Challenge Accepted!

This past week, I found a pretty cool reading challenge on Pinterest. Now, I find tons of stuff on there and file it away for future use, but it all gets buried in the Supernatural gifs. Hey, what can I say? Half naked demon hunters…

Anyway, this reading challenge really grabbed my attention. I tweeted it out to my fellow book nerds (follow me on Twitter @MamaOwl_Kirby!) but it’s still rolling around my mind. So what’s a girl to do? Well, conquer that god damned reading challenge!

Real talk: I’ve always liked a good book. But after high school, I became an occasional reader. I have a shelf of half-read and never-read books. It was only after we moved to South Carolina and I felt so completely alone that I rediscovered my love of reading. I make weekly trips to the public library and let the novels I find take me to far off lands. The characters become my friends and family that keep me company.

Back to the challenge. The point is, I’ve been reading quite a bit over the last few months. So I’m cheating a little and using some of my recent reads to start checking off my list. Only a very few are from as far back as the spring.

Technically, the reading challenge is for 2015. Since it’s already August, can I finish it all by December? Stay tuned. Any fellow bookworms up for the challenge with me? Not a big reader? Maybe pick a few things from the list that you wouldn’t normally read and try something new! Have a favorite book or author that meets any of the list items? Share them in the comments!

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and the wisdom to know the difference

Control. It’s one of the things I desperately cling to, but I never really have a firm grasp on. For years, I have felt so many facets of my life spiraling out of control. My weight has ballooned. I have stopped and started college more times than should be humanly possible. My house has never been clean for more than five minutes… I can’t stand when I am not in control of everything in my life. But I’m not really in control of any of it.

What can I truly take charge of, that is mine to dictate? Myself. My body, my attitude, and eventually my future. Are there external forces that will oppose me at every turn? Sure. But at the end of the day, I can lose weight. I can focus on the positive rather than the negative. We all hold the potential for a happy, fulfilling life. What matters is what we do with that potential.

When I worked at the drug and alcohol rehab, we recited the Serenity Prayer ad nauseam. But you know what? The old prayer offers some pretty sound advice. I can’t change everything in my life that I’m unhappy with. And I have to learn to be okay with that.

How To Ruin What The Internet Calls The Easiest Potato Recipe Ever

I find myself regularly browsing food on Pinterest and today’s post is courtesy of my raging hunger a few weeks back. I had to pin ALL the food. So picking up stuff at Target today, I thought I’d try these red potatoes that were patiently waiting on my Yummy Things board.

Now I got home and did a little googling. The pin itself didn’t really have directions to follow, so I quickly learned that these are called Hot Crash Potatoes? Ooookay….. I just called them smashed up red potato things. They popped up on the Pioneer Woman’s blog and have been adapted and altered, and my attempt is no different. She claims they are super easy to do. Well yeah, they were pretty easy to make. But I’m not sure my endeavors yielded the same hot crashy potatoes.

You start by boiling your potatoes (after a good scrub and cutting off any weird looking growths) until they are “fork tender”. Now I literally had enough clean forks for the three of us to eat. I opted for a toothpick. You take what you can get some days…. Anyway, the boiling took me maybe 15 minutes? Honestly, I was online. I have no clue. Fork tender…

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Once the taters are cooked, drain all the water out. You’ll wanna prepare a baking sheet for them, drizzled in oil. I suppose a nice liberal coating of nonstick spray would also work. Then the fun part–smashing them! Not. The Pioneer Woman suggests using a potato masher to do it. That obliterated the potatoes. Try a fork. Of course you’ll have to hold these very hot potatoes down as you do it… I got a little carried away. I’m not quite sure how I mistook smash and annihilate…

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Once you’ve got them all smashed to oblivion, give them a liberal drizzle of oil and a seasoning. I used my Fantastic Four: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder. Seriously. I use those four on everything… Stick them in the preheated oven, 350 for half an hour or so. I just kept them in for as long as it took my chicken to cook. Then sprinkled a smacking of shredded cheese on there and let it melt. Scoop those suckers onto a plate and dollop the sour cream on and you’re in business!

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Okay, so the title led you to believe that I massacred some simple potato recipe. I lied. The truth is, they were easy, crispy, and pretty tasty. Overly smashed, but a success. The only critique was that the man wanted more cheese on them. Shocker… Cheese needs more cheese in this house… But these were pretty good. It’s a fun recipe to toy with as far as the seasonings and toppings. We’ll have to revisit them as a vessel for a loaded smashed something or other.

The Orange Julius Experiments

Pinterest has struck again! I found and pinned a recipe for a homemade Julius, then remembered I didn’t have a blender…. Well, as luck would have it, I am now the happy owner of a blender!

