At Beneath the Crust, we spend a large part of every day in the kitchen. After countless hours — really too many to count — spent cooking and baking and meal-prepping for our families and friends, we know which items we reach for time and again, and which ones are left getting dusty on the shelf. That’s why Maria, Sophie and I feel confident in presenting to you a new series: the well-stocked kitchen. Over the next couple weeks, we’re going to share with you which kitchen items we consider pretty much essential.
I meal plan every week. Since I live with my in-laws, that means that once a week my mother-in-law and I sit down and talk through what to make each day of that week. This usually happens Saturday morning. We plan through the week up until the next Sunday. I find planning a bit more than an exact week is important. Otherwise, you could end up needing to meal plan for the week and on top of that, for dinner that very same night. I find that stressful. I never like waking up not knowing what I’m going to make for dinner because that automatically means a good-sized chunk of my day is going to get eaten up deciding what to make.
I have three toddler items that I use constantly. They are ingenious little items that have saved my sanity over and over again. And what is more — basically everyone who sees these products in action comments on how much caCHING the inventor must be rolling in
…or wonders aloud why they hadn’t thought of it first.
briefly mentioned this book in my Advent post last year but I wanted to revisit it as Advent approaches. When my oldest kids were very young, I found it difficult to navigate this time of year. I had grown up with some pretty solid family traditions and carried expectations of the same into married life, but I found my husband and I rather fumbled through the first couple of Advents, unsure of what would be our own family traditions. And when the children were so young as to seem hardly aware and their memories weren’t very long term, lots of times it felt like we were just going through motions. Gradually, however, it all began to stick. They remembered one year what we had done in the last. The traditions were setting! Around that time, I purchased this sweet little book, Advent Storybook. I wanted something like an advent calendar, but which didn’t involve siblings fighting over a tiny piece of chocolate (a predominant memory of my childhood Advents). I wanted something that would help lead the kids’ anticipation for presents into a more fruitful season of patience and waiting.
Kiera Knightly was in the news recently over her comments about Disney princesses. Basically, there are some stories she’ll allow in the house, and some that she won’t. Some send a message she wants her daughter to hear, and others don’t.
I’m not going to comment on Kiera Knightly’s remarks right now. They are obviously controversial, otherwise they wouldn’t be making headlines. But the topic brought together some thoughts I’ve had over the past few weeks, and I’m wondering if I can tease out some sort of theme.
In the third week of June, we closed on a new house just a neighborhood over, had the interior painted, quickly moved in (credit to my husband here - the guy was a moving beast), got things unpacked to a liveable state, and then I had a baby.
So, by the wonderfully imprecise timeline of human gestation, this baby should make her entrance in this world anywhere between 2 and 5 weeks from now. And though I feel totally done with pregnancy, we have one soccer camp, one swim camp, one house closing, and one MOVE before D-day. So my feelings notwithstanding, time is on our side.
To be honest, I don't have much to complain about in third trimester. I carry high and small, I don't gain a ton of weight, I don't have heartburn, varicose veins, or swelling. I'm tired like you'd expect (maybe a little more so on this fourth go around) and uncomfortable like you'd expect (i.e, feeling unwieldy and HOT), but nothing really to complain about. Still, I like having a good excuse to sit down and put my feet up a little more often than I usually do. Over all that time of R&R, I've mulled and mused over this pregnancy and pregnancy in general, and I thought I'd share some of that with you. I've got no particular structure here, no theme. These are just Maria's Thoughts.
Perhaps your best friend who lives in another state just gave birth to a brand new baby, and you want to show her you're there for her. Or you are bringing a new mom a meal and want to add a little something "extra" to help her along in those first few weeks. Maybe your sister-in-law is in the hospital with a new precious bundle, you're stopping by to say hi, and want to bring her a gift. Or you're attending a baby shower next month, and you're looking to put together a present that is thoughtful and unexpected. Who knows? You might be a postpartum mom yourself, looking for ways to treat yo' self!
Whatever the scenario, we've compiled a list of helpful (and fun!) little ways to shower the postpartum mom in your life with love. If you don't know of any new moms, save this post for the future!
For over two years, I have been using a particular workout site on a regular basis. When I first found it, I remember mentioning it to Maria. She already knew of it and eagerly seconded my liking. Recently, while working through one of the videos as usual, I thought again how much I love the site and how it seems especially perfect for moms. I felt like every mom on the planet should know about it. Then I thought, "I should share it on the blog!"
I got a little bit side-tracked last time I attempted to write a post on baby registry ideas. I'm going to pick up the topic again here, and hope to make it through to the list this time around!
