Friday, June 29, 2012

Dirt: Literally

We are currently under construction.
I mean, literally. 
The floor in the room above me is being ripped up with crowbars as we speak.
Yesterday, I came home from a relaxing afternoon by the pool to the fact that the stairs to my bedroom and bathroom did not exist. 
So...I proceeded to wear my bathing suit the rest of the day. 
If only...

Today, we have stairs and they don't squeak anymore.
As my husband was ripping up the floors upstairs to level them before we put hardwood down, he found a treasure. Not a signed copy of the Declaration of Independence, but...wait for it...a 1959 copy of Readers Digest. I am pretty excited.

The biggest thing that I have found in our renovation is, dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. And nails. And staples. And dirt. Foulness. Insulation from the 1950's, sawdust, drywall dust and just plain dirt coat just about every surface in my house.
 So, I am sweeping and wiping and sweeping some more, as the guys walk through with their hands full of boards and nails. 

When it's done, it's gonna be great.
And dirty.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gratituesday: Lala liberry!

I have always love the library.
The over abundance of books. The sheer number of choices. 
The silence that signifies that reading is serious business.

Libraries are not so silent anymore. Ours actually smells like a mix of old books, new carpet and homeless men's body odor. There is actually a place to download books.
But, that is also what I love about libraries. They are alive, not just buildings of old relics, but truly alive and living places.

We have been meeting with my youngest's math tutor on Mondays this summer at one of the smaller branches of our local library. The building is an example of 1960's architecture at it's finest. It is round. Inside it is all wood and really is quite cozy. And loud. 

Branch Photo

Really cool? Or really weird?

But like all of the branches of our library, it is well stock and manned by truly knowledgeable and really  nice librarians. There appear to be a lot of children's programs going on during the day, hence the noise. Lots of tutoring and reading going on as well. 

I have been checking books out weekly. So have my daughters. In the past two weeks alone, we have checked out 10 novels and one non-fiction (mine). All but one book has been read. Amazing. 

Now, I know e-books are the way of near future and books will be gone. 
But I don't want them to be. There is something about holding a book, smelling a book, feeling the paper and dogearing  your stopping point, that is all part of the experience of reading. I love that you can walk into a library and just walk along the stacks and find a book  you might have not been interested in and check it out and read it (or not). There is no commitment that money and the guilt of having paid twenty bucks for it might bring. I have read so many books this way. Books that changed me just a little and books that entertained me a lot.

I love libraries. I wish I could have been Carrie from Sex & The City and gotten married in the New York Library (I would have gone through with it). 
Instead, I take my children in the summer and we soak up the smells and the weirdos and the semi-silence. We check out loads of books and read most of them. We hope they last forever.

I am grateful for libraries and that the city that I live in values them as well.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Food: Eating whilst stressed.

                                                                 Oh. My. Word. 

We have torn our house to  bits. 
Actually, on my encouragement, my husband tore our house to bits.
As if!
When we moved into our house in 2001, we ripped up carpet and had new stuff installed. 

That was a long time, two toddlers, 5 cats and 6 dogs ago.
Carpet is supposed to last 5 years before it gets toxic and funky.
I scrubbed spots out of that carpet for 10 years. I believe all our animals and kids at one time or another released a bodily fluid in that room.
It looked good, but was stinky and  the stains were reappearing at an alarming rate. Time to go!

So, out it went. 
Now we have staple infested subflooring. And three steps with beautiful parquet that our carpet installers apparently thought we did not like to see, ever. 

wish they looked like this!

We also have started the process of replacing our 90 year old windows with something a little more energy efficicient than a piece of swiss cheese.

That opens up a new can of worms, of course as new windows are a little differently sized than old ones. So, my house looks like a bomb went off and I am in the middle of second thoughts about projects.

At least my kitchen is intact...for  now.

This week I will have painters, floor guys, friends with experience and of course, us working in my house. And it is my sweet husband's birthday... Happy Birthday week, Sweetie!

Casa Swann " At least there is food" menu
  • Swim meet pizza
  • grilled chicken legs , roasted zuchinni, black eyed pea salad
  • Steve's birthday dinner at his mama's house (peach, basil and greens salad and dessert by me)
  • Swim meet (burgers and tots at 4:30)
  • grilled chicken and veggie flat bread sandwiches

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dirt: Vacation has restored my will

It's Wednesday and I am just about recovered from our vacation.
Had such a wonderful time and it really was a great bonding experience for the members of Casa Swann. We had a lovely dog/cat sitter who sent us daily photos of our pets. I ate more carbs than I had in months, stayed out til 3 a.m., laughed myself silly walking on The Mall with my girls and thoroughly was amazed by my  husband's restraint when we couldn't find the bike share return.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Kennedy Center

Now, I am home and full of plans for my house. 
Little things that need to be cleaned and cleaned out.
Big things that need to be repaired and ripped out (carpet).
There is something about a good vacation that does that to me. Fires me up so to speak.

With my new job, I am free early in the morning and later in the afternoon, so I have more time to actually do things. So, I started a list (you know I love them!) of all the things that we need to do around our house. My  house was built in 1925 and it requires TLC to keep it up. Said house would also love a live in handy person, but that does not live here. Instead, two people who like to travel and eat. Those skills don't transfer to owning an old house.

But,  we I can paint the trim and stain a deck. I can clean out closets like a champ. 

So...this week, I started a list.

And after I finish the laundry. 
I am starting on it.
Don't worry, I won't bore you with it. 
BUT... I will share the projects as I do them. 


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gratituesday: I love a trip

Just got back from one of the best family vacays in the history of Swann family (sure, it is only 13 years since we became a family, but still, it was awesome!).

