family meals: week 63

white bean chili white bean chili White Bean Chili. Yeah! Dinner Club is officially back on for the New Year. We started this last summer and typically Thursday evenings we have a group of friends over, usually the same ones, and invite some neighbors and new friends over too. We took a break in December for the holidays and we haven’t been able to resume until this week. It was so good! Most who come are married (a couple aren’t though), so we frequently talk about our marriage woes (we scare off the single folk too) and encourage each other to keep pressing on. Usually there is a lot of laughing going on because when we talk about our marriage woes, and once you’re removed from a particular fight, it’s just funny to retell it and see how ridiculous you’re both being. Anyway, I usually make some big pot of chili or soup because it’s the easiest thing to make for a big group of people.

Week of  2/24 – 2/28
Monday: Spicy Seafood & Soba Noodles
Tuesday: Bossam
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Spaghetti
Friday: Sushi/pizza night

I’m really loving being in the kitchen now. When I first started this family meal series, I was doing it just to help my family get more organized and be efficient with our dinnertime. I really hadn’t done much cooking previously, but after about 63 weeks of this, I’m feeling more comfortable stepping away from a recipe and going with my gut and taste. Ben rarely cooks anymore!

I need to keep working at getting the kids involved, so they can learn and love cooking too. Cooking was another thing I learned late in life (just like laundry), but I’d love my girls to get started early. It’s a life skill they need to know after all, not because they’re are girls, but just because it’s something good for everyone to learn to work towards being independent. I wish it’s something I learned at a young age. Ben started getting interested in cooking when he was a kid and he started making his own pizza from watching Reading Rainbow!



the lady and her hat The newest plant added to my indoor collection, and of course I’m still wanting more. Thankfully, I’m able to keep them alive.

This week’s learned, links, and thankfulness…

Some recipes for homemade Girl Scout cookies that Ben emailed me. We don’t buy them because he doesn’t like the hydrogenation in them, so maybe I should try making a batch at home!

This pom pom thing looks fun to make.

Marriage (any thriving relationship really) is a lot of work. Don’t stop working friends! Everyone needs this reminder from time to time.

Loving this pullover sweatshirt that Gusta sent over.

I’m styling my first Babiekins shoot on Sunday and I’m nervous!

I’m addicted to ice cream. I seriously have half a cup every night.

I was getting into watching House of Cards, but it just didn’t make me feel good. I don’t know. I was 8 episodes in and realized, I don’t like it. I mean it’s interesting, but Kevin Spacey creeps me out, so while the storyline is pretty good, it just wasn’t something I wanted filling my brain any longer. I can’t wait for the Olympics to be over so all my regular shows can come back. Good news is Walking Dead is back and I don’t mind thinking about zombies! Those don’t creep me out as much as Kevin Spacey.

Weekend’s here… yipee! I know some people think it’s dumb for stay home moms to get excited about the weekend because we get to stay home all the time (though that doesn’t mean I’m just home eating bon bons and twiddling my thumbs), but I love the weekends because that means I get to do the parenting with Ben by my side all weekend long and 2 on 4 is so much easier than 1 on 4.


a free afternoon for myself

making myself a denim dress making myself a denim dress making myself a denim dress I had bought some denim fabric last summer and meant to make myself a denim dress then, but just never got around to it. Last Saturday was kind of a hang out day at home, and I asked Ben if it was alright if I snuck away to do some sewing, so he and the girls hung out outside doing garden stuff, and I holed myself up in my work room until I had cranked out a dress for myself. I really loved this and this pin and wanted something similar to those, and sketched out some pattern ideas and styles.

making myself a denim dress making myself a denim dress making myself a denim dress I kind of played around with patterns (I pretty much make my own), and after some tweaking here and there (and trying it on and off after I sew every seam), I finally had it. I got kind of off on the sleeve seams, but Ben says I’m the only who notices. I think I’ve got this pattern down now as I made another dress similar to it with black linen fabric, and my sleeve seams are spot on. When I get time, I’ll pick up more denim fabric to make another, and slightly change it up, but will make sure the seam sleeves are spot on too. I’m a perfectionist.

It’s just a simple shift dress, so it’s not terribly difficult to figure out. I had wanted a denim dress Madewell had last summer (this one), but it looked so simple that I couldn’t get myself to spend $100 on a dress that I could make myself. Now, shoes, I can’t make those, and I’ve been known to be a little splurgy when it comes to my footwear, but that’s a story for another day. If I sew my own clothes, it kind of balances out right?! I love being able to sew my own clothes, it’s so satisfying.

