May 6, 2018
by Lacy
1 Comment

Strawberry Tower and Winter Coat Storage

I’ve got beets and carrots roasting for salads this week, and thought I’d sit down and write about what’s been happening around here.

May is a busy month with school and some activities coming to a close, but I’m ready for summer. I asked D last night what she wanted to do this summer and she said, “Sleep in late!” I’m with you, kiddo. Fourteen and a half school days left!

Home

We did a lot of yard work the past two weeks. Last weekend we got our vegetable garden really going. (We already had peas, spinach, lettuce, beets, garlic, and other cold crops in). And we built my vision of a strawberry tower (above).

So far, sprinkling garlic powder (I buy it in bulk at Costco) around the edges of the boxes is keeping hungry bunnies from raiding the tasty greens. We’ll probably need to put netting over the strawberries once the fruit gets going to keep the birds away.

We’re hoping this will be a good fruit year!  The apple, peaches, ditch plums, and cherry trees are blooming valiantly. We’ve already purchased tree netting to try to keep the critters away (something ate ALL my cherries last year and I watched a squirrel make off with one of my peaches). It looks like I may get to harvest some rhubarb this year as well!  Looking forward to it.

We’re also using a simple natural weed killer recipe to keep things from growing in the cracks of our patio. It works great. We make up a big batch of it and bought a big sprayer to keep it on hand. Best to spray mid-morning because it needs the direct, hot sun to “burn” the plants. Very effective and safe for pets and kids.

Keeping

My big project for this week will be getting our winter clothes ready for storage. (I hope I’m not tempting the gods by putting them away! Yes, it’s May, but this year has been weird!)

Planning to take all our winter coats to the dry cleaner this week, have buttons tightened and reattached as needed, etc. before they’re stored. I’m also hoping to source some good fabric garment bags for the coats.

I’ll wash all the hats, gloves, scarves etc. and try to organize them in the closet a bit better.

I’ll also move the last of my winter clothes into my cedar chest and weed out most of D’s long-sleeved and winter clothes as well.

Finally, I need to clean some of my boots (MUD SEASON) before I put them away.

Eats

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins — These muffins are excellent, if a little sweet. I will probably cut the sugar by 1/3 to 1/2 when I make them again.

Tabbouli — Had some parsley looking sad in my crisper drawer so I decided to make this last weekend. I was surprised at how MUCH the fam liked it. Added a can of chickpeas for protein and some chicken to mine one day. Very tasty.

The asparagus is finally in! We’ve been picking handfuls whenever we’re out in a ditch. First of the year were served with a basted egg and lemon butter on whole wheat sourdough toast.

Crackers — For our first cheese plate of patio season, I didn’t have any crackers on hand, so I whipped up some cream crackers from “How to Cook Everything” that were delicious and easy. Basically this recipe without the Parmesan (which I’m sure would also be amazing).

We had dinner at Smokin’ Fins restaurant in Arvada; excellent smoked prime rib tacos! And then, of course, a scoop or three from Scrumptious for dessert. I went wild and had a scoop of the “mystery” flavor — I could identify two kinds of chocolate, coconut, blueberry, maybe strawberry, and something with cinnamon in. Tasty and exciting. 😉

Meal Planning

I’ve been enjoying the recipes from this salad-a-day challenge, and I’ll probably make some more this week for lunches. I’m cutting the recipes down to make only one or two servings, since I’m home alone for lunch most days!

Some dinner ideas:

For both the paninis and the grilled chicken skewers, I’ll use my Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler. I like it because it has interchangeable plates, so I only need one appliance for a griddle, grill, panini press, and waffle iron.

April 26, 2018
by Lacy
3 Comments

Alice In Wonderland Birthday Tea

We had such a great time at Devyn’s 7th birthday party. My mom flew out a few days before and we had a great time creating the decorations and food. She wrote those signs that we tacked to the tree in the front yard.

It was a really simple agenda for the party. When the girls arrived, we gave each one a sweet little half apron my mom found at Target in the dollar section. The girls played outside until everyone arrived, and then we seated them at the table for tea.

I used pre-printed placemats I already had, and I made a runner out of paper doilies (just glued them together).

I hung some tissue flowers we already had from the ceiling as well as some play tea set teacups for a “mad hatter” vibe. I also decorated with some really great pre-made props from Amazon.

