We celebrated Christmas with my side of the family in Santa Fe. Hope wherever you spent the day, it was merry and bright.
We celebrated Christmas with my side of the family in Santa Fe. Hope wherever you spent the day, it was merry and bright.
We have read so many wonderful books this year that it’s hard to recommend only a few for Christmas, but I wanted to mention a few extra special ones in case you need to make any last minute purchases this weekend. All of these are Amazon links that help support this blog, but I always encourage you to shop local bookstores first! All of the books mentioned were either checked out from the library and loved so much that I bought them or I am buying them as Christmas presents myself.
Probably our favorite book of the year was Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. Each page has a small biography about a woman in history and how they changed the world for the better. There are also beautiful portraits to go alongside each woman and we would read one story each day as a part of our morning time ritual. I loved that the women featured were incredibly diverse, all ethnicities, all different time periods, all different ages, and both my kids looked forward to reading this every day. I may have to look into purchasing the sequel soon.
A Year Full of Stories: 52 Classic Stories from Around the World by Angela McAllister is another one that you can pick up throughout the year. Like the title suggests, there is a story from a different place around the world for every week. Holidays are listed so you can plan ahead if you want to dive into a topic, the illustrations are gorgeous, and again I love the diversity of the stories told.
A Poem for Every Day of the Year from the same people as the book above, this one looks gorgeous and I’m buying it as a gift for special friends this year. We read poetry every single day and I think when we finish up the book we are on now, I may have to get this one for our home library.
A Child’s Introduction to Art: The World’s Greatest Paintings and Sculptures by Heather Alexander I first picked up a few in this series from the library and absolutely love them. We are going to be building our art history around this book, but even if you don’t homeschool this is a great resource to have. It works chronologically through art periods and focuses on a select number of artists. Again I like the diversity that this series of books aims for and I appreciate that they include different activities kids can do that correspond with the artist being talked about.
Uni the Unicorn This is my daughter’s all time favorite book and I would be amiss if I didn’t mention it. If you have a 6 year old that loves unicorns, please get them this book. I have the follow up, Uni the Unicorn and the Dream Come True by Amy Krouse Rosenthal ready for Christmas morning!
Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold And finally, not a beautiful book really, but a series that my son absolutely adores and is getting him excited about reading, the Fly Guy books. These books are silly, some are slightly educational, and all of them crack my kids up. If you’re trying to tempt a reader, maybe look into these!
There are a million more great books out there and I hope to share more throughout the year! These just happen to be the ones that made the Christmas buying list, I hope you enjoy some of them whether you have children or plan on giving to children.
I found this poem the other day and it hit me right in the heart. I think it’s a great poem for this season, when we’re told buying and getting more stuff is what will make us happy. Hope it speaks to you as well! You can find more poems by this writer here.
The Orange by Wendy Cope
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.
And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
Tomorrow is my birthday! I did a bit of reflecting and shared something I really want to work on as a person on Tuesday, but I also have some lighter goals, resolutions I guess, as I begin another year on this earth, in this body.
There seems to be a theme in all these things. Practice, less, intention, and slowing down. All things I would like to some day master! Happy birthday to me and happy December to you. I hope you find moments to reflect and find the holiest of moments in the most ordinary of days.
My birthday is coming up- Friday!- and this is the time of year when I start thinking about resolutions and reflecting on the year that’s passed. It’s my new year after all, another trip around the sun, and I always feel ready to get my act together before the calendar year changes.
We just returned from a lovely Thanksgiving holiday with my husband’s side of the family. We drove up to Missouri and spent time playing outside, snuggling up inside, eating all the food, reading, and talking about things big and small. As we were driving home Sunday I felt revived and rejuvenated and thinking about what I want my 34th year to feel like.
Last year was a rough one. A lot of change happened to a lot of people in my life. Some really awful things happened to a few of them. A lot of us got sicker than we’d ever been. It felt like piles and piles of, well, shit. But the light is beginning to break through all those cracks and I feel the healing and peace settling in all around us. I still feel a bit raw but ready to change. It has me thinking about intentions I would like to set for myself (and I have a list for Thursday so get ready!) but today I wanted to elaborate on something I’ve been pondering.
