Weeeeee! This week went fast, didn’t it? Or maybe it didn’t and it just went by in a bit of a blur for me. We’ve finally made it to Pizza night over here, and I can’t wait. I have a confession. I have not gotten it together enough the last few weeks to make homemade pizza. What with getting into the groove with school, I’ve just been wiped. So that dear, sweet husband of mine has been picking up pizza on his way home from work, and it’s kind of glorious? Like I don’t know what it’s going to have to come to for me to start making it myself again? I’ll probably get the urge after a few more weeks of this. But truly it’s been so nice to just be DONE. I just get to pick up my boys, go home, have a drink, and put my feet up. Such a treat. I have no reports other than that, so how about a few links from around the web?
I just finished this book and it was good! Took me a little time to get into it, but once I got to the good parts, I couldn’t stop. I think I’ll give it four stars.
I’ve always tried to keep a bit of a gratitude practice. Just taking a moment to feel deep gratitude for bits of my life that I generally take for granted. I used to even keep a gratitude journal where I would jot down a few things every day. Studies show that this helps us feel more satisfied in our life as a whole and happier in the long run. You might not know this about me, but in my adult life, I’ve kept a number of blogs before, admittedly a bit erratically. And they’ve all been fairly similar, but I have never been very good about keeping up with the practice of writing. Nonetheless, the writing bug is within me, and I think I’m generally more satisfied when I have a spot to write. I’ve always written about memory-keeping, books, food, lifestyle. Things that matter to me. And one thing that I’ve always done is write essays about simple joys. The ritual of making an iced coffee in the afternoon, cracking the spine on a new book, tiny bouquets of wildflowers, taking the long way home, the feel of a tiny hand gripping yours, a favorite pencil, writing on the first page of a new notebook and the like. Just simple things that make my heart swell a bit in my every day life when I slow down to think about them. I’ve called these different things over the years. I believe I called them sparks of gratitude in one blog, a small, happy life in another. But for the last couple of years, I’ve thought of them as Simple Joys, so that’s what we’ll call them here. We’ll make this a bit of a series.
The first one I’m sharing is a simple joy that’s so fresh in my mind because I’ve just finished the ritual. Every Sunday, when everyone has finally tumbled out of their beds and bellies are full of warm breakfast, and I’ve had at least one (maybe two!) coffees, I declare to the whole family that it’s “Linen Day!!!” I generally exclaim it with great excitement, with what I’m sure looks like a crazed smile on my face. The boys (who are 4, 3, and 1) have no idea that most people don’t get jazzed about stripping the beds and washing all the sheets. Indeed, most people probably find this a chore that they *have* to do rather than *get* to do. Nonetheless, there’s anticipation in the air in our house. Everyone bounds off to the bedrooms to start taking the sheets off and carting them off to the laundry room. Today we even had the great fun of using our sheets as an excuse for an indoor sleigh ride. Three boys piled on a sheet, being pulled through the house amidst giggles of joy. If that doesn’t scream joy, I don’t know what does. But it’s not just that. It’s not just the stripping of the beds. Honestly the making of the beds is where things die down a bit. But then – THEN! there’s that moment just before bed, when my little ones crawl into their clean beds just after a warm bath and their breaths start to slow, heavy lids drooping with sweet dreams. At that moment, I take a deep breath, and I know that another week is about to come, and no matter what it brings, my kids have a safe, clean spot where they’re showered with love to sleep at the end of the day.
But those clean sheets you know, it’s not just for them. It’s for me, you guys. It’s for me. Obviously I wash their sheets, but I wash ours too. And that moment when I climb into our clean bed, I fairly shake with contentment. You can tell when a bed has freshly washed sheets on it. You just can. It’s like I’m giving myself a warm hug and a pep talk for the week. You can do this. It’s a new, fresh week, and you can do everything that lies ahead of you. It’s such a simple joy for me, friends, I hope you find some in your week ahead too.
