Maybe next year?

maybe next year

Good news!

You have plenty of time.

So here you are this penultimate day before Christmas wondering how could that possibly be true? I mean, every information stream available to us is blowing up our brains with reminders that the clock is ticking! Last chance! You better click here or else …

Or else nothing happens.

I’m not just being oppositional to all the trending sales pitches.

Unless you’re on the highway and you see your plane lifting off, you have enough time.

And even then, it’s not a bad idea to develop an “I’m right where I’m supposed to be” kind of mentality. Even if (especially if?) all external factors indicate otherwise.

what really matters?

(psst you don’t need anyone to tell you, it isn’t the same answer for each of us, but if you can lock yourself in the bathroom for a second and focus on this one question: what really matters? You know the answer. Okay, now do that).

One of the most frequently mentioned ideas in my ebook* “Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys” is the “maybe next year” list. Because it is genius.

December 23 … I’m looking at the pile beside me and embracing that I’m probably not going to get all the cards mailed out on time. Maybe next year I give in to this perpetual reality and join the New Years Card trend.

Didn’t make zoo lights before Christmas. Maybe next year.

Gingerbread houses? Maybe next year (but probably never on my watch).

But you know what? I’m writing this post while my kids play happily eating cereal they got to pick out (simple pleasures) and we are all under Scout Surveillance, the watchful pair of black eyes of our new puppy which fell near the top of my “what really matters” list this year.

My phone is binging with notices that some of our family will be getting their gifts on time in California, Idaho and Maryland because of the second Christmas miracle that is Amazon. (Next year maybe I’ll finish making the stuff I started making a couple years ago).

There is a tree, leaning against the wall because of some logistical issues we’ll work out next year. Maybe. It is decorated purely by the hands of Sam and Jake who are thrilled to see their handmade paper and zip tie ornaments alongside the more fragile ones they made over the years. The star is also zip tied to the top, because that is our life right now.

And it’s all good.

Not perfect. Not as planned but just … good.

And that is enough.

Wishing you all the love and clarity on what matters to you,

signature

*And you know what, if you’re thinking “oh, I should read that!” you totally should. Next year!

(I’d love your help reaching my subscriber goal for 2015 – sign up below and you’ll get posts delivered right to your inbox).

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


Eat. Drink. Be Merry.

GatherinGrace NathaliesNotes

Gather with Grace

Dec 15, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

First published in Winter 2015 Roots to Roofs

Given my history of meal mishaps, small kitchen fires and fondue party fails, I'm an unlikely candidate for trying to sell others on the blessings of holiday gatherings. Nonetheless, I intend to try my best to convince you to invite people into your home to partake at your table.

My parents owned and operated two restaurants while I was growing up, but I picked up little in the way of practical skills. In fact, I was once fired over my poor potato peeling practices.

It may, or may not have had something to do with a tenuous mother-daughter relationship at the time. It's hard to say. 

My mother is a gourmet cook.When I was dating my husband, I think that gave him the wrong idea, as I am decidedly not.

I am, however, enthusiastic about all endeavors that have to do with people and hospitality. And in the world of adults, that ends up requiring the care and feeding of people. 

So while my mom sets a lovely table with a delicious spread of food, while I set off smoke alarms preparing things that turn out nothing like the pictures posted on Pinterest, we have one thing in common — a love of making people feel warm and welcome.

This time of year, all the sage advice suggests saying "no" more often so we can focus on saying "yes" to "what really matters." So, what, exactly, is it that really matters? 

In my mind, there isn't much that rates above taking care of one another, and one significant way to do that is to extend an invitation to share a meal. That is a concrete way to meet a basic human need of connection and a gracious way to live out love.

No gourmet cooking is required to be gracious and welcoming. I've invited plenty of people to my house with these words: "Hey, I'm trying a new recipe and it might be totally gross. Want to come? Bring some bread for back up." 

And people come.

Sometimes we have a good laugh, served with a lot of bread and butter, as we eye the smoldering dish I just proved wasn't fail-proof after all. And we nourish something more than our bellies in those moments.

Showing up for each other and being remembered nourishes our spirits. I think that is a gift worth spreading, and savoring.

I have had friends and relatives who discouraged me from hosting such things due to my stained carpets and chair cushions. But here's the thing: We don't have that kind of time, you guys. If you have friends and relatives who care more about the shape of your chairs and carpets than they do the spirit of your company, forgive them and move on.

