My kitchen confession

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Yes, this is my very own dinner plate. Chicken “nuggets” from applegate farms, frozen “brocky”, leftover sweet potato mash, and a glass of wine. Real classy.

It’s seemingly harder and harder to put somewhat healthy food on the table that both a 2 yr old and very picky 7 yr old will eat. When it comes down to me I just need to get on board sometimes.

Oh, how I’ve sometimes longed for those hipster, kale-loving kids who will eat the same as grown-ups but alas…that’s just not the case.

So to you I confess. Chicken nuggets can be my friend after a work day and two maniacs running around me while i cook in our tiny house.

To you I say, go ahead! Eat it if it’s easier. Enough of the culinary heroics!!

xo, Anne

Even Beazy can't believe i'm eating this crap!

Even Beazy can’t believe i’m eating this crap!

Simplified Living Experiment (lucky #7): Life since Sandy.

I’ve avoided writing about the storm because until now i really didn’t think it was something that anyone would want to hear about…what with us being displaced and the house being trashed and it just being such a sucky hard time. Only now do i feel like it’s almost behind us and i can see the good that came from it. The Simplified Living Experiment got real complicated-real quick. We had already edited our life down to as i describe to be “only what we wanted and needed” so we could live in one room. The new lesson learned was that is wasn’t all we wanted and it wasn’t even what we needed.

What we want is to be together. What we need is each other.

Me and the babies (now 7 and 2!!) Never had to separate and were able to stay safe, warm, and loved at our close friends house for 7 weeks. We also realized all we needed were those friends and countless others who stepped up and did anything they could to help us whether it be diapers, encouragement, money, plastic bins, quarters for laundry, or birthday gifts for the kids (both having birthdays in the days of the power being out). These are some pictures chronologically of the last few months.

Our front door 8:30am 10/30/12

Our front door 8:30am 10/30/12

Everything we THOUGHT we needed out for trash.

Everything we THOUGHT we needed out for trash.

Our "buffet" was typical to what you saw on every street in Hoboken.

Our “buffet” was typical to what you saw on every street in Hoboken.

We were more fortunate than many as we could begin renovating within 2 weeks

We were more fortunate than many as we could begin renovating within 2 weeks

Happy Birthday Beatrice!! Halloween 2012

Happy Birthday Beatrice!! Halloween 2012

Happy Birthday Arthur! 7 yrs and still so stylish in his custom-made pants given by 13 yr olds Tessa and Ava!

Happy Birthday Arthur! 7 yrs and still so stylish in his custom-made pants given by 13 yr olds Tessa and Ava!

Final day before moving back. Yes, we DID clean and seal the floor really well!!

Final day before moving back. Yes, we DID clean and seal the floor really well!!

This is what one of your IKEA carts looks like when you're rebuilding your home

Getting back to normal in the "new" kitchen area.

Getting back to normal in the “new” kitchen area.

Where we've been cooking up a storm ever since!

Where we’ve been cooking up a storm ever since!

First time wearing mittens!

First time wearing mittens!

Still trying to keep it colorful!

Still trying to keep it colorful!

Business as usual.

Business as usual.

the latest on the simplified living experiment… (this is part 6)

We are finally into some kind of groove down here. Writing about it seems almost forced in that i already can’t imagine NOT living here. The kiddos are so happy down here. There are all the normal bumps (and bruises) of dealing with a 1 and a 6 yr old but nothing that i can imagine would be better/helped/more healthy in a big ole’ house. MY own “stuff” has however been severely rearranged. At one point if i didn’t put down a meal with all the colors and mostly organic and/or fresh i though myself less of a parent. If I turned on a movie for them for more than 45 minutes i thought i was frying their brains. If i got a babysitter I thought i was taking my time with such young ones for granted.

Things are changing-mostly with me. The kids eat a completely white meal from time to time. I buckled and put on cartoons this morning for Beatrice after a 6am wake up that i just wasn’t equipped to deal with.  I kept unfinished loads of laundry on the floor for 2 weeks until this past weekend.  My being relaxed about these things has had a clear affect on them and their level of comfort. I’m not saying my new thing is to “phone-in” my parenting but actually the opposite in that i was getting crazy, impatient, short, explosive etc from the lack of space as well as lack of another adult partnering in this mad-house! I think taking responsibility for that Mommy-Dearest behavior is the best way for me to parent. To end the madness: Cut  a few corners, skip a bedtime book or two, choose myself once in awhile.  Every day still ends with a huge amount of kissing an hugging and snuggling.

This is a matter of Survival. It has been over 85 degrees most of the summer and we have no air circulation (or A/C) down here and I’m still keeping up at least 4 days at the shop despite being a single parent.  This is why things had to shift! Clearly right?

