Monday, December 30, 2013

The Year of 2013

This has been a good year.

1. [February] I started this blog :)

2. [April] My first born turned 2.

3. [May] Safely and Happily completed my first year as a stay at home mom :)

4. [June] Met my physical health goals with great success :)

5. [July] My second born turned 1 :) and I started a small group of moms that meet weekly :)

6. [September] Celebrated 10 years of marriage :)

7. [October] Safely and Happily reached the age of 33.

8. [November] and [December] Ate lots of good food and celebrated to the fullest.

Wishing you all - happiness, warmth, and health - as you ring in the New Year.

- brook.

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sit with me.

One question I can never say no to is "Mommy, will you sit with me?" This time, we played with play dough and took photos together.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Little One.

I heard this verse on the radio. It was being read by a little child.

Something about that small voice reading these big words, stopped my day completely.

It magnified the beautiful hope and promise that this season represents.

Here is the story of the little one who came for the world.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them,

"Do not be afraid,

for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

Luke 2: 8-12

Merry Christmas.

Sketch by Josh Powell.

Thanks for reading.

- brook

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's the holiday season....

with a whoop-de-do and a hickory dock
and don't forget to hang up your sock......:)

That song has been in my head on repeat for the last week. It is driving Josh crazy (because Christmas music is not his favorite :), but I love that Christmas is a 'season' not just one day. Below is a photo journal of our family's Christmas Season so far.

This year I hosted my very first cookie exchange with my small group. It was a great time and will be something I try to do every year. And why not? right? because afterwards your kitchen is stocked with wonderful sweet stuff.

Another first this year, is decorating our home office. I thought since, Josh's business, is what keeps this family running financially - it should receive a little Christmas 'love' as well :)

I decided to tap into my elementary school crafting skills and cut out some snowflakes. P.S. this website gives an amazing tutorial on paper folding and pattern technique.

We also put up a little Christmas tree. I gave Josh these Lego Ornaments the first year we got married. You can find similar ones here.

This year marked our second annual Neighborhood Party. Usually we just see each other in passing, it is nice to take some time together.

The big guys and the little guys were in deep conversation :)
The constant rainy weather hasn't stopped us from taking in some Christmas Lights.

When decorating the tree this year, I took special note of this ornament that is now 10 years old.

The rest of this season will be spent wrapping presents and spending time with my close family.

Merry (two days before) Christmas.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Shopping in 'Pleasantville'

Black Friday, last week, and two nights ago I went out Christmas shopping.

To be met with the most chilled out, relaxed shopping crowd.

Not very many people at all.

And the ones out shopping were very quiet.

It has been really nice but weird at the same time.

I could get used to it. I hope all of you are experiencing some surprising calmness this Christmas season.

Thanks for reading.

- brook

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Photography Love

Happy Tuesday :) I hope your week is going well.

These past couple of days/weeks, some photos have crossed my path via Facebook and Twitter that hit me right where I am.

Any....hoo.....I wanted to share them here in case you haven't seen them.

[1] Theo and Beau :) A boy and his puppy, who nap together. Jessica Shyba, their mom, and writer of the blog Momma's Gone City has posted quite a few pictures of their naps together. Here are a couple of my favorites. Follow her on Facebook to get daily updates of these two cuties.

[2] Moving without Mom. A photo series of a dad and daughter that recreates the steps taken a couple of years previously when mom and dad were about to get married. Their story touched me because, this newly married mom with a young daughter passed away at the age of 31 because of cancer. Stories like these keep me thankful. The one below is my favorite, but also punches me in the gut. Check out the rest here.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Do It For The Sake of Doing It

In other words, do it for the purpose of doing it and for no other reason.

Today I saw this photograph on Humans of New York.

With this caption.

"I had a whole vision. I wasn’t a pro, but I could film from different angles and stuff. I was going to have a whole YouTube channel with different kids doing rap battles. I worked really hard at it, but nobody except my friends ever looked at it. And all the adults in my life told me that I was wasting my time. So one day I got mad at life, and started deleting, deleting, deleting, until it was all gone."

And it got me to thinking about this little blog, that does not garner very much attention except for a handful of faithful followers (that I love :).

I had to ask myself.....

Does this blog mean less because there are only a few who read it?

Would my writing mean more if more people responded?

I think every person desires positive responses to the things they do. And if they really care about 'that thing' they do, the response means more.

For me, it is blogging, but for you it could be something else that you do creatively (baking, sewing, etc.). You want people to think it is great, right?

At times I think that it would be awesome to have a large following of mamas to this little corner of the Internet, most of the time, though, I love it for what it is......which is a place where I can write for the sake of writing and nothing else.

