On Achieving Iced Coffee Perfection

I love coffee. Kinda. It’s probably more accurate to say I like coffee-flavored milk. Which is where my Starbucks Gold Card comes in. Nothing I make at home tastes quite as good as what I can get for $5 at the drive-thru.

Until today.

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Over the weekend, I devoured Jenny Rosenstrach’s new book, How to Celebrate Everything. It’s every bit as good as Dinner: A Love Story and Dinner: The Playbook. When I came to her husband’s method for making iced coffee concentrate in a french press, I immediately added it to my food prep list for the week, even though I was a little skeptical. I’ve tried to make cold brew in the french press before and haven’t been wowed by the results. But if there’s any food writer I trust, it’s Jenny. She’s yet to steer me wrong.

Incidentally, also on my food prep list this week was PSL syrup after hearing Kelsey mention it on a recent Coffee + Crumbs podcast.

After I got E in bed for his post-lunch siesta, I filled a mason jar 3/4 full of ice, added the cold brew concentrate and milk in a 1:1 ratio, and topped it off with 2 Tbsp. of the PSL syrup and 2 Tbsp. of half and half.

Y’all. It was perfect. Plus, cheaper and probably healthier than my beloved Starbucks.

Iced coffee perfection achieved.

pumpkin spice iced coffee

 

The Week in Review

The last week of summer, and it was kind of a long one. We had our first (and probably not last) visit to Kiddie Acres, a vintage amusement park in North Austin that couldn’t be more perfect for the preschool crowd. There was also preschool open house, art class at Imagine That, a few Stroller Strides classes, and E’s first gymnastics class (definitely underestimated the parent participation portion of that…).

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Eating

turkey bolognese / BLT Salad this is literally my favorite thing right now; some of the measurements are missing but the non-obvious ones are 2 Tbsp vinegar and 2 Tbsp olive oil / lemon bars

Playing

E is loving the batch of cloud dough I made

Reading

She Poured Out Her Heart by Jean Thompson for book club; it was really slow to start. I’m about halfway and am now invested in the story, but still not sure how much I actually like it.

Making 

A knit snake, still, after having to rip it back due to my inability to read patterns

Writing

Nothing worth noting, though I have a bunch of drafts I’m looking forward to working on this week.

Watching

We watched The Big Short (streaming on Netflix) and I finally understand the 2008 housing crisis / I’m newly converted to bullet journaling and digging Lune de Papier on YouTube / and Claire Marshall never disappoints

Listening

The new Bon Iver singles / podcasts from Freelance Writers Den

The week ahead

So looking forward to having a full day tomorrow (yay 3 day weekends) to grocery shop and (hopefully) get the house back in order while we gear up for a week spent settling into a new fall routine. Our weekly routine was completely tossed up in the air last week, but the change of pace + new schedule is definitely welcome.

 

August Goals

August is here and it’s going to be a bananas month. E’s school is closed, which means no regular childcare, which means I get to figure out how to work from home with no dedicated work time during the week. A friend and I are splitting a babysitter one morning, and hopefully, my MIL will come hang out with E at least once. So I’m not completely freaking out. Plus, the light at the end of the tunnel is E going to school 3 days a week in the fall. I think he’s ready, and I know I’m ready to make a little more progress on work goals. And, no school means we were able to squeeze in swim lessons (E’s first!) and a couple of really fun playdates (a bakery tour!). We also have three (three!) birthday parties to attend over the next two weekends.

Basically, a lot going on. So I’m not making any big plans, just trying to hang on and keep my head above water.

august goals

Self-care

  • Evening routine + track it

Work

  • Editor list

Family

  • Edit, archive and print 2015 photos (Persnickety Prints is running a 50% off sale this week so that’s my motivation to get a couple of months done)

Just for Fun

  • Finish E’s knit snake
  • Studio Calico planner class

 

Best of July

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July by the numbers:

  • 5 Stroller Strides classes taught
  • 3 day trips (Salado, New Braunfels, Dripping Springs)
  • 2 dirty chais from Bribery Bakery
  • 1 rooster puppet purchased for a chicken-obsessed little boy
  • 0 progress made on any of my goals for the month

Best use of time: Known was pretty amazing. It was the push I needed at the right time. And I started a critique group with some of the other women taking the workshop and I’m super thrilled to be building a supportive and inspiring community with them.

Best Amazon purchase: I bought a Hydro Flask and it’s worth every penny. I wish I had bought one sooner. It’s much bigger than any water bottle I’ve ever had (I got the 40-ounce wide mouth in mint) and actually keeps my water cold. I added the straw lid a few days ago; I haven’t had the chance to test it out during a workout but so far I’m pleased.

Best post-workout snack: Perfect Cookies.

Best any other time snack: red bell pepper strips, baby carrots, and guacamole.