A tweak here and there makes a difference…(Simplified living experiment part 5.)

While Baby Business was at her Dad’s on Sunday Arthur and I got SO much great stuff done! Our two favorite little projects to improve the apartment were the handles on the inside of the infamous cabinet, “The Housssse”, and the new gate on the steps to the bunkbed. Arthur was so excited to work on these very important tasks that he drew up some plans and a shopping list the night before including our “schedule” for working on the projects: 7am-12noon.

Plans for the big day.

So damn funny. He was so elated when the gentleman at Home Depot checked Arthur’s list and directed him to the correct aisle for hardware…I haven’t seen Arthur so proud and happy in awhile!

The climber who thinks we’ll leave it open…yeah, right!

The end result of our efforts is that now Beatrice can close herself into the cabinet (her preference) but can NOT get up the steps to Arthurs top bunk!

handles help

Life gets easier in some way or another everyday down in the basement!

He said it…(simplified living experiment part 4)

This morning Arthur said what i’ve pretended i’m not really dreading:

“Can’t I just be ALOOOONE?!”

I answered, “No, you can’t.”

How do you tell your good boy who asks for one thing (OK, maybe three at most) for Christmas, who tells people, “I’m sorry your Dad died”, who takes his job at Mommy’s shop really seriously that no, he can NOT be alone?

Damn, it’s only been 2 weeks or so and he wondered what to do with his anger, energy, annoyance, and need to be alone. Don’t get me wrong; Arthur is one of the most touchy-feely-clingly 6 yr old I’ve ever met. BUT there are moments, clearly, that he wants to not be seen, heard, or touched. Few moments.  I questioned myself and my decision to put him living in one room with his baby sister and me around the clock…but just for a moment. I know this is right. Every time I come home and see the surmountable clutter or the safeness of our bunkbeds I know this is right. I love those children and although they drive me nuts with the constant chatter and perpetual face-raking (Arthur and Beatrice respectively) I know I want to be near them and them me.

So we continue. Tomorrow is a new day. I guess some more clear boundaries need to be ironed out. Maybe a “safe” word for Arthur.  Maybe he in the front area where the bed is while i take Bea in the yard or for one of her cherished showers…

I’m working on it.

We’re getting there! (Simplified Living Experiment part 3)

Our room dividers: A work in progress! (you’ll see me working on these at the shop on Saturdays!)

It’s been 12 days since we’ve been sleeping in the new apartment. The relief of being in such a manageable, small space has set in.  The children seem so at ease with it all. Mommy is always right nearby. (Arthur seems to benefit from that even more than little Beatrice!)

My independent girl!

Already we’ve settled into a routine. Bea wakes up at 5:30ish (GRRR) and peers her tiny face over the side of her baby-cage and greets me with the cherished little “Mama?”.  Arthur just snoozes and rolls over. I get up with Baby Business and sit quietly having milk. She likes to wander out to the yard early in the morning by herself but i recently had to put a stop to it because as she was yelling her nonsense words up to the sky i realized it was only 6:30 and perhaps the rest of the neighborhood would prefer to be sleeping!

Arthur playing “school” with his animals. NOTE: strategic positioning up at the counter to keep Bea from wrecking the groups of pupils.

As always Arthur is thrilled to get up as soon as he realizes the party has started without him! Typically they start the day with a little chase ending with a bit of stowaway time in the cabinet in the chimney. This adorable little storage spot (above) has been dubbed the “housssse” by Business. She fearlessly sits in there and closes the (un-latchable) doors so she can sit in blackness.  She’s been dubbed my “creepy” child by her Auntie Yomaira.  Clearly i won’t be using it for storage any time soon…

Where we terrorize the baby…

The “family-shower” time has become a favorite of Arthur’s and mine but not so much of Beatrice. She just hasn’t gotten the hang of it yet. We’ve coaxed her a number of times but she’s not having any real part of it. I even went so far as to go in myself the other evening and let her wander to the edge fully clothed until i scooped her into my arms to participate. She did better that night but it will be harder getting her clean if she showers in pants and shirt!  I’m sure she’ll adjust with time.

Sink? I’m not a big fan.

The only thing really getting on my nerves so far is the sink. It’s about 14″ x 17″ if that. It’s basically a bar-sink (without the handiness of actually being part of a BAR!). It took so much effort and counter-flooding to wash the 3 baking pans we used that i considered having “family-shower” time with the pans and getting it over with.

So, all in all: so far so very very very good.

The front construction site…YUCK.

