A Links List

I <3 2 read

And oh thank goodness, the weekend is here again. Somehow, this week went by very quickly, but I was still relieved to see Friday roll around! I hope everyone had a good week, and has an even better weekend. Here’s a list of interesting reads, if you’re looking to fill a little nook of time at some point this weekend.

This list of the thirteen habits of exceptionally likable people was interesting– and something I’ll try to be mindful of in the future.

I usually try to keep our meals reasonably healthy, but sometimes there’s just nothing quite like straight-up comfort food. The folks over at Martha Stewart have rounded up 21 of the best comfort-food recipes— and they look delicious.

I loved some of these storage solutions over on Southern Living. Some might be a little hard to implement, but others are wonderfully simple.

I kind of have a thing for old farmhouses with lots of history, and I loved this story of renovating a 106-year-old house!

If you’re at all interested in history, this article on seeking asylum in medieval England is fascinating.

These No-Bake Chocolate Granola Cookies look yummy— and really, not too unhealthy, as cookies go. While we’re still stuck in summer’s heat, this will definitely be one to try.

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Scrumptious Breakfast Bread

Delicious Breakfast Bread (1)

I recently came across this recipe on the blog Practical Paleo, and of course wanted to try it immediately. It looked so simple! So yummy! So healthy! Now, usually, when I have those three thoughts about a new recipe, the result is in reality rarely all three of those things. It may be delicious and healthy and a complete pain to make. Or it may be easy and delicious, but in actuality not really all that healthy. Or sometimes, of course, it may be healthy and easy but… just not that tasty. This recipe surprised (nay, shocked) me by actually being all three. I did edit it a bit by subbing out some of the almond butter for peanut butter (because almond butter is expensive, y’all), and, because our family doesn’t have any food allergies, I also added a little wheat germ to sneak in some extra vitamins.

Scrumptious Breakfast Bread

  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons grade B maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 325. Grease an 8×8 inch square baking dish (the original recipe suggests coconut oil, which would work well, but I just used plain old Pam, for ease of operation). Mix all ingredients together well in a bowl (it will take some stirring; the nut butters don’t want to mix easily with the wet ingredients). Pour into the greased pan and bake for 15-18 minutes. When it passes the knife test, it’s done! (the original recipe says it’s better gooey, but I tend to think that if it’s gooey then the eggs are cooked through, and well, salmonella– so I would recommend against the gooeyness). Sit back and watch it rapidly disappear… I’ve decided that next time, I’m going to have to make a double-batch!

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll bet that, once cooled, the cut-up pieces of this bread would travel well wrapped in saran wrap, and would make a delicious and filling snack on the go! I love that this recipe is not only yummy, but it has a lot of protein in it (from the eggs and nut butters), and very little sugar. What’s not to love?

Enjoy!

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A Links List

Happy Fence Friday -- summer flowers edition

Friday again! And hallelujiah, because I just need a little rest. I came down with a cough last weekend (one of the perils of having a child in daycare is that he’s always bringing home a cold or a cough–, I guess we’re all just building stronger immune systems) so it will be nice to have a relaxed weekend. I’m so glad it’s (almost) August! The heat here in North Carolina has been oppressive, and the closer we inch toward Fall the happier I am.

Here are some of the most interesting and/or entertaining links I came across this week– enjoy!

I love Joan Didion’s writing, and I love this packing list of hers posted on Into the Gloss (be sure to read through the comments, too). If only I had a trip to pack for!

 

I already had a lot of respect for J.K. Rowling as a writer and human being, but this list of “bad-ass moments” rounded up on Refinery29 just made me like her even more.

 

Privately, I have occasionally been heard to make fun of goop.com (mostly because some of GP’s comments about how being a rich, Hollywood working mom is harder than being an average working mom [we drudges have it so easy], or because she honestly thinks that fielding mean comments on the internet is like being in war, and other comments that reveal that she doesn’t exist on the same planet as most people, and also because, well, $695 for a jacket? $795 for ankle boots? $895 for a simple black dress? I mean really?). That said– I do visit her website because there are good recipes, book reviews, thoughtful essays, and I do like the style of the clothes featured there, even if the prices are ridiculous. So, I guess that makes me a hypocrite? Whatever. I did find these recipes there, which I can’t wait to try– they look delicious and healthy.