If it's you holding back from inviting people into your home because of peeling paint or mis-matched furniture, consider getting off the sidelines of your life. It's a short life, this one, so gather in — and with — grace. 

In my years of hosting people, despite all the obvious reasons not to, I've learned a few things that might be helpful to others lacking the Kelly Ripaesque picture-perfect life.

First, you have to start somewhere. So, just do it.

An easy dinner to host is a potato bar.

But the first time I had a large group of people over for dinner, I didn't realize how long it takes to cook potatoes. I must say, we were pretty hungry by the time the pizza arrived. 

Ergo, my first tip is to always have a back-up plan. It'll free you up to try new things without starving your friends out. (You know you're supposed to poke holes in potatoes before baking them right? Yeah, me too).

Also, pay attention to words in recipes like "meanwhile" and "stir constantly." If something requires constant stirring, it's too needy and you should probably break up and pick something else to serve. 

Another essential piece of advice: People often ask, "What can I bring?" Let them bring something. Please.

And don't just say, "Oh, whatever you want." Be specific.

Say, "How about something for dessert?" Or say, "Salad would be great." And you might add, "Bring your own bread." Beverages work for that, too. 

Whatever your main dish ends up looking like, put it on the table with no apologies. Think of it as a manners experiment.

Should you fall for the old lie that lasagna is easy to make, you might end up with oddly curled noodles on the top layer, because nowhere in the instructions does it say there should be no noodles on that layer. Not to worry. Just flip it upside down, add a topping of cheese and sprinkle with some sprigs of parsley. 

Sprigs of any herb make things look more appetizing. And they suggest you know what you're doing. It's also good to remember that cheese makes everything better. 

Speaking of cheese, keep a wheel of brie in your fridge. Part of being hospitable is being able to serve up some food on short notice, without making anyone feel awkward.

Add some crushed nuts and brown sugar on top of the brie, pop it in the oven and you'll have an amazing appetizer.

Just add bread. Or crackers. Or spoons.

Oh, and one last tip: Never use the oven to store anything. Just don't. Even if you tell everyone else in the house that's what you're doing, the fire will always be your fault. 

I know it's amazing that I haven't been hired to write for Better Homes and Gardens. But lucky for us, that leaves me more time to put all this advice into my next book: Not like the Picture.

Finally, remember that mealtime mishaps make for great memories. Like the time my gourmet cook mom helped host a pig roast back in the early 70s.

I'm not sure how they remember it so vividly, since members of this gathering of Slovak immigrants were in high spirits, so to speak, and on empty stomachs. Yet the stories of the night, and the pig that didn't cook, haver persisted for decades.  

One day we will laugh about the time I set the lentils on fire while trying to approximate a candle display I found on Pinterest. Actually, I already am. 

For my next trick, stop by some time. And bring the bread. 

Happy gathering!

 

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’. Also? If you want to make a writer friend smile, please subscribe below AND if you liked this post – share it with your friends!

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


How to read free ebook without a Kindle (and a secret)

kindleapp 1

You know you have to work on your marketing skills when it’s a struggle to give away a free copy of your book! I think part of that is we tend to not trust “free,” a concept to explore another time.

This morning I’m preparing to give a talk with this amazing group of women at a bible study group I still can’t believe I willingly, cheerfully and eagerly attend.

Some of you have asked if I visit book groups – if there are people there who love books then yes. Yes I do. I can also Skype in if you’re not local!

(I put speaking opportunities on the top of my goal list this year, as we close the year I have three talks booked before the end of the year. Pretty sure I would’ve put that off had I not set the intention and taken steps to make it so, which I’ll be writing more about next week because long-time readers know New Years is my favorite!)

Yesterday I posted the details of my free ebook deal on Amazon, it ends at midnight so take advantage soon if you want my second book “Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys” for FREE.

After sending that I got some emails asking me if people could scoop up the freebie if they don’t have a Kindle Reader and the answer is YES!

You can download, for free, a Kindle Reader app and “read it in the cloud” which is code for your desktop or whatever. It’ll look like this:

Kindle Cloud Reader

 

kindle app order

 

kindle app

 

You guys … want to hear a secret? It looks like we’ll be able to pull off our Christmas Puppy Surprise! Scout is on his way to his forever home, we adopted him and can. not. wait!!! The boys don’t know yet so shhhhh!  I have to believe that wherever Lucy Baby is in doggy heaven she’s happy for us too.

