Category: Simplicity

That’s What I Got

Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

That’s What I Got

Two half-broken hairdryers
A dishwasher that won’t wash a dish
A diabetic, blind dog with diarrhea & fleas
That’s what I got.

Home cooked meals every night of the week
Silly screams
Neighbors that give me beer when I’ve finished my only one
That’s what I got.

Tons of paperwork
Homework
Voicemails to return
That’s what I got.

Hot water
Sacred space
Coffee & tea
That’s what I got.

Mosquitos
Messy clothes
Sticky tables
That’s what I got.

Warm blankets
A stocked pantry
Herbs & spices
That’s what I got.

A cold kitchen in an old house
A broken door
Many creaky floors
That’s what I got.

Love, snuggles, family, health
Big windows for sunshine
Books & candles that are mine
That’s what I got.

I’ll take it all.

 

Photo by Jeffrey Wegrzyn on Unsplash

Difficulty & The Lessons We Aren’t Up For

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Difficulty & The Lessons We Aren’t Up For

Oh hello there again, Shit I don’t want to deal with
How’d you find me?
I’ve been hiding from you
Secretly.

I don’t have time for this
It’s early and there’s so much to do
I turn my head and feel a ping of realization
I have it all backwards here

Those things I have to do
Are not my lessons
They are the distraction
From the work

Right here, in the messy fears and tears of those plugged into me
Is the “to do”
The entire freaking list
Is screaming at me
They need me

I breathe and switch gears
How could I have nearly missed this chance again
The chance to show up
The opportunity to change the day

These are the moments I prepare so attentively for
Through mantras and silence and yoga
And they come and then I trip, with disappointment in my heart
But not this time

It wasn’t perfect
But I tried
Grateful for the opportunity
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be a little bit stronger

 

 

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

A September Like No Other

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

A September Like No Other

Holy smokes, what an emotional roller coaster.
Just left Meadow’s preschool meeting – she starts tomorrow.
Don’t be alarmed if she doesn’t speak to you, I say.
Last week my little man marched off to kindergarten.
The excitement, the fears, the new world opens; it suddenly appears.

Time has switched all up on me.
No morning quiet, where is my meditation?
Packing lunch, walking to the bus, breakfast chats.
Days are choppy, different, busy, slow, busy, slow.
I hurry then wait, then hurry, then I wait.

I love preparing the lunch containers, the meals.
I love after school chats and getting the scoop on all that went down that day.
There’s so much joy to be found in the small things like these.

I see the road next to school and as I drive along I realize this: for the next eight years I will be parking, waiting and looping around there for the elementary school pickup.
And I love it. This job of being the mom, the container to both hold it all and serve as a launch pad is again a paradox.
The beauty and the letting go all tangled up.
They are ours but not to keep, just to snuggle & let soar.

Happy September,

xo, Marjorie Sarah

 

 

Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash

Creating Clean Beauty Care

Family Inspiration Self-care Simplicity

Creating Clean Beauty Care

It feels unavoidable, everywhere I see stories about the dangers of using beauty products that are full of known toxins and hormone disruptors. Perhaps that’s because I have an interest in that topic and seek it out – who knows? Regardless, I thought it might be worth sharing some good resources in this area in case you have it on your list of things to research. It’s actively been on my list for years and that’s essentially why I began making my own lip balm and soap. If I’m already doing the homework, might as well share my notes.

I choose not to use fragrances in my lip balm, soap and bath salts because I started making these products to avoid those very things. I prefer plant based scents that essential oils provide and clay for natural colorants.

Mother's Day Gift Set
Peace Gift Set

I enjoy making a lot of personal care and cleaning products for my family, some of them don’t work well but many of them are exactly what I needed and all I did was scrounge up a bunch of ingredients around my house that I already had. *Special note, I do not enjoy the actual cleaning part.     : )-

It helps if I remind myself that I don’t need the perfect mason jar bottle with a cute label to get the job done. An old spray bottle or random jar has more often than not been the trusty container. And it doesn’t need to be instagram worthy, it just needs to make my family healthier. (I save the mason jars for my bath salt orders!)

