Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Goals and My One Word


In 2015, I selected Simple as my word for 2015 and I did an ok job at trying to live more simply, to keep things simple, to simplify. I could have done better but really I did the best I could do. This year I am going with Present as my word for 2016. I want to be more present. I'm a better parent when I'm present with my girls instead of trying to multi-task. I workout better when I'm present in the exercise rather than dreaming away the time. I enjoy things more when I'm present. I'm going to try to be more present this year. 

8:35 am Heading out to Preschool! #adayinthelifephotochallenge

Last year I decided to Get my Sh*t Together and I did pretty good accomplishing my list of lofty goals. There were a few that I didn't accomplish but there is always this year to make them happen (right?). I've even decided to re-do a few that I completed because I enjoyed them so much. Without further adieu, here are my goals for 2016!

Currently Reading #fmsphotoaday I'm completely immersed in these books on dating your husband and dinner with your family.
2016 Goals

  1. Complete the Barre3 Challenge from Jan. 4 to Jan. 31 - I've been going to Barre3 for the past year at 6 a.m.; four times a week. The insanity of getting up at 5:15 a.m. and working out at 6 a.m. has been the key to my sanity this year.  It feels awesome to start the day with an entire hour to myself. (this is a repeat from last year) 
  2. Complete Whole30 in January - I felt so good on Whole30 and got seriously off-track as the year went on. My wrist is hurting again and I'm feeling creaky so I'm Whole30ing again. (this is a repeat from last year) 
  3. Keep purging the house with the Bowl Full of Lemons 14 Week Plan - This link is to her old plan but she is launching a new one in January. I did this last year and it was really helpful. I look forward to clearing out some stuff and simplifying again this coming year. 
  4. Complete Four (4) Day in the Life Challenges and participate in at least ten 10 on 10's
  5. Complete TKGA Master Knitting Level I - This is a goal that I've been working on for almost 10 years. I think it might be time to finally knock it out of the ballpark. This will be a challenging goal for me to accomplish given the amount of time I have and the amount of time I think this goal deserves. (this is a repeat from last year) 
  6. Grow a kick-ass Garden! I want to have a Spring, Summer and Fall Garden this year. I want to plan it better and eat more of our abundant produce. I can not wait to dive my hands into the rich earth and grow something. Also I need to build a better Chicken Run. I really need to replace the janky chicken run that I built when I first got the chickens and I'd love for their new one to have a roof so I could leave the chickens out all the time. 
  7. Read for 15 minutes a day. 
  8. Volunteer with two organizations and include the girls. I've decided to volunteer with Mary's Place and PEPS. They are both organizations focused on helping parents with their kids. I'm really excited about Mary's Place because I can include the girls in my volunteer time. My orientation is later this month and I can not wait! As for PEPS, I'll be leading a group in the Fall when both girls are in preschool. 
  9. Catch up on my yearly photo books of the girls. Sadly I've only done one for Molly's 1st year so I have a lot of catching up to do. 
  10. Get back to Blogging on a more regular basis and focus more on my writing.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Goals, Reading and Celebrations are this week's Links From Around The Web

December 7: Make a Paper Garland for the Tree #mongrainadvent2015

Goal Setting This post is an awesome guide to setting goals. 

2016 Reading Challenge I love a good reading challenge. Are any of your NY's goals about reading? 

Celebrating New Year's Eve at home? Here's 12 tips to make it sparkle!

December 26th People My Grandfather recently passed away and while I have plenty more to say about how great he was later, this post really touched me because it reminded me of him. 
Friday, November 27, 2015

Christmas Traditions: Advent Calendar Activities - The 2015 Edition!

Smitten Holiday Advent Calendar Mittens

I'm pretty excited about this year's Advent Calendar Activities. This will be our third year doing something holiday focused everyday leading up to Christmas. I love celebrating the season with Molly and Maggie this way. Sometimes we even let Scott take part.


