Tuesday, June 29, 2010

30 days of 29, day 12: Nasty food day

Thanks to Erin, I'm feeling a bit queasy. That would be because I just ate some chili cheese fries, a Reeses peanut butter shake and two half donuts.

Why is that Erin's fault, you say? Well, because Erin's project for me was to "try 3 foods you think might be gross that you've never tried before."

So that's what I did tonight.

I started off this project by thinking of three foods that didn't sound like something I would eat, and I came up donuts, a peanut butter shake and chili cheese fries. I've neverevernever had chili cheese fries, and while I have had both shakes and donuts before, I just don't really like them. I picked the peanut butter shake, because 1) I don't like shakes, and 2) I don't like peanut butter and chocolate together. If this astounds and upsets you to your very core, now might be a good time to remind you that I'm Norwegian, yo, and we just don't roll like that.

Also, I'm a bit odd.

Which means that I don't like donuts either.

(Is it OK to admit that so close to the 4th of July?)

Admittedly, it was a little odd to look up all of the local fast food restaurants to peruse their menus for the things that appealed the least to me, but eventually I made my selection and headed off to Sonic's. Sorry, Sonic: you had the chili cheese fries, and the peanut butter shake. I will always love your limeade, though!

The Taste Test

  1. Chili cheese fries Or, as I like to call them, heart burn on a plate. They looked awful, and didn't taste all that great either. However, I could see the appeal if they were made with real cheese, non-soggy fries and chili that didn't come out of an industrial sized can. But until then, no way, Pedro.
  2. Reeses Peanut Butter Shake My first thought was "why on earth would anyone put whipped cream on top of ice cream?" Sick. But then it was actually pretty OK. The Reeses Peanut Butter Cup pieces were crumbled, so you didn't get the thick coating on the roof of your mouth like you do with a regular peanut butter cup (last eaten April 2000), but the shake was still not my fave. Too much, too rich, too same-ish.
  3. The donuts I got a plain glazed one, and one with strawberry filling and chocolate frosting. The chocolate strawberry one was Nast-y. First it somehow managed to be dry and greasy at the same time, then the strawberry stuff turned out to be canned pie filling. And the chocolate frosting wasn't that great either. Bl├╝rg.
    The glazed donut, however, which I have fought valiantly against for the last decade, was pretty good. Not anything I would ever crave or buy for myself, but if you gave me one with a tall glass of milk (which you can give me any time, baby!), I'd eat it. Huh.

In conclusion: Donuts with stuff in or on them and chili cheese fries: No.
Peanut butter shakes and plain glazed donuts: Possibly.




Also, please note: heavens, no, I didn't eat all of it!

Monday, June 28, 2010

30 days of 29, day 11: Closet clean-out

One of the keys to getting older is knowing what things to bring with you, and what things are best left behind. A significant portion of my wardrobe has fallen into the latter category (quick, say that 10 times!), and so day 11 of this little endeavor brought about the simultaneously sad and liberating task of cleaning out my closet.

All of the clothes that I bagged up, were ones I bought and wore in my 20s. And a lot of them were such firm favourites that they have survived countless other clean-outs, in spite of the fact that I haven't worn most of them in years. Farewell, brown-sugar frosting tee! Farewell, Banana Republic skirt that always was, and therefore will always be, too short. Farewell, red chinese dress. Farewell shirt with Pucca coin purse stitched to the front. Farewell green checkered housedress that was obviously awesome, although no one else could ever quite see it.

Farewell, girl with the cute and quirky style all of her own.

*Sigh*

It just feels a bit like saying goodbye to the girl with the scratch and sniff My Little Pony t-shirt (apple), who would easily drop half a month's food budget on an item of clothing, just because she wanted it. That girl was fun. But perhaps not so responsible or easy to live with?

Which brings me to the liberating part. Holy freaking cannoli, it feels good to no longer have stuff that doesn't fit (in one way or another) glaring at me every time I look for an outfit. How do inanimate objects get to wield such powers and feelings of guilt and inadequacy over a person? Sheesh. But not anymore, friends. I'd like to see you make me feel guilty from the inside of a garbage bag!

(OK, I glanced over at said garbage bag sitting by the foot of the stairs, and they actually still wield a little guilt-inducing mojo from there. Time to go.)

Also, it is lovely to know that my closet is tidy and fairly organized, and that the vast majority of its contents are wearable. I did leave some allowance for the fact that my body is still bouncing back (in slow-motion) from having a baby, so I left some things that don't look so great now, but that will (hopefully!) change over time.

And if not, more clean-out!


PS: don't you feel like I've earned a shopping trip now? I do.

