Going Tarpless

Roots cover

But when it comes to figuring how to manage all of the maintenance yourself on a home built in 1900, I find myself wanting to Google this: How do you even figure out where to start?

Frankly, what I need goes way beyond Google. After all, Google can't caution me against stuff like filling up a truck with soil without first having a way to get it out of the truck and into the yard in a reasonable amount of time. 

Instead, I turn to Facebook. My friends on Facebook, that is. 

Recently, I realized I needed to mount a local dump run. And I had no idea how to go about it.

Trust me, the irony of reporting on our local landfill for this very paper for two years, and still being clueless about how to find my way around its Newberg transfer station, wasn't lost on me.

But there I was, wondering everything from where to go, exactly, to what to do, exactly, once I got there.

Of course, I Googled the exact name, address and hours for the dump. You know what Google didn't mention? The amount of manual labor my mission might involve.

Turns out there's no automated system dedicated to unloading garbage. For the twelve of you who don't know, you have to, like, climb into the back of your truck and throw all the stuff into a giant, pungent pile of other people's stuff. 

So I turned to my friends on Facebook, announcing I was making my maiden dump run and seeking input. In moments, my feed flooded with great tips and reminders. 

For instance, Google didn't tell me, "Hey, wear boots because it's kind of gross." Or, "Bring a tarp. You have to have a tarp."

I was totally planning on going tarpless until I saw that. In fact I didn't even own a tarp.

Now I have two. And they seem like the kind of things a competent grown up would own. 

Some of my friends had all the answers, even to questions I didn't even know to ask. Others were glad I asked, because they got a lot of good tips from the thread, too.

As an added bonus, it made them feel like they'd been empowered to ask some "dumb" questions of their own.

When we were kids, we used to hear, "There's no such thing as a dumb question."  But we never felt that was true, because it really wasn't true, at least in the eyes of others. There are, totally, questions that will seem dumb to someone else.

But if you don't know, you don't know. In the end, what's actually dumb is doing what I did — stressing out so much about something that ended up being pretty easy in the end, once armed the with the advice of people who kew things I didn't. 

By the way, one thing no one mentioned was, bring something to cover your nose, particularly if you have a strong gag reflex, as I do. You might look the fool,  but at least you won't be unloading your truck whild struggling to fend off bouts of barfing.

Just in case you didn't know, there you have it.

While I'm dispensing spare tips, if you really want to pull off the full-fledged adult impression, you should clean out the truck afterward. Otherwise, you'll have a friend climb in, only to find the following tangled up at their feet — a tarp, a rope, some bungee cords and a supply of disposable gloves. 

That, of course, is bound to raise some eyebrows and questions. And I don't know about you, but I'm not really known for my fast follow-through. 

Now that I had the dump thing out of the way, round one anyway, I decided to try picking up a load of soil to help me flesh out a garden concept of mine. 

It's been a couple weeks, now, and I'm still rolling around town with a truckload of soil. I'm really regretting not listening to the friend who suggested throwing a tarp down prior to loading the bed. It would have made removal of the soil so very much easier.

This business of maintaining a home is a whole lot of toil. But I'm starting to feel the satisfaction of working toward a goal instead of being constantly disappointed by my inability to keep up.

I'll eventually figure this out. Even if it means asking lots of dumb questions, swallowing my pride to ask for help and actually listening to the advice I get! 

Roots cover

Hardy writes her columns "Raising the Hardy Boys" and "Behind the Picket Fence" in the margins of real life. 




Mid-life Manifesto

The bad news is there's been kind of a trainwreck over here and my writing has been reduced to mostly lists and notes on the backs of envelopes. That whole Project Life thing I was so passionate about? Just in my head these days. But I saw this mini-quiz trending on social media this evening and thought I'd take a minute to ask the boys to answer the questions, unprompted. Their answers remind me so much of why I love them, their hearts and the way they use their words! 

The good news? While I may have turned the corner a little too sharp and landed on my ass, I'm up, dusted off and moving forward. And that feels pretty awesome. 

One of my lists just so happens to be plans for getting this blog back up and running instead of just being a platform for posting clips, because let's be honest, that gets, you know, old. 

Earlier this year one of my coworkers, jokingly (?) said I was a trainwreck in response to hearing I'd misplaced my debit card. And my phone. Also a few other key things, like,maybe my mind. 

"What's a nicer way to say 'trainwreck'?" 

"Hot mess?" 


Now though, I'm more at a lukewarm mess status. 

