i am now a box lady

This is now my life. If you had told me a year ago that I would have happily had a box of dirt in a place of honor in my house, I would have laughed in your face.

These are my fancy Italian pepper and San Marzano tomatoes seedlings to start. Seed starting kits are expensive and plastic filled – not really something I wanted to buy, use for my food and then store (because I’m not tossing more plastic than I have to). I rigged up some peat containers, potting soil and a big box from Costco to make my own little hothouse and put it by the only south facing window we’ve got.

We also put in a new veggie bed – more on that soon!

Maple Sugar Camp at Malabar Farm

We headed up to Lucas to go to Malabar Farm State Park for their annual Maple Sugar Camp. We stopped at a local diner for lunch beforehand – but other families brought picnics and that was genius! They have a great sugar shack set up for visitors to see what is going on with modern maple syrup production and then two different set ups for historical ways of making maple syrup. The season is already over for most producers but since they have a northern exposure on their sugar bush so they were still able to have this event. I expect to see this industry hit hard(er) as our planet continues to warm. We also did the Butternut trail and checked out the historical home on the property. It was a pretty great day. Here’s a few of my favorite snaps!

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Toy and Book Storage

M saved this old bookcase? sideboard? from the bulk waste at our old apartment building and used it for tools in his garage there. After we moved and I saw it in the daylight, I knew I wanted it for toy storage in the baby’s room. He took the back off (sorry, there are no before pictures – still getting the hang of this house blogging thing!) and sanded it within an inch of it’s life. It’s super soft and is perfect book and toy storage in his room. We have his board books on the top (nice picture books with paper are in another location) and have three bins of toys below. I grab a different bin everyday for him to play with. It makes it easier for me to clean up at the end of the night – everything back into the bin! – and it helps him from getting too overwhelmed with options.

Baby C: Month 8

Likes: Eating! A man after my own heart 🙂 You love bath time and swinging at the park near our home.

Dislikes: There isn’t much and for that, we’re very grateful

Places We Traveled: We have been trying to stay focused on home projects this month but we did venture down to Cincy for an IKEA run. You did great!

Milestones: Oh man, so many milestones have been toppled this month! You are crawling with ease and pulling up to stand on everything you can find. I think that standing unassisted is very nearly here as well.

What I Read: Feb ’17

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: “In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil” (via). I found parts of this book incredibly heavy and hard to read – but it is absolutely vital reading. I love historical fiction and this novel is brilliantly conceived and flawlessly delivered.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: We were reading this aloud but our little dude stopped being able to listen and eat at bedtime a few months ago. We were only 30 or so pages from finishing so I knocked it out myself.

The $100 Start Up by Chris Guillebeau: This was my first book on tape from library and I could not have picked a duller one. This is billed as having been “distilled into one easy-to-use guide, are the most valuable lessons from those who’ve learned how to turn what they do into a gateway to self-fulfillment.  It’s all about finding the intersection between your “expertise” – even if you don’t consider it such — and what other people will pay for” (via). I found it incredibly repetitive and would not recommend it.

*Six of Crows by Leila Bardugo: I cannot summarize this book quickly…and neither can Goodreads! Ha! This book was recommended to me by several smart booking loving women and I was eager for it come off the waiting list from the library. The hype is WORTH IT. Bardugo has successfully built an incredible world of magic, mayhem and many tender souls I fell in love with. If you enjoy fantasy, you’ve probably already heard of this one. But, if you haven’t – READ IT.

*The Color Purple by Alice Walker: This satisfied three categories for me, a book that is frequently banned in your country, a classic by an author of color and a story where all the point of view characters are characters of color. I’d still really like to read Black Boy this year as I feel like that is part of my ‘classics education’ that is still missing. I did not read the Color Purple in high school because I was in a different track so I’m really grateful for the Read Harder challenge to push me to pick up this book. “Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture” (via). While not a comfortable story to read, it is an incredibly important one. There’s a reason Walker is required reading.

*denotes Read Harder 2017 entry

currently.

