The Life and Times of Zoe Zucchini

A very serious and artful self portrait.

A very serious and artful self portrait.

I’m new to gardening, but I do know one thing:  Zucchini are usually harvested before they grow to seven pounds, six ounces.  A friend taught me how to slice, marinate, and grill these giant zucchini as steaks, but this one was even too big for that.  You see, as the squash gets larger, it also starts to get tough.    Before you know it, your summer squash start to act like winter squash, but without the shelf life. Have you learned something new today?  Now, go out and harvest your zucchini before it’s too late!

I, however, did not grow this infant sized organic zucchini.  A dear friend did.  Unlike, me, she is NOT clueless about her garden, and was almost ashamed that this giant had somehow slipped under her radar.  No one wants to see their home grown produce go to waste.  I determined to do something with this thing, for her sake.  No produce left behind!

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Did you know you can shred your fresh zucchini now (and for heaven’s sake, use a food processor if you can!), press out the excess moisture, and freeze it in appropriate batches for your favorite zucchini bread recipe?  Yeah.  So simple, I’m not sure it’s even worth blogging.  But, for the record, this was the first time I’ve ever made zucchini muffins, and because of a (hopefully temporary) dietary restriction, it needed to be gluten and dairy free.  If you want to use the same recipe, try it out here.  Everyone loved it.

Sorry, my blog sucks…

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Well, this is awkward.

Has it been a year?  It’s been close, right?  At some point in September 2013, I closed up shop and put up the password.  Only my very favorite followers were allowed access to the archives.  Well, basically only one really sweet commenter.  My mom didn’t even make the cut.

There were a few reasons.  We were about to close on a house, both my kids were being evaluated (some more) for autism spectrum disorder, our budget was super, super tight because of all those up-front costs of homeownership…  Oh yeah, and I’d just stumbled upon the websites where people go to make fun of bloggers.  Don’t worry.  Nobody was making fun of me (my blog is too small and boring to get that kind of attention), but I knew eventually they would find me and rip me apart.

I was feeling anxious, insecure, and suddenly ready to become a very private person.

Except…

Not a day has gone by since I said, “I’m done,” that I’ve not been writing blog posts in my head.

I’ve missed blogging.  I’ve missed it badly.  I know I was one of those 2011 bandwagon mommy bloggers.  I can’t deny I’ve sometimes been self-important, un-clever, or downright boring in this space.  The truth is, this blog sucks.  The archives are pathetic.

But, I really like making this sucky content.

It might not get better, guys.  I can’t even promise I’ll blog more consistently.

But, to be honest, I think I owe it to myself and in some (narcissistic) way, to the universe, to open back up the archives and try my hand at this again.  I LOVE reading other people’s blogs.  Everybody has their own take, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the internet.  At the end of the day, I don’t want to be that gal just consuming everyone else’s blog content, thinking to myself “That’s great, but I would have done it this way…”  No, I want to jump in and create!  It’s only fair, right?  Give a penny, take a penny?

So, I’m working my way back with a simple challenge.

The Experiment

For the next two weeks, I, Mac, will attempt to NOT check my Instagram, Pinterest, or Bloglovin’ feeds, unless I have produced some content for that specific platform that day.

You read that right.

No Pinterest, until I have found something great to pin.  That’s easy.
No Instagram, until I have a picture to upload.  Little harder.
No Bloglovin’ (or Feedly, or email blog subscriptions, you get the idea), until I have offered something on my own blog.  (EDIT: It’s been about five days, and I’m changing the rules.  No Bloglovin until I’ve spent at least 15 minutes working on my own blog that day.  I’d rather have posts that are really well worked out than post boring stuff every day, and I don’t want to wait a week at a time before catching up on my blog subscriptions.  They’re my favorite.  What can I say?)
No television, until I have sent in my sitcom pilot–okay, okay.  Maybe I’ll draw the line there.

And that, my friends, is how you come back.

-Mac-

P.S. Hi!

