Since you are reading this blog, I'll assume that you would be mildly interested, as blog readers often are, in what I had for lunch today. At least, you probably won't mind me telling you. I want to share this recipe with you because it's a good example of the kind of lunch that is quick to put together from ingredients I usually already have on hand, makes me happy to eat it, and is super good for me.
The inspiration for this dish comes from Angry Chicken, who references a recipe by Nigella Lawson. But I love the combination of shredded carrots, edamame and quinoa so much--the crunch! the color! the way it looks in the blue bowl!--that I've given it different treatments, like this sesame garlic sauce, or a garlicky, lemony French twist. I'm sure it would take well to a whole host of other flavor combos.
For an almost-vegetarian (I never cook meat at the house--I don't know how) who has a toddler to deal with entertain and is heading into the dog days of a Texas summer, this protein-packed, light, salad-y dish is like money in the bank. Try it.
Also--won't you visit my Food board on Pinterest? It's where I stash all my favorite recipes.(Spoiler alert: about 75% of them are from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks. I worship the woman.)
A Simple Salad (adapted from Amy Karol and Nigella Lawson)
I usually have some cooked quinoa on hand to feed the little, and to make these muffins, which are also to feed the little. If you don't have any cooked quinoa on hand, worry not, it cooks really quickly. The only problem with cooking the quinoa as you're making the salad is that you'll likely be eating a warm salad, and this is a dish better eaten cold. Also, you can take quite a bit of liberty with the quantities here--more quinoa, less carrot, what-have-you.
Shred 3 medium carrots in a bowl. Add about one cup of cooked edamame, one cup of cooked quinoa, and half a cup of salted peanuts. Dress with two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, two tablespoons of peanut oil, and one teaspoon of sesame oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dig in.
Eat again for lunch the next two days and feel clever and happy.
This morning I dropped Silas off for his last full day at Mother's Day Out before summer break. He trotted into his room confidently and all by himself, immediately started playing and chattering to his toddler buddies. He barely glanced up at me when I blew him a goodbye kiss. He was settled and happy in his own world, away from mama.
How far we've come from the first day I dropped off my 6 month old last August. How far we've come from the jagged transition into Nursery 2 earlier this year, from the tear-stained and screeching goodbyes.
When Silas first started at MDO in the fall, I needed those two days a week, twelve precious hours, more than I needed sleep, almost as badly as I needed air and water. I was a sleep-deprived, confused, self-doubting, angry mess. That time alone was a balm to my soul--it was a lifeline, the cord that kept me from falling into a dark and scary abyss. At that time I didn't even want to consider what would happen, what I would do when May came around, and that steady supply of time, space and sanity I could count on two days a week dried up. And here we are.
And, people? I am not even scared.
It's true that I will miss those two long days a week to myself. But I've lined up some help, the very cool teenage daughter of some dear family friends, who will come and look after Silas two days a week while I write. And we go to the gym, where I can have him in childcare for two hours a day. And there will be days at the river and the park with my mama friends and their kiddos, trips to get frozen yogurt, and afternoons at the Jumpy Place when we're feeling cabin fever, kept indoors by the blistering Texas heat. I can leave Silas with his very capable and supportive daddy, and escape to the coffee shop to write a few nights a week. And Silas is much more consistent with naps these days, so there's usually those two pockets of solace in each day. While I'm not exactly sure how it will all work out, whether I'm gonna be able to get to all the writing, reading, commenting and learning that I hope to do, I know this: it will be fine. I will be fine. We've got a good groove now, my son and I. I'm sleeping through the night most every night. And I've learned some extremely important things over the last 9 months: I am a good enough mama, I am not a terrible person for losing my s**t at times, and I can do this--and I can do a good job at it, too. I did not know these things before, and have learned them at great cost--but life is infinitely better now that I do.
I'm stepping into the summer feeling almost as confident and happy as Silas stepping into his classroom this morning.
While this is a very, very happy thing, it is also bittersweet, as there is more to miss from MDO than just time to myself. I will miss the ritual of drop-off: seeing our friends, saying hello, asking what they'll do that day. I will especially miss the ritual of picking Silas up: peeking in through the window before opening the door, catching a glimpse of Silas in his world, watching him play and talk and strut around, then seeing his face light up when I walk in, the joy of coming together again, hearing about his day, taking home the art--the art, people!--he's worked on. Gathering with my best mama friends and nursing our little ones in the church's foyer before heading on home, catching up, chatting about what each of our little ones is doing, saying, eating, how they're sleeping or not sleeping. I am so grateful for Silas to have this time away from me, too, to learn to make his way into the world, to play, to create relationships. I am grateful to all of his many caretakers, who know and love him, and who have helped to shape the awesome little person that he is.
