- The Fam
My new hobby heeds the nagging OCD madwoman within, while at the same time nurturing an ongoing wistful kitchen daydream I have while creating in the kitchen.
Before I go on and on– it’s a dinner diary.
I was introduced to the idea a couple of months ago when I came across, Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach, while browsing in the cookbook section of our public library and have spent the last month consumed with it after receiving it as a Christmas gift (thank you mother-in-law for taking my book requests seriously). Jenny writes at her blog, Dinner: A Love Story and her book is basically a memoir based around years of writing in her family dinner diary, it’s honestly lovely.
Until reading her unconventional cookbook, I never knew that dinner diaries were a thing. It’s a diary you keep in the kitchen to meal plan with, take food notes and document your dinner expeditions. It’s a sure way to document your day-to-day family memories along with family meals.
And I’ve been thinking, duh, why has this not occurred to me before? This simple activity is a mesh of so many things I have wanted in my life…
#1 Family Journaling.
In my blogging absence I have craved documenting family life. I have the worst memory, and so the thought of not documenting family life makes me really sad. Our dinner diary allows me to jot little notes about our daily life along with recipes and food notes. Sitting down together as a family for dinner has always been the constant in our busy lives and so this is a fun (and accurate) glimpse into our daily lives. Husband calls the dinner diary ‘real life blogging’, I just wish it included pretty pictures and then it would be perfect!
#2 Cooking Log.
I love to cook. Husband loves to cook. It’s a concrete, hands on, creative outlet for both of us when our jobs are so heady and for years we have talked about keeping a log for figuring out precise measurements in our recipes, having it to take notes on for things to change the next time we experiment with a meal or note who liked what. In our new diary, I also write out our weekly meal plans, review recipes, and pass on our own recipes for our kids. I think it will be a great dinner reference tool.
#3. Utilizing My Cookbook Collection.
I love reading cookbooks, like, cover-to-cover-don’t-forget-the-index, reading of cookbooks. But oddly, I never try any of the recipes! This seems really counter productive, right? I know. I am aware that at some point I was going to have to figure this out. So with this diary thing, I’ve had the inspiration to tab recipes as I read and then when we meal plan I can grab a cookbook and have access to pages of pre-meditated inspiration. AND THEN, when we make it during the week I can take notes on the recipe in our diary and cross-reference the notes by writing the diary date beside the recipe in the cookbook…genius right!? I’ve got a system!
So on to my dreamy sentiment…
Sometimes, when I’m doing my thing in the kitchen, I glance over to my small but growing collection of cookbooks on our kitchen shelf and I think about all the kitchens we have moved them to and from over the years. It starts me dreaming about the kitchens to come…
I can picture our grandchildren bursting through the front door and marching first thing into the kitchen where they gather for treats and to inspect steamy bubbly pots. In our future kitchen hub, our grandchildren find beloved cookbooks to flip through. Each care worn, marked up with chocolate fingerprints from their parents flipping through the pages as children, and tomato sauce splatters from cooking adventures past. I imagine them begging me to replicate yummy pictures and licking spatulas from frosting they’ve conned me into whipping up for the second batch of cupcakes in a weekend. From those cookbook pages, filled with decades of notes, I’ll help teach them to cook, just like I taught their parents, passing on history and tradition.
And one day, the cookbooks will be passed to the next generation to place on their kitchen shelves for their children to flip through when they gather together as a family. Isn’t it a sweet little dream?
Now we’ll have our family story to pass along through our dinner diary and hopefully start a family tradition that will last a very long time.
Alright, let’s just pretend that I didn’t get stuck in some kind of weird time warp where I didn’t post anything for 6 months….
Agreed? Okay! We will be friends again!
After years of writing here at MaeMaeDaily, one week early last summer, suddenly, I couldn’t bring myself to post anymore. I feel like I owe my friends/readers an explanation for my sudden disappearance from the blog-o-sphere—and I do have an explanation other than laziness. Granted, it took me 6 months to come up with this excuse so take it for what it is worth…
First, let me set the stage so that you can fully participate in my introspection.
