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Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I am really excited for the upcoming year!
We have a lot of changes coming up, and the biggest one being is that we are moving AGAIN.  But for the last time!!!  I am very ready to dig in, grow roots, and settle.
My word of the year is:

Yes, it is 2 words, but I need both.  With all the things we have coming up, I need to be very organized, and with that comes the calm.  And I have to calm in order to plan things out well.  I want to make this transition as easy as possible on the kiddos.

Things I am doing for 2014:
1.  Organizing my Bloglist.  Putting my faves at the top of my toolbar, deleting obsolete links
2.  Using checklists that I found on Pinterest.  Search "Home Organization Checklist"

  • Monthly Calendar
  • Weekly Calendar
  • Weekly Meal List w/ grocery list
  • Weekly Cleaning List
  • Weekly Blog Schedule & Ideas

3.  Clearing out Cloth Napkins (which we use daily)--getting rid of the most used set.  They are pretty grubby.
4.  Taking Better (unwanted) clothes to consignment, donating the remainder.
5.  Scheduling daily quiet time.  (Probably the most important)
6.  Reducing screen time for me.

I'd love to hear what your plans, goals, hopes, resolutions are for 2014.  xoxoxo

(Update:  I don't LOVE my word of the year.  Still pondering one that feels right.... )

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cold Weather means Warm & Cozy Food.

My recipes are usually simple, with the ingredients listed in order of use.  Message me if you want more detail, I am happy to help!

So easy, so satisfying, ate it for breakfast because I was out of oatmeal. 

 This was one of the rare times that I didn't use the McCormick packet.  It was SO MUCH BETTER.

1. Marinate Top Sirloin with Worcestershire Sauce, Soy Sauce, S&P
2. Olive Oil+Butter+ Top Sirloin.  Brown meat, set aside
3. Onion+Mushrooms+more S&P+Tarragon+a little water (to cook mushrooms through).
4. Add Meat back into pot.
5. Cream of Mushroom Soup+1/2 Cup Water+ Squirt of Ketchup (Trust Me!)
6. Simmer until Meat is tender and cooked through.  (I cooked for 40 min, but doesn't need to.)
7. Finish with scoop of Sour Cream.
8.  Serve over Noodles.

Best Leftover Turkey Ever.

1.  Olive Oil+Butter+Onion+Carrots+Celery (cook until starting to soften.)
2.  TBS of Flour+Leftover Turkey+S&P+Poultry Seasoning+Splash of Wine
3.  Chicken Broth+1/2 Milk (Bring to Boil, then simmer to thicken)
4. Leftover Rutabaga (optional)+Cooked Cheese Ravioli
5.  Finish with Chicken Bouillon to Taste.  You could also add cream, if you want thicker.

I fill the leftover soup into these jars, leftover from Bonne Maman Jam, which is my favorite.  They freeze well and hold just the right amount of soup for cold days:)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Break Fun Time

I like to set an activity for the kiddos on a regular basis because:
1.  They love it. 
2.  It makes life easier on me.
3.  It's fun.
3.  It prevents them from being on TV, which reinforces #2. 

 Mostly, I steal ideas off pinterest, or I just put out what I have in season colors and themes.  Here are some ideas to make your Christmas Break just a little more fun.

Styrofoam balls+toothpicks+buttons+mini marshmallows
 Prebaked Gingerbread House.  I like Wilton's brand better than the other brands out there.

 Tate rolling fondant.  It was like Cake Wars in my house. 

Gel pastels+watercolor+stickers+thick paper.

It is unseasonably warm here, so when Tate asked to go play in the rain, I said yes.  Notice the sled, even though it is 75F.

Easiest Lunch Ever:  Get a cute little stand (this one is from Ikea) and fill it with fruit, veg, carbs & Protein.  They love that is like a big snack.

And a Christmas tradition, we had the kids get ready for bed, and then we surprised them with going to see the Christmas Lights (at Norfolk Botanical Gardens).  
I packed cookies and cocoa and had it waiting in the car. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Club of ONE

I'm reading this book.  Ok, I'm not reading, I'm listening to an audiobook.  These get me through long drives and flights, and I downloaded it for my recent trip to England.  I didn't get to it until after the trip, because my 3 year was a TRAVELING ROCKSTAR and I could actually watch multiple movies on the flight.  

This book is hilarious.  Mindy Kaling holds on to her inner teeny bop ways, while being an adult, and doesn't apologize for it.  I love her and am secretly a little bit like this as well.  I love clothes and stickers and celebrity gossip and shopping.   I am also capable of an intelligent conversation about a multitude of subjuects, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the more fluffy things of life:) 
On a more serious note, this book was really, really good as well.  Defintely a more serious subject, as it is about a slave that escapes and is recaputured in the precivil war south.  I find myself thinking about Joanna, the main character, all the time as I go about my daily routine.  It makes me extremely grateful, as well as in awe of the women of that time.

