A Rhythm For Summer.

It’s my last day at school and I’ve got summer rhythms on my mind. As a teacher, of course I love a schedule. I think that most kids thrive when they know what to expect in their day. Summer is supposed to be fun though!! Throw the schedule out the window. Structure be damned!! You’re right, sort of. For me – if I go totally schedule free – it’s hard to toe the line between fun, carefree and go with the flow without losing my marbles on my three little boys. I’ve learned that the hard way. I like to meet somewhere in the middle between the rigidity of a schedule and the fluidity of free range parenting. And that’s where a rhythm comes in. What’s the difference between a rhythm and a schedule? Not much. A rhythm to me is more of a guide to your day. A schedule is more firm and typically has times.

Our rhythm may vary slightly from day to day because *hello* I still do want to be spontaneous and fun summer mom. I just don’t want my kids to wind up sitting in front of a tv all day because I haven’t thought of anything for them to do. The core piece of our summer rhythm is – in the morning we do a field trip outside of the house, and in the afternoon we stay home and get in the pool. The only firm times on my rhythm are that we need to be home from our field trip by 11am so we can have lunch and get Lukey down for a nap around noon and that dinner happens around 6pm. The other thing to remember is that my kids get up early. Like 6am early. So if your kids sleep in (you lucky duck), this outline might need some shifting to work for you!

Summer Rhythm 2023

Goals: Be flexible, have fun and live outside.

The Morning:
Work out first thing – take whoever is awake in the running stroller.
Shower and get ready before husband leaves for work.
Morning Chores
Art/Worksheets/Reading Time
Field Trip – home by 11am
Nap & Quiet Time for boys – Prep Dinner now!

The Afternoon:
Pool & Water Play
Indoor play or movie while I make dinner. Planning to do lots of grilling/easy dinners during summer, so minimal kitchen time will be needed.
Bikes, Chalk and Scooter play on the sidewalk while we wait for dad to get home from work.
After dinner walk or evening swim.

That’s it guys – that’s our summer rhythm! I think I’ll do a couple more *summer* posts this week – lunch and dinner ideas, field trips, activities/art projects, summer reading, etc. Nothing but fun with the occasional meltdown thrown in. Lol.

What about you? What do you do for summer? Any special schedules/routines you follow?

Thumbprint Cookies.

File these little gems under “best after school snacks”. The only thing that might make these even better is homemade jam. Bonne Maman is never a bad stand in though.

Thumbprint Cookies

2 cups (284g) flour
1/2 cup (50g) almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, at room temperature 
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for rolling
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup strawberry (or your other favorite!) jam 

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line sheet pans with parchment paper. 
2. In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients – flour, almond flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside. 
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for about a minute. Add the 3/4 cup sugar and mix on medium until light and fluffy – about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and then add the egg, yolk and vanilla. Mix on low until combined.
4. Add flour and mix on low until combined. Use your rubber spatula to scrape down the sides to make sure it’s evenly combined. 
5. Roll the dough into 1/2 oz (15g) or about 2 teaspoon balls. Roll each ball into the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. 
6. Place cookies on each sheet pan and use your thumb to make an indentation in the middle of each ball. Fill with a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of jam. 
7. Bake one pan at a time, rotating halfway through. Bake until cookies are puffed, sides are set and bottom is just beginning to turn golden brown. About 10-12 minutes. Let cool on pan and store in an airtight container. 

Summer Reads For Your Beach Bag.

I have a little backlog of books that I’ve read lately that would be perfect to read whilst lounging next to a body of water this summer. Just picture it – the heat of the sun warms your skin, an icy drink makes a puddle next to you, the smell of sunscreen fills you up with nostalgia and you hear the screech of children playing nearby. Of course you need a book to go along with all this steamy summer goodness.

Honestly, I never thought the day would come where I could actually read while my kids were playing and packing a book was always a bit of a pipe dream. But it’s here! My kids are 2, 4 and 5, and I can get a few good pages in while I’m lifeguarding. Maybe you’re there too! Or maybe you need to just lay in your backyard while they nap and pretend you’re next to a body of water – that’s ok too!!

The perfect beach read to me is a little fluffy, immersive, and not 1000 pages long. Something with romance, maybe a little spice, but characters you can really connect with. A few good books that are worth tucking into your beach bag are shared below!

The Hotel Nantucket, Elin Hildebrand

The Spanish Love Deception, Elena Armas

Happy Place, Emily Henry

The Love Hypothesis, Ali Hazelwood

The Roughest Draft, Emily Wibberley

The Perfect Find, Tia Williams

Every Summer After, Carley Fortune

Heart Bones, Colleen Hoover – This book made me want to sit around and read in a swimsuit.

Any other good ones to add?? Share in the comments!

Meal Plan This Week.

We had the sweetest weekend with the best Mother’s Day a mama could ask for. On to a wonderful week where it’s all about the food, as usual.

Sunday – Steak, Brussels Sprouts, Scalloped Potatoes, and Bitter Greens & Orange Salad.