November 27: Decorate the House for Christmas  
November 28: Visit Santa Claus for Santa Photos
November 29: Make a Gingerbread House 
November 30: Visit Swanson's Nursery to see the Reindeer
December 1: Visit the Bellevue Botanical Garden Christmas Lights 
December 2: Make Ornaments 
December 3: Make Holiday Cards for our Teachers
December 4: Visit the Sheraton Gingerbread Village
December 5: Make Christmas Cookies for the neighbors
December 6: See The Nutcracker
December 7: Make a Paper Garland for the Tree
December 8: Make Christmas Cards for Grandparents 
December 9: Paint Sparkly Nails and watch a Christmas Movie
December 10: Celebrate Grandpa Burgess on his birthday by visiting his niche
December 11: Play Gingerbread Factory with Homemade Play dough 
December 12: Do the Greenlake Pathway of Lights
December 13: Have a Hot Coco and Olympic Manor Christmas Lights Party
December 14: Drink Hot Cocoa at a coffee shop
December 15: Write a letter to Santa Claus
December16:  Drive Candy Cane Lane to look at Christmas Lights 
December 17: Read Twas the Night Before Christmas
December 18: Donate a gift to someone in need through a Giving Tree
December 19: Take pictures of Christmas Tree Lights with Mommy's Camera & Sing Happy Birthday to Mommy
December 20: Do the WildLights at the Zoo!
December 21: Sing/Play Christmas Music & Celebrate Maggie's Birthday
December 22: Donate food to families in need
December 23: Buy Christmas Cookies for Santa at Larsen's Bakery
December 24: Attend Christmas Eve Church Service

Thursday, November 26, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving Prep!

My favorite holiday is a week away and I am heavy into prep mode! I've made my list, sorted my recipes and placed my grocery delivery order. Next week, I start cooking while my family gets ready to feast.

While preparing my recipes, I asked a few of my favorite Seattle bloggers for their favorite Thanksgiving recipes and then wrote about it for Seattle Refined. I've incorporated a bunch of these recipes into my plans. I'm also excited that I don't have any stories due to anyone next week. I'm taking a week off!

What are your Thanksgiving plans? What will you be making? I'd love to hear what will be on your Thanksgiving Day table.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Rice Krispy Bark


We have a love for Rice Krispy treats around here. They are quick and simple to make. You can dress them up or keep them simple. We love them! I thought it would be fun to make a Halloween version and so I did. It was such a tasty experiment, I decided that I had to share them. I think they'd make a delightful addition to any Halloween celebration.


Halloween Rice Krispy Bark
by Rebecca Mongrain
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients (Makes 24 Treats)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups Miniature Marshmallows
  • 6 cups Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® cereal
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package White Chocolate Baking Chips, 11 oz
  • 1 package Milk Chocolate Baking Chips, 11 oz
  • Pretzel Sticks, Broken In Half
  • Mini Oreo's, Chopped
  • Brach's Autumn Mix - Candy Corn, Candy Pumpkins, etc.
  • Optional: Misc Ingredients such as Mini Marshmallows, M & M's, Colored Sprinkles, Nuts
In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add miniature marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Add in the vanilla extract. Remove from heat.
Add Rice Krispies cereal cereal. Stir until well coated.
Press evening into a greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan and allow to cool.
While the rice krispy treats are cooling, make the Halloween Bark.
Melt the white chocolate and milk chocolate chips separately over a double boiler. Stir until smooth and then pour over the rice krispy treats. I poured the white chocolate in first and then placed big spoonfuls of the milk chocolate over the white chocolate before dragging a knife through the chocolate to swirl it.
Sprinkle on pretzels, mini oreos, halloween candy, etc. Lightly press the ingredients with your fingertips to make sure they're all on.
Place the pan in the fridge and allow it to set completely. Cut the pan into bars and enjoy!
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Monday, October 26, 2015

July, August & September Book Report(s)


After my last book report post in July, my reading stalled out a bit. I got stuck on a book which I'm still reading. I kept trying to slog through it but I've put it aside for now which brought back my reading mojo! Without further adieu, here is my July, August & September book report! 


