Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Favorite Things

As the weekend begins, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things this week.

I watched the movie Food, Inc. this week and it was very eye-opening for me on how my food is grown and treated. If you subscribe to Netflix, you can stream the movie on your computer.

This week, Tsh of Simple Mom started the next discussion in her Book Club on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. I am enjoying the book and the discussion is really forcing me to think through the choices my family has made and why we made them (or why we simply defaulted into certain routines).

If you haven't heard about Project 52: Date Nights, then head on over to Simply Modern Mom and join the fun as couples agree to have a date night every week. On Tuesday, all the participants link up at Simple Modern Mom and share their date experiences and suggestions.

As for crafting, I have been working on the fabulous Lil' Sweetheart Purse from Betz White. My little toddler loves putting things in a bag and taking them out, and the Lil' Sweetheart Purse will be a perfect Valentine's Day addition. If you aren't familiar with the work of Betz White, you will fall in love with her projects.

Finally, I loved listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Committed. Gilbert wrote Eat, Pray, Love, which I also thoroughly enjoyed, but her honest and thorough discussion of marriage was fascinating. Elizabeth Gilbert reads the audiobook herself and she did an outstanding job.

What did you enjoy this week?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Life List

As a part of my January soul-searching and resolution-making, I decided to make a life list. A life list is a list of things you want to do during your life. Some people’s lists include grand things that they want to do before they die and some lists include more day-to-day goals. The purpose of the life list is to put you through the exercise of dreaming of the things you want to do with your life and then giving you an incentive to actually go out and do them.

Writing a life list this can be overwhelming, so I decided to break my list down into categories. My categories, which are largely based on the categories devised by Heather of Rookie Moms, are Personal, Romantic, Family Fun, Friends, Outdoors & Exercise, Travel, Earth-Friendly, Food & Drink, Crafty, Memories, Family Work, Home & Garden, and Professional.

Originally, I wanted to write a list of 101 things, but after drafting my list and not coming remotely close to 101 tasks, I abandoned that requirement. What I did decide was that I should constantly evaluate my list. I can add tasks anytime I think of them, and I can eliminate tasks if they no longer interest me. It is my list and I can make my own rules. So can you.

A small sampling of my list includes waking up early every morning for a week to see if it is for me (the fact that I don’t wake up early could be a sign that it isn’t for me, but I still want to try); establish a date night; take my daughter swimming (she is 2, so it is more than time); take a vacation to visit my best friend by myself (Philly, here I come!); run the Shamrock Shuffle 8K; go back to Paris; go to a paperless kitchen; gather family recipes; learn French; order our wedding photos (yes, it will be 7 years in October and we never ordered any wedding photos); assemble a family tree; get a will (yes, I’m an attorney and I’m married to an attorney and we have no will); get my daughter a passport; and plant a flower garden.

I had a great time making my list and I have already started to make progress on achieving some of my goals. I have signed up for the 2010 Shamrock Shuffle and started training. I have started to use more cloth towels in the kitchen so I can reduce the number of paper towels I use. (If you are interested in a paperless kitchen, you should read Simple Mom's suggestions.) After reading about Project 52 Date Nights, my husband and I have agreed to a Saturday night date night after the Wee One goes to bed.

If you have any interest in writing a life list, I encourage you to do so. Just don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t achieve your goals, but don’t be afraid to dream big dreams, either. I would love to hear what you put on your life list.

Photo courtesy of Emily2k/

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Ever since I started to have a box of fresh fruit and vegetables delivered to my house every Tuesday, there has been no shortage of produce in my house. And while I have been better about eating fruits and vegetables, it is time to make a daily commitment. Therefore, for my third week of the 52 to Fabulous challenge, I am going to eat the daily recommended allotment of fruits and vegetables by the FDA.

Now, I will have no problem with availability of fruits and vegetables because I currently have a produce stand in my living room and a new box will be arriving on Tuesday. I made a vegetable and lentil soup today that is chock full of vegetables.

Have I told you about the lentil soup? Oh goodness, it is so good. It started with a recipe from Wolfgang Puck that I found in the Chicago Tribune a few years ago. I have tweaked it a little bit, but the true beauty of the soup is that it can be tailored to whatever you have in your pantry and fridge.

The base of the soup is the most important part. You start with 3 leeks. You chop up the white and light green parts of three leeks and cook them for 5 minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. There is something about the leeks that imparts the oniony flavor, but with a more subtle taste.

