Monica's Nest

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Elizabeth & Clarke Subscription Box

Sorry for being MIA! Baby got sick, then Daddy got sick, and now I’m just getting over being sick. Buh. I’m back now. There’ll be a post about the IE challenge coming soon!

Here’s another fashion-y post. I don’t claim to be a fashion guru (jeans + simple top + cardigan is my typical uniform) but I’m trying! I’m intrigued by the colored denim trend and am thinking about getting a pair. Maybe these? The colored-ness is out of my comfort zone a bit, but the olive color isn’t too loud…plus they’re on sale!  Thoughts?

Anyway – on to the real post for today:
I came across Elizabeth and Clarke through Plum District. They had a deal – so I thought I would give it a try. Elizabeth and Clarke is a subscription service that sends you 1-3 (depending on your membership) neutral tops each season. I got the 3-shirt spring box – and this is what arrived (please pardon the crappy photos):

Bear with me – I don’t remember the names of these, and they’re not up on the website anymore. :(

First is this long-sleeved white button up. It’s a sheer-ish super silky fabric with a “trendy” giant pocket. I love the fabric and (surprisingly) the pocket. The sleeves are a bit wierd (see the detail photo) but they work just fine rolled up underneath a cardigan.  This is a little out of the box for me, since I’ve always been afraid of button-ups (I have broad shoulders and they usually don’t fit) but this one is super comfortable!

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Next is this racerback cotton tank also with a giant pocket. This is my favorite shirt from the box, and the one I’ve worn the most. It’s SUPER soft, and the neckline is really nice (not too low). It’s very flattering and comfortable. If they were available in multiple colors I would probably buy more!

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Last is this shirt. The tail part is supposed to be tucked in…I think. This one doesn’t fit me quite as well (it’s tight around the chest -which is surprising) but I do like the pleating in the front – so I’m going to try it with a blazer or cardigan and see how I like it.


What do you think. Does a neutral-tops box like Elizabeth and Clarke appeal to you?



Munchkin Meals @ 11 months

I’m actually linking up for Munchkin Meals at A Healthy Slice of Life this month! I’ve only been planning to do this for 5 months (sigh). Today I actually have photos. :)

At 11 months (well, 11.5) Dave eats most of what we do. The only things I haven’t introduced yet are peanut butter and fish – and that only because we haven’t had a chance.  He still prefers to self-feed, and I’ve begun giving him a plate and a spoon just so he can start getting things figured out. He eats just about everything – but isn’t really a fan of pieces of fresh fruit. I think it’s a texture thing. He’ll chow a pouch of strawberries or blueberries, but doesn’t like eating chunks of them.

His favorite foods:

  • Cheese
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Cheese
  • Tomato sauce
  • Eggs
  • Beef.
  • Have I mentioned he likes cheese? ;-)

Anyway – here’s an assortment of meals form the last couple weeks or so.


He has what we’re having – which is often eggs. This particular day it was eggs scrambled with broccoli and cheese, roasted sweet potatoes and an Ella’s Kitchen pouch.




This one was a portion of a Plum Organics toddler meal (this one) with some avocado and cheese. I think he had a pouch prior to this as well. We don’t usually do packaged stuff (since we’re usually cooking anyway) but this day got away from me and he wanted lunch NOW.


Grilled cheese, strawberries and a sippy of Tomato/roasted red pepper soup. He wasn’t sure about the soup-in-the-sippy business (this is neither breastmilk nor water Mother, WTH?) , but he chowed the grilled cheese and had some strawberries.


Quesadilla, broccoli and blueberries.



Winter Minestrone topped with parmigiano reggiano w/ strawberries.


Green beans, sweet potatoes, avocado and cream cheese.

So, that’s what Dave’s munching on lately. I’m not sure if it’s normal, but it’s what works for us!

Check out the other Munchkin Meals posts at the linkup!


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Friday Favorites

I’ve been conspiciously absent this week, I know. My post on Monday sesems to have taken alot out of me. Still, it seems that many people identify with me (or are interested at least) because I had the most views I’ve ever had on a post!  So far, the intuitive eating is…going. I’m still working on getting rid of the rules I have for myself. The actual challenge doesn’t start until Monday, so hopefully the e-mails and group chatter will help me out too. :)

With how gorgeous the weather is supposed to be today, I’m really regretting not taking some time off work to take Dave to the Good Friday service in my hometown today. It’s an outdoors stations-of-the-cross service and it’s a ton of fun. Next year I’ll be taking him for sure. 

I’m looking forward to making him his Easter basket too! He’s too young to really get it, of course, but I don’t care. :) He’ll be getting a book, some fruit pouches, plastic eggs filled with animal crackers and maybe a toy or two.

So - I missed this post last week – but here’s this week’s Friday favorites!

1) Dunn Bros Infinite Black cold press coffee. I love this stuff. I’ve had to stay away from it because it’s so “robustly caffienated” (too much caffiene = not great for pregnancy/nursing) but I had some for the first time since I found out I was pregnant earlier this week, and it was glorious.