We folded the napkins in a rosebud shape, which was very easy.  I used my grandmother’s silver that I inherited recently, and mismatched the plates and cups from my collection. I also tied a tag on each of the cups that said “drink me.”

I served two kinds of caffeine-free tea, Sugar Cookie and raspberry, from Celestial seasonings. We let the girls add sugar cubes and milk while we brought over the food.

The menu included mini chocolate chip scones, mini quiches (from the frozen foods aisle), and three kinds of tea sandwiches: chicken salad on pumpernickel, cucumbers and cream cheese on wheat, and almond butter with jam on white bread.

I made lots of extra for the grown-ups — we’re at an age where I’m never sure if the parents will stay or go, so I wanted to be sure I had plenty!

After the girls ate, they went outside to play croquet!  We borrowed a croquet set from a friend. They mostly just whacked the ball around the yard, but they had a good time.

My family and I dressed up as characters! I was the White Queen, my husband was the White Rabbit, my mom was the Queen of Hearts, and my sister from another mister was the Mad Hatter.  I made D’s pinafore and she wore a great blue dress from Primary.com. (We’ve bought two more in other colors. They have pockets!)

After croquet, the girls came back in for cake.

We had store-bought desserts: macarons from Costco (I KNOW!), little chocolate tea cakes from Whole Foods, and — find of the weekend — a very nice gluten-free almond cake from… wait for it… IKEA! for my mom. And a bowl of mushroom cookies. Because mushrooms and Alice.

(I also hid a little dormouse in the sugar bowl on the dessert table. Can you spot him?)

I arranged some cakes in the shape of a 7 and put candles in for her to blow out.

The piece de la resistance was an idea we saw on Pinterest that D latched onto. My mom and I spent the week turning a dishwasher box into a Victorian living room with a tiny door for our Alices to “grow” into. D was so into it she handed each girl a mushroom cookie to eat before they “grew.”

We made the box with printed poster board for the floor and wainscoting and fabric for the wallpaper. I got different sizes of wood for the architectural details, the door, and the table.  My mom made the curtain, and the clock was a sticker. We hung tiny picture frames from the wall with pins.  And we rounded it out with some doll furniture — and even made a tag that says “drink me” for a tiny bottle next to a tiny key (from the jewelry department at the craft store) on the table.

They played a little more and then we passed out treat bags.  I found mismatched china teacups and saucers at a thrift store for the treat bags and put a macaron and a teabag in each. I also put one of the tiny keys (like from the photo box) on a string in each for them to play with or wear as a necklace. And the bags were decorated with playing cards and their names.

I added the riddle to my antique typewriter and dug the glitter raven out of the Halloween directions just because I could!

I think it was a really successful party and we had a great time!

April 21, 2018
by Lacy
1 Comment

Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Foods Show Winners!

Got some free tickets to the Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Foods Show here in Denver, and it just so happened that my mom, who has celiac, was in town. So we grabbed our swag bags and ate our way through the show!

Here were some of our standout favorites:


RPS Gluten Free Linguini Pasta — Available at Whole Foods here in Colorado (search here to find out if you can find it near you), and on Amazon in bulk, this pasta has a great chew and taste. We tried the rotini just with olive oil and a little salt and it was tasty.

New Planet Gluten Free and Gluten Removed Beers — Wait, gluten free beer that actually tastes like beer??? It does exist! We tried the blonde ale and it was great. I’d love to try the raspberry ale as well.

Forno de Minas Traditional Cheese Bread — We tried several types of pão de queijo at the show and these were by far the best. Made with cheese and tapioca flour. A different vendor had the idea to put a bunch in a cake pan to make a sort of pull-apart pizza and that sounded like a great idea to us!

Pigasus Pizza Box — The standout of the show were these Pigasus frozen pizzas. Currently in three gluten-free flavors (and about a dozen more non gluten-free) these were OUTSTANDING. Great crust, great toppings, great chew and flavor. You can order them shipped to you from their website (for about the price of a delivery pizza each) and it’s a (cancel any time) monthly subscription. Maybe a great gift for the serious pizza lover in your life.

Really, between this and the beer, mom and I were in gluten-free heaven!

