Amanda is a lovely photographer new to Portland. She needed a few headshots for a job, so she contacted me for a mini session! Didn't they turn out lovely? I'm really digging rooftops lately, can you tell? ;)
"It's raining a bit- should we cancel?"-Me
"No way! We are true Portlanders. We will be fine!"-Peggy
They road their bikes in the rain for these photos. What troopers. Aren't they adorable? :)
I had the most lovely time creating the new Vena Di Amore website. I shot, wrote and designed all the content. It was my first time to ever work with jewelry and it was so much fun! Such a huge challenge in so many ways, I feel like I am a better artist because of this project. Thank you Stephanie for choosing me to do this for you! Head to her new website to see it all! Here are a few peeks!
Oh, life. I know much more about running a business than being a stay at home mom. But! Thanks to my fabulous friends and family and a whole lot of humility, I feel I am coming to understand this new phase in life. First, I learned how do dishes by hand. Now, I am conquering... Grocery shopping.
Before I continue- let me explain why this is such a new thing for me.
FRESH PRODUCE? THAT'S A REAL THING? I am from a small West Texas town where we ate way more meat and bread than anything else, simply because that's what's available. Any fruits and veggies I ate growing up there were usually canned or frozen, not always, but usually. So now, being in a big city where fresh produce is readily available (and having a husband who is a total foodie and looooves that stuff) , I've had to learn super "basic" things like how to tell if something is ripe or not, how much produce to buy that I'll actually use before it goes bad (it took me a while to figure out that you really only have a week to eat lettuce, not a month), etc. Honestly, I didn't even realize people still ate fresh produce until I moved to Austin and found out what a mango was. Oh, like that's a real thing? Not just a smoothie flavor? And you have to peel it how? Huh? Yeah, I've had to learn a lot.
BULK BUYING VS. ONE WEEK BUYING. Being from a small town also meant that we usually shopped in bulk when we went to a bigger city. I'm used to buying a months worth of groceries at a time, which just doesn't work for Marten & I. We end up over-buying and planning our meals way too in advance and by the time we get to week two, we aren't in the mood to eat any of the meals we had planned, and most of it has gone bad anyway. We have figured out that a weeks worth at a time is perfect for us.
MARTEN'S TASTE MATTERS, TOO! This is obvious. But Marten is really nice and laid back, and will just let me buy whatever I want (as long as it's not kraft mac n' cheese, he hates that stuff). I am not nearly as adventurous with food as he is, I don't even like seafood. But my husband is such a foodie at heart. The weirder, the better. He is always wanting to try new things, and I never indulge, so neither does he. He works 10 hours a day (minimum) away from home and needs good, healthy meals that will power him through his day. PERFECT time for my little foodie to get foods HE loves ;) Figuring out that I can get stuff just for him (not always both of us) made shopping so much easier.
Okay, now that you know what kind of background I'm coming from, on to the tips and tricks:
I HEART COSTCO
Every so often we buy our "staples" at Costco so that we know, no matter what, we always have food in the house. Here's what we buy:
- Big bag of frozen chicken tenders (usually 2 bags)
- Pork tenderloin
- Pasta sauce
- Chips & Salsa
- Canned green beans
- Canned black beans
- Canned Kidney Beans
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Canned corn
- Canned pineapple
- Chicken bouillon cubes
- Frozen fruit blend
I can make so many soups, stir-frys and oven-meals with the items above. I often use the salsa as a marinade, and the blackbeans+pineapple make a delicious combo. Also, tortilla soup, veggie soup and chicken chili is almost always an option! And the frozen fruit+yogurt+juice can be made into a smoothie.
I HEART TRADER JOES
This is where we buy our weekly food. Things for specific meals, produce, etc. Trader Joes is extremely well organized, fair priced (almost everything I buy is under $4 each), and very healthy. I love love love their pre-made food section, which is where I buy almost all of Marten's lunches. Thank you Lily Crowder for tacking me here and teaching me your brilliant momma ways (she has an amazing book about grace-based parenting out right now- check it out here!)!
What I bought this week, Trader Joes Brand nearly everything:
- Frozen bell pepper mix (This mixes perfectly with the other bulk items I buy from Costo. With this I can whip up a stir fry any day)
- Frozen pizza (I love buying frozen stuff at Trader Joes because when you read the ingredients, it's simply what you would make yourself. No weird chemicals or preservatives)
- Frozen turkey bolognese "just sauce" (again- goes perfectly with by bulk noodles, and is just delicious, yummy, trustworthy ingredients! Plus, I get leave it on the stove on low heat &covered, and it will heart up perfectly by the time my noodles are done)
- Onion (specifically sweet onion, coordinates with bulk items and weekly meal plan)
- Corn tortillas (Marten is making tacos for us this week! He's a great cook)
- Salty snack (today I got tortilla chips)
- Sweet snack (a big ole bag of cookies today! We always try to say no and be "healthy" but, if we don't get SOMETHING sweet to always have in the house, I know we will go spend $8 on ice cream at 10 PM when we crave it...like every day)
- 4-5 Pre-made lunches for Marten (I stop kidding myself that I would hand-make him lunches every day. That just aint happenin'. Plus, they're usually under $4 each and way better than what I could make myself! I got him California sushi rolls, falafel wraps, a shrimp salad and thai chicken salad)
- Morning breakfast (I just pick one breakfast for the whole week for me. Usually bagels. When I get too ambitious and want to make a Pinterest-inspired breakfast all week, it never happens and I waste money. I like something quick and not sweet in the morning. Something I can zombie-walk to the kitchen for after my alarm goes off and zombie-walk back to the bed and eat it until I wake up. Bagels are perfect. Marten usually just eats a fruit on the way to work, so I get a bunch of bananas, apples or oranges per week. Not all three at once, just one. I know we won't eat more than that.)