Lately…

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Lately, parenting is truly, TRULY, FINALLY getting easier!  Maybe it has something to do with the kids getting older, maybe it has something to do with school letting out, maybe it’s just because we’re going on almost a month now with no crisis, sickness, or bad news!  This school year was ROUGH at our house, and I’m so glad to shut the books on it!

Lately, I’ve quit dieting.  I’ve done vegan, paleo, calorie counting, low carb, slim fast, etc.  Today, I realized of all the dietary changes I’ve embarked upon in my life, the only one that’s really revolutionized my life, given me more energy, helped me through hard times, and helped me start feeling truly great…  wait for it… was when I started drinking coffee!  ;-)
But, I’m pretty sure my next “thing” will be Weight Watchers.

Lately, I’ve been better about soaking up my children, especially my oldest.  You see him zooming above in a simple super hero cape I made out of old sheets, and when we took him to “A Day Out with Thomas”, it was like watching all his wildest dreams come true!

Lately, I’m trying to figure out what summer should look like for us.  I want to make a couple simple goals and be very VERY intentional about how I parent during these precious months!

Lately, I’m spending a lot of time over on moneysavingmom.com.  I wish I would have discovered her earlier in my “stay home mom career”.  She’s brilliant, and our budget is improving!

How about you?  Got any big plans for the summer?
-Mac-

Baseball Cap and Backpack

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This guy has a new obsession:  Earlier, I was digging through his older brother’s hand me downs and out came this toddler sized baseball cap.  I immediately stuck it on his head and he fell in love!  He wants to wear it all the time and will follow us around crying until we affix it to his little noggin!  As you can tell from this picture, he’s also taken to wearing big brother’s backpack around the house.  It’s the ultimate cuteness!

Parenting is actually starting to feel easier this week!  I have a few theories on why (that I really want to blog about when I get a chance).  One more week of school then I’m SO looking forward to having my oldest home for a couple months!

Have a great holiday weekend, everybody!

How to Clean Your Carpets without a Steam Cleaner: Part Two

If you’ve ever wanted to know what the most popular post on my blog is, it’s this one from a couple years ago, on how I used a lot of nesting hormones and even more elbow grease to get all the spots out of my rug without a steam cleaner.

A few weeks ago, I found a new way to do this job:

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Step 1: Put some frozen chicken in a cold bath to thaw.
Step 2:  Leave that water running in your plugged kitchen sink while you get sidetracked chasing kids.
Step 3:  Rush out the door with relief as soon as you’ve wrestled both kids into their shoes.
Step 4:  Forget all about steps 1 & 2.
Step 5:  Return 2 hours later.  Pray your insurance agent is merciful.

After about a week staying with friends and in hotels, we ended up with a brand new carpet!  Now that we actually have a chance of getting our deposit back on this place when we move, I’m totally paranoid, buying a new throw rug every time I go out.  Eventually someone will spill a sippy cup, but in the mean time, I’ve spent my usual blogging time rolling around on my stain free floor!  Bliss!

I told my husband, “For all my shortcomings as a homemaker, I DID get our carpets looking new again!”

30

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I turned 30 early this month.  I always thought it wouldn’t be so bad.  I always thought that I would be classy and age gracefully…

I thought wrong.

First, I dyed my hair this wild shade of red:

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Well, actually, that’s all I did.  I look in the mirror and feel strongly that I’m missing several tattoos, but I know my mother would weep, and I don’t think I could bear to see her sorrow.  I guess I don’t really know how to stage a proper “turning thirty crisis”, but a crisis it is.  It’s been weeks, but every time I think about it, it just totally bums me out.  It’s not like I was a big fan of my 20’s… or anyone’s 20’s for that matter.  But I am now a 30 year old stay-at-home mom.  Ugh.  A thirty year old mom.  An overweight, 30 year old, Pinterest mom.  UGH!  It’s not that 30 is OLD by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s just that I’ve grown up to be a stereotype.

I’ve always thought I was just way too cool for this.  Maybe I’m not.

Definitely cool.  Totally not a dork.  Right?  RIGHT???

Definitely cool. Totally not a dork. …right?