30 days of 29, day 10: 30 things I love about me.

In no specific order:
  1. I have pretty hands. Did you know I have pretty hands?
  2. It's so easy for me to love people.
  3. I am intelligent and love to learn and try new things.
  4. I can find beauty anywhere.
  5. I read great books.
  6. I enjoy my own company.
  7. Pregnancy suits me.
  8. I like being from two different countries and living in a third, and how that has shaped me.
  9. I have absolutely fantastic friends.
  10. I think big thoughts.
  11. I can make things with my hands.
  12. I am a mother. And a good one.
  13. I love to travel, but am perfectly happy to explore new places around the corner, as well as new countries.
  14. I know my own mind and heart, and act on my convictions.
  15. I'm becoming a good cook.
  16. I have nice shoulders. Not a lot of people know that!
  17. I'm a good traveler.
  18. I am surprisingly flexible.
  19. I can do hard things.
  20. I have nice eyes.
  21. I am fluent in two languages, and conversational in three more.
  22. The best man I've ever known wanted to marry me. And did.
  23. I'm pretty handy with a camera.
  24. When I want to, I can write so well that a professor once told me that my paper was the best work she had ever read by a student.
  25. I'm pretty funny.
  26. I'm easy to talk to.
  27. I have good taste.
  28. I have my pretty moments.
  29. I am devoted to my family.
  30. I can make my baby laugh.


This was suggested by Stepper, who said: "Make a tiny hand-made book of thirty pages, with each page listing something you love about yourself. No disclaimers. No apologies. "

While I didn't make the tiny hand-made book, I did make the list, and it was hard. Not because I couldn't think of 30 things I love about myself, but because I felt awkward telling you about them. And no disclaimers or apologies was almost impossible, because I kept wanting to explain to just exactly why I have the audacity to think that I am a good mother or handy with a camera. But nevertheless, that was my list.

30 days of 29, day 9: Write a letter to someone special

As suggested by Leslie, I wrote a letter to someone who has made an impact on my life. I chose my 7th grade Norwegian teacher.

I remember her as being a blend of intelligent, caring, cynical, supportive and sarcastic. Even though we were a bunch of know-it-all teenagers, she always listened to her students, and treated us and our opinions with respect.

I wanted to be a writer when I was a teenager, and this teacher (whose name I'm leaving out of this, seeing as she didn't ask to be blogged about) was unflinchingly supportive and encouraging in my efforts. It meant a lot to have an adult who took me seriously, and was always on my side.

I haven't seen my teacher for about 14 years, but I think I will always remember her as someone I looked up to as a teenager and who mattered to me, because I felt like I mattered to her.

So that's what I wrote and told her.



Thanks for all of your comments lately! Your feedback and response is kind of like my pay check, and I want you to know how much I love hearing from you! I'll be going back and responding to your comments, so take a look.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

30 days of 29, day 8: Try a new form of exercise.

It turns out that having a baby kind of does a number on your body. Gosh! It also turns out that having a tiny person whose entire existence is solely dependent on you is a wee bit time-consuming and house-bounding. This all makes for a tricky combination when you're attempting to not too closely resemble a potato on legs.
So, when it was suggested that I try a new form of exercise for this project, I had to find something I could do at home and during one of Espen's naps. A workout video seemed liked the obvious answer, but I'd already done those, and I needed something new to try.
"Of course," I cried, snapping my fingers, "I'll do a dance workout video! That will be exercisy, dancy, out of my comfort zone and scary all in one!"

So I did. My options on Netflix were not exactly many and varied, so I went with Crunch Cardio Salsa, and let me tell you: I was so out of my comfort zone within the first 15 seconds of the video that I almost turned it off and curled up in a ball on the couch.

This little video clip might give you an idea why:



Oh my.

But I persevered, and stumbled, sweated and giggled myself through a very uncoordinated half-hour. Latin hips do not come naturally to someone who has practically been genetically engineered for awkwardness and a lack of skillz on the dance floor. I pretty sure that there is an angel in heaven specifically assigned to making all the Norwegian babies check their hip flexibility at the door before being sent down to earth. Now add all of the smooth dance moves of the English to the mix, and you get me. I would have made an excellent Puritan.

Anyway, it was one part fun, one part humiliation, and one part torture. And the perfectionist in me wants to try it again to see if I can do better next time.

We will see.


This was suggested by both Ari and Amanda in GA, who would both have been all kinds of amused to see my booty shaking antics.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

30 days of 29, day 7: Reading to Espen

I'm a bit behind on my updates, because it's the weekend. And it has been such a great weekend so far with a real live date with a baby sitter and dinner-and-a-movie last night, and lots of relaxing and the World Cup and a wedding today.