Monday – Sheet Pan Shrimp and Asparagus with Rice and Aioli.

Tuesday – Lemon-y Linguine with Garlic Bread. (adding peas and spinach to the pasta for some extra veg)

Wednesday – Warm Grain and Vegetable Bowl.

Thursday – Leftovers (or Meatballs in the likely case of – no leftovers left over) Going to post that meatball recipe here this week so it’s easier to find!

Friday – Pizza!!!

Saturday – Grill Party! Hot dogs, burgers, potato salad and all good grill food.

Bake – Mother’s Day Angel Food Cake with Vanilla Sugar Whipped Cream and Berries.

Treat – Blueberry Hand Pies with Buttermilk Ice Cream.

Mrs. Whitney’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars.

For years, it was tradition that my dear teacher friend, Mrs. Whitney, would bring these chocolate peanut butter bars to every school potluck. When she retired a few years ago after 30 years of teaching at our school, she handed the recipe down to me to continue the tradition. And now I’m handing the recipe off to you! they are so simple, but so good.

Bookmark it for your next potluck!!

Mrs. Whitney’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

1 cup butter
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 lb powdered sugar
10 sheets graham crackers, crushed to crumbs
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Melt butter in large pot and remove from heat.
  2. Add peanut butter to pot and stir until mixed. Add powdered sugar and stir until incorporated. Add graham cracker crumbs and stir again until fully incorporated.
    Batter will be thick. You may want to use your hands to make sure all crumbs are mixed in.
  3. Press mixture into 9×13 pan with flat, heavy spatula.
  4. Melt chocolate chips. Microwave in 30 second increments & stir until smooth. Spread evenly over pan.
  5. Chill in refrigerator for about 30 min. Cut into small squares. Mrs. Whitney says 48 squares but l’ve never been able to get quite that many!
  • monitor the 30 min cool time. If kept refrigerated to long, the chocolate will crack when cut. Take out when the chocolate loses its glossiness.

Meal Plan This Week.

An easy, summer-y week of meals based around a pork shoulder done in the crock pot on Monday night.

Sunday – Grilled Chicken, Green Beans, Hasselback Potatoes with Sour Cream Sauce (I left out the Horseradish), and a Lazy Caprese Salad

Monday – Husband threw the pork in the crock pot this morning. For dinner we’ll have Buddha Bowls with Rice, Pulled Pork, Roast Broccoli, and the leftover sour cream sauce from Sunday.

Tuesday – Crispy Pork Carnitas Tacos with Lazy Slaw

Wednesday – Pork and Sharp Cheddar Croissants with Oven Fries

Thursday – Leftovers – But nachos if we don’t have enough leftovers!

Friday – Pizza, of course

Saturday – Hot Honey Chicken on a big salad

Cocktail – Tequila Spritz

Bake – Berry Pie

Treat – Strawberry Ice Cream

Happy Eating this week, friends!

The Friday Post. [vol 7]

A fun new format for this weekly update – This week in categories and the best of’s:

Snacking: Ice cold watermelon

Eating: Carrot Soup with Sharp White Cheddar Grilled Cheeses – will share the recipe next week!

Reading: Just finished Happy Place (SOOO good) and immediately started Daisy Darker

Drinking: Mint Juleps on Saturday for a sister cocktail Kentucky Derby

Pondering: The grey hairs that keep popping up all over my head

Watching: We’re in the midst of Florida Man on Netflix. It’s not amazing, but it’s also not bad!

Gardening: Planting lettuce this weekend with the boys!

Weekending: We got ourselves a sitter and we’re hitting the town on Saturday!

Home-ing: New doors that we’ve been talking about for two years.

Teaching: 15 days left!! Just trying to get all the books back from students and wind the library down. Free choice centers for the upper grades and simple story times for the lower grades.

In other, more link-y news:

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas.

Just a friendly psa that Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching if you live stateside. May 14th is the big day, so now is the time to get your plans in order. Sharing a few ideas here! Share your own ideas in the comments!

For your mom who loves her children and grandchildren unconditionally, loves wine, gardening and baking:

  • For several years when we were poor grad students, I would bake a loaf of English Muffin Bread and homemade jam, wrap it up in a cute tea towel with a sweet letter and mail it off to my mom in Indiana.
  • As I’m sure you know, gift cards seem lazy, but they might be the most fun for the receiver. My mom always tells my brothers she wants gift cards to Home Depot or the local nursery so she can go fill her garden beds.
  • Heirloom garden tools: A new storage bucket, snips, trowel, sun hat and garden gloves.
  • Send her flowers, duh. If you buy them from the grocery store – take them out of the plastic and wrap into some butcher paper with baker’s twine for an elegant upgrade.
  • Take her to lunch. The thing she really wants is time with you anyhow.
  • Pretty stationery.
  • Send her a homemade charcuterie package – go to the store and get fancy crackers, nuts, jams and a bottle of wine. Grab a little cheese board too! Mail it now and it’ll be there in time!
  • A new nightie and slippers
  • If she’s a reader, gift her a year of Book of the month club, Audible, or a new Kindle.
  • New sheets or a quilt are always a good idea

On my own list:

Just a few ideas! What are you asking for or gifting!?

