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Health Life

On hair, aging, and dry shampoo

January 17, 2018

In early 2017, I cut my hair short for the first time since I’ve been in charge of my own haircuts.

In late 2017, I bleached my hair for the first time ever.

The bleaching was strategic. We lifted the top layer of my hair and did highlights below, so that as they grow out, the roots won’t be visible. This also means the highlights aren’t as visible. A deep red faded to a funky pink, and at my toddler’s request, we re-dyed the bleached bits a deep purple (we being me, with the help of my fantastic friend and stylist – not me and my toddler) with only minor trouble.

Can you see the purple peeking out? Yes, that’s the extent of it. Yes, I look a mess. No, I’m not apologizing, this is real life right here,

Despite me having purple hair right now, it’s still a conservative take on purple hair. As my hair curls, little bits of dark purple peek out, and they’re only really visible if you’re looking, or if there’s direct light. After all, I am over 30.

Yep, I just said that. I am over 30.

I have this odd dichotomy in my thinking where I’m fine with everyone else wearing and doing whatever makes them happy, but I’m hyper critical of myself. My favorite word is “contrived” – no seriously, ask my husband. If I put in effort to really put an outfit together, I worry it looks contrived. If I put on makeup, I look in the mirror and ask myself, is this contrived? I never want to look like I’m trying too hard because that would indicate that I care enough about what other people think that I did try that hard. And I don’t care that much.

See what I mean? Being me is very complicated.

Side note: I was feeling halfway decent this weekend as we headed out to Target, which is VERY GLAMOROUS THANK YOU, and I asked my husband, “do I look nice or is it like, “whoa, look at that hot mess with lipstick on?” [Should there be a double end quote here? I don’t know, so I’m leaving it as is.]

But anyway. This all brings me to my next topic. AGING. Specifically, GREY HAIR.

This mama is rocking short, fine, wavy-to-curly hair in a natural medium brown, with carefully placed purple streaks and grey hairs sticking out.

And the thing about greys is that they’re not like regular hair. They’re coarser, springier, with a sarcastic little life of their own. If they sat neatly with the rest of their neighbors it wouldn’t be a big deal, but no. They don’t want to do that. They want to pop up in odd directions and scream, “hey y’all, look at me!” Like total jerks.

I’m not ready to dye my entire head. That’s a lot of trouble. A lot of upkeep. And I like my natural color! Eventually I’m sure I’ll do it, but not yet. So I need to get used to and ignore my greys (which I swear all had babies the same time I did, because since becoming a mom of 2, I’m telling you, they’re everywhere).

Aside from my greys, things are changing. Things are always changing. Do I sometimes feel old and boring? Of course. But more often I just…feel. I’ll take getting older over the alternative, so it’s not worth the aggravation of getting myself flustered over getting older.

But enough about me and my hair. I want to tell you about…okay well, my hair, BUT SOMETHING ELSE TOO.

Dry shampoo. Have you tried it?

I can’t get the hang of it. I’ve tried different brands, a lot and a little, with long hair and short hair – and now that I have color treated hair, I really need to shampoo less often to preserve the color – and I just don’t like it. My hair doesn’t feel cleaner. In fact, the residue it leaves sort of grosses me out.

So I did a little research and I found another option. Ready?

Arrowroot powder.

If you’re not familiar with arrowroot powder, it’s a starch extracted from tropical tubers including arrowroot and cassava. [Kermit the Frog, singing sensation behind Caribbean Amphibian (my all time favorite song) should make a triumphant return with the follow up, Tropical Tuber. I’m just saying.]

Arrowroot is pretty excellent. It can be used in cooking to thicken sauces, and it is used in paleo baking in place of flour (just be sure to buy a type that’s means to be consumed). It’s also a common ingredient in natural deodorants, and an excellent substitute for talc powder (which we know now is a carcinogen), because it absorbs moisture. It can be purchased online from suppliers like Brambleberry Soap, or found in health food stores and even some supermarkets – I recently purchased a bag at our local Best Market, with the gluten free flours in the baking aisle.

So how do you use it as a dry shampoo? It’s pretty simple.

Arrowroot and a little cocoa powder.

Step 1: Put arrowroot in devoted container for this use, or small bowl.

Step 2: Grab blush or foundation brush (clean!).

Step 3: Part your hair and dab some on your scalp, continuing to part and dab until your head is fairly well saturated with arrowroot.

Step 4: Wait 10 minutes. Scroll through Instagram. File your nails. Whatever.

Step 5: Brush your hair to move the powder from the roots down your hair, and remove some of it.

Step 6: Rinse with water, or don’t, then style and go about your business.

I have dark hair, so I mixed in a little unsweetened cocoa powder so it’s not bright white. Also, it smells awesome. Dabbing it into my hair still made me look a thousand times greyer (JUST WHAT I WANT), but it helped. Once I brush my curls they’re done for the day, so I need to rinse, but I can do it without shampoo. And hey! My hair dries nicely and feels normal, not greasy.

I typically shampoo my hair every other day. This method allows me to shampoo, wait 2 days, dry shampoo, and then shampoo again on the 5th day. Could I get away with just rinsing? Probably. But just rinsing won’t suck up any scalp oil that’s lurking, waiting for the perfect moment to strike, making your bouncy locks into an oil slick that would make Severus Snape (of beloved memory, may he rest in peace, I’m not crying you’re crying) jealous.