And and and!

I will get caught up, and soon, but not tonight, because the weekend is still not over, and I'm still enjoying myself too much to spend a lot of time with my computer.

But before I frolic off into the summer night, let me tell you about Thursday, when I read to Espen.

As this is something we've already been doing on a pretty non-regular basis, I thought I would look into some of the benefits of reading to your baby, both for the benefit of this project, and as an incentive to do this more regularly with Espen.

I already knew that reading to your children from an early age was a good idea, but while reading up (ha!) for this project helped me realize some benefits that I hadn't thought too much about.

For example, did you know:

  • Even newborns will study your speech patterns and learn how to make sounds while listening to your voice reading.
  • Being close to you and listening to your voice feels safe and cozy, which helps babies recognize reading as something pleasurable to do.
  • Bright colours and high contrast images in picture books help stimulate young babies' vision.
  • Books should be accessible to your children at all ages, so when they enjoy putting everything in their mouth (Hello Espen!), make sure they have books that can stand up to that.
  • Babies enjoy pattern, repetition and predictability, so older babies will love it when they can recognize and predict where their favourite story is going. Younger babies will enjoy the familiarity of listening to your voice and turning and looking at the pages.
  • With younger babies it's less about the book as a story, than it is about the book as an object, so allow them (and yourself) to explore the book in all kinds of ways.


A few good reading resources, where I found much of my information for this post: Reading Rocket, Scholastic, PBS and Grow Up Reading. I especially liked this Scholastic article.

Now, over to me and Espen.

With a few trial and error attempts, I found that a good way to read to him is to have us both lie down on our backs on the floor, and hold the book up above us. That way Espen can comfortably look at the pictures and kick his legs in excitement without me having to juggle him and the book at the same time.

We tried a few different books. First Winter Lullaby, which I love for its beautiful illustrations. It usually holds Espen's attention pretty well, but of course, on the day I had chosen to be "Read to Espen" day, he was just the squirmiest kid alive. Oh well. Another one of his "favourites" (as determined by me!) includes Baby Faces, which just shows a lot of different babies looking happy, sad, puzzles, tired, etc. Espen will almost always look at the pictures with great interest and shout at the baby hiding in the basket. It's pretty cute.

Another one of our discoveries is that timing is key. While reading before bed seems cozy and lovely in theory, our reading day taught us that postponing bed time so you can finish the story, does not help the infant attention span. Similarly, reading doesn't necessarily have to happen in the Reading Chair at Reading Time. I've found that keeping a simple board book like Baby Faces by his changing table is nice because it allows us to work in a quick read between other activities. And it's a good way to distract Espen from the traumas of just having had his onesie changed.

My goodness, I have a lot to say on this topic! But that is only because I think that reading is so important. Testify! Now go read to a baby!

This project was suggested by the lovely Barb, whose job I envy daily.

Image borrowed here.

30 days of 29, day 6: The day in pictures

12:54 AM Why are we awake at this weird hour, baby?
(Espen:"Please, no press.")


6:18 AM Early morning, post-breakfast silliness.
Not my prettiest time of day or loveliest angle, but we were young
and didn't care.


9: 39 AM Breakfast and the World Cup, England vs. Slovenia.
You're not singing anymore, Slovenia!


10:45 AM Espen is about to take a nap, and is pretty happy about it.


11:52 AM Nap time = some alone time for me, and time for a quick shower.


12:53 PM A bold attempt to read my book, interrupted.


2:38 PM Espen is asleep again, so I attempt one of these.


3:20 PM A long chat with Ari, whose son is also napping.
Our conversation was much less serious than it looks.


5:45 PM Daddy's home, Daddy's home, Daddy's home!


5:48 PM Espen gets a package from Granny,
which his Mummy generously opens for him.


6:31 PM Espen's third day of solid foods.
Yummy, yummy prunes!


7:30 PM Time for some blogging for me while Nick takes his Father's Day present for a spin.


9:44 PM Everyone needs cookies at 10 PM!


11:13 PM The evening's entertainment is over, and we are off to bed.



P.S. I feel like I should note that this is not a comprehensive list of our day, but just a few snapshots. We all ate more than one meal, Espen did get put to bed for the night, and I did do one or two useful things besides napping, reading books and chatting on the phone. One or two.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

30 days of 29, day 5: Contacting an old friend.

During my first years at BYU, I had a roommate and good friend named Mariana. "Good friend" seems kind of like an understatement. Mariana was from Argentina, I was from Norway, we were both thousands of miles from our homes and families, and so we "got" each other in ways that not a lot of other people could. I'm trying to think of how to best describe our friendship, but I'm just not coming up with the right words to do it justice, so I think I will give that honor to Mariana.

