ThePlangineer | Oh Hello Stationary Co |

Sticker me this

I’ve always loved stationary, planners, pens, all the good things that make going back to school still a thing in our household.  Then a new colleague and friend of mine introduced me to the Erin Condren Planner, which lead me to the stickers.  

Y’all.  Whoever thought of creating kits and planing with stickers was a freakin’ genius.  And I may be more than a little absorbed into this process and turning my planner more into a journal/scrapbook rather just a place to jot down appointments.  Todays haul included stickers from two of my new favorite shops–ThePlangineer, and Oh Hello Stationary, Co.   Both are very different from one another, but the quality is fan-damn-tastic, and I’ve enjoyed planning with both so far.  Customer service has been top notch, and do you see how cute this stuff is?

I’m going to use the red, white and blue poppy kit from ThePlangineer for the impending Fourth of July Week, and I’ll keep you all posted.

If you’re looking to dive in yourself, when you register for the newsletter at Oh Hello Stationary, Co you’ll get a code for $5 off, and they are having a 20% off sale for the Fourth of July!  And you can get $10 off your first purchase at Erin Condren just by signing up for an account here.  I love savings, and if I can pass them onto you all I will!

Happy almost Friday!

Made with This by Tinrocket

ThePlangineer | Oh Hello Stationary Co |

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Blueberry Muffins

Because sometimes when you’re easing back into a creative side of life, a little lemon scented sugar, blueberries, and a tried and true recipe is really all you need.

Blueberry Muffins
Makes 1 dozen

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted shortening

1 tsp lemon zest
1/8 cup sugar

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a separate dish combine zest and sugar, and rub together with fingers to mix. Set scented sugar aside.

In a separate bowl mix together sugar, egg, milk, shortening. Mix the wet and the dry ingredients until the mixture has just barely come together. Add blueberries. Top muffins with lemon scented sugar. Spoon into baking cups, bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Perfect with a pad of butter and a hot cup of coffee!

The Season We Are In

This season of our lives has been challenging because it feels like something new is being thrown at us with every new curve.  So to recap….

  • 2012=new boss for GAL + derecho + getting pregnant
  • 2013=Promotion for GAL + JGL switching careers two weeks before + Tiny Human was born + GAL’s boss who promoted her leaving two weeks after Tiny Human was born + #breastfeedingstruggles + Postpartum Hell Breaking Loose + GAL going back to work full time
  • 2014=JGL getting promoted but wonky work hours + GAL lost all the baby weight + GAL’s grandmother passed + JGL’s Aunt Passed + JGL’s best friend/cousin passed=Tiny Human going to more funerals in a year than years he’s been alive.
  • 2015=GAL’s college/workplace announces it’s closing + GAL looks for new jobs + College is sort of saved, and a lot of shit goes down that we don’t need to dwell on + GAL get’s a dream job an hour away at a amazing University + GAL commutes for a year + JGL leaves his job to renovate his Dad’s childhood home + JGL gets an amazing new job opportunity + We work on the old house to put on the market while we rent JGL’s Dad’s home so we can live closer to work.
  • 2016=Still getting the old homestead on the market + living and working in a new town and trying to feel like we are on stable ground.

Everyone has shit in their lives, and everyone has a moment when they look up to the universe and say, “Ok, thanks but enough!”, and we’re in that space.  Grateful for all the good juju the universe is dishing out, but also ready to feel settled, to put firm roots down, to feel like this crazy chapter is behind us.

On the horizon?

  • We’re living in a teeny tiny house, and I’m trying like hell to make something grow on the porch and to design some flower beds up front.  Excited to share that with you all.
  • After Tiny Human was born, I went full out into essential oils, and while some of my creative homesteading initiatives have fallen to the wayside because of time, this has stuck, and I’m excited to share what works for us.
  • I’ve recently discovered the #planneraddict community, and love taking a creative approach to not just planning my weeks, but documenting our lives in a creative way.  Once my polaroid zip gets here, I’ll show you all some spreads and ideas.
  • More food.  Since the move we have become a bit lazy with the day to day cooking and meal prep.  JGL and I both have some health goals that are food oriented, and we’re excited to put a fresh, local twist on it.

Easing back in

Life looks so different now, three years since my last post.  I’ll be super honest–we are walking through one of the most challenging times of my life right now, which in comparison to the the immense sadness in the world right now is nothing, but it is still the challenges we bear day to day.

Looking back, I loved this space because it was a creative outlet for me, and I was so dedicated to it and you all, and I’ve missed you.  But after Tiny Human was born, I just wasn’t creating in the gardens, in the kitchen, or anywhere else that felt significant to me.  And further more, I realized that my job as Tiny’s mom isn’t to write about him online, or post about him online, or create content including him when he doesn’t have a say in that content (more about that later).  His digital identity in a world facing a Revolution as big as the Industrial Revolution or the Enlightenment is a precious commodity, and it’s my job to protect it, not exploit it.  I never want him to find this corner and be embarrassed about what I had to say about his amazing presence in my life.