Some good resources on this topic include:

If you’re more of a listenerThe Living Experiment

This episode goes into good detail on parabens, phalates and SLS and why to avoid them.

If you’re more of an online researcherThe Environmental Working Group

This website has been a go-to for me for years. They have a feature in the app where you can scan a barcode of the product and, if they’ve researched it, the score and details come up. They also produce a worthwhile sunscreen guide that I use every summer for my family.

If you’re a book in hand typeThe Honest Life, The Natural Beauty Solution, and Pure Soapmaking, and Kinder Homes: 50 Ideas for Creative Living are on my bookshelf.

I hope some of the resources shared above are helpful to you. Please share your favorite resources on the topic if you have any goodies!

xo,
Marjorie

 

Herbal Joy

Creating Inspiration Simplicity

Herbal Joy

Last year for Mother’s Day, I asked for an indoor herb garden in the kitchen. Sean took the kids to ikea alone (a gift in and of itself) and gathered the pots and racks and then actually HUNG them on the wall for me. It took many hours, this gift I asked for and he did it with love and grace. It was the best.

We planted herbs and watched them sprout and we were all so giddy. Then I neglected them and they all died. The end.

Plants dying has been a theme in my life until this summer when I declared that would no longer be the case! It’s not unusual to see me leaving the library with gardening books…that never get read. This time, I found a great book on homesteading and their herb section was short and sweet. I was determined to grow and nurture herbs this summer. I feel really connected to small herb plants, they bring me so much joy whenever I am in their presence. I need them in my life and I realized no one can make them stay alive for me except for me.

Potted thyme

I took some notes from my homesteading book in the late winter so when spring rolled around, I’d be ready. Honestly, the only thing I took note of was the importance of having holes in the bottom of pots and I learned how to drill a hole in them on youtube because many of my ikea pots didn’t have holes already. I know, this is basic but was big for me.

I also learned about adding gravel to the bottom of the pots for extra drainage, before the dirt goes in. So I walked out back to my gravel patio, grabbed a few handfuls and threw it in the bottom of my basil pot – because for that one I was using an actual metal pot with no holes. I’m also blessed with daily encouragement from my beautiful green thumb neighbors, Lynn and Yvonne.

And then I just had to remember to water them.

Mint and Rosemary

That was all a few months ago and I’m happy to report all of my green babies are still alive and thriving! The original crew: Lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary and basil have brought me so many smiles in the past couple of months. I bought all of them except the basil, which I grew from seed (!!!), at the Meadowbrook farm.

I like to throw some thyme, basil and mint in my scrambled eggs. I use the thyme and rosemary for skillet chicken at least 2x a week. I’m loving herbal water – adding mint and/or basil to our water and letting it sit for a few hours or overnight, it’s so refreshing!

I haven’t used the lavender yet, but I touch it and talk to it all the time. Maybe that’s all I need it for, I don’t know yet. When the first purple flowers opened, I was so proud of myself.

Cute herb spoon

And to reward myself for doing so awesome, last month when I was selling my soaps at the Morris Arboretum, I bought these CUTEST little spoon signs from a fellow vendor and added them to my little beauties. These things honestly had me looking up hand-stamped jewelry machines because I want to make a million of them!!!

To further reward myself, I added two new herbs to the family: lemon verbena and roman chamomile. I chose lemon verbena to add to water and possibly make tea with and the roman chamomile is such a soothing smell, I had to have it.

Rosemary Herb sign spoon

I get a lot of inspiration from the nerdy farmwife, so maybe someday I’ll start making herbal infused waters/teas to use in my soap recipes, but for now the main focus is to remember to water the plants daily and sit next to them and enjoy them.

Some other awesome herbal resources that I found include: thyme herbal and avivia romm md.

What’s your favorite way to use fresh herbs?

Happy Summer!

xoxo

Marjorie Sarah

 

A Game Changer

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

A Game Changer

Every once in a while, you meet someone or read something that touches you so deeply that it literally changes your life.

