10,000 views…wait, what?! and the big, bad house decluttering series.

My blog hit 10,000 views this week. Wait, what?

Ya, it did. In six weeks, 10,000 people have peeked at this little virtual scrapbook of ours. And that blows my mind.

I watched it happen from my phone Thursday morning as I hid in the corner of the CGA lobby.

When the little ticker hit 10,002 I texted Danny. And then my mom and my aunts–and then my buddies. Because I was excited. But then I felt uneasy–embarrassed almost. Because that’s just how I roll. And because I just don’t get it.

I love writing. And I love this creative outlet. But I have no idea why people are reading my blog–or why they keep coming back. My buddy Seth nailed it the other night when he said he was “inexplicably unsure of what was driving traffic to my site”. Haaaaa, oh my. Take that, excitement! Right in the feels. He kills me. But yes–word, Seth. Word.

We joked that it was probably the husband bashing–or maybe that people like to know I’m actually a real mess. Or maybe the big hair–they just love the big hair. Who knows.

I don’t know why you come here to visit. It’s none of my business, actually. I like to think it’s because you like my writing–and me. And I like to think some of you can relate to me–to our life.

Whatever the reason I’m glad you’re here–and I hope you keep coming back. You’re allowing someone who was feeling a little irrelevant–to feel relevant again. And I appreciate you for that. I’m going to tuck away the uneasiness and embarrassment today–and own my excitement. I think it’s ok to do that–at least for a few hours. Ha.

. . .

Next month I’m planning to write a four-part series all about decluttering and deep-cleaning the house–two of my favorite things to do. Feeling the urge to do either with me? Come on back this Monday and follow along.

Go ahead and get a jumpstart this weekend by taking down all your Christmas decorations. I know I’m not the only one still celebrating all things Christmas magic.

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And yes, we Saran-wrap our tree with the decorations still on it–and store it this way in our unfinished basement. It’s really one of the best ideas ever. Try it. You’ll thank me next December.

Happy Weekend.

stream of consciousness. and stream of photos.

Every once in awhile I feel the need to write about nothing at all–to just get some random thoughts out of my head and onto my computer screen. This is one of those days. Plus some pics. So you don’t get bored.

. . .

I fell–hard–on my run Monday. I was running on the road–trying to stay off the icy snow-covered sidewalks–and I tripped on a raised piece of concrete in front of a construction crew pouring the foundation of a new house in our neighborhood. I really crashed and burned. My left knee is so bloody and bruised–and swollen. I’m treating it with my hippie oils, but it’s seriously so gross. If you don’t like blood, guts and gore– scroll really fast past this pic.

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Bad right? And now I’ll probably never be a teen model.

. . .

When my Grandma Eleanor died last fall I took a package of little fish Dixie cups from her kitchen. She’d pour juice in them for the boys when we’d go visit and they loved drinking anything out of their *real* cups. I remember there were hundreds in the package when I brought them home from her place that day. The boys have been using them for a little drink of water every night before bed.

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Johnny used the last little fish Dixie cup yesterday–and it took my breath away.

. . .

The floor underneath the chairs where my kids eat is disgusting. It’s always covered in little pieces of food–right now it’s fried cauliflower rice from last night–little pieces of fried cauliflower rice are e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. I could vacuum every day and night though and that floor would still be disgusting–and I would be worn out. So I just leave it there and clean it all up on Fridays. But I feel like anyone who comes over in the meantime probably frowns upon my housekeeping skills–I’m looking at you mom (and you mother-in-law). Ha.

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Oh–and they probably frown upon that Christmas tree still hanging out in our hearth room too. Whatever. I can’t help myself–I just really like twinkle lights.

. . .

I took the boys to gymnastics class at CGA this week. It’s the first organized sport we’ve ever attended–and they loved it. Winter days at home with little boys can be rough on a mom–so this was a welcomed excursion. Their coach was incredible and made them both feel so awesome and confident in their newfound tumbling skills. And they both fell asleep in the minivan on the way home–for the win-win-win.

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And would you look at these Puma jumpsuits from Nanny Pat? I can’t even.

. . .

And last but not least–Red Velvet Oreos are back. My girlfriend Molly dropped a package in my mailbox Sunday at 2pm–I love her so hard for that. They were *all* gone by 4pm.

