redecorating

My house is so beige.

Back when we got married 7 years ago (!), I was really into earth tones. Just hang out in my “pumpkin butter” painted living room or my latte colored bedroom, admiring the goldish curtains and the brown furniture, and you yourself might turn into a clay pot.

Lately I’ve just been really tired of it. Even my carpet is like this off-colored cream. But uglier. So I’m on a mission to de-beige my house.

I’m really into the look of white, bright, minimal decor (like everyone else these days, I guess). Here are some images that have been inspiring me lately. I hope to eventually totally revamp our living space and when that happens, I will share.

 Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

3 favorite recipes

I think I’ve mentioned before, my motivation to cook comes and goes. I’ll go along for a couple of weeks being Betty Crocker and then it will be takeout for a week. Everyone needs a break once in awhile, right? And a Kit Kat.

When I am on a cooking spree though, for some reason I always am wanting to find and make new recipes, when I have like a ton that I’ve made and know are good and that Joseph would really be happy if I’d make again. I should work on that.

Anyway, there are a few that make a regular rotation in our house. Here are three:

1. Spaghetti Bolognese
This is just solid comfort food. It’s pretty easy to make and is wonderful as leftovers. My only changes are to halve the amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg and to use spicy italian sausage where it calls for regular pork sausage.

2. Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Great meatless meal. I usually serve these with avocado, tomato, lettuce and spicy mayo.

3. Salty Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies (picture by Bon Appetit)
This is my current go-to cookie recipe. Excellent cookies. Now, there are tons and tons of recipes out there for ‘perfect’ chocolate chip cookies. I even have at least two other recipes that qualify as ‘really really good if not perfect’ cookies, but these are what I’m making these days in a pinch. And there are a lot of pinches.

the early months / depression

Depression is a funny thing. And by funny, I mean really not funny.

Because when you’re in it, it feels so real. It is real. You feel like life is so hopeless and you lose your motivation to do anything. You lose your enjoyment of the small joys in life (and the big joys too, I guess). You don’t care about what food you eat, or if you see your friends, or what TV show you watch…if you even want to watch TV. You just don’t want to do anything, but you have to, because a tiny human is depending on you.

And by you, I mean me. Let’s just cut to the chase here. We all knew that’s who I was talking about.

I experienced a dose of postpartum depression. It could have been much worse, but it was there. There were moments when I would catch a glimpse of my former self, brief periods of happiness when I was out with friends or, let’s be honest, having a glass or two of wine. But most of the time I just slogged through life, just making it through each day, only to do it all again the next day – and that in itself was daunting.

The thing is, that though depression is real, oftentimes the things you’re depressed about aren’t real. Your life can be beautiful, you can have a beautiful baby girl and a loving husband, supportive friends and family, all your needs met, and you can’t even appreciate it. (Whoops, I’m doing it again. I mean me.) Life can feel hopeless when it’s really not. It’s very crippling.

I remember when Simona was somewhere around 4 or 5 months, and I was still having bouts of crying  and some of those same feelings of hopelessness. I thought, how can this still be postpartum stuff? Doesn’t that go away within the first couple months?

I guess not. I think it can last even longer than I struggled with it, which was about 5 months or so. Maybe even 6. I still have my days, even now at 9 months. But maybe that’s not related…maybe those are my own issues. Who knows? I have problems.

We considered getting help, but I felt embarrassed and like something was wrong with me, and didn’t want to share my feelings with a doctor. I felt like I should surely be able to conquer this…to just snap out of it. But as Joseph kindly phrased, “If your leg was broken, you wouldn’t feel embarrassed about going to the doctor. This is a real thing.”

Depression is real, but it isn’t really you. It may feel like you, it may feel like your new reality, but it isn’t. I remember a particularly bad night, feeling like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and Joseph telling me, “I know you’re in there somewhere.” That was hope in itself to me, because he was recognizing and letting me know that this wasn’t truly who I was.

I’m so thankful for my loving and supportive husband. Without him, I think I would have just been curled up in a corner somewhere, crying, with Simona somewhere nearby, crying too because her mom is a nutcase. Joseph was patient with me, and kind, as he always is. And so was God. And my mom. And now I feel like I’m making an Oscar acceptance speech. I’d also like to thank chocolate.

It’s a little odd writing these things now, especially since I feel pretty much like myself again. But I think it’s important to be honest and to share what I went through, just to prove, as Joseph kept (keeps?) telling me, that it will get better. You may be in a really dark phase, but it will pass. That’s just a fact of life. You’ll probably even get to learn from and it and grow too, or something like that.

3 products

These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of family reunions and weddings. Well, just one of each, but then all the stuff that goes along with a 3-day family getaway and being in a wedding. All good, all fun, but there’s something nice about getting back into the swing of normalcy. For me, at least.