And I think I might stay there forever. I'm at that eff it, I'm 40 ... I may never be a person who folds all my clothes and does all the adulty things in all the right order. I may always be a person who tries to do too much and disappoints people along the way because you can't cash in on good intentions. I will probably always care too much, try too hard and fail even harder. 

Know what else? 

I'm done twisting myself inside out trying to match the pace, priorities and purpose of other people. And, I'm over being the only one rowing. From now on when I'm in a situation or relationship of any kind where I realize I'm the only one doing the rowing, I'm out. 

I love being able to be Sam and Jake's mom and have front row seats to their take on the world. I love being a writer. I love most of the people in my life. This is pretty good stuff. 

The best part of rock bottom is the part where the world stops spinning, you catch your breath and realize you get to chose which path to take next. I have no idea how this next phase of my life looks, but I kinda think it might be awesome. Plus, I'll take notes ... you know for all that writing I'm going to do someday! 

I just know I'm done apologizing for who and how I am. 

I'm not for everyone. 

And I'm finally done trying to be ... 

Oh, right - enough mid-life manifesto and on to the quiz I started this with ... plus, I just wanted to say hi and that I miss you guys. Thank you for all the check-ins and notes throughout the year! You are my favorites!




What is your name? Jake
How old are you?6
How old is your mom? 40
What is your favorite color? red
What is your favorite food? corndogs
What is your favorite animal? zebras
What are you scared of? real life
What is your favorite show? terreria let's play
What makes you sad? when people say "shut up" to me
What makes you happy? terreria
Where is your favorite place to go? the place that makes me happiest is home.
What do you want to be when you grow up? ninja, engineer, vet and video game worker
What does love really mean?that somebody cares about you and really likes you.


What is your name? Sam
How old are you? 9
How old is your mom? 40
What is your favorite color? gold
What is your favorite food? hotdogs
What is your favorite animal? giraffe
What are you scared of? heights
What is your favorite show? terreria let's play
What makes you sad? divorces
What makes you happy? terreria
Where is your favorite place to go? home
What do you want to be when you grow up? a ninja, videogame developer and movie maker
What does love really mean? It has a lot of different meanings.

Pssst: If you liked this column, I'd love it if you share it with someone else who might be encouraged by it too! 


Since you asked

The best is

It’s been pointed out that I kind of dropped the divorce bomb and then bailed.

My bad.

You know I love you guys and your so many questions : )

(And here I thought it was mostly just my mama who kept up here after all these years.)

I’m back and “rested” from “vacation” (You guys know that’s not really a thing with kids right? Vacation?)

palm trees

But it was in Palm Springs. With my parents. And my kids. I wore zero make up for seven days and drove nothing but a golf cart. To the pool.

golf cart

And there were some really awesome, fun parts. Like spending time with people I love, who love me, even when it’s all messy and not pretty in a bathing suit.

About that … that’s something I did real different this year, because I’m 40 now, and I’m not messing around anymore. Life is way too short to be worrying about how hot I look in a swimsuit, or anything really because it doesn’t matter.  I know, right? But here I spent all this time invested in caring about that. So much time, so many summers, sitting on the sidelines until “someday” and listening to the wrong people.

Well, it’s someday … and yeah I have thighs that are more mermaid than model like, but you know what? They keep me moving through the water like a champ. And they’re part of this body of mine I’ve wasted so long loathing, I literally can’t do it another minute.

So I got to do some of my most favorite things:  float in the water, drink champagne with my parents, play in the pool with my babies, eavesdrop and people watch in airports, hang out with one of my best friends … and one of the best parts… going on an adventure and then coming home.

And so here I am … surrounded by piles of good intentions and things that need to happen next and thinking about how to best answer some of your questions. I can’t come up with the best way so I’ll stop putting that off and just jump in … kinda like the pool – and it might not be pretty but this idea that we have to look good doing every single thing we do is stupid anyway.


Q: Is it official?

A: I have no idea. We’ve signed all the things we are supposed to, paid the $263 and taken the five-hour court-mandated guilt trip, as if I needed pictures of other kids’ sad drawings to remind me that THIS IS SERIOUS. KIDS SUFFER FROM DIVORCE. I did mention in “class” that I felt the section about kids who suffer from being raised in toxic environments don’t fare particularly well either, but that was not part of the curriculum.

Something came in the mail the other day, maybe that was the thing that made it official – after all this time it was kind of like opening the bill from a utility company. Of course, I haven’t seen it in the paper yet, which is my personal measure for what makes a thing official because, journalist. Once it’s in the paper, I’ll clip it and add it to the scrapbook I still haven’t finished and likely won’t. But I won’t burn it.