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We did eat them with some pears–so I feel good about that mothering. Ha. They are so dang delicious. Go get some now.

. . .

Ok, that’s it for this week’s stream of consciousness. And I feel better. What’s on your mind this week? I’d love to hear all your random thoughts too.

Oh and PS…remember these fly beauties? Want to win them? Yesssssss.

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They could be yours. Hop on over to Stella and Dot this weekend and place a little order to be entered to win. I’ll announce our winner Monday. Happy Weekend.

10-minute pizza soup.

We really like pizza, in case you couldn’t tell.

Last week, it was cold and we ate a lot of crap. Eh, it happens. But I did manage to whip up a few healthy meals too. This pizza soup was one of them. It’s healthy and tasty and really only takes ten minutes to make. Boom.

It’s the perfect weeknight meal for a busy mom or dad–and your kids will actually eat it.

You can buy pizza seasoning at any grocery store. Or you can make your own with spices you probably already have in your pantry. I adapted my recipe from Mel Joulwan’s recipe. I use her recipes for most of my soups, stews and chili. Her blog is amazing–as are her cookbooks. Check her out.

Mel Joulwan’s 10 Minute Pizza Soup

  • 1 teaspoon cooking fat (I use coconut oil)
  • 4 Italian sausage links (I actually just use a pound of ground Italian sausage)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of chopped tomatoes (I use Hunt’s Fire Roasted)
  • 1 tablespoon pizza seasoning
  • half bag frozen chopped broccoli (I always just use the whole bag)
  • 3 cups broth (I use half chicken, half beef)

Heat the coconut oil over medium heat and brown your sausage.

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Add the canned tomatoes and the pizza seasoning.

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Stir everything to combine. Pour in the broth, then add the broccoli (It really doesn’t matter if it’s frozen or defrosted).

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Bring everything to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

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Get a big spoon and dig in. Yum.

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You could add all kinds of other veggies too. Mushrooms, peppers, onions, black olives–whatever toppings you like on your pizza would also be great in this soup.  Danny covers his in mozzarella cheese too–whatever floats your boat. Enjoy!

on the grandmas who haunt us.

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My grandma Rosemary died when I was ten. My memories of her are few and far between–mostly pieced together from old pictures and home videos.

She was a registered nurse–delivering hundreds of babies in a small town northeast of here. And she was a farmer’s wife. She served–in every sense of the word.

I can’t remember her face or her voice. But I remember the sound she made when she walked. She was always moving–she really never sat down. She always wore slacks (she called them slacks, not pants. also davenport, not couch. and supper, not dinner.) and when she walked–she swished. It was the busiest sound–swish, swish, swish.

I remember sitting in her kitchen the night she died–the absence of her and her sound were deafening.

. . .

Our first night home from the hospital with Johnny was a long one. I was afraid to put him down. Every time he cried, I picked him up and held him on my chest.

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I was a new adoptive mother–trying to bond with my son. And trying my best to manage the stress that came with the hours that felt like years before our birthparents gave their consent. I was mentally and physically exhausted–I really don’t think I’d slept at all since his birth.

I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing–I felt totally inadequate–and I think he knew it. We were up most of the night.

I’d sent Danny to the guest room to sleep hours before. And I remember finally giving up at 4am–swaddling my newborn baby the way they’d shown me in the hospital and laying him down wide-awake in his bassinette.

I turned off the light and curled around my pillow. I closed my eyes. And I heard her.

Swish, swish, swish. I could hear that swishing sound. She was moving–in circles–all around his bassinette. And then I felt her–sitting next to me on the edge of the bed–her weight pulling the comforter down tight around my body.

I remember opening my eyes–wanting to see her. But there was no one there.

His bassinette was rocking all by itself next to me though–and he was sound asleep.

. . .

I know I was tired. I know I was probably grasping for something–anything to get me through that long first night of motherhood. But I also know what I heard–and felt. And I like to think if there was ever a time for a little visit–she would have picked that one night I needed her most.

I’ve experienced a few other “coincidences”–as my skeptical Aunt Mimi calls them–since then. Ha. But I’ll save those blog posts for another day.

