Outside of My Comfort Zone

Monday, January 30, 2012

I never take pictures of myself.  In fact, I hardly ever find myself in front of anyone's camera.  It might take hired help and a large magnifying glass to find very many pictures of me taken in the last few years. 

This year, I am making more of an effort to document our "everyday" life.  For better or worse, this goal corresponds with my new resolve to wear lipstick.  I have never worn lipstick because I was certain I wasn't quite old enough yet.  But . . . I am almost 30 years old now.  So . . . I am trying out a few bright shades of the lip stuff. 

How's it going?  The lipstick, I mean.  Well, I feel a little like I lost a bet every time I leave the house with it on.  I'm not giving up yet though.  (Friends, feel free to call in your anonymous warnings).

Enough with comfort zones though, here I am in front of the camera - with lipstick no less.

Ada, on the other hand, is quite comfortable in front of the camera.  She's working on some new poses right now, perfecting her image if you will.

This is what happens when I say, "Ada, smile for me":

Birds + Bats + Kids

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My dad has always loved birds.  He notices them everywhere he goes and can call them by name.  As a kid, I thought this was something to continually roll my eyes about.  Peregrine Falcon on the lightpost outside the gas station!  Did you see it?  Umm, no dad.  Cue the rolling eyeballs. 

Then I grew up, had a few kids, and for some inexplicable reason, I started noticing birds.  I could even call a few by name.  I caught myself buying bird books at the bookstore, learning how to call a few more by name.  Yesterday, with a line of cars honking behind me, I stopped traffic to snap a cell phone picture of an incredible Red Tailed Hawk perched just off the side of the road.  Did you see it kids? 

Umm, I get it now dad.

Recently, I took the girls and a few friends to the Rio Grande's Bird and Bat Festival.  They may still roll their eyes at me yet, but they thought those rescued birds were as interesting as I did.  They also brought home pockets full of sticks, rocks, and clumps of "really cool" mossy dirt.  On the way home, Esme confided from the backseat, "I wish I could live outside by the river."  And this nature-loving Mama grinned all the way home.

Ham and Cheese Apple Wraps: Healthy Finger Foods

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I love to snack.  I often have a pocket full of chocolate chips and nuts to satisfy my sweet tooth throughout the day.  I enjoy chips and salsa before the meal and after the meal almost more than the meal itself.  I even take crackers and grapes to bed with me at night, just in case I get hungry while I sleep, which happens more often than not.

For better or worse, I am passing this habit along to my children.  Ada, in her sweet toddler voice, is always begging for "A nack mama, a nack."  We can't make it through an afternoon without a good round of snacks. 

As often as we find ourselves snacking around here, I have been trying to come up with some Easy + Healthy finger foods.  These Ham and Cheese Apple Wraps, inspired by my Gouda + Apple Croissant and some meat and cheese hors d'oeuvres I recently tried at a wedding, are simple and tasty - perfect after school snacks or even a healthy party platter.  Paired with a Honey Mustard Yogurt Dip, these wraps are quite delicious.

Ham and Cheese Apple Wraps with Dip

Soul to Soul Parenting + A Giveaway!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

As a parent I want to raise children that are happy, confident, spiritually conscious people.  I want to model self-love, gratitude, and authenticity to my children.  This is my life task, what it means to me to be a parent.  But it isn't always easy and the path isn't always clear.  So, when I come across something that helps light the way, I am anxious to share it with all the parents journeying alongside me.  I am excited to be able to share this book, Soul to Soul Parenting by Annie Burnside, that has become such an important tool in my family. 

Soul to Soul Parenting is a book about connecting as a family and inviting spiritual awareness into your home.  It is a book filled with activities, themes, and thoughts to help parents and their children connect on a soul to soul level.  I have been so inspired by this book!

For the past two months I have been reading Soul to Soul Parenting every day, soaking in its messages, and putting the activities into practice with my own family.  Often, the activities fit in perfectly with our weekly family night and have opened up soul expanding discussions that even my three-year-old can respond to and understand.  I particularly love all the resources Annie offers to accompany each spiritual theme - perfectly chosen books, songs, and movies to reinforce and explain ideas for all ages.

Some activities from the book that we have enjoyed:

Caffeine-Free Chai Recipe: A Family Favorite

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I love cold weather in December.  The chilly end of year days are full of magic, the promise of holiday goodness and the possibility of wonder land snow.  Even the bulk of sweaters and coats feels exciting because they are all new, unpacked from months of hibernation. 

January, however, is a different story.  By the time I reach these end of January days, the novelty of freezing temperatures has worn off.  The pile of boots and coats by the door is just messy.  The trees look dead, not magical.  There hasn't been snow in weeks, only a bitter wind.  I'm ready for spring.