This is from an email she wrote to me in 2001:

"Maybe, for others it sounds crazy, but we sleep in the balcony and stay up until four in the morning if we can...we get into car wrecks at two thirty in the morning, and wear blond and long wigs so we can look cool...yeah, we are crazy, but we live our lives, we take all the marrow of life we can get. We give our hearts to our friends, and I make up poems and songs, and you make up new worlds when you paint. We are tremendously irresponsible when it comes to some things, but people love to be around us. We go to the canyon when no one else does...and the best of all...we happened to found each other. I'm glad for that chance, and for all the fun we had, and that we'll still have writing or calling each other. Yeah, who else would drop babies at their friends' house just for the heck of it? We've lost our minds!"

(Let me briefly clarify that no real babies were involved in our antics. Just so you know.)

Unfortunately, Mariana ended up having to cut her studies short and go home to Argentina for personal reasons, and so I haven't seen her for almost nine years. We emailed regularly at first, then life got in the way, and fast forward until 2010 and we are completely out of touch.

So last night, for my project, I sent her an email to see how she is doing. It's kind of a long shot, because I don't even know if she has the same email address anymore, but it's the only one I have. I haven't heard back from her yet, but I'm hoping that I will. I've spent the past little while reading through some of our old emails, and the more I do, the more I feel like this is a friendship worth making some effort for.

So hopefully I'll hear back from Mariana, so I don't have to find some brilliant way of stalking people in Argentina until find her. Creepy.

This post doesn't have any photos because we just didn't really have digital cameras back in the early 2000s. Jeepers!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

30 days of 29, day 4: Twitter

Because I've failed time and time again to see what the appeal is, and because bandwagons seem best jumped on before the age of 30, I created a Twitter account, and spent much of yesterday playing with and trying to make up my mind about it.

A few thoughts in no particular order:

  • I kept getting the "Twitter is over capacity" message again and again and again. While their error message screen is endlessly adorable, it seems like they might want to do something about that. Not very impressive to a girl who is just trying to set up her account.

  • How is this different from updating your Facebook status? And why would you need to repost your tweets to Facebook? How much does the world actually need to hear from you?

  • Oh great, now I feel shy. It's kind of scary sending your words out there without knowing who's going to read them... not sure how that is different to blogging.

  • Retweeting is pretty cool though. This way I can be funny and cool by association. Stephen Fry and Stephen Colbert can do all the work for me. Are men named Stephen funnier?

  • OK, I do like that I can post links to interesting/pretty/cool/amazing stuff that I find elsewhere. I sometimes want to do that here on my blog, but it doesn't really fit the format I'm going with here. So, if you do decide to follow me, expect to be introduced to some rather spiffy Indonesian pop music and lots of pretty design stuff.


So, bandwagon jumped upon. Skepticism maintained. We will see.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Spending Hiatus: Week 5 update

Two posts in one day?!? Do you think the devil has a sufficient ear muff supply to cope with his newly-frozen home?

In the midst of all my daily projects, I do need to report on our Spending Hiatus last week. As I mentioned last time, we hit the halfway mark on Thursday, which is, incidentally, when we threw all our hard work out the window and went shopping.

It all started with Espen's 4 month doctor's appointment. He was given the go-ahead to start eating solids and drinking juice, so naturally we had to go and buy him some. And, oh no, our local grocery store was not good enough. No, Mama had to go to Target.

We did pretty well with the baby food itself, and just got a few things for him to try over the next couple of weeks. But we also knew that Espen was going to need somewhere to sit while we fed him, and let's be honest: holding a baby while he is being introduced to pureed prunes does not sound especially appealing to me.

"Well, let's just go see what they have in the way of highchairs", we said.

Bada bing, bada boom, all of a sudden one of them was in our shopping cart. Hmm, how did that happen?

(It was the nicest one too!)

Well, we quickly left before spending any more money, only to discover that we were all starving hungry.

"Panda Express?", we said.

Shazam, we were in the drive-through ordering us up some orange chicken. Wha?

OK, in all honesty, we would have bought the highchair anyway. But we would have researched it and found the ultimate in highchair awesomeness (which Nick wouldn't let me buy anyway, due to some obscure reason that has to do with money), and then eventually bought the chair at Target. But doesn't Espen look cute in it?

(Please note that Peter Rabbit was not a menu item.)

And dinner at Panda Express was actually not that much more than dinner at home would have been, because 1) We shared a meal, and 2) we used the little survey coupon from the back of the receipt. Dinner for 2 for less than $6!