It was an unusually warm evening at the Oregon coast where the girls and I had met up with Husband for the weekend to celebrate Fathers Day and to do some camping near the beach. We had just returned from a short but LONG walk (considering we had a 2 year old to coax down the path), to buy some firewood from the camp hosts. After having walked 200 feet in 30 min, and considering Husband had been gone for a few weeks and I had been left to take care of every single little request from two little girls, Husband makes the smart move of offering to put the girls to bed in the tent. It’s early summer, even at 9pm, the sun has yet to set and so I decide to take a walk by myself and find myself on the beach.
It’s surreal, surreal that I’m alone, and the beach itself is a surreal hideaway. There had been a wispy fog bank resting over the entire beach since we had arrived and set up camp earlier that day. We had not been able to see the crashing waves…just hear them. Earlier that afternoon Husband and the girls would walk into the fog to play wave tag or build a sandcastle and only 20 feet away my little family would disappear from view.
And so here I am at sunset and Mother Nature takes it up a notch. The air around me is ethereal, pink and bright. The sun has made it’s decent far enough that it can finally show its face for the first time since dawn, squeezing between the heavy Oregon clouds above and the fog bank surrounding me. As beams bounce off and through the water in the air, a magnified rosy glow is cast over everything for miles around. The whole thing is honestly, miraculous.
As I step off the beach trail, I see fellow beach wanders stop in place with their bare feet sinking farther into the sand. I notice the look of wonder and expectation on their faces as they stop to look into the abyss that seems to have swallowed the ocean and which the sun now lingers over. They know as well as I, that this nature’s miracle might change us all, right here, forever.
This phenomenal spectacle on the beach starts to sink in and I suddenly become unreasonably desperate for the perfect place to sit. It is now obvious to me that I am about to have some incredible life altering moment or inspiration and I should be alone and sitting down for it. Totally reasonable.
I sweep my gaze over the beach and find the perfect spot immediately. Not far off is a log resting on the edge of a fresh water stream that is carving its way out to the unseen ocean. No one has dared to cross this shallow path of water to reach the inviting log.
Suckers! *evil chuckle*
I quickly cross over to it and triumphantly claim my log of solitude. I sit down and I say a quick prayer to acknowledge the greatness of the scene before me and my gratitude for the opportunity to witness it. Then I actively allow my mind to go as still as possible…….
“I should be thinking about something right now.”
“Don’t I have like a whole lot of stuff to contemplate right now? I am pretty grown up and wise and stuff.”
“Ideas for blog posts maybe? How am I going to potty train Lime? What do I want to do when I grow up? How should I prioritize this solitude log thinking agenda?”
“Crap, I forgot all my stuff. I finally have alone time and I forgot all my stuff!”
WOMAN PANICS BECAUSE SHE FORGOT HER MENTAL TO-THINK LIST WHILE SITTING ON A SOLITUDE LOG DURING A CRAZY OUTDOOR MIRACLE.
“Dang it, Magen. CHILL OUT. Why did you have to go and ruin the solitude with your to-do lists? This is exactly what I have been saying. You have got to cut this stuff out…it’s stressing you out and you can’t just enjoy life…and peaceful moments on the beach!”
Yes. This is me talking to myself. It’s hard to escape myself sometimes. I had taken on the summer goal of letting go and being a kid for this very purpose BUT I was finding that it was really hard to do when I had such large to-do lists! It’s just my nature. So, I’m sitting on the log and thinking…
“What if I just douched my life of everything that has been weighing on me to do or get done and started over?” I fill my life with projects and goals all the time and I have very little time to just BE. To have a quiet mind is to find inspiration and grow…and that’s really what I needed.
Back on my lovely beach log, I’m watching seagulls dip in and out of the pink foggy abyss, listening to the unseen waves sucking out the daylight hours—and I’m overwhelmed. What should I do about this? Do I finish everything I’ve started and then take a break or do give up what I’ve been working on and plunge into new ideas and a more carefree summer but with the weight of old goals on my conscious?
