I spent hours working on the yarn ball mobile that you can see hanging over Jack’s crib in this old photo. The hardest part was getting the strands to all hang from a single point without letting them get tangled.

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We shortened the mobile when Jack learned to stand and took it down entirely once we transitioned him out of the crib, but I wasn’t ready to let the materials used go to waste. I used the green hoop to display a piece I embroidered for him and this weekend I finally got around to stringing all those yarn balls together into one long garland to hang from his ceiling.

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I tied the existing strands together where I could, and where I couldn’t I used a small crochet hook to thread the yarn balls onto fishing line, tying each one in place. I hung it up in the office/playroom for a few days to make sure it was sturdy enough before putting it up in Jack’s room. Can’t have my toddler waking up entangled in balls.

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To hang it, I tied a key ring to each end and secured it to a cup hook screwed into the soffit.

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I looped the middle of the garland over the same ceiling hook that held the mobile.

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I really love the way it looks and kind of wish I’d done this instead of a mobile in the first place!

First off, I am super sad about Robin Williams. Nick and I watched The Crazy Ones last season so it feels like I just saw him. I know that’s not the same as actually knowing somebody, but he touched a lot of people. I worked at a crisis hotline for several years and have my own struggles with depression, so it always hits me kind of hard when I hear of someone dying by suicide. If you’re having thoughts of suicide please reach out for help before making any decisions. You can call 1-800-273-TALK to reach a trained counselor anytime of night or day.

Now onto comfort food. I feel like one of the best strategies in getting more comfortable in the kitchen is to develop a few basic techniques that can be tweaked to accommodate whatever time and ingredients you have available. I’m not sure why cooking isn’t just taught this way in the first place. If you know how to cook some basic ingredient without requiring a specific recipe then it becomes easy to build a meal around what you have. Example: my technique for Perfect Chicken.

Start by seasoning one large or two small chicken breasts on each side. I use salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Heat some olive oil over medium heat in an ovenproof pan and brown the chicken for four minutes on each side.

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While the second side is browning you may add other ingredients if you like. I’m a fan of onions, frozen spinach, mushrooms, garlic, butter, and a splash of vinegar (a variation of this recipe).

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Bake for 25 minutes. I boil a pot of water during this time and cook some pasta. The chicken comes out smelling and looking awesome.

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For this particular meal, I prefer the chicken shredded. I pop it in my stand mixer on low for about five minutes and voila, shredded chicken. Then I add it back into the pan with the pasta and some shredded cheese and bam, dinner is ready.

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The great thing about this technique is that you can adjust it to your needs and preferences. I’ll skip all the extra ingredients and just cook up the breasts for some chicken salad, or season the chicken breasts with some Mexican seasoning before cooking and use them for burrito bowls. This particular meal is a big hit in our house so I usually make it every week. You can also leave the chicken out altogether if you’d like.

Recently I’ve had some experience with people pressuring me into doing things I don’t want to do. Whether it’s partnering with a business that would be of absolutely no interest to my blog readers or working more hours than I’m comfortable with, I’ve found myself saying “no” more often lately. But you know what? It’s easy when I’m firm in my reasoning.

IT'S NOT HARD TO MAKE DECISIONS WHEN YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR VALUES ARE.”

Have a happy Thursday y’all, and may you stand on principle whenever necessary.

how to shop for secondhand clothing

If you’ve spent much time in thrift stores (or sorting through donations for nonprofits or following a disaster), you know that our society is absolutely overrun with clothes. It’s a burden. It’s kind of jarring when you think about it that clothes are mass-produced, worn for a short time, then sent to languish on thrift store racks while they are still in good condition. It’s the definition of excess. Thanks to Macklemore, thrifting is becoming more popular but it’s still kind of stigmatized and there are still more clothes than we could ever need getting donated to thrift stores every day. At my favorite thrift store I regularly walk out with Banana Republic, J. Crew, Calvin Klein, and the less fancy but still adorable Loft, Target, Gap, and Old Navy items for $3 a pop. I even found a Diane von Furstenberg blouse once but sadly it wasn’t my size.

You can save a ton of money and also do your part to reduce waste by buying clothing secondhand. But if you’re new to thrifting it can be intimidating and overwhelming. You can read all my tips in my recent post for Red Stick Moms Blog!

You can see some of my recent acquisitions in this post from last week. I haven’t bought any “new” clothes in several months (besides a swimsuit and some scrubs for work, though I do always check out the scrubs at thrift stores as well). I don’t miss traditional shopping at all! I’m able to pick up a few new pieces every month without guilt over spending too much money. Once you get really comfortable with thrift shopping it can be totally addicting to find such cute clothes for so little money.