Well, I’ve only been marginally successful at my goal of daily blogging during the school year so far. I’ve been re-reading 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, by Laura Vanderkam, a fascinating book on how to make the most of your time by spending it on things that matter to you. I’ve determined that I absolutely have enough time to blog, care for my three kids, cook dinner every night, work full time, train for a marathon, meditate, learn spanish, bake on weekends and read at least one book for pleasure a week. haha. I know. That sounds ridiculous when you type it all out, doesn’t it? But people do it! It can be done! I’m going to do it, you guys. And then I’m going to share all of my secrets with you. This space though is one of those things that I know I can do with a little time.
Anyway – how was your week? The boys were at school all week, and I just went back yesterday, so it felt like a very fast week. We’ve been working out a few kinks (mainly in tender-hearted morning emotions), but overall it’s been good! The only thing dragging me down is that moment when my alarm goes off at 5am. I much prefer the yells of my children as an alarm clock.
Are you up to anything this weekend? I need to sit down with my husband tonight and discuss weekend plans over pizza and peach bourbon lemonades because as of yet, we’ve got nothing. A trip to the beach? A wander through the art museum? A kite flying expedition? A laze in the pool in our backyard? I don’t know, it’s going to be hard to choose between all those. We DO however, need to plant our pumpkin seeds because I’m hoping to have some homegrown Halloween pumpkins around here! Now, how about some fun links from around the web?
I’ve been looking forward to the newest episode of this show all week! Call me crazy, but I enjoy the old school excitement that comes from waiting for a new episode every week.
My friend just sent this video and I can’t stop giggling.
A couple of years ago, my mom made everyone in our family beautiful bound books with recipes from the whole family. Grandma’s sugar cookies are in there, a whole bunch of my mom’s recipes (cheesecake, meatballs, crab dip, spice cake, etc etc etc.) my dad’s buckeyes & golden cadillacs (wait until the holidays roll around and I’ll talk more about those), my sister’s shepherd’s pie, my banana bread, my cousin’s mexican layer dip, my aunt’s bourbon slush. You get the idea. If it’s a recipe from the Brown family – it’s in the book. She handwrote all of the recipes, had them copied and gave each one of us kids one. A rather beautiful heirloom sort of gift if you ask me. It’s cherished and I pull it out more than several times a year. Especially on the holidays where we can’t make it home to Indiana – I just need those recipes from home.
Well, having that recipe book (my sister and I refer to it as “The Family Bible”), made me start thinking about my own family and the recipes that I make over and over again. You guys know I love to try new recipes, but there’s nothing like making a food your family knows and loves. Well, I decided to start our own family food bible. Calling it a cookbook just sounds too official, doesn’t it? And it’s not as if I’ve made these recipes up. They’re just ones we love. When I find myself reaching for a recipe more than once, or if my family especially loved it, into the book it goes. My favorite vanilla birthday cake recipe is there, my favorite biscuits, dinner rolls, chocolate chip cookies, and the like. It’s largely full of baked goods. I should probably start jotting down some of our dinners too. I’ll get there eventually!
I’ve mentioned my little recipe book several times on Instagram – usually a comment like “This is so good it’s going in the recipe book!” and I always get questions. “Tell us more!” “Where is your book from?” “What’s the recipe book?” Well, I’m sorry to break the news to you that it’s nothing very pretty or fancy at all, it’s just a blank sketchbook from Michaels. You can probably get them anywhere art supplies are sold, or any type of office supply store, but over the years, I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those precious “grab in a fire” items for our family. There’s something about a handwritten recipe, isn’t there? I use a smaller sketchbook as my gardening book too – I jot down what I’ve planted, dates, outlines, notes on how things are growing.
