Thanksgiving Traditions

My brother and I come from a non-traditional family and we never had those huge family gatherings many families had. One time we definitely went had take-out Chinese for Thanksgiving and another we spent at the buffet our mother worked at. So, it’s only natural that we’ve formed our own non-traditional traditions as adults.

Four years ago we started Sibling Thanksgiving, eating shrimp and grits and tri-colored pepper stir-fry over quinoa in my Hampton, VA apartment. I was a vegetarian, well, pescatarian actually, at the time, but since that Thanksgiving I’ve had two children, moved to Maine and we’ve been making all the usual foods for our Sinling Thanksgivings. Pregnancy made me crave meat and I was pregnant for most of the last 3 years. Anyway, it has evolved and there are five of us at the table instead of two, but we still break have our own spin.

For the past two years we’ve taken a hike after breakfast and before getting dinner ready. It wasn’t an intentional thing, but now that we’ve done it twice I think it’s a THING. So, when normal people (and my husband) are watching football on the couch, we’ll be tromping through the cold woods somewhere. But, while normal people save the eating for dinner, we made a super decadent breakfast this year (which also made a great base for leftovers). It was a sort of hash I dreamed up and my foodie brother made the poached eggs and the suggestion to cook everything in the bacon fat. So for Thanksgiving brunch we had a sweet and gold potato and ground turkey hash cooked in bacon fat with poached eggs on top and bacon on the side. I put a whole sweet onion in the hash as well as two cloves of garlic and cooked it down so much you’d never have known except for the flavor.

^the hash, the original, the leftover hash breakfast, the hiking selfie

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and I’d love to hear about your own non-traditional traditions!





Bright Shirts and a Wardrobe Hack


Hey guys, This is a terrible iPhone timer picture of my outfit today. And it’s an iPhone 5s that I have to delete stuff from just to take a picture because I have 1300 photos and 112 videos of my kids. But, I was excited that my $8 clearance shirt got 3 compliments by 830am… I’ve been trying to wear more color and patterns because my standard uniform is solid pants, a solid tank and a solid open cardigan and 2/3 of said uniform is generally neutral colors. But I’m pretty frugal when it comes to clothing, so I was happy to find this budget-friendly top to brighten things up. The pants are actually $7.78 full priced no boundaries jeans from the Walmart juniors section and seriously they are so comfortable and stretchy and fit perfectly and are a reason all their own for making a Walmart trip if you are like me and fit better in juniors than women’s and the high wasp waisted pants that are too big everywhere but the waist. Check them out, I’m preaching to all of my friends about the wonders of $8 jeans.

It can be frustrating to dress for work when you are 3 months post-partum and don’t want to spend much (really any!) money on clothing that you are fervently hoping won’t even fit in a few months.

I am typing one-handed while holding a breast pump flange in the other hand so I’ll wrap this post up, but hopefully someone else benefits from this jean discovery. Yes, I seriously think I discovered normal looking Walmart jeans for under $8. Maybe it’s because my friends are either too cool to check out the clothing section at Walmart or they don’t shop at all because they think they can’t afford new clothes.

What is your most budget-friendly wardrobe hack?

Pattern Mixing and Glittery Nails

One great way I’ve found to distract from the parts of my body that haven’t quite recovered from baby #2 is to put more effort into making my outfits interesting and accessorizing. I feel like a fupa just feels more polished with a pretty print over it ;). Today I threw on the polka dotted tank and was about to reach for an open gray cardigan when I realized that I could make things a lot more interesting with a sheer flowered layer. And I’ve got to give credit to my coworker for turning me on to these Kiss nails… the learning curve was a bit steep for someone like me, but I managed to get them all on and I think they look great! Now I’m just going to throw on some gold sandals and I’m off to work. I’m really lucky to have a very casual business casual dress code.

Blackberry Cobbler And Grocery Shopping

When I go grocery shopping, I like to try to buy according to what is on sale. And not 20 cents off sale, but a significant portion of the price… $1.00 off a $3.00 product or this week blackberries, 6 oz. for $1.25 instead of $3.00. This tactic has helped me to eat fresh healthy foods while pregnant without blowing the grocery budget. That salad I added to the other day’s post was composed from great produce deals and was satisfying and good for the baby and I.