I tell you, if you can sew a straight line, you can sew anything! I don’t know if this is super fast or not, but it took me about 3 – 4 hours to make this dress. Have you ever sewn a dress for yourself? It really is such a good feeling!

p.s. my shoes are these from lotta from stockholm and i totally love them!


the little ones make a big difference

laundry The girls have a set of chores to do around the house weekly that really have helped keep things tidy around here. They are still little, but they are most certainly old enough to start being responsible for things. Of course, the expectations from each of them vary slightly because of their age, though True and Brave pretty well do the same things, but we make exceptions for Soulie. One of the biggest things they have taken charge of is putting away the laundry! This has been by far one of the biggest help around here. I typically put the laundry in to be washed, but they take it out, and do all the folding and putting away. Well, they don’t put away mine and Ben’s laundry, but put it in our room, and then we put it away. Everything else though, they do themselves.

the laundry ranges the laundry ranges the laundry ranges the laundry ranges the laundry ranges the laundry ranges the laundry ranges the laundry ranges We got to try the Tide Pods and NEW Gain Flings from Target and those make doing laundry even more feasible for the girls! Not only can they put it away, but they can wash now too! I still have to help separate the colors (but I’m sure in a couple weeks they’ll get the gist), but True put all the clothes in, threw in the little laundry pod, I told her what cycle to put it on, she pressed start, and there you have it. When it was done, they (Brave and True) transferred it to the dryer, and when that was done, they took it out, folded it, and put it away (this is where Soul contributes). It’s pretty amazing and such a big help. I just sat back with a beer in hand and smiled. Okay, kidding. I didn’t really have a beer, nor was I was just sitting back watching, but I’m very impressed (and thankful) with how my girls help out. They may be little, but their contributions to this household make a big difference.

Similarly, these little pods of laundry detergent definitely made a difference in our laundry too! I absolutely love the smell, which is attributed to 50% more scent, Oxi boost, and Febreze combo. When True smelled it for the first time, she said, “Mommy, it smells like oranges and grapes!” Well, it doesn’t really, I think she just  associated the colors to those scents, but it really did smell exceptionally good. I really like the simplicity of the pod and how you can just fling it in; it is definitely something my girls can do!

We aren’t allowance givers as we want the girls to learn that money needs to be earned and is not just given. Depending the task, their starting rate is 50 cents, so they also enjoy helping out because it gives them a chance to earn some money. In addition, I use these times to do “math talk” throughout the day. Money has been such a hard concept for them to learn, but with them earning it, it really helps them understand the different values and and how to add it up. They do have some responsibilities that must be done weekly without getting paid (e.g., cleaning their room), but laundry (and a few others) are paid jobs for now.

These girls are definitely way ahead of me when I was their age, as I didn’t learn how to do the laundry until my last couple years of college. I know, I know. It just wasn’t something my parents taught me, but I did start cleaning bathrooms when I was 10. The only reason I did end up learning was because I was about to leave to study abroad in London (and would have to do it on my own when I got there), so my mom (or maybe it was Ben) finally taught me how to do the laundry. Better late than never, right?!

Since they started helping out with laundry a few months ago, we no longer have lingering piles of clothes to be washed or put away. I love it! Keeping this house running and organized is really a team effort for us. We all work together to do our jobs! This mom is definitely thankful for how her girls are excited to be active contributors to our home. They are little, but everything they do really goes a long way!

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garden under construction (again)

home stuff home stuff home stuff home stuff home stuff Last year, we started our orchard backyard culture. The end of last year some of the trees started not doing so well, so we had to figure out the problem and a solution. There were fights between us regarding this (and cause this is one expensive hobby). So after working this out on paper, we’re flip flopping the tree placement with the vegetable garden. In addition to that, we’re changing out our garden beds. It’s been a bit frustrating to deal with, but we’re rolling with the punches because sometimes you just have to learn from your mistakes. We aren’t professionals by any means, but we (mainly Ben) does all the research he can so we have a thriving garden to enjoy.

While our backyard looks insanely messy now, I’m hoping in a few months, it will look good again. Now we just have to wait for Ben’s rotator cuff to heal so that he can get back to digging. I can’t wait to get everything planted back in the ground; all our trees our currently in pots again!



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