Aime’s Love Gluten Free Bakery and Cafe

And finally, you know they had to be good if I spent $20 on four cinnamon rolls — but they really were that good! We were blown away by the samples from Aime’s and now I’m thinking the next time mom visits we may have to find an excuse to go to Longmont! Their menu is huge, including 22 varieties of pie, 14 varieties of cake (with many different filling and frosting combos), cookies, cupcakes, and bars as well as breakfast sandwiches, bagels, crepes, paninis and more. Definitely worth a field trip or a stop if you’re in Longmont!

Happy birthday, Mom! What better way to celebrate than snacking our way through a gluten-free paradise?!

February 12, 2018
by Lacy
1 Comment

4 Tools of My Essentialist Closet

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working hard to declutter and simplify my closet. I don’t have one of those amazing capsule wardrobes in which everything goes with everything else (although… it’s pretty close, actually), but I’ve been consciously keeping my clothing choices to a minimum for the most part.

(I do have more cocktail dresses than someone with my social calendar reasonably needs, but I like them.)

And while minimalism is all about reducing the things you have, essentialism — which is what I strive to practice — is the disciplined pursuit of less, but better. I interpret this to mean that it’s perfectly acceptable to add things to your life if they make the experience simpler or better somehow.

So here are a few things I have added to my closet that have improved my experience of dressing myself every day immeasurably.

Hanging Jewelry Organizer

I struggled for years to find a way to organize my jewelry in a way that would allow me to actually see and use it. I started with traditional jewelry boxes, but everything is hidden away, and if you have even a medium-sized collection of costume jewelry, it’s hard to keep it tidy in a box of a reasonable size!

Then I tried trays with little nooks. That worked OK from an organizational and display standpoint, but everything got dusty.

Then I decided I would buy a shadowbox with a hinged door, and display and store my jewelry that way. The box was pretty expensive, and then I had a hard time finding pins that were sturdy enough to hold my heavier necklaces. Once again, it also wasn’t really big enough for all my jewelry — and it’s not like I have THAT much!!

FINALLY, I stumbled across a “little black dress” jewelry organizer at TJMaxx, and all my needs were answered (similar item from Amazon pictured).

It hangs in my closet, taking up no more space than a single item of clothing. It has a zillion pockets and loops and hangers, so it can hold my entire jewelry collection. It prevents things from getting dusty. And because the pockets are clear, I can see everything at a glance, which means I wear more of it.

EUREKA!

I also use it as a divider in my closet, keeping everyday clothes on one side, and cardigans and jackets on the other.

Multi-bin Laundry Basket

I’ve never been great at staying on top of the laundry. When I really sat down and thought about why it was hard for me to stay on top of it, I realized one of the biggest barriers was sorting the laundry.

I wanted to be able to do one load (or so) every day (or so). That required dumping out our entire hamper and sorting everything into piles on the floor in the closet or bedroom. Then I would wash one load and the other piles would either a) live on the floor or b) go back into the hamper — necessitating that I pull everything out and sort it again the next day.

Is this a silly thing to prevent one from staying current with one’s laundry? Yes indeed. But once I figured that out, I decided it wasn’t a stupid expense to buy a new hamper with multiple compartments.

This one ridiculous thing changed my laundry life! The version we bought (similar to the one pictured) has removable bins, so I can carry one bin — one, pre-sorted load! — downstairs to wash, and the others stay right where they are.

I’m certain that some people are rolling their eyes at this… But I’ve come to realize that if I can identify a stumbling block for myself and remove it, it really does make all the difference!

Sturdy Hooks

Again, this is kind of a “DUH” moment, but adding a hook like this to my side of the closet has made a world of difference in keeping our walk-in closet (and surrounding bedroom) neat and tidy.

I’m one of those people who tends to wear an item of clothing (like jeans) more than once before I wash it. But that presents a dilemma: where to put the garment between wears?

Sometimes I could manage to fold a pair of jeans and toss them on top of the pile on the shelf, but more often than not, they ended up in the chair outside the closet. Not a great solution. (And no, apparently I was not capable of putting them on a hanger and hanging them back up.)

Enter the hooks! I use them for my bathrobe, items of clothing I intend to wear again before washing, and a tote bag to keep clothes headed to the dry cleaner. (I don’t have much that gets dry cleaned, so I only end up going maybe once every few months! So I need a place to keep things between visits.)