 

p.s. in case you missed yesterday’s post here are a few ways you can do your writer friend’s (say, me) a significant favor:

sent out an email to Nathalie’s Notes subscribers* asking begging folks to do the following:


- Go to Amazon and Download the free ebook. (I get credit for every download, even though it's free to you!)
- Like what you see? Please consider giving some star love in a review. These stars and reviews matter a lot! (Here's me begging. In a  totally non-annoying way...) stars
- Help me spread the word by telling your friends about this free ebook promotion.

 

Also, consider subscribing and get little dose of Nathalie’s Notes delivered to you from time to time whenever I post!

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.


**Free** holiday ebook for you! No, please, take it.

Marketing tip: When you write a book, you should tell people. All the people.

Okay, so honestly it’s free for YOU … but also for everyone who downloads it between now and Thursday, December 17th. After that it’s a whopping $4.99.

(I know! And I get to keep HALF of that so Imma gonna get rich!)

Click here for your FREE copy of Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys. You don’t even have to read it now, or ever – I mean, I hope you do but no pressure. All I am saying, is download it to savor later – even next year because what I need friends, is as many downloads as possible – and for those of you who DO like it please help your writer friend out and leave a review.

All this begging and asking for help does not become me, I know … and yet being as how I’m my own marketing team … my main strategy for now is the ol’ pretty please with a cherry and free ebook on top! Which also includes my undying gratitude in all caps, like this: THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! (I forgot to mention the prolific use of exclamation points).

I’m trying to figure out how to do that without annoying my dear readers, but it turns out most of you are so supportive I wonder how I got so lucky!?!?!

I sent out an email to Nathalie’s Notes subscribers* asking begging folks to do the following:

“My publisher told me to tell everyone: I wrote my second book! It's an ebook and you can get it FREE until Thursday, December 17, 2015.
Tell your friends - it's like a free gift to them, too!
Ways to support your writer friend (yours truly at the moment):
- Go to Amazon and Download the free ebook. (I get credit for every download, even though it's free to you!)
- Like what you see? Please consider giving some star love in a review. These stars and reviews matter a lot! (Here's me begging. In a  totally non-annoying way...) stars
- Help me spread the word by telling your friends about this free ebook promotion.

Thank you so much, friends, for supporting me in this writing journey and also for letting me encourage other parents with these words!
Blessings on you during this season and into the new year!


Love,
Nathalie

Behind the scenes fun fact:

Here’s the cover I submitted:

MerryIsOptionalcover

And here’s the one we went with:

cover

 

*You should totally subscribe! A little dose of Nathalie’s Notes delivered to you from time to time whenever I post!

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.


To Elf his own, a manifesto of sorts

To Elf his own

 Hey haters!Here's the thing...

Dec 2, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

While many holiday gatherings have been seasoned with heated conversations over foreign policy, arguments about presidential candidates and a debate or two over the best way to baste a turkey, I’ve already gone a few rounds defending my practice of, and passion for, elfing.

If you’re anywhere near social media, you’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf. It’s this slightly creepy looking, pint-sized phenomenon bringing merriness to some families, and madness to others.

In short, the elf arrives sometime before Christmas and appears in new places, serving as Santa’s little narc.

That NSA-esque approach isn’t my thing, so our scout elf is on the lookout for good deeds. He also provides an element of mischief and merriness as he pulls little pranks, like putting miniature marshmallows in the kids’ oatmeal, or cues up the DVD player with a Christmas movie when we thought we were watching “Wild Kratts” for the millionth time. 

It started as a self-published book a decade ago by a mother and her two daughters. The trio never dreamed their little vision would dance in the heads of children and Target CEOs everywhere.

And, as is the case with everything in America, Elf on the Shelf is controversial. 

Not as much as, say, the subject of Syrian refugees, but it’s right up there as a first world problem blown out of proportion. 

Some say: Too commercial!

Oddly, it’s also a massive self-published success story in a country that often cheers on ingenuity. But, apparently, there is a limit to how much success we can tolerate someone having, especially if, God forbid, it brings joy. 

Others insist: It’s not really a tradition!

Says who? I mean, what exactly makes something a tradition? 

