Winter Solstice & Yule Crafts

Here we are in the thick of the Winter Holiday season. I’m happy to report our family has managed to keep our activities and to-do lists in a nice balance of not too much and not too little. This weekend we made the obligatory sugar cookies (does any adult really love rolling those darn things out?), made  ton of Christmas crafty-things, and both boys had haircuts by yours truly- so as far as i’m concerned, I crushed it this weekend.

This week we will celebrate Winter solstice with a dinner and a late ride around cape may to see the lights, do some more creating of Wintery crafts, and finish off with that oh-so-exciting visit from Santa.

Here’s a few of my favorite things that we’ll be doing to celebrate this week.

Making these lovely Wishing Cones…


To make these, write your wishes for the new year on tiny pieces of paper. roll them up and stick them in between the layers of the pine cone-use a little hot glue if you need to. Then simply tie a ribbon and hang on your tree or in your windows, or from a branch…for extra sparkle brush pine cone with some white craft glue and sprinkle with a bit of glitter.

Making coffee filter snowflakes, like these from The Pink Couch


and stringing popcorn and cranberries for a bird’s feast tree outside our kitchen window…

Image from

And an edible craft of sorts, this lovely olive and herb treat. You’ll probably find this Olive Wreath from Chickabug Blog next to our cocktails on Christmas Eve…


Wishing you and yours a Merry Solstice and a Happy Yuletide Season,






Just Start Somewhere…

Well, We’re here folks. And by here I mean we are moved into our new residence for the moment. It’s a big ‘ol victorian by the beach. The beach part is super swell. The big and the ‘ol part, not so much. So far we have sunk waaaay more money into this place then we had planned, but I will spare you the gory details on that right now.

But like the title of this particular post suggests, I’m not going to start at the beginning of this particular part of my life story, I’m going to just start somewhere. Because sometimes, when life is being a real ass and you are constantly roaming the halls of your life between a  state of not knowing whether you are crippled by anxiety or you are too tired to move from depression, you just have to start freaking somewhere.

We have been in a state of flux for months now and nothing has had any sense of rhythm. This past week the days have just started to take some shape, thankfully. And the past two days have been particularly good.

And I have food to thank for that.

Food you say?

Yes, food. My old faithful, tasty friend.

In this new house, a house we plan to live in for about 3 years, we do not live alone. We live with my in-laws. And as a serious introvert this has been, and continues to be, way harder of an adjustment for me than I had expected. The kitchen, in particular, has been a sore spot.

After all, the kitchen has always been my space. my domain. The place I make the magic happen.

And even though I am the only person who cooks in said kitchen here, it still felt like I was cooking in someone else’s kitchen. Frankly, it still does…BUT!

Yesterday I decided to just start cooking. Just start making some shit. I dug my knives out of a moving box. I plunked the slow cooker on the counter. I scrubbed out the abandoned food processor.

And i just started cooking. Pot roast, bbq chicken, roasted potatoes, lemon garlic asparagus, a batch of our favorite granola bars.

It was real wild folks. The kitchen was a mess. But I felt great.

And today I decided to keep it going with a gluten-free, sweet potato basil pizza crust. Here’s how it all went down:

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I added one peeled sweet potato with 2/3 cup of oats and pulsed it until it was very fine…

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Then I added 1 egg, healthy pinch of kosher salt, and a handful of basil leaves

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Pulsed all of that together until it resembled a dough-ish consistency
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Made two mounds on a parchment cover cookie sheet and pressed them into crust shapes with a spoon and my hands
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Wondered how my toddler had gotten into a drawer so quickly…
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Pondered the possibility that my 5 year old may become the next Dundee “Shark Rider”
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baked the crusts in a 400 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, until the top is dry to the touch. Remove from oven, let cool.

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Flip back onto the pan with the dry side facing down. Peel the parchment  gently off the top layer

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Brush with olive oil. or if you are like me and can’t find your pastry brush, rub some on with your (clean!) fingers. Bake for another 5-10 minutes to get it crispy.