Do you have something like this? My sister has a binder where she prints off recipes and puts them in, and I know lots of people have little recipe boxes with cards inside. I do love this book though. Over time, I’ll tweak recipes and include notes or maybe put in some little memories. I can imagine jotting down what Charlie first bakes on his own, or Ben’s favorite pizza toppings, or that Luke would only eat yeast rolls when he was two. The cover will get worn over time and years of being pulled out for the Birthday Cake recipe and the Christmas Cinnamon Rolls, and the First Day of School Blueberry Muffins, and I think that will make it even more precious to me. Watch my boys not care at all about it when they get older. HA! Maybe their wives will. Or maybe we need to go for just ONE MORE baby, perhaps a girl?? (insert a heart attack from my husband.)
Recipes inside the Metroka Family Cookbook (so far)
I’m about to turn in for the night, and since making the bed up with our new bedding gifted from Garnet Hill, I can’t help but pinch myself that this bed even exists in my house. Listen though, a cozy bed does not have to be expensive. Most of our bedding has been from target, Walmart or thrifted and it’s served us beautifully through years of wear. But if you’re looking to invest a little bit in your bedding, this stuff is quality. And it has the look I love for our house – modern cottage through and through. I just thought it might be helpful to have the links to these pieces all in one spot for future reference! And I love all of these picture so much I needed them to be here forever.
Let’s start with the heirloom quality Agnes quilt. Ours is in oatmeal but they have other colors too! I’m desperate for the blue for the boys’ room now that I’ve seen it in person.
Ok you guys, this Blissful Silk Quilt. It is such a dream. Silk on top, cotton on bottom. The visible stitching keeps this from feeling too fancy fancy. I think if I had to pick just one thing, it would be this.
The French stripe lumbar pillows in slate blue are so cute, adding a little bit of contrast to this neutral bed. And lastly, the chunky knit throw has already moved to our corner chair, but it adds the perfect bit of cozy fluff to this bed moment.
It’s all come together to be such a sweet spot in our home! I hung up some thrifted hats to replace our kind of winter-y red wreath that was up before and now it feels like summer in here. ♥️
You guys, the second half of the school year has just really gotten the best of me this year. I haven’t posted a thing on here since February and it’s not for lack of post ideas. I have so many! It’s for lack of time time time. I know. This coming from the person who says that if you want things to be done – you have to make time for them. I’m hoping to get back into a regular routine of posting over the summer, which begins in three! more! days!. I love having this little corner of the internet to myself!
Ok, enough ruminating on time and blogs and wordsmithing my life away. Now on to the topic of this post – nightgowns. The other day I mentioned on Instagram that I am a nightgown person, through and through. I grew up wearing very 90’s nightgowns – think flannel, lace trim in winter and silky little girl princess vibes in summer. Around middle school I switched over to giant oversized sleep tees stolen from my dad or older brothers, and finally I graduated to sleep shorts and a t-shirt from high school through my mid-twenties. But when I was pregnant with my first baby boy, Charlie, I started wearing nightgowns again. You see, this extremely attractive thing started to happen where my belly got so very large that a strip of it started to show between where my pajama shorts met my tank top. Lovely. If you’ve been pregnant before – maybe you can relate. I can’t think of many things that could make you feel less attractive during pregnancy than constantly trying to hide the ever-growing strip of belly with pajamas that feel like they’re shrinking onto you. Well…I also do have this rather memorable photo of myself very pregnant and trying to wear a wrap dress, but it…wouldn’t wrap around my whole body so it just came to a point and left from my belly button down exposed in a big upside down V. Low point. lol. Ok, truly, I digress. (who let this wordy girl have a blog anyway??)
Now that you have my entire history of sleepwear…oh shoot I forgot to tell you that my mom favored sleep sacks when I was a baby – yes, back to nightgowns! Modern! Cute! Nightgowns! Even after pregnancy – I’ve continued wearing nightgowns in adulthood. They’re feminine, they don’t leave me feeling at all frumpy like sleep shorts can, and especially for summer, they’re just the best, easy breezy, old world romantic way to sleep. But! (of course there’s a but!) It feels like there are typically two types of nightgowns. Old lady, or lingerie. So here-in lies the topic of discussion. Where can one find nightgowns that land perfectly in the middle of these two extremes? I went hunting around to find some cute nighties that maybe you guys would like too! And now I might need to buy a couple because there are some cute ones out there! I tried to find a few different price ranges because I kind of hate when bloggers post $200 options that hello, normal people can’t buy.
