nesting out

We’re no strangers to edible nests over here in our nest. A big favorite of ours is an edible nest we had at Wren’s first birthday party, which is also an Easter tradition in Chris’ family. So we had fun exploring some new-to-us edible nests this week thanks to some new ideas from The Artful Parent’s spring e-book. Why hello there again, sugar! Oof.



I also created a board over on my Pinterest page with more edible nests. Enjoy!

Have you been enjoying any special spring treats these days?

super silly spaghetti night

The first week of school went really well, but some of the novelty has since worn off and it’s not been quite as easy to get going this week. Still no tears or tantrums (yes!), but some of the enthusiasm for something new and exciting has waned. So I thought it would be fun to celebrate this “back to school” time with a new tradition to break up some of the new routine a little bit. Enter the Super Silly Spaghetti Night! I stole this idea from a friend so I can’t take the credit for it. Feel free to steal it too. It’s too fun and easy not to pass on.

All you do is cook up a batch of spaghetti noodles, sauce and we added meatballs too. Put a throwaway plastic tablecloth down on the table and then you dump the food directly on the table in a big pile. No plates or utensils allowed! Go for it. Only rule: no throwing food. When you’re all done eating and getting messy, throw the kids (and husband) directly in the tub and roll up the tablecloth with any food scraps and throw in the garbage. It’s really not as messy as you would first think. Fun!

Everyone liked it, even those too young for “back to school” traditions.

What kind of “back to school” traditions do you have, lovelies? I would love to hear!

pesto love

Happy weekend, lovelies. I hope you’re having a great one. I’ve found myself with a (very) rare moment of quiet with Chris out on a bike ride and the girls both asleep with sweaty heads. It probably won’t last long, but I’m soaking up a tiny bit of me-time. So I wanted to share a few pics from this week’s pesto fun. We’re finally getting to enjoy something from the garden: basil!

Why do I always think I’ll enjoy my tomatoes with my fresh basil, but my basil usually has come and gone before my tomatoes are ready? I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong with the basil, but we’re all enjoying it so much right now while it’s still growing strong. Wren picked all the basil for the pesto we made this week. This is a great thing for little hands to do. In fact at one point I asked her to look at me so I could take a picture and she said, “can I just pick, Mama?!” Apparently the paparazzi is getting a bit out of control around here. Sorry, kid, just trying to capture these fleeting moments…

We had grilled basil pesto pizza one night, a basil pesto pasta another night and three mornings in a row we had green eggs (scrambled eggs with pesto on top) with ham! But you’re only allowed to make and eat them AFTER you’ve read the book for the billionth time, Sam I Am.

Oh, and we had pesto straight off the spoon too… we just can’t seem to get enough.

Are you enjoying anything from your garden yet, lovelies? Or is it mostly just big and green and overrun with weeds like mine? Arrghh. Any tips on how I can get the basil from bolting before the tomatoes are ready? Please and thank you.


the diet

Most people begin a diet at the beginning of the year, but this year I decided that the best time would be after Fat Tuesday (or Paczki Day or Mardi Gras) ON Ash Wednesday, which is tomorrow! OK, it’s not really named after me, but still, don’t you think that seems just right? So today I fattened up with a paczki of the Traverse City variety, which is not nearly as delicious as the real Hamtramck variety, but I digress. Did I just say that I fattened up? Well, I was already too fat before I even bit into the paczki. I could say it was “baby weight,” but really I shed the true “baby weight,” and now I’m left with the I-ate-too-much-when-I-was-pregnant-and-didn’t-exercise-enough weight. Oof. After Wren was born, I shed the weight pretty easily because I was walking and then running a lot. A beautiful summer and fall stretched out ahead of me and it was really easy to get out with just a baby and really easy to eat healthy, fresh food. Now given how difficult I find it to grocery shop with the two, getting out to exercise has been difficult. And eating really healthy during November and December involved a lot more will power than I was willing to muster so I said, sure pass me another Christmas cookie… So here I am in February and I just feel chubby and yucky. It could be that I’m still struggling with how to shower every day too… ahem. So, here I am.

I didn’t need to share this with you, but I thought that it would help me to stick with my plan if I shared my struggles and successes along the way. First I wanted to make a list of all the diets I’ve tried in the past 20+ years. That’s right, I think I’ve tried one diet or another since I was an early teenager. Maybe earlier actually. Here goes the list, but I think there are more, but I can’t remember them right now. One thing I am sure of, you can find out today the equipment I have used to achieve the perfect body that most women desire.

  • Weight Watchers (three or four times?)
  • Jenny Craig (twice?)
  • Nutrisystem
  • medical weight loss treatment
  • South Beach Diet (three times?)
  • train for a marathon approach to losing weight (twice)
  • Ayurvedic approach
  • Eat nothing white
  • vegan and vegetarian eating for weight loss
  • Body for Life
  • Skinny Bitch
  • French Women Don’t Get Fat
  • Body Sculpting Bible diet
  • low carb
  • eat NO junk food ever again approach
  • Jillian Michaels
  • Spark
  • counting calories
  • counting fat
  • low fat
  • Biggest Loser diet
  • paleolithic
  • the I’ll diet tomorrow approach (almost every day)

And I’m sure there are more, oh my. And almost all the approaches worked and I lost a bit of weight, but I would get bored (or hungry!) and stop. I feel a bit queasy and distraught when I think about all the time I’ve wasted thinking about my weight and body image over the years. If I had put that energy and thought into something else, I bet I could have found the cure to some disease or come up with a million dollar idea. Best not to regret they say, but I do.