I stood up before daylight completely disappeared somewhere out on the unseen horizon and walked back to the tent. I left my frustration and the weight of my self-inflicted stress on the beach. It wasn’t a conscious choice. It just happened. That rosy haze hypnotized me.
The rest of the summer I didn’t do anything but just be. I read a lot of books, I played with the girls, I didn’t have an internal battle when I had alone time, for a week straight I sat alone next to a canal during the morning light, played with a kitten and wrote in my journal and I was so entranced by this that hours slipped away from me. I simply forgot about all my projects and goals and the blog. I traveled all over the northwest. I only planned minute to minute according to my immediate needs and the girls needs. It was wonderful.
I have a little more peace and a lot of good memories.
Writing this does make me remember a great idea I had that weekend. To add to my future list of things to do– write a book on how to discern a great restaurant by their fish tacos. West Coast Tacos De Mar or something like that. Do you ever feel like that? Have a weekend where you just want to write a book about fish tacos? I sure do.
P.S. I love to write, but I hate whenever anything creative becomes stifling or an obligation (to others or myself). I let the blog become just that. I will try not to make that mistake again. I do as I please here…my random creative space and so Mae Mae Daily can no longer be an obligation. Thank you, Thank you for putting up with me and continuing to check-in during my absence.
I have been a little absent from blogging. Usually writing is my escape from the day-to-day routine– but right now there is nothing more I want to do then PLAY! It feels re-juvenating to just let go of other responsibilities for now.
We made our own cherry picker and picked cherries in the yard for an entire afternoon, romped around a hidden graveyard we found in the woods (sounds creepy but it is beautiful), swam at the pool on the official first day of summer, met up with friends for lunch at the park, watched movies while summer rain pelted roof tops, finished a book together, took pictures and giggled at a acrobat squirrel nibbling on cherries in the tree tops, visited a local museum and this weekend we get to ride a TRAIN!
How am I ever going to revert back to being an adult again? For now, I’m not going to think about it.
How is everyones summers so far?
Well, summer has probably begun for most of you. But for us this is our first real week of summer and we had just enough of a break last week to do some prep work. It is so nice to get some of this out of the way so we can now just pick up and go.
For those of you who don’t feel completely prepared for summer I have put together a few different days to focus on different areas of prep work and included my lists in case anyone needs inspiration. Of course, I’m not completely done, and could use some prompts as well!
Cheers to a summer with all the prep work done– the only thing that will be left to do is have fun…
Prep Day 1: Uniforms
I do not consider putting clothing ensembles together my forte but I do know that this summer we will need to have lots of play clothing and some gear for fun summer activities. I plan to spend my budget mostly on accessories and gear. Play clothes will be repurposed or made over clothing we already have or purchased at thrift stores and possibly altered. I do not want to be worrying about the girls ruining new clothing or clothing I spent time making them. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to worry about ruining MY clothing. I want us all to have essentials that we can get messy in!
On my list:
- Play clothing (T-shirts, Tank Tops, Shorts, Loose dresses, Old Jeans)
- Appropriate summer footwear– Check for fit, mobility and comfort.
- Light Sweatshirts/Pullovers
- Potty Training Friendly Clothing– Elastic waistband shorts and training panties.
- Under shorts for dresses
- Restock Hair Supplies– Getting ready for more physical activity!
Make over old slip-on shoes: I had a pile of slip on shoes that were pretty trashed and needed a face lift. So I pulled out any crumbly insoles, gave them a spin in the wash and bought a handful of Dr.Scholl’s insoles for $1.50 each at Walmart. Pretty pumped to get another season of use out of them!
Re-purpose old pants: Recently I set aside all of our ill-fitting and worn out pants for cut-offs this summer. See my quick tutorial HERE.
Prep Day 2: Equipment
It’s important to remember that there will be lots of day trips this summer– trips to the pool, hiking, biking and trips to the beach. What equipment do you need or would make things more comfortable? Examine what you have, give tune-ups to bikes, get new parts, get a head of the game and buy something used or new.
