Hey! I'm Still Here!!

 Just busy AF. I rarely have time to even shower, let alone blog. I love how much more independent my children are as they grow but also as they grow, they need more of my time - which seems counterintuitive when you think of how babies rely solely on their parents. 

I'm driving my children to camps; trying to figure out when I can shower; keeping my plants alive in the dry heat (we've been reaching the record breaking temps and it's driving me insane if I have to keep watering daily, I'm tempted to leave all my perennials to the heat and see which ones are hardy!); my elderly mother needs more and more care - she needs cataract surgery so I'm in charge of finding doctors and setting appointments. 

I'm hoping I have so down time in the next few weeks. But somehow, I still feel like I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off. It's not always the best feeling.

Summer is terrible for my workout routine. I thought it would be better because we're home in the mornings, but instead I'm rushing around trying to clean the house before I leave to drop the kids off at their summer camps, leave for parks and the lakes, play dates, mountain biking, etc... 

Summer is a lot of work for parents. 


Veronica Speedwell

If you haven't yet heard of Veronica Speedwell, you're missing out.

A Perilous Undertaking is the second book in the series by Deanna Raybourn and the characters are absolutely delightful. Veronica always has something clever to say and is the complete opposite of what Victorian ladies are supposed to do - she also recognizes "the male being" and definitely loves what she does - which is solve mysteries and hunt butterflies. 

This is a short entry because I don't want to spoil the series! If you love mystery novels AND historical fiction, this book is a great blend of the two. The writing is fantastic and nothing about Deanna' Raybourn's books are boring. Highly recommend if you need a new series to read.



Homemade Berry Syrup

Damn, berry syrup is beautiful.

Super easy to make too!

1 pint of blueberries
1/2 pint of strawberries, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice (I used the juice of 1 lemon, so a little more than 1 tbsp)
2 tbsp sugar

Put everything into a small pot over medium-low. Stir, until simmering. Once it's simmering you can squish the berries to the consistency that you like with the back of the spoon you're using. Simmer for about 10 minutes (enough time to mix pancake or waffle batter). Turn off heat, let thicken for a few minutes and cool before pouring over waffles over pancakes.


Where Supplements Go to Die

So hard. So hard. I know vitamins and minerals and calcium is really good for you so I buy a bunch of vitamins and try to take them. I try so darn hard. But then the next week starts and I stop.. It's like I've forgotten that I've tried to start a new habit. 

For example: let's take the calcium supplement on my counter. Over the winter I was like, "I'm Getting To Be An Old Lady" so I should take a calcium supplement for my bones! And so I started. I took them daily for a week.

I did so, so, so great for a week. They're even CHOCOLATE. So they would even taste really good!

But it's now months later and I should have finished this container already.

Lots of face palms over here. I'm sure you're wondering what else I have - Vitamin D in pill form (I like the gummies better), Vitamin C is slowly disappearing, some gross probiotics, other gummy probiotics with carnauba wax that I can't have (I get hives from carnauba wax, it's weird), and other stuff. 

Le sigh. Next time I deep clean the kitchen I'm going to have to clear out all the old supplements. 



Suck it, Covid!

20.2 miles on the bike down. WOOHOO!!!

My lungs are still recovering from yesterday on the bike. I am still out of breath walking up and down stairs, walking the dog, etc... But I seriously push myself to exercise because I LOVE my bike and I really enjoy exercising. It's good for me. It's fun. but my lungs. 

So in any case, my lungs still feel tight, my watts are only half of what they were pre-Covid. I like endurance biking anyway, so this doesn't bother me too much - going slow and steady is better when it comes to Covid lung recovery. I'll bike again on Wednesday morning and push for another 20 miles - but not worry about my outputs because honestly, at this point, I'm on the bike and I'm working out. How professional athletes can recover so quickly after having their lungs ravaged by Covid is just mind boggling. Bodies are amazing and do amazing things. 