A tradition, as I understand it, is something cultivated and passed on from one generation to the next. 

Still others prefer not to be haunted by the doll, because it’s creepy, like clowns. I’ll give them that.

There’s actually a name for a true fear of elves: fayophobia. For those suffering from this condition, I suggest staying off social media or temporarily hiding your elfing friends because as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to hum Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.” 

And the one anti-elf stance I struggle with the most: “It’s just another thing parents feel pressured to do.” 

The challenge for me is not that others don’t want to do it. I get it. Some of you bake. I do not. Because I hate that. My problem is specifically with people who project their own insecurities or priorities onto me, and instead of simply opting out, they mock people like me who have fun with the little sprite.

I’m no stranger to insecurity; in fact, a few years ago, I fell prey to something I no longer tolerate: elf-shaming. I will never insist that to love me is to love the elf. However, to love me is to stop mocking me for the joy it brings to us simply because it’s not your thing. 

To elf their own, do it or don’t, but I would never tell a mama who doesn’t elf that she’s lazy, so why is OK for those who don’t get into elfing to suggest I have too much time on my hands? Or, as I often hear, that I’m trying to be a “unicorn” mom portraying a perfect life on social media. 

Here’s the truth: using that little elf as an avenue for intentionally creating joyful moments has gotten myself and my family through some of our darkest seasons. Not because I’m pretending difficulties don’t exist, but because in spite of them, it is our right to choose love, to live intentionally and to create our own joy. 

Yes, it is more work to incorporate our elf’s antics into an already busy season. As enamored as I am with our elf Finn, about three days into his arrival, I’m getting out of bed at midnight, muttering an alliterative expletive because I forgot to do something with him.

This is how I discovered Finn’s special feat of traveling all the way to the North Pole and settling back into place without looking like he even moved. I know, it’s amazing.

In nearly eight years of writing this column, the most feedback I’ve received was a couple years ago after my first article on Finn. Most of it was positive. But then, there were these deeply disturbing insults and mocking at my expense. I let the hating get under my admittedly porous skin. 

I elfed in private for a couple seasons, protecting those who didn’t wish to see this sort of thing blowing up their feeds. 

This year, though, I’m making up for lost time. You see, I’ve got my eye on the clock of my boys’ childhood. 

I see the writing on the wall in my older son’s sly grin and twinkling eyes. This season of magic is coming to an end for him. Soon, he will be one of us, the joy makers. I’m not wasting any more of the time I have left. 

Oh, about creating traditions? As I prepared for shenanigans with Finnegan to begin, imagine my surprise when I found him already peeking from a stocking hung in my room. 

Just like that, a tradition is born. 

So, my dear elf-hating friends, I get it. Hide me, un-friend me, do what you must to survive, because for the rest of us, it’s open season for Elf on the Shelf and I’m not holding back to spare anyone the suffering of our joy.

#sorrynotsorry. 

 

(If you liked this column, feel free to share the love with your friends, I’d love to hear what you think! Unless it’s that I have “too much time on my hands” because: no.)

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.


Order up

 

closing in

 

I once asked a favorite writer of mine, April Henry, how she knew when her project was done.

“It’s due,” she said.

Oh. Right.

Deadlines.

I struggled with this one for my ebook “Merry is Optional” because given that I’m writing in the margins of real life, the material I’m ending with isn’t everything I had in mind for this project. Because a constant theme in my writing is encouraging others to let go of what is or isn’t going as planned and embrace what is. So, that’s happening and it’s time.

This way, I’ll get good feedback from my dear reader friends and can put out an even better second edition. Later. Like, next year.

I’m ready for it to be done.

We’re all ready.

It’s at the point where balance has tipped in favor of meeting my drop-dead deadline (you know there’s stages, right? This is the One That Can’t Be Missed).

As a result of all the extra minutes going into this final push, we put our shoes on to cross the kitchen floor because … ew. And also because no one else seems to know how to push a broom without being asked.

The boys heard the cast iron pan moving around on the stove this morning and came running: “She’s making breakfast!”

But actually I was just moving stuff out of the way to make coffee.

They were cool about their disappointment at another cold breakfast, dude – that’s more than some kids ever get.

“I know. But some kids get sausage, you know?” Says the older one. “How about just a warm egg, Mama?” Says the younger one.

