There are a lot of things that I’m not proud of.  The number of days a week I don’t shower, when I fall asleep before telling my husband I love him, when I leave the peanut butter jar on the counter open with the knife sticking out of it all day long…you know, those sort of things.  Before Polly was born, I decided I wanted to make her food when she was old enough for solids and my Mom graciously bought us a Vitamix to make my pureeing easier.  We really struggled to get pounds on our girl, so we started her on purees at 4 months after talking with our pediatrician.  (Sidetone, she has done AWESOME gaining weight ever since she started eating solids)

Not even going to lie to you.  I’m writing this post because I’m proud of myself.  For the last 3 months, I have peeled, chopped, roasted, blanched, steamed, pureed, strained, spooned, and frozen countless ounces of food for Polly.  She is SUCH a good eater.  I have been doing most of her food in smaller batches when the produce goes on sale at the grocery store, but just before the holidays our Costco started carrying organic produce in bulk, so I committed to doing my next batch from Costco produce.  I wanted to calculate how much money I was saving.  Now, I have to be honest here.  My Dad and I are exactly the same, thus he gives me a REALLY hard time a lot because it makes him happy.  🙂  So, selfishly, I wanted to be able to tell him I was saving a ton of money by making her food rather than jarred food “that I ate growing up and turned out just fine”.  (Love you Daddy!)

For once in my life, I was RIGHT!  I was right BIG time!  Now, my husband will back me up here.  This process literally wore me out.  It took me two full weeks to the day to process all of the food.  My dishwasher ran at LEAST 3 times a day during that time and I fell into bed beyond exhausted every single night from being on my feet in the kitchen almost non-stop for 14 days.  It was so worth it though.  My deep freeze is STOCKED for the next 3+ months of healthy, organic, homemade food for my baby girl.  I know exactly where it came from (Costco gives a lot of detail on where the produce originates), what went into it (because I did it!), and when it was frozen.

At the end of it all, I froze almost 750 ounces of food for Polly (which would be just shy of 200 4oz jars if I were to have bought them at the store).  For comparison’s sake, I looked at the store the other day at the Earth’s Best (organic) 4oz jar of Stage 1 carrots so that I could have a frame of reference to do my calculations.  It was $1.19 per jar.  I’ll spare you the math, but for all of that food, I spent $85.79 at Costco.  Here’s the kicker.  I SAVED $123.41 on what I would have spent on the SAME amount of jarred baby food.  

It’s a ton of work and I’m really glad I don’t have to do it again for a while, but to all my “why don’t you just buy jarred baby food-ers” out there, now you see why!  There is serious cost savings on top of BIG time increased quality.  If you’re interested in making your kiddo’s food, I highly encourage it.  I have lots of great resources that I used that I’d be happy to share.  (Because, yes, I did my research on how to prepare each food to retain the maximum amount of nutrition for my girl because I’m that crazy)

And while this picture seriously doesn’t do it justice because you can’t see that there is a second layer of bags behind all of the ones you can see, this stocked deep freeze makes me smile every time I open it!  For the record, here are the foods I made (in varying quantities):

  • Pears
  • Mango
  • Carrots
  • Apples (2 different varieties)
  • Peas
  • Green Beans
  • White Potato
  • Yellow Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Butternut Squash
You hungry Polly?!

You hungry Polly?!


Please keep in mind, this is my personal blog.  My opinions may differ from yours, but it these are my personal beliefs.  I don’t write to start an internet word battle–please keep that in mind.

We live in a scary world, in case you hadn’t realized.  I knew we did, but my eyes were opened to a whole different look on things after Polly was born.  Evil rages against us daily.  It shows itself in jealousy in the faces of other parents, judgement all OVER social media, feeling discontentment while we scour Pinterest, defending our parenting choices to our own families or your parenting partner, habits/knowledge/actions our children pick up at playdates…it’s everywhere.  Still, I am more terrified of a more silent predator.  Parents, in case you didn’t know, our kid’s childhood is being stolen and it terrifies me to my very core.  We live in a world where technology is EVERYWHERE.  Before I became a Momma, I spent 5.5 years working for one of the largest, privately owned technology resellers in the country, so please know, I am surprisingly aware of the tech industry.  I have seen the millions of dollars and countless hours of time saved by small and large companies through the implementation of technology.  Still, I am terrified of it.  Like so much so I want to raise my daughter underground, in a hole where WiFi can’t reach.  Hear this parents: Technology is stealing our kid’s childhood.  Mark my words.