The act of writing and posting, clears my head and it helps me release this itch that is inside. Motherhood, like most every role in life, can feel isolating - this place helps me to get it out there. Even if no one responds, I have communicated.

The act of doing for the sake of doing makes this therapeutic. The man in the picture let the response over take something he really loved. What is great about true creativity is that eventually it will find a way out again, even if it has been stifled.

Is there something you do for the sake of doing? OR something you 'should' be doing for the sake of doing (and nothing else)?

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

p.s. I love it when you guys leave me little notes or give me a thumbs up......but I won't get mad and delete this if you don't :) and now you can also Follow my blog with Bloglovin if you so choose :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Quick Note

.....and a 12 days before Christmas hug to all the Mama Bee No E mama's that had a DAY today.

This mama has been chewed up and spit out......and still has to go clean up the kitchen :)

A few minutes ago, I slammed dunked my littles into their beds and walked into the living room to take a breath.

I noticed my little tiny reflection in this ornament and it made me smile :) I am thankful for this season and for all the other mama's that are feeling the same way I am right now.

A big fist bump to you, ladies. The kids are in bed :)

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This dog.

Fig. Is the puppy love of my life. I have not talked about her much here on Mama Bee No E but she is a big part of what makes me happy.

Yesterday afternoon, I let her take a nap with my bed :) Normally, the bed is off limits to her (per the husband's request), but I sneak her in as much as possible.....because it is oooooo soooo good to take a nap with this little 10 lb ball of love :)

I plan to write about this little girl more often so you will be seeing her from time to time......

.....cause doggy faces just make the world a better place, right? :)

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Monday, December 9, 2013

DIY [Reversible Pillow] With A Hand Painted Side

Hi, there. We are in the after Thanksgiving - pre Christmas window, so I thought I would post my last DIY project for the Master Bedroom Refresh.

This one was a late night, spur of the moment, wild hair idea that my husband and I had (so some of the process pictures are not the best lighting and we forgot to start taking photos until well into the project, hopefully you will still get the idea).

We bought a pillow for our bed that was the perfect color yellow we were looking for, but we didn't know if we were 100% in love with the embellishment on the front - so, we decided to give ourselves options :)

Hence, the reversible pillow.

On the blank side, we taped off a geometric design using standard blue painter's tape (as you can see we had already painted part of it when we thought to take pictures :)

We used Fabric Screen Printing Ink as the white pigment but you probably could use basic acrylic or fabric paint if that is all you had.

One thing I have learned about working with any sort of masking element is you must be very patient and careful when working at the edge if you want a clean line. In this case, I was painting onto a pre-stuffed pillow (yikes!) so I dabbed, dabbed, dabbed until I got the coverage I wanted.

We peeled the tape up immediately - careful not to get wet paint everywhere.

After letting it air dry for a couple of days, it was ready for display. *Disclaimer: It is recommended that you heat set finished artwork when using screen printing ink. This was not an option for us working with this particular pillow and have found that to be okay since we are using it for decorative purpose and not running it through the wash.

Now we can choose which side we want showing :) [F] prefers the 'happiness' side and will go and turn it some times when we are not in there :) that is of course if the bed is made :)

I want to know, do you have a pillow with a blank side screaming for some paint?

You may also enjoy the other DIY projects from this room.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Payment

Yesterday, I wrote a short 5 minute essay reflecting on this past week at my house.

Today, I further that essay with writing about 'the payment'.

My boys are 2 and 1. Just wanted to put that out there to 'set the stage'.

For those who are not in the middle of toddler raising, that equals - budding communication skills with frequent emotional interjections :) AND electronic devices of any kind equal CRACK ROCK (the high, while it lasts, is pleasant...but the crash afterward is intense).

Well, people, we are in detox at our house. Today, our family regained some semblance of normalcy. I finally cleaned the kitchen completely :) and there was more on the agenda than watching TV.

As I said in my last post - I knew from the moment I made this 'not very good deal' with myself - that there would be payment and it would be stiff.

We made it until mid-morning and then came the first payment due. [F], my two year old asked, "Hey mom, can we watch Justin Time again?"

After I told him 'no', the most amazing physical reaction occurred.

Like a vibration from the center of the earth, [F]'s body began to shake and writhe out of control.....

his voice was set to repeat, making sure that I understood what he had asked me the first time.

This 'episode' continued for a couple of minutes until he was a hot, sweaty, slobbery mess on the floor and then began the heartbreak phase.

He came and sat in my lap and patted my back crying big, wet tears. "But, mommy....I wanna.....(you fill in the blank :)"

This was one of many necessary payment transactions to get little man back on the road to a fruitful, all things in moderation, life :)

Check out yesterday's post here.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A [Not] Very Good Deal

I have been itching to write. I have tossed around quite a few topics but every idea I talk myself out of before writing the first word. It is insecurity.