If you, like me, are a dry shampoo hater, I hope this helped you out. Grab some arrowroot in the supermarket and if you don’t like how it works with your hair, grab some almond flour too and I’ll give you a cookie recipe. Whatever works.

Signing off,

Ilana

[Who is slightly manic from potty training and teething (two different children, one issue apiece) and not really sleeping; this results in way more typing in all caps than usual. Also, she doesn’t leave the house more frequently than every 5 days or so.]

Life Parenting

Hashtag, momlife

December 2, 2017

Hi there. Remember me?

Who am I kidding, after 7 weeks with a threenager and a newborn, I barely remember me.

I know, it’s been an eternity since I’ve written. My goal when I share here is really to share something of interest – a recipe or craft, a review or just…something helpful.

Do I do things now? Sure I do. But they’re done flying by the seat of my pants, usually with the aforementioned pants on fire.

“Quick! Before the baby wakes up! Stop jumping! Don’t throw that!”

#momlife

Fact is, I’ve got plenty I could write about. But it’s not fun useful stuff, it’s think pieces coming from a brain lacking in sleep and adult conversation. You want to know the kind of thing I think about?

You ever consider a Wubbanub? It’s a pacifier attached to a little stuffed animal (I thought they were ridiculous, but it actually braces it for the baby a bit). So when you think about it, my son is sucking on a dog’s nipple right now.

You see why I don’t share much?

Side note: have you seen the videos people do where they use the filters that make the eyes real big, the mouth real wide and the voice squeaky (you know, the one that makes you look like the Goombas in the Super Mario Bros movie from the ’90s)? I could do those videos. I say so many bizarre things normally, imagine if I could do it with some semblance of anonymity.

But anyway. Cough cough. Moving on.

So because I have nothing of real note to share with you, I’m going to share the story of The Day My Water Didn’t Break.

One night, back in September, we heard a bang in the middle of the night. My husband leapt out of bed, thinking Little Miss had fallen out of bed (I, being 8 months pregnant, rolled around awkwardly like a turtle on its shell). She was fine though, so we went to sleep and thought nothing of it.

The next morning I heard my husband leave for work. Then I heard him come back in; I figured he forgot his lunch or something. The suddenly he’s standing in the bedroom door.

“That noise last night. Someone* crashed into the car and drove off. Half the front of their car is in the street.”

*colorful language redacted

“My car,” I said, still groggy, “my baby?!”

Yep. My 2.5 month old, beautiful new Subaru, parked in front of the house, had been crashed into hard enough that it moved up onto the grass. The damage wound up being about $6k to repair.

My beloved car on her first day back.

Luckily, this was upsetting but manageable. We have good insurance, a good body shop nearby, and my husband knows his way around dealing with car insurance. So it was an inconvenience, but all we lost was a $500 deductible and about 18 days with a rental that smelled like cigarette smoke.

But anyway. Police officer comes to do a report, and even he is impressed that the other car drove off, leaving so many pieces behind.

The officer leaves and I’m on the phone with the owner of the body shop when Little Miss wakes up. Keep in mind, I’m 8 months pregnant, a little flustered, and shaking from adrenaline.

So my sweet 3 year old girl comes down the hall and finding me sitting on the couch on the phone, naturally climbs onto my lap, wrapping her little arms around my neck. And then suddenly I realize I’m sitting on a soaked couch cushion.

I feel around; my pajama pants are wet and the toddler’s shorts are dry. I’m trying my hardest to finish this conversation and retain some of the information I’m being given, but I can hear my voice getting higher and higher.

Now I’m pacing the kitchen, trying to figure out if my water just broke. The moment I’m off the phone, I run into the bathroom, shedding clothes as I go.

It turns out that no, my water hadn’t broken. Little Miss had peed on me, and in the position she was in, it had leaked out of the leg of her nighttime diaper and onto me without ever touching her clothing.

I was absolutely mortified for about a minute and then the situation got real funny.

#momlife

And this is why I have nothing of note to share.

Even when I do cool things, I’m doing it in a nursing tank top with spit up stains, and trying to do it as quickly as possible.

Maybe I’ll have a recipe or something to share one of these days! If I remember what I did. If I remember to take pictures. If the pictures are usable (who knows what state the house will be in).

Sigh.

#momlife

[This post was created entirely mobil, from the couch, with varying numbers of children on me.]

Life

Everything and nothing

August 1, 2017

It’s been nearly 3 months since we’ve posted. I know I know, complete dereliction of duty.

It’s not that I have nothing to say. I actually have a lot to say – about parenting, politics, social media, the world – I just choose not to say it. And truth is, I haven’t been doing that much of interest these past months.

It’s not that I haven’t been busy – it’s more than things have been fairly run of the mill. I planted a garden that got mostly eaten by the animals before it ever had a chance. I’ve tried more natural deodorants (if you want to know I’ll share my thoughts, but I feel like the state of my armpits just isn’t that interesting). I read the studies on how coconut oil isn’t good for you, and continue using it in health and beauty preparations as well as sparingly in cooking and baking, as I did before.