 This is one of my favorite Christmas books.  It is themed around baking ( LOVE!) but each page is a different little lesson for your child, such as kindness and compassion.  Full disclosure:  Soleil doesn't love this book.  I want her to, but she would rather read Berenstain Bears Nutcracker.

And finally, a recommendation for an 8 year old.  This book is written comic book style by a guy with an awesome imagination.  The 26 story treehouse is the 2nd book, and Tate asked Santa for it this year.
I'd love to hear any books that you have been loving recently :)  xo cat

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Veggie Meal & Gift Bags

Yes.  This feels nice.... I won't go on and on regarding the last post, but I will say that
1.  It was hard to stay off FB.
2.  I did REALLY enjoy blogs that I went to yesterday.
3.  Blogging is a little bit about carving time out for yourself, which is great.

Right now, it is me and a cup of coffee and my computer, and the kids are reading Christmas books together before we walk to school.  :)  This is awesome.

Now on to today's post....

I was craving white beans.  Here is a very simple, veggie recipe that is quick and delicious.
Carrots+green onion+celery+mushrooms+a little oil+salt&pepper.  Sautee until starting to soften.
 Then add broth.  (I used chicken, obviously NOT vegetarian, but what I had.)   And then add canned white beans and more seasoning of your choice.  I used garlic powder, salt and pepper.
 Cook until warmed through, veggies are a little soft, and more of liquid has bubbled away.  I sometimes add more broth at the end so that it is more like a soup.

Ready to eat!!
 And I made these for my friend, Kat Knupp.  She inspires me to be a better environmentalist each day:)  I stitched up fabric like long pillow cases, with hemmed edges.  I then attached a ribbon to the back, to be tied around the middle after it has been filled.  The middle bag was made drawstring style, which I like the best.  Also, that one is made from felt because I LOVE FELT.  (I have a slight felt addiction.)  You can pull on the ribbons on the side and pull, and the contents will be secured inside.
I hope to make more of these before the holiday season is over!  xo cat

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blogging has more SOUL

WOW.  Since I have been writing my blog, this is the longest I have let it go without any posts.  I have been thinking about why, and have discussed BLOGGING vs Facebook and all other social media. I feel as if things have changed, but not for the better, and I am ready to return BACK to blogging. :)

You see, I go to FB every. single. day.  But I hate FB.  I feel kinda dirty and frustrated after sitting on facebook, kind of like when you eat an entire bag of potato chips.  And when I was recently doing Brene Brown's latest ecourse, she asked the question about what is nurturing and what is numbing?  For me, Facebook is NUMBING, but Blogs are nurturing.

When I read blogs, I am reinspired, I am connected with that blogger, I am calm or energized in the best ways.  When I read FB, I am frustrated, I feel as though I have wasted time, and though I can get a lot from it, I feel a different energy.

Here are some of my favorite blogs:

and some of my friends, who have lovely blogs, that make me feel connected to them:

I hope that you are as inspired by their words as I am.  With that, the one change that I will be making for 2014 (starting early, as in NOW!) is that I will be spending more time with blogs, less time with FB.  

If you have a blog, please leave the address below, as I would love to hear your words.
(Ironically enough, I am posting this on FB in order to make the transition back to blogs.)

Also, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject:) xo cat

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

I Left this World for a Bit.

Something came over me after I returned from Nashville.
 Crafting with my people.
In the airport.

Maybe was that it was that I finally had a moment to be in my own thoughts, maybe it was the Oprah/Brene Brown ecourse that I started, maybe it was because it was Halloween (my favorite!) and Dia de los Muertos week...

In any case, I turned on this music:

Started reading (& finished) this book: 
And felt like I was in another, very creative, very peaceful world.  I retreated in the evening to work on papercrafting, which I haven't done in a really long time.  

The music kept going, and so did the creating.  I was quiet during this week, and I really loved it.  There was something that allowed me to NOT do all the stuff I usually do (you should see my laundry pile!) and take some time to leave the every day.  I want to live here more often, as I was truly at peace.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


This is THE most important thing to me in a neighborhood.  As you may or may not know, we move A LOT.  It is hard to pick where to live when you know nothing about the place.  This time we hit the jackpot.

In this book, their new neighbors bring The Bears carrot stew, seeds & nuts, and honeycomb to welcome them to the neighborhood.  I kept asking Paul, every time that we were disappointed by our new neighborhood, where was my carrot stew??

I finally received said stew in the form of being "Boo"ed for Halloween.  (If you don't know, being boo-ed is when someone anonymously leaves treats at your door with a picture of a ghost to put on your door, and then in turn you boo someone else.)  I cried.  I totally cried.  And couldn't stop crying.  I finally got my community that I had been seeking since I left Davis/Sacramento, CA, 10 years ago.

