Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Summer Corn: Recipe Roundup

One of the first things my husband got excited about, as we moved closer and closer to our new home in Colorado, was fresh sweet corn. We both lived in Nebraska for a time and the summer sweet corn was one of the highlights of knowing a lot of farmers. My husband even swears that no other corn is as good as Nebraska sweet corn!
We were lucky enough to snag a bunch from my sister-in-law (she comes from a farming family). I don't mind basic corn on the cob, but eventually, I'm going to need something new and exciting to make it through all this corn! So I decided to round-up some delicious corn recipes from around the web.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I love New York... and I will miss it!

Big thanks to my hubby! He took a few of these pictures!

We lived in New York state for a hot minute. And it was great. 

We moved up there because my husband was transferred within his company from our Florida location to an Upstate New York office. I was very excited to move from Florida because I really did not like Florida. I’m a delicate flower (go ahead, laugh) and I was withering in Florida. It was so damn hot… all of the time. I lived in Northern Florida and it took a while to get to an ocean. And even when we got to the ocean, it was so hot on the sand that I didn’t want to be out there. I’m not a fan of water activities (it’s because I’m a Taurus… we like to be on solid ground), so swimming in the big, scary ocean wasn’t my thing. I’m okay with sitting on the beach if it wasn’t a million degrees out… but I’m getting off track. What I’m trying to say is that I couldn’t get out of Florida fast enough. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Shadows & Sorrow - Part Three

Healing Through Our Miracle

This is part three of a three-part series about the loss of my twins in July 2014. You can read the details about my loss HERE. This three-part series is just my personal reflections on the events and the anniversary of my loss.

Click here to read part one or click here to read part two.

My husband and I have often wondered what would’ve happened to us if Lincoln had never come along. I became pregnant with him only 3 months after our losses. It definitely was not expected, especially since it took so many years and IVF in order to conceive the twins. But Lincoln… he just came out of nowhere. It may have seemed that he came at a very tumultuous time but I think it saved us. It saved us from the grief that was taking over our minds and bodies. 

Knowing I was pregnant caused me to focus on that and not my losses. Mainly, I focused on not losing Lincoln like I lost the twins. I couldn’t bear to lose another child, so I jumped into gear getting a Transabdominal Cerclage to protect against the incompetent cervix that caused me to lose my twins. That plan worked. I had a completely uneventful pregnancy with Lincoln and I made it to my scheduled c-section. Seriously… it was perfection.

I was traumatized, however. I was a wreck during my pregnancy… I over-analyzed every feeling I had and there were many moments of tearful agony. I did see a counselor through my entire pregnancy and it really did help. I also did a lot of grief projects like photography and journaling. 

As a couple, we also started projects and donations in memory of our twins. Anytime we can include them in our day to day lives it makes them more real. That may seem strange… you may be thinking “of course they were real.” But they were here then gone so fast… sometimes you feel like you may have imagined them. Thankfully, there is proof of them all around me. Proof that they did exist and touch our lives (and others lives). That proof is what I cling to. 

And I love to say their names. I love when others say their names. It causes my heart to swell, practically explodes. It means that they are not forgotten. Gone, but never, ever forgotten.

Siobhan Leannan Ashe Aramayo. Our beautiful little girl.

Ronan Orlando Grey Aramayo. Our beautiful little boy.

Siobhan & Ronan


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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Shadows & Sorrow - Part Two

A Living Death

This is part two of a three-part series about the loss of my twins in July 2014. You can read the details about my loss HERE. This three-part series is just my personal reflections on the events and the anniversary of my loss.

If you missed part one, click here to read.