I found this New Yorker Article completely terrifying, particularly as so much of my family lives on the West Coast.

 

This was such a great post on Design*Sponge about taking control of change in your life and work– and how all it takes is a change in mindset to effect change elsewhere in your life. So simple!

 

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On Dealing with Anxiety

Something upon this stairs.

This is a somewhat different kind of post than I normally write about, but I thought it was important and mom-related all the same, so here it is.

I was talking with a friend at work the other day, first about her sleeplessness, and that led to a related topic: anxiety. We’ve been working together for three years now, and we socialize outside of work, and yet neither of us knew that this was something we were both dealing with. It was such a relief for me to talk about it with someone who got it that I thought, “Why didn’t we bring this up before?” Is the social stigma about anxiety (and, relatedly, depression) so bad that we weren’t willing to even broach the subject? And if we’re both feeling this way but are afraid to bring it up, who else is? Sometimes, when juggling work and home and a small child and still trying to have adult conversations with your husband, it can be pretty hard not to feel overwhelmed. The weeks zoom by and you feel like you’re just treading water, not really getting anywhere but trying your hardest not to go under. The conversation I had with my friend made me think that just maybe, this feeling is more common that I thought.

And so I thought I’d share the things that make me feel better when I’m sitting at work (for me, it’s always at work) and I can feel my breath beginning to come short and fast and all I can focus on is trying to tamp down the panic. Here is what helps:

–In the short term, focusing on my breathing is one of the most helpful things. My husband once told me to picture a brontosaurus breathing: long, deep breaths.

–Also in the short term, if you do feel it beginning to overwhelm you and tears are beginning to threaten (no shame, it happens), I read somewhere that if you pinch the skin between your thumb and your index finger, it will keep you from crying. I don’t know how in the world this can work, but it does. Try it.

–Sometimes, just writing down every single thing that is adding to the stress is helpful. If I write a to-do list, or a list of everything that’s bothering me, or a list of free-association words (you may have noticed, I like lists), somehow just putting it all in one tangible place is enough to make me feel like I’m gaining control over whatever-it-is.

–And again in the short term: I’ve found that Rescue Remedy and valerian root are two safe herbal supplements that really help me, if I’m just having a hard time pulling myself out of it (please note here that I’m not a doctor! And if things are really bad and continue to be, by all means go see one, please!).

–And lastly, in the short term: if you can feel the panic bubbling up, sometimes I’ve found it helpful just to get up and start walking. If you can, get up, walk around the building, focus on putting one foot in front of the other and nothing else. Sometimes this can just help to break the situation, and re-orient yourself.

–In the long term: I read somewhere that exercise is one of the cheapest, most effective antidepressants, and also the most underutilized. If you possibly can, work out. It really will help.

–Meditation is also helpful. It can be difficult to train yourself to think about nothing– it actually takes a lot of focus (for me)– but it’s invariably helpful in giving me a better sense of perspective and making me feel calmer.

…And there you have it. Everything that I know about keeping it together when I’m starting to feel anxious. If you have any more tips or stories about dealing with anxiety, I’d love to know what they are!

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Closet Basics: Tote Bags

Now that my son is solidly into toddler-hood, we’ve transitioned away from the diaper bag (and thank goodness). Although I still keep one in the car stocked with extra diapers, wipes, an extra shirt (for him– yes, I felt the need to clarify that), an extra toy and a book or two, etc, for day-to-day use I’ve rediscovered a new type of bag to love: tote bags. They’re so perfect for moms! Roomy enough to carry snacks, a water bottle, whatever toy is the current can’t -leave-behind favorite, hand sanitizer, more diaper wipes (seriously, they’re so good for cleaning up sticky fingers and faces– and fingers and faces always seem to be sticky), as well as all of your essentials (wallet, lip gloss, phone). Yet, they’re somehow less bulky and more stream-lined than most diaper bags. In other words, perfect. Here is a list of my current favorites:

 