I think when we move I’ll be smarter about it and find a circular online or at the store before shopping so that I can see what’s on sale and plan meals accordingly. The way I do it now, I can’t plan ahead other than just knowing I’ll eat blackberries or spinach in the next few days but I can’t meal plan ahead anyway thanks to this first trimester business. For now, in addition to my produce purchases, I buy sale cereal or soup or frozen food to hoard until I’m hungry and it sounds decent.

Tonight I decided to make blackberry cobbler since those lovely blackberries are too tart to eat on their own. I had all the ingredients except for sugar and shortening. Doesn’t that make my pantry sound so healthy?? It’s kind of a lie because sure, I don’t keep sugar around, but I do have cinnamon toast crunch, Chex mix and fruit roll ups in there.

image     image

Anyway, I have always been a baker, even as a kid I would bake sugar cookies on snow days since my mom didn’t keep junk in the house, but we always had the basics needed for a simple no-frill cookie. I’ve even got a signature cookie, but I’ve never tried a pie or cobbler or really anything beyond cookies and the occasional cake. Im definitely hoping to keep expanding my repertoire of cooking and baking this year, with reasonably healthy dishes, so it was a perfect time to try my hand at a cobbler, which is actually really simple!!

image  image  image Oh my god, this was good…. I see breakfast tomorrow morning.

Trying to De-Bachelor our Pad

I think I’ve mentioned before that our apartment tends to look like a dark, cheaply furnished bachelor pad. I’ve been trying to work on this since we moved, buying and filling a beautiful china hutch, replacing our brown comforter with a white down-alternative (hasn’t been photographed but has really brightened up the bedroom) and my project this week has been to paint the cheap black particle board bookshelves that flank the pretty hutch, dragging it down with their drabness. I also ordered a new dining room table as we no longer have one and we’ll be picking that up next week.
I found a rug for 20$ to put under the table that I rather like despite its being yet another Big Lots piece. The table is real, actual furniture and I will be showing it off soon! In the meantime, here’s my bookshelf makeover. While I love the end result, it took a long time and a lot of coats and is highly prone to chipping, probably because particle board furniture is not meant to be painted. Is this why contact paper is a thing? Anyway, by the time I was finished with this bookcase I did not, and do not, at all want to go through the hassle of painting the other one, but I must! It kind of reminds me of the time I drove from Louisiana to Maine (32 grueling hours) and never ever wanted to make that trip again, but of course I had to. I had my car with me in Maine, and the both of us needed to get back to Louisiana, so I just had to suck it up and do the whole damn trip all over again. so, yeah I have to do this painting thing again. And buy a new roller and tray since I had no idea how to clean/store them and so I didn’t. Gooogle probably could have helped me with this, but instead I asked C. when we talked last night and apparently by then I’d missed my deadline to salvage both since it had been 10 hours.

before, but with the new rug.
before, but with the new rug.


The after picture makes me sigh with relief.
The after picture makes me sigh with relief.

Sh;t Five Year Olds Said This Week

Me: it sure would stink if you got your candy taken away (a threat, to child A)
Child B, looking genuinely confused: it doesn’t stink when you lose your candy… Miss G, do you stink when someone takes your candy?

“You look like fiona”
“Who is fiona?”
“Princess fiona”
Me,not asking whether she means in ogre or human form, “thank you ”

“Why is your face pink ?” (Asked again)
” I think thats just what color my face is”
“You’re supposed to be white.”
Oh, okay then, my bad.

I come back from my lunch break with my hair in a ponytail instead of down
“who did your hair?”

They don’t actually say as many crazy things as one might expect, when they’re being crazy at this age it seems to be mostly physical movement and nonsense sounds. There is one kid who consistently cracks me up because he’s just this little guy but he has this very deep voice.he has a tendency of being very quiet but when he walks by me or the teacher sometimes he just says “hey” with a wave and the casual, deep-voiced hey out of this baby is just so weird and cute. You probably have to be there, but whatever. The teacher was imitating it to me at recess today and it was so funny because it was on-point and also she noticed too, I’m not alone in finding it so hilarious.