I’m sure a lot of you saw this article, or one like it that talks about why Steve Jobs never let his kids use iPads.  My favorite statement in the article reads:

If our current addictions to our iPhones and other tech is any indication, we may be setting up our children for incomplete, handicapped lives devoid of imagination, creativity and wonder when we hook them onto technology at an early age. We were the last generation to play outside precisely because we didn’t have smartphones and laptops. We learned from movement, hands-on interaction, and we absorbed information through books and socialization with other humans as opposed to a Google search.

When we were bored when we were kids, what did we do?  We played outside, colored, built forts, rode our bikes, practiced a sport, read a book, hell, we threw a ball against a garage door for hours on end…it didn’t matter!  The point is, we entertained ourselves.  We used our imaginations.  If you were like me, an only child living in the boonies, you had a whole world of imaginary friends!  I know there are children these days that are exceptions to this rule, however, I think most would agree that now, a large part of “active and imaginary creation” has been replaced with apps on an iPad or Surface.  When Mom needs a break, she can sit her kid down with an “educational app” and have a moment of silence.  I have a 7 month old, so I have not faced the challenge of 8 uninterrupted hours with a toddler who is on strike from taking naps and all I want to do is resort to the iPad occupying the kiddo for a bit, but I have read a LOT of documentation written by the American Academy of Pediatricians, retired teachers, and leaders/CEOs/etc. of the technology industry who echo my fears.  While it’s intentions are good, the fact that books like Goodnight iPad (a parody adapted from the classic, Goodnight Moon) even exist should tell you something.

William and I LOVE using our iPhones to take countless pictures of our baby girl.  It’s quick, simple, I don’t have to haul out my lenses for my big camera…you know the drill.  But let me be the first one to say, my 7 month old baby girl already gets WAY too excited to see my phone.  She has never played a baby-related game or anything like that on the device, but they can’t help but be drawn to them. There are flashing lights and pictures and everything that interests a curious baby.  The thing that all of my research says to be wary of, however, is that screens now are NOTHING like the screens we interacted with when we were kids. (i.e. why someone in your family probably says, “You grew up watching TV and you turned out fine.”)  And while that is true, the diagnosis of A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. in our country have never been higher.  The technology behind the screens we are sitting our kids down in front of are too advanced for their brains during those formative years.  They simply cannot process what they’re seeing.  It is forcing their brain to try and catch up with development that naturally hasn’t occurred, causing their stimulation to go into overdrive.  This is why the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends no “idle” time with technology for children under the age of two and very limited and monitored time with technology until the age of five.  (See one article here if you’re curious)

This whole debate has spurred many a conversation in the Bryant household.  What will the use of technology look like in our home as Polly grows?  Will we throw it out all together?  Will we try some “limited use” scenario and hope it works?  It’s easy to say now, “Oh we just won’t have iPads/laptops at her disposal.  If that makes her the “weird kid”, so be it”.  But we all know it’s not that easy. Throwing another kink into the chain, our public school system is throwing SO much curriculum on teachers, they HAVE to use technology to try and cover it all.  So even if we try to shelter our daughter from technology, she NEEDS to learn to to learn from it because she’ll be expected to do so when she gets to school.

I’m lucky.  I married a man who is paid to be creative.  I kid you not, I stand over my daughter’s crib at night and beg God for clarity on how our family will face this challenge.  I want Polly to grow up wanting to color a refrigerator box with Dad rather than playing a Hello Kitty app on a tablet.  I want her to run around outside and chase a dog rather than sitting in front of a TV.  I want her to create magical forts out of ratty old sheets with me and BEG me for days not to take them down even though I almost broke my leg trying to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I fear for my child’s childhood.  I fear, if I’m not careful, it will be stolen.  They are only children for a short time.  I by NO means have answers and I by NO means judge any other parent who has a different opinion on this subject than I.  But know, if you’re ever around my kiddo and I ask you to turn the TV off, or to put your phone/iPad away, please know it is out of love.  Before you get upset with me, take a minute to watch her straining to see your screen, because she is.  Already.  It’s too early for that, and she already is.