We are moving again this summer, and the COMMUNITY will be my #1 criteria for where we go.  I love this neighborhood in Norfolk, VA where people walk to school, walk their dogs, hang out outside,  "Boo" each other, and has 500 trick or treaters (so I am told!).  We need each other, people.

correction Dec 2013:  I also felt this lovely sense of community when we lived in Bath, UK, which we just returned from a visit, and it hasn't changed.  Still that wonderful sense of connectedness...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Random Blathering Fall 2013

The beginning of the school year is busy.  I love it, but I almost resent it, as I have a hard time letting my boy being away from me all day.  Also, I feel like the days fly by, and I am making an effort to simplify everything I can.  Oh, and I have to eat breakfast or I am a monster by noon.   (Any of you that know me in person, know this to be very true!)  

One great success I had was making mini quiches, freezing them, and heating them for ONE MINUTE in the microwave.  I can't believe how yummy they are, and they have made life easier.  There are a variety of recipes online but basically this is what I did.

1.  Take Store bought pie crust.  Use a biscuit cutter/circle cookie cutter to cut dough.  Put in mini muffin tin with Pampered Chef minitart maker.  
2.  Mix up eggs, milk, salt, pepper. You can add basil, garlic, whatever. 
3.  Add ham, peppers, shredded cheese, whatever you want.  (Make sure bits are pretty small).
4.  Use a measuring cup with a spout and pour some in each pie crust in the muffin tin.
5.  Bake until done.  
6.  Let cool to room temp.  Put on cookie sheet and freeze.  When solid, through in ziploc.  
7.  To reheat, put on plate, microwave 3 for one minute.  
8.  Eat!

Here is my coffee bar for fall.  Another thing I am going to do for fall is to NOT buy any additional coffee or tea for as long as I can.  I need to use up my stash, and I hope to use it all before we move again. 

I need to clean and organize my craft space...  However, every time I go in there, I end up starting to make something, rather than cleaning.

Have you ever used your vegetable steamer to make boiled eggs?  It works great!! I have been doing this for Tate to have a little protein before going to tennis class. 

And I have also been baking a lot.  I get a daily request from my Little-Ms.-Sunshine!
Lastly, go to  They have sooo many great recipes and have made my life easier by using the crockpot.  My recent fave was  It was amazing. I made quesadillas for the kids, since it was a bit spicy, and I used ground chicken and topped with avocado.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Project 52? How about Project 24 instead?

Soooooo I didn't make it to 52 Projects.  I tried.  But with the move and travel, and I guess, just LIFE, that was as many things as I could make.  It was fun, and I liked having a little goal so that I would actually attempt to set aside time to craft.

And I hope to do that this year as well.  (My year begins with the school year:)

However, I will change the format and I think I am going to set aside one night to make whatever I want.  Tuesdays have always been good for me, since I am not as tired as later in the week and well, it isn't Monday.    I won't focus on the number of things completed, but more so just enjoy the experience.  And if I make nothing, but set that night aside to just rejuvenate, well, that works, too.

I think I will start tonight with organizing my craft area...

Monday, September 02, 2013

Last Day of Summer Vacation 2013

We have had fun, and really, I don't want it to end.  But tomorrow, Tate goes back to school.  It is a new school for him, and it is just a few blocks away.  I am ready for the routine, and to meet new people, but I am used to having Tate with us daily. 

We've done a few projects this weekend that the kids loved. 
Firstly, I put out a set of watercolor paints for each kid, a spray bottle, good brushes, watercolor paper, and salt.  The salt leaves a really cool texture when you put it on the paint when it is still wet.  It absorbs a bit of the color, leaving behind beautiful patterns.  

I bought Model Magic for the first time, (Michaels had a deal!) and we pulled out all of the playdoh toys to use with it.  I couldn't stop squishing it!

Soleil will have a hard time when Tate goes back to school.  She does every holiday break, and she asks and asks for him.  I got a few things for her, and have them in her backpack for morning.  Also (not pictured) I found every book we own about school and put it in a little basket for her.
 I set out what I could to make breakfast easier.

We boiled eggs in the steamer (it works great!) for morning.  I would say for the week, but Tate goes through about 3 eggs in a sitting.

I hung garland in the main living area for the kids to see when they come to breakfast in the morning.

And lastly, I took the time to program my Keurig, probably the most important task!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Organizing Home

We rented a home in Norfolk sight unseen.  That means we had never seen it before moving in, and since Paul arrived first, I was calling him frantically asking "how many rooms?  Is it cute?  Can the chaise fit in the living room?"

I tend to hole up until my house is a home, and therefore, have been horrible at correspondence of any sort.  Here are a few photos of what we have been up to, and I will get back to being social once the boxes are all unpacked.


This took an ENTIRE day.  If something new comes in, something else has to go out!
And because we can't clean and organize the entire time, we have been...
At the beach.

 Making Crock Pot Meals.  Check out crockin girls.   They are my favorite inspiration!

 We found an indoor Farmer's Market.

And the ocean air has given me permanent Mermaid Hair!

The best part of moving for the kids:  The Boxes!!!