We’re Back – with Bells on!

Let’s pretend that I didn’t have a three-almost four-year break in blogging. Let’s pretend that we’re continuing the conversation we had yesterday. Can we do that?

I’ll zip through the reason: deleted files in the server – it’s still a mystery how that happened. Since my blog wasn’t a paying client, it didn’t get priority. I lost momentum. I was pissed by the unnecessary interruption, so I decided to rage-quit blogging, my return to it, indefinite. It became clear to me that life was easier without the added task and responsibility. Later on, I convinced myself that I really just didn’t have time for it.

Of late, I always found myself wracked with guilt, grief, and desperation over my situation. I was constantly overwhelmed with work, chores, and motherhood. I felt like a piece of flotsam buoyed by the waves, with no control of my direction. I was constantly behind schedule, my performance in all my present roles were not up to my usual standards, and there was a distinct lack of joy and contentment. That basically means that I had once again succumbed to my negative and perfectionist nature.

Nobody’s harsher than me when it came to judging and punishing myself, so…

A mentality overhaul was in order. Yet again. Also, experimenting with different time management, life organization hacks, and whatnot. Perfectionist urge aside, I really do need to be more efficient and more intentional. I want better quality time with the people who matter most to me. I also need to take better care of myself. Blogging helped me do these in the past. Writing about my efforts and experiences allowed me to introspect and regularly check if I was being true to my ideals and living purposefully.

With the re-birth of Our Lemonade Days, I’ll continue with the old categories and add a new one. Two years ago, my second child was diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum, so I’ve decided to also use this blog to reach out to other families living with ASD, sharing ideas for at-home occupational and speech therapy activities as well as other tips for helping our ASD loved ones cope with this neurotypical world. Hopefully, this blog can offer support and extend some level of comfort to others in a similar situation.

We’re also going to be experimenting with a YouTube channel. When I say we, I mean my daughter and I. She’s 10 years old now (Time just zipped by!). In any case, we plan to produce videos to accompany some (not all) of our posts here, especially ones that involve tutorials.

By the way, sometime during this blogging hiatus, we were blessed with our third child, Sawyer. He just turned two in January. He has a stunning smile, a quick temper, and no plans of getting weaned any time soon.

I’ve also updated Spinning Lovely Days, so you might want to check that out.

That’s it for the re-intro. I’m excited to get back on the horse. Here’s praying that this blog enjoy an abundance of helpful, worthwhile content and suffer no glitches and hitches this time around, technical or otherwise.

Joseph_Jefferson_as_Ripvanwinkle_by_Napoleon_SArony_(1821-1896)

Wholesome Snack: Homemade Cheese Crackers

crackers in a blue plateI’m huge on chips. Eating them was always a point of compromise during any of the many diet programs I tried in my younger years. I could easily consume an economy size bag in just one sitting. And feel remorse afterward. Anyway, I’ve definitely cut back big time since becoming a mother, but I still occasionally indulge the craving for them. I try not to go with store-bought versions and instead make our own. Besides potato, I’ve also tried making eggplant chips and tofu chips – unsuccessfully. My toasted chickpeas are okay, but Marguerite didn’t care for them when she was younger and I haven’t made any in a long time (Note to self: make some again sometime soon. I have chickpeas that have been waiting to be turned into hummus in the kitchen for longer than I care to remember.). However, my kids and I all like our homemade cheese crackers, so that’s certainly the working chips alternative that we have now. It’s also so fun to make. There’s an easy and shorter process, and there’s the longer, arm workout of a process. I tend to go for the latter for a few reasons: I could use the exercise, my daughter loves mixing things, and the food processor is at the bottom of a precariously stacked collection of  seldom-used kitchen doohickeys (we mostly use the blender).

I really recommend this snack as it’s definitely more wholesome than commercially produced versions. You know exactly what’s in it (no preservatives and artificial colors), and you get to spend time with your kids while making them. Here’s the recipe that we use:

Homemade Cheese Crackers

1 C flour
1 C shredded or grated cheese
4 T cold butter, diced into small pieces
1/2 t salt
1/2 t Spanish paprika
1/4 t cayenne pepper
5 T cold water

crackers on cookie sheetCombine all the ingredients except water in a bowl and mix thoroughly until well-blended. Many people prefer to use the food processor; we won’t judge. 🙂 Add water, one tablespoon at a time, blending some more after each addition, until dough comes together. Form the dough into a ball and then wrap with cling wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Sprinkle flour on a smooth surface and your rolling pin. Roll the dough out until it is about ⅛ inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or pastry wheel, cut into 1-inch squares. Once squares are ready, use a skewer or chop stick to poke a hole in the middle of each square. As you can see, my daughter loved this part so much that we ended up with 2 or more holes in many of the cracker squares.

Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy. Let sit in the oven for a couple more minutes before removing to let  cool on the counter. Do not over-bake. The crackers will crisp up more as they cool. You may store in a container for about a week. If the crackers get kind of soggy, you can crisp them up again in an oven for about 5 minutes.

Let us know if you get to try making some. What other seasoning would you care to use instead? Do you have other chips alternative to suggest? Hope to hear from you.