Will and I don’t like thieves and from where we sit, technology is out to get something I can never give back to our baby girl.  I know this subject isn’t black or white.  I know there are families everywhere who tackle this daily and somehow raise children perfectly (my sis-in-law with the most perfect, respectful, creative, sweet, GRACEFUL little girl you’ve ever met).  But, keep in mind, the first iPhone was released in June of 2007.  Think about how far our culture has come less than 7 years with smart phones, tablets, etc.  Now put yourself in my shoes.  Where will we be in ANOTHER 7 years.  Your child may be in high school or getting ready for college and it will be completely appropriate for them to have their own phone, iPad, or whatever.  But mine will be 7 years old…just starting kindergarten. Now do you understand my fears? 


Parenthood is a funny thing.  Never have I known anything to give me such utter joy and complete stress at the same time.  You’re constantly thrown into situations where you cannot, as a fault-ridden human, help but get frustrated, but then you immediately feel guilty for feeling that way.  As I vented to my Mom today about this very thing she so sweetly says, “I hate to tell you, but that part never changes.”  Oh what we put our parents through!  Which begs the question of why we do this to ourselves?!  (The extra worry, pressure, angst, etc…not parenthood. 🙂

Our world is a wonderful, beautiful, very, very flawed place.  As a new parent, I am constantly thankful for the internet and the knowledge that can be found in a flash at my fingertips, however, life was simpler (some might even go as far as to say better) before we had such knowledge available to us.  I often wonder if God sees the internet as ‘The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Part 2’.  We bite from the apple to answer a simple question, “Why has my 7 month old suddenly stopped napping?” and 30 minutes later we’re naked, exposed, in the garden of worry and stress and tears and wondering WHERE THE HELL WE WENT WRONG BECAUSE WE’RE PARENTING ALL WRONG APPARENTLY BECAUSE THE INTERNET TOLD ME SO!  Just roll with my analogies…they’re not my spiritual gift. 🙂

All that to say, sometimes I wish I didn’t have access to so much information opinions via this handy dandy phone of mine.  Polly has been an easy baby.  We’ve been very lucky.  However, after traveling home to Texas for extended periods of time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, her beautiful little routine has been thrown to hell in a hand basket.  The days since we returned home to Portland have been really, really hard on all of us and I feel myself getting more and more frustrated and losing patience with her at a much quicker rate than I’d ever like to admit.  After a small breakdown last night, I got so angry with myself.  “Sally, you prayed for a baby for years.  You were told you may never have one.  How dare you get frustrated/upset with her.  You don’t get ‘bad’ days.”  These were all things streaming through my head last night.

This is where I’m thankful for a husband who really enjoys playing “devil’s advocate”.  (The rest of the time it frustrates the mess out of me because I just want him to take MY side!  HA!)  William gently reminded me this morning of two very, very important things.

  • She’s only a baby for a very short time.  Savor it.  The good days AND the bad.
  • Give yourself a little grace.

Tonight, this is coming in the form of a little “Mommy’s Night Out” sponsored lovingly by my amazing in-laws, but I do think that sometimes, taking a step back provides a little perspective.  No matter your situation on how you became a parent, you’re going to have bad days.  The internet is a black hole.  God gave us “Momma instincts” for a reason.  Listen to them.  When all else fails, don’t retreat to the internet for answers.  Retreat to your instincts and to the wise women in your life who have successfully reared semi-normal adults (that’s YOU Mom)!  And most importantly, give yourself a little grace.  This afternoon, before Polly’s nap, I apologized to her for getting frustrated (though she had no idea what I was saying) and smiled and hugged her something’ fierce.  That she understood.  If you see me, remind me to savor every day.  The good days AND the bad.  Every Momma needs reminding.  They’re only babies for a very short time.