And I guess most notably, I’ve been working on cooking baby #2. Little Miss is desperately excited about being a big sister, and we are working on making way for him in our space – physical, mental and emotional. We’re doing plenty of actual cleaning and organizing (championed by me and a sudden and incessant need for organization), and I’m also working through a lot of feelings that come with my daughter turning 3 and the knowledge that both her and my world are about to change in a very big way.

And so, this post is about both everything, and absolutely nothing. L-I-F-E.

But, I’m not going to leave you with nothing but a couple lines of pregnant lady drivel! I’ve got a few recipes you should know about if you’re concerned with gluten free or dairy free baking (titles are links).

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Brownies

from Paleo Running Momma

These dark chocolate brownies are gluten free and dairy free, paleo (made with almond flour). They are moist and fudgy; the batter is layered with a quick and simple to make raspberry sauce. Hot damn, people. These are awesome, stay beautifully in the fridge for a couple of days (they’re actually really good cold), and they’re really quite easy to make.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

from The Pretty Bee

I’m not being dramatic when I say this cake is outstanding. It’s gluten and dairy free (actually vegan, no eggs either), and the result is a rich, moist, awesome cake. Non-dairy cream cheese which is kind of nasty on it’s own is magically transformed into a sweet, creamy, amazing frosting. I have played with the recipe (subbing in a little almond flour for gluten free flour so it’s a mix), and flat out left out an ingredient by accident (the oil), and it still came good!

No-Butter Snickerdoodles

from The Frugal South

I actually just finished baking these. They are made with regular flour, but are dairy free (oil, no butter). They’re easy to make in a single bowl and bake in 8-10 minutes. The cookies puff way up in the oven then deflate a bit once they’re out; this isn’t a big, pillowy snickerdoodle, but as long as you don’t overbake them, they seem to retain a nice chewy texture and a lovely cinnamon flavor.

 

Health & Home Life

Tallying up time

January 18, 2017

It’s funny, if you ask me how I’m doing I’ll say “good…busy, but good.” And I am busy. But doing what?

I spend a lot of time thinking about how I spend my time. As mommy to a toddler, a small business owner, and work at home mom, it’s important to be able to manage my time and try to achieve some sort of balance. And yet, thinking back on this month, I had to think hard about what I’ve been so busy with.

And while I doubt you care very much how I count my minutes in my day to day life, I’m going to share because all the things I realized are accomplishments. They may not be big things, or things that anyone else would take the time to note, but I’m proud of how much I’ve accomplished just in the new year. And maybe this will remind someone who needs it to be kind to themselves, and take the time to be proud of their accomplishments, no matter how small.

Momming

You know what they say, mommin’ ain’t easy. Also, mom life is the best life. I agree with both. I’ve got a stubborn, sweet, hilarious, ridiculously smart little toddler on my hands. Sometimes that means we’re laughing together. Sometimes it means I want to bang my head into the wall. But each day, her little personality comes out more and more and every moment we spend together, whether it’s working or playing or holding her while she falls asleep, is absolutely worth it.

Sawing

In early December I finally picked up a silver saw, and took my first foray into the world of cutting sheet silver. And it’s awesome. Not every piece is perfect, and I occasionally struggle with my solder, but this is a major step towards real jewelry fabrication. Considering I was told the learning curve is fairly steep, I think I’m doing really quite well. I just shared some recent pieces on the Seashore Design Studio Facebook page.

Cleaning

On a quiet weekend in early January, I reorganized the pantry and the linen closet, and tidied up the storage room. I’ve only been meaning to do this for about a year, maybe a little more. Once it warms up outside, garage, I am looking at you. In the meanwhile, the office needs some help. I get frustrated and decide I need to do a purge and make space…and then I fill it with more craft supplies. Tales of a compulsive crafter over here, it’s practically an illness. I can’t…help…myself.

Cooking. Eating. Dieting.

Starting on January 2, the man and I started the TLS 21 Day Challenge. The TLS system is a lifestyle plan that is based on the glycemic index, and teaches you how to change how you think about food, and thus, change your eating habits to make healthier choices. The initial stage is a “cleanse”, but not like what you typically think of as a cleanse. It’s a few days of eating simple, healthy foods to help you break bad habits and addictions, and give your body a chance to relax and reset. Then phase 2 offers a tailored eating plan that focuses on whole and healthy foods. The more aggressive plans are more limiting than the more passive of course, but it all depends on what your goal is.

Little Miss reviewing phase 2 food plans with me.

I’m actually very impressed. I’m spending a lot of time cooking and preparing, but we’re getting excellent results and I can see this as a very reasonable plan to follow indefinitely. It’s not a crash diet, and it doesn’t restrict you to the point of feeling oppressed. It’s simple, healthy eating, focusing not on calories but on how your body processes your food. The hardest shift, to my mind, is going from a standard “main protein dish and tiny sides” mindset, to getting used to having a smaller serving of protein and then filling up on healthy sides.

So we’ve got a toddler who (luckily) eats nearly anything, a largely vegetarian mom, and a carnivore dad who doesn’t do dairy, beans or nuts. It’s been interesting, but not impossible. I have a pretty good understanding of food to begin with, so the hardest part has been making two proteins to accommodate my own preferences.