Unfortunately, I have some cold weeks ahead of me before I will be welcoming the sun and the first flowers of spring.  Instead of pining away for warmer days though, I am trying to make the best of the days ahead.  At the top of my Winter Cheer list is a good steaming cup of Chai.

My favorite Chai recipe is one I adapted from my well loved copy of Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.   It is filled with warming spices and comfort.  It is also caffeine-free and mild enough to be enjoyed by the whole family on a winter day.  My kids have been requesting it almost daily, and as long as I get a cup too, I am happy to oblige!

Caffeine-Free Chai

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Monday, January 16, 2012

I like to cook, but with three kids in the house kitchen time can be hard to come by.  I feel like lately our schedules, with classes and ballet and work (and the list could go on and on . . .), have been busier than ever and I've been spending less time in the kitchen than I'd like to. 

Last week we ate pasta with a quick sauce for more meals than I want to admit.  By the time Friday rolled around, I knew I needed to come up with more fast and easy dinner ideas. 

After a busy day out exploring the Rio Grande and its wildlife on Saturday, I came up with a quick and delicious solution to my lack of kitchen time.  This creamy Chicken Enchilada Soup is full of flavor and was ready in less than 30 minutes!  My kids loved it.  I loved it.  It was the perfect end to a busy day.

My favorite part of this recipe is that I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand.  Wait, I spoke too soon.  The absolute best part of this recipe is that it tastes exactly like my favorite enchiladas!  I think this is going to be on dinner repeat for a while. 

Chicken Enchilda Soup

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The Best Message EVER

Friday, January 13, 2012

Last night I left my kids a message.

This morning, after the hustle and bustle of breakfast and morning appointments was over, I noticed one of the kids (the literate one) left me a message in return.

Nevermind that she clogged two toliets by stuffing them with toliet paper last night, she just wiped the slate clean again.  This day just got so much better. 

A New Look!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Things are looking different around here.  I changed the look of my site and I love it!  Well, when I say I changed the look, I really mean that a thought about having a fresh new look for Some the Wiser popped into my head and then someone else, with skills, made it all happen. 

And when I say skills, I mean serious skills!  My dear friend Katie, who doesn't design or make websites at all, surprised me by designing and making this website for me.  She didn't even tell me she was doing it so it was the best surprise ever.  Isn't she great! I couldn't ask for a better friend, or site design for that matter.

So, voila!  A new year, a new site, and some new incentive to blog a little more and (hopefully) a little better.  I'm so glad you are joining me here - it means a lot to me!   I really am grateful for every single person that spends some time here with me. Thank you.

Gouda and Apple Croissant with Baby Spinach

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I have a serious sweet tooth.   I blame it on my grandparents, who always had homemade cookies on the counter and who never restricted the number of times I could visit the jar.  That being said, the holidays almost made my sweet tooth hurt. 

In the past three weeks, I think I consumed more butter cookies, peppermint bark, and rice pudding than should be humanly possible. In fact, if you add in the number of Jelly Belly Beans I ate, I'm pretty sure I consumed more than my own weight in sugar.  This could be hard to come back from, seriously.

I don't have any New Year Resolutions to avoid sweets or anything like that, but I do want to focus on being healthier.  I decided to ease myself in to healthy eating again slowly with this perfect breakfast or lunch croissant.  Topped with baby spinach, I am bringing the vegetables back in to my diet this week.  But to make it a little bit easier (because they don't have a spinach Jelly Belly you know) I added some candied nuts to the top.  It is perfectly delicious, and quite a bit healthier than a butter cookie!

(Note: I used this method to candy the nuts and it worked like a charm: Cafe Johnsonia - How to Make Candied Nuts.) 

Gouda and Apple Croissant with Baby Spinach

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Video Post Card from 2011

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Beware, I've been feeling very sentimental lately.  You know, with the passing of another year and all that.  So, here's what comes of some late nights with Auld Lang Syne on my mind: 

2011 Post Card from allison on Vimeo.

My Favorite Books in 2011

Monday, January 2, 2012

I have always been a voracious reader. That being said, however, my reading trends have been on a downhill spiral the last few years. I noticed today, as I was looking at my Goodread's shelves, that my numbers keep going down: In 2008 I read 90 books, 2009 81 books, 2010 63 books, and in 2011 I only read 47 books. Hmm, it may have something to do with the three little ones I'm raising. Or, it may have something to do with the fact that I found the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to watch on Hulu.

Putting aside my serious crush on Spike, if ever there was a crush-worthy vampire, here are some of my favorite reads from 2011.  To see everything I read this year - good and not so good - check out my Goodreads 2011 shelf.  


Young Adult Fiction:

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