a Wednesday wonder: to tidy or not to tidy?

Charlie’s napping right now, so I just did my quick five minute sweep of the house to straighten things up. He’s become quite the little destroyer, pulling plastics off shelves and toys out of baskets as fast as I put them back. Which has had me thinking: Should I just leave everything until after bedtime when I do another sweep of the house, setting things back to rights? Or do I keep cleaning up a little bit throughout the day to keep my own sanity and to bring him the never ending joy of emptying his baskets?

We have so far limited Charlie’s toys to one basket of wood blocks, one of other toys, and one of books. Call us crazy, but ideally we’ll not ever have much more than this – just transitioning toys out and in as he gets older and as other babies come along. I could see us getting one larger basket to hold the miscellaneous toys, and having multiple others tucked away under his bed to pull out when he wants to play with them. But right now, he’s the definition of a free range baby, finding more interest in non-toys throughout the house in the form of plastic lids, rubber spatulas and the occasional shoe. Of course, he also has a shelf of books on the bookshelf, but he hasn’t found that yet 😂.

So it’s not much, but in a small house, things get messy fast. I love a tidy home (who doesn’t), but my little destroyer loves the thrill of getting everything out. So, what do you think, reader? Tidy throughout the day, or leave it all to the end?

This reminds me of this article I read the other day on Food52 about the apparently controversial practice of cleaning the kitchen as you go, or leaving it all to the end! What are you? I’m a clean as I go! Which maybe answers this whole Wednesday wondering. 😂 It must just be in my nature.

out and about: loggerhead marinelife center

45e018ea-30a2-474c-9f67-204add2b0e96-1As if we didn’t have enough fun this weekend, we took an adventure to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center up in Juno Beach on Sunday afternoon. It’s been on our list of places to visit for a while now, and I’m so happy we finally made our way up there!76a83bb4-5718-4e5e-8c82-9826efac828b-1

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acbf9ced-dc67-4017-aea9-a7df7bd8e68f-1They have a small aquarium inside that gives you a bit of an overview of the turtles you’re going to see outside, has a few indoor tanks (Charlie looooved watching the fish) and introduces you to some of the issues that sea turtles face in Florida. Mainly: trash. Lots and lots of trash that turtles eat. They’re indiscriminate between real food and fake food. If it comes near them, they eat it. So they get full on the plastic and forget to eat real food. As you can imagine, this causes problems.7359834b-666c-4633-bdb6-3e621f00cc71-1So Loggerhead is like a hospital for sea turtles. They get rehabilitated then released back into the ocean once they’re healthy enough.

f66e7e0d-30fa-4cc6-8b41-4d881e71cbba-1This is Eloise, a 75 pound loggerhead who was found lethargic and unwell in the Atlantic. She’s been in her “hospital bed” at Loggerhead since March, and she’s well on her way to recovery. It was so amazing to see these massive sea turtles in real life! They had a variety of different turtles to see including Honda, a 150 pound loggerhead! So big!

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ad1be0f9-9882-46e6-ba72-89beba9aadec-1It’s definitely making me think twice about my use of plastic versus more sustainable materials. These poor creatures! Think about all the turtles and marine life that aren’t being found or helped in time. I just saw this in the news the other day about a whale found dead off the coast of Thailand from ingesting 17 pounds of plastic bags. So sad.

185b4502-df3b-4b9c-ba9d-e2c510242643-1Loggerhead also has nature trails and a beach for more outdoor fun. A huge perk is the free parking, even if you do just want to just pop over to the beach for the day! The Marinelife Center is donation based if you’re so inclined. It’s right by Juno Beach pier where you can fish, and they also have fishing classes for kids, summer camps, and events throughout the year! A friend told me that the sea turtle releases are the coolest thing. I’m definitely going to keep checking back for a release.

In case you find yourself in the neighborhood: 

Loggerhead Marinelife Center 

Hours

Map & Directions

Special Events 

More adventures in and around Florida, right here.

baby in a tin, a note on being resourceful.

