Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Twinning Tuesday, An Introduction

Two years ago, when I first found out that I was expecting twins, I did what a lot of expectant parents do; I started reading and researching!

My learning curve was a steep one; my older child was two and half, so I felt that pregnancy and caring for a newborn was still fairly recent in my memory, but twins? I knew next to nothing.

Not only did I find that my basic knowledge of twins was minimal (fraternal? half identical? what?!) but that I struggled to find the information that fit our soon to be twin family. Although there were books, blogs, groups and web sites about twins, not many of them talked about baby wearing, co-sleeping, cloth diapering and breast feeding (let alone tandem nursing!)

The Two Little Ones, about 6 hours old, Baby Girl on the left and Little Boy on the right

 ... and again at 18 months old, Baby Girl on the left, Little Boy on the right.

Now I am eighteen months into my journey as mama to my twins, Baby Girl and Little Boy. Over the past year and a half, we figured out a lot. The best way to parent our babes, while maintaining an Attachment Parenting approach. We have successfully navigated breast feeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, gentle parenting and cloth diapering.

 I'll be starting an occasional series on twins: Twinning Tuesday. In it I'll be covering all sorts of topics, the sorts of things I wish that I had been able to read about both when I was expecting and when my two Littles were growing.

I hope you'll be joining me in the coming weeks; please feel free to email me here, or leave a comment, if there is a particular topic you are interested in my covering. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Menu Planning

Each week I make a menu plan (well, most weeks!)

I have found that spending just a few minutes each weekend, planning ahead what our evening meals will be, make our days much smoother. No more last minute rushing or runs for expensive carry out food.

I tend to base my meal plans on a couple of factors:

- what fresh produce do I have available in the fridge,
- what we have available in the pantry,
- what our schedule looks like for each day,
- and, using my psychic abilities to correctly predict what every member of my family will want for dinner on each day.

At this stage, I only make one evening meal; the two Little Ones eat the same as we do, which makes meals a little easier.

One other thing! We are a vegetarian family, although we do eat eggs, some dairy, and very occasionally fish. I also try to follow a mostly gluten free diet, so although the rest of my family are not gluten free, evening meals are typically GF.

This week is fairly typical, schedule-wise, so our menu is pretty typical too!

     Fish Sticks
     Roasted Broccoli

     White Bean and Hominy Chilli
     Green Salad

     Chicks and Pots (Roasted Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes)
     Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms

     Spinach Pesto Pizza

     Open Faced Burritos (Brown Rice and Black Beans)
     Avocado Slices
     Egg Salad, with Green Salad

     Rustle (We love Rustle in our home! Those meals where you pull all sorts of leftovers together to make a meal? Rustle!)

So what is your menu planning for this week looking like? Do you make a menu plan each week? Feel free to share, or post a link back to your own menu planning blog; I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Upcycling Sunday!

Upcycling, def. the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

Despite the ups and downs of the last couple of months, upcycling things out of our home (through selling, donating, gifting and Freeycling) has gone on unabated. Back in December 2012, I joined a challenge to free my home of 2013 items in the year 2013. At the time this seemed a little unrealistic, and yeet here we are, barely a third of the way through the year, and I have currently moved 1,412 items from our home!
That's right! 1,412!!
In addition to Freecycle, I have also started putting together boxes for Goodwill (just in case items are not taken through Freecycle), and I have also started to sell an item here or there through Craigslist.org or Ebay. 
Selling items is newer for me, and I can't say that it has been a huge money maker for us, but the few dollars here and there do start to add up.
But really the biggest Upcycling news in our home this week is this ...

 In the past, this chair has been the waiting area for any items awaiting sale/donating/gifting. And we are now at the stage where our waiting area has been whittled down to a single box. Yay! Which means we get our chair back!! (I am going to conveniently forget that Baby Girl and Little Boy are now using the chair to either get to the books on the bookcase behind the chair, or to catapult themselves onto the floor ... )

How is your Upcycling going? Do you have any donation goals you are working towards? Feel free to share in the comments; I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Food Waste Friday: How Did That Happen?!


I just love The Frugal Girl blog. Really - just love!

Each week (well - most weeks) she blogs about her food waste, a kind of public declaration, aimed to reduce her own food waste. And she invites the rest of us to join her!

So, I have had a couple of pretty huge FWFs in the past (Food Waste Fails), like this one, and this one. Let's just say that Food Waste Friday and I have had a bit of a rocky relationship over the past couple of months.

So, this will make a nice change of pace!

This week, I have no food waste to inform you all of. Nothing at all!

Instead of the usual photos of yucky, gone off food, this week you get to see the inside of my zero-waste fridge!