Best of the Internet:

A Snapshot of a 21st-Century Librarian I love reading articles about librarianship and libraries that go beyond the stereotypes

How to Parent like a German Cultural differences in parenting fascinate me. Also, if my husband was offered a job in Berlin, I’d move in a heartbeat

“Make sure your kids get the benefits of sports and music and camp and community service. Oh, and chores. But make sure you don’t overschedule them. Make sure they have ample time for homework, and make sure you help them with their homework, but don’t help them too much with their homework. And make sure they get to bed early. But make room for family time.” The Maddening Mixed Messages We Give Moms

Breast-Feeding the Microbiome Science-y explanations for why breast milk is basically liquid gold

“Riding has taught me that although I can’t always change my body, I can change what I do with it.” I maybe be biased because she’s my cousin, but Loryn is an exceptional human being. I love her post on how riding a motorcycle has changed her relationship with her body. It’s an important message for, well, everyone.

Jenny Lawson is publishing a coloring book and it sounds awesome

“It’s not that I’m no longer capable of having my own thoughts, it’s just that there isn’t much room for them anymore amongst the checklists that keep me focused and keep my head above water so our family can stay afloat.” The Real Reason Mothers Feel Like They’ve Lost Themselves

The Psychological Benefits of Writing Regularly

“I’m still not convinced we’ve drawn the line between our responsibilities and our desires, as parents and as people, in the right spot.” Baby on Board

On Writing, and Being Known

“You certainly have a way with words… when you take your time,” my 11th grade US History teacher said as he handed my paper on Hemingway back to me, a big red “A” scrawled on top.

Writing has always been my thing. It’s as natural to me as drawing air into my lungs. I discovered the transformative power of journaling at an early age, filling page after page of cheap spiral bound notebooks with both the mundane and the significant events of my life. I’ve written love letters, hundreds of LiveJournal entries, and one slightly ridiculous poem about sugar cubes. I’m often not sure how I feel about something until the words are flowing through my pen. Words are my super power.

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unknown landscape, 4″ x 6″. Shot and printed sometime in college, probably 2005.

I’m quite certain my journal literally saved my life the year I was 20, the year my anxiety caught up with me and I was drowning in depression. My mental state was roughly equal to the surface tension of water. I couldn’t turn off the tears, I’d lay on my bed in a ball and imagined myself sinking into the mattress and then disappearing completely. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to be here anymore. Practically every night I dreamt about something horrible and unspeakable happening to one of my five siblings. It was the most desperation I have ever felt in my entire life and I never want to go back to that place (my thoughts from that time still terrify me on a truly primal level). My journal then was an anchor made of paper, the thing that kept me rooted in place, the thing that allowed me to occasionally pull up for air from the darkest depths while my brain healed itself with therapy and medication. And time.

But gradually, I stopped writing as much. Life became full with graduate school, and full-time employment, and a man who knew how to love me even when I was having a full-blown panic attack in our bathroom. My brain wasn’t telling me as many lies, not going haywire over every perceived danger. I still kept up my journals, but I would go weeks between entries. There are many things that happened that I did not even give a cursory mention.

Although writing has been my gig since I left my library job at the end of 2012, I have not been taking my time. I’ve been writing, but not my own stories. Not the stories that matter, not the things that help me make sense of where and who I am and how I even got to this place.

I signed up for Known, a creative storytelling workshop with Coffee + Crumbs, because my creativity has been at all time low, because I’m starting to forget what it feels like to be anything other than a wife and mom. I love being those things; my husband and son are my everything. But I know there’s more depth to me than that.

Since the workshop started earlier this month, I’ve filled pages and pages of my journal with notes from the weekly lessons. And I’ve written, a tsunami of words. I’ve written about a loss I’ve never shared and the boy who had my heart when I was eighteen, and what it feels like now, to be 32.

I forgot what this felt like.

Of being exhausted not because my insomnia is back (again) but because I’d been writing after I put the baby to bed and couldn’t turn it off, memories of things that happened over a decade ago suddenly flooding back like it happened yesterday. Of feeling buoyant because I was putting my words out into the universe instead of letting them weigh down my heart and clog up my brain. Of the satisfaction that I’d made something today other than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut into tiny squares.

This is what it feels like to practice my craft. I pour another cup of coffee and I keep going, taking my time.

 

The stories of our own lives require active searching—learning to look through our memories in a new way. To find story in your life, you must engage imagination with memory; you must invent a line of continuity—not from nothing, but from the raw materials of your life. It’s like reading a pattern in DNA or figuring out the possible anagrams in a word. To find story in your life, you have to know what you’re looking for.

Tristine Rainer, Your Life as Story

June Recap + July Goals

It’s halfway through July and this post has been languishing, mostly finished, in my drafts. But better late than never, eh?

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First, a recap of my June goals:

Self-care

  • Pick a weekend for a ‘momcation’ and make a hotel reservation
  • Continue fine-tuning nightly routine Done, but still room for improvement. Building solid routines is a life goal for me right now (so much easier to raise a family with routines in place), so I’m going to continue to work on this one.
  • Try dry brushing My husband thinks I’m weird. 