Minnesota is so cold this week


I decided to make some rainbow bricks. Honestly, I didn't think about what I would do with them after frozen so... I decided to line our retaining walls with them. However, it's snowed (barely) and of course the snow covers them up! HA! My plan has been foiled. I made 50 bricks and was able to line the upper retaining walls and a little bit of the walls leading up the stairs. I had 4 leftover so I dug out around the little retaining wall I made around the bird feeder and lined that one too. 

Had I actually come up with a plan, I think I would have made 100+ to be able to make a snow fort for the kids - more castle-like than igloo. I don't like how kids don't think about how the igloo forts can fall in. I've seen my children run at snowbanks full send and there's no way both of my kids would stay off the top of an igloo. Kids just don't know any better!

So, noted for next year is to buy a snow brick maker to make a castle for the kids. The kids next door are older and so they don't usually mind when I steal their leaves for piles for my kids or shovel snow into a large snow bank either - mostly because it's all less yard clean up for them. 

Tips and tricks I learned: 

1. IT'S SO COLD. I used an old Brita pitcher filter and went in/out of the house about 10 times. I'm not sure how else to do it because in Minnesota you have to turn off the outside water lines so they don't freeze and the pipes don't burst. You can't do it one by one and walk them out from the sink because you'd have colored water everywhere with spills. 

2. Fill up the tins FIRST, then randomly do the food coloring. The Monkey dripped 2-10 drops of coloring in each tin and by the time we got to the end, she had made way more blue/purple than any other color and I didn't notice until it was too late. 

3. Wear gardening gloves instead of mittens to place the bricks when they're all frozen. Your mittens will end up with dye on them - I used my gardening gloves and they worked so well to punch out the bricks.

If it gets below freezing where you live and you need a winter activity - this was actually a ton of fun. Totally going to do this next year too! I saved the majority of the tins but because a few froze to the sidewalk, some have holes. 


2021 Garden Plans

 As it snows right now, all I can think about is my garden.

I ordered a garden arch to go over our front sidewalk, but Amazon sent me two - so I think what I'm going to do is set it up in the backyard so it leads into the back garden by the composter and flowers back there.

Last year no one helped with the veggie garden and barely anyone volunteered to help with anything actually. So this year I'm not going to start veggie seeds - instead I'm going to focus on flowers and herbs. I'll put in a few veggies here and there but I'm not going to do anything big this year besides tearing up more grass (well, putting down cardboard over it, really) and transform more front yard to pollinator habitat. And same with the backyard.

For the sandbox - it has a hole in it, so I'm going to just put the sand in the garden and the dog and Quentin can just dig in the garden. I'll find a large bin to keep the toys in that can stay outside year round. I'll keep that closer to the house or maybe I'll just put it by the fence. Not sure - I'm going to have a ton of hostas to move this year too and split! I'm going to move all the ones I need to split to the north side of the house and take up more rocks (move the rocks out to a friend's house because they need gravel for their driveway). 

There's so much to think about! I'm so excited to have our outdoor space again. 

Book Review: The Burning God by R.F. Kuang


I was lucky enough to get a free copy in the spring of 2020 - however, I'm just now getting around to reading it. I wish I had started it much sooner because I flew through the first two books in the series.

This third is LONG. I googled to see if any pages were cut - and many pages were cut from this edition for the final edition. I didn't mind the length much, though if this hadn't been so good to read, I'm not sure I would remember all the events from the first few pages all the way to the end. Also, because there are many, many characters, it usually takes me a few chapters to remember who everyone is, their back story, etc... This third book just plows right into the story and keeps moving. Not much backstory is mentioned other than the story of the three shamans that are linked together (we see all three of these characters come together too! But that's closer to the end and you have to keep reading to find out Rin's journey to get them together).