But it's still naughty and breaks the rules of not eating out unless we're with friends. (But I haven't eaten out since MAY!!!!)

Other areas where we didn't save

  • Father's Day. I bought Nick's gift a couple of weeks ago, so that has already been accounted for. However, we DO NOT scrimp on special occasions around here! Any opportunity for gifts and tasty food is heartily embraced by us. So Nick got the breakfast, dinner and dessert that his little heart desired along with Super Mario Galaxy 2, and this book from Espen.

    (A quick aside to note that should any of you be related to anyone by the name of Paul and Caleb, this book could easily have be written with them in mind. I suggest a speedy purchase.)

  • Nick has been doing most of my birthday shopping this week, and seeing that this birthday is a big one, my gift is proportionate. See aforementioned feelings on special occasions.

  • I also co-hosted a baby shower for a friend. Not at all a big expense, and something I was both delighted and excited to do, but it should probably be noted as an out of the ordinary expenditure. See aforementioned feelings on special occasions.


Other than that, we've really done pretty well with our spending this last week. We're trying to keep up with the smart cooking and using our ingredients for more than one meal. I've discovered that this also has the added bonus of helping us to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, which can only be a good thing. I have to say too, that making a shopping list has been really helpful for me in terms of cutting down the impulse buys.

3 weeks to go!

30 days of 29, day 3: The Cougar Fight song

Seeing as yesterday was Father's Day, and most of the day was spent in prostrate adoration of Nick, I needed something quick and relatively easy to do in the evening.

So I learned the Cougar Fight song.

"But Tamsin", I hear you saying, "didn't you go to BYU? Didn't you actually go to school for longer than most people, which should have yielded ample opportunity to learn THE SCHOOL SONG?"

I see what you're saying people, and yes, I probably should have. But I was always one of those people who would accidentally show up wearing red on the day of the BYU vs. U of U football game, or who wouldn't realize it was homecoming until the Y was lit on the mountain. In short, while I loved being a student at BYU, I just never got into the whole School Spirit thing.

(I've also never hiked the Y or been to a BYU football game, but let's leave that for another time.)

OK, it's not like I didn't know the song at all. But if you had asked me to sing it before last night, it would have gone something like this:

"Rise and shout, the cougars are out, da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na glory!
Rise and shout, -na-na-na-na-naah, na-na-na-na-na vic'try story!
Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo- doo
na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na, the cougars of BYU!"

And even I know it ends with: ""Ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra, ra - GO COUGARS!"

So that was how I found myself on our couch with crochet hook in hand (I still can't do it!), this youtube video, and Nick as my vocal coach.

What, you don't spend your evenings like that?

As a result, while I don't bleed blue just yet, I'd say I'm pretty proficient in expressing my BYU adoration. I can't guarantee the occasional na-na-na won't show up, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.


Oh, and guess who managed to crochet a perfect granny square on his first attempt? Mister Father's Day himself.



This challenge came from Ari, who almost died of embarrassment on my behalf when I told her my shameful secret.


Image found here. Because, y'know, I didn't have any personal photos of Cosmo.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

30 days of 29, day 2: Crocheting the mighty granny square

As some of you know (hi Ravelers!), I knit. My mother taught me when I was little, I picked it up again when we were first married, yada, yada, yada, I can knit a sweater. What I can't do, however, is crochet. Most people will tell you that this is weird, because crochet is SO easy that anyone can crochet!

Anyone except me, that is.

I don't know if it's because I'm left-handed, or because my mum isn't a crocheter, or because I simply wasn't at school on the day when the magical crochet fairy showed up to demonstrate her happily hooking ways, but whatever the reason, I am almost 30 years old, and have very little idea of what goes on with a crochet hook.

So Nick suggested that I teach myself how to make a granny square. Which I did using these instructions, this video, for hours, an extra brain (Nick's) and a good deal of bad language.

Here's what a granny square is supposed to look like:


And here is mine:



Shockingly, I didn't immediately succeed at a new skill. However, I think I prefer to view it as taking crochet to a new level. Rather than a granny square, it is a granny blob. You will soon be seeing them everywhere, just you wait.

In conclusion: Clearly my extensive research irrefutably shows that all the people who say that knitting is harder than crochet are all filled with lies.

Clearly.




Top image borrowed here

Friday, June 18, 2010

30 days of 29, day 1: A letter to myself at age 20.

Dear me,

A few thoughts come to me while looking at your 20 year-old face: You are so young. So young! And you've already moved halfway around the world to pursue your faith and your education all on your own. Am I still that brave?