Eating / 30% off Valentine’s Day candy
Drinking / La Croix ’cause I’m a bougie suburbanite now
Practicing / restraint on buying ALL THE HOUSE STUFF
Mastering / honestly, it feels like nothing
Learning / about a new service desk system
Trying / to save the republic
Playing / with the baby
Finishing / unpacking and settling into our home
Reading / Six of Crows, The Master Switch, The Color Purple
Remembering / I’m a granddaughter of the Greatest Generation and democracy is my inheritance
Wearing / my heart on my sleeve
Cooking / for a little person with only two teeth
Working / hard
Traveling / nowhere

What I Read: Jan ‘17

Stiletto (The Checquy Files #2) by Daniel O’Malley: Another entry into the Checquy series following the Rook, a book I wholeheartedly enjoyed. “The Checquy—the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and…The Grafters—a centuries-old supernatural threat. But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare” (via). I really enjoyed this book and that it’s set in the same universe as the Rook but doesn’t explicitly follow Rook Thomas’s story but allows the world to expand. If you like supernatural thrillers, you would probably really enjoy this book (and trilogy!).

*The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury by Brandon Thomas: This is my first comic book ever! Yes, I know! I really enjoyed this story – more than I was expecting and was really thrilled by how well the drawings served the story. Definitely not your common ‘white guy saves Manhattan’ comic book – certainly worth checking out!

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance: Hoooo boy, this book. I was on the wait list for this forever and I’m glad I read it. It’s always thrilling to see locations you are intimately familiar with in super popular books (yay Columbus!) I think Vance has some interesting and challenging things to say about white working class culture in the Rust Belt but honestly, I could not get past something he said incredibly early on in this narrative. I have a hard time finding empathy for folks who do not show up for work (not Vance) and I should probably leave it there.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: I was recommended this fantasy novel in a flurry of post-election fluff suggestions and I’m so glad I picked it up! The story follows “Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.” (via). I added the rest of the series to my ‘to read’ list but we’ll see if they break thru to the library holds queue.

*denotes Read Harder 2017 entry

So, what happened to #nowhitedudes2017 you say? Great question! O’Malley and Vance were on my library hold list from 2016 and I did want to read those books so I checked them out as they came up. Since it’s my reading challenge, I can do what I want and right now, I’m going to do the 24 task books with #nowhitedudes2017 and will try my best to seek out non-cisgender, non-white authors for pleasure reading as well.

One Little Word 2017: BUILD

This year’s word is going to be BUILD. The Year of Rooster is advises caution for Rabbits and I’m going to focus shoring up a firm foundation for us across several areas. I felt very stagnant in 2016 – despite all the wonderful changes that happened for us, our son, a promotion for me, a new job for M, a new car, you name it. It’s like when you’ve been on a long haul flight to somewhere awesome but you’re still an hour or so away from landing and you just want to get up and go. I’m ready to be more prodigious and hope to tackle some creative projects this year like finishing a vintage double wedding ring quilt and painting a mural for Baby C’s room.

We bought a house! It’s been a swirling dervish of dreaming, ideas and plans over here. Who knows where we’ll get started – the kitchen? the bathrooms? the bedrooms? the garden and backyard? Stay tuned!

I always, always have big plans to crush our student loan debt and want to work on building more freedom into our financial lives.

Lastly, but most importantly, I will be building into my political life. My country and my state need me to help build a more inclusive, vibrant future. I am proud to say that unions have kept the men in my family alive while digging coal, I’m proud to be a public school graduate and I will be speaking truth to power, even if my voice shakes. Those calling skills and showing up at marches and rallies and town hall skills need shoring up.

I’m also refocusing on my daily life – I need to fill up my cup mindfully in order to build better. I love Gretchin Rubin’s 7 Essentials as a framework to get started.

  1. Eat and drink more mindfully – 2 servings of veggies a day
  2. Exercise regularly – 20 minutes of movement daily
  3. Save and spend wisely – update budget weekly
  4. Rest, relax and enjoy – #readharder2017 with #NoWhiteDudes2017
  5. Stop procrastinating / make progress – monthly home projects
  6. Simplify, clear, organize – be mindful of what enters our home
  7. Engage more deeply – phone a friend weekly

Homebody

Check out 2016and 2015’s OLW

Baby C: Month 7

Likes: moving, throwing blocks around the living room, chewing on books,

Dislikes: sleep training, not being able to go or do what you want

Who You Saw: Mama’s friends! we got a quick trip into Chicago (thank you work miles!) to see some of Mama’s best friends and it was a blast!

Places We Traveled: Chicago! You now have 8 legs, 4 plane types and three carriers under your belt, you jet setter you!

Milestones: nearly crawling – you are pulling up into the position and pushing off but not quite connecting more than one movement at a time. you’re also sitting up from laying down completely on your own! you also got two teeth this month.