Portable Steamer

As you may be able to tell by this point, I’m a little bit lazy when it comes to laundry and garment care!

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good, or that I don’t care how my clothes look; it just means I want to get the best look in the easiest possible way.

In other words: I rarely iron.

It wasn’t really an issue until recently; I work from home and don’t often wear a lot of clothes that need to be ironed. But when we bought a new washer and dryer a few months ago, the washer purported that it would get more water out in its spin cycle, necessitating less time in the dryer.

This is true.

The flip side is that it spins everything SO HARD, that clothes come out drastically more wrinkled than they did with our old washer.

My husband was diligently pulling out my shirts, most of which I let air-dry to help preserve the fabric longer. But that meant they were ending up in my closet looking like someone had balled them up and shoved them in the bottom of a duffel bag for a week.

Knowing myself (and realizing that the likelihood of me taking an hour to iron all my tops every week was about nil), I remembered that I’d bought a travel steamer last summer when I wanted to pack a linen dress for an event I was attending in San Francisco. I dug it out and set it up just outside my closet, where there is a little file cabinet (a flat spot for the steamer to sit while warming) and an outlet.

It works like a champ! This model (I have the turquoise one!) heats up very fast, holds more than enough water for one shirt, and gets out the worst of the wrinkles for a “casual press” look that I can definitely live with. It now lives on the file cabinet just outside my closet at all times so that I can grab it quickly any given morning and give something a once-over.

January 21, 2018
by Lacy
1 Comment

My Bullet Journal Recommendations

Baron Fig journal with Pilot G2 pen

I’ve been Bullet Journaling for about two years now. If you’re not familiar with the practice, it’s a way of keeping a paper planner / journal that is totally customizable because you start with a blank notebook. You can watch the video from the creator of the system here to get a better feel for how it works.

Of course, once you get into Bullet Journaling, you start following a few BuJo accounts on Instagram, pinning a few beautiful examples on Pinterest… And things can generally start to spiral out of control.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried lots of different things I’ve seen on the internet and I’ve come to a few conclusions:

  • I’m a simple girl, and while I like things neat and tidy, I’m never going to be the artist type drawing gorgeous images to accompany my grocery lists.
  • I’m also not much of a sticker or washi tape girl, though I did try. It ended up making me feel like everything was too cluttered. I like a few stickers here and there.
  • Future planning in my BuJo beyond a weekly spread is a no-go for me. I rely on my Google calendar for future planning and up-to-the-minute scheduling.
  • Quality supplies are key.

If you know me at all, that last one will be of no surprise to you whatsoever. First of all stationary supplies are one of my love languages and quality is another.

But finding the right supplies has been a journey, so I thought I’d share where I’m at now and what I’m using (and loving) for all my fellow Bullet Journalists out there.

Baron Fig Confident II Journal

Baron Fig journal with Pilot G2 pen

Knowing I would need a new journal around the first of this year, I did some research to find the perfect one. I’ve used both Moleskine and Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, which tend to be the gold standard for most Bullet Journal enthusiasts, and while they’re fine, they tend to show bleed through.

Bleed through is when you can see ghosting of the text you wrote on one side of the page on the opposite side. And to my little heart that likes things neat and tidy, it’s annoying.

(This is not new, by the way; back in my school days, I only wrote on one side of my notebook paper for the same dang reason.)

I use pretty standard Pilot G2 gel pens, not fancy fountain pens or anything like that, and yet I was still seeing this ghosting. So I started Googling around for options with thicker paper in the dot grid style that I like and which is so popular with Bullet Journalers.

What I found was the Confident II journal from Baron Fig. (P.S. That link will give you a coupon code for $10 off your first order!)

It’s a hardcover notebook (necessary when you carry it around all day as I do) with really nice fine-grain, acid-free paper that is heavier than what you get with either the Moleskine or the Leuchtturm notebooks. I see pretty much ZERO ghosting, which is exactly how I wanted it.

The only downside of these notebooks is that they don’t come in as many cool colors as the other brands; the standard ones come in just two shads of gray book cloth. They do have special editions, which look lovely, but cost a lot more. And they are a non-standard size, so if I want to buy a nice leather cover, I have to buy it from the Baron Fig people — neither of these are dealbreakers for me.