Dinner, A Love Story - I really enjoyed this book. Former Magazine Editor, Jenny Rosenstrach has been keeping a list of her dinners for years. She wove her menus into stories about her life and her job. I was hooked! And the best part, this book contains a ton of recipes which I've been cooking a lot of our meals from. 


now i see you - This was another memoir. I got a bit into the memoirs this summer and I don't regret it a bit. Nicole Kear has a degenerative eye disease which is slowly causing her to go blind but she won't admit it, she won't talk about it and that is making life hard for her. She talks about how she learned that she had this eye problem and how she tried to deny it. Along the way she gets married and has a child. Soon she can't deny her eyesight issues and starts to learn how to survive in a sighted world without sight. I loved this book. Her story is told with some humor which made it even more engaging. 


Winter's Journey - I got this book of poetry from the library. It was selected to fulfill my "Read a book on Poetry" bingo square. It was a quick read and quite good but reminded me that poetry really isn't where my reading interests lie. 

Bossypants - I've been meaning to read this for a long time and it was ok. I think Tina Fey is hilarious but she's not really a book writer. It was entertaining in parts, rambling in others and head tilting at times. Overall it was a good read but not something that I'd really recommend to others. 


Yes, Please! This book came highly recommended by several friends and while I love Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, I did not love this book. In fact it made me cringe a few times from vulgarity which is not something I expected. I wanted to love this book but ehh. 


The Dirty Life - Now that I have a backyard garden and chickens, I envision myself an urban farmer. But after reading this book, I am no where close to being a real farmer. Kristin Kimball took on an onerous task with her then boyfriend, now husband by taking on the running of a farm. I spent most of my time reading this book with awe in my eyes. This is a must-read in my eyes. It was a fantastically entertaining read. 


Orchard House - Full Disclosure, I know Tara Austen Weaver and have even taken care of the chickens at Orchard House. I really enjoyed this book and it inspired me to take a look at both my garden and myself. Both have so much room to grow. I was enthralled with Tara's tales and stories. This is a must-read in my eyes as it was so wonderfully well written. 

You can see all of my previous book reports here
Monday, October 19, 2015

Giveaway: The Peanuts Movie!

I have an exciting Giveaway for all of you! The Peanuts Movie is coming out on November 6 but if you are in Seattle, you can see it early with me and my loud family, courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The Peanuts Movie features Snoopy as he embarks upon his greatest mission. Snooby and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home.

Giveaway Details: The first 10 people to leave a comment on the blog will get free early entry to see the movie with one guest on Sunday, November 1st at 11 a.m. at Regal Thornton Place. This giveaway will be open through Wednesday, October 28th or until the first 10 people claim their spot. 

**EDIT: THIS IS NOW CLOSED! THANKS TO EVERYONE!** If you didn't win a pass, you might be able to snag a first-come, first-serve one using this link!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October's 10 on 10


I've been a wee bit lax about taking and posting my 10 on 10 photos but not this month! Our Saturday, October 10th was a bit insane. We had two birthday parties to attend and an art installation with a side of date night. Thrown into that insane day was a huge wind storm which really messed up traffic.


Maggie woke me up bright and early on Saturday at 6:15 a.m. After demanding some milk and an "apple" (really an orange), she settled in for a snuggle while I ran outside to let the chickens out of their coop.


Maggie watched some Curious George while I knit until her sister woke up. I'm almost done with Maggie's Halloween Costume. She's going to be the cutest little lamb!


We then got ready and headed out to our first birthday party where we decorated pumpkins, ate pumpkin pizza, snacked on some pumpkin bread and had a pumpkin of a time.


We then dashed onto our second birthday party where we decorated treasure boxes, ate more pizza (yum!) and played some paw patrol. 


After a long drive back home through some torrential rain, the girls settled in to watch a show while I did some research on chickens and sorted through my emails. 


After eating dinner and having baths, the girls put on a Frozen show for Scott and I. Our babysitter showed up and we made a mad dash for Georgetown. 


Three of our friends from our Flickr days were putting on a photography show as part of the Georgetown Art Walk. We had a great time checking out their work and reconnecting.


We then went to dinner at Jack's BBQ which was amazing! It's the best Texan BBQ in Seattle and reminded me of growing up in Texas. So good! 