The Unrelenting Pursuit of an Extraordinary Life: I’m Inspired to Blog Because…

Waldorf star lanternsThe baby – he’s halfway done with his second year, but he’ll be THE baby for a long time – stirs in his sleep, restlessly pecking at my arm, indicating his intent to feed. I wait a few seconds before acquiescing, whereupon the tiny being beside me escalates his message of demand by grabbing my top in resolute search of the source of his nourishment and comfort. I look at the time. It’s half past four. I start to weigh my chances of being able to get some more sleep and end up running a mental list of all the things I need to do instead. At the top of my mind is my part-time work. I have a noon deadline and still have all 3 articles to write. Now is the time to get those out of the way. As soon as the baby unlatches, I turn on my computer from hibernate mode, and tiptoe to the bathroom for my morning ritual. Afterward, as I reacquaint myself with the various tabs I left open the night before, I whip out my devotional, have a quick read, and utter a short prayer. Most of the time, it’s a silent wail for help. In the silence of the morning, the day still so fresh and unspent, I sag at the weight of the expected demands of the day. However, assured by God’s promise of help, I buck up and get started on tasks that can be done simultaneously. Basically, I alternate between writing and nursing, and then writing and getting the baby’s and my breakfast. Later, I juggle writing with attending to the needs of two more people who have now woken up. I know I should have done my writing the night before, but the kids were bent on sabotage and didn’t go to sleep until I was so exhausted that all I could do was open a couple of references. And even then my head kept on pathetically bobbing forward in fits and spurts of persistent slumber. Time is gold, however, and there’s none available for ruing last night’s inability to get any work done. I do a desperate task edit to see if there’s any chance I can get baths done this morning, mine included preferably. I dismiss the hope and resolve to schedule baths right after lunch. In the interim, I alternate writing, entertaining the baby, and homeschooling my daughter. It’s not even 9:30am and the day is not about to let up… How dare I try to fit blogging into that crazy schedule!?!

“Why do you blog?” That’s a pretty loaded question. It comes with unspoken judgment. There’s no need for it. With all that I already have to do in a day, blogging just seems like a poor choice – nothing more than pure indulgence. However, I love to write, and since I can’t muster the energy, concentration, and commitment to regularly write fiction and poetry like I used to, blogging seems to me the next best thing; I get to choose what to write and how to write it.

But it’s not only about sating the writer’s soul. If I were to finally be blessed with my own house, I would resolve to make it a place from which goodness emanates. The same applies to my blog, even if it’s merely virtual real estate. I’ve previously mentioned my natural tendency to be negative. I may have the propensity to always regard and react as though I were perpetually having a Jonah Day (I have the possibly annoying habit of sourcing my language from the Anne of Green Gables series), but I believe I’ve attained sufficient maturity to realize that there’s a better way of living my life. For this reason, I created this blog to be a consciously positive space.

But, yet again, it’s not only about that deliberate effort to have a positive element in my life. Our Lemonade Days is, more than anything else, a tool. On our wedding day, I vowed to my husband to always bring beauty, poetry, wonder, etc. into our life. When each of our children was born, I made a similar promise to the newborn I held in my arms. As a matter of fact, I believe I made an extraordinary life filled with joy and creativity a personal goal long before I even got married. Definitely, the conviction to homeschool came upon me pre-marriage and pre-children as well. Somehow, the goal and the conviction are intertwined, probably stemming from the same propulsor in my genetic makeup. The thing about life is that it’s so easy to neglect such noble aspirations as one gets lost in the pursuit of mundane matters. In my case, I find that blogging induces introspection, an evaluation of my efforts, and an honest assessment of the life I’m making for myself, which certainly influences that of my family.

Many people blog to reach out and be included in a community of like-minded individuals. That’s also my intent. Mommy bloggers wish to have a concrete record of their children’s precious moments. Again, I have the same hope. Our Lemonade Days is, indeed, a chronicle of our days. To me, this is paramount. Don’t you find it sheer agony to fail at bringing to mind a face or a moment in time with perfect clarity? While a blog is an efficient documentation tool that can be browsed through with the purpose of recalling memories, capturing nuances of time, etc., it’s definitely more than that for me. It is the fuel for consistent refocusing, for making sure that I have the right perspective in place. With it, I’m able to keep within the path I should be taking if I want to make good on the promises I’d made. In a nutshell, I am inspired to blog because I and, consequently, my family greatly benefit from it.

When I find myself succumbing to my negative nature, when I find myself drowning in the mundane and inessential, my blog leads me back to the right path, reminding me, “These are the things that are truly important to you, and this is the life that you want.”

*This post is my entry to DaintyMom.com’s Blogaversary Giveaway Contest.

Today’s Free and Bargain Kindle Books (4/16 Manila Time)

Are you one to proudly wear a shirt that says “I’d rather be reading.”? Join the club. To feed your voracious but cheap (kidding!) reader’s soul, I’m sharing a few of the free and bargain Kindle books available today. These are some of the ones that appeal to me, so you’ll get a pretty good idea of where my personal interests lie. If Mark were to do this post, the books would probably be about cars, photography, music, etc. Let me know if you’re into those things and I’ll have him do one of these free and bargain posts soon.

Some things to take note of, however:

*Prices may change, so be sure to check if they still correspond with the ones stated below. You also can enjoy Kindle books even if you don’t have an actual e-reader. Simply download the free Kindle app for your particular device.

NON-FICTION

Saying Yes to Change: 10 Timeless Life Lessons for Creating Positive Change

Organic Food: Eating Organic on a Budget

CHILDREN’S DINNERTIME MANNERS: Discover The 16 Basic Table Manners Maxims And How To Teach Them Your Children Simply And Effectively (The Easy Parenting Series)

36 Home Organizing Ideas for Your Family Around the Year $0.99

FICTION

A Simple Amish Christmas $0.99

The Anne Stories: 12 Books, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne’s House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, Chronicles of Avonlea, Audiobook Links $0.99

* Our Lemonade Days is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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