Mike got home from work early, which resulted in an impromptu excursion into town. After hitting the mall (yay for some treats there- a shaving kit for Mike and new barbells for my rook!), we moved the party to Sur la Table. A $50 blender knocked down to $35? Well THAT is how we ended up with a new blender….

Anyway, back to the Juiuses! Or Julius’? Julii?

So according to Pinterest, all you have to do is stick all the ingredients in a blender and call it a day. Easy enough. So I toss the milk and orange juice, vanilla, sugar, and ice into the blender and whirr away. No, Nina, I don’t have anything. Go to bed. So how’d it turn out? Well, the taste seemed pretty on point! Even Mike the Orange Julius freak said it was a pretty good copycat. My only question is the texture of the drink. This produced a kind of foamy Julius. I have no idea if it should have a little foamy quality on top, because I’ve only ever had mine in the mall via a straw… Nonetheless, a damn good recipe to keep tucked away for those days you’re having a little craving. And I was pleasantly surprised that 2 glasses only required half of  can of oj concentrate, so it’s easily doubled for 4 people. Or 2 very thirsty fat asses…. Never mind….

 

The Orange Julius Recipe via Pinterest

6 ounces orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 cup milk

1 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

10-12 ice cubes

Top 10 Moments…that are just plain AWWWKWARD!

You know those awkward moments, the ones where you aren’t quite how to respond. React the wrong way and it could be mortifying. Or hilarious. Here’s my Top Ten list of awkward moments!

10. When the server at a restaurant hovers next to your table for a little too long. Or if you’re out with the girls and the food runner stands there with your plate of chips and shrimp fondue, just holding it like he’s a freaking wiseman presenting you with the myrrh…

9. When you realize you sent that text to the wrong person. That can get really awkward….

8. When the person in the Walmart aisle farts and pretends nothing happened. What else can I say?

7. When a guy asks you if he’s poorly endowed and you hesitate because you’re debating if you should really tell the truth. Okay so maybe not everyone has had this happen to them. But I promise you, that’s awkward. And honesty is not always the best policy in this circumstance…

6. When you realize you’ve been walking around all day and the tag is still on your pants. I spent the whole day in OC before I realized the sticker was on my pantleg…

5. When you’re singing with friends and you totally botch the words. This is not awkward if you’re drunk.

4. When someone asks you if you’re related to so-and-so, then ends the conversation there. I get that a lot in regards to Ben being my brother. Yes, I’m related to Ben. “Oh, I thought so.” [insert awkward silence] Wait, were you going somewhere with that?

3. When you have no clue who that just was. I can’t tell you how many people have stopped and talked to me in a store, yet I had NO clue who they were…

2. When you’re in public making a face at your shopping companion, but a stranger sees. I wish I had a dollar….

1. When someone asks why you haven’t accepted their Facebook Friend Request. You know when you saw that request pop up, you had no intent to accept it. So you hid it. Never happened, right? Tell that to Mr. I-Keep-Tabs-On-Unanswered-Friend-Requests!

 

What are some of your awkward moments? Or one that happened to “your friend”…

Top 10 Best Things About Being a Parent

Being a parent is, without a doubt, an interesting experience. In true Letterman fashion, here’s the Top 10 reasons why being a parent is awesome.

10. It’s an excuse to watch kids shows. I have to admit, I find myself tempted to watch Nickelodeon even while Nina’s taking her nap.

9. You get to utter ridiculous statements that suddenly aren’t so ridiculous. When’s the last time you said “Don’t climb the bookshelf” to someone? When’s the last time someone you know tried to climb a bookshelf? Yeah, I win….10 minutes ago.

8. Cute baby clothes. Really. Have you walked through a Carter’s? And don’t even get me started on Halloween costumes…

7. Watching your child as they learn things. Kids are pretty smart. And I dare you to find a momma who doesn’t swell with pride that their kid knows how to count or can find the red sock, not the green one.

6. Laughter. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. Kids will break out into a belly laugh over nothing. Seriously. Next time you see a little kid, start squealing randomly. It’s apparently hilarious. And god help you if you tickle them….they will die from laughter.

5. Conversations with children. Ever chat with a little kid? I guarantee what you can decipher through the gibberish is interesting. Oh, and you better be able to answer questions for hours. Even when the questions aren’t relevant.

4. Sing-a-longs. Every theme song. Every commercial jingle. Every song on the radio. And if I don’t join the sing-a-long, Nina yells at me to “SING!”

3. Snuggles. They don’t happen often when they get bigger. But it’s such a sweet and cozy six seconds.

2. Babies are so sweet. They will come up and give hugs and kisses unprovoked. They say “I love you momma!’ They are learning to say please, thank you and you’re welcome. They pat your back if you cough. They want to help with everything.

and…

1. They are an excuse to have a messy house!

 

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You’re gonna miss this….