The last time I blogged, we were fighting an infertility battle I never dreamed we’d have to fight.  Isn’t it crazy how we dream up these “plans” for our lives years in advance?  Or maybe that’s just me–I’ve always been a “planner”.  One way or the other, my “plan” never included doctors, drugs, tears, tests, and months and months and months of waiting.  We began to remind ourselves to ‘Count Our Blessings’, because boy did we have them–we just didn’t have the one we were hoping for.

Fast forward three years.  It’s New Years Eve.  I’m sitting on my couch in my robe while my baby girl sleeps 30 yards away from me.  (In all honesty, I’ve never been a big NYE person, so I may have been sitting here in my robe with or without a 6 month old, but that’s neither here nor there)  Never in my life did I dream I’d be infertile.  Never did I dream we’d be told on a Tuesday we may never have our own child and find out 48 hours later one was already on the way.  Never in my life did I ever think I could love someone as much as I love that little girl.  How I have counted my blessings, and they are many.

2015 is almost here on the West Coast.  In 65 minutes to be exact.  I will start the year unemployed for the first time since I graduated from college.  My husband will continue to carry our financial burden so that I can live my dream of raising our daughter–something that I will never fully be able to repay him for.  This “plan” for my life always included lots of kids and a beautiful home and was free of worry and want.  But it is just that–a “plan”.  A flawed plan.  A plan that, if I’m not careful, can rid my heart of joy and replace it with want, doubt and discontent.  Count Our Blessings.  For there are many.

This year, our family has big decisions to make.  We never dreamed we’d still be in Portland after 3.5 years–I don’t think we ever thought we’d love it as much as we do.  It wasn’t in our “plan”.  I can honestly say, I no longer have a “plan”.  Wouldn’t know what to do with it even if I had one!  We’re traveling to Nashville, TN in February on a recon mission and are considering moving our family there in the fall.  It’s one option of a few we’re considering, but all for different reasons.  How do you know what the right decision is?  How do you leave behind the house you brought your daughter home to? How do you choose to live 2,200 miles away from family?  The answers, I’ve decided are: You pray, You just do, and I don’t know.  All solid answers I guess, though not definitive ones.

I don’t set New Years Resolutions.  Quite frankly because I can’t keep them.  Hell, I can’t get myself showered and dressed on a consistent basis.  My only desires for this year are to become a more selfless mother, a more devoted wife, a more sensitive daughter, and a more attentive friend. Everything else will fall into place.  Or it won’t.  But, count your blessings.  For they are many.

Will, myself and Polly (6 months)

Will, myself and Polly (6 months)

My entire life I have been blessed.  I have rarely wanted for anything (that I needed).  There was that ‘It’s my beautiful, Playskool Dollhouse’ that I never got, but who are we kidding, I didn’t need that thing.  I grew up in a loving home, with loving parents.  I married my middle-school sweetheart.  I don’t say this to boast or brag.  I say it to remind myself to be thankful because for the first time in my life, I am tackling true, ugly heartache.

My prayer has been for God to guard my heart.  Guard it against sadness, unfaithfulness, jealousy and resentfulness and fill it with joy and thanksgiving.  I have specifically prayed for God to show me things to rejoice about and things that needed my earnest attention in prayer.

This past month has been one for the books.  I’m can honestly say that I am losing my faith, my hope, and I’m quite certain I’ve lost my mind! 🙂  I feel like God has gone silent from me other than to say ‘Be thankful.’  Be thankful, be thankful, be thankful.  With a side dish of ‘Count your blessings’.

While it’s not what I want to hear, and while my faith is shaking like nothing I’ve ever experienced, I am, without a shadow of a doubt, thankful beyond measure.  A lot of people live their whole lives without experiencing a love like that I have for my husband.  If I’m granted no other gifts from God in my life, William is more than enough.  I’m surrounded by a family that is second to none.  I wouldn’t give up my friends for the world.

And while I wake up daily with a heavy heart, I also wake up rejoicing in what we’ve been blessed with and I say an earnest prayer that I begin to fully see that what we have is enough.  More than enough.

Be thankful.  Be thankful, be thankful, be thankful.  And count my blessings.

