Author Archives: Kristin Brown

First week in Boulder

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Hi there! It’s been a busy week. There’s been a lot to see and do. Mostly, we’ve been outside, outside, outside. We took our first hike up the Mesa trail. Put our feet in the cold, cold water of the Boulder creek. Visited the farmer’s market.
Everyone has been pretty much exhausted at the end of the day. Isn’t that the nature of summer? The heat in the afternoons leaves me feeling lethargic and unable to do anything but just hang out. We’ve eaten a lot of watermelon, some pluots, blueberries and strawberries. It’s hard to figure out what to cook in the evenings, when all you want to do is cool off and rehydrate. Iliana has even started eating some lettuce!
I’ve been noticing where all the apple trees are and trying to avoid eating any from the store until apple season arrives. I think it would be good to give ourselves a break from so much apple. Peaches will be arriving by the bush load soon. They had sold out at the market.
What do you cook when it gets this hot, in the heat of the peak of summer?
What activities are you involved in?
Any tips for getting the most out of this special time?

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Tiny

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Over the past few weeks I’ve become fully engaged in the idea of tiny. Tiny house, simple life, fewer things, letting go of stuff. This feeling has been many years in the process, but in the last few it has quickened. Moving helps to put things into perspective: what’s necessary and what’s not. Considering that in the last 3 years we’ve moved across the country, lived in an apartment for a year with the bare necessities, then moved into house, and now we’re moving back to the west into a rental in Boulder; I’ve pretty much decided that nothing is really that sentimental to me and it’s fun to kind of recreate my life over and over again. Meaning I find it fun to not have to stick with the same stuff over and over again. I get to just let stuff go, if it’s not working donate it, or sell it, or give it away. If it’s too cumbersome to move than leave it and get something new (or used) in the new place. It’s a good thing I really like thrift stores, as then it’s easy to replace things without having decisions be too weighty because I’m worried about the amount of money I’d be spending. I also love the hunt and the finding of interesting, unusual, and great stuff at easy prices. I also like that my choices are limited then and I don’t have to be overwhelmed as I am sometimes in a store that carries 5 different brands of the same thing. I also just like the idea of not causing too much wear and tear on the earth, it’s resources and it’s people. How much simpler to just get something that someone else has decided to pass on, simpler on the planet, on my pocketbook and on my heart.
With that said, here’s what I found this week at a little thrift shop in Denver. All for $7.53, and two of those bowls are originally from Anthropologie, one of my favorite shops. What a find those beautiful colored bowls are and Iliana couldn’t be more thrilled with them.
We got the keys to our rental yesterday and for those of you wondering how all of this has happened so fast, well…remember when I wrote that I was hoping to get to Colorado before the middle of August when said rental was going to be available? Well, said rental became available earlier than scheduled and so, there you have it and here we are, moving into a new home in Boulder. A new chapter has begun.

Cherry picking

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Cherry picking while watching a friend’s dog.
Now, what to do with a bunch of cherries? I think I’ll freeze a bunch until I figure it out. Drying some in a dehydrator would be nice. Making some into preserves is another thought. Ice cream could be good. These are sour cherries by the way, but still tasty. We’ve just been eating them.
Any ideas?

A word to Michael

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This is our neighbor next door practicing his Michael Jackson moves.  We’ve seen him develop this personality over the last few months.  First, the songs on an iphone.  He’d be walking around with it in his hand, mostly playing “Smooth Criminal” and practicing moves.  Iliana wasn’t sure what to make of it, and neither was I.  We hadn’t yet crossed over the bridge of Michael Jackson songs and watching or even listening to his music.  Frankly, it wasn’t something I had even thought about since my own youth.  Soon it became apparent that Michael Jackson was here to stay, as our Michael fan continued to share with all of us his developing abilities.

First, it was the moves and a leather coat, with jeans, in summer.  Then, it was the addition of a black, sparkly hat, and the add on of a move with his hand on his hat.  Later, we saw him come out with a wig, a black, curly wig.  Lastly, he got a glove.  A silver, sparkly glove, which he pointed out to me, the other day, while taking some dried peas as a snack from me, that he wasn’t wearing it on the correct hand, the proper hand for the glove being the left.  This little guy is 5.

I was in the car Saturday, driving home from the grocery store, and as I turned on the radio I heard Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror.  I was so moved.  That particular song’s lyrics talk about making the change in oneself.  Michael’s inspired singing touched my heart.  I thought about our neighbor, and how he’s so many generations after me, and yet, he too is moved by Michael’s music.

