Dress That Mama

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Happy first day of October — my favorite month! How beautiful is this fall weather?!! We have been experiencing some really warm, sunny days around these parts, which means we still have all the summer stuff out, but no one is complaining because we all know how it is when February rolls around…

Really liking the look of head scarves these days, especially on those messy hair days. This one is on my wish list!

I’m off to help out on Milo’s class trip to a local farm with apples and pumpkins, and I can’t wait. Have a beautiful day!

Grilled Chicken with Cheesy Linguine

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Lately we’ve been soaking up every ounce of outside time we can manage. It’s not all that different from summer yet, other than the fact that the sun seems to be sneaking away sooner and sooner. Andrew is still happily grilling away many nights of the week. If you are too, here’s an easy recipe for you!

Grilled Chicken with Cheesy Linguine and Steamed Broccoli 

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled (we marinate them in Newman’s Own Family Style Italian dressing for an hour or two before grilling)
  • 1 pkg. fresh (or dry) egg linguine, cooked
  • 2 stalks broccoli
  • 6 oz Havarti cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste

First, grill chicken. While it cooks, start the cheese sauce; melt butter in large saucepan and add garlic, just cooking until fragrant, stirring. Add cream, continue stirring. Once hot, add cheese and stir until melted. Add salt & pepper and cook over lowest heat, stirring occasionally while you prep broccoli. You want to keep simmering until the sauce is nice and thick, then you can shut off the heat.

Wash and cut broccoli florets off of tough stems. Steam over boiling water, just two minutes or so, just until broccoli turns bright green but is still somewhat crunchy. Set aside.

Depending on your family’s eating habits, you can stir the broccoli into the cheese sauce or just serve it all separately (we have some picky eaters who gasp at the thought of food actually touching, so we do it separately).

Serve on a bed of hot linguine; sliced grilled chicken, broccoli, and cheese sauce. Top with grated Parmesan cheese if you’re like me!

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And serve it like this, if you’re like Oliver!

Weekend Shenanigans

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What a great weekend! With birthday parties and days filled with friends and beautiful weather, we couldn’t have asked for more from this last weekend of September. After such a lovely, mild summer, we haven’t been able to believe our luck with the continued string of sunny, warm days. The leaves are just starting to change around here; the air is cool and crisp in the early morning and warm and sunny in the afternoon. It’s nice to ease into a season rather than getting pummeled by it!DSC_0005DSC_0007

This Saturday we celebrated our friends Brian and Jamie and their feisty red-haired almost-two-year-old daughter (and Andrew brought them his signature label hard cider from our apple tree plus the home brew from last month). We have become closer and closer to these friends over the past couple of years. They live in a beautiful wooded area with lots of room to run; needless to say, our boys love visiting. Oh, and the trampoline. Every kid’s dream come true! DSC_0036DSC_0052DSC_0067DSC_0108DSC_0118DSC_0150DSC_0160DSC_0166DSC_0172DSC_0173

There was plenty of fun and crying (the two go hand-in-hand). So thankful for a lovely day!DSC_0178DSC_0181DSC_0182DSC_0187

And we packed in plenty of productivity this weekend. I managed to clean up our fall vegetable garden and pulled the plants that just weren’t making it (sorry tomatoes and eaten-up kale!) to make room for the lettuces and what’s left of our carrots and beets. It wasn’t as sad as I thought it would be. There’s a cathartic feeling to getting rid of the old and decayed, making room for the new; seeing the soil underneath and adding compost before everything lies dormant and covered with snow in a few months. DSC_0249

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Andrew volunteered nearly 4 hours to build a compost bin for the boys’ school while I watched the boys on the grounds. We explored every nook and cranny; all three were so eager to show me their stomping grounds, including the hideouts in the woods, the chicken coop and run, and the fields and playground they have made theirs. DSC_0257DSC_0263DSC_0276

They fed tomatoes and berries to the chickens, marveling at the one with only one eye; a kind teacher allowed me to take three of the fresh eggs home with us. It was such a good, good day. DSC_0010And more riches from home; the apples that just keep coming. That single tree in our tiny side yard, who would have thought it would produce so much wonderful fruit? The basket above weighed in at just over 17 lbs, most of which was happily eaten up by the neighborhood children by 6pm. A bowl with a sign “Please take us home!” did the trick… now if only that would work for Halloween!

I hope your weekend was filled with happiness!

Dress That Mama

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Repurposed an ancient cotton shirt that I found while cleaning out my drawers… one of those things that I keep holding onto because I love the raspberry color and the ballet-back cut of the shirt. I think it looks best tied up in the back with a high-waisted knit skirt. The weather we’ve been having lately is just beautiful and so easy to dress for.

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Weekend Shenanigans

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This weekend… let me be honest, it was one of those rare weekends when I just wasn’t feeling it. All day Saturday I struggled to find an ounce of energy, and the boys were whiney and needy. None of us really felt up for anything, despite the fact that we are all physically well. I have to admit that it was a drag, and I ended up sound asleep at 8:30pm! For a family who is used to having adventure and action, it definitely threw us all off! But some days are like that. You trudge through, try not to snap at each other, and wake up the next morning determined to find a better attitude. DSC_0119DSC_0127DSC_0123

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… And luckily, we did. But looking back, it wasn’t all that bad. We did a lot of laying around, reading, sorting bottle caps, reading some more, and major organizing. Interspersed was some cooking and playgrounding and fun with neighbors. We got a head start on our master bedroom project (I won’t call it a remodel, as we are only changing a few things and no walls will be coming down or anything — but I’m excited to get started nonetheless), made things easy with a yummy taco night, and spent much-needed family time in-between Andrew’s travels. DSC_0035DSC_0058DSC_0061DSC_0063