The next step is to let the crust cool and then top with your favorite toppings. Bake until your cheese is melty (if you are using cheese) and your other toppings are warmed.

But guess what folks? These are for lunch tomorrow! Sooo…this is a part one post I guess. I’ll update with a pic of the toppings we used and how we liked it tomorrow night 🙂

Until then…Happy Friday, and a wishes for a happy weekend- full of good food, good company, and the gumption to shove aside the naysayers that may live in your head, or in your house, and just start somewhere. 

P.s tonight is a new moon! Dn’t forget o set your intentions and let the universe know what you intend to do in this upcoming month.


Meet Yourself in the Middle

If you read my blog you probably already know that I am a type A person who is working very, very hard  to be less stringent with my type A-ness. I recently started listing to this podcast, Sparktending-that talks about ways to honor your personal creativity and goals. One of the episodes was about writing down your ideal-day, space, what have you, and then working backward from that, filling in the compromises we all have to make throughout the day. The idea is that in that middle space we will find a happier place then if we start from a kind of worst case scenario version of our day and work up. Starting with the ideal helps us to see what we are really shooting for and in turn, get closer to that goal.

Working off of that exercise, I wrote down my ideal way to wake up and start my day. What would the house be like? What would I do first? What would help me start the day of on on my best foot? And so on. Fom there I thought, what can I do at night to make some of these things, if not all of them, possible?

So here’s my list of 5 things I do before bed that help me start the day off on the right foot.

Coffee cup on wooden table texture. View from above

  1. Assure the kitchen is clean before I go to bed. For me this means making sure the dishes are done and the counters and stove are wiped off and the floor is swept. We are not white gloving it over here, I just need a clean and neat space to walk into in the AM. With two boys, I spend a majority of my time during the day in the kitchen. Starting withe a clean slate is a great way to make the day run more smoothly. (thanks to my hubs who does (most nights) the dinner dishes.)
  2. Do at least one thing at night that I have been thinking about doing all day. Most days I get insanely good ideas at convenient times like when both kids need something and there is no way in hell I could ever think to think about them for more than 10 seconds. If you are a parent you know this state of affairs is basically all day, errr day. So I usually, if I can manage it, write a quick note down to revisit these ideas at night. Sadly, most nights I’m so wiped out I just look at that list, chuckle, pour a large glass of wine and retire to my couch blanket nest and read a book or watch some netflix. While I still do this a few days out of the week, I find that if I set aside even 1 hour to address even one of the things I wrote down during the day, I feel better the next day. Even if it’s only for an hour, I can have the satisfaction that the genius idea I had at noon was tended to for at least an hour that night. And this also gives me the inspiration to keep jotting those notes down, knowing I will eventually give them a bit of real attention. It’s a way to tell myself, “yes, I have value. My ideas have value.”
  3. Review my day. Whilst in my couch/ blanket/wine nest I always have my planner next to me. Yes, I have a planner addiction. Anywho, while I’m hanging out I will review my daily in my planner from the current day. I look at what i did (yay me) what I didn’t do (there are always many things in this list friends). From the what I didn’t do list, I either migrate the task to another day in the future, or decide that I don’t need to do that anymore. I jot down a few things from the day that went well and a few things that may not have.
  4. Plan for tomorrow. After I review the current day, I plan for the next. I migrate any tasks from yesterday that I am keeping, review my weekly and monthly calendars for any events or appointments that are time sensitive and fill those in. Then I make a menu for the day (if I don’t do this i just stare like a catatonic into the fridge about 1,000 times a day with two small children crying out of starvation because they haven’t eaten in the last 10 MINUTES.) I write down my top 3 things that must get done. Then I leave the rest blank for the morning. In the AM i fill in those things that I thought of just before I fell asleep or that jarred me awake in the middle of the night (yeah, I’ve got a notebook for those on my nightstand).
  5. Pack my bag. Not a mommy is running away in the night bag, the kids diaper/stuff bag.This may not sound like much, but it’s a must over here. Most days I head out with he boys at least once, for an outing, errand, meet up, what have you. Having the bag packed with clothes, snacks, water, money, etc. is crucial to the leaving of the house to actually happen.