(Because I mean it when I say this next thing…)

Q: What do you regret most?

A: Not a damn thing.

Seriously. Which part would I possibly take back? We did the best we could with the information we had, all the way along. We have amazing kids which we will continue to parent, each in our own way, and are both now free to move into the next part of our lives which may, or may not, include a partner that meets our individual, actual needs instead of pretending they don’t exist or living with the bitterness that comes with dreams so long deferred.

Q: But what happened?

This one time, on a Tuesday … just kidding. It’s not like that. It’s a series of things that did not happen as well as a collection of things that can not unhappen. I may someday find a respectful way to put words around this but for now, that’s the best I have. And as I’ve said before, there are multiple truths to our, and every, story.

Q: How are the boys?

A: Awesome.

Really. We’re doing that whole open and honest, no shame/no blame communication thing and the kids are alright.

So far, the only time they’ve expressed upset about the divorce was when they initially found out and had to trust us that it would be better than okay and then twice when I couldn’t fix the X-Box.  Kids, man.

Q: How am I?

A: It’s all kind of kicking my ass, honestly.

And also, my heart’s content. Working full time and doing the single mom thing, combined with the ridiculous amount of stuff I do not know how to do around here is super overwhelming but I’m pretty cheerful about it all.

Q: What am I doing for self-care?

A: Is that a serious question?

Q: How’s the new job?

A: I. LOVE. It.

Q: Now what?

A: See top photo above.


Up next: my take on spring cleaning. It’s not one you’ll see in the glossy magazines, though, you know, I think that’s too bad.

(No elbow grease required.)


Wait, what?

I know, right?

It’s been an interesting year already!

Also, while everyone else has committed to lose however many pounds or whatever, I’ve decided to stop holding it in. All of it.

This is the year of the exhale.

In life’s apparent ardent need for me to truly embrace the art of non attachment, twenty sixteen rolled right in with some significant opportunities for, uh, personal growth. Good stuff. Hard stuff. All the feels. More on some of that another time.

As I finished my first full session of oil-pulling (have you tried this? So much yuck!) I was drafting my article about what I think of adulting (this is a word now my friends) and what it means to actually have your shit together.

And ironically, except not, my therapist called.

(Please tell me you have a therapist? Some people are all “arm all the people” and I’m over here like, well … okay but what about this idea: therapists for all! #bethechange).

“Oh, cool, she’s checking in,” because you know (see above for vague reference to challenges).

“Hi, Nathalie. How are you?” Pause. “So am I going to see you at 9:30?”

Ten minutes ago.

“Nope. But I’m on my way.” #grace

So we had a condensed counseling session in which we tied off a thread of my story with a perfect analogy from Chronicles of Narnia’s The Last Battle, which you might know is a significant book in our family. It was just another one of those “right path, keep walking” signs, you know? And the fact that my therapist makes C.S. Lewis fully relevant in context is just one of the things I love about her.

And I’m doing this noticing thing – well, I’ve always done that, it is my non-secret to joy: notice and name what is in front of you. But I’m reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, and that is bringing that habit to the top of my to-do list and to keep myself moving forward with that intention I’ll be sharing more of that in this space – and would love you to join me!


(Affiliate links: But first check your local bookstore because those places are essential to our communities so support them! But, if you don’t have one near you: here are some links. I might, maybe, someday, make a penny or two if you shop through my affiliate link and I’m saving up for something BIG: a housekeeper because it turns out I hate it).

So the change that I’m ready to talk about now is an exciting one: I am SO glad I did NOT get that job I applied for a couple months ago because … as the story goes the right one presented itself recently and I got it!

All the yays!!!

As in I’m starting work on Monday and I don’t feel all weird and jittery and “will they like me?” It’s more like “I can’t wait to get started; this job is such an awesome fit for my heart and mind’s work to date AND I wonder if it’s weird if I just pop in today.” Which I am totally going to do because I procrastinated on all the things sending the “thank you for interviewing me note” and I’d rather those arrive today than on my first day because awkward.

But, you guys, remember when I left the newsroom and thought I’d be doing the writing thing not that long ago? I have written a couple books, more like compiled I guess – and started several others and I hate to brag but my next royalties check is for like, $8.62! I know! Yes! That will buy me a date with a small jar of Nutella and a plastic spoon. (What were you thinking?)