There is a trade off here. We are spending slightly more on groceries because I’m buying even more produce, however with smaller servings of proteins, our meat purchases are going further. And rather than getting lazy and having my husband buy lunches (and often breakfast, if he eats it), I’m making and sending them for him. So when you consider buying versus bringing lunches, I think we’re saving money – and he’s losing weight at a very respectable pace! But it is taking up a lot of my time.

Of course, I make breakfast and lunch for Little Miss every day. But whereas I used to have an apple in the morning, I’m making myself something real now, which takes time. Then mid afternoon, I prepare for dinner. And breakfast and lunch for the next day for the mister. Then clean up after dinner and load the dishwasher. There are ways I could save time, but since I don’t have to, I don’t mind too much.

I joke around in the evenings that I’ve been cooking and cleaning all day. And some days it feels like it! I cook dinner, put away the leftovers, then prepare a breakfast, lunch and two snacks for the next day (the amount of tupperware my husband has to carry…)

But again, we’re getting results and it’s a sustainable plan. I’m actually delighted. If you’d like to learn more about the TLS system or 21 day challenge, I’d be happy to share some more details!

So anyway…

My January accomplishments aren’t extraordinary. They’re not really above and beyond what you could normally expect. I’m not looking to brag about my activities.

But a business coach I once worked with used to say, “celebrate all wins”.

Especially in the dead of winter, with cold winds and grey skies, I say it’s as good a time as any to celebrate all wins. I have been busy, and I have been accomplishing small, but important things. And I’m sure you have too.

So give yourself a high five and keep on keeping on. If you’d like to share whats been keeping you busy, feel free to drop it in the comments, and I’d be happy to give you a high five too!

Life Parenting

Hello, 2017

January 1, 2017

It’s been 17 years since my mom and I stayed up late playing Monopoly around the coffee table, waiting for my dad to come home. My two little siblings were tucked away in their beds, and I was happy to have my busy and very pregnant mom all to myself for awhile.  It was the year everyone in the tech field was anxious about the dreaded Y2K and what it would do to computers, so my dad and a few coworkers had to ring in the new year at work in case it all went to hell in a hand basket. We all know how that went down, nothing crashed, nothing happened. Our country still had many unknown trials to face in the future, but that was not one of them.

Last night, my husband and I spent our first new years eve with little Indy. We went to our favorite Italian place for a very early dinner with friends. My poor baby who is suffering from his first real cold pulled my hair and whined until he fell asleep on me. We got him ready for a bath at home and in the one minute that he was naked between diaper change and bath- he peed down my entire outfit, down to the shoes! After we finally got our poor munchkin to sleep, we watched Grand Tour and I read Dragonfly in Amber- the second book in the Outlander series that Ilana mentioned in her last post. We are both hooked! Despite all of the grand plans we had for the evening- these sleep deprived parents chose to sleep through the new year. Goodbye 2016. You brought us our son- the absolute light of our lives, some of our happiest moments, some terrible losses, and the worst election season that I’ve ever experienced. Last night I was more than ready to put 2016 to bed. I slept soundly through the transition of years right next to my best friend. I wouldn’t change a thing.

I woke up at 12:09 to the sound of Indy crying and got up to help settle him. It was officially a new year. This morning, as I write this, I know that the coming year won’t be easy. I am aware of the fear and suffering in the world, as well as the hurt and the pain that my family deals with as so many of us cope with loss. I have hope though, and that makes all of the difference. I hear my son’s little coos and I am determined to do my part to make this world a better place. I have so much hope for joy in the coming year. Today as we all lay low at home to recover from our colds, I’ll pack away our Christmas decorations and prepare us to settle into our quieter winter rhythms after the holiday rush.  I think I’ll leave out my little advent candles for a little bit longer, though. I’m not ready to put them away. I’ll light my candles as a reminder of the hope, peace, joy, and love that I long for God to bring to this world.

Happy New Year my friends! I hope to write more faithfully this year. I’m thankful to Ilana for keeping this blog going over the last few months as I’ve adjusted to new motherhood. Thank you, as always for reading.

Baking Life

A year that was awful, and a pie that wasn’t

December 29, 2016

The title of this post is perhaps a little misleading in that I don’t actually categorize things by year. New Years Day, to me, is just another day. I don’t make New Years Resolutions. But for argument’s sake, because everyone else is talking about 2016, I’ll refer to it that way.

In a lot of ways, 2016 was really hard, for my family in particular. My maternal grandparents passed away within 6 weeks of each other. We watched them struggle and suffer and ultimately go, and we barely had time to breathe between the two. This kind of loss doesn’t just go away after the funeral. You’re not sad for a few days and then you go back to normal. There’s a mourning period and an adjustment period and then…life. Some days it’s easy. Some days you cry in the supermarket. It’s difficult to accept that this is the “new normal”.

Yes, 2016 had been tough. It’s been an emotional year full of sad firsts.

And yes, I am aware of what is going on in the world. I force myself to read news articles on domestic and international concerns to stay informed. This election was quite ugly, and American politics hasn’t gotten much prettier since November.

If I got all my news from Facebook, first off, I’d probably see lots and lots of fake news…but secondly, I’d be pretty sure that 2016 was the worst year ever because lots of celebrities died. It is sad. Some, even tragic. Certainly many were major losses to the entertainment community and our beloved franchises. But forgive me if, standing where I’m standing, this doesn’t make 2016 any number of expletives or exaggerations I’ve seen it referred to as. I’m not impressed.