I’m not one to pour out my heart or air my dirty laundry on the internet, but I am one to lift others in prayer.  Especially if I know what they’re going through.  This experience has taught me to love fiercely, hug often, and most of all, to listen.  You never know what silent battles someone is facing.  When William and I feel more comfortable talking about our struggles, I hope it blesses someone.  I hope God’s glory shines all around our heartache.  Cheesy as it sounds, the words to one of my favorite Garth Brooks songs has been on loop in my mind for months, “some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers”.

As I said the other day, one of my New Years Resolutions this year was to read at least two books per month.  (read here)  For documentation’s sake, I thought I’d give a brief summary of the ones I’ve read thus far.  One of William’s good friends, Cody, suggested writing a mini book report on the books I read.  I really wish I had done that.  Or been able to do it.  I have discovered that after being out of school for so long, I am not very good and reading and discussing my thoughts about it anymore.  Oh lets be honest, I was never very good at it.

No matter, here are my little brain dumps on Books 1-10–likely for no one’s pleasure but my own.

  • Book #1: The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen Carter

My first read of 2013.  I’ve always been fascinated by Abraham Lincoln.  Such a stoic human.  Such a tumultuous time period.  The premise of this book starts with Lincoln surviving the attempted assassination by John Wilkes Booth and continues with what the author thinks would have happened had he lived.  A few things in particular stuck out to me about the themes in this book. Carter did a wonderful job outlining the political climate, albeit unrest, at this time in our history.  How far we haven’t come from those days. I loved that Carter was able to make the former President the central figure of the book while only having him appear in about 5-6 scenes.  According to an interview he did after the book was published, he said it was quite daunting to attempt to “put words into Lincoln’s mouth” and have them be historically sound while still in keeping with the plot of the book.  The result was a developed character that was as equally present as not while remaining the novel’s underlining protagonist.  This was a “just for fun” book as there is, clearly, no historical basis behind it, but I loved it all the same!

  • Book #2: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Not even going to lie to you guys, I did not love this book.  I think I would have actually enjoyed it a lot more had I been reading it in a discussion group or lit. class.  I read the entire thing thinking, “Wow this is one of those books.  There is a heap storm of symbolism going on in this sucker that I do not understand, nor do I care to.”  I do like a good “coming of age” novel, however, the protagonist in this one annoyed the poo out of me.  I just wanted to grab him by the shoulders and tell him to snap out of it.

  • Book #3: What is the What by Dave Eggers

This was my first Dave Eggers book.  Loved it.  It is by no means a light read, however, it touched me immensely.  Easily one of my top 5 favorite books I’ve ever read.  My words wouldn’t come close to doing it justice, but what a powerful story of human suffering, perseverance, and will to overcome.

  • Book #4: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

This was a quick read.  You’ll notice that a lot of my pairings thus far this year have been a long and a short book.  What is the What is about 600 pages long so I needed a quick one to stay on track!  I own a few Agatha Christie novels, but this was my first to read (reoccurring theme with me).  I love a good suspense novel and this one was wonderful.  I’m a gluten for period novels as well and this one was first published in 1939.  I loved that the copy I have still uses ‘electric torch’ instead of ‘flashlight’.  Ah, so good.

  • Book #5: 39 Steps by John Buchan

A while back, I purchased the Boys’ Adventure Series put out by Penguin Classics.  Not going to lie to you, I purchased them partly because I’m in love with the covers that were designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith who is also behind the beautiful cloth-bound classics that Penguin has put out that are carried by Anthropologie among other stores.  Regardless, several in the series I had never read before so I purchased them.  I enjoyed 39 Steps.  It was a fun novel first published in 1915.  It was Buchan’s first “shocker” novel.  The main character is a man on the run for most of the book, and I really liked how Buchan loosely tied the novel’s time period to actual events in British history.  It was a quick, fun read.

  • Book #6: Train Dreams: A Novella by Denis Johnson

This one was recommended to me by a dear friend of mine.  I would like to read this one again sometime.  I enjoyed it, however, I don’t believe I enjoyed it to the extent I should have.  The story is epic and tragic all at the same time.  The author experiences so much in a few short pages.