And one bonus: Asses the sleep situation. I’ll admit, I used to really be a night owl. Sometimes I still get the bug to stay up late doing things or doing absolutely nothing at all. Night time is mommy time. well, most nights barring any unforeseen circumstances. Anywho, because the boys usually wake up between 5 and 6 am here, I have learned to love mornings as well. So at night I asses the next day. Is it a particularly busy day? Are the kids going through something and are a little more difficult right now? Go to bed early (aka 10 pm). Is it a relatively slow day the next day and the kids are (as of now) pretty even keeled? go ahead and stay up a little later you party animal (aka 12 am).

What do you guys do to make your mornings and days go a little smoother? What does your ideal morning look like?  Stay tuned for more talk about planning as I release a special planner just for unschoolers and life-long learners…who also happen to be type-A.



July Family Sketchbook Challenge


I’m excited to announce our first sketchbook challenge here at Modern Simpler. We’re kicking off this challenge this Friday, July 1st.

During these lazy, hazy, and sometimes crazy Summer days, I thought some nice family sketch time would be just the ticket. So grab your sketchbook, or just some random paper and your loved ones and sketch what inspires you from the daily prompts. I kept a wide range of ages in mind when  coming up with the prompts so I think these would work great for any and every age.

This is a zero pressure situation. Do one, 10 or all of the prompts-Whatever feels fun 🙂

Share your sketches to Facebook and instagram with



Can’t wait to see what you guys share!



18714604-Polish-floral-embroidery-with-cocks-traditional-folk-pattern-Stock-VectorLast night I had a total epiphany when it came to my life work. So of course I stayed up way to late brainstorming. Now I’m up way too early with my very dear friend, coffee. I’d like to leave this quote here for you all-it was what I had been meditating on for the past few days and what was on my mind when I had a totally awesome, cloud-split moment. Wishing you a happy and inspired Wednesday.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make” – Dr. Jane Goodall


Sagra: Celebrating Seasonal Foods

In Italy, a Sagra is a local festival that celebrates a certain food coming into season. I was recently introduced to these food festivals near the end of my reading of Under the Tuscan Sun. It sounds like such a lovely concept:

Sagra is a wonderful word to look fro in Tuscany. Foods coming into season often cause a celebration. All over the small towns signs go up announcing a sagra for cherries, chestnuts, wine, vin santo, apricots, frog legs, wild boar, olive oil or lake trout.




I like the idea so much I’m going to create some special meals, and maybe even the occasional small dinner get together, to celebrate our own harvests and seasonal foods as they come into season.

In our home, I credit much of the success of our unschool flow to the fact that we are very connected and in tune with seasonal rhythms. These guide our days, months, and years. Incorporating this idea of a Sagra into our seasonal rituals seems perfectly, and deliciously, fitting.

Today is Summer solstice and we celebrate this as midsummer. On this longest day of the year, with the sun about to burn a hot 94 degrees today, and a full moon waiting for us when the sun does finally set, the garden is exploding with the promise of great bounty. Tomatoes, while still green, are already starting to hang heavy.  Cucumbers have sprouted long strands from there blossoms overnight.  And the zucchini promise to crawl, sprawl and overtake the whole show.

Soon we will celebrate our very own little harvests and enjoy food so fresh you would’t dare disturb it with a recipe.

I’ll leave you with a little peek of our garden, as she grows, on this midsummer day.


Wishing you a happy Summer Solstice and much bounty as we move towards the dark half of the year.


These past weeks have seen many shifts and changes. All week I was in a serious haze of confusion. All day Thursday I INSISTED it was Friday. And all day Tuesday I swore it was Wednesday. It was one of those folks.

And it’s really no surprise. In a few short weeks some big things have happened. Our youngest babe turned one. We made official plans for our big move in October-we are beach bound folks. I made some decisions about my small businesses and together with my husband carved out a way to work two days a week on these ventures. Continue reading