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August 2015
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November 2015

On deadlines and goals. Kinda.

I am on deadline for my column. Which means I have fifty other things I want to write to you about.

First, a word about process because you (okay some of you) asked: Do you plan your columns out ahead of time?

The answer is: Yes! And then I change the plan up until the very last minute. My editor LOVES this. Actually, she might not have known about that exactly until just now: surprise! But she doesn’t mess with process. She’s about the final product. And that seems to work itself out time after time. You’d think I’d just trust that it will. Instead … angst.

What I’m about to tell you happens every. single. month and yet it annoys and agitates me each time. Hoping to trade those a-words for acceptance but alas … here I am: Column due tomorrow morning and I have three drafts with totally different subject matter merged in my mind and in various stages in my journal and Evernote files.

I keep trying to force them into one, coherent one and it’s not working because it’s not supposed to. Somehow between now and when I file the column, it will be all fleshed out with a beginning, middle and end – and it will make sense outside of my head. I do actually trust this will happen because it has for seven years now.

But still … the construction noises starting outside our windows at 6:30 a.m. means the boys will be up soon, I get to volunteer in Sam’s class today (Yay!) and then you know the care and feeding of our home and its inhabitants … and a few other things I’ll do to avoid making the final decisions of what to write exactly until it’s clearer in my mind. Then … I’ll just do it.

Sorry. I wish my method was more organized, but there it is. So, yes I work on it all month with putting scribbles on notecards in an Evernote collection tagged “Column” but also, new angles and ideas keep coming until just before it’s time to submit it.

So that was way more than “a” word about process, ha!

I love reading about how other people do their work, I know that’s not everyone’s interest so moving on to … planner geekery. Everyone LOVES that stuff right? You would if you had this sweet little planner by Erin Condren:

I’ve been carefully tracking my time since the boys went back to school. More on those findings another day but I was surprised at how much time just … gets spent. Gone. So, I did what any over-achieving, slightly mentally ill person would do and set two crazy-ambitious goals because that’s just how I get stuff done.

For what it’s worth, I did consider deleting the part about “slightly mentally ill” because that could be offensive. And I am not about offending people. But I also am ready to be done worrying about the possibility all. the. time. Plus, I am about owning our stuff. And the truth is, I can show you a doctor’s note that says I’m allowed to say that.  (Hashtag: things you never expected to be all “so there” about. Bet that one doesn’t stick!)

So, goals.

I picked just two.

1. Write my ebook guide on how to be a holiday mom (Better title please come to me!!!)

2. Shed 40 pounds by my 40th birthday. (There’s a slightly-less-than-reasonable-but-still-doable amount of time left).

I was surprised though, to see it was October this week. So then I got kind of serious about it and increased my word count per day by a lot of words! And decided to quit sugar. Still feeling kind of stabby so I’m laying pretty low, and mostly staying off The Facebook because its not that I don’t have a comeback dear people of Newberg and Dundee who are so precious about a free community service. But again, off The Book of Face am I. So far, down two pounds. So, maybe there is something to setting a goal and writing it down thing …

 

2015-09-25 01.21.59IMG_6333

 

Some of you have asked to peep my planner – totally yes! But right now I’m going to try to tune out the guy with the bullhorn in front of my house and the bulldozer jacking up my driveway and actually write my column. You know, the one due tomorrow. You guys. It feels like my whole house is on the spin cycle. But, yay for new sewer lines, thanks Newberg!

(Affiliate link disclosure: I recommend products and people I use, love and respect. Sometimes I even get a few cents for it, at no cost to you).

 

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


The unglamorous scoop on green shakes

GGS

*Illustrator credit: Elissa Hudson (check out more of her work here check out more of her work here).

I wanted to use this adorable graphic when I posted about being back on my green smoothie wagon the other day but I was waiting to get permission from the illustrator because you know … the law. Also because it’s totally not cool to use other people’s work without permission. But you guys already know that so moving on …

Somehow a bunch of you must’ve known I’m working on blog content and recalibrating normal over here because my inbox blew up with some great questions.

Here are a few on the subject of my smoothie situation – if you are looking for perfectly styled pictures and clear step-by-step directions this blog is not for you. I’m more like here’s what works for me, and here’s what I did. And this. Oh, also this. But not this. Bonus tip: here’s what totally didn’t work.  My kitchen journal is basically what it would be like if Amelia Bedelia wrote a cookbook.