  • Book #7: Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

This book was given to me by my grandmother the day my college roommate passed away.  Inside she wrote me a message reminding me of the angels in our lives–both here and in Heaven.  It has taken me 5 years to bring myself to read it.  I cried through the whole thing.  It is a wonderful story.

  • Book #8: Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars

Summer of the Swans was the Newbery Medal winner in 1971.  Yes, it is technically a children’s or young adults book, however, I read it anyway.  Several years back, I asked my grandmother for “old books” for Christmas.  No idea why I did such a thing but it is on of my favorite gifts I’ve ever been given.  My copy of Summer of the Swans was one of the books given to me that Christmas in my “old book” collection my grandmother painstakingly put together for me, though I had never read it.  It was a quick read, but it will definitely be one I read with my daughter one day should I have one.

  • Book #9: Night by Elie Wiesel

I cannot believe I hadn’t read this before, but I had not.  What a powerful and poignant account of a horrible time in our history.  I have also never read The Diary of Anne Frank but after reading Night, has moved up to the top of my list.  The fact that the story is true breaks my heart, but it was the power of Elie’s writing is what drew me in.  I’m not sure what else I expect from someone who lived through one of the worst crimes in our history, but his writing was wonderful.

  • Book #10: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Again, surprising that I have not already read this but I am really enjoying it.  There are several passages that Bradbury so astutely writes in the early 50s that are 100%% spot on for how our culture is today.  As a huge advocate of the physical, written word, you can imagine the thought of premise around this book is simultaneously intriguing and disturbing to me.  I can definitely identify with the old woman who choses to go up in flames with her home once she’s discovered to be harboring books.  (No, I wouldn’t do such a thing for books, but I understand her emotional attachment to what reading gives to us as humans)

For Book #11, I’m reading The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard.  I’m actually 1/3 of the way in to it and really enjoying it.  I discovered my love for reading Westerns after reading Lonesome Dove last year.  A fact which is shocking considering I grew up in a household with one of those GIANT TV satellites in the backyard–which was really neat when it snowed and made the perfect place to make snowballs, but was NOT cool the other 364.5 days of the year when it monopolized every TV in the house.  How I complained when Dad took control of the TV to watch Tora! Tora! Tora! for the 3,022nd time or some all-weekend John Wayne marathon.  Ah well, yet another time my father was right.  And I’ll leave it at that because he does read my blog and I don’t want to give him too much joy in being right.

I’m always up for new book suggestions, so if you have them, I’m all ears!  🙂

Confession: I have never kept a New Years Resolution.

Go ahead.  Judge me.

This year I made two New Years Resolutions.  One I’m right on track with, the other, is a little harder.  (Be prepared to judge me again)

My first New Years Resolution was to make sure I kissed William before bed every night.  Yes, you read that correctly, I do go to bed without kissing my husband goodnight.  If you’re one of those couples who doesn’t struggle with this, more power to you.  Most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, do not.  William is a night owl, I…used to be a morning bird and now I am more of a neither avian.  Regardless, it is a struggle for me and so I decided to make a conscious effort of it this year, especially since he has been in grad school we rarely go to bed together anymore anyway.

My second New Years Resolution was to read at least two books a month for the entire year.  I stole this resolution from a dear friend of mine, Allyn.  Go ahead.  Judge me again.  Judgment all over the dang place.  Alas, I like the resolution and wanted to piggyback on her good idea.  I love to read and would imagine that on average I read more than two books a month anyway, however, I go through spurts typically.  I’ll read three or four books then not touch one for two months.  My goal with this resolution was to keep myself reading consistently.

So far, I’m right on track!  I will say, this month I’m on the road more than normal for my job so I have enlisted the help of Audiobooks to keep me going, but I’ve decided that those “count” in my book towards my resolution so I feel good about it still.  The sub-goal of the aforementioned resolution was that I was to read books that I already owned rather than buying new ones.  I have more books than I care to admit that have never been read which I what I was attempting to solve by this rule.  There had to be an amendment to the above rule, however, because I didn’t want to purchase/rent Audiobooks for ones I already physically owned, thus paying for them twice.  So in my mind, I added said amendment and the rule-breaking crisis was averted.  (Yes, I like rules)  KBB, you’d be proud of me.  (I wish I could tag your TEDx Portland video but I cannot find it on the interwebs anywhere yet!)