I see some of the little girl that we used to be in your face; you still have some of that wide-eyedness to you as you take in your surroundings. I already know you would be deeply offended if I said that you're a little naive, but I see some of that as well.

Also, great skin. Please moisturize!

I have to admit that my feelings about you are a little mixed. I'm so glad I don't have to live every day of my life with you anymore (don't think I could take the emotional roller coaster rides anymore!), but I do miss your fearlessness and thirst for adventure. I miss your unstoppable creativity and willingness to try anything, even if you might not be good at it. Except dancing - and that still hasn't changed.

You are about to embark one of the most eventful decades of your life. Before your next round number birthday you will complete your education, meet many close and faithful friends, fall in love, get married, buy a house and become a mother. These are the things that will bring a sense of accomplishment, but most of all, they will be the source of your greatest joys.

Speaking of your greatest joys, I wish I could tell you now that your good friend Nick is worth a second thought, but you won't consider that seriously for another four years or so. But I'm telling ya, there's a source of some pretty intense happiness right under your nose. You'll kick yourself when you realize what you've been missing out on! However, like everyone else, you're going to have to flounder around in the dark where romance is concerned.

In the midst of this floundering, you will have the chance to meet and go out with some truly great men. They will take you places and show you things that you will love and enjoy for years to come, even after they've passed out of your life. They will also teach you things about yourself that you might not have otherwise known. This is a wonderful thing, even if their teaching methods can sometimes leave little to be desired. Learn to enjoy the good parts, and leave the not-so-good parts behind you.

You are going to have a lot of fun. In fact, you will be one of those college students who take their fun a little too seriously, and so you will often suffer the consequences of things like spontaneously driving to Moab at 1 AM on a Wednesday night or hosting Leprechaun jumping competitions in your driveway. Before getting married, your friends and roommates will become almost like family, and many of them will stay close friends for years to come. You will often stop and wonder how on earth you managed to get all of the world's greatest friends, and that question will stay with you well into the next decade of your life.

It has to be said that there are going to be some tough times in the coming years. There will be events that will make even your darkest hours as a teenager look like cake - and you and I both know that is saying something. From time to time you will find yourself filled with fear, self-doubt and crippling insecurities, and you will question if you will ever get the things that you hope for in life. You will get your heart broken so badly that simply breathing will hurt you. You will have to wait years for good and honest things that you hope for with all your heart, and the disappointment of not getting them will return to you again and again.

Looking at your little face and knowing how much these things are going to hurt makes me wish I could take them away from you. You don't seem ready, and in a lot of ways, you're probably not. However, you going through all the difficulties ahead of you will eventually turn you into me.

And I am so happy.

And so grateful for all that I've been given.

Thank you so much.


With love,

Me.



Today's project was suggested by the illustrious Stepper. If you don't already follow her blog, you really, really should.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spending Hiatus: Week 4 update

We will get to the spending hiatus in a minute, but first a few housekeeping items:
  1. First of all, welcome new readers! It has been really fun to read your comments and to hop over to your blogs and get to you know you a bit better. And to those of you, new or old readers, who haven't left a comment - I'm happy you're here too! Whenever I feel like my blog is just a bit of silliness that no one reads, Statcounter tells me otherwise. Apparently visitors to my blog come from 22 different countries around the world and average around 500 hits every month. So thank you for reading!

  2. And of course, thank you so much to everyone who follows my blog on a regular basis. You may mostly be related to me (Hello Mumsy!) or a close friend or neighbour, but that only means I value your good opinion all the more.

  3. Friday kicks off the start of 30 days of 29, and I will be attempting to post daily for the following month, so check back often for more of my shenanigans (there will be shenanigans - I promise).

  4. Finally, thank you all SO much for your project suggestions. I will try to do as many of them as possible. And please keep suggesting them! There are a few of you that I was hoping to hear from that haven't suggested anything yet - you know who you are!


And back to the spending hiatus:

This week marks the halfway point! We're doing pretty well, and are on our way to meeting some of our financial goals, so I'm happy about that. I am, however, eagerly anticipating the day that Nick and I can get a baby sitter and go out on a date on our own again. It has been so nice to spend some evenings together at home, but sometimes a girl's just got to wipe off the spit-up and get out of the house, y'know?

Where we saved

  • Nick's work has been super generous and taken him out to lunch three times this week! Nick was obviously pleased about that, seeing as he got to go out to eat, which is always nice, and I was happy that he didn't have to eat his boring little work lunch. And an added bonus (besides the money saved) is that we can use the lunches we had planned for last week, this week.