I often hear them all singing, “Billy Jean’s not my lover, she’s just a girl, thinks that I am the one”, repeated again and again.  One of them a 4 year old across the street, who’s speech isn’t fully developed and who doesn’t understand the meaning of what he’s singing.   He just sings his heart out.  All thanks to our “little Michael” next door.

So, I just have to say “word” to Michael.  He was one brilliant dude.

Harbingers of summer

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clematisSummer has officially begun and a few things have led me to believe they know it…the clematis have bloomed, mulberries have turned a dark purple, humidity has hit, and the mosquitos have decided to have a party (at my expense)!  We had a severe storm watch this weekend, which had us hanging out in the basement as tornados were to the north of us and possibly headed our way.  Thankfully, they passed us by, but not before intense rains and winds came down hard.  Wow, that was kind of surreal.  As long as we were in the basement, I decided to throw in another load of laundry, so that wasn’t sooo bad.

Today was a hot one.  We cooled off with non-alcoholic cocktails of lavender kombucha and coconut milk (Emerson is a coconut fan like myself, so the combo is right up his alley.  Iliana likes just the kombucha.)  We finished planting the last of the flowers we’d bought for pots.  Eric had the World Cup on and Iliana and Emerson were learning to cheer.

At the library this last week I picked up two new books (new to the library that is):  Against all Grain by Danielle Walker and Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan, as well as a neat book for Iliana, Music, Music for Everyone by Vera B. Williams.  The two books contain some new cooking inspiration, which I’ve been needing.   I’ve also rediscovered Chitra Agrawal’s blog ABCD’s of Cooking and I’ll try her recipe for spinach sambar.  I tried my hand at pongal (a favorite Indian breakfast of mine) but will be needing to try again, this time following Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn’s recipe.  It’s funny, because after experimenting with making pongal, I realized how silly it must seem to people who’ve grown up with it when I say it’s one of my favorites.  Also, the fact that I haven’t made it before and would say how I want to learn how to make it, that too must have seemed kind of funny.  It really isn’t hard, it’s kind of reminiscent of cream of wheat, something I grew up on, except that it’s rice and lentils mixed together, and then there’s spices to add.  I don’t know why it’s seemed so difficult to me until now.  I think the fact that I didn’t understand the various different lentils and their uses, as well as the foreignness of some of the spices, these things combined kept me from just diving in and giving it a go.  I’m just so in need of some alternative breakfasts, foods that fill us up, but are healthy and nourishing, that I’m extending myself beyond the usual.  I’m relieved to be doing so, because I’ve found Indian food to be one of my favorites and one of the healthiest and hopefully soon, one of the easiest to make, though that may take awhile!

If you have any ideas for breakfasts, or favorites of yours that you’d like to share, or any cooking inspirations for that matter, please do so in the comments.

 

Father’s Day

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Hello!  That was Father’s day around here as the day drew to a close.  I kept telling Iliana to give me a nice expression as in a few years she might ask me, why did I make that face?  As you can see, that didn’t really matter to her.  The only way I got Emerson to sit there for a few moments was to give him one of the controls for the TV.

I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days now, and what fathers mean, and what I would say about it.  Since I only post once a week, I get the luxury to contemplate for a bit what I’ll write about.  I’m finding all sorts of ideas and some insights come to me.  This week, as I thought about Father’s day, my father, Eric’s father, and the principle of fatherhood in general, I was struck by a few things.

This business of fatherhood and parenting in general, is a hard business.  It’s not easy to parent.  It’s not straightforward, it’s curvy, and it always zig zags and throws you a curve ball when you least expect it.  You have to be on your feet and think on your feet most of the time.  You have to be patient and kind and understanding.  You have to be kind of Buddha-like, a kind of zen papa, able to go with the hits that work throws at you and then transition into home life and still maintain your cool.  And on the weekends, you have to put in overtime, as your wife gets away from the house, you have to put in long hours, not having built up your stamina for it throughout the week, and you have to hope that you can keep up with those children that have changed and grown, leaps and bounds, throughout just that one week, since the last weekend.  Because these children, they grow fast, they learn how to do things you couldn’t have guessed from your time with them the weekend before.  They can do monkey bars and go down slides, and climb up playgrounds and walk to the edge, not knowing that they might fall.  And you have to be strong, willing to let them venture out and try things, help them stay confident, yet guide them so they don’t get too hurt.  And if they do get hurt, you have to be brave for them, and fix them up, blot their tears (or blood!) and be gentle on yourself for not having prevented that particular fall, or injury, or insult.  You have to get over things quick, so that you can be present with them, and love them, and let them know you are there for them.  This business of parenting, boy, it’s not an easy one.