I did get a couple questions about nightgowns riding up during sleep and honestly, I’ve never thought much about it either way, but I do believe that’s something you may have to grapple with depending on what kind of sleeper you are. Your nightie may ride up, especially if you are a turbulent sleeper. I’m the kind of sleeper that moves not even an inch while sleeping, so that may be why I’ve never thought about it before. Other notes from my lovely instagram friends: suggestions for TJ Maxx, Target and Marshall’s were all given as places to find cute nightgowns too, but for those – you just want to give them a visit. On to the nightgowns!
1// Ok, so I know there are mixed opinions about Shein, but! This nightgown was too sweet to share. And for $14! How could I not tell you about it? I think I’m going to order it. Will report back on my love level.
2//Aerie has this cute kind of athletic option. Looks easy breezy summer-y.
4// Well I will just have to lust after this one that is out of my price range, and hope that one of you gets it so I can hear if it’s truly as good as I think it is. (They also have a long version which is so very dreamy.)
It’s here! It’s Friday! Hooray! SO very grateful that my parents were here this week. We took advantage of them like crazy. My car was in the shop all freaking week , so they drove the boys and I around, let me borrow their car when I needed it, made dinner every night, cleaned, done every little bit of laundry, entertained, and were just such a comfort to me. So thankful for them. Really can’t do any better than those two. I’m a lucky gal and I know it.
In other news, I signed Charlie up for Pre-K and soccer last week and I feel like we’re entering into a world of activities and kid stuff, and once it starts, I know it doesn’t end. Trying to soak up these days of just coming straight home from school to be in a little cocoon of a family. It will be good to get him involved in some other stuff – he’s totally ready, and I know Ben will be too once Charlie starts. But it’s a little bittersweet, ya know? Speaking of Ben, that kid, sheesh. He has been such a delight lately. You know how your kids go through phases where they’re like…really difficult and then suddenly you turn around and you’re totally enchanted by this tiny person that you created out of nothing? We’re in the latter phase right now, and gosh he has been so much fun. And oh yes, Lukey Lou is being a good boy too, now that you ask, despite waking at 4:50 on the dot this morning. His hair is getting curlier and curlier by the day, he says “wow” about everything, yells “mama” at everyone (including his dada), points to the tv and cries if we don’t turn blippi on, loves tromping around in the backyard in his rainboots, wants to be anywhere his brothers are, tells us when he poops in his diaper and gives the best hugs in (I’m pretty sure) the state, or maybe even the world.
This weekend we’re continuing to take full advantage of my parents and going on a freaking DATE tomorrow! I have a little excited smile on my face just thinking about it. Truly can’t remember the last date we’ve been on. And Sunday, of course, is the super bowl, so we’ve started working out a little list for the menu (so far it’s – tot-chos, meatballs, and dorito dip). And then Monday is Valentine’s day (that came up quick right??), so we need to bake something fun to celebrate. Ok, ok, I’m done spilling my guts now. How about some links from the week?
Feels a little late to be sharing this, February being a short month and it already being the 9th, but better late than never! But I can imagine this coming in handy next year when I’m looking for monthly to dos. I think I’ll share every month (but hopefully a little earlier next time!).
Now before I dive in, I should explain that I have a little monthly planning hack to help myself get more crossed off of my dreams list. Every month, I go through my calendar, and count how many weeks I have in which to fit a reasonable number of fun things. It’s generally four. So then, I have categories for things that matter to me. Baking, Treats, New Meals, Cocktails, and Home. Sometimes I change the categories, like if I want to focus on organization, for example, or marriage, mental health, physical health, the boys, outings, etc. What I’m saying is that you can choose any category you like. Then, for each of those categories I pick four things (or however many weeks we have) to do. So at the beginning of every new week during that month, I pick one thing from each of my categories and cross them off of my list. Doing my months this way makes me feel like I’m still getting to do what I love and I don’t get overwhelmed with the number of choices out there. Decision fatigue is real! Phew. Maybe I’ll have to post this little monthly planning hack again as a stand-alone post, but (drumroll please), here’s my February to do list – complete with links!