PreK is My Jam

So, I’ve been an active substitute teacher for two weeks now and have worked four days- one as a reading interventionist with 1st and 2nd graders, one hellacious half day as a first grade teacher, a day as a preK teacher and a  half day as a preK paraprofessional. The only bad day was doing first grade because the kids completely changed as soon as their teacher left and there was no getting everyone to be quiet and focus at the same time, or to stay on task, so it was chaotic and I couldn’t really get them to complete anything.

Working as a reading interventionist went well because the largest group I had was six kids so it was easy to keep them on task and engaged. PreK has been amazing because there are two adults (a teacher and a para) for each class of 18 kids. This generally means that there is a familiar adult in the room even when there is a sub, so the kids don’t act out like they tend to when there is a sub. All of the kids, the first graders who handed me my ass included, are so freaking cute, but I think the kids can sense that I’m really pretty nice and also don’t know every classroom rule and so they definitely tested limits and I always had a group of kids harassing other students while another handful were asking me for snacks or the bathroom or complaining about kids taking things from them, etc. I just had to realize that I might not be the best at wrangling a classroom full of unfamiliar six year olds by myself.

Basically, I’m thinking of sticking with preK and I’ve already gotten to know two teachers who would like for me to come back next time they’re out, so I think the plan could work. I was actually supposed to teach high school English today, but the school I was going to be at has been on lockdown once this week (yesterday!) for gun threats and has been in the news three times this week for the same reason, threats of a shooting. I felt like based on that, this probably wouldn’t be an environment I’d be comfortable in, especially as I was already nervous about working with older kids because I’ve heard of teachers getting harassed and threatened and I don’t know if I’d be able to keep them from acting out. So, yeah, I threw that job back into the pool and I’m sticking to the little kids that I have loved working with. With the h.s. thing, even if the rumors hadn’t come to anything yet, I figure where there’s that much smoke, there’s going to be fire. Scary.

Our Apartment: The Settling in Edition

The last time I posted about our Virginia apartment, it was still an unpacked mess, so I thought I’d update with a few new pictures since we are more settled in now. Also I finally got the hutch I’ve had my eye on for over a month that I didn’t think I’d actually get. It is THE FIRST piece of furniture I’ve ever gotten to pick out for our home, as C. holds the purse springs and has chosen, without my even seeing them, the couch, coffee tables, end tables, bed frame, washer/dryer and etc. He did a great job choosing everything and mostly it’s bargain stuff anyway, aside from the  bed frame and washer dryer (which I loooove), but it was high time I got a little say in our decorating choices, and that’s why I’m so ridiculously excited about this new addition to our house. It’s just so pretty, and we don’t have a lot of pretty things as they are obviously mostly pretty masculine or neutral.

So, yeah, pictures.

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Cooking; A meditation

Today, I accidentally discovered what it is that I love so much about being alone in kitchen with my music, just cooking at my own pace. I had this great acoustic mix playing, had slowly and carefully prepped my ingredients at my own slow pace, not trying to be efficient or worrying about getting anything done before something else, because I did everything just one single thing at a time. My favorite way to cook is to spread what could be done over 45 minutes into a 2 hour ritual, to make it a sort of meditation.

So, there I found myself, swaying slightly and un-self-consciously to a lovely, strumming, jazzy song as I slowly, carefully, peeled two soft-boiled eggs for a cold ramen dish. I caught myself, just purely in a moment. That happens so rarely for me, I think so much, the same thoughts often roll over and over in my head, it’s not even anything new, it’s not even important, it’s just a constant rumination. And of course, I was still thinking my own little internal monologue while peeling, but it was just so much slower and softer than I am used to. When I take cooking slowly, and especially in the prep time when the over-sensitive smoke alarm isn’t crying out at my attempting to sear something, there’s just something so gentle and soothing about the little purposeful movements involved. This is a pretty strange blog post I guess, but I guess that’s what I wanted to explain- how different cooking can be from everything else, writing especially. It’s so outside the self in a way. Anyway, I’ll just leave you with that. A meditation on the meditation of cooking. A post with the most variations on the word “slow” I’ll probably ever write.