I never have been into fashion or make-up or caring too much about how I looked when I left the house, but recently I realized it was because nothing ever really looked good on me since I was short and stout. Skinny jeans, are you kidding me?! More on this topic in a future post…

Speaking of short and stout, most of the time I don’t realize that I’m only 5’1″ tall. Seriously, I just don’t think about it and it has never really bothered me to be short. But when I picked up The Petite Advantage Diet: Achieve That Long, Lean Look. The Specialized Plan for Women 5’4″ and Under, it was like being hit on the head. Duh! You can’t eat like your husband who is A FOOT taller than you and expect to lose weight, or expect to not gain weight. Or eat like most of the people I eat with because I’m usually the smallest one. Duh! again. Why had the reality of this never really occurred to me?! I suppose it was hidden in many of the approaches to slimming down that I tried, but it was never out there, loud-and-proud.

The diet isn’t brain surgery, lovelies; it involves eating small portions of protein-rich, satisfying whole foods with lots of veggies and fruit. I hate “diet” foods so I’m thankful that the diet really only calls for consuming actual foods and not strange, man-made concoctions with lots of ingredients I can’t pronounce. The books lays out a three week meal plan to follow, which is nice because I don’t have to do any calorie-counting or overthink what to eat (should I eat a salad with poached chicken or should I have a vegan burrito with some kind of healthy “cheese?” Hell, I’ll just have a few cookies and another cup of coffee…) It also involves caloric cycling with some days a bit higher in calories than others. As far as exercise, it calls for a simple gravity band routine that I can do at home, or really anywhere there is a door. This was also appealing to me because I’m not going to commit to finding (and paying for) childcare on a regular basis so I can drive to a gym and workout.

The one aspect of the book I can’t really get entirely behind is that the author, Jim Karas, seems to be anti-cardio exercise. Cardio just makes me feel so much better and this emotional boost goes a long way to making healthy choices and having a good attitude toward life. I’m not going to give it up, but since it’s only playing a very small part in my life right now, it’s not much to worry about anyway. There’s really not time to overdo it since I sometimes can’t find time to take a shower or clean yesterday’s dishes…

I also contacted the author to find out if I needed to adjust the calories since I was nursing. He said I could safely add about 200 calories, which I decided could be a couple extra pieces of fruit or something more satisfying like a small handful or almonds or some low-fat, natural cheese.

Are you still reading this post? Man, I realize this is probably getting boring and somewhat embarrassing for me , but I just wanted to get it all out there. Tomorrow I will post one of those awful “before” photos and some numbers (yikes!) so wish me luck! Please and thank you.

Now for you, lovelies. Any tips or tricks you’d like to share? PLEASE send them my way. Pleeeeeaaaase! xo

p.s. Happy Fat Tuesday! Any amazing indulgences you’d like to share? Giving up anything for Lent? Good luck to YOU!

click on

First things first, our paperwhites are in full bloom!

Have any fun plans for the weekend, lovelies? I’m hoping for a crafty one with Wren (with Phoebe tucked in one arm). Valentine’s Day is coming up! Anyone else flip the calendar to February this week and think, “hey wait a minute, how did THAT happen?” Yikes. Hey, 2012, slow down already. If you’ve got some time to lazily click around ye old Internet this weekend, start with these click-worthy corners of Cyberspace. Enjoy!

Happy weekend!

beating the winter blahs

We were experiencing our first case of the winter blahs today. A bit too cooped up, a bit disappointed because a friend and her son were supposed to come over for a visit but he got sick, a bit tired after a fun weekend, a bit of the Mondays when Papa goes back to work and we found ourselves back to the same ole-same ole. So we thought that baking a treat for Hoppy would be fun to do together. Hoppy is my Dad and his birthday is at the end of the month, but Wren wanted to bake them NOW. But I only could find two cupcake liners and there was no way I was making a special trip to the store for cupcake liners. Boo! And then I remembered that you could use ice cream cones for cupcakes. I shared with Wren what we were going to do with the cones and she squealed, “you make me laugh, Mama, that’s silly! This is going to FUUUUN!” And it was a hoot. I was also really impressed with Wren’s attention to her work. I showed her how to frost one after they had cooled and then dip them into a cup of sprinkles. She did the other eleven. It was perfect because around that time Phoebe was waking up and needed some attention…

Did you eat these when you were kids? I always thought they were so cool! And Wren does too.

Wondering about the chocolate? Those are the ice cream cones that have a chocolate rim. Cheers!

fudge rum balls

Thanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring my writing. There’s no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On!



I mostly bake from scratch, but when scratch is in short supply as it has been lately with the new little birdie in our nest, I occasionally reach for a mix for a baking base. Especially for something as delicious as fudge rum balls.

You’ve got to try this one, lovelies. It’s really a good one to add to your arsenal of holiday treats. Because really, can you go wrong with chocolate, nuts, sugar and alcohol? Um, no. Especially when you double the rum in this Duncan Hines recipe for fudge rum balls that uses a fudge cake mix as a base. 2 T just didn’t do the trick so I increased it to about 4T and the balls came together a lot better. And with a more well-rounded flavor.

The danger in these little treats is that they’re too easy to just pop in your mouth when you’re having a sip of coffee, but they’re also great with a glass of shiraz or zinfandel or heck, a drip of milk would be great with them too. Before you know it, you’ll have consumed several. And because they’ve got nuts, they’re almost like a health food, right?

Now it’s your turn. What’s your philosophy on using a mix? Do you ever use them or do you pride yourself on from-scratch-only baking? Do you like to fill out your holiday dessert tray with a few store-bought goodies too? Do you make cookies ahead of time and keep them in the freezer for when a last-minute visitor pops in over the holidays? And one more question, do you “save your calories” for a favorite holiday treat or go hog wild?

Confession: I’m not thinking about calories right now, but I’m looking forward to a sugar-free January. My butt needs it, ha! But for now? Well, pass me another rum ball. It’s Christmas!

Remember to check out Duncan Hines’ website to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.