(*This post contains affiliate links to products I love and whole-heartedly endorse. My goal is to make millions blogging … there was this infomercial … have Nathalie’s Notes pay for itself and a few cents adding up on Amazon for purchases you are already planning to make seemed like a reasonable way to accomplish that! So thanks for making your Amazon purchases through my Amazon links – it doesn’t matter what you buy.)

With that convincing introduction, here’s the scoop on my breakfast shakes following Kimberly Snyder’s recipe – with less graceful instructions. She makes it sound easy. And the truth is, if you’re not used to this sort of thing it isn’t! At first.

Q: So you use these exact measurements?

A: Oh, no. That’s just a guide.

Q: So ….

A: Oh – well mostly I do it like this: 2 cups water, three heaping handfuls of spinach or kale, one bunch of romaine, blend. Then add three celery stalks. Blend. Then add apple and pear chunks. Blend. Then one banana. Blend. Lemon juice cube or fresh lemon juice. Blend. Done.

Q: Is it hard?

A: Yes. At first.

Q: Does it trash your kitchen?

A: Totally.

Bonus tip: I spare myself some cleanup by making massive amounts of green shake at a time and freezing it in 32 ounce/Quart mason jars. (Make sure you leave room at the top of the liquid before it freezes, or else, you know … BOOM and glass shards Every. Where.)

 

Q: How much do you drink at a time?

A: So, I choke down 8 ounces a day. By which I mean, when I am on my green shake kick I choke down 8 ounces. After about a week or so, my taste buds acclimate and I start to crave different kinds of food. Today though I still want All the Nutella. Matt on the other hand, chugs the whole quart first thing in the morning on all the days I remember to make it for him. Since he often works through lunch I feel like a jerk on the days I forget. (See freezer trick above).

Q: So the lemons are kind of a pain, huh?

A: That was more of a comment than a question. But I had to include it because of the bonus tip below. And actually, it is literally a huge pain if you have an open cut on your hand while you’re juicing these tart babies.

Bonus Tip:

If you think this whole nourishing your body thing might stick, consider picking up one of these lemon juicers. They are sweet to have around, cuts or no cuts. Lemon Juicers For you, Lemon Juicer for Me

Get a bunch of lemons – Meyer lemons are The Best! Pick them up when they’re on sale, squeeze them into your new juicer.

Then I pour in these mini muffin molds and freeze. I bag them for later. Meyer muffins are the bomb.

Q: How do you drink it?

A: Cold. Otherwise it tastes like warm, green sludge. (I’m really selling it, huh? Thing is, there has to be a counter to all the people who rave about it being “easy!” and “delicious!” Because for some of us? No. But also: necessary.)

Q: How long does it take?

A: So much depends (upon a red wheelbarrow …)

I can’t answer this one. If I’m doing it with no interruptions, which happens approximately never, it’s a quick job. I tend to make them in the margins of making dinner while I’m already trashing the kitchen, what’s a few more cores and leafy items on the floor? But once you streamline the process and get used to the measurements, it’s pretty quick.

Q: Do I have to have a Vitamix?

A: No. You have to have something that will blend this stuff up really well though. And they are kind of awesome.

Q: So … I’ve kind of avoided the produce aisle most of my adult life. What’s the best way to do this?

A: ANYway that works for you! I mean, you can plant yourself a garden and all the spinach and romaine you need will sprout at your fingertips. You can even have your own lemon tree!

On the other end of reality is me. I buy the stuff in bags. I even buy the romaine hearts in packs of three and spinach by the box.

I also don’t use all organic stuff because of this little thing called a budget. I do tend to almost always buy organic apples, pears, celery and spinach – some of which are on the Dirty Dozen list for high pesticide levels. (I used to be ignorant about all this stuff, then I got all informed and then I was paralyzed and petrified of food. So now I walk a cherry*-picked path to balance my reality which includes a tight grocery budget and a philosophy that fruit and vegetables I can afford are better than none at all).

*Cherry tomatoes are number 10 on the Dirty Dozen list for 2015 but cherries aren’t on the list this year. They have been in prior years and still show up in Google searches. And THAT is part of what makes me crazy. Total aside, sorry.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.