Since, it’s been a few days of cereal and/or pepperoni and grapes for breakfast, I threw some oil, eggs and bread in the pan for peekaboo eggs and won the morning. (Pro tip: you too can do the bare minimum which then makes something super simple seem brilliant. You’re welcome).

Order. Up!

Speaking of which, the stuff marked in the corner in blue on the screen shot from my Scrivener program has to be done today yet.

Some time between picking up the boys, soccer practice, end of the year soccer party and wrestling practice, bed time routine and I’m actually still hopeful I can squeeze in one more Sons of Anarchy episode because I got a little bit addicted. I can’t explain how that happened. (For the record, we aren’t usually that all over the place but this one week, things overlapped. Because of course they did).

But it’ll get done. As I recently wrote in a job application, deadlines are my love language.

 

If you enjoyed this column, it would be an honor for me to see it shared with your people!

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


Privacy: A call for consideration

Parents, let's speak openly about privacy

Nov 3, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Raising the Hardy Boys

Private Parts cli

Keep your private parts private. It’s a mantra for parents of little discoverers.

First, of course, the conversation begins by defining what makes a private part private, and why. Before that happens, parents must decide when it’s time to start having such a conversation. 

By the time my boys were entering grade school, we’d had the private parts talk. So I figured we were good to go. 

Except no. It turns out all that was just Private Parts, Phase One. 

Now, it seems we have arrived at a new life course: Private Parts and the Internet. 

What started as a fun game, where we took turns entering terms like “images of penguins” into Google, turned into a wake-up call when I discovered even searching for pictures of cute animals can open a portal to a deviant world. 

At their age, I remember the risky business of looking up words in something called a dictionary. And the worst that could happen is being exposed to a new word, for say, the biological word for a private part. Tee-hee. 

But today, a smartphone is nearly always in reach. And it provides an instantaneous gateway to images of anything you want, and even those you don’t. 

So, voila. Also, whoa. 

Parents in this Internet era have to do what generations of parents have done before them. Figure it out and adjust. And, yes, maybe pause to lament the passing of The Good Old Days. 

As with everything, opportunities come with challenges. The best we can do is embrace what is and learn to navigate the new terrain. Whether we like it or not, here we are. 

It’s up to us to give our children a compass, help them determine their own course and steer them on the right path. But it turns tricky when you want to use your folded old-school map and the tool of today is a GPS that talks back to you. 

For some of us, it’s even trickier to stay a step ahead of our kids when they are learning things in kindergarten that require YouTube tutorials for us parents.

There are ways to safeguard your Internet searches, of course. Google it and you’ll see. 

But it’s actually other people’s privacy that I want you to consider today.

When you take a picture of a group of kids at, say, a birthday party or soccer practice, do you post it on social media? If so, do you first ask the other parents if they’re cool with that? 

I’m guessing most of us don’t. Because these days, most of us are OK with it.

But some aren’t. And they aren’t for good reason — good reason that most of us have the luxury of being clueless about. 

Parents dealing with estranged and dangerous family members, with domestic violence situations or with complicated custody issues have valid fears about facial recognition software. After all, it can be used to locate the kids they are trying to protect, and thus expose them to danger.

Frankly, some people just don’t want pictures of their kids “out there.” And that deserves respect as well.

While I don’t think anyone maliciously posts pictures of other people’s kids, I think we could stand to have a broader conversation about this practice.

The trouble with wanting to have that discussion is that these days, it seems most of us are geared to instantly defend our right to do something. We are quick to exclaim, “We didn’t do anything wrong.”

But does that make it right? 

When I posted a question along these lines on my own social media network, the conversation immediately turned to what is legal. Someone suggested my column would be “more credible and thoughtful” if I interviewed an expert in privacy law or data protection. I was cautioned against making “recommendations without knowing the law.” 

Here’s the thing: I’m pretty comfortable recommending people be intentional, considerate and thoughtful without having to have an expert weigh in. In a short column, I don’t have the real estate to dedicate to interviews of that nature, but I can start a conversation. I can call for consideration.

That’s my intention here.

Specific legal questions should always be handled by a professional, not a search on the World Wide Web. But the issues extend well beyond legality.

The fact is, our expectation of privacy is becoming less a reality. And the onus on keeping things private tends to land on the person requiring more privacy than others. 

I’m less concerned with what I have a right to do than what the right thing to do is for me.