Emil cracked us up all weekend. He talked to his little train and bunny constantly, and during taco night, silently got up from the table, carried his drink, plate, napkin, and fork into his little play house outside, closed the door and windows, and sat down for a private dinner for one. I have no idea what goes on in that head of his, but it sure is amusing to observe. DSC_0068DSC_0073DSC_0085

On Sunday we redeemed ourselves by taking a trip to explore a new playground (Faust Park — it was great!) and spotting a water snake in the pond. The boys put on a “trick show” in our back yard which included brave leaps off of high places. We listened to classical music for hours while cool breezes blew through open windows, strong enough to move our curtains aside and gently sway indoor plants. It was a gorgeous day. DSC_0086DSC_0092DSC_0103DSC_0110And now, on Monday, we look forward to the true beginning of fall, my favorite season. Bring on the pumpkin everything! Happy Monday.

Blog Hop: On Writing

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Kristin, a fellow St. Louis blogger, lovely and brave mama to two, extraordinarily driven (and busy) woman and student and compassionate friend and writer tagged me to post about my writing style and process. I have immense respect for her even though we have never met in person, and so of course I said yes! Below, find my answers to her questions.

What am I working on?

Right now I am working on ideas! Recently I have found myself with extra time during the day as my three boys are in school, so the ideas are really beginning to flow. I think about parenting, alternative styles of living (mostly more kind and sustainable ways), gardening, alternative education, and style (mostly buying fewer and better-quality items, and keeping one’s wardrobe simple and thoughtful).

I am also writing articles for the Washington Post’s On Parenting, and working on a few things for St. Louis Family Magazine. These jobs feel as though they have dropped into my lap through blog exposure and good friends who believe in me and push me to be better. I am forever amazed by the good people in my life, actually.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t know that my work does differ much from other bloggers, but I try to keep my writing honest and open — sometimes that means I expose myself and make myself pretty vulnerable. Writing about the time I was accused by a stranger of child abuse was a terribly emotional, vulnerable thing for me. But I think a lot of bloggers make themselves more vulnerable now — it’s a way to stay genuine and keep the fluffy stuff in check (though I do plenty of that as well). I am eternally aware of the sheer number of blogs out there and find it humbling to have a small readership.

Why do I create what I do?

I enjoy writing because it has become a very important outlet for me. I tend to ruminate on things unless I can write them out and explore them though words. So there’s that feeling of dumping these extreme feelings onto paper (or a computer screen), but then there’s also the storytelling aspect of writing that appeals to me. I enjoy stories — children’s stories, stories told by friends, and I enjoy telling stories to others, whether they are about something crazy that happened to me or something I observed through my children. It’s just a really fun way to engage with life, I think.

How does my writing process work?

It’s funny, but I really don’t know how it works. I guess it starts as something like a strong feeling or thought that I need to work out in my head or my heart, and I get a strong physical feeling that I need to write in order to set it straight. When I do feel that inspiration, it is extremely physical; my pulse starts to race! It can strike at any time, but usually I am most inspired and creative late at night. I remember as a teenager I keeping a series of diaries and it was the same way — I would feel physically pulled to the books, scribbling out all sorts of thoughts and feelings and memories onto a page as fast as I could before the they slipped from my head. There’s definitely a sense of urgency when I write, though when I step back and think about that, it’s silly, because those thoughts and ideas keep swirling around in my brain until I release them through words. And sometimes ruminating for a bit longer helps me develop those thoughts.

What I’ve found most interesting about my writing is that I often have no idea what’s going to come out when I sit down to write. It’s always been this way for me. When I was in fifth grade, I had a short story writing assignment in English class. I sat down and began to write about this cat named Samson. First, I drew a very detailed picture of him, filling absolutely every inch of the paper with color. Then I wrote and wrote about his adventures, and at the end of the writing period, I turned in the unfinished draft to my teacher. The next class, she approached me and expressed that she was really pleased with my writing and asked me what was going to happen next (to Samson). I told her that I had no idea. She looked so puzzled! She told me that I had to know what was going to happen next or I wouldn’t know how to proceed with the writing assignment. It completely baffled me back then, as a 10-year-old girl. But that is very much the way it is with my writing now — I often sit down with all these feelings and not much of a plan! It seems to work out okay for me, but I guess it is unconventional! I suppose that is also why I write in a kind of stream-of-consciousness style; there are plenty of run-on sentences and grammatical errors, but those things are less important to me than the expression of true, honest emotion.

Milla

And now, I pass the baton to Milla of The Girl Who Married a Bear. She is an amazing writer — one of the few bloggers left in the universe who keeps it real and still manages to inspire daily. Her posts are not for those who half-heartedly bounce around looking for fluffy material; her stuff is thought-provoking and beautiful and profound, oftentimes asking all of the important questions. Milla is beautiful and smart, crafty, and stylish, but above all else, she is genuine. She lives a real life (in a really beautiful place, I might add, on an island in the Pacific Northwest). She flits in and out of the internet world, off to live real-life adventures, but when she returns, I am always here waiting.

Grateful for…

DSC_0003… a beautiful fall day and thoughtful friends. After a lovely coffee with one friend, I come home to this nice surprise in my mailbox — a magazine bookmarked to a piece on Asheville, NC, where we will soon be going for a family trip. Thank you, Maggie!

I am forever surprised and grateful for the amazing people in my life.