Now if only the contractors would finish the work out front on the steps and sidewalk so our “bedroom” right inside the front door wouldn’t have cement and brick dust all over the floor…

Crafting “Pop-Up” at Peper and Parlor…

So since I’m getting NOTHING done at night when the babes are sleeping, I decided to just bring all my sewing things to the shop and set up for the summer. There are always a million projects i’m cooking up in my head but it seems like once the clock strikes 9pm and the kids are to bed I’m just too exhausted to do anything besides watch crappy television or just go to bed.

The former site of our Holiday “Land of Little Things” has become our little craft Pop-up!  Last Saturday we had myself as well as some adorable neighbors (Tessa and Delphine both 13 yrs old) stitching away. In between helping customers on what turned out to be a crazy-busy day in the shop, I was still able to get the first stage of some curtain embellishing done!! Arthur stopped in for awhile and even got to make a skirt for Beatrice.

So stop by at any point this summer and you might find a work in progress (or just use the sewing machine at your convenience if you’d like!)

As far as the Land of Little Things: it will certainly be back this October!!!

xoxo

The Simplified Living Experiment: Part 1

For those of you that don’t know, I’ve lived in the same house in Hoboken for over 20 years. I started as a renter and bought the four-floor brick house over a decade ago. I’ve been fixing up the place here and there, trying to keep up on repairs while trying to parent 6-year old Arthur (aka The Cenz) and 18-month Beatrice (aka Baby-Business).

It’s not that i don’t love my big apartment…I do!  But after years in a triplex with lots of space and bathrooms etc., I’ve decided my need for simplifying is outweighing my need for space. My need for stuff isn’t really driving me-i want happiness, love, and art. NOT bins and bins of Disney characters and rows and rows of knick-knacks… The time is now. Arthur is 6 and Beatrice is 1. They are both small enough to enjoy the close proximity of mommy at any time. We’ve been sleeping in the same room for about 4 months now by choice and i’ve grown to quite like it. To come in at night and hear both of my babies breathing and to smell their baby-skin right near me has been a comfort.

It’s time to simplify!!

It may seem funny that a retail business owner would want to try having less (when we have all these clothes and goods at our disposal), but we see it as part of what we believe at Peper and Parlor: We only want what we LOVE, what will be useful, what we’ll have for years or forever.

June 1st begins the Downsize Experiment:

In just 7 days I will take my family that has been spread out on 3 floors with a bunch of bedrooms to just one 13.5′ x 40′ room. We’ll have a full kitchen area and a bath with only a shower (no more toddler swim lessons at bath-time!) and a tiny little yard (this is where the bubble-bath in the baby pool gets re-introduced!!). There are 2 window and 2 doors.

Things i’m most excited about:
Proving to myself (and my children) that less can be more.
Giving my son a memory of the above (my daughter will have been too young to remember)
The closeness.
Saving money on our overhead and being able to use it to do some overdue repairs to the one hundred yr old house and SAVE!
Cleaning only 1 toilet and one room.

Things i’m fearful of:
My losing patience with the children.
Arthur being resentful of his lack of distance from Beatrice and her death grip on him or his lego sculptures, papers, etc.
The closeness.
Not being able to see the children in the yard and Beatrice then eating dirt and uprooting all my sad, struggling plants.

Stay tuned as we embark on what i think will be an amazing experience! See the before photos below  –  the after photos will be up in a few weeks!

Our Patio (kiddie pool central!)

Studio living area

Black is back!

Scarey nails

It was little Arthur’s idea (I swear!). He asked for painted toenails. He thought black would be cool and scarey. We agreed after Beatrice went to bed we’d do that together (after checking out the kids science website to get some ideas for his science fair project…).

It just took a turn and next thing i knew we both had 10 and 10 painted all gloppy and sloppy and black.  This is beginning to look like another “girl thing” that my boy likes. He seemed quite taken with the appearance of his tiny 6 yr old contrasting nails while delicately holding his waffle at breakfast (i’ve about given up on the kids using forks…) Now the hard part will be when he is in school and the comments and questions begin : “are you a GIRL?”…”EW you have GIRLS nails”… I asked him what he was going to do if they said or asked such things since most evidently they would, and he said “i’m going to tell them, ‘I’m a BOY’!!!!” Here is when he showed me how he’d whip his penis to prove it.

UH oh!

At this point i was not really sure how the day was going to play out. I tried to re-route his efforts into some simple concise word choices like “hey do you like my nails?” or “scarey, right?” or “say what you want i like them” .  I think he got the idea that the penis thing is PRIVATE and just for home.

When i dropped him off with Beatrice at my side this morning the last thing i heard was him greeting one of his best school buddies, Rex, with “i’m not even going to SHOW you my nails!!!”

AH HA! He loves the attention. It’s going to be fine!