Book Darts

brass page darts

I wanted a way to mark important pages in my BuJo so that I could turn to them quickly and easily. I used these for a while, which I quite liked the look of, but after 6 months to a year of use, paper tabs can end up kind of ratty.

So this year I upgraded and ordered some brass Book Darts.

They’re tiny, triangular, thin pieces of metal that you slip over the edge of a page. The point of the triangle can point to a single line, if you want to mark a particular line in a book (or your notebook) or you can just use them to mark the page from the edge.

I love how slim they are, and yet how easy it is for me to turn back to find an important page.

Tombow Dual Brush Pen Set

Tombow brush pens

I had been seeing some people adding swaths of color to their writing with brush pens, and I wanted to give it a try. I happened to be browsing a Tuesday Morning store, and I found a set of dual brush pens for pretty cheap compared to the ones I was seeing online, so I bought it.

Bad move.

These markers were so heavy on the ink they bled through everything but the thickest construction and watercolor paper. (I gave them to my daughter with the rule that she must always put another piece of paper behind the one she’s coloring to prevent ink getting all over the table, floor, etc.)

So I went on the advice of artists I had Googled and ordered a set of Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers. SO MUCH NICER! These work exceptionally well and don’t bleed through my paper. I really love my greyscale ones and plan to get a colored set soon, too.

(You’ll notice in the photo that if you use them OVER the top of the gel pens, the pen ink has a tendency to smudge. The easy fix is to lay down the color first and then write over it.)

Mochi Sticky Notes

If you’ve never been to the site Mochi Things, and you love stationary and office supplies, prepare to lose an hour or so of your life. This Korean company has the absolute cutest stickies, stickers, pens, pockets and notebooks you can imagine.

I decided to try out a couple of pre-printed sticky notes to save myself from having to draw things over and over. I ended up buying the Basic Monthly Sticky and the Weekly Long Schedule Sticky Note and the list version.

While I like both in theory, in practice they are a little smaller than I would like. I wish they filled up the entire page of my notebook, because otherwise it feels like there’s a lot of dead, unused space around the sticky. I’ve been using the list version to keep my grocery list in the notebook and then take it out to go to the store, which I like a lot, and I’m sure I’ll keep playing with the others.

bullet journal with coffee cup

Like many things, using a Bullet Journal is a personal experience, but if you’re interested in it, I hope maybe you’ll find some inspiration in the tools and accessories that are working for me right now.

January 16, 2018
by Lacy
1 Comment

My Intentions for 2018

Every year for several years now, I’ve returned to Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul to identify what she calls your “core desired feelings” for the year.

Basically, the idea is that rather than starting with a goal like, “lose weight” or “save money,” instead you start with how you want to feel — and then design your goals to feel that way more often.

This year, my core desired feelings are: elegant, whole, love, and inspired.

Elegant is more about how I feel than how others see me (though the two tend to go hand in hand). For me it encompasses essentialism (not minimalism, which is a post for another day), quality, mindfulness, and pleasure.

Whole refers to the fact that I realized over the past few years I’ve poured a ton of energy into improving myself as a business owner, but much less time or energy into improving myself personally, my relationships, etc.

Love is on the list because really I crave to feel loved, but as the author points out, being loved by others is totally out of my control. What is in my control, however, is to generate feelings of love inside myself. So I’m going to try to be more intentionally loving.

And finally, I crave the jolt of energy and excitement and passion that comes from feeling inspired. It might come from creating something, but also from reading a really excellent book, seeing a live performance, watching a really great movie, etc.

The beauty of this is that one can translate those core desired feelings into decisions and actions big and small. It could be something as simple as choosing to eat my breakfast with a silver spoon or drink my coffee from a china teacup. Or it might be as big as changing careers, moving across country, traveling the world.

I don’t have any plan to do any of the latter.

But I am making some big gestures toward feeling the way I want to feel.

~*~

Two weekends ago, I wanted to take down the Christmas tree and put away all the decorations, which morphed into a (necessary) deep clean of the living room (so many pine needles!) which morphed into a moving-the-furniture-to-clean-underneath deep clean, which morphed into “what do you think about moving the table over here?” which morphed into selling our giant IKEA TV cabinet and temporarily relocating our TV to the guest room…

new sitting area

The upshot is that our downstairs living area looks and feels a lot more open and spacious. We moved our small sofa into the space where the dining table used to be, meaning that there’s now a sitting area right next to the kitchen. I had some friends over for brunch last week and they both said it felt warm and welcoming.