2) This foot-flower picture Dave made at daycare that is hanging in my cube. It still makes me chuckle that they made a foot print into a flower!


3) The pictures daycare sends me through the new updating-app they started using. It’s fun to get a couple snapshots of him during the day!


4) Dave is standing on his own/walking! You’ve seen this picture before, but I don’t have another one yet. He surprised me yesterday when I picked him up from daycare by crawling over and just standing up (without using anything to pull himself up) and then walking a couple steps to me. He’ll be running before we know it! Well, he’s already running while pushing his train, but soon he won’t need that.


5) Boo turned 9 yesterday! I called him birthday-araner all day yesterday, and he got a pb/nana Kong plus beef & liver food and an egg for dinner. We got a nice walk in the great weather too. I can’t believe he’s 9 already!  He can stop aging anytime.


6) So I’ve started taking an “outfit of the day” picture in an attempt to determine my style. So far, I ‘ve determined that my style is….boring.  I’m not sure if that’s bad. It’s also driven quite a bit by how cold my corner of the office is. Anyway – you can see the pictures here if you’re interested.  I suck at fashion, any advice is always welcome!

7) I’ve also started a “Munchkin Meals” set of photos, documenting how/what I feed Dave. Just because I can.

8) This breakfast. It’s Greens, Eggs and Hollandaise from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (yes, it’s my favorite – can you tell?) with multi-grain toast fingers, coffee,  OJ and chicken sausage. OM NOM NOM. Looking at the picture makes me want to whip it up again for breakfast tomorrow! (It helps that it’s so ridiculously easy to make too.)


Happy Friday, and Happy Easter weekend!



On Struggling with Food and Intuitive Eating.

I’ve struggled with food for a long time.  I was a healthy-weight kid until about 4th grade. I ended up being put into a “gifted and talented” program  (G & T)(Note: I don’t think I’m gifted and talented over the average person. This is just what the program was called. Also of note: I hated every second of this program and will never place any of my children in one. I don’t blame my parents though. They did what they thought would be right for me.) at that time and it necessitated me moving from the elementary school within walking distance of my home to one across town.  With the stress of moving to a new school, spending extra time on a bus, being uprooted from many of my friends, and being thrust into the social dynamic of the G&T program along with the extra academic work involved, I became depressed and began to eat emotionally. Looking back, I can see that that is really where my issues with food and disordered eating began.

In reality, I wasn’t nearly as ginormous as my mind told me I was (and never have been since), but ever since that time I have considered myself “the fat one.” I’ve tried quite a few diets. Weightwatchers (multiple times), classic calorie counting, South Beach and, most recently – Paleo.

Now, I never really thought I was someone who had disordered eating. Eating disorders tend to be associated with anorexia and bulimia and I have neither of those. I always just figured I had a lack of willpower, and needed to force myself to eat what I “should” eat in the “proper” portions.  I’ve been in the vicious deprivation cycle for at least 15 years. Go on a diet, be “good” for a few weeks (or months), feel deprived – but noble, lose weight…and eventually it all falls apart. I end up binging on things I don’t even like in what they call “last supper” eating because I told myself I couldn’t have them, and I better get my fill of them now before I go back to being “good!” I would “closet eat” – sneaking snacks when noone could see me. Being embarassed to order at restaurants because of the ludicrous idea that people were judging me because overweight people don’t deserve to eat. Or overweight people should only eat salads because they need to lose weight.  I’m using past tense here – but really we’re talking about last week. Not 3 years ago.

I’ve always seen people who, at least outwardly, appear to be able to eat without stress and been incredibly jealous.  Why do they get to just eat while I have to obsess about food in order to “control myself”?  Why is it so easy for them and so hard for me? Because my eating is disordered. I’ve spent so many years on the deprivation cycle that I have no idea how to honor my hunger. I eat alloted amounts because I tracked that much darnit and I’m going to get as much into me as I’m allowed. Or I’m going to order something that’s at least percieved to be more healthy even though I don’t really want it because I “should” – and then end up eating even more than I otherwise would have because what I ate didn’t satisfy my cravings.

I’ve recently come across a concept called Intuitive Eating (IE). I learned about it by reading a couple of my favorite blogs on my blogroll – Fitting It All In and A Dash of Meg.  Both Clare and Meghan have recently taken part in  Jamie of StudioEats 21 Day Intuitive Eating challenge. They’ve inspired me, so I signed up and picked up a copy of a book on Intuitive Eating (the book isn’t necessarily associated with the StudioEats challenge. I just picked it up to help facilitate my journey.)

So this is where I’m at. I want to be able to be one of those people who eats with ease. I don’t want to feel hungry. I’m exhausted.  Utterly exhausted by worrying about what I “should” eat.  I’m tired of being embarrassed by the food I eat and my weight.

So today, I’m going to start working on healing my relationship with food. It’s not going to be easy and I’m not expecting instant success. I discovered this morning that eating without distractions is HARD, and I have completely lost touch of my real hunger signals.  I’ve started a journal  – not tracking my food intake, but tracking my thoughts. Assessing my hunger levels as I eat. Making sure I actually WANT what I’m eating.