  • We're continuing to find smart ways to cook. This week we planned three meals that all used some of the same ingredients. We had tacos on Monday night, and then used some of the tomatoes and lettuce to make buffalo chicken and gorgonzola ranch wraps the following day. We had an extra tomato and the head of lettuce was still going strong on the third day, so we made a side salad to go with the last of our frozen home-made lasagna. While of course we had most of the ingredients on hand already, three meals from three tomatoes and a head of lettuce really isn't too bad!


Where we didn't

  • This was really a pretty successful week in terms of keeping our spending in check. However, we did end up buying Espen a new baby gym, seeing as he had begun taking genuine, heartfelt delight in kicking his old to pieces. After reassembling it three times in 10 minutes, it seemed like time to get a new and indestructible one. So we did. And it was on sale.


Halfway, people!



Image here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

30 days of 29: yet another new project

The calendar informs me that I am a mere month and nine short days away from celebrating my 30th birthday. Yup, the Big 3-0 is about to catch up with me.

Although I do not write this without a hard little clump of fear doing flips in my stomach, I am honestly both happy and excited about this birthday. I intend to celebrate. And what better way to celebrate than with a project?

For the 30 days leading up to my birthday on July 18th, I am going to undertake a little project, along the lines of Things To Do Before I'm Thirty. I have a handful of things planned already, but most of the days are open for suggestions.

And this is where you come in.

I am asking anyone who reads my little blog to tell me what YOU think I should do before I'm 30. It can be big or small, it can be sweetly meaningful or downright silly. In short, tell me what to do, and as far as I am capable, I will do it.

I'm all yours.

But not so fast! Let's establish a few ground rules first.

  1. I'll be doing 30 of these, so please keep your suggestions to something I can accomplish in a day or less, and at a pretty minimal cost. The spending hiatus lives on!
  2. I'm a pretty clean-livin' kinda girl with a husband and child, and would like to remain as such by the time the 30 days are up. So I'm thinking no on the body shots at the strip club. Be gentle with me!
  3. Starting June 18th, I will do one small project per day and then blog about them as close to daily as I can, ending on July 17th.

That's pretty much it!

Leave your ideas as a comment to this (or any future) post or email them to me at tamsin.project.project@gmail.com. If you have a blog, I will link to it on the day when I do your project (unless you ask me not to, of course). And please don't feel like you have to be a regular reader or commenter to do so. I suspect that some of the best suggestions might come from those of you I don't know at all. So don't be shy!

I'm excited to see what you come up with! :)

Image borrowed here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Spending Hiatus: Week 3 Update

Reporting from the trenches: day 22.

OK, starting this blog on a bit of a whiny note: I am currently hitting a bit of a slump in this here hiatus. I think a lot of that comes from spending so much time at home right now. Espen can really only handle being awake for about two hours at a time, so once I've fed and changed him, there's not really enough time to go anywhere before he should really be back in bed again. This is compounded by the fact that we only have one car, so if I ever do want to take him out and about, it means packing Espen up twice to take Nick to work and then pick him up again later. So, as a result, I spend a lot of time at home, looking at things I'd like to change/improve/spend money on. Or, when I do go out, I'm just dying to shop or eat out or see a movie. Or all three sound just great to me!

Having got my whining out, let me say that the past week was a good one. As you can see, Espen has been enjoying his new/borrowed Exersaucer, and Nick and I are finding new ways to keep ourselves entertained at home, including playing board games (thanks to this pretty set given to us at our baby shower, I am now a Memory addict!), watching movies and baking cookies. Now that Espen has been going to bed for the night around 7 PM (and sometimes as early as 6!) we are really having to get used to spending our evenings at home. It's definitely a money saver!

Speaking of cookies and money savers, that is actually one of my money saving tips for you this week! We don't really have a lot of vices at our house, but our one, true and tested weakness is our evening treat. More or less every night for our entire five years of marriage, we have had a little somethin'-somethin' good to eat. And that adds up (both in terms of money and in the extra squishiness I've picked up along the way, but that is for another project).

So!

Last Tuesday night we approached the Holy Grail of saving money, time AND being healthy (ish) by baking our own oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and freezing them.

Dun-dun-duh!

OK, quit rolling your eyes and hear me out. We took this recipe and used whole wheat flour instead of the regular white baking flour. Which made them a wee bit healthier and whole grainy than the regular recipe, and likely muuuuch better for you than the frozen ones at the store with hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Next time we're thinking we might try replacing at least some of the butter with apple sauce for extra virtue points.

They saved us time because it basically takes as long to make a batch of 3 dozen plus cookies as it does to make one. And, next time we're feeling the need for something tasty, we can just pull them out of the freezer and bake them right away. Note that the recipe says to freeze the dough and then thaw it until you can form it into cookies. We froze little balls of dough on a cookie sheet in the freezer, before putting them in freezer bags by the dozen.

