Wednesday, January 22, 2014

5 Favorites: More random things I like

This week's random assortment of things I like!  (Don't forget to hum "My favorite things..." as you read along, and check out more favorites at Hallie's).


January, and being back in routine.

I didn't realize how important my routine (and general discipline) was important until it was totally abandoned for a month.  After Thanksgiving, we had a nasty cold, then Christmas preparations, then travel, then recovering from traveling, and it feels like I am just now feeling at the point that the house is not a (total) disaster, I'm getting things done, and I feel so much better.  (Who would have guessed that throwing exercise, healthy eating, and normal sleep out the window for a month could make a person feel so lousy?, not to mention living in a constant state of disarray!)

Sometimes, I think we (especially moms) can feel guilty about doing things that are important for our own physical and emotional well-being.  Or, we feel that making our homes run smoothly or look nice is superfluous or even selfish.  I've definitely struggled with that from time to time, wondering if I'm going down the wrong (selfish) path by trying to discipline myself physically (taking time to exercise, going to bed on time, refusing another scoop(s) of ice cream) and in terms of housekeeping.

The other day, though, I read this quote in the Magnificat (daily prayer book) that really hit home:

All creation sings praise to God simply by being fully what the Creator intended.

I believe that God has asked of me to be a good wife and mother.  It's not selfish to take care of things within this realm, it's the appropriate response as caretaker of the gifts I've been given, including my own body.  Surely, I could take it to a selfish end and ignore the needs of my family or the larger world by focusing too much on these internal things...but the basic care and upkeep - of body, mind, home, etc - is a living out of what God intended me to be.  I think being off-schedule (and not feeling as well emotionally or physically as I would like) after that crazy month has hit this point home - living to our full potential, being fully what God asked of us is a much better way to live.

My posts always get philosophical when I least expect on to more shallow favorites of the week!


My mom and I found these nifty gadgets during some after-Christmas shopping, and I'm loving it!  I had a more standard garlic press, but I often just resorted to garlic powder because I was annoyed by having to clean the press (despite its "self cleaning" reverse press) and by how much garlic got wasted.

With this one, you tap the garlic a few times to get the skin loose, then pop the peeled cloves in the center, twist the two sides together, and it's neatly minced.  It all comes out, and it's easy to clean.  It makes me feel like a gourmet chef to be back using real garlic!

A French Whisk

"If you Give a Mouse A Cookie" style, that favorite reminded me of another must-have kitchen tool

When I received this as a wedding gift, I had never seen it before - and I'm surprised by how many friends or family have been over for dinner and wondered what it is.  I seriously don't know how I would cook without it.  A regular whisk is so much bulkier, for one thing, and this whisk also has a flat bottom, so when you're making a pan sauce, or mixing up pudding, or any other number of things, you can effectively scrape the bottom of the pan while you're whisking.  


After I caulked the seam between the wall and the trim in Anna's room, I've been going from room to room and fixing all of the seams.  I was trying to remember back to when we renovated each room, and I can't remember if I didn't know you were supposed to caulk, or if I just skipped it because we were so excited to get the paint done and carpet installed so we could move upstairs.  Things might have looked so much better than the "before" that I didn't even notice the slight imperfections until we were out of the house honeymoon phase.  Most likely, I just figured I'd do it in a few days (which turned in to years!)  Either way, it has made an amazing difference in the house looking finished, or as Justin says, from making it look like it was renovated by someone other than two kids who didn't entirely know what they were doing.

Before (see the gaps between the trim and the ceiling, and in the corner?)

After (I had trouble making it look as impressive on camera as it does in real life; but walking into a room and no longer having 20 spots and cracks calling for your attention looks SO much nicer!)

If you have an old house and you want an instant (and pretty easy) fix-up, definitely go for the caulk!  Preferably now and not 3 years from now, so that the crazy seams don't have to taunt you every day.

This spot needs some touch-up paint, but isn't it already so much easier on your eyeballs?!

Toddler activities

A friend of mine recently posted a link on Facebook for Productive Parenting, which is a website that is full of fun (and simple) activities for kids.  You can browse right on their website, or you can also enter your child's birth date and receive daily (or weekly) emails with a quick idea for what to do that day.  Usually, reading sites like this make me feel either vastly inferior (for not concocting a new playdough recipe every day) or really bored (do people really have to be told that reading books is a good idea??)  There have been a few days where the daily activity has been something I thought to be really obvious, but generally they've been fun and simple things that I could do with Anna, like making a path of string and having her follow it, or focusing on "stop" and "go" all day long and calling it out when we stop and go in the car or when she's walking around the house.  (Probably I could  have thought of those, and might have eventually, but getting a quick email each morning makes it easy!)  I especially like that they're tailored to Anna's age, and that you don't need complicated supplies (I've only come across one so far that requested something I didn't have in the house).  Worth your few clicks to check it out, I'd say.

I'm also just loving that Anna is growing increasingly able to focus on an activity, and playing with her feels more like we're, well, playing together and less like I'm trying to grab her attention by shaking a toy while she runs off to dump a different basket.

We tried her new paints (a Christmas present) for the first time yesterday, and it was lots of fun!  I see lots of crafting in our future (although Anna's preferred medium is solidly stickers, and not paint!)

** Bonus favorite to my new camera, which makes blogging a lot more fun (even though I think I have a ways to go, I no longer feel the urge to add a PLEASE IGNORE MY PHOTO INEPTITUDE disclaimer under each picture!)


  1. 1) I need to know where to get that garlic tool!! And 2) routine and caring for ourselves is so important. You stated it so well! This is a lesson I keep having to relearn.

  2. I'm fascinated by that garlic tool... I seriously hate my press and spend waaaaaaay too much time mincing - it's faster in the food processor but I don't want to wash it every time I use it!