I am so grateful that we can take trips.
Ours are never long.
My kids are fabulous travelers. 

I mean, seriously, they rarely if ever complain. 

We  are kinda nerdy and enjoy learning about new places. And the girls are no exception.

They are up for trying new things...and fashions.

 This trip we biked (with our eyes closed apparently)...

 Took the Metro



Best falafel I have ever had!

Girl's day


 Saw some sights...

Thomas Jefferson's gardens

Child being eaten by a T-Rex

Future President


Weird tree

 Stayed in a really cool house built in the 1800's

Courtesy of an old friend's excellent generosity

Buddies since middle school
 And even though sometimes we did not move fast enough for some people...

 Our trip ended with us all smiling and regaling our fabulous trip together, as a family.

Heading home

 I am so happy we had such a great trip, but most of all I am truly grateful that my husband planned and found all kinds of fun things for us to do while we were on it.
I cannot wait for our next one!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gratituesday: You got a J-O-B?...yeah you know me!

I have a J-O-B...
Actually three (or four if you count the sometimes that I work with a local artist). 
Life is getting a little hard to juggle. 
I have job #1...Momma (or Mommy as my oldest calls me). 
That is the toughest job I have ever had. Literally, Momma and running a house are the things that make me so tired I cannot think straight.

sometimes a momma just has to lay down
Hence, I have dust bunnies the size of large cats and bathroom floors that require my immediate attention. Also, we are always out of something important (today it is dog food).

But my kids are usually where they need to be and we have dinner together just about every single night. Now, they don't bathe as often as they should and their teeth are kinda funky, but that seems to be a personal lifestyle choice for at least one of them.

Job #2 is a part time retail job that I like most of the time. 
My bosses are kind and flexible and there is no drama with anyone I work with. I clock in and do what they ask, clock out and don't think about it again until I return. Lovely.

Job #3 I am getting ready to start. Also part-time and flexible, it is actually my own business that I can grow as big as I want. Courier/delivery service for one local business for now. 
So, I am a busy girl.

Life is often NOT what you thought it would be. I gave up on what I thought I wanted years ago, with the birth of my oldest child.

I had great advice from someone this past year. She is becoming a very successful artist and business woman. She told me to open myself to whatever comes my way. This is a hard thing for me, who likes the security of  rules and routines. But, after thinking about what she said, I did that. I started by friending people on Facebook that I normally would not have, which opened me to lots of points of view I might not have considered. Then, I took a job in a field that I thought wasn't what I wanted (it has turned out to be a good fit for my life). Both of these things are minor, but they have given me the mentality of finding something that fits in my life, not that I have to fit my life for.

We will see where all of this leads. I am open to what the universe sends my way. I wish it was a winning lottery ticket and a new pair of cowboy boots, but the newest thing it has sent me seems like it might be a great opportunity for personal growth and cowboy boots only get me an inch or two.
I am grateful for two things today.
Advice from someone that has it all together and the privilege of knowing her.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Eating: Hiking makes us hungry

 We went on about an hour long hike today.
An easy peasy one to stretch our legs and hop on rocks.
We saw no snakes (always good) and we commented on how cool water bugs are and talked about Katie Couric and how awesome she is. We have such random talks when we are walking in pairs.
large rock
 The hike was easy, my youngest wore flip flops, in fact.
But, we worked up appetites. 

dry waterfall

Girls hopping the rocks
This week, we are eating from the freezer. 
And the farmer's market.
*We have swim meets this week, so we will eat on the run at least one day.

Casa Swann Wavemaker's menu
 Leftover smoked turkey legs, sauteed kale, salad with strawberries, banana bread
grilled chicken,roasted zucchini and carrots,chickpea salad
 Slow cooker pork, slaw, baked sweet potatoes

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Eating: A recipe for the weekend

Strawberries are almost gone here in Tennessee.
Of course, you can get the giant California ones, but who wants to eat strawberries that were picked last week when you can get ones that were picked hours ago.
I will go back to eating the big ones when the local ones are gone, but for now, I am enjoying them as much as I possibly can. Which means I have strawberry juice on my nose on occasion.

Here is a recipe I made up (I am famous for this) based on a couple of different things I had eaten before. It got rave reviews from my husband and mother-in-law. The ground pepper is a must. If you don't grind your pepper, go get yourself a grinder TODAY. There is no reason a grownup does not own his or her own pepper grinder. 
But I digress.

Strawberry Cashew Salad
(serves 4)
(all measurements are approximate as I do not measure when I cook, only when I bake)

1 cup raw cashews
2 avocados
Tennessee strawberries 
8 ounces spinach or salad mix
 Dijon mustard vinaigrette*
salt and fresh ground pepper

In a oven heated to 300, roast cashews until golden brown. Lightly salt and cool. In a bowl, cube the avocado and slice enough strawberries to equal the amount of avocados. Add greens and cashews. Toss lightly  with desired amount of dressing and salt and pepper to taste. 

Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette
(again, approximate as I don't measure, but this makes a lot and it will keep for a week)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
salt and ground pepper to taste 

* This salad is a make and eat salad. It does not hold up at all once you add the dressing and toss it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Whatever: my first teenager

 It's here...
Finally or already, depending on whom you ask about it.

Yet, I look at my daughter and she still looks like the baby I brought home.
The little girl I took to kindergarten.
But, she is not. She is independent and smart as a whip.
She is loyal and dedicated to not only her friends, but the world around her.
She is going to be a lovely adult, one that I will want to be friends with.
But for now, she is my girl.
My 13 year old girl.

In is how I would describe her...




Ice cream lover

School girl



Little Monster


Gum chewer

Mountain Climber
Party planner

Trail blazer

Happy birthday to my first baby girl.
I love  you.