Everyone, feel how you feel. Seriously, I’m all about people working through things for themselves and I hate when something is used as a stand in to try to invalidate people’s feelings or concerns (ex: just because something is a “first world problem” doesn’t mean it isn’t profoundly affecting your life right now). But as far as 2016 being THE. WORST. YEAR. EVER. Unimpressed.

I’m big on perspective. 2016 hit my family hard. However…

  1. Little Miss is doing well, her speech is progressing appropriately and it’s becoming more and more clear how very clever she is
  2. My nephew, adorable little Indy was born
  3. My brother got engaged to my high school bestie
  4. My mother and I both got involved in an interesting business and are doing well and enjoying the products
  5. My own little business, Seashore Design Studio, has come together nicely and my sales have been the highest ever (out of 10 years on Etsy with various shops), and I now have an amazing group of “fans” who support and encourage me
  6. My husband remains gainfully employed, with good health insurance
  7. We are all, for the most part, healthy
  8. I discovered the Outlander book series
  9. I got over my fear of my canning kettle and learned to make and can jams
  10. I learned to make red beans and rice and arroz con gandules (it was a good year for rice and beans around here, I guess)
  11. I’ve been able to do more charitable giving than ever before, thanks to my little business
  12. I have continued to learn, research and grow as a person

I have good days, and I have bad days; the kind where everything reminds me of people I’ve lost or I can’t stop thinking about the atrocities happening around the world. But also this year I’ve learned that dwelling will accomplish nothing, but action will. Donating, learning, educating, can make a difference. Giving back in ways big or small make a difference.

Be kind, be generous, make someone smile.

Speaking of smiles, you know what makes me smile? Chocolate. So I’m going to finish this post out with a little story about a pie I made yesterday, as well as the recipe.


Vegan Chocolate Pie

This recipe was based on the Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Almond Tart by BlahnikBaker (link to original HERE).

I had pinned this recipe on Pinterest, into my “Naturally Gluten and Dairy Free” board. Today is my husband’s birthday – we had originally planned to see my parents last night, and his family tonight; due to a bunch of people being sick, that changed. But I was thinking I needed to make a birthday cake 2 days in a row, and no way was I making the same kind of cake for both! So, I thought, I need gluten free and dairy free. I headed to Pinterest and found this recipe, and sure enough, I had everything I needed in the house.

My version is slightly different from the original, but all credit really goes to the original recipe. I wish I had thought of vegan ganache! It’s lovely. My version is a pie instead of a tart, and I changed the proportions a little out of necessity. But still. The crust is tasty with great texture, and the center is dense and chocolaty and sweet, nearly fudgy and delightfully smooth. And vegan and gluten free, which perfectly avoided the allergens I needed to steer clear of. I topped it with candied sunflower seeds and served it with strawberries and blueberries to break up all the chocolate.

Now I do need to note…I didn’t know chocolate pie was a thing before I read The Help. And that’s a real shame, because chocolate pie is amazing. Really, what a great idea. But now, I can’t make it, or even really thinking about it, without thinking about The Help. It was hard not to make any off color jokes last night.

But anyway!

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 table spoons agave syrup (you can use maple syrup as well)

Filling

  • 1 cup coconut cream (canned or bottled)
  • 6-8oz semisweet chocolate chips (I had half a bag of mini chips, make sure they’re non-dairy if that matters to you)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 teaspoons cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Start with the crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix coconut flakes, almond meal, coconut flour (I assume another flour, gluten free or regular would act roughly the same) and salt in a bowl. Melt coconut oil and agave syrup then stir together with the other ingredients and mix well. Pat into the bottom of a pie plate (I used a glass Pyrex one) firmly, making sure the crust covers the bottom and goes slightly up the sides. Bake for 10-12 minutes until a little golden around the edges. Allow to cool somewhat.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat your coconut cream until it bubbles gently. Turn off the heat and add the cocoa and chocolate chips. Let sit a moment, then add vanilla and stir until smooth and even in color. Pour your awesome vegan ganache into the waiting shell, then pop it into the fridge for at least 2 hours to set.
  3. Keep cool until serving. Top with seeds, nuts, coconut flakes, some coarse sea salt or fruit (or serve the fruit alongside it, to keep extra moisture off the cake).

And that’s that! While the recipe originally seemed rather involved, it was actually fairly simple and quick.

So here’s to beautiful desserts, love and light and peace and giving, and a 2017 that doesn’t make people quite so miserable.

Life

I should be cleaning

December 15, 2016

I am hosting a party this weekend, a holiday get together for my husband’s friends from work. I believe all told, we’ll have 12 adults and 4 children in the house. I had planned to clean and prepare all week. The week had other plans.

Instead of writing right now, I should be cleaning.

An hour ago, when Little Miss and I were mixing cookie dough to make a surprise for a friend’s birthday, I should have been cleaning.

Yesterday, the day after I said I was no longer accepting orders for holiday delivery, when I stood at the workbench for 3 hours to finish orders for existing customers and excited new customers, I should have been cleaning.

When I sat on the floor and pretended to eat plastic pizza with my daughter, I should have been cleaning.

But I wasn’t cleaning. And despite everything, I think that’s actually okay.