Most of my life is reflected by various songs, albeit rarely a country song. Today I keep going to the song “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins.

It’s weird how sometimes the words of a song feel like they may have been written about you. Don’t tell anyone, but I really like this song.

I remember being in high school, when I knew everything and my parents were so clueless and unfair. I was in such a hurry to grow up, to be an adult. In retrospect, I miss the days before bills and responsibilities. Days when the biggest worry was a test on Thursday or if someone would ask you to Prom. Days when I stressed over my inability to do calculus, not my inability to buy groceries or pay the emergency car repair bill. I stupidly wasn’t content to be young and carefree.

I remember fondly when Mike and I met. I still smile when I think back about the early months of our relationship. Days when we were spontaneous, silly… We went through some hard times fairly early in our relationship, but it only made us stronger. I remember days when we had virtually no money to our names. We used to have dates at McDonalds. We would save our sweet tea cup and refill it inside, then people watch everyone who was stopping on their way to and from Ocean City. We used to take walks downtown and window shop. I don’t know how many hours we spent sitting atop the Tuckahoe Dam, just looking at the water. Now that we have a child, I feel like we miss out on the “us time” we used to have in abundance. We still have dates that consist of little more than wandering the aisles of Walmart or watching a movie in the living room after Nina goes to bed. Sometimes I miss the spontaneity of our pre-parent days (not that I’d trade it for anything though).

Only two short years ago, I was a new mom. Michael was working long hours to pay the bills and I was up all day and night doing the bottle and diaper routine. It was exhausting. I vividly remember pestering my mom “When will Nina be big enough to [blank]???” and “I can’t wait until Nina [blanks]!!!” Mom just smiled and told me to enjoy the time while she was little. I was in such a hurry for Nina to grow up so she could roll/walk/talk/etc. I think back on the days when she was so tiny, when she would lay sleeping in my arms all day long. Now I have a very active toddler who, even though she is the sweetest girl ever, is still ver much a two year old. I have a love hate relationship with this stage. She’s a loving girl and will come over out of the blue to give kisses and say “I love you”. She just as easily jumps up and down, kicks, and cries when it’s time for a nap. Some days I catch myself thinking “I can’t wait for the terrible two phase to pass.” Then I try to remind myself that all too soon, I’ll be missing this. No, no parent enjoys the inevitable meltdown at Walmart when your toddler doesn’t understand why they can’t have whatever pretty and undoubtedly expensive toy they just saw. But one day I’ll look back and miss the days when Nina sat on the counter to “help cook,”  or when she gave kisses out so freely and sat on my lap to read books.

It’s so easy to get stuck in the “grass is greener” mindset, that things are always better if we can just change this or that. But when things change, life is still just as full of ups and downs. I’m making an effort to slow down and enjoy life. I don’t want to look back some day when I’m old and regret pushing my life forward as fast as I could. I want to look back and think “I miss those days, but I sure enjoyed them….”

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love actually is all around

With the baby in bed, I decided to watch my favorite movie. Love Actually.

I love this film (and not just because it’s an Alan Rickman movie…) It’s got such a great message to it, as Hugh Grant narrates in the intro:

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.

I always cry like a fool when I watch this. Not tears of sadness. Tears of love,  of empathy. If you haven’t seen it, the film follows several couples in their various stages of love: falling in love, marriage, a cheating husband, a husband grieving his wife’s death.

Despite it technically being a Christmas movie, I could curl up in it anytime. It’s the very definition of a feel good film. Everytime I see it, I think about the blessings I have in my life. I have a loving husband, a beautiful daughter. I have great parents, brother and (future) sister-in-law… I’m blessed to have some awesome friends: from the UK and Moldova to Mexico and El Salvador, friends from DC to Texas. I have a roof over my head, food in my kitchen, a car to drive.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the problems and stresses of life. It’s so easy to feel lost and alone. But like Hugh said….

love actually is all around.

Welcome to littleowlmama

Whenever I sit down to write I always feel a little like Carrie Bradshaw, as if I should be sipping some coffee and have a burning cigarette dangling precariously from my lips as I write questions about love gone wrong… Maybe I’ve just seen too much Sex and the City.

Anyway, this is the maiden voyage for this blog. I imagine it will end up being a lot about my daily life: shenanigans with a toddler, losing weight, maybe an original writing or two. And pictures. I’m sure there will be lots of pictures.

I am a wife and mother. I have a possibly unhealthy obsession with owls. In June, I started losing weight and have lost about 25 pounds. My dear friend has introduced me to the world of breast cancer awareness. We did the Susan G. Komen 5K in DC this summer and I am excited to complete my second race with her and her family next month. I love movies, music and books.

I’m just your average ordinary stay at home mom who’s signed up to share her daily life with you.