There was a time in my life when I thought I’d never have children. The infertility treatments weren’t working and we were running out of money. I had to start preparing my heart for empty arms. So finding out I was pregnant, with twins, was a dream come true. Cliche, I know, but it was. Stupidly, I assumed that pregnant meant I would bring home babies. It was a beautiful ignorance because I never worried while I was pregnant with the twins. I literally enjoyed every single moment. Once I said that I if I knew that I was going to lose the babies, I would still have wanted them. I still would have wanted to be their mother. That positive pregnancy test made me a mother. Finally.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Shadows & Sorrow - Part One

July is a Hard Month for Me

This is part one of a three-part series about the loss of my twins in July 2014. You can read the details about my loss HEREThis three-part series is just my personal reflections on the events and the anniversary of my loss.

It seems like as soon as the calendar changes from June 30th to July 1st the air around me starts to get thick with grief. Just the word “July” conjures up pain. My heart automatically starts to ache. I’m sure a lot of people have this happen to them… there is a time during the year that is your worst, your most painful. Mine is and forever will be, July. 

The Facebook “On  This Day” feature is wonderful, I truly enjoy seeing things I posted in the previous years. But the “On This Day” feature is awful during July. What’s funny is, I don’t avoid it. I still courageously click to see what happened on “whatever” July day it is. And I even read the text or look at the pictures. It’s painful, but I still do it. And after viewing those posts in July 2014, I feel sick, but I still do it the next day. I don’t really understand it. Sure it’s painful, but at the same time they, are my memories.

Friday, July 7, 2017

10 Favorite Cruelty-Free Brands

This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. It does not change your cost but helps support the work on this site.

I recently posted about how I went cruelty-free with my beauty and household products. In the post I talked about how much easier it was than I initially expected. You can read that post here.

Now I'd like to share with you 10 favorite cruelty-free brands. I've used theses few brands for a while and really like them... I barely remember what I used before I went cruelty-free.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Fresh Peaches: Recipe Roundup

Ah! Summertime! One of the great things about Summer is the delicious fruits and veggies. One of the not-so-great things about Summer is watching my toddler refuse to eat those delicious fruits and veggies.
I love peaches. And peach flavored stuff! In fact, I could go for a frozen Peach Daquiri right about now. But that requires rum, which I do not have and I don't want to put pants on to go buy some. I recently bought some peaches for us to eat and **surprise, surprise** the toddler doesn't like them. He's nuts! Well, I had to come up with a way to finish these peaches off before they go bad. And I thought I'd share a few of the recipes I found on Pinterest to use fresh peaches.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How I Meal Plan

Life can be crazy sometimes. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. Add in kids and/or a job and life gets even crazier. I know it's hard enough to take care of myself and make sure I eat a healthy meal, then add in that I’m making meals for other humans (big and small) and meals can get hectic. 

For years now I’ve been meal planning and it has made a huge difference in daily life. First, I don’t have to worry about what we are having for dinner. And I don’t have to worry about if I have all the ingredients for the planned dinner. Plus, I am saving money because I’m not running to the grocery store (or drive-thru) at the last minute. An added bonus is that if I plan well enough, I don’t buy multiples of items. If I ever get lax on my planning (which does happen, I am human) I always seem to end up buying too many bottles of soy sauce or jars of peanut butter. 

Alright, let’s do this!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

How I Went Cruelty-Free... and it was easier than I expected!

I don't specifically remember what I saw that gave me my "a-ha" moment, but I remember it was a pin on Pinterest. This was about a year ago and after I read the entire article associated with the pin, I was in shock.
I have always been an animal lover, I've always stood up for those who couldn't stand up for themselves and I've always been conscious of my choices and how they impact the world. But for some reason, I never paid attention to whether the products I used were cruelty-free. This Pinterest pin brought me into the light.

Honestly, at first, I was a little pissed at myself. I could've made changes in my purchases YEARS and YEARS ago! But I had to let that go and make better choices moving forward.
Cruelty-free means that cosmetics and other household products were designed and manufactured without harming animals. I'm not here to convince you to go cruelty-free. I do believe that is a personal decision (much like veganism), but if you are interested in more info about what companies often do to animals, you can Google it.