These are three things I’ve discovered over the past couple of whirl-weeks that I’m really loving:


1. Small Talk 3/4-inch styling wand by Bed Head
I’ve been looking for waves like this for my short(ish) hair, and I’VE FINALLY FOUND THEM. Everything else I try leaves me with one or two weird bumps (in my hair) that go away the next day. Picked this up a couple days before the wedding and used it to do my hair for the big day, and the waves were perfect. Not too tight, not too loose. And they lasted until the next day, and even looked pretty good the third day, and now you know how long I wait until I wash my hair sometimes. The picture above was second-day waves.

2. Halo hydrating perfecting powder by Smashbox
Another pre-wedding purchase, as I’ve been looking to get a good powder for some time now. So…I didn’t plan on spending this much but the lady put some on me at Ulta, and by the time I had gotten home I decided I wanted to buy it. It’s just really good. It doesn’t look cakey or powdery at all and actually manages to even out your skin tone (and add glow too?). It’s kind of all you need on a daily basis, but then slap on some primer and/or foundation underneath it for special times. It’s the stuff.

3. Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cucumber cooler
This is super refreshing and delicious. That’s really all there is to it. I think it’s new, cause I’ve never seen it there before…and that’s saying something. It’s a bit sweet, but I like sweet. And if you like cucumber water, you’ll love this.


Disclaimer
: No one is paying me to say these things…but they should be.

things no one told me about being a mom – episode 1

You learn so much as a new mother. You learn about yourself, your baby, your husband, and even your parents (there’s definitely a new appreciation there). Some things you (thought you) were prepared for, and some things completely blindside you. I’m going to share some of the latter in this new series.


1. YOUR HOME WILL NEVER LOOK THE SAME

I used to say I would not let the baby stuff take over my home. As I’m sitting here typing this, I can look to my left and see the baby bouncer, look in front of me and see a slew of toys and a baby gym, and look to the dining room to see a highchair and a pack ‘n’ play. It is virtually impossible to keep at bay. I would vow not to get bouncers and gyms and tons of toys, maintaining that my baby would be happy to play on the ground with a cardboard box and a measuring cup. All the time. Also she would never cry and be a perfect sleeper. And I would keep a perfectly clean home, just as before. Duh.

But somehow it happened. I didn’t mean for it to, but now I can buy toys with the best of ‘em, and I love my “lawn” for bottles, and I don’t know what I would do without the baby gym. So things change.

And things get messy. You may do a good job of keeping the baby gear away, but things will still be messy. There will be dried spit-up on the carpet, dried baby food on your clothes, God-knows-what in the carseat…and you won’t really care. The dishes may pile up in the sink you used to keep impeccably clean, and you just don’t worry about it like you used to. I used to get really hyper about cleaning the kitchen after a meal, or straightening up the house, but having a baby tends to rearrange priorities a bit. It goes something like baby, sleep, eat, work, housework, work out. Husband and myself are in there too, but I’m not sure where.

Having Simona has made me much less of a control freak about cleanliness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not living in filth now or anything, but I’ve realized it’s okay if I don’t get to clean to bathroom this week. Or next week. And the laundry will wait patiently while I scrounge for some good clean underwear. The dishes will get done. But maybe I want to sit on the couch first and have a sandwich.

It’s just inevitable that when you add a new person to your family, you add new things to your life, and new chores to your list. I don’t know why I thought I could get away with having a baby as a neat, poopless accessory. Of course there’s more to it than that, but you know what I mean. As minimalist as you are, you have to at least have clothes and diapers. And then you have to wash those clothes and change those diapers.

So your home will look different. Maybe just a little different, or maybe ‘overhaul’ different. It’s a home where a tiny human will slowly grow into an adult, and that’s a beautiful thing. It is a messier, more chaotic life, but it is one filled with joy and love and baby coos. It’s filled with tiredness too, but that’s another story for another time. The long and short of it is that it’s worth it. I’d never trade the literal bundle of joy that now resides in my house, not for all the clean carpets in the world.

five things friday

We have a perfect day to enjoy here in Chicago! It’s sunny and 70 degrees and spirits are high. You can just feel it. Hope your weekend is beautiful and happy! And hope you enjoy these links from around the interwebs:

An amazing time capsule home.

Can’t stand how cute these moccasins are.

Have you seen this dramatic little girl?

I don’t have tattoos but this is one of the most tempting I’ve seen.

We had these incredible pastries in Paris and now Bon Appetit is telling us how to make them (a really big project though…)!

pinterest in real life – no-bake granola bars

First of all, I realize that I should be taking pictures of my attempts in this endeavor, but I’ve been too lazy. So here’s to not being lazy. I took one picture!

This week I had to try these no-bake granola bars. They looked so healthy and easy. Turns out, they weren’t quite as easy as I’d hoped, because I had to toast oats and coconut, and soak and puree apricots and dates, and chop a whole buncha stuff. Is that a lot of work? Maybe not. Like I mentioned, I’m lazy.

