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Thursday, January 30, 2014

My new birth-year resolution.

I have a birthday coming up, so for the past couple weeks, Shawn has been pestering me about what's on my wish list.

But I have everything I need, Sweetie. Seriously.

I really do feel that way, but that answer doesn't appease him. So when I finally thought about it, I want to learn calligraphy. Modern calligraphy. (There is a definite difference.) I adore some of the gorgeous hand lettering I've been seeing for years now, and I love the style that looks like someone's handwriting... just better. It's a far cry from the more traditional, Old English style calligraphy I learned from a kit back in middle school.

I've asked for this book to help me get started:
Modern Calligraphy: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started in Script Calligraphy

And I found some favorite tips & nibs suggestions:


And finally, I've been inspired by these gorgeous examples...
Source
Source




So as I get to practicing, I have a feeling I'll be talking more about this on the blog... so consider yourself forewarned. :)

Any other resources I should know about as a beginner? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Our snow day, in pictures

The mustard chair: a $65 Craigslist find that Shawn braved icy roads to retrieve.


Neighborhood friends

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 2014 Giveaway.


I'm so excited to have the opportunity to host a giveaway on the blog today. Let me show you what you have the chance to win...

1. 3 Bible verse art prints from Iekel Road Design (valued at $28)



2. Gold glitter ampersand sign from Carolyn Jewels (valued at $13.50)
3. Yellow & grey polka dot wallet from The Ruffled Stitch (valued at $33)


4. $15 gift card to spend at Innovatory Photo
5. Charcoal messenger bag + 2 pairs of earrings from Brighter Day (valued at $93)

Winner takes all.

Here's how to enter (feel free to enter using one option or all of them!):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'll be picking a winner at random this coming Friday, January 31st, and will announce the winner later that day! Best of luck!

If you're interested in becoming a Sponsor of Elm Street Life in February, there are still a couple spots available. Please email me at whitney @ elmstreetlife.com. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

DIY: $1 Valentine's Day Mugs

These sweet mugs could not be any easier to make - or any cheaper. The only supplies you need are plain white mugs that are dishwasher/microwave/oven safe (I bought mine for $1 each at Dollar Tree), a Sharpie, and an oven. Any color sharpie will work.
First, I chose two of my very favorite "love" quotes:

"To love another person is to see the face of God." - Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

"It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together . . . and I knew it." 
- Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle

Then I just took a deep breath and started writing with my Sharpie.
*Tip: If you mess up big time, use rubbing alcohol (or nail polish remover) on a cotton ball to take off the Sharpie and start over again. This was my saving grace on the second mug.
 Then I went back and filled in some of the letters to make them bolder.
Finally, place your mugs in a cold oven and turn it on to 425°F. Set a kitchen timer to 2 hours. Once the 2 hours is over, turn the oven off but leave your mugs in the oven until they're cool (this may take a few hours). This will make the marker lines set and the mug become dishwasher safe.
That's it! Enjoy your $1 mugs with your sweetheart.
Post edit: I changed the oven time from 30 minutes to 2 hours after reading plenty of other people online whose Sharpie wore off after a couple washes in the dishwasher. In mugs I've made in the past with this method, the Sharpie hasn't worn off. I'll keep you posted about these. :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Calling all mothers.

Our first week with Liam. How was he ever so tiny?
Since moving to Raleigh, motherhood has felt more challenging than ever. We moved far away from grandparents and from our familiar support structure, and Liam has become much more mobile and slept much less during the day, which directly correlates to how much work I'm [not] able to get done. Because our financial situation is such that I need to work, I've been waffling between going back to nursing or continuing to work from home, weighing the many pros and cons of each situation. If it's looked effortless on the pages of this blog, I apologize. Because "effortless" is the last thing it has been.

In the meantime, I've wondered... how do mothers do it? There seems to be so much pressure (perhaps self-inflicted) for mothers to somehow have a career, cook delicious meals, keep a marriage thriving, have a well decorated home, and also be "mom of the year." Add to that a culture that doesn't support working mothers very well (short maternity leave and expensive childcare) but also doesn't always allow mothers to stay home with the economy the way it is.

So here's where you come in. I'd love to hear from you. If you're a mother, how are you making it work? Do you work full-time, part-time, outside the home, inside the home? Does your husband earn all the income and you are able to stay home? Are you a single mom? 1 child or 10 children? How does it work for your family?

Also, what are your greatest challenges in your current set-up? What are your greatest joys?

And finally, what is one truth or piece of advice that's gotten you through the rough days?

I would love to hear your stories. (And if you're willing to attach a photo of you and/or your family, please do!) Email me at whitney @ elmstreetlife.com. I can't promise anything, but I am hoping to make this is a short series here on the blog as a way to encourage each other and maybe even get some helpful ideas.

 (Also, not so secretly, I'd love to connect more with my readers. I know about how many of you click onto Elm Street Life every day, and that number is both humbling and haunting. I'd love to see faces, hear stories, and get to know you. Pretty please?)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Small joys.

"Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness." - Pearl S. Buck
Liam is my greatest teacher in the lesson of contentment, and today was no exception. Give him a sunny day, a favorite blanket and some books, and a yapping dog to watch next door, and he's the happiest little guy in all of Raleigh. It's a lesson I need to learn over and over again.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January's meal plan.

Ok, friends. What you see below is my meal plan for the entire month of January. It won't take you long to figure out there's a whole lot of repetition (like eating goulash 7 times this month... yikes!). I knew the only way I'd stick with this crazy goal of not eating out one time was to make easy, familiar meals with ingredients I could easily obtain and could be used for multiple recipes. It's definitely more of a "winter" meal plan, and will change quite a bit as other foods come into season and the weather warms up. So far, we're 20 days into January and have eaten in for every meal. I've tried to add links wherever possible so that you can find the recipes I used (or at least similar ones). I hope this inspires you!