If you have made the decision to go cruelty-free, like myself, but aren't sure where to start then I am going to tell you what I did after my "a-ha" moment.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Easy Crochet Review: Awesome Washcloth pattern by Mama in a Stitch

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It does not change your cost but helps support the work on this site.

I'm crafty by nature. And I always say that I was crafty before crafty was cool. TRUTH
And even though I have a crazy-eyed toddler running around, I still love to DIY and craft new things. Really, I have to craft every once in a while or else I start losing my mind.
But, like I said, I have a toddler and it's hard to work on some items:

  • beaded necklaces (are you crazy?! Do you want beads everywhere?!)
  • sewing (well, if you don't mind a toddler on your lap the entire time or trying to keep tiny hands from sharp things)
  • mod-podge (are you crazy?! Do you want mod-podge on everything?!
  • crochet (but so many stitches, so many rows)

But I've been desperate lately. So I searched and searched Pinterest for an easy crochet pattern... something I could finish in a weekend (because of my short attention span, not my toddler's) and something that wasn't too complicated in case I get interrupted in the middle of a stitch.
I found a couple that looked worthy. I started one and I couldn't finish. It wasn't too difficult, but I knew I couldn't put it down (to wipe sticky hands) and easily pick it back up right where I left off. So I pulled that one apart after a few rows.
I then started the Farm House Washcloth crochet pattern by Mama in a Stitch. And it was SO easy. I was able to complete it over the weekend, putting it down at least a few dozen times to chase my kiddo or eat a meal. When I picked it back up I was easily able to start again.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Trolls Themed Birthday Party

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A few days back, my little boy turned two and we threw him a Trolls themed birthday party. The party itself was small... we only invited two other little boys to join. But it was perfect for my kiddo.
To say he loves Trolls is an understatement. I'm embarrassed at the number of times he has watched it (and at the number of times I've used the movie to get some peace or to finish the dishes). That, however, is not the point. The point is that he is obsessed with the movie, the songs, the characters... everything! So picking the Trolls theme was easy.

I really focused on decorations because the party itself was just his two friends coming over, them eating pizza, watching the movie and playing with toys (and later cake). I didn't worry about activities or games because they are so young.
And I tried to DIY it to save money. Some things I had so overall I spent less than $50 on everything for the party minus the pizza we ordered.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday Fun: Hiking with My Toddler

When we woke up this morning, we could tell immediately that the weather was going to be great. My hubby is busy with work stuff, so my little guy and I decided to go to one of the local nature centers. My kiddo calls it "see animals" because, besides the hiking trails, they also have a building with critters inside. We didn't get a chance to see the critters today because I decided it was best to take advantage of the great weather we were having (lately it's been all rain).

One of the things I really love about this nature center is the fact that they have tons of things for toddlers to do. Yes, they have the critters inside (rabbits, snakes, turtles, birds) but they also have a playroom and a small children's hiking trail. We stopped to see the outdoor enclosures with the owl, hawk, and crow but then we walked the trail a few times. We enjoyed the few hours we were there and he is already asking to go "see animals" again.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Color-Surprise Birthday Cake

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My two-year-old loves Trolls, so for his birthday, we did a Trolls theme (click here to read about the Trolls themed party). To go along with the theme, I decided to make a colorful birthday cake. After a late-night or two (hey, I do my best thinking at night when I should be sleeping), I decided to make the inside super colorful, but leave the outside white so that he would be surprised by all the colors when we cut into the cake. The plan worked because he loved it. He even talked about how he was going to “eat orange now” or “purple now.” I love a mom-win!