So with all that money I’ve been raking in, you can imagine the wardrobe I’ve amassed! My major worries are that I have to be somewhere at the same time every day, dressed with real shoes and a bra – in the morning no less. And I have to pull that off for multiple days in a row. Craaaaazy.

The other worry is what I’ll do if the boys are sick. We need grandparent stand-ins with strong immune systems nearby! Please mail your applications to p.o. box 202, Newberg, Oregon 97132.

Wait, what about writing?

Here’s what I put on my application:

SalaryReason for Leaving

I know this next thing sounds even crazier than the thought of me being at work on time, all dressed and grown up like but … I actually think I am going to be doing more writing. I think having the burden of having to be successful financially as a writer and going back to just doing it because there’s little else I’d rather do will be rad.

More soon, I need to go do all the things.

Or, at least, make some lists.

All the love (and Nutella!)



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.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Scout (2)

HAPPY NEW YEAR, or just–hey, it’s Friday.


Great news you guys! You don’t have to do ANYTHING and this year will still end at midnight tomorrow.

You don’t have to do any. thing. and the ball will drop, kicking off 2016.

And just like that a brand new year begins.

But it will feel a lot like … Friday. And then Saturday, and then Sunday and then most people go back to the old routine and adjust to it being a new year.

The end.

Whew! So, you’re fine. Just keep breathing and putting your pants on one leg at a time and you are good to go!

For a lot of you that’s what you need – the freedom to know there is truly no external pressure to do anything different just because HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But … if you want to, if you feel nudged by the spirit or by, say, something more physical like your pants feeling kinda tight or the rooms of your house closing in on you because: piles of everything everywhere … well, here’s an invitation – that’s all it is: an invitation to consider the following:

(again please note my very intentional use of the words “invitation” and “consider”):

- What exactly would YOU like to have change?

(YOU. Not your husband, your mother, the lady next to you at church or the guy with the judgey eyes at the library. Where do YOU feel your attention being directed from inside your heart and mind? Clarity is critical. More on that later if you want, let me know!)

- What might that look like?

- How could you work toward that?

(Word matter y’all – “how could you work toward that?” is different than “tell me exactly how you will accomplish this?” or, if your inner voice is kind of an asshole: “What makes you think you can do that?” None of that right now. All I’m asking you to consider is: what steps could you take toward the end you desire?”)

I also want to encourage you to remember that it really does come down to the little things adding up. It’s not about losing, say, 60 pounds. To work toward that end I’m looking at things like:

- keep my fitbit charged, remember to wear it and be more connected online with fitbit and myfitnesspal.

- streamline my green shake routine and have one every morning

- drink more water, lemon water and apple cider vinegar, less fancy coffee drinks

- etc. Because I am wordy and like lists, I have more specific, do-able things instead of one huge (so to speak) statement goal.

Another example:

I would like to be consistent in creating both a chore schedule and opportunities to manage their own money for the boys. Which means both earning and smart spending. I **think** Chore Monster may be a means to this end. (I could list all the things that have not worked another time if that would be helpful. Which, of course wouldn’t be as every family dynamic, needs and such are different).

I recommend using a journal and planner for every part of this, from gaining clarity, processing what that nudge might be, and for narrowing down your focus (organizing all the things turned out to be unrealistic).

And a side note: Some of you know my silence on this blog speaks volumes – I promise there will be a time I can and will disclose more but for now, please trust that I see a light at the end of this twisty tunnel and while it’s not turning out quite like I pictured, not at all, I have it on good authority that it’s going to work out. I think I spoke too soon out loud recently and it’s super awkward now in real life but all I can do is keep walking forward and doing the next right thing.

Which, for today means taking care of my young people, our puppy (?!) and planning intentionally for the new year I happen to be looking forward to very much because I love the mere idea of all the possibilities! Plus, planning is my favorite.

Speaking of which – here are a few links, ideas and tools – that I am loving right now, and intend to use more in the new year, cause I’m into that kind of thing. If you are too, here ya go: (I’m supposed to legally tell you someday I might, maybe, get a few cents for some of these affiliate links. For the record I only ever recommend products, programs and things I like myself).



- Leonie Dawson

- Erin Condren’s Planner

- Moleskine planner

- Mindful Energy


And some free stuff:

Goal setting and reviewing with kids by Cindy Hopper at Skip to my Lou -  (One of Sam’s resolution is to get more x-box time. I’ll try to work that into my goal of getting more help with household tasks #winwin).

Free ebook by Christine Kane to help with the gaining clarity piece of all this – and a wonderful introduction to the Word of the Year concept.