Who else–anyone else out there know the feeling? I’d love to hear your stories too.

realer than real deal holyfield.

I may or may not be listening to that song right now. It’s Friday, lay off.

. . .

We ordered Chinese for dinner twice this week–and Pizza Hut once. But I also cooked a few healthy meals for my family too because I like to cook–and I really like to cook healthy meals for my family.

I have three laundry baskets and all three are exploding clean clothes all over our bedroom floor today. But the laundry is done–and the dishes are too–because I’m home all day on Fridays. And I feel accomplished when the hamper and the kitchen sink are empty.

There are board games everywhere–strewn across the floor of our basement–scattered in between 7000 Imaginext figures and 9000 Legos and puzzles and trains and play food (and probably some half-eaten real food too because I have little kids and that’s how they roll). But the rest of my house is spotless and organized because I want it to be–and I don’t mind cleaning and organizing.

I yelled at my kids before school today. And we haven’t built a snowman or been sledding yet at all this winter–oh the horror, I know. But I know I’m a good mom. I genuinely love spending all my free time with my kids–just not outside in the freezing cold. Ha. I know they feel my love from all angles.

I’ve been lazy this week and I’ve worn the same pair of yoga pants and an old college sweatshirt every day since Wednesday. But today I ran and barred because health and fitness are important to me. And tonight I’m going to make-up/big-hair/hot-pants-it-up because we’re going out and I like feeling pretty–and looking fashionable.

I’m nervous and anxious–about everything and nothing at all. And I always want everyone to like me. But I’m still open and honest–and authentic–and I put it all out there even if it scares me and no one likes it–or me. I’m proud of myself because writing–and living–this way takes gumption.

I think it makes us feel better to know we’re all kind of a mess. But I think it’s important to remember we’re all kind of amazing too. And to celebrate both.

There’s beauty in the breakdown. And beauty–in the beauty. It’s important to appreciate that juxtaposition.

Here are a few pictures Johnny took with my iPhone last week–proof that my bed’s not ever made, the laundry (and apparently every board game we own) really did explode and the real me is almost always no-make-up/no-big-hair/no filter/barre-sweaty.

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But these pictures are also my favorite pictures anyone has ever taken of me–of us.

Because they’re real–the real deal. They’re proof of just how hard I love them. And proof for years to come that even when it was messy–it was awesome.

I’m a mess. But I’m awesome too. I’m not apologizing for either–and neither should you. There’s beauty in all of our real-deals. It’s time to celebrate it.

Happy Weekend, XOXO.

homemade brownies. super easy, i promise.

Anybody else freezing today? My phone says the “feels-like” temperature is -11 right now. And I believe it. Brrrrrrr.

It’s just one of those Sundays. It’s cold. We’re still in our pajamas at 2:50pm. And I’m hungry for brownies.

Here’s my go-to recipe for the fudgiest, chewiest, most chocolaty brownies of all the brownies. Don’t be intimidated by the *homemade* part. They’re sooooo much easier than you’d think. And sooooo much better than a boxed mix. And the best part? You probably have all the ingredients in your fridge and pantry to whip up a batch right now. So grab your spatula.

I always adapt from this Smitten Kitchen’s Best Cocoa Brownies recipe. But I always have to cook mine about 15-20 minutes longer–so plan on a bake time of closer to 35-40 minutes.

Best Cocoa Brownies

  • 1 1/4 sticks butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I actually use 1/2 teaspoon because I love salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (Optional. I don’t ever put nuts in my desserts. Gross)

Position a rack in the lower third of your oven and pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan or line the pan with foil or parchment paper.

Combine your butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute–stirring every 15 seconds. It will be fairly gritty.

Stir in the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time–stirring vigorously.

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Once the batter looks thick and shiny add the flour.

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Stir until all your ingredients are mixed together–about 40 strokes. Stir in your nuts, if you like nuts. And spread the batter evenly in your pan.

Lick your bowl and your spatula.

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Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan emerges just slightly moist with batter. It takes me closer to 40 minutes to get mine to set.

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Let them cool completely–you can throw them in the fridge to speed things along–and then cut them into squares.