After the leeks are softened and smell yummy, add 6 chopped garlic cloves and cook for about 30 seconds, or until you can smell the garlic. Then, you add 2 chopped carrots, 3 chopped celery, 3 cups shredded cabbage (I love using red cabbage), 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, a bay leaf, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/2 cup of brown rice, and 1/2 cup of lentils. You could add pepper, but I don't like pepper so I never add it. Finally, add 8 cups of chicken broth (2 of those cartons).

Now, turn the heat up until the soup simmers and then put a lid on it, turn it down to low and cook for about an hour. To serve, remember to take the bay leaf out, ladle into bowls, and serve with grated Parmesan cheese. I froze a couple of servings, but I still have a few out and at the ready to satisfy my vegetable servings. However, believe me, that no vegetable requirement would cause me to eat vegetable soup if it wasn't the best darn vegetable soup in the world. Just to trick myself, I call it Lentil Soup. Try it - you'll love it.

If I need any encouragement to eat fruit, I also spoon a little Nutella and eat it with the fruit. Oh my goodness, it is so yummy! Did you know that February 5 is World Nutella Day? I say we all start practicing now. Enjoy!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Striving Toward Steady Days

I will not lie and say that my transition from a practicing attorney to a stay-at-home mom has been an easy one. Even after two years, I still struggle daily to find my role and purpose. I have some truly wonderful friends and family who have helped me find my way, but the internet has also been a place of refuge for me.

One of my favorite resources is Jamie at Steady Days. As she says on her blog, "Steady Days is about mothering with focus, juggling your mothering career with other roles you may hold, and being mindful as you interact with your children." Wow, that about says it all.

Jamie has now written a book entitled Steady Days. I cannot wait to read it. Simple Mom (another of my absolutely favorite blogs) is hosting a giveaway of Steady Days, so hop on over there and enter!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And Now for the Needs

For the second week of 52 to Fabulous, I am looking at what I need in 2010.

First, to make a good beginning and to build a foundation for organization, I need to start writing down my thoughts, ideas, dreams, and to-do lists. Putting things down on paper is the best way I can put my dreams into action. Plus, if I have a short-term and long-term to-do list, I can make organizational progress on a day-to-day and broader level.

Next, I need to lose weight and exercise more. This is not just a want, but a need. I need to listen to the doctor. No excuses.

I also need to take more control of my financial situation. First, I need to educate myself on our family's finances (my husband is in charge of the finances) and then I need to develop a budget for my expenses.

I need to make my relationship with my husband a priority. I need to spend time with him without our daughter and we need to spend time away from his work.

Finally, I need to continue to work on making my home a place my family wants to be and a place that helps my family be the best it can be. This includes cleaning, happiness, and decorating.

Wow, that is a lot of needs. It is a good thing we have a plan on how to tackle everything!

Making Exercise a Regular Part of My Routine

As for my wants from last week, this week I am focusing on exercise. I live in Northern Illinois and it is freaking cold outside, so I have to exercise inside. My fabulous husband gave me a Wii for Christmas and have been exercising with it ever since.

This week, I am committing to exercising 5 days. A little flexibility is always good for me, but 5 days is still much better than I have been doing in the recent past. I do my exercise before I do almost anything on my to-do list for the day. For at least this week, exercise is almost my number one priority. (Of course, I do have to make breakfast for the Wee One first thing in teh morning.)

The best part is that with the Wii, I actually love working out. The Wee One loves running and jumping along with me. So far, so good.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

52 to Fabulous - A Good Start

I am blogging along with the women at 52 to Fabulous - a year's journey to a fabulous me! As I become my me, I definitely want to be fabulous, so this seems like a great start!

January's theme is Fabulous Beginnings. This week, I am thinking about what I want for me in the coming year.

My first, and most important, thing I want for myself this year is to improve my health. My health encompasses a lot of things including food, exercise, and time to myself.

I want to take a vacation with my family for at least a week. I haven't taken a vacation in four years and that is unacceptable. As a bonus, I would love to go visit my best friend by myself for a weekend.

I want to continue expressing my creativity through crafting. I have started knitting and I love it! I can't wait to learn more. I love paper crafting and my most recent discovery is crafting with felt. I would love to get my daughter crafting, too. I want to read as much as possible.

Finally, I want to make my home as inviting and comfortable as possible. I'd also like it to be as clean as possible!

These are my wants.