In the summer of 2012, when I was only a mother for about 6 months, I was walking through Suburban Station in Philadelphia as I had every day for years. Breastpump and work bag in hand, I hurried to my platform but out of the corner of my eye a magazine cover pulled me immediately towards it. The cover is the one you see above. You may have seen it, read it or read about it. It started a large conversation.

Written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a top woman in government at that time, this op-ed article shook me to the core – in a good way. Her main message was that the infrastructure of “work” in America is incompatible at times with a woman’s need/desire/want to be available to her family while still maintaining a serious and escalating career.

Anne-Marie found that by the time her sons were in their teen years, she needed to be with them more and stepped down from a major career role to switch gears back to academia to be more available and closer to home. She lived in Princeton, but only on the weekends. At that time, Slaughter was commuting to Washington, D.C. Monday through Friday and was with her family on the weekends only.

Okay, so that is completely unlike most of our lives, I know. Her message wasn’t even to leave the workforce altogether and be with you children, but somehow that planted the seed for me that it was OK for me to do so. And that has become one of the most OK moves I’ve ever made.

Shocked by the desire to be a stay at home parent, I literally didn’t recognize the emotion at first. The incessant pull to move away from a career that I had been working towards and in the direction of my life at home felt alien to me. A life of singing and dancing, pajamas and walks in the park. Literally. Let’s remember this was a day when I had one child and I was so elated to be home that every single day felt like vacation. Like all honeymoons, that wore off, and I write about that love its evolution here and here. Nonetheless, I still love my life at home parenting with all the new challenges it presents to me each season.

So when I saw this smart, career driven woman identify a flaw in the system and see that it is literally at odds (yet possible) to have a career and a growing family, I felt connected to her. Even though our lives could not be more different, even though she was not telling me to go and be with my family and throw my career to the wind. I saw a deeper message in her story which was one I’ve chosen to live by – you have to follow your heart and do what feels right for your family and your inner compass.

I’d like to clarify that I see having a career and a growing family as an amazing choice for many women, just that it was not for me when my children were babies. I could not handle the mental challenge, the constant switching of roles between work and home. I felt constantly interrupted and that broke me down. I literally fell apart inside. I was physically ill all the time. I also still feel like a piece of me is a failure because of this. Why couldn’t I just make it work like so many others? Why couldn’t I hold it together?

I admire the women that can handle the juggle and I know that is a weakness of mine. But I’ve chosen to turn it into a strength by making my life at home as rich and fulfilling as I choose. And now that my kids are growing and they are both older than 3, I’m starting to feel the pull to be away a bit more. So I’m turning towards developing a work life that makes me feel alive and lets me create. Creative small business is where I’ve found a new home in the work world and although it’s light years different than a political career in Washington, D.C., the work makes me come alive.

Were it not for Slaughter and this piece, I’m not sure I’d have come to the realization that it was time for me to leave the paid workforce for some years, find my center at home, refuel and move on in the new direction I find myself.

What Sustains Me

Inspiration Simplicity

What Sustains Me

A few months ago, I planned a Financial Summit for me and my husband, Sean. He thought the idea was ridiculous but went along with it. (I have been known to call various meetings, give them big names and declare it mandatory to wear suits. All of which he despises.)

We met at my favorite cafe late on a Sunday. We had Sean’s parents babysit. I guess it was a DATE! I was excited, and prepared. I’d given some assignments to Sean and one of them was to list the three things he cannot live without.

After we covered how we were were going to dig ourselves out of student debt and got sobered up by how little equity we have in our house, we got to the good stuff…how are we going to spend the money we do have to work with?!?! Being cloaked in the millennial uniform of school debt isn’t enjoyable but we find it so important to continue doing the things that nourish our lives in wholesome ways alongside paying increasing amounts on our school debt each month. So I showed him my list of the three things I can’t live without and he laughed at me.

My list was:
1. Yoga
2. Vegetables
3. Books

I’m never without a grateful heart for the privileges we have, which are many, and the choices we are afforded in our lives as Marjorie & Sean. So that had me thinking about what sustains me each and every day – when things are wild, chill, chaotic, mundane, crazy, lovely or sleepy these are and always will be my go to pick me ups, things that I fall back on no matter what.