The recipe is nicely modifiable, so I used peanut butter where I had no almond butter, and almonds where I had no brazil nuts. Otherwise, it was really nice to use up all these dried fruit sort of things that I happened to have sitting in my pantry, because I literally had all of the other ingredients on hand(minus hemp seeds, but who has those on hand?). Sometimes I have no idea how I collect these things.

These bars were pretty tasty. My favorite bites are when you can taste the dates and apricots, and because I had some trouble getting a nice smooth paste out of my apricots and dates, those flavors didn’t quite make it all way through the mixture. If you can get a good paste out of them though, I suspect it’d be pretty enjoyable.

I can’t say that I ate these with the fervor with which I demolished the coconut macaroons I made the other day, but they are good. (Maybe it’s not fair to compare macaroons to granola bars. Yeah, probably not.) And the nice thing is that I cut up and wrapped the remaining bars into individual sized portions and stuck them in the freezer, so we have snacks or breakfast in a pinch!

Verdict: Unsure
For some reason, I wish these were a tad easier to throw together. Maybe they would be better with a different nut butter or something, but I don’t see adding these to a regular rotation. I’ll keep the recipe for now, because it’s healthy and tasty.


first picture is mine, second picture is from the original recipe post

life lately

We’ve had a busy past few weeks. I have a feeling though, that this is just how life is going to be now. So maybe we’ve had a normal past few weeks. Whatever.

I’ve been making tons of baby food, trying out new recipes in my new dutch oven, trying to keep up with housework, permanently doing laundry, enjoying the warmer weather (and by warmer I mean over 40 degrees), hosting and attending dinner parties, attending other events and even going on a couple dates. So it’s been all good, but it’s been all tired. I mean I’m all tired. What day is it? I swear I just can’t go like I used to.

Here’s some iPhone snaps of recent days.

Paddington Bear for Baby Gap head to toe (on Simona). That stuff is dangerous.

She can feed herself, kind of, which makes things convenient for Joseph.

We celebrated our anniversary last month. My mom was kind enough to watch Simona overnight and we stayed in the city. I also got this fabulous print of the date from Ashley Barlow.

Her first time on the swing. She didn’t really seem to care.

We frequent this diner for brunch on weekends. Best pancakes ever.

A new hat from a friend.

Simona has a thing for jackets, I guess. Like her mom.

A Sunday walk.

reading list



I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. It’s amazing how a good book can make real life fade into the background. The Divergent series has caused me to get behind on all sorts of work and hangout time with my little family. I’d put Simona down for a nap and pick up the Kindle, telling myself I’d just read a little bit but accidentally sitting there until she woke up (usually just 45 minutes later, but still).

I also tend to be in the middle of like a bunch of books at the same time. I don’t know why I can’t just finish one and then start the next one. Attention problems…but that’s another story for another time, maybe, if I remember to do it without getting distracted by another topic.

That being said, here is what I’m currently reading:

1. The Divergent Series
I decided to read this because my husband had, and he thought I’d like it, and the movie was coming out in a week so I didn’t know if I’d finish it in time. I tend to not whip through books like he can. But I sure whipped through these. As I mentioned, it was a real time suck. It was not a problem to finish the first book, Divergent, before the movie came out, and I’ve finished Insurgent, the second one, since. I haven’t started on Allegiant, the third one, but I’m looking forward to it. They are quick, exciting reads. (I was slightly disappointed in the movie though.)

2. French Kids Eat Everything
Since starting Simona on solids, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to introduce a variety of foods to her and not have her only used to eating bland, unseasoned purees all the time. Yes, she needs to get used to the fruits and vegetables, but after that, I want her palate to experience a lot of flavors in hopes of reducing pickiness later on. I’ve only started this book, but she seems to have some good rules.


3. The Paris Wife
I started this a bit ago, and I like it, but for some reason it’s taking me longer to get through. It’s about Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley, and their life back in the 1920s. It’s a fascinating read, especially if you’re into that era and sort of thing.

4. Notes from a Blue Bike
I picked this one up because I’m really into the concept she addresses: living slowly and intentionally in this chaotic world. Americans tends to rush everywhere, and do everything quickly, and constantly multi-task (myself included, especially since Simona). I love the idea of enjoying one thing at a time, and focusing on the life and people in front of you instead of a screen. It’s a really hard thing to practice though.

5. Girl at the End of the World
Just finished this last week, and it’s one of those that’s hard to put down…for me, especially, because I have a personal connection to her story. I grew up in a ‘branch’ of the same fundamentalist Christian group that she did. I was much more removed from it than she was, and was only 17 when it all broke up, but I found the stories she told both familiar and shocking. I wasn’t aware of everything that went on, and as I read her honest personal account, I found myself angry, tearful, amused, shocked, pensive…basically all the emotions. That’s telling of a good book, no?
What are you reading?