It is no question that we have both benefited enormously from our time at MDO this year, that this time has allowed us both to grow tremendously. But I also think there will be great good things for us in the summer ahead, and that we'll return to Mother's Day Out again in late August having been greatly enriched by those three months together. I'm excited to see how it will all go!
this weekend was a very special one:
to celebrate my husband's birthday, we spent out first night
away from our baby, heading up to austin to explore
our hotel may have been cheap and shabby,
but we made the most wonderful culinary discoveries,
scoring big with new-to-us thai food, ice cream (goat cheese, thyme & honey!) and breakfast joints
a drive around austin's leafy and ritzy neighborhoods,
a short hike up mt. bonnell at sunset (saw a tarantula!)
it was wonderful to be together and free, exploring
new tastes and places, not worried about our little man,
happily hanging out with grandma
but we hurried home sunday after breakfast,
eager to hold and kiss and tickle him
a big family midday nap recharged everyone's energy
and now it'll be a lazy sunday afternoon
of checking on the garden, unpacking,
and making simple food
you know how sometimes you have to dump our your bag onto the kitchen table, sort through the mess and toss out the cheerios that litter the bottom? this is that kind of post.
it's impossible to live in central texas right now and want to talk about anything else but the rain. rain, rain, the unexpected, miraculous, life-giving rain that has been soaking us deep for the past ten days or so, after so much drought. it makes you feel like all manner of improbable things are possible. like surviving a central texas summer.
i'm working on a short, no-frills yoga practice video for you guys. my my, those things are harder to make than i thought.
i'm currently enrolled in susannah's blogging from the heart e-course. (hi, fellow participants!) two days in and i'm super stoked. bought a new journal and everything. i tell ya, it's about to get a lot more fabulous up in here.
having watched through all of the united states of tara and mad men on netflix (i've been stretching out the latter as long as i could), i've been looking for my new favorite show. i think i found it. (thanks, amanda! oh, the kingly hotness.)
my mother's day was a bit of a bust. i got up before 6am with the little, made my own coffee and pancakes, did my own dishes. i fully take the blame on that one, since i didn't know until that very day what i really wanted, which was to spend the morning in bed with coffee and books. next year, next year. my husband bought and planted some mountain laurels for the occasion though, which was lovely. if you missed them, here are two wonderful posts on the subject of mother's day.
my regular coffeeshop mornings are coming to an end. only two more full days of mother's day out before summer vacation. i am curious/excited/worried to see how we will do without it!
"rain makes its own night." a long-ago line of poetry i think of every time i turn on the lamps at midday because of rain, which isn't that often in central texas. friends and bloggers northside are prone to complaining about wet weather, but each time they do i want to tell them how i long for those dark damp days, for the coziness they foster, how they slow everything down. today i am fortunate to enjoy the gray and quiet alone, my son at daycare, and so it's me and coffee and writing and the streaming sound of a steady soaking. god but we need it. after last year's devastating drought, and a mild and wet winter, we had a lush green spring. my eyes drank deep that rich green life everyday, hungrily, greedily, like someone would eat who new there soon would be no more food. lately the tall grasses have started to get that bleached blonde look, and i've begun to worry. fearful that everything would soon dry up and turn to powder, and what would I do with my toddler then, who loves to be outside more than anything, whose first official word "aht-side! aht-side!" he repeats all day like a mantra, like a most treasured wish, as he brings me his shoes? i've decided that i could stand the 100-plus days of 100-plus degree weather we got last year, and are likely to get this year, if there was some cool green grass to lay down in, to sprinkler-run on. maybe there will be. and now rain comes down slow and steady like an answered prayer. in two to three days the rain lilies will sprout up like a gesture of thanks, much more eloquent than any i could offer.
:: :: :: from the poem Rain Makes Its Own Night by Anne Michaels, from the book The Weight of Oranges/Miner's Pond.
"a schedule is a net for catching days." -annie dillard
Here are a few things you should know about me:
I have a lifelong obsession with stationary in general, and Moleskines in particular.
The words "list" and "schedule" and "system" are very. very exciting to me.
I have gleefully wasted entire afternoons, pre-baby, endlessly researching GTD hacks and the like online.
Here are a few more things: there isn't much to organize in my life as a stay-at-home mama who teaches a little yoga here and there, and what there is to schedule and remember is terrifically taken care of by my iPhone calendar and its blessed reminders. And, I am prone to optimistically carrying a pocket Moleskine around in my bag for months without cracking its spine.
While there isn't much in my days to keep track of, still I felt a need for some kind of intentional system, a way of checking in with myself about what I wanted to get done each day. I noticed that certain tasks, like baking or cleaning the bathroom, would go undone not because I didn't have time or couldn't manage with my toddler around, but because I would go entire days without giving them a thought. Put all of this together, then bring on the advent of my new morning routine, add a little inspiration from SimpleMom's Daily Docket, and my new system of A Net For Catching Days is born.