I think posting pictures of other people’s kids is less about privacy and more about courtesy. Think of it as an extension of good manners and ask before you post. 

While we’re on the subject, please think before you post. Is this something my kid will be mortified by? Would I want my mom to post this about me? Carefully consider your own privacy sensitivities and act accordingly.

We have to figure this out so we can protect our kids, even from themselves. Especially, actually, from themselves.

How many of us have said we’re lucky social media wasn’t a thing when we were in our more, uh, formative years? We’re breaking new ground here, friends, so we’d be well-advised to tread cautiously. 

If you can’t get permission from another parent for whatever reason, and you want to post a picture of your own kiddo, use an app to blur the other faces.

It’s a simple work-around. At least, that’s what You Tube told me. 

Google it and you’ll see.

 

If you enjoyed this column, it would be an honor for me to see it shared with your people!

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


On deadlines and goals. Kinda.

I am on deadline for my column. Which means I have fifty other things I want to write to you about.

First, a word about process because you (okay some of you) asked: Do you plan your columns out ahead of time?

The answer is: Yes! And then I change the plan up until the very last minute. My editor LOVES this. Actually, she might not have known about that exactly until just now: surprise! But she doesn’t mess with process. She’s about the final product. And that seems to work itself out time after time. You’d think I’d just trust that it will. Instead … angst.

What I’m about to tell you happens every. single. month and yet it annoys and agitates me each time. Hoping to trade those a-words for acceptance but alas … here I am: Column due tomorrow morning and I have three drafts with totally different subject matter merged in my mind and in various stages in my journal and Evernote files.

I keep trying to force them into one, coherent one and it’s not working because it’s not supposed to. Somehow between now and when I file the column, it will be all fleshed out with a beginning, middle and end – and it will make sense outside of my head. I do actually trust this will happen because it has for seven years now.

But still … the construction noises starting outside our windows at 6:30 a.m. means the boys will be up soon, I get to volunteer in Sam’s class today (Yay!) and then you know the care and feeding of our home and its inhabitants … and a few other things I’ll do to avoid making the final decisions of what to write exactly until it’s clearer in my mind. Then … I’ll just do it.

Sorry. I wish my method was more organized, but there it is. So, yes I work on it all month with putting scribbles on notecards in an Evernote collection tagged “Column” but also, new angles and ideas keep coming until just before it’s time to submit it.

So that was way more than “a” word about process, ha!

I love reading about how other people do their work, I know that’s not everyone’s interest so moving on to … planner geekery. Everyone LOVES that stuff right? You would if you had this sweet little planner by Erin Condren:

I’ve been carefully tracking my time since the boys went back to school. More on those findings another day but I was surprised at how much time just … gets spent. Gone. So, I did what any over-achieving, slightly mentally ill person would do and set two crazy-ambitious goals because that’s just how I get stuff done.

For what it’s worth, I did consider deleting the part about “slightly mentally ill” because that could be offensive. And I am not about offending people. But I also am ready to be done worrying about the possibility all. the. time. Plus, I am about owning our stuff. And the truth is, I can show you a doctor’s note that says I’m allowed to say that.  (Hashtag: things you never expected to be all “so there” about. Bet that one doesn’t stick!)

So, goals.

I picked just two.

1. Write my ebook guide on how to be a holiday mom (Better title please come to me!!!)

2. Shed 40 pounds by my 40th birthday. (There’s a slightly-less-than-reasonable-but-still-doable amount of time left).

I was surprised though, to see it was October this week. So then I got kind of serious about it and increased my word count per day by a lot of words! And decided to quit sugar. Still feeling kind of stabby so I’m laying pretty low, and mostly staying off The Facebook because its not that I don’t have a comeback dear people of Newberg and Dundee who are so precious about a free community service. But again, off The Book of Face am I. So far, down two pounds. So, maybe there is something to setting a goal and writing it down thing …

 

2015-09-25 01.21.59IMG_6333

 

Some of you have asked to peep my planner – totally yes! But right now I’m going to try to tune out the guy with the bullhorn in front of my house and the bulldozer jacking up my driveway and actually write my column. You know, the one due tomorrow. You guys. It feels like my whole house is on the spin cycle. But, yay for new sewer lines, thanks Newberg!

(Affiliate link disclosure: I recommend products and people I use, love and respect. Sometimes I even get a few cents for it, at no cost to you).