1. Boat and Tote Bag, Open-Top   2.  Totes - Tote Bags - Canvas Totes | Lands' End

3.  Stripe straw tote   4.  

5.     6.  Leather tote

oneOf course I started with a classic! And you really can’t get more classic than this. Sturdy, long-lasting, and affordable, there’s a reason L. L. Bean has been selling these for a long, long time.

two: I just couldn’t resist the preppy stripes and the monogram on this one!

three: Of course, the perfect summer classic: the straw tote.

four: This Cath Kidston one comes in such a fun, kid-friendly print.

five: I think this one might actually be a diaper bag– but in this tote-bag shape and with such a pretty, bold pattern, you’d never know it.

six: I love how sleek this leather one looks– cleverly disguising the fruit snacks, emergency pacifier, and chaos it contains.

Fireworks All Summer Long

I bought this Old Navy dress a few weeks ago and haven’t stopped wearing it. It’s a linen blend, so in the summer heat it feels about as cool as it’s possible to be, and it’s so easy to just slip it on over your head, throw your hair up, and go. Plus, I love the cheery Americana print; something about it feels kind of vintagey. I (of course!) wore this for the 4th of July, but I know I’ll be wearing it all summer long. I went with bare feet here because, honestly, unless we’re leaving the house for some reason, that’s usually how I roll in the summertime (and, I may have also forgotten to put any shoes on).

One tip: I’m 5’8″, and my experience with Old Navy dresses is that after I’ve washed them a few times, they’re just a liiiittle too short for me to feel comfortable. To combat that, I buy everything in “tall” (even though I don’t fit their 5’10” and over guidelines), and after a few washes, they’re perfect.

Dress from Old Navy, earrings and belt from J. Crew Factory, earrings are sold out but similar here.

A Links list

Gin Tonic + Raspberries = Awesome Drink

And just like that, it’s Friday again! Huzzah! I hope everyone has had a good week; I’m sure you’re as ready for the weekend as I am. We have a little socializing lined up for tomorrow, and other than that it promises to be a pretty chill weekend– or as chill as anything gets with a little guy running around!

Here are some great links I came across and wanted to share:

I don’t think I’ve had sangria since I was in college– but these delicious-looking recipes look like they would be just the thing on a hot afternoon (this Sunday maybe?).

Grace over at The Stripe rounded up a list of summer finds under $50 this week. I love her style and, as usual, I want nearly everything there!

So much truth and humor in this article on Scary Mommy.

I’ve been reading Juli Bauer’s blog, PaleOMG, for a while, and I’m always finding new delicious, healthy recipes to try. This week it’s this creamy sun-dried tomato chicken pasta.

This article is an interesting meditation on hand-writing– its usefulness, its past, and its future.

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Recommended Reading

This is a book that every polished woman– mom or not– should read. Seriously, if you haven’t read it yet (and it’s so little known, you probably haven’t), order it from Amazon, order it from Powell’s, or go and see if your bookstore has it (surprisingly, that’s actually where I first came across it!).

In many ways, it is charmingly old-fashioned– it was originally published in 1938, after all– and includes eminently practical, but no longer relevant instructions for buying hats, for gaining weight (!), or making one dress go further in your wardrobe by changing out its collars and cuffs. Yet,  for all that, it really is packed with relevant bits and bobs of advice and information. Honestly, I read all sorts of old things simply because they’re old– useful or not, it’s a fascinating peek into a society that’s now gone– but this book is timeless.

For example: one surprisingly basic pointer is the importance of shoes that are comfortable– the point being that there is no way you are going to be relaxed and charming if you are uncomfortable  or, worse, in pain. Simple, isn’t it?