KonMarie. It’s a verb.

 

The things we keep

Sep 22, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Behind the Picket Fence

Roots Things We Keep Clip

My mom left her home country with less stuff packed in her bag than I take to sit on the sidelines at my kids' soccer games. 

Granted, she was sneaking across the Slovak border to flee communism, and I'm just driving across town in a minivan. But my point stands. She had to leave stuff behind on her way to freedom.

Hers is a literal story, mine more of a metaphorical one. But I recently discovered a new method to finding freedom in my quest to conquer clutter once and for all. 

Millions of people have discovered it with me, as Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was published last year. In fact, this book has created such a cult following that "KonMaried" is being tossed around as a verb, as in: "I KonMaried my closet."

My mom urged a similar agenda when I was younger. Perhaps she could have published something similar, with the title, "Clean your room!" But somehow, that didn't take. 

The so-called magic behind Kondo's method is encouraging people to ask themselves this one simple question after physically touching an item: "Does this spark joy?" 

That's it. Simple maybe, but not easy in a culture accustomed to collecting, keeping and what some might aggressively call hoarding.

To that, Kondo says, "If it sparks joy, by all means keep it. Find a home for it and enjoy it." But she knows that's not often the case.

When you look at your stuff through that lens, it becomes much easier to herd hoarded goods to the curb. 

Like, say, the five bottles of nail polish remover I had for the two times a year I actually sat down to paint my nails. Or the four bottles of toilet cleaner I had collected for our single toilet, which I actually clean with vinegar and baking soda. 

I had cleaned out my medicine cupboard and sorted through my cleaning supplies before. But I had never before done what Kondo advises, which is to gather all like items in one place and only then begin sorting them for culling.

I would never have guessed I had three bottles of calamine lotion for the one time a year we go camping. Or seven tubes of Neosporin, all expired. Or three huge bottles of hydrogen peroxide, though with two boys in ninja training, that might actually be reasonable. 

Once I put all the medications and first-aid items in one place, I was stunned at the box upon box of expired medication I had amassed. Then there was my collection of hospital-issued snot suckers for kids who are now capable of blowing their own nose — or swiping it clean with a shirtsleeve. 

My mom was judicious about saving only what was meaningful to her, and those things have now become meaningful to me. Many of these gems are stored in my holiday bins, because I happen to find a lot of joy in celebrating with small, festive touches.

I have saved the number candles from each of my boys' birthdays and stored them with the birthday decorations. That is totally KonMarie-approved, because every time I see them it sparks joy and they have a permanent home that makes sense to me. 

There are a couple places I part ways with Kondo, though.

For instance, she suggests emptying your purse every night, and that's so not happening. I mean, what's next?

Clearing out your car after each use? While my husband would love for me to adopt that idea, it isn't reasonable to expect me to clean my mobile office that often. 

On a recent trip, I used the last few inches of trunk space to include a bottle of peroxide and a bag of Epsom salt.

The Epsom stuff is perfect for bee stings. Trust us; we know.

I don't suppose this is practical on all fronts, as my tax files don't exactly spark joy, but the thought of being organized in case I get audited kind of does. 

Setting aside the fact that much of Kondo's advice seems better suited for people who live alone, the shift in thinking about the things we keep makes hers an approach worth adopting. 

My kids will likely be off to college by the time I finish all the sorting, but I'm having lots of fun doing it. And that's worth celebrating with a little umbrella in my drink.

No, really. I have those. In my celebration box.

I'm considering calling them "joy igniters." But first, I have to find my label maker.

 

 

If you enjoyed this column, it would be an honor for me to see it shared with your people!

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.


Back on the wagon

There once was a girl who worked kind of hard to be healthier and lose some weight. Then she stopped doing the things that were making her feel better and gained it all back, plus some more for good measure. (See what I did there…)

Okay, it’s me. The obvious question that comes up: “what did you do to lose the weight? Why don’t you do that again?”

People can be so aggressive.

I guess I was kind of hoping someone would discover another trick besides all this dumb talk of diet and exercise. But until then … I’m back on the green smoothie bandwagon.

(Warning: if this isn’t your normal way of eating, it’s gross at first. Your taste buds will adjust. Promise).