To rewind a bit, one of the things I was most excited about when we bought our house was the ability to entertain. With a smallish kitchen and moderate sized living room, I’m still not able to host holidays and even family dinners with everyone are a stretch. But I appreciate being able to have people over for casual get togethers, pretty much whenever I want to.

Now I’m not going to lie here, I’m somewhat neurotic about cleaning. Things my poor husband has had to endure include:

  • “We need to clean the bathroom, it looks like someone groomed a long haired chihuahua in there!”
  • “Who decided black furniture was a good idea? I dusted yesterday and you know what I see today? Dust.”
  • “The kitchen floor has sticky spots, do you want the baby to get trapped like a rat?”
  • “Where is my stuff? You moved my pile! I knew what was in that pile!”

It’s not that everything has to be shiny and perfect, it just needs to be…as close as I can get it. I mean, don’t look at my windows because I’ve not cleaned them once in the 2 years we’ve been living here. But I want at least the public rooms of the house dusted, swept, vacuumed and CLEAN.

Typically. Typically I make myself crazy, running around for days before the company is due to make sure everything is neat and clean. I re-organize. I clean the kitchen, only to cook a full meal and make it a mess again.

I think I’ve come to a turning point.

No, I will not have company over with a dirty house. I’ll make sure the bathroom is clean and the tables are spotless and the floor has been swept. But the need to have everything perfect? Done.

Because you know what, I’m busy. I’m running a business from home. I’m raising a very sweet, very smart, suddenly very chatty little girl. I’m finishing my holiday shopping and getting the holiday cards in the mail. I’m grocery shopping and making sure my family has a healthy home cooked meal nearly every night of the week. And right now, I’m doing it with a not-serious-but-very-annoying back injury too.

I’m not commuting to work and working for someone else. I’m not making the big bucks. But I’m doing fairly important and good work nonetheless. I’m raising a really good little person. I’m running a business that is making people happy (and this holiday season, I diverted a percentage of sales and was able to donate a total of $355 to 4 different charities).

So the counters will be cleaned, but the cabinet doors can stay as they are. The wood floors will be vacuumed, but not polished. The bathroom will be cleaned and the towels washed, but do me a favor and don’t look too closely at the bathtub. Because you know what? This doesn’t matter.

It’s not about the sparkle. And who did I think was visiting anyway, who would criticize the books on my end table or dust I may have missed on a windowsill or chair back? Really?

I’m tired of running around doing busy work to satisfy some bizarre notion in my own head. I’m tired of focusing on things that don’t matter, and I’m tired of apologizing. How many times have I had a surprise visitor and said “I didn’t get to clean, don’t look at anything too hard,” with a self deprecating smile?

Be my guest. Any day of the week. With advanced notice, you bet I’ll be tidying up. But scheduling a week of my life to dedicate to cleaning for a party? So long to that notion, consider this your Dear John (Dear Broom?) letter because I am out. Take me and my house as we are. Instead of focusing on cleaning, I’m focusing on the things that matter.

Right now? I actually should be cleaning. I have a little more tidying to do, aside from the last minute set up. Then there’s the shopping. Then there’s the cooking! And really, cooking is more fun than cleaning anyway. Then hopefully, we’ll have a successful get together Saturday night, after which I’ll need to spend 2 days cleaning up again anyway.

And that’s that. Where do you stand on the cleaning issue?

Life

It’s the most wonderful time…

December 8, 2016

Oh hi. You’re still here? If I’m not mistaken, I haven’t written a word in just a bit over a month. Life has been…busy.

Truth be told, the end of this year has flown by. I went to Lake George with my family in August and in a lot of ways, it feels like it was yesterday. September was still right after the trip. October flew by, marked only by my brother’s engagement party and my birthday. Halloween was quiet and then November rolled in. There was Election Day and then suddenly it was Thanksgiving. And now we’re full on in the holiday season. I have my Christmas cards, waiting for addresses and stamps, and I’m trying to finish my shopping as quickly as I can so as not to wind up doing it last minute. I know everyone feels this way, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

And you know what they say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

I actually tend to have a difficult time with the holidays, and this year will be no exception. It’s the first year we’re celebrating without both of my grandparents, which has been an adjustment unto itself. I think a part of my detachment this year has been due to this. I’ve managed to stay fairly even keel most of the time, and make it through all of the events and holidays thus far. But then sometimes reality hits me and I choke back tears in the supermarket. You know how it is.

This year I’m making an active effort to not slip into grinch-hood. Little Miss is almost 2.5 years old, and extremely aware of everything going on around her. She is thrilled with all the holiday lights outside and had fun helping me set up our little tree. Last night I showed her how to spin a dreidel, though her spin looks a lot more like chucking it at the table and laughing. I’m not big into Santa Claus, and really don’t know how much she would even understand, but I am trying to introduce other traditions for both holidays we celebrate as a family, and allow her to get involved.

Today we will do the first of the holiday baking, for an event this weekend. I’m sure she will help; she loves mixing and pouring and helping me measure. It gets messy, but it’s fun. I imagine that in the coming weeks as I make the biscotti and Italian fig cookies, she’ll be helping me as well.

One of the things that has helped me get “into the spirit” this year is actually my business. Through Seashore Design Studio I offer handmade fine and sterling silver jewelry that is strong, and flexible in style. Recent promotions have allowed me to ship dozens of items along with free gifts and extra goodies to friends and customers, as well as collect from these sales for charitable giving. The feeling of being able to give back and make a difference has gone a long way towards keeping me engaged, especially following this year’s political season.