We want to replace the blue sofa sometime soon, and we swapped out the light fixture for a new one from IKEA (to prevent everyone over 5 feet tall from smashing their head on the old one). Still need a new lamp for the dining area to provide a bit more light at night, and we’ll probably move the art to the center wall over the table, but I’m really liking it.

new dining area

~*~

In the vein of paying more attention to my personal development (not just business development) I also joined a community chorus on a whim this week. A friend of mine posted on social media that she had joined, I commented that I wanted to join — and boom, I joined.

To be fair, there’s no audition. Joining involves sending an email. But I’ve got the sheet music and practice tracks to download, and the first rehearsal is Wednesday, so I guess I joined a chorus!

I also attended an information session on a 2-year writing program aimed at helping people complete a book-length work.  (Basically an MFA without the degree — and much less expensive!) I’m not sure it’s for me, but it was exciting to think about and a great excuse to visit the place and learn more about the people and programs.

Both of these should feed that inspiration itch I’ve been having. Singing (with a group, especially) can be a spiritual experience for me, regardless of what I’m actually singing.  And I know I do better with my writing when I have other people involved in the process, so a workshop or class is often a real driver for me.

~*~

After several years of practice, I find that starting with the end in mind — the way I want to feel as the result I want to create — is a much more wholistic way of setting goals for me. And finding ways to prioritize those good feelings is fun and rewarding.

November 21, 2017
by Lacy
1 Comment

68 Minimalist Consumable Holiday Gift Ideas

Who needs more junk? This year, we are aiming to give more “consumable” gifts — meaning, something that can be experienced or used up. We’re trying to do this for friends and family members young and old.

I’ve brainstormed 68 consumable gift ideas to get your creativity started this holiday season. We regularly make food gifts, and I have a great list of 12+ ideas to get you started, including these delicious candied orange peels that have become something of a tradition for us.

making satsumettes

  1. Movie gift cards
  2. Amusement park tickets
  3. Water park tickets
  4. Night’s stay in a hotel or “staycation”
  5. Ski lift tickets
  6. Bath time gifts for kids (bath crayons, paints, bubble bath, etc.)
  7. Bath tie gifts for adults (bath salts, sugar scrub, bubble bath, etc.)
  8. Cosmetics (nail polish, makeup, shaving cream, cologne, etc.)
  9. Fine soaps or lotions
  10. Art supplies for kids (coloring books, glue, construction paper, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, pom poms, glitter, etc.)
  11. Craft supplies for adults (scrapbooking supplies, yarn, etc.)
  12. Stationary
  13. Fun office supplies (sticky notes, file folders, notepads, pens, etc.)
  14. Homemade play dough or “slime”
  15. Kits to make homemade play dough or slime
  16. Museum/zoo memberships
  17. iTunes gift cards
  18. Restaurant gift certificates
  19. Pet gifts (pet food, catnip, chew toys, etc.)
  20. Golf course passes
  21. Gift certificate for a hot air balloon ride
  22. Netflix gift subscription
  23. Grocery store gift cards
  24. Stationery (address labels, stamps, journals, etc.)
  25. Pizza delivery gift cards
  26. Car care supplies (car wash tokens, air freshener, car wax, oil change gift card, gas card, etc.)
  27. Lottery tickets
  28. Coupons for your services (babysitting, pet care, house-sitting, etc.)
  29. Concert tickets
  30. Sporting event tickets
  31. Summer camp for kids
  32. Gift certificate for a manicure or pedicure
  33. Food gift baskets (Italian, coffee lover’s, chocolate lovers, ice cream toppings, wine or beer, etc.)
  34. Frozen foods (make cookie dough and freeze it into balls for future use, prepare freezer meals, etc.)
  35. Food jar gifts (soup mixes, cookies, bars, canned jellies and jams, mug cakes, etc.)
  36. Baked goods or other foodie gifts
  37. Wine or liquor
  38. Infused liquors
  39. Fine coffee or tea
  40. Starbucks (or other coffee shop) gift card
  41. Specialty olive oil or vinegar
  42. CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription
  43. Fireplace accessories (fire starters, lighters, etc.)
  44. Garden gifts (tulip bulbs, seeds, bird seed, feeders, etc.)
  45. Food by mail (Hickory Farms, Omaha Steaks, etc.)
  46. Flower arrangement or potted plants
  47. Herb garden
  48. Kitchen supplies (decorative napkins and plates, dish towels, dish scrubber, etc.)
  49. Bowling alley passes and shoe rental gift card
  50. Gift certificate to a portrait studio or for custom framing
  51. Gym membership (CAREFUL with that one! LOL!)
  52. Music lessons
  53. Hobby classes (photography, cooking, etc.)
  54. Cleaning services gift cards (window washing, maid services, gutter cleaning etc.)
  55. Donations to a charity
  56. Ice skating or roller skating tickets
  57. Swimming pool membership
  58. Rock climbing gym membership
  59. Massage
  60. Spa day
  61. Digital subscription to a favorite publication
  62. Audible audiobook subscription
  63. Kindle books (if your friend has a Kindle, you can purchase a book and select “send as a gift”)
  64. Subscription boxes (like Tinker Crate and Kiwi Crate for kids)
  65. Mini golf tickets
  66. Paint-your-own pottery gift certificate
  67. Paint-and-sip gift certificate
  68. Babysitting services