What I want to say (or really, pick up saying) is that I benefited (and still benefit) so much from having a community of women to turn to for advice when it comes to parenting. Just the other day, I was texting my mom, my sisters, my sister-in-laws with questions about potty-training tactics. And before that, it was questions on double-strollers. And two years ago, it all began with an email begging them to help me wade into the waters of making a baby registry.
Two years ago, when Edith was just about to be born, Philip and I decided we wanted to move closer to family. Seeing that his family had been in the same house since he was 3 years-old - whereas my family hadn’t stayed in a house for longer than five - it made much more sense to move to his family in Maryland than to my family, then in Florida. We were living in Massachusetts at the time, but as soon as a job in Maryland worked out, we took it. (Quite hilariously, my family actually moved to Maryland within the same year.)
When I was 5 months pregnant with my first, I set out to create a baby registry. I opened my computer, logged into Amazon, and...found myself completely overwhelmed with the decisions ahead. Somehow, I imagined it would be comparable to creating a wedding registry, which I also did through Amazon (more on that another time). Not so.
Even though on the one hand I'm pretty mortified at admitting that I struggle so hard not to shout at my own children, at the same time I realize, I am small, I am human, and this is the struggle of human love, to make it pure and selfless.
I was a middle child. Growing up, there was always a steady stream of books available for me to read. My parents must have acquired books for my older siblings as they reached new developmental stages, so by the time I was old enough to read, there was already a vast library to choose from. When I was finished with one book, I would sit in front of the towering shelves and look at the spines, all neatly arranged, trying to decide which to start on next. The question never was whether I would start another book. It was always, simply, which? I can remember fingering certain volumes, intrigued by their covers, just waiting for the time when their wonders would be accessible to me.
Recently, it dawned on me that it is one of my responsibilities, as a parent, to provide the opportunity for such wishful waiting to my own children. I want them to grow up with that same sense of eager anticipation.
The weeks before Christmas can be tricky. I'm like anyone else: I get all the warm and fuzzies when I see lights on houses, wreaths on doors, and hear Christmas jingles on the radio. But I'm just as interested in preserving the expectation of the weeks before Christmas as I am eager to celebrate it. After all, Christmas is about the birth of a baby, and just like with the birth of any other baby, the months beforehand are ones of preparation and joyful anticipation.
These little people have wrestled their ways into our lives and demanded everything from us by seizing our hearts. They have given us a singular opportunity to grow in love, to learn how to love better. We lose ourselves a bit as we give more. We look for more to give, and then we find more of ourselves! We expand in love.
Two years ago, I picked up a pair of bird prints at a thrift store. They were nice enough, but more importantly, they were only $2 a piece. We had just moved into a new place and I was 9 months pregnant, so nesting was on my mind. These prints would go somewhere on some wall. But little C arrived later that week and I never had a chance to hang the prints. Every time I hauled them out of the closest, they just looked so....tired.
This weekend I was feeling all empowered to get on top of the blank white walls in the playroom. I examined the prints again. They were printed on beige paper, offset by a lackluster gray matte and trapped in a boring wood frame with peeling gold paint. How to update them? Bring in a bright color.
Over a year ago, we made the switch. My husband and I decided to ditch disposable diapers and go to cloth diapering. Since then, many people (including Sarah & Maria) have asked why we did it, how we like it, and if we'll continue. Here are my thoughts and experience so far.
A few months back, Maria sent me a book for my daughter. It wasn't my daughter's birthday or anything. Maria simply wrote something along the lines of: "Esther can't get enough of this book right now. I thought Edith might like it too!"
When it comes to cleaning, organization is half the battle! I'm thinking back to the summer camp code: "A place for each thing and each thing in its place." At least that's what I keep telling myself. If I just had a place to put everything, the kitchen counters would finally be clear of the clutter...the dropped keys, the sunglasses, the bags, and the mountain of mail.
This year was our first year gardening full time and selling at farmers' markets. Markets began in May and end the first week of November. It has been quite a learning experience, full of hard work, disappointments, and more than an equal share of reward and satisfaction. (If you want to read more about our farm, click here.)
To help beef up our offerings at market, I bake breads of various kinds. I have never been and still do not consider myself an expert baker. I simply love bread and always strive to better and perfect my work.
My mother-in-law has grown flowers in the backyard for some time now. Throughout the spring and summer, the family grows accustomed to beautiful cut flower arrangements brightening the home. This year I wanted to see if I could prolong our enjoyment of flowers into the cooler months.