So. Today. To bust through this silliness. There will be no hesitation. Just writing.

I am joining Lisa-Jo Baker for five minutes of writing. no editing. Prompt is 'reflect'.

This past week or so has been a one....two....quadruple punch to the face.

All four of us were taken down by a mean muggin' virus. We fell like flies that just hit the zapper.

On the mommy front - my efforts were compromised by a completely consuming cough and a flickering battery life. So, I made a 'not very good deal' with myself.

[Let them watch TV-------as much as they want---------as long as there is rest and peace.]

And there was A LOT of TV watching, all day (and by all day I mean 8+ hours), pretty much every day.

But it was quiet, no one argued, I didn't have to raise my voice, I was 'allowed' to be sick.

Payment for this deal will be stiff.

Well, payment.....that is a whole other post entirely.

Have you ever made a 'not very good deal' with yourself as a parent?

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Preparing a Meal of Thanks.

I hope this post finds you lazy and resting at your house. I love the day after Thanksgiving almost as much as the day of. It is a time when I let the memories of the holiday play over and simmer in my mind.

This year, Josh and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house, as we have for the past few years. I have come to a place where I can really enjoy preparing the meal for everyone and not stress out about whether everything will turn out. I have my cooking 'to do' list planned out over a couple of days and do things at a slow, enjoyable pace. Josh takes charge of the kids and last minute cleaning so that I can really take the time to savor the process of preparing a meal of thanks. Below is a photo journal of my time and a couple of notes along the way.

I started with my dessert. The recipe was a new one for me and required quite a few steps. So I did it over a a couple of days, freezing my cake ahead of time.

This Apple-Pecan Carrot Cake turned out to be a very easy thing to make and so delicious.

It has a apple cider caramel sauce that you put in between layers and on top to serve.
The frosting (not pictured) has a very loose, fluffy consistency. Rather than frosting the top, I served like whipped cream on the side. In the future, I will probably skip that step because the cake and sauce are so good on their own.

Another new thing I tried was making creamed corn from scratch with corn cut from the cob. The recipe comes from a cookbook my grandmother gave me entitled - The Gift of Southern Cooking. This will definitely be a future staple of my thanksgiving table.

Probably the biggest surprise to me, when I started cooking my own Thanksgiving meals, was how EASY it is too roast a turkey. My dear, dear friend - Leila - guided me through the process a couple of years ago and it has rendered wonderful results each time.

Prep the bird by stuffing with raw carrots, onion, celery, and sage. Slide sage and butter underneath the skin. Coat the outside with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Cook per the directions on the package and Viola!

Did you know there is such a thing as a Green Pumpkin? There is. I didn't know that until this year.

There was such a feeling of Thanks all around my house. And I loved every minute.

In the afternoon, while the kids were napping, I took a break from cooking and Josh set to his drawing table. I found this a couple of hours later.....

I hope that you had a warm, yummy, restful Thanksgiving 2013. Now. I am off to enjoy my leftovers :)

*As a side note and followup to my last post - Unfortunately, my original plan to do crafts with my little guys was derailed by a double ear infection and upper respiratory infections :( They spent most of the last few days blobbing in front of the TV :) I hope you enjoyed this photo recap in its place.

Thanks for reading.

- brook.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What Does The Turkey Say?

Hello, and happy Friday before Thanksgiving! Yes, as much as it shocks me, turkey day is next week.

This year is the first year, I am purposely introducing Thanksgiving to my little guys. Even though they are only 2 and 1 - I want them to learn about giving thanks as early as possible.

Below are a couple of things I am doing with them this year to teach them about the holiday of Thanksgiving and being thankful.

Hopefully you will find something here you can share with your kids.

First up......The Mayflower Voyagers with Charlie Brown :) This movie is AWESOME! If you have Netflix, you can access it on there. I included a little clip below for those of you who wanted a preview. It is a precious cartoon that teaches about the history of the pilgrims and Thanksgiving.

Next is a little book I found at the library this past week entitled, My Book of Thanks by B.G. Hennessy. 

I have loved reading this book to my kids this week because it is through and through a book about thanks WITHOUT pictures and stories about the Thanksgiving holiday.

My Book of Thanks leads the reader through a step by step prayer on all the things to be thankful for in life.

It only has a few words per page so it is perfect for little toddlers.

And lastly....crafts. I will be completing these over the next few days with my kids and will post results soon after.

[Thankful Hands Card] 

The picture below is from My Paper Crane. I plan on modifying this one a little to include things we are thankful for.