May 30, 2017
by Lacy
1 Comment

This is what it means to be a woman in 2017

I had to yell at two tween boys at the park today who were using vicious, nasty, violent language about women and women’s body parts in full view and earshot of my six year old daughter. They called me a bitch. I stood my ground, but it stuck with me, made me uncomfortable and angry for hours afterward.

How is this still happening in 2017? How are these boys, whose voices have barely dropped, taught that’s what a man says, that’s what a man sounds like?

Where are their parents? Do these boys act normal at home and put on this disgusting posturing when they think they are alone? Or do their parents not care to correct them? Do their parents encourage that kind of behavior?

And why am I, as a 36-year-old woman, provoked to a visceral flight or fight adrenaline response by two kids less than half my age?

Because I read the news. Doesn’t matter that they probably weren’t more than 13. Doesn’t matter that it was a public park in broad daylight. I’m not ashamed to admit it: some visceral part of me was afraid to confront these boys, afraid of what they might do.

But I stood up for myself. I called them out, demanded that they watch their language, said they were being inappropriate. My dog growled at them when I raised my voice. It didn’t stop them; though they left us alone, they kept swearing and shouting at the top of their lungs. I gave them the stink eye. It made them uncomfortable.  And then D was done playing and we left.

And when D asked why I was so upset about it on the way home, I had to figure out how to tell her that words are just the beginning. Words lead to actions. And I have to be constantly on my guard from men and boys in particular to protect myself and her. My heart breaks, but I have to teach her that boys like that could be a threat — now and later. Always.

She told me she was glad I stood up to the “big boys” who called me a bad name.

This is what it means to be a woman in 2017.  And it is shameful.

 

May 28, 2017
by Lacy
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Graduating

My baby “graduated” from kindergarten this week.  

She “graduated” from pre-K last year, too, though there was a bit less pomp and circumstance. Is it silly? A little. Is it fun?  Sure.

Does it tug at a mama’s heart strings?  Absolutely.

It feels like we are in a season of change right now.  On Saturday we finally bought some carpet for the house. (We’ve only been talking about replacing the carpet since we moved into the house — eight years ago.)

Of course, in order to install the carpet, they have to move furniture, and they won’t move anything with anything on it. Between that and the fact that we are switching Devyn’s room with the guest room, and it seemed like the perfect time to clean up, clean out, and then move everything around.

We spent most of the day today doing just that. B remarked at how much stuff we had packed into that guest room.  It certainly didn’t look like it was super full of stuff, but man.  It was. I wish I’d taken a before picture, but I took a few “during” that I’ll post when the project is done.

We’re nowhere near done, but we already have enough stuff in the garage to give and throw away that I can no longer park my car in my parking spot. And it seemed like every time I moved to do something, I thought of another project that needed doing. I told B it was like, before we started, everything was in stasis, and now it’s aaaaaalllll in flux.

I’ve always been a bit of a minimalist at heart, or, as I prefer now, an essentialist. Getting rid of stuff feels good to me! But it is a massive undertaking. I don’t want to move anything and put it back after we have new carpet that I don’t have to.