Who needs a baby pool anyway? This first weekend of summer break was too, too good. I’m feeling all sorts of happiness about it. The first weekend is important, you know? It sets the stage for the whole summer. And it’s going to be a good one – I can feel it in my bones. How could it not be, with this kid?The heat and humidity swooped in with a vengeance this weekend, so I pulled the little tin beer cooler out of our outdoor side table, gave it a good wipe, filled it to the brim with the hose, moved it to a shady spot (all talk of not hanging out under the mango tree aside 😂) and tucked Charlie in it to splash away to his heart’s content. When I pulled him out thirty minutes later, happy & tired, I wrapped him and his wrinkly toes in a big striped beach towel. He took a solid two hour afternoon nap after that. Such goodness! Just love this little man so much. So, moral of the story? You don’t need to buy a thing to have summer fun. Running water? Something, anything to hold it in? You’re good! Or really pull out all the stops and hook up your hose to a sprinkler – or even just a sprayer head. No need to go out and buy anything. Although you certainly can if you so fancy! Find summer fun around you wherever you are! I’m finding that Charlie doesn’t care (nor I!) one bit if something is new, old or found. He loves his new shaker toy as much as the little Tupperware I filled with rice. And clearly he loves the tin as much as a baby pool 😊. But let’s be honest – I’m reeeeelly excited to put him in a real pool when we’re home in Indiana next week!! The tin was such a sweet solution for a hot, humid Florida day, but nothing beats the real thing. Just a note to remind (mostly myself) that money need not be spent for summer fun! ☺️

mango bread from the backyard tree that keeps on giving. and giving. and giving.

fa1658cf-68c1-4f77-936c-a4877f726f2bI’ll be honest with you. Mango season has gotten a little bit away from me this year. We have a mango tree in our backyard which made me feel all kinds of romantic love for our house when we were looking to buy. The mango tree and the white brick built-ins scattered around made me have newly-wed visions straight out of a 1960’s romance. Call me Audrey Hepburn, but I imagined Mike and I picnicking under the mango tree on a red checkered blanket, sipping wine and munching on frozen mango bits all summer long.1876169f-88df-47c7-a2b6-c0ea326263c1Naive, Hoosier-born, first time Florida home-buyer that I was, I had no idea that 1. I’m allergic to mangoes, 2. no one goes outside to picnic in the summer in Florida (ha!), 3. how annoying and messy it is to cut up a mango because of the massive pit in the middle, and 4. if I did or did not like mangoes – I had never tasted one before! I was pretty sure I was going to like them though. Luckily, I do like mangoes. And after I broke out in hives all over my body during our first mango season, I discovered that I either had to thoroughly wash my hands after handling the skin, or wear rubber gloves. I also watched a very helpful video on how to properly cut mangoes to get the most fruit from around that giant pit. Click here to watch a similar one if you have lived that struggle too.dba643e8-dc83-4291-ac6a-e5dacb744420I still do love having a mango tree in the backyard and can’t help but dream every now and then of picnics under the shade of the tree in the summer. It also turns out that Charlie loves mango which is an amazing plus, but mango trees, like any fruit tree or  plant, take dedication if you want to actually eat the fruit. When one ripens – they’re all about ready to ripen. Last week we had a total of 36 mangoes waiting patiently on the windowsill, the kitchen island and the grill outside. That’s on top of the 19 mangoes I cut up and froze last weekend! Seriously.  The storms we’ve had rolling through lately have had them dropping like juicy grenades from the sky.ca148d4c-126f-4637-9191-9549f2d9d0fc

I’m running out of room in the freezer! You all know my love of carbs, so I hunted down the best looking recipe for mango bread that I could find, and it’s a winner! I love that this one uses pureed mango rather than chunks as I don’t love that chunks of fruit tend to sink to the bottom of breads. It also put a dent in the mangoes lined up on the windowsill while giving us the yummiest bread to munch on inside our lovely, air conditioned house with white brick built-ins, not on a picnic blanket under the mango tree where your very life is at risk of being taken out by a  mango grenade from above, swarms of mosquitoes, or hyperventilation due to Florida humidity. All jokes aside – try the bread. It’s delish.