[Fall Collage]

I love this one below from Ideals to Life because the Thanksgiving holiday is so much about the weather outside. [F] loves exploring and will be beyond excited to know that he can collect some things......and then bring them inside.....and then use glue! :)

I leave you with a cute Thanksgiving story from my house....the other day, [F] and I were putting together this 'Thank You' turkey card for our Children's Librarian and I asked [F] "What does a turkey say?"

He said........"Ummmm, the turkey says......Sandwich!" I said, "yea, buddy, I guess it does :)"

I hope you guys have a fun week with your kiddos preparing for your meal of thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading.

This post is part of my Diary.

Check out my Kid's Books page for more reading recommendations.

- brook.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Making the Best of a Blessing: 6 Tips to Enjoying Leftovers

This post is about leftovers :) I titled it Making the Best of a Blessing because that is what leftover food is.....a blessing.

But, we don't always view them this way. My family has been on a tight budget since we have transitioned to a one income household. The greatest contribution I make to our financial health is to make sure that we are eating at home and enjoying it :) On July 1st of this year, My husband and I committed to abstain from eating out. In addition to that we also committed to throwing away as little food as possible (which means more nights than not, we are eating left overs). I knew from previous times we made this commitment, that in order for it to work, we had to look forward to our meals at home. 

I am not always successful at creating a meal we look forward too :), but I have found a couple of tricks that help to keep meal time a fresh experience (even if you are eating the same thing 3 days in a row).

1. [Take it Outside] We brushed off our much neglected outdoor furniture and take our leftovers out into the evening air. This change of scenery does wonders for making the second time around better than the first.

2. [Cook a New Side Dish] Often if I have a large main course that will last multiple days, I will purchase a couple different vegetables that I will cook fresh each night to spruce up the plate.

3. [Dessert] - I don't cook dessert very often, but when I do, I try to present it on a night we are having leftovers.  My family tends to not worry so much about what is on their dinner plate, if they know they have something sweet coming their way afterwards.

4. [Dinner for Lunch] - Sometimes we have leftovers for lunch (especially on Sundays) and then a lighter meal for dinner. Leftovers some how seem more substantial when they are served as a lunch. 

5. [Make Breakfast Special] - We have had chili the past two nights and I know we are set to have them again tonight. I am already thinking of reasons of why we 'should' go out :) Instead, I cook a hearty breakfast that morning. I have found that preparing a hot breakfast (i.e. muffins or waffles) helps to take our food focus off of dinner and onto another meal.

6. [Meaningful Fellowship] - We try to eat together as a family every night. Some nights, Josh and I look at each other worn out at the effort it takes to get to small children to sit down to a meal, eat and behave :) But a lot of nights, our interaction with the kids is priceless. When rich fellowship accompanies a meal, the food is the vehicle rather than the focus. Ruth Simons wrote a beautiful post about this topic here.

Are there any tricks you use to 'spruce up' extra food? I would love to know.

I hope that with this list, you can enjoy your leftovers (the blessing in disguise :)

Thanks for reading.

This post is part of my Diary.

- brook.

Friday, November 15, 2013

DIY [Wall Art] With Song Lyrics

Hello, there. This is the next DIY Project from my Master Bedroom 'Refresh' Reveal - DIY Wall Art with Song Lyrics.

For our bedroom, I wanted clean personal touches. This one is so special to me. It is the first thing I did for the room and I am really pleased with how it turned out.

This project comes courtesy of A Beautiful Mess blog. If you have followed me long - you know that I [heart] A Beautiful Mess. I have featured them a couple of times already here and will probably continue to see them from time to time because they are AMAZING.

The lyrics on the canvas come from 'Our Song' - Come Away With Me by Nora Jones. We danced to this song at our wedding, we have always loved it.

With those song lyrics, fabric, an old canvas, vinyl letters, and some paint - We have lovely wall art for our Master Bedroom :)
My favorite thing about this piece is that it allows for many colors to peak through without over powering the color scheme of the room.
The fabric is from IKEA. The Letters are 3 inch Vinyl from Hobby Lobby (with the daily 40% off coupon :).
Click here for a full How To Guide on doing this project.
****Below are a couple of things I did differently from their instructions.

1. Instead of using a piece of found artwork. I covered a canvas I had with fabric I picked out.

2. Rather than squirting a bunch of paint on the canvas all at once, I added paint as I went along -  being REALLY carefully around the vinyl lettering so that the edges came out cleanly. I did several light coats to build up the pigment.
I want to know, what song lyrics would you use if you were to do this project?

This post is part of my Diary.

You may also enjoy.....

the other DIY projects for the Master Bedroom.

- brook.