Want to make a Color-Surprise Birthday Cake too? Here’s how I did it:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Company is coming: Speed-Cleaning Tips

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Generally, my house is decent. In my world, decent means that there are only a meal’s worth of dishes in the sink, a few handfuls of toys around the living room, a small pile of papers on the table, and dog hair (damn that dog hair). 
I have my usual cleaning tasks to help me stay on top of the muck that can build up in a well-loved home full of people and dogs. But even I dread the extra cleaning needed because company is coming over. I don’t know why, but it can cause me to panic and start doing a million unnecessary things. Next thing I know, I’ve cleaned out all the closets, repainted the foyer, bought new throw pillows, and I’ve worn myself out to the point of not enjoying myself when they are here. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What We Do All Day Long (Just the Toddler and I)

When I first became a stay-at-home mama a few months back, I was desperate for a routine. It was very chaotic around here because we had just moved to New York from Florida. I was still unpacking and I was still trying to figure out what a stay-at-home mama did. My 22-month-old son and I were just a hot mess every day (waking up whenever, eating whenever, forgetting to change clothes, forgetting what damn day it was, and more). So my solution was a schedule including a morning and evening routine. And once we had a plan, everything was so much easier!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

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Loss & Heartache on Mother's Day

Sadly, Mother’s Day is full of painful emotions for me. Before I became a mother, I had trouble with the day because I’m estranged from my own mother. Even before I stopped talking to her, I had trouble picking out the right card. Mother’s Day cards are full of beautiful emotions about how wonderful your mother is and how much you appreciate her. I didn’t have a nurturing mother. Instead, I had a mother that would take but never give and there just wasn’t a card out there that said “thanks Mom for not sucking the life out of me… yet!” After we stopped talking, I then dealt with guilt on Mother’s Day. I knew I did the right thing, cutting off someone that was toxic, but society tells you that you’re supposed to love your mother, no matter what. Thankfully, that guilt has now passed, as I no longer worry about her. Now I am a mother and now I have my own experiences to cope with.
The first Mother’s Day I celebrated as a new mom, I had two babies growing inside me. Our girl and boy were expected that November and after spending years struggling with infertility, hating that I wasn’t a mother, I finally was a mom! It was a beautiful Mother’s Day filled with hope and love for the lives that we finally grew with the help of IVF. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

20 Facts About Me

Don't you just love randomness? I know I do. So here is a list of 20 random facts about me. If I had to do a list of 40, I'd probably bore you to death. Enjoy!

1. My birth name is Michelle. And a lot of people do call me Michelle. But a lot of people also call me by my nickname, Mara. Mara is a play on my first initial and last name (and I came up with it myself when I was hanging out with a group of people that had more than one Michelle in the group). Throughout this blog, I'll go by Mara.
2. I am the oldest of 9 kids. But it’s because my parents split up after having me and they went their separate ways and had other children with different partners. But… I’m still the oldest of them all.
3. I’m not a cat person. I try and I do love to pet them, but generally, I prefer the adoration that comes from dogs. Scratch that… now that I think about it… I love all animals! I don’t necessarily want to keep all of them in my home, but if I had space, the means and the help (especially the help), I’d probably rescue animals and give them lots of love.
4. I love carbs. I really do. The bad ones, especially. “Cake,” you say? I’ll be right over for a plate!
5. Just recently, because of our tight budget, I’ve discovered what color my natural hair is. Before, I had no clue! I’ve been dying it for so, so many years that I forgot. Turns out, it’s light, dirty brown (which explains why I wanted to color it in the first place).
6. I really love all colors, but my favorite is orange.
7. The first thing I ever sewed were clothes for my barbie doll. They weren’t great in any way, but I was so excited to create with my own hands. I’m sure this is where my lifelong love for crafting started.
8. At one point in my life, I didn’t want any kids. Then I met my husband and I suddenly wanted three. Now, I’d take any that are put in my arms because they are such wonderful creatures. We have even talked about fostering in the future.
9. As a couple, we have never owned a home. We’ve always rented. We’ve moved so much that it just didn’t make sense for us to buy. But we are seriously talking about doing it now that we live in New York because it’s great here (and the prices are good).
10. I am an introvert. But I try to not let it hold me back. Some people can’t even tell that I’m an introvert. I may be nervous about trying new things or meeting new people, but I still do it. However, my introverted self still avoids crowds.