I adapted the recipe slightly from this one – less sugar in my recipe (our mangoes are super sweet!), and canola oil instead of the avocado suggested. I also left out the rum for my little 7 month old man (who woke up from his nap during the baking of this bread) who has happily been gobbling this bread up.8686ebbe-37e7-4199-a713-391f8534df37The recipe calls for 3 cups of mango puree, which used about 5 of our medium-sized mangoes. You may have to adjust slightly up or down!c9388a7d-d4f1-4e0b-acc9-2554b6baabe3Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canola or any neutral oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups mango

Here’s what to do: 

Set oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, salt, baking soda, & ground cinnamon). In another bowl – I used a kitchenaid mixer – mix the rest of the ingredients (sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and mango). Add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Pour into greased and floured loaf pans and bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Freezes well if you don’t want to eat both loaves right away!

 

happiest of summer breaks.

Just popping in to say that it’s officially summer break over here at the Metroka house! I go back on Monday to turn in my school keys and to have lunch with my teacher friends, but Charlie’s tagging along for the day so it hardly counts as a work day. ☺️

Mike is at a golf outing for the day, so Charlie and I are making lists and mango bread, plotting out our summer plans. The real fun begins next week with a visit gulfside to see our sweet college friends, then up to Chicago home to Indiana to see friends and family. There’s a tightness of excitement building in my chest! I have a feeling this summer is going to go by in the blink of an eye with a million memories to keep! These are the days and we’re going to make the absolute most of them!!

the friday post – vol. 12

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Ahhhhh Friday! And ONE WEEK LEFT OF SCHOOL! I could not be more thrilled. I had my last classes in the library today (movie week!), and it feels good. Even if you work a “regular” job, I’m sure you’re celebrating this Friday especially because hello long weekend! We don’t have anything special planned which will make it feel even more relaxing.

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It’s been so rainy lately that we have these sweet little mushrooms popping up all over the garden! The rain has been fantastic for my herbs and the grass, but not great for our enjoyment of the great outdoors. It’s raining as I write this and I’m feeling like this weekend may be a cozy and peaceful one with pitter pattering on our rooftop.

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I made Ina’s chicken parmesan this week with a side of garlic bread from my loaf of no-knead bread. It was especially good. Mike emphatically stands that it’s not really chicken parmesan because it doesn’t have a red sauce. He thinks it’s really just a salad with breaded chicken which is totally fair. But still delicious. I had this recipe on the menu this week for my *new* recipe, but we didn’t get around to it because of a few extra after school events! It’s getting shifted to next week and I’m still excited about it.

It’s officially rosé wine season, and I have jumped right on the bandwagon with my whole heart. So refreshing! Such an easy summer bevvie! I want to try this recipe for rosé sangria which sounds amazing. I may just have to host a happy hour so I can try it. 🙂

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Everything is blooming around us right now! Trees, flowers, bushes! I don’t know why, but I feel like I’m noticing all of it especially much this year. We had our jasmine vine on the front porch in bloom a couple weeks ago, and now it’s the roses. What’s next, I don’t know!

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I’m so looking forward to a quiet weekend at home with my two boys (plus Wendy) , lots of snuggling, too many belly laughs, and happy hours every night. 🙂 What are you looking forward to this weekend? Something wonderful, I hope!

xx, em

the show i’ve been waiting a year for.

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I read about pbs’s new show in July of last year, and I’ve been ticking off days on my calendar! The Great American Read finally debuted Tuesday night on pbs, and it was everything I had hoping for and more. Okay, okay. I did fall asleep about halfway through. It was two hours long! It’s hard for a tired schoolgirl mama to stay up that long! The list of 100 will be talked about in episodes over the next months, and voting will determine the number one Great American Read. I think it’s so fun! I love book hype.

I printed the list off in checklist form the other day so I could track what I had and hadn’t read. I’m embarrassed to say that I’d read not even half of the books. Some of the books included surprised me! The Notebook!Gone Girl! FIFTY SHADES OF GREY!!? THE best?? I just don’t know. Harry Potter though – my number one as of right now. What do you think? You can vote for as many books as often as you want, and I’ve already gone in to vote for five or six. I haven’t even read them all, so it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around which one is going to be the best! I need to get reading this summer. 🙂 I may just have to do a few re-readings too! I’m trying to talk Mike into a couple’s book club with me, but I might have more luck convincing my mom of a mother-daughter club. Right, mom?