This week I’ll be finishing up Book #10 for the year and on to Book #11.  I thought I’d give a brief run-down of the ones I’ve read so far for documentation’s sake, but this post is already a little lengthy so I’ll save that for tomorrow!  10 down, 14 to go!



Using the ‘good stuff’.  Something I’ve been pondering for quite a while.  Let me clarify that I am not referring to any sort of illegal substance or even to the ‘good stuff’ referred to in the 2002 Kenny Chesney song!  No, no, my friends.  I’m referring to the ‘good stuff’ most Southern brides are showered with before marriage.  China, silver, crystal, serving pieces, linens, etc.

This post does have a little bit of back story that I’ll give…

It would shock a lot of you to know that before getting married, I actually tried to dig in my heels a little bit about what all ‘nice’ things William and I registered for.  I know not everyone is raised in a small town, but I was.  I, thankfully, was smart enough to listen to my mother and mother-in-law and their less than subtle urgings that while I may not want eight place settings of china now, I sure as heck wasn’t going to want to pay for it later on.  (I have actually had several soon-to-be brides approach me with this same question in the past few years and I have told them the same thing I was told.  William and I were blessed to have countless friends and family members wanting to buy us gifts for our wedding.  There have been so many times since I’ve gotten married that I have thought to myself, well, hey!  I’m so glad I registered for that after all!  So, while you do not need three sets of towels when you’re first starting out, register for them anyway.  You’ll either get them, or you won’t.  If you’re like me, three years down the road, you’ll be thankful you can swap out a set when the washing machine eats four of your towels and you still don’t have the money to go buy a full new set yourself.  So thank you, again, to all who bought us towels for wedding gifts!!!  I digress…)

So, while I started our engagement saying that I was not going to be like my mother or mother-in-law with all of their dishes and serving pieces…well…open mouth, insert foot. Five years later, I think I may actually be worse! 🙂  At some point and time “Momma knows best” just started repeating in my brain over and over again and I just went with it.  Bring on the countless china patterns (formal, everyday AND Christmas), silverware out my ears, crystal and glassware everywhere I look, and the list goes on and on.

Now, this is where I disagree with most Southern ladies.  You get all of this stuff, and then what do you do with it?  NOTHING.  Which, I understand that to most of the rest of the world who sees this Southern tradition, that big ole ‘NOTHING’ is exactly their point when they choose NOT to have all of this ‘stuff’.  I’m not here to debate which category of folk is right or wrong.  What I am here to debate is, if we’re going to have all of this ‘good stuff’, WHY DON’T WE USE IT!?  This is something that I was determined to change in our own lives once William and I got married, and I’ve taken a particular charge to change since we moved to Portland.  The added “I’m hauling all of this stuff all the way across the country and praying none of it breaks” pressure doubled my guilty conscience!

A few months back, I stumbled upon this blog post entitled ‘Use your good stuff’.  This lady, with amazing taste I might add, articulated what I had been pondering for quite some time!  She talks about going to estate sales and finding all of these treasures that were NEVER used.  She reached a point when she thought to herself, “Is this what people are going to say at my estate sale!?”  She began using, for example, a very expensive and personal vase her husband had given her for their 2nd Christmas together, and while someone may pick it up one day at her estate sale and notice its scratches and a chip or two, they’ll know that it was a loved treasure rather than something that stood collecting dust.

I’ve been thinking over the past few months on ways to use my ‘good stuff’ without making my guests feel uncomfortable or making dinner too ‘stuffy’.  I know it is not for everyone, but for someone who really enjoys making a beautiful tablescape, why does it always have to be so formal?  I think I’m making some progress, starting with dinner for two when it’s just William and I.  I’m using our casual wooden chargers I bought at Crate and Barrel and I use my serving pieces that go with my ‘Everyday’ dishes almost every night.  We’re using my cloth napkins and he sets the table for me each night.  (yes, this means I wash and iron napkins a lot)  I figure, if William and I are comfortable with what we’re doing, that’s the first step in making others feel that way as well.