LOVE
Chats with my mom & sister
Trader Joe’s coffee (French Roast)
eggs, eggs, eggs
Trader Joe’s coffee (French Roast)
Yoga
Books
Journaling/writing/creating anything
Dinner (many roasted veggies)
Water
Kombucha
Books
Chocoalate
Togetherness with food and friends and love
My tiny plants on my porch
Music – John Mayer, Zac Brown Band, Kenny Chesney, Nina Lee

Feel free to borrow my pick-me-ups or add your own.

 

Image: Arno Smit

Treasure Hunting

Adventures & Travel Community Family Inspiration Simplicity

Treasure Hunting

I wrote this a few months ago and forgot about it. My memory lost all these details already, so happy I saved them here. Enjoy and let me know what treasures you find if you go hunting!

 

“Now I know why you said this would be a treasure hunt,” said my five year old son, Brady, as we made our way through the Bryn Athyn Thrift Store on a Thursday afternoon.

We went for pajamas and left with treasures (and one pair of pajama pants for the little man). A win all around. For some reason, Meadow insisted on taking her shoes off multiple times while we were shopping in the big old barn. I’ll never know why. There are feasts for the eyes everywhere you turn. The decor was so fun to look at with old tools hanging on the walls and historic photos of the area and barn nearly everywhere. The kid/toys area was the most fun.

The Barn Thrift Shop
The Barn Thrift Shop

Anyone who knows me, most likely knows that Brady is quite arguably the most dedicated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan. Our neighbor across the street kindly gave Brady some old TMNT action figures that were her son’s when she was cleaning out the basement. These are the best kind of toys! They hold stories and memories and he still plays with them more than a year later.

Whoa!

Recently he expressed that he wanted to complete his “old school classic” turtle collection. I talked about how they don’t make those guys anymore but perhaps we could go on a treasure hunt to different thrift stores and see what we might find. He was intrigued. But I could tell he didn’t really know what I was alluding to.

So today at the thrift shop we found the toy area and there was a full bin of action figures (!). Although we did not find the “old school classic” Leonardo that was first on his list, we did find some more recent happy meal TMNT toys and his face LIT UP! For $.50 each, he got Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael happy meal toys without the meal! It was so exciting!

TMNT Treasure: FOUND

Meadow found two new babies for $1 each and I got a new shirt! Walking through all the dishes and books and replacement coffee pots was so much fun. The craziest thing is that I never even saw or heard of the happy meal toys Brady scored today but when we got home he told me, “You know mommy it’s a funny thing. I thought of those happy meal turtles this morning and was hoping I would get them.”

The Barn Thrift Shop
Outside the thrift shop, how pretty
Zen Parenting Radio Conference & Why I Went

Adventures & Travel Community Family Inspiration Motherhood Self-care Simplicity

Zen Parenting Radio Conference & Why I Went

On February 24, 2017, Zen Parenting Radio, a podcast on self-awareness and how it relates to parenting, held their second annual conference just outside Chicago. Last year, I decided to fly half-way across the country and be away from my family for a night to be a part of this amazing event.

Todd & Cathy Adams are the hosts of the weekly podcast as well as the conference. I stumbled across their work when my back spazzed out and I literally could not carry my baby a while back. I called in my best friend, Emily, who happened to be off for a couple of days came and stayed with us to help out. A true friend. During this visit, she explained podcasts to me and told me what they were all about.

Having my back “out” for a week and not being able to care for my kids alone felt horrible, after all, it’s my full-time job. After I was better and life was getting back to normal, I wondered why the heck that happened to me. Stress and shallow breathing are the physical answers I came up with but the behind the scenes reason is what I was looking for.

Fast forward a few months and I was a HUGE fan of Zen Parenting Radio. I never would have found them (or possibly would not have found them til much later) if it weren’t for those unplanned days of chatting and hanging out with Emily.