If you missed it – you can watch for free online here!

easiest cookie recipe in the world.

cf794850-3de6-438b-b8f3-762a45108a69I have six days left of school, and I am dragging myself through them by the skin of my teeth. The end of the year is my biggest time of the year other than the beginning of it. With 40+ teachers and 800+ students, there are thousands of materials that need to be returned before teachers or students can be “cleared” to leave school. Computers, textbooks, headphones, library books, etc are all in my school’s library system. And as you can imagine, teachers that were given these materials back in August have a hard time tracking them all down come May! And then you have the kids who checked books out a week ago – they have a hard time tracking those books down too. 🙂 I’ve been the nagging bad guy all this and will be next week too. But it’s okay! I can do it! Summer is almost here!

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But in the meantime, cookies, nightly happy hour, my happy baby, and copious venting to my husband are the only thing that are getting me there. Not just cookies, but the easiest cookies that I have ever made. Three ingredients! three! Have you ever heard of such a thing? I hadn’t! I was browsing Pinterest the other day for after school snacks, and stumbled upon this recipe that fit the bill for after, before and in-between school snacking. Follow the instructions for Peanut Butter Cookies all done in about 15 minutes!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg

Here’s What To Do:

Set oven to 350. Mix ingredients together until creamy (with an electric mixer is easiest). Roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Use a fork to put impressions on cookies both ways, and to smush them down. Bake for 10 minutes! Recipe makes about a dozen cookies.

Enjoy!

charlie crawls.

I posted a couple weeks ago that Charlie had started scooting around the house like a little zombie. This last week though, at 6 month plus a week or two, he’s up on his knees and crawling for real! He’s into everything now; pulling things off the shelves, hunting for cords, trying to eat Wendy’s bone. 2b3efb20-c8ab-47da-bbcb-ff291d412271

I looked away for two minutes this weekend, and he had crawled over to Wendy’s food and dumped her whole water bowl all over the living room and himself. Naughty boy! He’s started to pull up to stand on us and here and there around the house too. This boy is going to be walking before we know it!! Here’s a little video 🙂

 

 

first mother’s day.

My heart is so full after the sweetest weekend with my two boys. I’m feeling spoiled!

Mike sent me off to have my nails done on Saturday while he snuck to the store with Charlie to pick up groceries for the most delicious Mother’s Day dinner. I’m fairly no frills when it comes to self-care, but getting pedicures is my guilty little pleasure. I only go if Mike sets it up for me for a special occasion or if my mom is in town. 🙂 The last time I got a pedicure, I was 42 weeks pregnant (natural induction attempt 548), so it was such a thoughtful treat. Saturday night we went out for ice cream on the beach with the happiest baby on earth. I had blueberry, Mike, salted caramel. We shared little bites with Charlie and he would’ve eaten the whole cup if we had let him! Rain fell all through the day on Sunday so after Facetimes with both of our moms, we headed to the Norton Museum of Art, our favorite rainy day outing. Charlie’s first visit! He wore his Eric Carle “I Love Mom” hungry caterpillar shirt and everyone commented on what a handsome, sweet boy we have which warmed my mama heart. The Norton is undergoing some major renovations, so open now are only a couple wings of their permanent art collections. The perfect size for a six month old art newbie, and a nice no-fuss outing for our little family. It was my one Mother’s Day request since it clearly was not panning out to be a beach day. Our dinner was amazing. We had an appetizer of shrimp with St. Elmo’s cocktail sauce. Mike made the steak on the cast iron skillet (rain!) and it was so so tender that I think it may be our new favorite way to make steak rather than the grill. Asparagus, smashed red potatoes, and mushrooms cooked in butter topped it all off. My mouth is still watering. And the best part? I didn’t lift a finger. Mike did it all while I played on the floor with our little man and drank my wine. 🙂 Best Mother’s Day ever. The first of what I hope will be many homemade Mother’s Day gifts. 🙂 I hope each and every mom was spoiled rotten on Sunday. You deserve it!