We decided to end the night with ice cream because it was too early to come home. We were at that sweet spot when the kids are almost asleep and if we showed up, they'd be up for hours. However if we stayed out a wee bit longer then they'd be asleep when we came home. It was a long day and Sunday was another busy one.  I'm going to need another weekend to recover from my weekend.

Check out Francesca's 10 in 10 post

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

21 Months with Mag-Pie

Maggie - 21 Months

Dear Maggie,

You are so very much two even if you are not officially two yet. You have big opinions and a big desire to do everything yourself. You spend a lot of time trying to be like your big sister. 


You've really missed your sister while she's been off at preschool. If you had a choice, you'd stay with her at school and send me on my way. We have been going to co-op preschool once a week which you have really enjoyed. You also go to daycare once a week which leaves two days for us to fill while your sister enjoys her school. We've been busy running errands, hitting up the local tot gym, checking out story time and just hanging out together. It's been nice! 

Maggie's First Day of Toddler Co-Op

You are the bossiest little kid I know! Or should we say full of leadership potential. I enjoy your strong opinions and that you know exactly what you want. You spend a lot of time chastising me for not doing exactly what you want me to do. 

3:31 pm Maggie is up from her nap and pretty darn happy! #adayinthelifephotochallenge

You have an infectious laugh and so many people get a kick out of you. You are a little charmer. You are in a big helper phase which means you like to clean up after yourself, take your dinner plate to the kitchen, carry things, etc. It's awesome and I hope it continues on for a long time. 


We watched some chickens for a friend this month and you are obsessed! You love, love, love chickens. We visited the feed store just so you could get some chicken time in. I've never seen anybody who loves chickens as much as you do. 


You like to tell us to BOP! which means Stop all day long. It makes me laugh. You also like Ba-Ba which means milk and speak a language that sounds a bit like a minion. You are getting more and more understandable though. I'm still keeping an eye on your language abilities but you seem fine. I'm just nervous since I had a speech delay and your sister needed some help. 


You are getting to be such a big girl. You no longer sit in a highchair. You want to use the potty (I am so not ready to potty train you). You aren't too keen on riding in the stroller and want to walk everywhere. We are having so much fun with you! 
Friday, October 09, 2015



Almost a week ago, we got chickens! Wait, let me go back. A few months ago, someone in our co-op preschool asked if the school would like some chickens. I responded that if the school didn't want them, then I'd be interested. I've been obsessed with getting chickens ever since I wrote an article on Urban Homesteading and keeping chickens. Unfortunately our school wanted them but the church which houses our school was not able to have the chickens on their property which meant the chickens were mine! I discussed the chickens with Scott who said he was completely against the idea and that if I took them that they would be 100% my responsibility. I thanked him for his honestly and decided to take on chicken farming!


On Sunday afternoon, my brother met me at the chicken house to transport the coop back to my house. The previous owner loaded the girls into a cat carrier and then helped load up my brother's truck. He also gave me enough food for a few weeks and all the supplies I would need to care for chickens.


Scott did help unload the coop from the truck and then helped me get everything arranged for the chickens. Molly helped me line their bedding with pine shavings and loved putting straw in their nesting boxes. We then woke Maggie up from her nap to shoo the chickens from the cat carrier they were loudly bocking in and into their coop home. They stayed in the coop for a few days until I could get a chicken run built. It's temporary until I can get a nicer and studier one built but I wanted them to be able to roam free(ish).


The girls LOVE having chickens and go out in the morning with me to release them from their coop. They named them Mermaid, Bock, Rainbow Dash and Flutterfly. They love feeding them garden rubbish and leftover fruit. They however are terrible at helping me clean out the coop! I did a quick clean out this morning and I was impressed with how quick it was. I think I was out there for about 10 minutes. I plan to do a quick weekly clean-out and a more through one monthly. No one likes to live in a dirty coop.


The chickens have been busy laying eggs. Not everyone is laying right now which is to be expected with the stress of the move. We have however already gotten 11 eggs. The first dozen is going to my brother as a thank you for his help moving the girls. One more to go until I get to have my first eggs from my hens.

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