This past year I’ve gotten in a bad habit. In reflecting, I found that I have been what I call ‘venting’ a lot. About everyone and everything to a number of people. Now, having a couple of people in your life that you can talk to is one thing. I loved something Anne Lamott said at a recent talk about having that person that you can say ‘I hate this’ to and their response is ‘girl, me too.’
But the thing is, I have taken this too far and it’s turned into down right complaining. From people in my life, to situations that made me grumpy, to snarking on everything anyone liked. It’s not a good look. I want to start this new year by saying things that I wouldn’t mind broadcasting to the world, things I would be proud for anyone to hear. To culling down my venting to a few close people and cutting out the gossip, the bitching, and focus on another practice.
I need to practice more mercy. Towards those I love, towards those I hardly know, towards the world in general, and maybe, most importantly, towards myself. When I take a breath and remind myself to find that grace, lo and behold, my attitude changes as I act out with kindness rather than snark.
It’s tricky though. Snarky can be funny and snarky can be truth telling, but it can also be exhausting and ugly and a cover for yourself. I get tired of everyone’s hot takes so I know others have to get tired of mine.
I have no issues with getting older. I’m actually truly grateful that I get another year, another chance to love and to laugh, to learn and explore, but I would like to make it a year I get better. I’m looking back on 2017 and seeing the light that got through, the grace that hit me when I least expected it, and it makes me want to extend that light to the world around me and to myself a little bit more.
Sunday I went to Target (oh my god for the third time this week. And I bought a bag of Halloween candy at every. single. trip.) because I needed random things like milk, underwear, and tortillas. Target is the only reasonable place to get all of these things, right?
Anyway when I got home I was unpacking my bags and noticed this got thrown in.
I looked at the receipt and I hadn’t paid for it. Weird. Obviously the person before me in line is missing something?
But then I’m starting supper and reading the ingredients list and realize I have everything I need. Except for one thing.
Oh my God! The universe threw me a bone after a shitty Saturday! I can’t tell you what joy this stupid canned good brought me!
Ah, but then. As I was opening the can, I happened to pull the lid off just so. And with one little flick, my favorite white t-shirt looked like this.
Damn it universe.
This past Saturday we had to say good bye to a very important member of our family, our dog Duncan. We’ve been so lucky to have Duncan in our lives these past 11 years. He’s added so much to our days and it’s been the worst looking for him and realizing he’s not there.
Duncan always believed the kids were his. The day we brought them home from the hospital he took it as his personal responsibility to guard them, herd them, and comfort them. Charlie and Duncan had an especially wonderful relationship. I truly believe Duncan understood that Charlie needed a special buddy and when I say he became his therapy dog, I’m not joking. We are all hurting without our boy here, but I think Charlie especially. I found him this morning lying down in the playroom his body curled up, just like he would be with Duncan every morning.
Both kids really want another dog but I told them I wouldn’t talk about it until January. I’m afraid they think another dog will immediately replace Duncan and they would then learn the lesson that that’s not how it works. So as a family we are all grieving together and adding extra snuggles into our day.
I feel a little silly going on about my dog dying when so many awful things are going on in the world, but if you’ve ever loved an animal I think you will understand. How lucky are we to get to share the world with such wonderful things as pets? I’ll never forget kissing him goodbye over and over again and feeling his velvety ears for the last time. It hurt but also was a gift to be able to take away his pain.
Duncan, we love you so much! You were the best dog and Chris and I promise to take good care of your babies. Thank you for over a decade of wonderful memories, good walks, and snuggles when we were sad. I wish everyone could have a Duncan dog in their life.
I had a ton of links saved in my book marks so I thought I would put them all in one post because I think they’re worth sharing. We’ve got everything from ghosts, to white supremacy, to homeschooling, to vegan cook books covered. It is my world you’re entering after all.
Also I have to say I’ve been reading a lot of stuff on the Harvey Weinstein sexual assaults but I didn’t link to any of that here. 2017 has felt like a perpetual cycle of PTSD for anyone that has experienced sexual assault or harassment and honestly all this information coming out is good, I’m amazed by the women speaking up!, but also I get sick to my stomach that people are still so shocked. We elected a man to office with a history of sexual assault and harassment so I’m not really sure why people pretend this is all new? It makes me angry and sad and obviously I have a lot to say on the subject which is why I didn’t link to any of it here. But know I’m not ignoring it.
Anyway… on with the stuff I like!
