one, but more to get to a magic feeling.
  3. Run a 5k.
Do you make New Years Resolutions?  I'd love to hear what your goals are for the coming year.

Here's to tomorrow...a new day to start fresh.  

Saturday, January 7, 2012

30 Day Photo Project {Days 4-7}

Day 4-7 Prompts: Food | Sunset | Where you sleep | Something blue

Change starts at home.

Our Christmas trees sitting desolate on the side of our house, waiting for Uriah to take it to the city drop-off site.  I went through all of my Christmas decorations last week, separated the items that don't really have any sentimental value and set them aside for the spring yard sale.  I'm down to only three Christmas totes of decorations and ornaments, one for Halloween/Fall and one for Easter/spring.  I feel pretty good about that.

Fresh on the heels of moving last year, and it feels like we moved a lot, this year I am implementing the: something in, something out philosophy.  That goes for clothes, toys and anything extra we think we might need in this house.

Want a new book?  An old one goes out.
Having a birthday party and you get some new toys?  An equal number goes out.
Need a new shirt?  Donate an old one.

In addition to something in, something out, I generally want to use less.  We're back on our menu-planning after taking a couple of weeks off for the holidays and I've found that we're at the grocery store so much less (mostly just for milk and eggs and bread).  The things that we do use, I'd like for the majority of them to be American made.  I broached the subject with Uriah when we were on our way to Kansas City and we both agree that keeping our money here is important.  We try to shop at the smaller stores and keep our money local as much as we can.  Initially we thought we'd have to go to Sioux Falls to do our Christmas shopping, but we managed to do all of our shopping between Spencer and Spirit Lake.

I think it will be a slow process, this going into a less is more mentality, but I don't want to raise kids who are wasteful and don't value the things that they do have.  Change starts at home, and we're starting now!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

30 Day Photo Project {Days 1-3}

Happy New Year!  

Are you healthy?  Did you watch the ball drop and kiss someone you love at midnight on New Year's Eve?  I am getting healthy, I did not watch the ball drop, but I did kiss someone I love at midnight!  Don't you just love the freshness of a new year?  Even though I've started 2012 off in less than stellar health, I have a feeling that this is going to be my year.  I'm not entirely sure what that means yet, but I'm game for whatever comes my way!  We Hefter's (the ones that can speak English coherently) created a bucket list of things we want to do in 2012.  It's not a huge list, but we're going to try some new things and put forth a greater effort to do more as a family this year. 

I've also started a little project for myself this January, something to get me taking pictures every day.  And not that I don't take pictures every day, (obviously, my external hard drive can attest to that!) but I wanted to do something...different, I guess.  So I created a calendar with a word a day - or words, in some cases.  I guess maybe I should consider it a little bit more of a prompt to get me thinking outside of my usual box.  

I hung it up in the kitchen where I can see it every morning and can, hopefully, be inspired to see something different.

Let's see what January brings!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Thanks for the memories, 2011.

{January 2011}
{February 2011}
{March 2011}
{April 2011}
{May 2011}
{June 2011}
{July 2012}
{August 2011}
{September 2011}
{October 2011}
{November 2011}
{December 2011}