I have no moral to this story, and I have no actual “end outcome”.  But don’t be surprised if you’re at our house for dinner and my table is fully set.  (and yes, I have been told by multiple people that when I have children all of this will go out the window, but both mine and William’s mothers did a pretty dern good job of sitting us down on real plates every night for dinner so I will give it my all!)  I am always aiming to make others feel at home in my house, but this is my own little social experiement I’m running lately.  Why does the use of our ‘good stuff’ have to be tied to a “special occasion”?  Why can’t we use what we have for “everyday occasions”?  Dinner with my husband is my time when I get his undivided attention.  No phones, no TV, no distractions.  Why can’t I bring my best to the table as well?  (and yes, all kinds of puns and metephors intended)  🙂

100 Perfect Pairings

100 Perfect Pairings

One of my bests out here in Portland, Casey, struck gold on one of my new favorite cookbooks of all time.  I just had to share.  There are some classic Southern goodies that I can’t bring myself to trump, however, this is seriously one of the best cookbooks I own now!  100 Perfect Pairings by Jill Silverman Hough.  There are actually two separate cookbooks: one for main dishes and one for small bites.  Both cookbooks have healthy and easy recipes that explore the pairings between wine and food.  In the last few weeks, I’ve been cooking a few of them every night and literally only one hasn’t been a complete hit.

I’m not a knowledgable wine drinker, which is a huge reason I like this cookbook.  You don’t have to be!  She points out in the introduction of her book that you don’t have to understand everything about food and/or wine to make a beautiful and wonderfully paired meal–just a few key things are good to know!

In classic OCD Sally style, I’ve been making scrupulous notes in the book on each recipe I’ve cooked.  Any changes I would make next go around, what we ate the main dish with, which bottle of wine we tried, etc.  I feel a little ‘Julie and Julia’ if I’m quite honest with myself, but I am thoroughly enjoying it!  It definitely helps that my purchase of these books has coincided with William finishing up school so he has actually been at home at night to help me finish off dinner and sit down with me at the dining table for dinner.   He’s been so great about asking questions about the meal and spending time talking about the wine pairing.  It has been such a fun little adventure!

I know Pinterest is a wonderful depository for new recipes, but if you’re like me and still like a physical cookbook in your hand (or if you’re even more like me and get really overwhelmed by Pinterest sometimes), I strongly encourage this cookbook.  It has been the best $15.00 investment I’ve made in quite some time!

Happy Cooking!

In exactly seven days, I will be leaving with my amazing husband with TWO degrees to run away to Palm Springs for the weekend.  That’s right.  William is basically done with his Masters degree.  He still has to attend class for another month, however, he has completed his thesis paper, art show, final oral defense, everything!  I. am. so. proud.  (not to mention happy beyond belief that this part of our life is behind us!)  My work has topped the charts with stress lately so we decided a get away was in order.

To celebrate our returning to normal life, we booked ourselves a room at The Ace Hotel for Mother’s Day weekend!  I’ve been getting advice from amazing friends on where to go and what to eat and we have a tentative schedule, though all I really want to do is lay by the pool, soak up a lot of sunshine, hold William’s hand, and have a few of these “adult sno cones” everyone keeps telling me about!

The Ace Hotel- Palm Springs, CA

The Ace Hotel- Palm Springs, CA

Amazing pool scene at The Ace!

Amazing pool scene at The Ace!

Take me to the desert!

Take me to the desert!

On Saturday morning, I’m going to take a free yoga class that is offered to guests of the hotel.  Can’t pass up free yoga!  Sunday morning, I’m going to be in the pool taking water aerobics.  Yes, water aerobics.  Also included with the cost of our room.  Not passing up the opportunity!  AND Sunday afternoon, I’ve booked William and I Couples’ Massage Lessons!  We’re planning on going to some amazing restaurants recommended by one of my best friends, Heather.

Palm Springs is quite the happening place these days.  I’m glad I’ll have William on my arm!  This JCREW-clad lady might not quite fit in, but hey, I bought a big floppy hat from Urban Outfitters (an experience which, might I mention, made me feel SO old) that is pretty cool if I don’t say so myself.

7. Days. And. Counting.