We've been trying to spend less than $50/week on groceries and so far- so good! This week I spent $39! Having the bulk items from Costco really, really helps that. How do you grocery shop? Any tips for me? Can you relate to any of my learning experiences? I'd love to hear in the comments below!
P.S. I say family of two because little Whims doesn't require groceries right now :) Yay breastfeeding!
P.S.S. Photo from tumblr here.
This month I hosted a series of mini-shoots for Valentines Day! I was so excited that these two girls decided to do a shoot together- a "galentines" shoot if you will. Alyssa (blue hair) coordinated the shoot as a gift to her friend Marite who was visiting Portland from Latvia! What a perfect way to remember her trip!
I am a chronic list-maker. I have dozens of notebooks full of them, multiple apps on my phone for time-management, and heck, I'm even working on designing task-managing software. Getting things done has always been something I am proud of, and dare I say, something I used to define myself by.
Key words: used to.
That was until Whimsy came along.
You've heard it before: "Now that I'm a mom, I get nothing done!"
It's not that I get "nothing" done, it's that my perception of what gets done has changed.
The value of my day no longer exists in my checklist, because my daughter and what she needs can hardly be designed into a checklist. Therefore, my productivity as a mother cannot be defined by one. From an interesting article I read today:
"Our culture doesn’t have a good way to measure what you are accomplishing (as a mother). Your baby will grow and meet milestones: check. But to the untrained eye most of this work, at the end of the day, will look like nothing.....
Take a deep, slow breath. Close your eyes and measure your day not as tasks, but as feelings, as sounds, as colors."
Children bring responsibility, but they also relieve it.
As long as my daughter is healthy, happy and cared for, I personally feel accomplished. It's not an excuse to never do housework or take care of my clients, or to walk around without makeup on and in yoga pants constantly (which I have a hard time with), it's recognizing that my old way of measuring my days- and myself- does not apply anymore. It's no longer about how many photos I edited, how many dishes I folded (the fact that I just wrote that should show you where my brain is at right now), AHEM, I mean dishes I washed or how much laundry I folded. My days are now measured not by tasks accomplished, but by something entirely different: health and happiness. It's now quality vs. quantity, and finally, quality is winning.
This makes me love motherhood so much more than I could have ever expected. In so many ways, caring for Whimsy has released me from so many false standards I had set up for defining success. It made me reevaluate who I am and really showed me my core. I believe this is one of the things people are talking about when they say motherhood is so hard but so worth it.
On days where I have tried to measure my worth as a mother- or human being in general- by my checklist, I feel crazy. I call all the moms I know and freak out and ask how I'm supposed to get the laundry done, my photos edited, and you know, eat. And they all tell me the same thing: relax. Take care of Whims. The rest will come naturally. And you know what? It does.
And even though I recognize I have a super easy baby who rarely cries, always naps, and totally lives up to her Whimsy Bliss name, I realize this:
When I am relaxed, things get done. When I freak out, they don't.
When I measure how much DIDN'T get done because Whimsy needed ____ or did _____ so I couldn't, I begin to look at her as an obstacle to navigate. She becomes secondary. She becomes a problem. She becomes the reason why "as a mom I get nothing done" and that just isn't fair. I don't think we think this way intentionally, but when you step back and evaluate what kind of perspective this might create, even within our own minds, it becomes dangerous.
Here's the truth: it's not that moms are failing and "getting stuff done." It's that what we get done is DIFFERENT now. It's that our primary focus now is our children and guess what? They are not checklists.
I'm curious of this: if we continue to define our roles as mothers, and our children, as checklists, will we continually feel behind, unaccomplished, frustrated, and burnt out? If so, would a change in perspective will help? Or would it make any difference? For myself, I feel I have to change my perspective. I must make the most out of my time with my children not by quantity, but by quality. When I focus on that, the rest will come naturally.
I believe moms are INCREDIBLY accomplished, and I would say our kids think so, also. If you don't believe me, just watch this video. I hope we can start to see ourselves that way, too. I hope this little blog post helps.
Remember that time I went to school in New York for a year? At Pratt Institute? It's one of my biggest accomplishments. I had a great time but I don't think I shared very much about it yet. This was all pre-instagram for me :) Check it out friends! I have more photos I'll add in another post!