I’ve also been doing a lot of my holiday shopping on Etsy. So far 99% of my shopping has been done from independent artists, with that last 1% from small companies or companies I love. I know how excited I get what I see a new order come in, and I want to be able to do that for other people. Plus there are some absolutely fantastic, unique gifts to be had when you buy from people instead of corporations.

I apologize for this blog being quiet for a while. The time has flown by so fast, and there’s been so much to do that there just never seems to be time to document something to share. I hope you’re well; stay warm (I’m already always cold and it’s not even real winter yet).

Cooking Gardening Life

It’s not easy being green

September 30, 2016

I have a lot in common with Kermit the Frog. I’ve been known to flail my arms in the air like boneless wet noodles when I’m excited, and I use the phrase “it’s not easy being green” fairly often. Usually it’s in self deprecation, when my husband has responded to something I’ve told him and I just sigh and tell him, “what can I say, it’s not easy being green.”

This post however, isn’t actually about Kermit the Frog, or my pithy comments, but actual real green stuff.

Namely avocados, olives, basil and figs.

I’ve been stuck on both lately. Avocados in New York are not at their best prices of the year, but I’ve been buying them anyway. I recently did my now traditional annual olive curing. And basil, well, it’s coming to that time where my summer garden is nearing the end of it’s natural life and I’m trying to harvest what I can to keep.

First, avocados

avocadoI love avocados. We make guacamole, avocado toast with runny eggs on top, and avocado salsa. I’ve even made lemony avocado pasta sauce. It’s slightly odd, but surprisingly good.

You know what else is awesome? Tacos. I just want to be sure, do we all realize how easy tacos are to make? Grill meat or shrimp, or fry fish (or often in my case, cook some beans), warm up some corn or flour tortillas, and put the filling on the tortilla. You can add shredded lettuce or cabbage, salsa, diced tomatoes, etc. It’s really so simple, and it’s so easy to take it from a boring little roll up to outstanding. Dicing up a mango and dropping a spoonful on top of grilled shrimp adds an awesome tropical flavor. Or, my personal favorite, the 5 minute avocado salsa.

Ready? Dice a tomato or two. Cut an avocado in half and draw the knife lengthwise then widthwise and use a spoon to scoop out neat little chunks. Toss your avocado with the tomato, plus a little lime juice, salt, pepper, dried cilantro if you have and onion powder (or use fresh diced onion, I just can’t eat raw onions so I opt for powder). The acidity of the tomato, tang of the lime juice and creaminess of the avocado really amplifies and compliments the rest of your ingredients.

Second, olives

olives2 weekends ago I cured 16 pounds of olives with the help of my sister in law and my future sister in law. While Little Miss napped, we took all sorts of aggression out on these olives, crushing and cracking them before putting them in their jars. We used my grandfather’s method (which can be found here) and successfully filled 13 jars with only a minimal amount of difficulty. To fully cure, they need to sit 40 days, so I am (im)patiently awaiting the end of that period.

Last year, my grandfather taught me how to cure olives. He passed in March of this year, and the months since have been filled with those odd moments where I almost forget he is gone, or I do things that in the past I may have done with him or asked him about, or things I learned from him. I was afraid that olive curing would make me an emotional mess, but my sisters in law were an extraordinary team that kept me on task. Nonetheless, I’m extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to learn from grandpa last year.

Third, basil

basilBasil! I’m half Italian, so an affinity for basil is in my blood. I planted several rows of basil in my garden this year and then grew into bushy, unruly bundles of leaves which I’ve been selectively picking from for cooking for months. But, it’s the end of September and everything left in the garden will be dying off soon.

If you’re in the same boat, here’s my tip – I pick the basil leaves, wash them and let them dry, then lay them into a freezer bag and freeze them so even in the dead of winter, I can crumble off some fresh basil. Once it’s in the pot with whatever I’m cooking, you’d never know it was frozen.

Yes, there’s always dried basil, which I have and use…but it’s not the same. You know it’s not the same.

Fourth, figs

figsThis is simple excitement. It’s fig season! My two fig trees are producing slowly but steadily, with me picking a couple of figs each day.

I’m not going to lie, the fig trees were not the selling point on this house, but they certainly didn’t hurt. Between the fig trees, the screen porch, and the italian neighbors who talk loudly in their yard (stop laughing, I seriously find it comforting even though I have no idea what they’re saying), it just felt right.

And as it turns out, Little Miss is a fan of figs and has threatened the entire crop with her enthusiasm.

So that’s my green round up for right now. We’re heading into the season of reds, yellows and oranges, so I guess it’s good that I get all this green out of my system now. What’s been keeping you busy lately?

Life

This time last year

August 27, 2016

This time last year, Kristen and I started writing here on Old Fashioned Modern Living. Months and months before, I was standing in Kristen’s kitchen telling her about one of my projects when she said, “you know, you should start a blog.” And I responded “you’re the writer…I’ll blog if you do it too.”

Plenty of text messages bounced back and forth before we decided on a name, I bought the URL and hosting and set up the basics. Then in August we decided it was time to go. We chose a theme for the site, I got things ready and we started blogging. The funny thing is, I never even finished the site; there are still a lot of things I wanted to implement that I never got around to.