Here is the part that I hope is not going to really disappoint you, because I'm not sure that I did anything special towards my zero waste week. I did a big shop at the beginning of the week, and had masses of produce in the fridge, but between big salads for lunch and plenty of veg with evening meals, it's about all gone.

Now, let's see how next week looks!

How was your food waste this week? Feel free to share; I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Keeping it Real

That has always been a mission of mine on this blog, to keep it real!

So, in the spirit of telling it like it is, I have an update on yesterday's blog post, where I talked about making a schedule a simpler one (you can read that post here).

No sooner had saved that post, when my smoke detector went off.

Because the pizza I had in the oven had dripped all over the red hot element.

Because I was such a hurry that I forgot to put the pizza on a pan.

And why pizza? Because I was too busy to make 'real food'!

So there you go folks! Even those Simple Schedules can get thrown off sometimes (today by nearly sick kiddos, a tired mama, and an over ambitious to-do list).

Ah well ...

No pictures today I'm afraid; it just didn't occur to me to take photos of the fire in the oven! And don't worry, I was able to put the fire out without too much palaver. I'll take this incident as a reminder that even those best plans, to live simply and with intent, can be way laid sometimes :-)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Simpler Schedule

The past couple of months here in the  Simply 'Burbs home, have seen some pretty significant changes. I talked a little about this in my last post (check that post out here).

So! -what did we do when we realized that life was getting too busy?

Well, this makes things sound very simplistic, but we just stopped.

And that is the very simplistic answer, but really that is about it.

I stopped scheduling so much during our week days, cut chores to the minimum, consolidated errands, and all round did less.

So, how does that look in our day to day lives?

~ We typically only have outside (drive somewhere in the car) trips for the Little Ones once or twice each week, rather than most days as we used to do.

~ We make every effort to consolidate all our errands on Saturdays, although we do often run these as family trips (time running errands together, is still time spent together!)

~ Sundays are kept as unscheduled as possible; they are family days. The last couple of week's Sundays have been spent listening to music, gardening in our yard, pottering around the house, reading ... we even (gasp) watched a movie together as a family a couple of weeks ago (something we so rarely do, it justifies mentioning!)

~ Although we still make most of our food from scratch, I'm keeping meals and snacks much simpler. Most meals are prepared with less than 15 minutes of hand's on time.

~ Rather than try to keep the house looking 'guest ready' all the time, we do a five o'clock sweep of the main living area. A five minute timer and some upbeat music, and off we go! Amazing what you can do in just five minutes. I aim to do a whole house sweep each week.

~ This last one is definitely a work in progress, but My Good Man and I are trying very hard to get more sleep, and be in bed by 10:30. This is probably the hardest aspect for me; it is just so hard to limit that little bit of down time that we have looked forward to all day.

Yard work with the Little Ones.

And the result of all this 'stopping'? We have more space and time in our days to just be;more reading, more crafting, more ... just hanging out. Stress levels have gone down for all of us, we're spending more time snuggling, playing and laughing, and less time driving around, rushing and clock watching.

Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't the ultimate cure all. And obviously, there is more to it than I could possibly cover in a single blog post. We still have full lives; with three young children, two working parents, and a home to maintain, life is never going to be dull, or empty. Some days are better, and simpler, than others.

But we're getting there!

Isn't the first step accepting there is a problem? We had a problem ... we're working our way towards a solution.

How is your schedule looking these days? Too busy? Too much rushing? Striving for balance? Feel free to share in the comments; I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What Happened When Life Got Un-Simple

The past couple of months have been pretty quiet here at the Simply, in the 'Burbs blog. I went from posting pretty regularly, to ... well, nothing!

A couple of months back, I got ill. Not desperately, life threateningly ill, but sick enough where day to day life as we knew it here in the Simply, in the 'Burb's home just ground to a halt for a month or so.

Now I know this sounds pretty bad. And although it wasn't a great experience at the time, what it did was give me the opportunity to reevaluate what we were doing, what was working for us, and what wasn't.

It has taken about three months for life to get back to 'normal' (in quotations, because I don't think life is ever 'normal', not really!) And a lot has changed over the past couple of months, and our priorities have shifted quite a lot.

But really, the biggest realization that I had, was that life in general had become decidedly un-simple. My Good Man and I were chasing our tails, beyond exhausted, and our collective stress level was way too high.

This is a lot of talk to say that basically, we slowed down. We are focusing more on family and home, on joy and fun. More sleep, less angst. All good stuff!

I'll be writing more about some of the changes we have made around here in the days and weeks to come, but all in good time.

Right now, I feel ready to get back to writing here at Simply, in the 'Burbs and have it be the joyful, fun, wonderful thing that it was for me ... are you ready?!

And how have the past couple of months been treating you? Well, I hope! I'd love to hear from you; feel free to share in the comments!