 

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


The unglamorous scoop on green shakes

GGS

*Illustrator credit: Elissa Hudson (check out more of her work here check out more of her work here).

I wanted to use this adorable graphic when I posted about being back on my green smoothie wagon the other day but I was waiting to get permission from the illustrator because you know … the law. Also because it’s totally not cool to use other people’s work without permission. But you guys already know that so moving on …

Somehow a bunch of you must’ve known I’m working on blog content and recalibrating normal over here because my inbox blew up with some great questions.

Here are a few on the subject of my smoothie situation – if you are looking for perfectly styled pictures and clear step-by-step directions this blog is not for you. I’m more like here’s what works for me, and here’s what I did. And this. Oh, also this. But not this. Bonus tip: here’s what totally didn’t work.  My kitchen journal is basically what it would be like if Amelia Bedelia wrote a cookbook.

(*This post contains affiliate links to products I love and whole-heartedly endorse. My goal is to make millions blogging … there was this infomercial … have Nathalie’s Notes pay for itself and a few cents adding up on Amazon for purchases you are already planning to make seemed like a reasonable way to accomplish that! So thanks for making your Amazon purchases through my Amazon links – it doesn’t matter what you buy.)

With that convincing introduction, here’s the scoop on my breakfast shakes following Kimberly Snyder’s recipe – with less graceful instructions. She makes it sound easy. And the truth is, if you’re not used to this sort of thing it isn’t! At first.

Q: So you use these exact measurements?

A: Oh, no. That’s just a guide.

Q: So ….

A: Oh – well mostly I do it like this: 2 cups water, three heaping handfuls of spinach or kale, one bunch of romaine, blend. Then add three celery stalks. Blend. Then add apple and pear chunks. Blend. Then one banana. Blend. Lemon juice cube or fresh lemon juice. Blend. Done.

Q: Is it hard?

A: Yes. At first.

Q: Does it trash your kitchen?

A: Totally.

Bonus tip: I spare myself some cleanup by making massive amounts of green shake at a time and freezing it in 32 ounce/Quart mason jars. (Make sure you leave room at the top of the liquid before it freezes, or else, you know … BOOM and glass shards Every. Where.)

 

Q: How much do you drink at a time?

A: So, I choke down 8 ounces a day. By which I mean, when I am on my green shake kick I choke down 8 ounces. After about a week or so, my taste buds acclimate and I start to crave different kinds of food. Today though I still want All the Nutella. Matt on the other hand, chugs the whole quart first thing in the morning on all the days I remember to make it for him. Since he often works through lunch I feel like a jerk on the days I forget. (See freezer trick above).

Q: So the lemons are kind of a pain, huh?

A: That was more of a comment than a question. But I had to include it because of the bonus tip below. And actually, it is literally a huge pain if you have an open cut on your hand while you’re juicing these tart babies.

Bonus Tip:

If you think this whole nourishing your body thing might stick, consider picking up one of these lemon juicers. They are sweet to have around, cuts or no cuts. Lemon Juicers For you, Lemon Juicer for Me

Get a bunch of lemons – Meyer lemons are The Best! Pick them up when they’re on sale, squeeze them into your new juicer.

Then I pour in these mini muffin molds and freeze. I bag them for later. Meyer muffins are the bomb.

Q: How do you drink it?

A: Cold. Otherwise it tastes like warm, green sludge. (I’m really selling it, huh? Thing is, there has to be a counter to all the people who rave about it being “easy!” and “delicious!” Because for some of us? No. But also: necessary.)

Q: How long does it take?

A: So much depends (upon a red wheelbarrow …)

I can’t answer this one. If I’m doing it with no interruptions, which happens approximately never, it’s a quick job. I tend to make them in the margins of making dinner while I’m already trashing the kitchen, what’s a few more cores and leafy items on the floor? But once you streamline the process and get used to the measurements, it’s pretty quick.

Q: Do I have to have a Vitamix?

A: No. You have to have something that will blend this stuff up really well though. And they are kind of awesome.

Q: So … I’ve kind of avoided the produce aisle most of my adult life. What’s the best way to do this?

A: ANYway that works for you! I mean, you can plant yourself a garden and all the spinach and romaine you need will sprout at your fingertips. You can even have your own lemon tree!