Health + Wellness

  • Work on increasing water and vegetable intake Probably? I need to figure out a good way to track this
  • Schedule appointment for MTHFR testing Unfortunately, I couldn’t get an appointment until mid-August, and even then I can’t expect any answers from that appointment. 

Work

  • Attend Mommycon I was in bed with a sinus infection the day before the conference, so I was only able to go to a couple of sessions in the morning, but I’m glad I went. 
  • Submit at least 1 piece to a contributor network Nope
  • Continue working on editor spreadsheet No progress on this

Family

  • 1 date and 1 at-home date with husband (at least!) Half done since we managed an at-home date. 
  • Try 3 process art activities from First Art for Toddlers and Twos with E 2/3 done, he played around with paint on a canvas one day and made a sticky collage. I was really impressed with how long he stayed interested in his painting activity. The sticky collage wasn’t as well received.
  • Edit, upload and print photos from April + May 2015 (yes, I’m really a full year behind!) I really need to prioritize this

Just for Fun

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July Goals

Self-care

  • Continue fine-tuning nightly routine and track progress in journal
  • Known workshop This is a writing workshop from Coffee + Crumbs and  I am so very glad  signed up for it
  • Momcation at the end of the month

Work

  • Add 10 entries to editor list
  • Submit at least one piece to a contributor network

Family

  • Edit, upload and print photos from April, May and June 2015
  • 4 activities with E from Artful Parenting 101
  • At least 2 at-home dates with the husband. I’d aim for a real date in there, but my parents (aka free babysitting)  will be out of town a lot in July.

Just for Fun

Notes on June

Happy Friday, Happy July. Here are some good things I found on the internet over the last month:

june links

Kelsey has some good advice for fitting in creative projects when you have lots of demands on your time.

The things we don’t want to inherit from our parents: “My dad died on my first day of eighth grade. I was sad, but he’d been so absent in my life that I was also, to some degree, fine. I stopped thinking about him as much, stopped talking about him with pride like I had when I was younger. I didn’t want to celebrate him, I didn’t want to mourn him. I just didn’t want to deal with him.”

I really enjoyed reading about Mandi’s fitness journey with weight loss and nutrition. I love hearing how moms with small children make their health a priority!

This has me convinced I need to try morning pages.

I was never a Lisa Frank fan but this is an interesting look into the company.

Finding time to read as a busy mom.

I just discovered the Cohesive Home podcast and I love it– short episodes about simple living with kids.

And I found a recent episode of Janet Lansbury Unruffled particularly helpful as we deal with curbing E’s aggressive behavior.

LOVE this planner and stationery IG feed.

Currently | June 2016

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Loving the 90 degree temps. Summers in Central Texas definitely aren’t for the faint of heart, but the hot weather and extra sunshine does wonders for my mood.

Reading The Nest. I’m not super into it (possibly because I started it and stopped it a couple of times and am still having a hard time keeping track of all the characters even though I’m 80% done with the book). Next up is One True Loves for book club.

Teaching a lot of Stroller Strides classes this month.

Eating this honey mustard chicken salad over and over again. So good!

Wearing linen everything. I picked up some linen shorts, a drape-y linen tank, and two linen blend dresses from Gap and they are basically all I want to wear right now.

Excited about the Artful Parenting 101 eCourse I signed up for.

Attending MommyCon in a couple of weeks.

Wanting a new jogging stroller. The 2016 Stroller Strides dualie was just released, so I’m hoping the single isn’t far behind!

Watching The Bachelorette. I’ve never watched it before, but man, am I hooked.

Planning a budget-friendly refresh of our family room. I’ve got my eye on the Ektorp sofa from Ikea because of the washable slipcover. Exactly what I need in my life right now!

Drinking Topo Chico Twist of Lime like it’s going out of style.

Goals for June

Hello? It’s been a long time since I’ve written in this space. Life has been a bit too full this past year, and like many other things, blogging fell to the bottom of the list. And yet the funny thing about writing for a living is that it’s really so much easier when you are also writing for fun. So I’m making a commitment to myself to be back here a bit more regularly (once a week? a few times a month?) in the hopes that completing freelance projects starts to feel less like pulling teeth.

And in an effort to live a more balanced life, I sat down and thought about what I would like to accomplish this month.

June Goals

Self-care

  • Pick a weekend for a ‘momcation’ and make a hotel reservation
  • Continue fine-tuning nightly routine
  • Try dry brushing

Health + Wellness

  • Work on increasing water and vegetable intake
  • Schedule appointment for MTHFR testing

Work

  • Attend Mommycon
  • Submit at least 1 piece to a contributor network
  • Continue working on editor spreadsheet

Family

  • 1 date and 1 at-home date with husband (at least!)
  • Try 3 process art activities from First Art for Toddlers and Twos with E
  • Edit, upload and print photos from April + May 2015 (yes, I’m really a full year behind!)

Just for Fun