Another free ebook by Kirsten Oliphant to help with blog goal planning – she had me at “I love planning to plan.”  

If you found this post helpful at all, I’d love it if you’d share with your friends! Just so happens … one of my goals this year is to add you to my subscriber list if you aren’t there already so … yes?

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.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Maybe next year?

maybe next year

Good news!

You have plenty of time.

So here you are this penultimate day before Christmas wondering how could that possibly be true? I mean, every information stream available to us is blowing up our brains with reminders that the clock is ticking! Last chance! You better click here or else …

Or else nothing happens.

I’m not just being oppositional to all the trending sales pitches.

Unless you’re on the highway and you see your plane lifting off, you have enough time.

And even then, it’s not a bad idea to develop an “I’m right where I’m supposed to be” kind of mentality. Even if (especially if?) all external factors indicate otherwise.

what really matters?

(psst you don’t need anyone to tell you, it isn’t the same answer for each of us, but if you can lock yourself in the bathroom for a second and focus on this one question: what really matters? You know the answer. Okay, now do that).

One of the most frequently mentioned ideas in my ebook* “Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys” is the “maybe next year” list. Because it is genius.

December 23 … I’m looking at the pile beside me and embracing that I’m probably not going to get all the cards mailed out on time. Maybe next year I give in to this perpetual reality and join the New Years Card trend.

Didn’t make zoo lights before Christmas. Maybe next year.

Gingerbread houses? Maybe next year (but probably never on my watch).

But you know what? I’m writing this post while my kids play happily eating cereal they got to pick out (simple pleasures) and we are all under Scout Surveillance, the watchful pair of black eyes of our new puppy which fell near the top of my “what really matters” list this year.

My phone is binging with notices that some of our family will be getting their gifts on time in California, Idaho and Maryland because of the second Christmas miracle that is Amazon. (Next year maybe I’ll finish making the stuff I started making a couple years ago).

There is a tree, leaning against the wall because of some logistical issues we’ll work out next year. Maybe. It is decorated purely by the hands of Sam and Jake who are thrilled to see their handmade paper and zip tie ornaments alongside the more fragile ones they made over the years. The star is also zip tied to the top, because that is our life right now.

And it’s all good.

Not perfect. Not as planned but just … good.

And that is enough.

Wishing you all the love and clarity on what matters to you,


*And you know what, if you’re thinking “oh, I should read that!” you totally should. Next year!

(I’d love your help reaching my subscriber goal for 2015 – sign up below and you’ll get posts delivered right to your inbox).

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.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To Elf his own, a manifesto of sorts

To Elf his own

 Hey haters!Here's the thing...

Dec 2, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

While many holiday gatherings have been seasoned with heated conversations over foreign policy, arguments about presidential candidates and a debate or two over the best way to baste a turkey, I’ve already gone a few rounds defending my practice of, and passion for, elfing.

If you’re anywhere near social media, you’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf. It’s this slightly creepy looking, pint-sized phenomenon bringing merriness to some families, and madness to others.

In short, the elf arrives sometime before Christmas and appears in new places, serving as Santa’s little narc.

That NSA-esque approach isn’t my thing, so our scout elf is on the lookout for good deeds. He also provides an element of mischief and merriness as he pulls little pranks, like putting miniature marshmallows in the kids’ oatmeal, or cues up the DVD player with a Christmas movie when we thought we were watching “Wild Kratts” for the millionth time. 

It started as a self-published book a decade ago by a mother and her two daughters. The trio never dreamed their little vision would dance in the heads of children and Target CEOs everywhere.

And, as is the case with everything in America, Elf on the Shelf is controversial. 

Not as much as, say, the subject of Syrian refugees, but it’s right up there as a first world problem blown out of proportion. 

Some say: Too commercial!

Oddly, it’s also a massive self-published success story in a country that often cheers on ingenuity. But, apparently, there is a limit to how much success we can tolerate someone having, especially if, God forbid, it brings joy. 

Others insist: It’s not really a tradition!

Says who? I mean, what exactly makes something a tradition? 

A tradition, as I understand it, is something cultivated and passed on from one generation to the next. 

Still others prefer not to be haunted by the doll, because it’s creepy, like clowns. I’ll give them that.

There’s actually a name for a true fear of elves: fayophobia. For those suffering from this condition, I suggest staying off social media or temporarily hiding your elfing friends because as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to hum Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.” 

And the one anti-elf stance I struggle with the most: “It’s just another thing parents feel pressured to do.” 