On the other end of reality is me. I buy the stuff in bags. I even buy the romaine hearts in packs of three and spinach by the box.

I also don’t use all organic stuff because of this little thing called a budget. I do tend to almost always buy organic apples, pears, celery and spinach – some of which are on the Dirty Dozen list for high pesticide levels. (I used to be ignorant about all this stuff, then I got all informed and then I was paralyzed and petrified of food. So now I walk a cherry*-picked path to balance my reality which includes a tight grocery budget and a philosophy that fruit and vegetables I can afford are better than none at all).

*Cherry tomatoes are number 10 on the Dirty Dozen list for 2015 but cherries aren’t on the list this year. They have been in prior years and still show up in Google searches. And THAT is part of what makes me crazy. Total aside, sorry.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.


KonMarie. It’s a verb.

 

The things we keep

Sep 22, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Behind the Picket Fence

Roots Things We Keep Clip

My mom left her home country with less stuff packed in her bag than I take to sit on the sidelines at my kids' soccer games. 

Granted, she was sneaking across the Slovak border to flee communism, and I'm just driving across town in a minivan. But my point stands. She had to leave stuff behind on her way to freedom.

Hers is a literal story, mine more of a metaphorical one. But I recently discovered a new method to finding freedom in my quest to conquer clutter once and for all. 

Millions of people have discovered it with me, as Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was published last year. In fact, this book has created such a cult following that "KonMaried" is being tossed around as a verb, as in: "I KonMaried my closet."

My mom urged a similar agenda when I was younger. Perhaps she could have published something similar, with the title, "Clean your room!" But somehow, that didn't take. 

The so-called magic behind Kondo's method is encouraging people to ask themselves this one simple question after physically touching an item: "Does this spark joy?" 

That's it. Simple maybe, but not easy in a culture accustomed to collecting, keeping and what some might aggressively call hoarding.

To that, Kondo says, "If it sparks joy, by all means keep it. Find a home for it and enjoy it." But she knows that's not often the case.

When you look at your stuff through that lens, it becomes much easier to herd hoarded goods to the curb. 

Like, say, the five bottles of nail polish remover I had for the two times a year I actually sat down to paint my nails. Or the four bottles of toilet cleaner I had collected for our single toilet, which I actually clean with vinegar and baking soda. 

I had cleaned out my medicine cupboard and sorted through my cleaning supplies before. But I had never before done what Kondo advises, which is to gather all like items in one place and only then begin sorting them for culling.

I would never have guessed I had three bottles of calamine lotion for the one time a year we go camping. Or seven tubes of Neosporin, all expired. Or three huge bottles of hydrogen peroxide, though with two boys in ninja training, that might actually be reasonable. 

Once I put all the medications and first-aid items in one place, I was stunned at the box upon box of expired medication I had amassed. Then there was my collection of hospital-issued snot suckers for kids who are now capable of blowing their own nose — or swiping it clean with a shirtsleeve. 

My mom was judicious about saving only what was meaningful to her, and those things have now become meaningful to me. Many of these gems are stored in my holiday bins, because I happen to find a lot of joy in celebrating with small, festive touches.

I have saved the number candles from each of my boys' birthdays and stored them with the birthday decorations. That is totally KonMarie-approved, because every time I see them it sparks joy and they have a permanent home that makes sense to me. 

There are a couple places I part ways with Kondo, though.

For instance, she suggests emptying your purse every night, and that's so not happening. I mean, what's next?

Clearing out your car after each use? While my husband would love for me to adopt that idea, it isn't reasonable to expect me to clean my mobile office that often. 

On a recent trip, I used the last few inches of trunk space to include a bottle of peroxide and a bag of Epsom salt.

The Epsom stuff is perfect for bee stings. Trust us; we know.

I don't suppose this is practical on all fronts, as my tax files don't exactly spark joy, but the thought of being organized in case I get audited kind of does. 

Setting aside the fact that much of Kondo's advice seems better suited for people who live alone, the shift in thinking about the things we keep makes hers an approach worth adopting. 

My kids will likely be off to college by the time I finish all the sorting, but I'm having lots of fun doing it. And that's worth celebrating with a little umbrella in my drink.

No, really. I have those. In my celebration box.

I'm considering calling them "joy igniters." But first, I have to find my label maker.

 

 

If you enjoyed this column, it would be an honor for me to see it shared with your people!

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.