Blah Blah Blahg

A little of this, a little of that, and a whole lot of blah blah blah....

Monday, February 21, 2011

True Confessions of the Human Kind

I have a confession to make...
I am human. In fact, I have been human for my entire life.
While I am at it, I may as well also mention that I am not perfect, in fact, sometimes I am not even close to being perfect.
(What is perfect?)
Sometimes I am sick. Sometimes I am tired, exhausted even. My body has an incredible and God-given ability to tell me this. I have an incredible and human-like ability to ignore these messages. Sometimes I am worried or sad or angry. My soul has an amazing and God-given knack for feeling all kinds of emotions, but I have an amazing and human-like knack for only expressing the ones I think are "pretty," "neat," and "tidy."
(Which emotions are pretty, neat or tidy?)
I compare myself to other women. I have a lot of compassion and empathy for these women; I admire them. They are single or they are married. They are tall, short, thin, curvy... Maybe they live alone. Maybe they live with children and families. They are younger. They are older. They are professionals, students, moms, teachers, healers. They have many talents. Their homes are orderly and clean. They look neat and put-together every day and all day--even when they have been up with infants all night, raising children, working 40+ hour workweeks outside the home--and/or 24-hour, seven-day-per-week shifts in the home! They not only function in the many hats they wear and roles they play, they do so with grace and charisma! When one of these every day heroines confides in me that she feels tired, messy, disorganized--imperfect, I don't have any harsh judgments. If anything, I admire her more!
Imagine if it were OK to be messy or disorganized. Imagine if it were OK to be imperfect.

But what would that mean? Would it mean we are broken? Less-than? Not enough? And who gets to decide that?
So, yes, I feel tired. I feel sick and sometimes struggle not-so-gracefully to become well. I am sometimes messy, disorganized and--if you're really lucky, I've let you see you that in me. Because, you know what? I am whole. I am complete. I am human and today, right now, in this moment--that is more than enough.

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's Friday! This Moment: My iPad

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How-to Tuesday: Rainy Day/Snow Day Fun with Toddlers

It's mid-February now, and even though it's been a remarkable month weather-wise here, it's not quite prance-in-the-park season yet. I am getting antsy! Sometimes those sunny (but still cold) days feel like a carrot being dangled in front of my nose--Spring is so near, and yet the ground is still frozen. I can only imagine the children I am privileged to work with are feeling it, too. This is where a bit of creativity and spontaneity come into play (pun intended). I am going to devote some of my How-to Tuesdays and other posts to sharing some quick, budget-friendly, kid-tested activities with you. These activities will be generally portrayed for use in the preschool classroom, but are just as fun to do with your kids at home on a rainy or snowy day when you're stuck indoors, or even during their next play-date or birthday party.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and although I do not observe that as a holiday, I felt like it was as good an opportunity as any to borrow a toddler or two and whip up a fun, quick, budget-friendly project. I put together my yearning for the sunlight and color of Spring with my love of clear contact paper and decided to create some "Stained Glass" Heart Sun-catchers. I started out by cutting small chunks of tissue paper I had at home. I used reds, pinks, white and some scraps from a few years back that had heart themed prints. For the border on this one, which is hanging in my kitchen window, I cut a heart shape out of a 12x12 card-stock page I had never used from a scrap-book I made several years ago. I cut a smaller heart out of the center to create a frame. I made several similar frames with construction paper. I cut portions of clear contact paper and peeled off the protective backing. I set them, sticky side up, on a table and stuck on the tissue scraps. This is a very kid-friendly project. Even younger toddlers can enjoy sticking paper scraps to contact paper. Older children can take more independent roles in the project, doing the cutting or even tearing tissue paper. I used my portable laminating machine to protect my final project, though you can also use more contact paper to finish off the project, leaving a large enough border to seam it together.
This is a versatile project, too. We did Chanukah themed "Stained Glass" Sun-catchers in with my preschool class this past year, and you could choose any shape you'd like. I've even seen entire windows done with this method using several smaller shapes or even large rectangular portions of contact paper without a frame. I have also used clear contact paper right on a classroom easel in a toddler class with small containers full of various paper scraps (tissue, wrapping paper, construction paper, magazine cutouts) for sticking on--a great way to encourage use of both fine motor and gross motor skills in the wee ones. Now you finally have a use for the tissue paper you insisted on saving from various gifts received over the years!
So, just a quick recap...

You will need:
  • clear contact paper
  • scraps of colored tissue paper, cut or torn into small pieces
  • colored construction paper for border/frame
This project is generally age appropriate (with proper supervision) for children from 18 months and up and can be adapted for older children as well.

And now I want to ask you: Teachers, Caregivers, and Mommas/Daddies, what are your favorite cost-effective, rainy-day fun activities to do with kids?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Homemade Stove-top Granola Recipe

I don't usually post twice in one day, but I had to share this recipe for Homemade Maple Vanilla Stovetop Granola, adapted from this recipe at I've spent the last several weeks being indecisive about what kind of granola to purchase. I love granola on top of yogurt for breakfast in the morning (or even an afternoon snack), but I have to be careful when I buy it that it is gluten free and does not contain wheat products. My options are rather slim and really pricey. I recently finished one I particularly liked that I purchased from the bulk bins at a local health food store--but, it was expensive and I wondered if I could possibly make my own.
And I can! And so can you!