 

Glowing-Green-Smoothie

 

 

The Glowing Green Smoothie® Recipe

Author: Kimberly Snyder

Serves: 64 oz

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups very cold, filtered water
  • ¾ pound organic romaine lettuce, rough chopped, about 1 head
  • ½ head large bunch or small bunch organic spinach
  • 3-4 organic celery stalks, halved
  • 1 organic apple, cored, seeded, quartered
  • 1 organic pear, cored, seeded, quartered
  • 1 organic banana, peeled
  • ½ fresh organic lemon, peeled, seeded
  • bunch organic cilantro with stems (optional)
  • bunch organic parsley with stems (optional)

 

Instructions

  1. Place water, romaine, spinach, celery, and optional ingredients, if using, into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Starting the blender on a low speed, blend until smooth.
  3. Gradually moving to higher speeds Add apple, pear, banana and lemon to the blender and blend until smooth.

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Cheers!


Gearing up for school … and life

LifeLessonsChalkboard

 
Gearing up for school

September 4, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

September Hardy Boys

Right about now, back to school season is in full swing. And if you find yourself in a store with an office supply section, you’re sure to find parents muttering about the prices.

If you enjoy eavesdropping, you’ll likely find a few trying to figure out what, exactly, a Pee Chee is.

Those people are most likely transplants from the Midwest.

Somehow, they managed to get through school without doodling on one of these iconic school supply elements. It’s exactly that kind of resiliency I wish we could tuck into our kids’ backpacks, next to the glue sticks and standard-issue pencils. 

Joking aside, as my littles prepare to spend more of their day away from rather than with me, there actually are a few intangibles I’m trying to figure out how to pack in with them. 

As I checked off items on my sons’ school supply lists, mentally debating the merits of dull vs. pointed scissors in the process, I thought of a few things missing from that list. And they are more important to equip children for success in school, and life, than anything I can tuck in those new backpacks.

After so many years of protecting them from life’s sharp edges, it’s time to step back and understand that not all of their pain is mine to prevent. That despite popular culture, difficult experiences aren’t to be avoided at all costs. They are to be endured. 

Yes, something bad might happen, something far worse than missing out on Pee Chees. 

I can almost guarantee your child will both hurt and be hurt at school. I can also assure you that with love and non-suffocating support, he will come through those experiences stronger and kinder than before.

But you have to lead by example.

Do you forgive those who have slighted you? Do you leave room for kids who have hurt yours to change? Do you teach your child, it’s healthy and good to set boundaries with people to protect themselves?

It’s hard, I know. But it’s both necessary and worthwhile. 

I still flush at the memory of sitting in the cafeteria in junior high. I had a lunch neatly packed in Tupperware, most likely featuring a salami and butter sandwich as the centerpiece. Eastern European parents, remember? 

I’ll never know how everyone figured out to do this so quickly, but before I knew it, every single person sitting on the bench attached to the eight-foot table had leaned into the person next to them, serving to push me off onto the squeaky clean linoleum floor. 

It smelled like bleach, I remember. And there was a lot of laughing and pointing, though it was hard to see through the tears.

I also remember a time I was so desperate to be part of something and to belong, I hurt someone else on purpose. The memory of that actually stings more than the one of the cafeteria incident, which, by the way, was not an isolated one. I learned from all of it. 

But life’s lesson book makes the most sense in retrospect. Right now, our students are learning how resilient they are, how brave they can be and that most of a hero’s work happens in seemingly minor moments. 

One of the best gifts we can give to our students is to help them process what happens at school without projecting our own histories and feelings on their experiences. If you can teach them that the one, and only, thing they can control in any given situation is how they respond, that alone is worth all the discounted school supplies on any list.

Please remind your students that they are already brave. That they are there to learn.

Yes, about equations and sentence structure and the life cycle of a wombat, or whatever. But also they are there to learn about equality and how it feels to be on both sides of belonging, they are there to learn about how much words matter, however a sentence is structured and about the life cycle of friendships. 

You know what’s more important than those new calculators and rulers? Knowing that your love can’t be measured by the number of mistakes they make and that what they can count on most is you. 

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.

 

Getting new subscribers is like a virtual high-five! If anything here seems worth passing on, I’d be honored to see you share it with your friends.

p.s. Thank you to Hannah at They Lived Happily Ever After for the chalkboard template and Ana at Sugary Fancy for the adorable digi-art.