So I stopped writing.  I stopped creating. My world kept shifting and moving, and I was silent.  And I’ve come to realize that while my corner of the internet isn’t super vast, but it kept me honest, challenged, and motivated.  And while what I have to say is very different today than is was in 2013, I still feel that the roots of this space, creating modern day homemaking, is still very relevant.

So I’m easing back in.  I’m hoping you all are still out there and wanting to engage.  And I hope you’ll drop in as we create, change and evolve here.

Spilled Milk

I literally cried over spilled milk the other day.  The bottle warmer got a bottle too hot and the milk went everywhere, caramelizing in the bottom of the warmer into a sicky sweet mess.  If Tiny Human could have Dolce de Leche, we would have been in Tiny Gourmet heaven, but alas it was ruined.

And I balled my eyes out.

I was ambivalent about breastfeeding–if it worked, great.  If it didn’t, no biggie;  I was formula fed, and look at all the free samples you can get!  I was ambivalent until our then-potential Pediatrician in our pre-natal interview looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You either are, or you aren’t.  If you go in and half-ass it, it’s never going to work.”

Did I mention he had me at “Half-Assed?”

And from that conversation, I was in.  Don’t get me wrong, I still hoarded the formula samples, but I dove in head first into the “We’re going to breastfeed” bandwagon.  And for someone who still thinks it’s a little weird, I was so heartbroken that first night home, sitting in the nursery with JGL trying to make it work without the help of the Beautiful Nurses at the hospital.  Tiny Human was unconsolable, I was hysterical, and it was JGL who had to crack open the formula and feed Tiny.  We received help from the doctor and a wonderful Lactation Lady in town, but it never was that organically beautiful thing everyone with their Le Leche League card says it is.  It hurt.  It was frustrating.  He was constantly upset and I was constantly dreading feeding time.  Then the beautiful pump came, I started taking high powered supplements to help with a supply dwindling under the stress, and we decided to pump and serve in a bottle.  Breastfeeding with a middle man.

I love feeding Tiny now.  And the boy loves to eat.  I’ve also learned to work flax seed and brewers yeast into more of my food items than I care to admit.  But spilling milk has become a near catastrophic event in this household.   It’s not like a batch of muffins–I can’t just whip up more.  1 ounce equals one hour.  Minimum.

I’m convinced that one of the lessons I am suppose to learn from this parenthood thing is to be more patient, flexible, and willing to give myself some grace.  It’s still just so damn hard, sometimes.

 

 

New Normal

The gardens haven’t been truly worked in the way they need to be.  The most creative thing I’ve concocted in the kitchen lately is the sanity saving coffee every morning (and I say creative because trying to make budget “Master Chef” coffee somewhat satisfying takes a big of finagling).  I obviously have not been able to keep up here.  And even as I type I have the Tiny Human strapped to me in the life saving BabyBjorn in order to get some “GAL Time” where I can use both hands.  Life has been so incredibly different since his arrival almost 7 weeks ago, and we’re still struggling to find our new rhythm, but even the most frustrating days have been rewarding and precious.  And frustrating.  And tear inducing.  And plain crazy.  But wildly beautiful, just like the tiny hot mess of a human who I have a feeling is more of my reflection that I care to admit at this point.

He is wildly independent, which I can tell is a huge source of angst for him–when he’s hungry, he wants it now.  When it’s time for bed, he fights it because, like his mother, he knows there are better things to do than sleep.  Tummy time? He gets so frustrated at his limited mobility that I’ve witnessed him scootch across the play mat in a fit of rage and not realize it.

Amazingly, though, the biggest challenge for me as we’ve transitioned into parenthood is the feeling that I’ve lost a huge part of my independence to this highly independent but dependent little one.  The weekend before he was born I had this crazy need to buy and clean with Scrubbing Bubbles, which in hindsight should have been an indication that things were going down quickly since I hadn’t bought cleansers in years, and as I drove to Target I started to think about how I would have to go about this with a kid.  And that brief second thought was right–the Tiny Human complicates things, and there have been many a moment where I feel a bit stuck.

But, I do love a good challenge.  And while he can be challenging, I know I can be too.  And this experience is a precious gift, something I try to remind myself of every day.  I realize that there are so many out there who would love to complain of not having enough sleep, or getting thrown up on, or listening to 2 straight hours of crying.  He is a gift, and one that in the moments I’m feeling lost I try to focus on how lucky we are to have this opportunity.