I think what disappoints me is that I never really found my “groove”.  What’s my style?  What’s my aesthetic?  Maybe that’s why I found myself trying so many new things (minimalism, veganism, traveling, vintage style…) at 29.  Heck, this month I’ve been contemplating how I could try life as a hip do-gooder.  I could buy some of those TOMS shoes, sip fair trade coffee, learn a bunch of human trafficking statistics, and impress all my friends with how much I care… Except for how flaunting compassion totally grosses me out, those kids are so COOL!  This could be my chance to reinvent myself!

But, by thirty, I think maybe you’re supposed to kind of be over being cool.  You know… aging gracefully, which, like I said, I’m finding a bit trickier than I’d imagined.  I’m sure there are deep truths about self perception and worth demonstrated here.  But for now, the kids are in bed so I’m going to go research DIY temporary tattoos on Pinterest.

-Mac-

DIY Glow Cube Night Light

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Let me set the stage for you.  It’s 7:30 PM.  The grandparents are visiting.  Baths have been administered, teeth have been brushed, pajamas have been applied.  Then, just before the bedtime song, my 4 year old bursts into tears.  “I’m AFRAID of the dark!!!”

I was taken by surprise because 1) in April, the sun is still shining bright as day at 7:30 at night in Cleveland, and 2) my son has just never expressed fear of the dark before.  I blame it on the stinkin’ “Glow Pet” commercials. *rassin’ frassin’*

Well, I didn’t have a night light.  We’ve never had need of it before.  What I did have within 5 minutes of scrounging was a string of leftover LED Christmas lights and an old plastic CD organizer.  I grabbed a scrap of fabric to tuck over it and said, “Look!  Now you have a night light!”

This weekend I got out my sewing machine and made the “Glow Cube” official.  This was a simple 15 minute project that I pulled off without ever really doing any math or measuring.  Here’s how you can make your own!

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You will need a large scrap of fabric,  a rectangular plastic bin or basket with lots of ventilation, and a string of Christmas lights.  My lights were LED.  I’d be cautious about using traditional lights because the heat they create seems like it could be a fire hazard.

NOTE:  Now’s as good a time as any to say your results may vary with this project, depending on the type of basket, weight of fabric, and how many or what kind of Christmas lights you use.  PROCEED WITH CAUTION, watch to see if your lights give off a great deal of heat when plugged in for a long time, and just use common sense.  You do NOT want to end up putting a fire hazard in the room with your precious babies!  I feel quite comfortable with mine, but use this night light AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Tutorial

(You can click on this picture for a somewhat better view.)

1) Wrap your fabric WRONG SIDE OUT around your basket, pinching along the corners to pin.  You should create 4 flaps, as if you’re wrapping a present, but we’re going to stop short of the part where you’d fold them all in and tape them.  I used two pins at each corner.  One at the top and one at the bottom.

2) Trim some of the excess off each corner and around the bottom of your bin, leaving about an inch around the sides and about two inches around the bottom.

3) Carefully slip this pinned “lamp shade” off your basket and sew FOUR STRAIGHT LINES at the pins, from top to bottom.  To get the fit right, I tried to make my stitching go EXACTLY where the pins had been.  You can then finish these seems or just press them open with your iron.  You shouldn’t have to worry much about fraying with this project, unless you think you’ll want to throw it in the washing machine.

4) Turn the work so that the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric faces you.  If you have a bone folder, use it to make all your new little corners pointy and professional.  You could also just use a pen cap or closed scissors.  Make sure your “shade” still fits nicely on your plastic bin, and tuck in your loose edges where you want your hem to be.

5).  Pin the hem in place, remove the shade from your bin, and press the hem with your iron.  Use that first crease to mark where your shade actually ends, then fold the excess fabric inside of it.  Press, and stitch.

6) Loosely toss your Christmas lights into your plastic bin and thread the plug in out one of the holes!  You are now ready to put the shade back in place and plug in your glow cube!

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Guaranteed to keep monsters at bay!  Well… maybe not the cutest littlest monsters!

Thanks for visiting my blog!  If you liked this, don’t forget to Pin It!   You might also like this DIY Menu Planning Board, or my post about this year’s DIY Christmas.

-Mac-