I consider Todd and Cathy to be incredibly powerful teachers in my life. I learn SO MUCH from their shows and found in a short time that we have much in common. I felt connected to something by being a fan of their show. So much so that I decided to fly from Philadelphia to Chicago to hear them speak.

 

I also traveled to the meeting location of the first La Leche League gathering while I was at the conference. An organization that is dear to my heart started just outside Chicago. I wanted to see where it all began.

 

Some of my notes while at the show can serve as a testament to the feeling and the vibe that they created.

  • Something to practice: If we are going to shift the dynamic in our home, we have to make the change.
  • Dr. Shefali Tsbary was the keynote speaker at the conference last year and her talk was as good as her book, The Conscious Parent. I was not disappointed. Something she made me think about is “Guilt is another form of ego.” Hmmm, that was so interesting. I’m a big guilt partaker. I also learned a lot about energy and how engaging with certain energies grows them and how to redirect your focus to dissipate certain things.
    • Her new book at the time, The Awakened Family, was what she was pitching and I was drawn in by her premise to make an “Internal commitment not to walk the mainstream’s ways of parenting.”
    • She asked us to ask ourselves if we could see our children for who they really are. Not who we want or who others want them to be. Makes me also ask myself, can I do that for myself? For all the people in my life?
  • Jennifer Weigel had me on the edge of my seat in her breakout session where she talked mainly about ituition and developing it. I had NO IDEA that is what the session would be about and I was riveted. I’d felt incredibly grateful to be there by accident because I learned so much and her talk gave me tools to explore our innate intuitive nature. Two tools in particular were energy cleansing and how to become grounded and “turn on your heart light” as she said to diffuse certain energies. I found this particularly helpful for screaming toddlers. Mind blown.

At a time when uninterrupted sleep was a foreign concept and connecting with like-minded people interested in bringing awareness to their parenting felt like a dream – I found this event. Or it found me. Either way, the energy that radiated from the experience was at such a high vibration, so fun and positive. I learned so much about how to be open and to be me and be aware and available so that I can be the best me to be the best parent (I can be). Not saying perfect, that doesn’t exist. Or everything is already perfect. Depends on which lens you’re viewing this whole thing called life through.

I wasn’t there there this time around but enjoyed hearing the updates on their 2017 event. I’m hopeful that I will make my way another one of their gatherings in the future.

Zen Parenting Radio Conference
Conference Sign – LOVE IT!

 

 

*top image photo credit: Pyramid From The Stones ID: 16383273
© Nataliya Lukhanina | Dreamstime Stock Photos

More Frugal Fun With Little Ones

Adventures & Travel Family Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

More Frugal Fun With Little Ones

Something I have right now is flexibility. Tons of it. We can fill our days pretty much with whatever we want, working around a small preschool schedule. Adventures are always calling and I’m frequently on the hunt for something fun to discover with the kids, however, whenever I google kids activities, I always feel empty inside. The usual kids museums or activity centers come up in the search and that’s about it. I’m always left wanting more. And frankly, a little baffled. I do love those places, and we’ve been to most of them, but that’s just one small bucket of ideas.

Kids stuff doesn’t have to be limited to “Kids only” stuff. Kids are real people that want to interact with the world and be intrigued and challenged. Their brains are literally wired for discovery and it’s my job to provide the path. Here’s three kid-friendly ways to spend a morning or afternoon. These are all local to Philadelphia/Montgomery County, PA.

Abington Art Center

This beautiful campus is super close to our house and it’s always felt a little mysterious because it’s behind large walls. We made our way one chilly February day when everyone was bouncing off the walls. They had an exhibit by Temple University students and an Art trail to walk, all for free. SOLD.

abington art center field
Running off into the field for ninja turtle battles

The exhibit was entitled Surface Tensions Wall Projections by Temple University Graduate Film & Media Arts  and it was a feast for the eyes. When we entered the exhibit hall, the lights were out and projections of lights and videos flashed about on the walls. The looks on the kids faces were priceless. Meadow, holding her baby doll, looked up in wonder. Brady, eyes wide, said, “What the HECK is this place?” “Where areeee weeee?” asked Meadow. I told them and they were fascinated, albeit a bit confused.