Maple Vanilla Stove-top Granola

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups rolled oats (NOT instant)
1/3 cup butter
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the rolled oats and cook, stirring, until toasted and lightly browned. This should take about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour the toasted oats onto a cookie sheet. Meanwhile, in the same pan, melt the butter and stir in the honey, maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla. Cook and stir until bubbly then add the toasted oats back to the pan. Stir to coat and continue cooking and stirring for about another 5 minutes. Pour back onto the cookie sheet to cool.
  3. When cool, put the granola in an airtight container to store. If you would like, you could mix in nuts or dried fruits at this point.
Now I will enjoy a crunchy granola atop my yogurt tomorrow morning made just the way I like it. I know for sure it doesn't have any gluten or wheat in it and it was a fraction of the price to make at home that it would be to purchase at a store.

Sunday's Solitude

Last night, before going to bed, I made a To-Do List. I make such lists on occasion, but this one was slightly different. I separated it into 2 sections: For my Home and For ME. Under the For my Home section, I listed the chores that needed to get done around the house--dishes, laundry, cleaning projects, tidying up. Under the For ME section, I included activities I wanted to do that bring me peace and joy. And, perhaps the most important part of the To-Do List was the part at the very bottom, which read:
Forgive myself for not getting everything on this list accomplished!
Since my diagnosis of sleep apnea, I have been prescribed and set up with a C-PAP machine at home to keep my airways from collapsing while I am asleep. I was expecting that it would be a long, difficult process of getting used to this addition to my usual pajamas, but the first night was incredible. I fell asleep within half an hour of putting the mask on and starting the air flow and when I woke up at 4AM, I'd already been sleeping for six hours straight! I went back to sleep and slept through until my alarm went off (I've only done that twice that I can remember over the last year) AND I was actually dreaming! I was overcome with excitement and optimism--and this made the next few nights, which did not go as well, incredibly hard to accept. The novelty of finally knowing what has been affecting my health over the past several years had worn off and been replaced by the realization that I will deal with this for the rest of my life.
I spent Shabbat surrounded by friends. That island of intentional pause in time seemed, as always, to press a "reset" button in my mind and spirit. This was precisely the mindset that led me toward revamping my usual style in planning the rest of my weekend.
It was with that same mindset that I awoke this morning with a strong desire to stay at home and indulge in a little bit of hibernation. I did not feel like going out, I did not feel like spending much time online or talking with others. I was not entirely sure what I would do, but entirely sure that I wanted some personal ME time and solitude. My natural rhythm was slow and steady and I moved with that rather than against it. Some of those items on my To-Do List did get accomplished. Dishes were washed, laundry was done, trash collected and taken out. I tidied up my kitchen drawers and shelves, baked a batch of gluten free cornbread and a pot of miso soup with vegetables and some homemade granola.
I did pin my list below the kitchen window this morning, but I'm not too concerned with crossing off accomplishments tonight. It is more important that I can see the most vital item on that list: Forgive myself for not getting everything on this list accomplished!
In fact, I can also forgive myself for the many tasks--menial or significant--that went unaccomplished over the years when I lacked the necessary energy and well-being. When Sunday's Solitude tugs at my heels and lures me to move just a little bit slower for once, I can open my heart to the serenity that is possible and draw inward with compassion.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Welcome February: Rise & Shine

It's hard to believe February is already here. Here in Spokane, the ground is frozen and temperatures downright frigid. Across the country, snow is piling high and deep. It is around this time that stores start to stock up on all things Spring, and yet with one step outside I am still very much in the Winter mindset. However, this time of year also brings about the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat (which fell on January 19th this year). This is a holiday that celebrates the new year of trees--the original Earth Day, so to speak. It marks the reemergence of life after winter dormancy in the early-blooming trees in Israel.
Why do we begin to think about Spring when the ground is still frozen in winter slumber? Additionally, it is easy this time of year to crave that same sense of stillness and hibernation--especially when the sun is not even up yet in the early mornings! It is especially in these times that the old phrase "Rise and Shine" becomes more vital to my day than ever. That is why my focus in Yoga practice for this month is not one pose, but a series of poses known as the Sun Salutation. Morning practice and morning rituals in general can have a major effect on how your day evolves. Read this article by the folks over at Yoga Journal to learn more about this series of eight postures that, put together, invigorate and warm the body and mind.
I am off to tend to my own morning rituals as I welcome the gift of this new day. What are some of your morning traditions?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

And The Winner Is...

The winner of the the very first Blah Blah Blahg Giveaway is Jaspenelle, a good friend of mine as well as momma of 2, fellow crafter, homesteader, gardener, culinary wizard, and blog author of Paganites. Congratulations, Jaspenelle, and thank you for reading and commenting! I look forward to having the opportunity to pass on my copy of Jenna Woginrich's book, Made From Scratch: Discovering The Pleasures of a Handmade Life.
If you have an interest in homesteading, living a simpler life, and/or candid discussion of the trials and triumphs of raising angora rabbits, you can still check out this book from your local library, or purchase a new or used copy here. If you live in/near Spokane, WA, I've seen it on sale at Sun People Dry Goods Co. (where I purchased my copy) and more recently at Atticus Coffee & Gifts. You can also learn more by checking out the author's own blog, Cold Antler Farm.