The Burning God also gets a little overdone in the war aspect. As in Rin's character doesn't exactly move past the teenage brain into realizing the enormity of her decisions for burning through an entire country. However, her character is one to just do what her god wants to do - which is burn everything. She wants to destroy but completely forgets that her people need to recover too. They need food to live, shelter, education. The people of her country need to live a "normal" life for awhile to be able to be a prosperous country. When she goes back to the south region, she realizes that they have a treasure trove of poppy, which can make her money and lots of it. Instead of thinking things through and making a plan, she immediately wants to return to war - by selling all the poppy. And the people burn the poppy fields. They have realized that she craves war, and that she has no idea how they've lived or what they need to survive. They've put an end to her means. 

Also, once she sees the New City with the Hesperians to save Kitay, it hasn't quite hit her that old school war techniques and shamans are probably no match for the lifestyle that the Hesperians live - once people see the clean city and aren't stepping in puddles of shit, they seem happier to be occupied. However, Rin just gets Kitay and they continue on with conquering the South and finding Nezha to defeat him. One thing that stands out in this written scene is that it's absolutely the west takes over the east. Gone are the old ways, and now in are the new modern ways of life - the author definitely taking this idea from real world wars. It's very sad to read in the book (and also in life too). The Hesperians feel their way of life is the better way of life. They also feel their race is better than Rin's. The whole book takes on race, skin color, class, and more. The author does an amazing job of pointing out all the differences and making the reader actually think about what is going on.

 With this being the last in the trilogy, I'm so happy the author included a map so I could follow along with where these cities are in the whole of the book. I wish it was labelled a little more - such as where each character is from and where the armies had their skirmishes and large battles.

I really love to read YA fiction and trilogies, this one is pretty spectacular. I highly recommend reading The Poppy War trilogy, it's long, but it's definitely worth it!


Girl Can Sew

After a terrible December (thanks, Covid), we're finally back to somewhat of a normal schedule but not really...because what exactly is normal these days??? I'm not sure anymore.

But The Monkey has wanted to learn how to sew since this past summer when I was busy making hundreds of masks. So I bought her a hand sewing book to learn the basics and learn how to not poke herself with a needle (she drew blood multiple times but carried on!). And then she still desperately wanted to learn how to machine sew. So I ended up buying her The Sewing School 2: Machine Sewing book for kids - it had a few projects that I was sure The Monkey could tackle with little supervision, but mostly me hovering over the machine making sure she wasn't going to break my machine. 

With her first project she learned a very important lesson: read through the instructions VERY carefully. She didn't read them all (I don't read the instructions for her DIY stuff because I think it's important for kids to learn skills by themselves so that they grow up to be competent and skilled adults, independence is a big skill to learn and this also teaches work ethic and to be proud of the things that you do on your own, so parenting moment included in learning how to sew). The Monkey ended up ripping up a whole project because she missed an important step - marking ears on a stuffy, which can't be done after you've sewn the whole thing inside out. She also realized she started/stopped at the wrong side.

I gave her a few tips and tricks for starting/stopping, which way to pull a finished item so she can cut the threads with the thread cutter on the machine and how to use a chopstick to push out corners in projects.

After she finally got her first project CORRECT, the girl is addicted to using the machine and she absolutely loves it. I'm going to have to come up with a few more Pinterest sewing projects for her to do on her own, with little help from me (other than saying, "BE GENTLE WITH THE PRESSER FOOT!" and also "TURN THE NEEDLE TOWARDS YOU NOT AWAY!"

Onwards we go into a new hobby this year! Hopefully I've inspired her to sew for the rest of her life.




 Everything is shenagans these days. 

Distance learning.


Kindergarten next year for Chewy (OMG).

Phil being Phil. He ate 2/3 of a full container of peanut butter yesterday and got a whole M&M cookie today. It's shenangans.

Meal planning.



I say everyone can have a full on tv day tomorrow. And the next. And the next. Mostly for my own sanity.

I read 71 books so far this year. I'd love to write book reviews on all of them but frankly, I don't have the time - motivation is definitely there but the time is not. MER.