Happy Friday!! Doing my weekly sigh of relief and popping in here to say hi, give a little update and to share some fun links from the week! Luke went back to school on Wednesday after his bout of pneumonia and is pretty much back to his jolly little self. Still has a yucky cough, but his lungs are clear and no fever and praise hands for that. I’ve started to brainstorm ideas for the boys’ Valentines for school and there are sooo many fun ones out there, I just need to pick something and start on it. We did dinosaurs last year, and I’m just not sure if I can ever top that one. Our bathroom should be finishing up in the middle of next week, and I cannot wait to get our house back in order. Also, my parents arrive next week for their annual February stay, and I am so freaking excited I cannot contain myself. Trying to decide where to put Luke while they take the guest bedroom. Do we go for it and just stick him in with the big boys? Do we put up the pack and play in the laundry room and shut him away? Do we put him in our room? TBD. My dad also always likes to have a house project while they’re visiting to keep him busy and we haven’t decided on that either. Phew. This post kind of became my to do list, didn’t it? Or vent? Anyway – I feel better after having it all down.
What are you up to this weekend? It’s supposed to be “cold” here in Florida (think 30’s to 40’s), so whatever we do, we may have to bundle up and have a little bit of hot chocolate on the side. Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you enjoy it! Now, how about some fun links from around the web?
Stok Cold Brew Have you had it? I’ve been getting the Un-sweet Bold and Smooth and omg it is so creamy and delicious…while somehow not having any cream in it? I can’t stop thinking about it when I’m not drinking it. I’ve been treating myself to a cup of it in the afternoon with a splash of half & half and I swear it just makes the day go by so much smoother for me. While it’s cheaper than buying a coffee from Starbucks every day, it’s not exactly cheap. So I googled how they make theirs (it’s not exactly rocket science), and I’m going to buy some nicer beans than normal and give it a shot. It’s not the first time I’ve made cold brew, but their recipe is a little different than how I normally do mine. Will report back if it’s worth making yourself or if we should all just give something else up in the grocery list to buy Stok.
Duolingo It’s an app that you can download for free to learn another language. The school that I teach at has a very high Spanish population, so I made it one of my new years resolutions to brush up on my Spanish skills. I’ve been having so much fun with it. Haven’t missed a day yet in the new year. Fingers crossed I can keep my momentum going. If you want to try it and to have an accountability partner my username is emetroka! They have all kinds of languages – not just Spanish!
Meal Planning Ok, ok this isn’t a new obsession, but it bears repeating that meal planning is the only way I get dinner made every night. I don’t know how people decide what to make for dinner when they don’t have it planned out for the whole week. I seize up in indecision. I have a little formula that I follow for each day of the week to make it even easier. I’m always trying to reduce decision making fatigue. If you’ve seen my Making Every Day Special document, then you already know it. Sunday – Warm and cozy meal (think casserole, soup, pasta, etc), Monday – Crock Pot, Tuesday – Tacos, Wednesday – One Pot/Sheet pan meal, Thursday – Leftovers, Friday – Pizza, Saturday – Grill day.
Ozark It is so intense. Every season has stressed me out so much. Why are shows like this so addictive?? This is the last season, and we’ve been allowing ourselves one episode a night to really appreciate it rather than binging the whole thing at once. So we’ve been watching one episode and then reading or Mike watches sports after. It’s been a nice little evening routine.
Reading You know I’m always obsessed with reading (I am a librarian after all), but I have read SO many good books lately. I’m usually pretty good about sharing my book reviews on Instagram, but I have been putting it off for some reason this month. I’ll share this week sometime, but I’m also going to share a post every month on here to tell you what I read, so that it’s all in one place for you to easily find book reviews.