So in these 5 and a half weeks before I have to go back to work we’re working hard to get our schedules in sync, and I am bound and determined to find gratitude every day, and not to lose myself in this process.

Vanilla Extract Six Month Later

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Back in June we started the process of making homemade vanilla extract.  We have been waiting patiently, and right before Christmas we bottled up the first batch.  We didn’t have a funnel quite small enough to fit the bottles, but JGL had the ingenius idea to use a condiment container we found at the grocery store for less than a dollar.   It made it easy to get the liquid out of the bottle, and easy to dispense into the smaller containers.

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And the vanilla extract itself?  Amazing!  I’ve never had such flavorful or potent vanilla extract to work with ever, so even with my lower than normal energy I’ve been looking for reasons to bake and use it.  The best part?  Aside from knowing exactly what has gone into each bottle, all in with ingredients, supplies and bottling equipment, each 2 ounce bottle only costs a little over $2.00.

Expecting

It’s been a whirlwind few months.  We’ve continued to plod along with our home renovations (more on that later), we made it through another travel season and field hockey season at work, put our gardens to bed, put up a bunch of apples and fall produce, and finished up the first batch of vanilla (and more on that soon!).

The biggest thing to happen, though, and the reason for the radio silence here is JGL and I found out shortly after my last post that we are expecting.  What has followed is one of the craziest five month stretches ever–thinking I had early onset arthritis and getting x-rayed and scanned only to find out nothing conclusive was wrong; peeing on a stick a week later and thinking I’d inadvertently scrambled my eggs; morning sickness while traveling (and let me tell you, can tell you the best places to stop and lose your business from here to Maine), seeing Squirt for the first time and feeling the sweetest relief ever that I hadn’t killed this beautiful gift we’d been trying for so long to create;  hitting the second trimester and NAILING IT (I feel AWESOME, thank goodness!); and the list goes on.  Squirt, as we’re calling him, is due the first week of May, and is happy, healthy and growing like a weed.  And JGL and I are elated and humbled at this incredible opportunity.  Becoming parents to a real “human baby” is a gift we are not taking for granted.

But there is much more to catch up on here, and I’m hoping to be better in this new year about posting and seeing where our new adventures are going to take us.  Wishing you all the very best as we head into 2013!

A Kitchen Upgrade: Part One of Three

 

 

 

 

 

It feels like we started this process ages ago.  We had a thought (Hey, let’s redo the kitchen this summer!), put some money down on new counter top and told Home Depot “Let ‘er rip!”  We were thinking at most that this process would be a week from start to finish.

And then the Derecho hit.  And then work got crazy for JGL.  And now work is crazy for me.  And until last night we were still left with phase one of a potentially three part process still not done.  But after some cracker jack timing by my dear JGL, we can officially call part one a wrap.

What was part one?  Part one was replacing the countertop.  And because we can never do anything easy here, when the countertop assessment crew came they shared that we would have to take the first line of tile out in order for the new countertops to fit.  So replacing the countertop and retiling.  Check.

The old countertops were the original laminate ones the house was built with years ago.  You would look at them and just think, I shall can tomatoes today, and before you even started the project they were stained.  I fought valiantly against the stainage for the first year or so we lived here and then gave up.

 

So with no power and during the hottest week of the summer, we ripped the old countertops out.  So long, farewell, good riddance!  From there we were able to get in and knock the line of tile out, and then the wonderful countertop crew came in and put in our new countertop.  A countertop that is stain resistant.  Stain Resistant!  It’s truly a miracle.  We also found new facets that we love, so last weekend JGL installed those as well.

 

But then we hit a snag.  We had thought purchasing new replacement tile would be the way to go, but sadly our local home store didn’t have an exact match for our kitchen.  So after a week of soaking the old tile, my Dad came up with the solution that would eventually work–put them in the crock pot overnight.  And as crazy as it sounds, it actually worked–the old mastic peeled right off.  So last night we cut, replaced, and grouted the tile, and laid a bead of silicone at the base to seal it all up.

 

And folks, part one is now a wrap.  It’s not a huge change, but I’m so happy with how it’s starting to look.  It’s a small kitchen and for me it has to be one that can take a beating, and we are well on our way there.

Part two is painting the cabinets and ceiling, and replacing the hardware to match the new faucets.  We’re a little nervous that once we paint the cabinets it’s going to make the rest of the house look like it desperately needs a paint job as well, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Part three, you ask?  See the ugly range above the stove?  My dream is to take that out and take the cabinets above the stove out and replace it with a Microhood Combination Convection Microwave Oven.   Like I said, it’s a little kitchen and for our family it needs to be a workhorse, and if I can’t have my Julia Child-esque double ovens just yet, this might be the next best thing.  Baby steps, though, baby steps🙂