It’s interesting the things we have held on to simply because it’s easier than doing something with them.  For example, I had a whole shelf of a bookshelf full of books on writing — that I hadn’t looked at or used in years.  I kept a few that were special to me, but it was surprisingly easy to let go of the rest.

This Week:

We were pretty busy this week with end-of-school activities, so I there’s not as much to share.

Made these blueberry muffins from Drizzle Me Skinny. Tasty, but being low fat, they are a little chewy.

I invented these “pissaladiere” snacks with the caramelized onions and fennel from last week’s clean-out-the-fridge cooking.  You can see the recipe, such as it is, on my Instagram.

I also tried making tortilla chips in the air fryer for the first time!  They got quite brown, but that didn’t affect the taste at all — delicious!  I’ll definitely be doing that again.

And tonight, exhausted from a day of minimalism, we had a snacky dinner — in that I simply pulled a bunch of nibbles out of the fridge and let everyone build a plate. 

Devyn went with sardines on saltines and lots of mushrooms…

While I went heavy on the crudité and selfishly finished up the spinach artichoke dip.

Meal Plan

Thought I’d add a new section this week and throw in my meal plan. I tend to plan out 5–6 meals, and I don’t always assign them a day, to leave some wiggle room in my planning. This week I’m trying to use up some of what we have in the pantry and freezer:

I’m also planning to make some variation of avocado cilantro dressing because our cilantro is going bonkers in our garden.

May 21, 2017
by Lacy
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Cheater’s Shrimp and Scallop Paella

This easy paella recipe is from the book, 400 Calorie Fix by Liz Vaccariello (I believe it is out of print, but you can find used copies at that link.) Since it is a diet book, it uses a small amount turkey kielbasa for flavor. If you’re not concerned about calories, you can sub regular kielbasa or sausage, or just use more of the turkey kielbasa.

The most important ingredients are the saffron, of course, and the clam juice, which is a shortcut for seafood stock. It really gives the dish a nice, authentic briney flavor.

Paella is one of those dishes that lends itself to endless variations, so feel free to switch up the meats or seafood, add different vegetables, or go full vegetarian by subbing more peppers and chickpeas for the meats (some smoked paprika would also help boost the flavor lost without the sausage).

Cheater’s Shrimp and Scallop Paella

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 41 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 2 cups

Cheater’s Shrimp and Scallop Paella

From the book, "400 Calorie Fix" by Liz Vaccariello.

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 oz turkey kielbasa or sausage, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads, lightly crushed
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 1 bottle clam juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 16 Manzanilla olives
  • 3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb sea scallops

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and kielbasa. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saffron and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Pour in the clam juice and 1/4 cup of the water. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, olives, and remaining water. Cover and return to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes longer, or until the rice is nearly tender. Stir in the shrimp, scallops, and peas. Cover and cook 6-8 minutes longer, or until the rice is tender and the seafood is cooked through.

Notes

8 Weight Watchers Smart Points per serving

https://laughinglemonpie.com/cheaters-shrimp-and-scallop-paella/

This week:

Remember when I said I had used up the “last” of the asparagus.  Haha!  Just kidding.  D and I picked more last Sunday — some nearly as tall as she is! — and I served it for lunch with some wild oyster mushrooms (courtesy Butter’s dad!) and fried eggs.  I also dusted them all in some truffle zest which was a very good idea.

Yes, some of those asparagus are nearly as tall as her!

Believe it or not, earlier this week we were toasting marshmallows in the back yard…

And then it SNOWED.  Ah, Colorado, you minx.

Eats

On Saturday, we headed to our first visit to the Boulder Farmer’s Market of the year.

After perusing, we walked to Boxcar Coffee, where we enjoyed a little breakfast and then got a “cheesemonger’s choice” plate from Cured that we brought home for lunch.

With a loaf of their incredible crown bread and some rancho gordo bean salad, we had a wonderful picnicky lunch.

Cooking

After the farmer’s market, I was inspired to cook and use up some of the produce wasting away at home. I whipped up some pickled radishes from Eugenia Bone’s book, The Kitchen Ecosystem.

I made banana walnut muffins to take advantage of some blackened bananas in the produce bowl.

And I caramelized a couple of onions with a fennel bulb that was going spare. We shall see how I put them all to use later this week.