But anyway, we started writing. About cooking and crafting and life, and an amazing thing happened. People started reading what we were writing. Not a ton of people, mind you, but people. And that was pretty cool. And hey, if you’re reading this now – thanks for being here. It means so much to us that people take the time to read our posts and click ‘like’ or leave a comment. We know you’re all busy, and it means the world to us that you’re on this journey with us.

A little background here, I’m no fun on New Years Eve. Everyone’s talking about the GREAT NEW YEAR they’ll have and I’m like, it’s tomorrow. Tomorrow is just another day. Point is, I don’t do this “celebrating time” thing too well. And honestly, as a work at home mom, I often feel like I don’t do very much at all. I can’t talk about my promotions, my fancy trips or the concerts I’ve gone to. I’m home, a lot.

As I started thinking about this post, I realized that a lot has changed in the past year. And maybe I don’t have big accomplishments to talk about, the kind you shout from the rooftops and receive glowing praise for, but that’s okay. Sure, some not so good things have happened this past year (but I’m not going to talk about that here, I’m going to keep this positive), but I have been involved in and surrounded by some amazing things and honestly, that’s enough.

Professional

  • 1year-sdsIn September of 2015, I started my little jewelry design business, Seashore Design Studio. I remember the first time I picked up that handheld torch and cut into my fine silver wire, the excitement, the accomplishment. I took my time learning and practicing, and have met some absolutely amazing people along the way, and then in late spring of 2016 I did a soft relaunch with new signature items, lovely promo images and a new set of goals. I’m in the process of re-vamping my website to be an eCommerce site in addition to my Etsy shop, and I’m excited to have that ready!
  • Just last month I became an Unfranchise Owner with Market America. This is a very interesting business opportunity, and it allows me to help people save and earn money on online purchases via my shopping portal, and help people find some of the best vitamin supplements on the market, as well as natural cleaning and homecare products and top notch cruelty free, vegan makeup. Plus I’ve been taking those very same vitamins and my seasonal allergies are all but gone, I’m sleeping better and I’m feeling more energized. Not bad.

Cooking, canning and home

  • 1year-jamLast year I jarred my first batch of homemade tomato sauce, and cured my first olives.
  • In this past year I’ve done my first canning (by myself, as opposed to watching my mother do it), making a whole load of peach, blueberry and strawberry jam. As I write this, I am actually standing in my kitchen stepping between my laptop on the counter and pot of glittery, boiling blueberries cooking down into a lovely blueberry-lime jam.
  • I’ve utterly fallen in love with my cast iron dutch oven and have learned how to do a number of damn good stovetop slow cooked dishes.
  • I’ve learned to be adventurous in the kitchen, baking breads and cookies without recipes, just based upon my own knowledge.
  • I’ve discovered broccoli rabe. I always though I didn’t like it. I was wrong.
  • I’ve taken on a number of (small) home improvement projects, and am finally getting somewhat used to being a homeowner.

Personal

  • I’ve seen two friends get married, and my brother got engaged to my best friend from high school. Go figure!
  • I got to meet my first nephew, Kristen’s adorable little guy. He is delightful, Little Miss adores him, and I am so incredibly glad he is part of the family.
  • I’ve gone from “acquaintance” level to “soul sister” level with two incredible local moms who I am so utterly grateful for. Although we have different backgrounds and experiences, our base personalities are very similar and we understand each other on a level that I never expected.
  • I’ve been lucky enough to watch as a local mama and friend (and her delightful sister) got their business off the ground in a most spectacular way. You may have seen me talk about babywearing on this blog. If you’re looking for a woven wrap, look into Emmeline Textiles. I can’t say enough good things about them.
  • I have a toddler.

1year-lilyI need to expand upon that last bullet. I have a toddler. At this time last year, I still had a baby. Little Miss was all round head and chunky limbs, scooting herself around the floor. She hadn’t yet taken her first step, and certainly hadn’t uttered a word. Now…she’s tall, she’s running and going up and down steps, she’s saying words and doing things on her own. It’s not “will she cry” anymore, it’s “what is this tiny person with a mind of her own going to do, say or pantomime”. She is very much herself (and herself is awesome, by the way); a tough cookie with an infectious laugh, mischievous smile and the capacity to understand more than I ever expected.

Watching her change and grow has been really incredible. Being a mom is an exercise in a lot of things, including humility. Last year, it was still about me; I was in charge. Now, I think she’s kind of in charge. Not really, but you know what I mean. She doesn’t just go where I go and stay where I put her. She makes decisions and makes requests. She’s experimenting, learning and getting to know her world. And I get to be her steward, making sure she doesn’t get into too much trouble and doesn’t behave too badly, while allowing her enough freedom to experience things for herself. Through this, I have found within myself a patience and calm that I’m not sure I knew was there before.

It’s funny, I had Little Miss’ name picked out for years and years (luckily, my husband liked it enough to agree to it). And now, she turned two this summer, and at time I’ll write an email and mention her and stop and think, “wait, this is real? I really have a daughter?” I’m still somewhat in awe of her. Does that ever go away?

So all in all, not too bad for a year I barely considered. Thanks again for reading, and cheers to our next year!