And the money saving part is fairly obvious, because it would have cost us close to three times as much to buy that many pre-made from the freezer aisle. Ta-dah!

Where we saved

  • First off, Nick brought lunch with him to work every day this week, rather then falling prey to the wiles of the cafeteria. Which I would.
  • When grocery shopping this week, I used a couple of coupons and shopped the sale shelves. An added bonus to this is that you're not only saving money, but a lot of the time you get to try out new things that you might not have picked up otherwise. Anything to keep us out of the food rut!
  • We didn't go out to dinner or get take out this week, which felt like it was going to be a huge sacrifice for me, but we ended making some tasty dinners at home, so I survived just fine.
  • And my final, and biggest, sacrifice of the week was that we didn't go to the Bijou Market. Sigh. A marketful of handcrafted lovelies held in an orchard! But, it would have been painful to go and not be able to buy anything, and I wasn't really tempted to bring Espen out into 80 degree weather, so we abstained. Next time!
Where we didn't

    We actually did quite well on curbing our spending this week, however:

  • The biggest expense was Nick's Father's Day present. And, seeing as that is a secret surprise, that is as much as I'm going to say about that.
  • And we did buy shakes at Granny's in Heber on Saturday, but that's just something you gotta do.


Please stop by later this week as I have something I've been meaning to ask you. Until next time, my bunnykins!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spending Hiatus: Week 2 Update

This last week passed much as the previous one. What I'm finding is that it's pretty easy to keep our spending in check during the week (because we don't get out much!), but much, much harder on the weekends. Like most of the Western world, Friday and Saturday are the days we try to cram the bulk of our fun and productivity into, and surprise, surprise, those are things that often cost money.

Another thing that I am learning is that it can be really hard to tell the difference between a want and a need. Especially where Espen is concerned. Things just seem more important when they're for our baby. For example, the kid is in the 94th percentile for height, and just keeps getting longer and longer, so his footy pajamas no longer fit. But does he need new ones when we could technically just put him in socks and a onesie? We thought so, so we bought him three new ones. Also, he is starting to be really interested in sitting up, so we looked at things like Exersaucers and Jumperoos for him. We've put him one at a friend's house before and he got all kinds of smiley and excited, which makes me feel like it would be good to get him one. But isn't it likely that he will grow and develop just as well without one?

Where we saved
  • We're continuing to cook using food that we already have on hand, and have come up with some pretty amazing dinners. For example, last night we had roast lamb with peas, roasted potatoes and fresh rolls. Amazingly,all we had to buy were the potatoes. We also made a big lasagna for dinner last Sunday and froze the leftovers into portions that will make us two dinners. Seeing as all we needed to buy to make the lasagna was the cheese, that little maneuver brings us into the territory of saving money and time.
  • We made shopping lists and stuck to them. Knowing what you need before you go and making a list not only stops you from not making random impulse buys, it also keeps you from meandering aimlessly around the store asking yourself "Now, what do we need?"
  • After looking at all of the Jumperoo/Exersaucer/devices for sticking your child into for self-entertainment, we asked some friends how their son had enjoyed his exersaucer. They had been so happy with it that they bought two, and would we like to borrow one of them. Absolutely, we would!

Where we didn't
  • The same friends that lent us their Exersaucer came over for dinner on Saturday. As they have an 18 month-old son and we have Espen, and eating out has lost some of its sparkle, we decided to get take-out from the Bombay House. It was so nice to be able to enjoy good food with good friends, without worrying about Espen being too loud for the rest of the restaurant. Much as I love going out, motherhood is definitely converting me to the joys of staying in!
  • We did our weekend shopping, and ended up buying quite a lot of stuff for Espen, including three new pairs of pajamas, as well as some other things on his "need" list. He probably didn't need three, but they were cute and on sale, so now they're his.

And while I'm summarizing our week in list form, let me add a third category, entitled:

Where I'm having a hard time
  • Gardening stuff! I love summer, I love being outside and I love pretty flowers! Not being able to buy new flowers for our tiny flowerbeds is really killing me softly with its song. Not to mention I reeeeeeaallly want some new garden furniture!
  • Home projects. Being home with Espen means that I spend a lot of time thinking about changes I want to make, from painting our bedroom to building raised flower beds in the garden, or putting up hooks in Espen's bathroom. Or getting frames for some of the art I want to put up on the walls. Or, or, or!
  • And can I just get a pedicure?


OK, deep breath. It's all for the greater good.

Image borrowed here.