On my list:
- Soft cooler– (See pic above)…totally dorky, but so useful for avoiding eating out!
- Extra thermos– Great for taking along a hot soup or keeping milk cold.
- Lightweight/waterproof blanket
- Backpacks for expeditions
- Pool Gear/Towels/Bags/Toys
- Sand Toys
- Water bottles
- Camping gear
- A pile of carabiners! — I inevitably need them while out and about with the girls.
Prep Day 3: Supplies
Take a look at your schedule, routines and goals. What are some of the day-to-day things you’re going to need? It will nice to have them ahead of time!
On my list:
- Summer Passes– Pool passess, children’s mueseum, zoo, etc.
- Science Equipment- Mini microscopes, magnifying glass, bug catchers/nets.
- Project/Craft Supplies
- Notebooks for Field Journals
- Guidebooks/ Field guides
- Day Kits (Notebook, Book, Snacks, Water Bottle, Sunscreen, Chapstick)
Prep Day 4: Travel
This is for making traveling plans simpler, comfy and fun. First, list out any weekend trips or big family trips you have planned for the summer for inspiration. Think your way through each trip and list anything that you think would be nice to have ready or make the trip more comfortable.
On my list:
- Entertainment–Audio books and books that we own.
- Card Games
- Self-entertaining activities for the kids- Stickers
- Travel toys/kits
- Healthy travel snacks
- Duffle bags for quick trips
- Travel sized containers
- Carabiners! Again, I need them when traveling.
- Head/neck rests
- Small travel blankets for the girls
Prep Day 5: Food
This last day is really for my benefit. I need a list of good foods and meals to make throughout the week on my lonesome without Husband cooking for me and doing the shopping *frown*. I’m spoiled.
So this is more of a brainstorming task to make lists and getting in the habit of buying certain items at the store or doing prep work. The key for us is prep because if it’s available…we’ll eat it!
Here are some lists I need to make and few of our go-to meals:
- On-The-Go Snacks: Carrot sticks, snap peas, string cheese, apples, frozen go-gurts
- Variety of Lunches: Re-inventing leftovers, Peanut butter and Nutella Sandwiches, Homemade Soups, Tuna on crackers
- Easy Homemade Dinners: Hawaiian Haystacks (summer favorite), Beans and Cornbread, Broiled Nachos
- Plan AHead Breakfasts: Muffins (the night before with girls), Fruit Smoothies, Pre-cook bacon and mix pancake batter.
- Healthy Desserts: Greek yogurt with fruit, Nutella Fondue, Frozen Banana Popsicles
And there you have it! Feeling good and prepared.
How is your summer going? What’s on your to-do list in preparation for the summer?
A couple of months ago I went through our pants and set aside any that were starting to get too worn out or would not fit the girls by next fall.
I just want to say, I HATE the thought of spending money on summer clothing. It just seems wasteful. All we are going to do is get dirty while romping, wear LESS clothing and we aren’t really going to care a whole lot about what we look like when we have no where official to be and no one to impress.
So to me, it makes much more sense to re-invent clothing we already have and pants are a great place to start. If you with me on this, here is a quick tutorial on how to create cute cut-off jeans:
1. With pants on or using another pair of shorts as your guide, measure the length you want for your cut offs. To this, add on seam allowance keeping in mind whether you want to flip up once, leaving the edge raw to fray a bit in the wash or flipping twice and having a folded edge.
2. Lay one pant leg straight and cut straight across the leg at the length measured.
3. Fold over onto the second leg to match and cut.
4. Fold up raw edge and eye how you want your hem to look.
5. Press your edges with an iron.
6. Hand stitch a thick stitch in one place at the side seams of each leg to hold in place.
7. To keep the hem in place, in the inside (wrong side) make large loose stitches catching only a tiny bit on the right side of the leg (invisible stitch). Doesn’t have to be pretty.
8. View in the inside when done.
Finish a project lately? Please share!
Check out this FSIS Project by Aimee at Crafty Bug:
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