We wandered about and took it in. The work was interesting and the kids reaction to it was even more fun to watch. And this is what I love about art! “Who made this?” They exclaimed in wonder? “Why?” The questions were hilarious. We had a blast. Then we wandered around the building and found the fabric workshop and were invited in where Brady asked some questions. The bright and beautiful room was even warmer with the welcoming teacher who didn’t seem bothered by curious children. The bathrooms were great too, big enough for a stroller and clean – that’s how I evaluate most places.

frugal fun with little ones
Little wooden booth we discovered on the trail

We made our way to the art trail where the questions continued. A field large enough for ninja turtle battles, a stage to continue our battle and little wooden houses and huts to tuck our bodies in and pretend we lived in. There was no end in sight for the fun and it was all free. Our moods shifted from being out in February winds and that was part of the goal in discovering that trail.

RyersS Museum

This place is amazing. It’s a FREE museum in Burholme Park (northeast section of Philadelphia/Fox Chase). I have very fond memories of being here while I was a kid and kinda forgot about it until recently. It’s only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays so plan for that but it’s so worth the visit!

It’s both a museum and library full of family heirlooms and collections of the Ryerss Family from their travels around the world. We got a children’s coloring/activity book in the library when we were there and it says, “Visiting the Ryerss Museum is like taking a trip around the world.” I could not agree more!

The first floor has the parlor and dining room setup so you can see what it was like when they lived there. Little dolls and tea sets caught Meadow’s eye and I explained that you can not go under red ropes in museums. Just as soon as the words left my lips she looked and me and proceeded to go right under the red rope towards the Victorian tea set. Note to self: explain museum etiquette more clearly.

Ryerss Museum Dining Room
Dining Room

The back parlor was cozy and dark and explained the family’s Turkish corner. Have you heard of this? It amazed me! The exhibit rooms housed Buddhas, shoes, seashells and swords. Brady was engaged. I commented on how impressed I was that he was behaving so well and he said, rather seriously, “Well I’m busy. I’m doing the scavenger hunt.” We got a scavenger hunt worksheet in the library before we toured the house, it was great for the kids. Nothing fancy, just images of several statues that they had to look for.

Ryerss Museum with Kids
Scavenger hunt, very serious

We ended in the library where there are kids tables and coloring sheets. I had some questions about the dollhouses I saw as a kid but seemed to be missing from the exhibit hall. Apparently Fairmount Park claimed them as they didn’t belong to the Ryerss Family, but to a neighbor. BUMMER – they were my absolute favorites and I could not wait to see them after all these years. The library is a real library and you are welcome to borrow books if you live close by.

They also do kids activity days and flea market events at the museum. Don’t forget to walk around to the front porch and you’ll pass their pet cemetery on your way. Victorian porches steal my heart and they really help me imagine the time period when I’m on one.

They have free parking and a playground as well.

Ryerss Museum Library
Magical Ryerss library – kid friendly

Ikea – Kids eat free on Tuesday

Have you ever heard of Ikea? That’s a joke. Of course you have. Well, it’s a really fun place for kids and not because they have a play area that you can leave your kids at (we’ve yet to utilize that feature but it does look fun in there). It’s literally a HUGE indoor playground. We love to go and wander, stock up on candles and pretend we live in the little fake living rooms.

The cafe can be accessed via shortcut as soon as you enter (at the Conshohocken location) and it’s right next to the children’s department. We’ll go on a Tuesday, I’ll get a veggie/hummus wrap or whatever and the kids meals are both FREE. And you get a free coffee if you have their “Family” card. Plus they just got a new cafe machine so it makes lattes! I’m not sure if this is permitted but I bring my latte to the children’s area and sip it leisurely while the kids take their shoes off and roll around in the beds. I know. I know. I told them not to but they don’t really listen sometimes so whatever.

Ikea kids fun
Meadow playing at Ikea

By the time we get home, we’re all exhausted from Ikea, we relax and then I make dinner. Day planned. 🙂

Now pick one and go explore!

xoxo