SO NOW, with all that said, at the risk of laying accolades on the man that I married and hoped would be a father one day, and who I am now in the thick of it with…I will say that he’s doing a darn good job at something he claims to not know much about, and in truth had almost no experience with before his own children.  He’s become a kind of Zen Papa, or at least that’s what we’re calling him.  And in the calling him of that, it brings forth all those zen qualities that are so necessary to be a truly good papa (and it helps me attempt the equivalent Zen Mama, or at least I try).  Thank goodness for Buddha, for writings by Thich Nhat Hanh, and for a husband who is willing to read them and grow from them, to take them in and make them his own.

Happy Father’s Day for a day (and job) well done!

Finding our rhythm

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We are finding our summer rhythm around here.  What a transition it is, going from driving to and from school three days a week, to days filled with open ended blocks of time.  We’ve done laundry, gone to the library, traveled to the city, eaten Indian food on Devon street (or “little India”), and attended the school’s year end picnic.  Phew!  It was quite a week and I’m tired already.  Now that our neighbors are out of school too, they’ll be even more play and more opportunities for shifting into the lazy days of summer (not that we’ve had any lazy days yet!)

I’ve been making it a point to be gentle with myself as we move into this new phase.  I’ve had very little time alone, and yet, we all start to figure out how to move around and be with each other in a way that works.  It takes time and understanding and forgiveness for not having it right just yet.  I picked up a copy of Home Education Magazine, a resource that I’m enjoying as it shares different families journeys with unschooling.  Summer is definitely a time for a different kind of education and what I’m reading is giving me inspiration for other ways of approaching our time together.

I’ve been enjoying Call the Midwife every so often when I get a chance to watch an episode.  It’s bringing me back to my roots of doula work and studies of midwife assistance.  I so appreciate these women and the care and nurturing they brought to many, many women during that time.  It’s inspiring to watch a birth happen and see how they handle different situations, even the nitty gritty of a breech birth!  That one gave me chills (I’m just beginning, so way back in season 1).

With graduations happening near and far, parties in the neighborhood, I sense a celebratory mood.  Congratulations to all of you who’ve finished your schooling, or whatever chapter of schooling you’ve completed.  Best wishes in your coming endeavors!

Welcome Summer!

Beach, repellent, summer

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First day at the beach

We live near a lake, hence the name Tower Lakes, Illinois.  This little beach site is walking distance from our home.  We had our first day there this last Wednesday, with our neighbors.  We had the beach to ourselves.  Iliana had asked me again and again, can we go to the beach?  She loved it.  Emerson loved it.  Our neighbors loved it.  Hours and hours of fun and enjoyment.  It’s truly amazing how water and sand can provide so much.

Other news…the mosquitos have arrived, the mosquitos have arrived, as seen by the many bites on pour Iliana’s feet.  I found a few mosquito repellent recipes, not that I don’t have the usual stuff, but I’ve never liked the smell, oiliness or some of the ingredients of most store bought stuff.  So today, while at the grocery store I picked up some witch hazel, essential oils, and tomorrow we’ll put together something that I hope works.  In the meantime, I’ve been dabbing lavender essential oil on the children and myself, which has been working to a degree.

Iliana’s last day of school was Friday.  The summer has almost fully begun.  Once the neighbor children are out of school too, the amount of play going on around these parts will be nothing short of all day.  Bedtime has already started to be much later than usual.

How about all of you?  Has summer begun in your neck of the woods?

Best wishes for a happy weekend!

 

 

 

Moving back to Colorado

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So we’re moving back.  Thought it time to make the announcement, officially.  I made a short trip out there in April, a kind of scouting trip, and since then, we’ve been moving ahead with plans to head back west.  We’ve missed it.

It looks like we might have a rental home on the horizon, as long as we’re approved, we’ll be able to move in the middle of August (a house in east Boulder).  I had hoped to head out the second week of June with the children, so waiting until August feels hard to do (especially when I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back).  I’m also just ready to settle somewhere and we’ve never felt settled here.  Stuff is still in boxes.

I had a lot of reasons to head back in the early part of the summer…wanting to get settled in before fall (for one, choosing schooling for Iliana), needing some TLC from various alternative healing practitioners, a mosquito and humidity free summer, and namely, a community I am anxious to reconnect with and feel supported by.

If you know of any housesitting positions for the summer or:  sublets, rooms for rent, or any sort of temporary housing for a mama and her two chillins’ please let me know!

Looking forward to seeing all of you very soon.