There are so many gems in this, it would be impossible to narrow the list to just a few, but here are some that jump out:

-On being the life of the party: “Use your warmth, your imagination, your kindness; use your wit, too, as long as it is used kindly. The real life of the party is the person who has no time for consciousness of self. She is too busy exploring others, in the friendliest of fashions.” (p. 118)

-On kindness: “And so we leave this chapter on human relations with one great rule. We’re not the first to state it. Try to get inside the skins of others. Think how they feel, how they react, and guide your own conduct by that. It was briefly stated some two thousand years ago. Unfortunately, it is more often quoted than followed. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ It’s still a sure rule for charm.” (p. 132)

-On drinking: “The third and most important rule is stop. Don’t wait until you get that queer little feeling between the yes or that indescribably but always detectable nothing-matters attitude. If you discover that you are not relaxed and friendly after a drink or two, make up your mind you probably aren’t in the right mood for it, and stop.” (p.141)

-On conversation: “[R]ead. Read lots of different things. Read newspapers that express a viewpoint contrary to your own; read periodicals that have thoughtful, provocative articles; read books that tell of places and persons of current interest; read fiction, of course, but not to the exclusion of all other things.” (p. 96)

-On etiquette: “You can forget the Do’s and Don’ts of etiquette, if you will set up this simple standard… the only bad manners are those which are unkind or which contribute to another person’s discomfort.” (p. 89)

-And this made me double-check the date it was published: “The successful woman, at home or in business, is the woman who is contributing her efficiency and her talent as a woman. She has invaded the field of architecture because she knows how women like to live in their homes. She has gone into publishing because she knows what women like to read. She has taken over a large part of the advertising world because she knows what to say to make women buy things.”

-And on general life satisfaction: “If one short sentence could be read and learned and felt by all women, there would be fewer neurotic women wandering around. Learn to live with yourself. Make yourself over as much as is necessary to adapt your life to others, but accept yourself as you really are.” (p. 151)

Although this book isn’t directly about motherhood, the lessons are still relevant. Our children watch us and model their behavior on ours and the way that we act, and this book is an enjoyable, well-written reminder of what we want to be modeling. Buy this book (or see if your library has it), and read it through at least once– you’ll be glad you did!

Closet Basics: Flat Sandals

A few years ago (before my son’s arrival), nearly all of my sandals had heels, of varying heights. They felt so pretty, and less formal than close-toed shoes, plus they came in so many happy summery colors– add to that North Carolina’s mild climate, and I rotated through my heeled-sandals collection frequently and for a large part of the year. When I wasn’t wearing those, I wore my trusty old Rainbows to take out the trash, check the mail, or a quick trip to the grocery store.

Enter my little boy two years ago, and I haven’t worn a lot of heels since. Even when he was very small, and not yet mobile, I still felt like I was constantly on the go (it didn’t help that he was very colicky, and the only thing that would calm him was a combination of jiggling and doing laps around the house). Somehow, I was always losing pacifiers, taking him upstairs to change him, retrieving a burping cloth, figuring out where I’d put my phone. Now that he’s (a little bit) older, I spend a lot of time chasing him around the house, on the floor building towers out of blocks, playing with his toy train. And when we’re out, I generally carry him through parking lots or in restaurants, and hoist him in and out of his car seat and the carts at the grocery store. I simply can’t do these things in cute, pretty heels (as much as I wish I could!). Enter the flat sandal. It’s a step up from flip-flops or sneakers, and still can look polished and put-together, but without sacrificing functionality. Needless to say, I have a large– and growing– collection! Here are a few more I’m craving:

one          two  

three        four 

five     six  

 

 

oneThese are simple, classic– and such a lovely color.

two: Wearing these, I would feel like I should be traipsing about on a Greek island somewhere.

threeThe color of these would just make me smile every time I looked at my feet.

fourThe simplicity and classic color of these would make them a perfect every-day, go-with-everything sandal.

fiveThese feel like a very grown-up kind of sandals– but the pretty print keeps it from getting boring.

six: And, saving what may be the best for last: a classic sandal in a classic stripe. Yes, please!

 

Long Dresses for Long Days

 

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You know how much I love maxi dresses– they’re so easy to throw on, look effortlessly flowy and pretty, they’re cool when it’s hot out, and they make it easy to run after my very active two-year-old (and look reasonably pulled-together while doing it). Here’s one that I love and wear a lot. I bought it from The Loft back in April, but it looks like they’ve already sold out! So I’ve found some similar ones here, here and here. Add to the dress a big, floppy hat? I’m in.

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Dress from The Loft (old, but similar listed above), hat from Ann Taylor (old, but similar here), cardigan from Target, sandals from Target (and only $12.79 right now!).

 

All photographs courtesy of Danielle Houtz.