The challenge for me is not that others don’t want to do it. I get it. Some of you bake. I do not. Because I hate that. My problem is specifically with people who project their own insecurities or priorities onto me, and instead of simply opting out, they mock people like me who have fun with the little sprite.

I’m no stranger to insecurity; in fact, a few years ago, I fell prey to something I no longer tolerate: elf-shaming. I will never insist that to love me is to love the elf. However, to love me is to stop mocking me for the joy it brings to us simply because it’s not your thing. 

To elf their own, do it or don’t, but I would never tell a mama who doesn’t elf that she’s lazy, so why is OK for those who don’t get into elfing to suggest I have too much time on my hands? Or, as I often hear, that I’m trying to be a “unicorn” mom portraying a perfect life on social media. 

Here’s the truth: using that little elf as an avenue for intentionally creating joyful moments has gotten myself and my family through some of our darkest seasons. Not because I’m pretending difficulties don’t exist, but because in spite of them, it is our right to choose love, to live intentionally and to create our own joy. 

Yes, it is more work to incorporate our elf’s antics into an already busy season. As enamored as I am with our elf Finn, about three days into his arrival, I’m getting out of bed at midnight, muttering an alliterative expletive because I forgot to do something with him.

This is how I discovered Finn’s special feat of traveling all the way to the North Pole and settling back into place without looking like he even moved. I know, it’s amazing.

In nearly eight years of writing this column, the most feedback I’ve received was a couple years ago after my first article on Finn. Most of it was positive. But then, there were these deeply disturbing insults and mocking at my expense. I let the hating get under my admittedly porous skin. 

I elfed in private for a couple seasons, protecting those who didn’t wish to see this sort of thing blowing up their feeds. 

This year, though, I’m making up for lost time. You see, I’ve got my eye on the clock of my boys’ childhood. 

I see the writing on the wall in my older son’s sly grin and twinkling eyes. This season of magic is coming to an end for him. Soon, he will be one of us, the joy makers. I’m not wasting any more of the time I have left. 

Oh, about creating traditions? As I prepared for shenanigans with Finnegan to begin, imagine my surprise when I found him already peeking from a stocking hung in my room. 

Just like that, a tradition is born. 

So, my dear elf-hating friends, I get it. Hide me, un-friend me, do what you must to survive, because for the rest of us, it’s open season for Elf on the Shelf and I’m not holding back to spare anyone the suffering of our joy.



(If you liked this column, feel free to share the love with your friends, I’d love to hear what you think! Unless it’s that I have “too much time on my hands” because: no.)

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.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

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’.

Order up


closing in


I once asked a favorite writer of mine, April Henry, how she knew when her project was done.

“It’s due,” she said.

Oh. Right.


I struggled with this one for my ebook “Merry is Optional” because given that I’m writing in the margins of real life, the material I’m ending with isn’t everything I had in mind for this project. Because a constant theme in my writing is encouraging others to let go of what is or isn’t going as planned and embrace what is. So, that’s happening and it’s time.

This way, I’ll get good feedback from my dear reader friends and can put out an even better second edition. Later. Like, next year.

I’m ready for it to be done.

We’re all ready.

It’s at the point where balance has tipped in favor of meeting my drop-dead deadline (you know there’s stages, right? This is the One That Can’t Be Missed).

As a result of all the extra minutes going into this final push, we put our shoes on to cross the kitchen floor because … ew. And also because no one else seems to know how to push a broom without being asked.

The boys heard the cast iron pan moving around on the stove this morning and came running: “She’s making breakfast!”

But actually I was just moving stuff out of the way to make coffee.

They were cool about their disappointment at another cold breakfast, dude – that’s more than some kids ever get.

“I know. But some kids get sausage, you know?” Says the older one. “How about just a warm egg, Mama?” Says the younger one.

Since, it’s been a few days of cereal and/or pepperoni and grapes for breakfast, I threw some oil, eggs and bread in the pan for peekaboo eggs and won the morning. (Pro tip: you too can do the bare minimum which then makes something super simple seem brilliant. You’re welcome).

Order. Up!

Speaking of which, the stuff marked in the corner in blue on the screen shot from my Scrivener program has to be done today yet.

Some time between picking up the boys, soccer practice, end of the year soccer party and wrestling practice, bed time routine and I’m actually still hopeful I can squeeze in one more Sons of Anarchy episode because I got a little bit addicted. I can’t explain how that happened. (For the record, we aren’t usually that all over the place but this one week, things overlapped. Because of course they did).

But it’ll get done. As I recently wrote in a job application, deadlines are my love language.


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.

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


*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.