January 1
Lunch: Tuscan white bean soup + salad (save leftover soup in freezer)
Dinner: Goulash + salad + homemade applesauce

January 2
Lunch: Leftover goulash + salad
Dinner: Roast chicken with carrots & onions, brown rice (+ make homemade chicken broth with leftover chicken & bones)

January 3
Lunch: Sweet potato chili (from freezer)
Dinner: Lemon chicken stew* (using homemade chicken broth) + salad
* Substitute brown rice for the orzo to make it gluten free

January 4
Lunch: Leftover lemon chicken stew
Dinner: Cabernet pot roast in crock pot*, roasted potatoes, green beans
* I buy the Cabernet pot roast from Trader Joe's, sear in olive oil on both sides, then cook in crock pot on high (with a cup of water) for 4 to 5 hours. Comes out tender and flavorful every time.

January 5
Lunch: Roast tacos* + homemade guacamole
Dinner: Pepperoni/mushroom pizza (using this gluten free pizza crust mix ) + salad
* After we're done with the pot roast from the night before, I add some Mexican seasonings (cumin, oregano, garlic, cayenne) and let it marinate overnight. Then I heat the roast, put it in warm corn tortillas, and add guacamole, cheese, salsa, and cilantro.

January 6
Lunch: Leftover pizza + salad
Dinner: Lentil tacos* + fruit smoothies (frozen berries, frozen mango, orange juice, and kale, blended)
* The lentil tacos I make consist of a corn tortilla slathered with jalapeño hummus + warmed lentils + cheese + cilantro + avocado. They're a staple, especially when Shawn is out of town or working late and I'm just making an easy meal for myself.

January 7
Lunch: Tuscan white bean soup (from freezer)
Dinner: Sweet potato chili (from freezer) + salad

January 8
Lunch: Lentil tacos
Dinner: Goulash + salad + homemade applesauce

January 9 
Lunch: Leftover goulash + salad
Dinner: Roast chicken with carrots & onions + quinoa (+ make homemade chicken broth with leftover chicken & bones)

January 10
Lunch: Chicken pasta with sautéed onions, sundried tomatoes, broccoli, white wine, & parmesan
Dinner: Lemon chicken stew + salad (using leftover broth)

January 11
Lunch: Leftover lemon chicken stew + salad
Dinner: Cabernet pot roast in crock pot, roasted potatoes, sautéed asparagus

January 12
Lunch: Roast tacos with homemade guacamole
Dinner: Tomato soup (I don't add the heavy cream) with homemade croutons + salad

January 13
Lunch: Chicken noodle soup with gluten free noodles, using homemade broth (add leftovers to freezer)
Dinner: Pepperoni/mushroom pizza + salad

January 14
Lunch: Leftover pizza + salad
Dinner: Baked chicken strips, quinoa, green beans

January 15
Lunch: Lentil tacos
Dinner: Black eyed pea + collard green soup + salad

January 16
Lunch: Leftover soup + salad
Dinner: Chicken pasta with onions, sundried tomatoes, broccoli, white wine, & parmesan

January 17
Lunch: Leftover chicken pasta
Dinner: Roasted salmon, quinoa, green beans

January 18
Lunch: Lentil tacos
Dinner: Cabernet pot roast, roasted potatoes, green beans, salad

January 19
Lunch: Roast tacos + guacamole
Dinner: Goulash + salad

January 20
Lunch: Leftover goulash + salad
Dinner: Tuscan white bean soup

January 21
Lunch: Leftover Tuscan white bean soup
Dinner: Sweet potato chili (from freezer)

January 22
Lunch: Lentil tacos
Dinner: Lemon chicken stew

January 23
Lunch: Leftover lemon chicken stew + salad
Dinner: Roasted salmon, asparagus, brown rice

January 24
Lunch: Chicken noodle soup (from freezer) + salad
Dinner: Apple cinnamon pancakes + omelettes

January 25
Lunch: Lentil tacos
Dinner: Black eyed pea + collard green soup + salad

January 26
Lunch: Leftover soup + salad
Dinner: Chicken pasta

January 27
Lunch: Leftover chicken pasta
Dinner: Tomato soup + homemade croutons + salad

January 28
Lunch: Chicken noodle soup from freezer
Dinner:  Pepperoni/mushroom pizza + salad

January 29
Lunch: Leftover pizza + salad
Dinner: Tuscan white bean soup

January 30
Lunch: Leftover Tuscan white bean soup
Dinner: Roast chicken, carrots, onions, potatoes

January 31
Lunch: Lentil tacos
Dinner: Goulash + salad

A couple more things...
For breakfasts...
Shawn makes and eats the same breakfast every day: 3 eggs, over easy; two pieces of gluten free cinnamon raisin toast; a smoothie (frozen mango, frozen berries, kale or spinach, and orange juice); and tea or coffee. Liam and I split 3 scrambled eggs, frozen gluten free waffles/pancakes (or sometimes oatmeal for me), juice, and hot tea.

For snacks around the house... 
We eat a whole lot of fresh fruit (bananas, clementines, apples, strawberries, grapes), some dried fruit (dried mango and cherries), a few chips to go along with meals, and I drink a lot of tea (green, black, white, and herbal).

For Liam... 
He's at the age - 14 months - where he's able to eat what we eat, for the most part. I don't buy or make special baby food as I want him to become accustomed to eating with us at the table and learning to try new things. He definitely has opinions about what he likes and doesn't like, but he's a fantastic eater so far.

PS - I promised a Sponsor Giveaway post today, but am needing to postpone that until next Monday, the 27th. Check back then for a sweet giveaway!