The world is scary enough that I don’t need any extra horror in my life, but it is October and I’ve gotten in the Halloween spirit. I admit I trust nothing on the internet, but this video of a ghost in a high school was just spooky enough for me.
I bought this sheet music and am learning to play this song. I love the music from The Fountain and even choreographed a ballet to it. This was my first time printing off sheet music, it felt so weird. I remember going to the music store in Lubbock- Gent’s? What was that place called? Is it still there?- and picking out sheet music to learn with my piano teacher. I feel old.
I love the blog It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken and got Sam’s new cookbook in the mail this week. Already made her cheesy broccoli soup and it was delicious! Highly recommend for new vegans or people who want to add more plant based meals to their life.
I do not want him to be president again, but I find his post presidency life interesting and I appreciated George W. Bush’s speech denouncing white supremacy.
And speaking of white supremacy, don’t come at me explaining why we need to keep statues or flags or any of that nonsense. I love Last Week Tonight and this segment of John Oliver taking on Confederate Statues
Like I said, I don’t need any more scary and books are way creepier to me than most movies, but I liked this list of the 10 Best Books for Stranger Things Fans To Read before the new season starts (ONE WEEK!)
I loved this post of People Matching Art
I am homeschooling my kids this year and one of the reasons is I want them to be critical thinkers, to not be afraid to step outside the box. I loved this story of a Kid finding solutions to the Flint water crisis
My kids are obsessed with wolves and we liked this cartoons of a wolf speak howling guide
We listen to a lot of audible around here. In the car, while the kids are having quiet time, and this is a good list of Audio Book Deals
This is something only my curly haired girls will relate to. Curly Hair Problems cartoon
Looking for fun simple crafts to do with your kids? We’ve been learning about trees and leaves this week so I liked some of these Autumn Leaf Crafts
I’ve also been incorporating a lot of poetry into our days. I found this article worth reading for anyone looking to use more poetry on a regular basis. How to Teach Kids Writing Using Poetry
I also listened to this podcast episode this week. Secular Homeschooling in a Christian World While we don’t have a particularly secular homeschool, I have recently felt very alone in the homeschooling community. I find not only a lot of Christians, but conservative Christians of the Evangelical bent. I absolutely do not want curriculum based in this world view and it is hard to know what is and what isn’t. I appreciated the hosts’ sensitivity to the subject and found myself nodding along.
Whew! That’s all I got! Hope everyone has a restful weekend! My big goal is to finish Halloween costumes and to not eat all the candy I bought yesterday before the trick or treaters get here.
The term ‘comfort food’ gets thrown around so much on food blogs that I think it’s lost some of its meaning. A true comfort food is not only delicious, it should actually make you feel comfort from the inside out. There is usually a story that goes with it or a memory that a taste of it evokes, it’s emotional eating in (what I think is) the best way possible.
My ultimate comfort food is my mom’s chicken and dumplings. I believe this recipe comes from my grandmother and it’s pretty much the same as her mother made it. There are different ways to form the dumplings, I grew up with them spooned in in fat round clumps, and I have modified how I cook the chicken for times’ sake, but basically this is the way I remember eating it. When I crave comfort, I crave this dish. As soon as the weather is even a little bit cool out I make it and I love the leftovers for lunch in the days to come. Every family get together you can usually find this on the menu for one of the nights, it’s a great dish to make after a day of skiing and feeds a lot of people.
For the chicken- my mom boils and cubes an entire chicken, then saves the broth. I usually take a couple of boneless breasts and thighs and season them with salt and pepper. Then I brown them in my soup pot before adding water and letting them simmer for about an hour. It’s probably not as flavorful as the whole chicken, but it’s easier and faster and I think it’s still really good. Add in chicken stock or boullion cubes if you need to add more liquid after cooking for extra flavor!
For the dumplings:
3 cups flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Work the mixture, adding extra flour, until it’s dough like (not too sticky). You can stop here and just scoop the dough into the soup or you can roll out the dough and cut it into small rectangles. Let it sit out a bit to dry. (I usually do this and then take out my chicken and shred or cut it and add more water/broth if needed while this is happening)
Heat the broth back to boiling. Put in the dumplings and cook at a slow simmer for about 30 minutes. Add in your chopped or shredded chicken for the last 10 minutes.
Pour in 1-2 cups of milk, don’t boil!, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve and enjoy!