Warm Grain and Vegetable Bowl.

If you are in need of a simple and nourishing meal that warms you up from your insides out, you’ve found it here. I found this recipe in Ina Garten’s Go To Dinners (everything in it has been amazing so far), and it’s one that is going to be in heavy rotation at our house. I’m writing the recipe as I made it, which differs from the original. And of course, as always, you can make it your own by using different vegetables and grains, but you really should make the dressing as is. That’s what makes it all so very good. Now, please excuse me while I go add all of this to our shopping cart for next week.

Warm Vegetable and Grain Bowl

1 cup quinoa
Salt and pepper
1/2 red onion, cut into 8 wedges through the stem
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, diced (I used a frozen bag for ease)
1/2 pound carrots, scrubbed and cut into sticks
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 oz greens such as spinach, kale, arugula or a mix
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pecans
creamy goat cheese, thickly sliced

For the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Make quinoa according to package instructions, set aside.
  3. Combine the onion, butternut squash, and carrots on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and toss. Spread the vegetables out in one layer and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through until all the vegetables are tender.
  4. Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl with a whisk, or in a jar with a lid. Set aside.
  5. In a large salad bowl, combine your greens, cranberries, and toasted nuts (I just toast them in a cast iron skillet over medium for a couple minutes until they smell nutty and are golden brown. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.) Pour a little bit on your greens and toss.
  6. Serve the salad into your bowls, add quinoa, the goat cheese to taste and roasted vegetables on top. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette on top and season with salt if needed.
  7. Serve warm and inhale the whole thing.

Are you superstitious?

Yesterday, I went for my evening run as I am wont to do this time of year. I ran the same route as always, jamming to some t swift when I saw something dark laying on the sidewalk in the distance. After a bad fall in the winter, I’m extra careful when out running. Debris I might trip on, rumply sidewalks, wobbly bike riders, and the like. Well, I saw this dark thing ahead, then sort of left it in the back of my mind until I got closer so I could hop over it. I thought it may have been a coconut or a branch. But it definitely wasn’t. I didn’t realize until I was right on top of it. It was a bird. A dead bird. A dead blackbird.

Now…I have been known to be a tiny bit superstitious, as most of us are. Are you? If I get my favorite parking spot at the thrift store – I’m going to have good luck shopping. If a picture frame of someone falls down – I should call them to make sure they’re ok. A black cat crosses my path – bad luck. As a kid I would avoid all cracks in sidewalks because I didn’t want to break my mother’s back. You know the kind of superstition. The things we teach (usually in jest) our children to believe. But things that people actually believed back in the day. My mother in law still swears by all of the things she did to get pregnant with a boy! It did work! Maybe I would believe if it were me! I don’t know that I do believe in these things, but they are my first thought. And a dead blackbird in my path? Definitely a sign of bad luck.

So, then (no the story isn’t over yet), I continued running after being spooked by the bird incident. I was nearing home when I (foolishly) added a little side route onto my run because I wanted to get to 20 minutes. It was a road I don’t normally go down, so then with the blackbird in mind, I started thinking about this book I read in the fall. In it, a child goes missing and then it turns out that the neighbors next door kidnapped her and had her in their garage for like 10 years. Eek! This is why I carry pepper spray when I run. But anyway, so I was looking at these houses I don’t know, thinking about getting kidnapped and what a great book that would make (mother gets kidnapped and is kept a few blocks away while her children grow up) when I turned to go back home. I passed by our neighbors next door who have a stone angel in their yard. It’s been there for ages. But it didn’t look like it usually does, cherubic and proud. Nope, It was knocked down on its face in the dirt. Another sign of bad luck, don’t you think??

Both of these things do have a scientific explanation. Birds die all the time, it had to land somewhere. We had terrible storms the other day. I’m sure the angel was knocked over during one of them. But are they a sign? Or was it just coincidence? I read a book called The Secret in my college years all about the law of attraction. Basically it says that our thoughts attract positive or negative things to us. If you believe that you’re going to succeed, then you will. If you believe that something bad is going to happen, it will. I do think there is at least a little bit of truth to that.

It’s all interesting timing though. I was just chatting with a couple of friends a few weeks ago about faith and things that I consider superstition or sometimes just coincidence in my own life and they in theirs. My friend said that when things happen in her life, she believes that God is intervening. It’s a sign. Direct from God. She said that she has had things happen that are just too much of a coincidence to not be explained by God. I don’t know that I believe that, but I clearly believe that some forces are at work with my mild superstitions. Why not God? I mean, I suppose if not Him, then who?

Anyway, an interesting ponder for today. What do you believe? Superstition? A sign from above? Law of attraction? Or is it all just coincidence? I’d love to hear what you think. Either way, I’ll be keeping my wits about me until some times passes between me, the black bird and the fallen angel.