I have been using this system now for about a month, and I love it. It has helped me to do more of the things I intend to each day. It has been a fantastic meal-planning tool, and a most pleasant addition to my morning routine. And my previously lonely pocket Moleskine is now happily filled with purpose!
The categories have evolved over the weeks, and I'm pretty happy with where they have now settled. The beauty of this way, way analog system is that I can adjust it as needed. Pen and paper FTW! Here's what I've come up with:
inspiration: Here I write a few words from one of my morning readings. More than once, I recalled whatever I wrote down at a critical moment during my day, which has allowed me to exhale and cool down.
make: What I'll be cooking & eating that day (more on this below.)
do: Things I need to do (ditto.)
blog: Posts I need to write, emails to send, comments to respond to.
move: What my exercise plan is for the day.
net: This will be a rough outline of the day. I don't plan at what time things should happen, just the sequence of events.
notes: This space has rarely gotten used but I think it's nice to have it.
In addition to the daily single page spread you see up there, I also use both sides of a half 3x5 index card like so:
One one side ("make") I write down my meal plan for the week. This usually means scrolling through my Pinterest food board, choosing our meals, and writing up a grocery list all in one go. On the other side ("do") I write down tasks that need to be accomplished over the week. I refer to this each morning and see what fits in my "net" for that day.
I am no slave to the lists. Some items get passed over from day to day, even week to week, and it's totally fine. The purpose of my system isn't to create some rigid boundaries, but constant gentle reminders of how I intend to use my time. It's been a great success. If nothing else, I deeply enjoy the ritual of cracking open my little Moleskine, drawing the lines around another day, and planning for the hours ahead. Just that gives me a lovely sense of being organized and together.
As I said before, I love geeking out over this kind of stuff, so if you've found a system that works for you, please share in the comments below, or link to your own blog post on the subject. I'm always looking for new ideas, and I'm excited to see how this little tool will evolve over time.
crepes for breakfast
the joy of teaching yoga again after a small hiatus
family errands and knitting in the car spicy lemon coconut sauce with udon noodles, broccoli and tofu for dinner
mad men and super moon
unexpected, loud and bright thunderstorm
happy to trade some sleep for much needed rain
quiet rainy sunday morning
baking granola bars for the week
silas splashing in his first rain puddle
solo mama outing for some hibiscus tea and a chair massage
cold avocado cucumber soup and foccaccia
lovely restorative yoga session on the mat
and now for more mad men, folding laundry
and getting into bed made with fresh sun-dried sheets
Us three, sitting down for dinner: broccoli orzo salad on the table. After shoveling handfuls of buttered orzo (no broccoli pesto for him!) into his mouth, fast and determined and almost manic, my 15-month old slowly, carefully, lifted a piece of broccoli to his mouth. And ate it. ( Which is not the same thing as putting it into his mouth.) And ate another. This is the same child who just two weeks ago had me banging my head on the table, losing my mind because he wouldn't eat anything but cheese, grapes and crackers. Had me sending frantic text messages to my mama friends--what do I dooooo!? The same child who, at lunch yesterday, ate several pieces of sweet potato with little clumps of quinoa clinging to them. Who signed for "more." The same child who we're pretty sure now says "nana" for banana, who eats one in the morning and one at night, who knows where we keep them on the sideboard and points to them, then eats them with relish and gusto.
I held my hand over my own mouth, ostensibly to prevent equal measures of joy and disbelief from spilling out. Not very many things have made me as happy as seeing my grinning toddler eat a piece of freaking broccoli. The ease with which he did it, once he was ready. With no prompting or encouragement from me besides preparing it and setting it on the table. They all--my friends--told me it would happen. I wanted to believe it. What I couldn't believe was how little I had to do in order for it to happen. That it can't be forced, coerced--or even cajoled. One day he just turns a corner and eats vegetables. Oh, and sleeps also, through the night, and when he stirs awake, he goes back down on his own. I did nothing to make this happen. I've been desperate for months to figure out a way to make this happen. I am the mother--surely my input and direction is needed, is necessary. But no. All of my hair-pulling and hand-wringing have yielded nothing but handfuls of hair and grief. The best thing I could do for my son, and for me, is set some broccoli down before him, let go of any attachment as to whether or not he eats it, and enjoy my own meal. Then sit back, and be amazed. At his staggering ability for growth and change, for turning a corner and suddenly just doing stuff. Amazed at all the possiblity packed in his lean, strong, perfect little body. Amazed at just how powerful letting go really is.