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These aren’t paleo–and they aren’t Whole30 either. But they’re amazing and they’ll warm you right up. They’re really good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream too. Enjoy.

stella ella ella ella. with katy behnke.

A few months ago I posted this picture of my chicken scratches on Instagram.

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It was what I pictured my blog looking like when I’d close my eyes–scribbled out at 2am when I couldn’t sleep the night before.

I’d been thinking about writing more–writing this blog–for a long time. And I knew if I posted that picture of my scribbles–and put it all out there–there’d be no turning back.

My girlfriend Katy Behnke was the first to comment on my post that day. She said, “Yes!! Pretty pumped for this! Can’t wait to follow along!” Yaaaaa, buddy–big high fives for girlfriends who believe in their girlfriends.

I’ve known Katy for twenty-plus years. We went to grade school together. She’s a *little* bit younger than me–ok, a lot younger. But we still have a lot in common. We’re both true townies. We’re both in sales. We’re both toddler boy-moms–so we both really like wine. Ha.

She’s smart and sweet–and stylish. And she’s someone I really love and admire.

Katy’s an Independent Stylist with Stella and Dot. Stella and Dot is all things accessories–jewelry, watches, bags, wallets, purses and scarves. She can help you host a trunk show to share her exclusive accessories with your girlfriends in the comfort of your own home–or online. And she can also help you choose and style your accessories for any special occasion or just an everyday look.

For the past few months she’s been sharing her fabulous jewels with me–and helping me style all my fly looks. I’ve had so much fun wearing all her pretties.

Here are a few peeks of my favorites. See something you like? You can order anything from the Stella and Dot catalog here. And anyone who places an order–large or small–through that link will be entered to win my absolute favorite earring of all time–The Raven Earrings.

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Look at those beauties. They’re feathers and sparkles and rose gold–the most fly combination. And they’re sold out–they really are exclusive. So treat yourself!

Let me know your favorites. And thanks to Katy for sharing her jewels (do I *really* have to give all this stuff back?!)–and supporting a girlfriend. XOXO.

. . .

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We all know I love all things Hippie-Boho-Kimono. So I think this Totem Pendant Necklace, Bracelet and Chandelier Earring were pretty much made for me. You can wear the necklace and earrings three different ways too. Also shown, the Turquoise Stone Cuff and the Alila Lace Cuff–and my nostrils and part of my staircase.

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These may be my favorite necklaces of alllll the necklaces. The Crescent Necklace and the Arc Pendant Necklace. Delicate–and a little bit bad to the bone. Also shown, the Mondrian Ear Jacket–it can be worn four ways.

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The best part about all these Stella and Dot accessories is how well they layer together. Love this Legend Pendant and this New Moon Necklace. Again, delicate and bad–in a good way.

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The new Stella and Dot spring collection boasts a ton of little chains–on necklaces, on bracelets and on rings. This is the Swag Necklace. I wore the Drape Collar Necklace and the Bridge Bracelet Chain Ring to dinner last night–so fly–check them out online.

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Rose Gold. I guess I’m late to the game on this one, but I really love it. This is the Tiered Lariat Necklace. And it looks amazing with my wicked pre-cancerous mole removal scar (that’s what that is, for any of you wondering) and the Raven Earrings I’m giving away to one of you lucky shoppers.

The Stella and Dot Rebel line was also made for me. Ha. This Rebel Stone Statement Necklace may not make it back to you, Katy–sorry! I wore it with the Aria Drop Earrings and Aria Cuff to pretty much every holiday party I attended this season. If big statement necklaces aren’t your thing, try the Rebel Cluster Necklace with the Rebel ring–it’s perfection too.

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Last but not least, the Eden Tassel Lariat Necklace and Chandeliers. The necklace can be worn three ways. If these don’t scream SPRING IS COMING!! I don’t know what does. Love, love, love.

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Just so you know, I’ll be featuring a local sponsor (could be people, could be places, could be things–all fly stuff I love) once a month for these Fly as a Mother blog posts. I appreciate you supporting the local businesses that support me. Check out all Katy’s Stella and Dot goodies online this weekend. Treat yourself to something fly. And I’ll let you know who wins those fabulous Raven Earrings by the end of the month. Happy Saturday, XOXO.