The challenge officially starts on April 1, but I don’t want to wait. I’ll blog about it as I go.  Here’s hoping I can break the cycle.




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Non-Recipe: Homemade “Cafe Milan.”


I won’t tell you that this is an exact substitute for Caribou’s version, because it’s not even close. It does, however, mimic the taste quite well with simple at-home ingredients.

Brew coffee, add heavy cream and honey to taste, sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy. :)

Caribou’s version contains hazelnut syrup, so if you have that hanging around you could add it. I don’t, so I skipped it and didn’t miss it at all.

In other news, Dave is standing on his own and starting to take steps! Mommy is proud!


Hope everyone is having a relaxing Sunday!



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Quick Recipe Review: Winter Minestrone

In my quest to clean the random remnants out of our cupboards, I made minestrone for the first time last night. For some reason minestrone has never held high esteem in my head. I was never overly excited about it. Why not? I’m not sure. Maybe because the only minestrone I’d ever had was out of a can.

Apparently I was missing out.

Ina Garten’s Minestrone Recipe is hearty, fresh, veggie filled (win) and easy to make. There’s a bit of chopping involved, but that can easily be done the night before if you need a quick-ish dinner.

My changes:
I threw in some couscous and alphabet noodles we had in the cupboard instead of tubetti noodles, and I found that I really didn’t need to sautee the veggies or simmer the soup quite so long. Really, this can be a 30 minute meal if you chop the veggies ahead of time.

Could easily be made paleo too – just skip the beans and pasta. Done.



On The Pressure We Put On Ourselves and Personal Identity. This Working Mother’s Perspective.


I’ve battled with myself about the kind of mother I would be since I saw that second line appear on my pregnancy test.  

Should I keep working?

  •  Is it fair to David for me to work and commute?
  • Sometimes I feel like he’s being raised by someone else, can I handle that?
  • What am I going to do the day he cries and clings to his daycare provider instead of grinning and making a beeline for me the instant I walk in the door?
  • Do I want to deal with the constant stream of illnesses that comes with daycare?

 Should I be a stay-at-home Mom (SAHM)?

  • Can I justify that to myself as I continue to pay for the Master’s degree I’ve barely used?
  • How much of my personal identity do I base on my employment? How much should I?
  • I’m on a career track that’s roughly where I’m “supposed” to be. Does that matter to me? Should it?
  • Can I provide the mental stimulation that he receives at daycare, or is he being better prepared for school by being at daycare? I know that I think achievement in terms of academic success is overemphasized, but how high-priority do I want to make it? Would I be able to maintain the level I want to see on my own?
  • Can I join enough play-groups to get him the fun social time with other kids he deserves?

I could go on all day, but you get the picture. This is only part of the inner battle, of course. I worry about the food I’m feeding him (Standard USDA Food Pyramid? Weston A. Price Foundation? Vegetarian? Paleo?), and how I’m feeding it to him (Baby-led weaning? Pseudo-baby-led weaning (our current choice)? Conventional Purees and finger foods later?). How long to breastfeed (should I day-wean him right at about age one? Wait until I get super-fed up with pumping? Should I introduce whole milk at all?)  These are beside my point for this particular post, however.

It sounds like I’m a major over-thinker, doesn’t it? And sometimes I am. I like to make informed decisions – but for the most part I do think I parent intuitively.  I’m not able to parent quite as intuitively as Nate, but that’s partially a personality thing. He’d be perfectly happy to do things exactly the way his parents did them, but I want to find our own way (and he’s fine with that too.)

So…why are we so hard on ourselves as mothers?

We’ve spent so much time freeing ourselves from the housewife norm, is it a disservice to women everywhere to be a SAHM? I don’t think so – on any level….but from the “Mommy Wars” everywhere it’s clear that some think it is.

One of the most common things I hear / read about from SAHMS or people who choose to work is identity:  SAHMs feeling as though they have lost their identity and are “only a Mom” and working mothers avoiding staying home because they fear losing their identity. Why does getting to know someone always begin with “what do you do?”   What do I do? I live.

I struggle with the way we are conditioned to define our identities.

Either you’re a mother or you are a career-woman.  If you’re both you have to juggle every-freaking-thing because that’s what working mothers do. Why? Why do we have these expectations? I refuse to believe that the only way I’ll have any adult interaction is through a job. 

Am I a mother? Yes. But that’s not all I am. I work, but I don’t feel the need to cling to my career choices to define me as something other than a mother.  I am also a sister and a friend. I’m still at twenty-something that enjoys a night out at the bar with friends. Maybe I don’t drink as much as I used to (which really wasn’t much in the first place)…so what?

I’m still me. I’m not this completely different person that no longer enjoys doing the things I used to. I have more responsibilities, yes. Sometimes – I’ll have to say no because I don’t have a sitter, or bring Dave with me to an event, but the simple fact that I am his mother doesn’t entirely define me, nor does my job.

I’m not entirely sure if this is just a rant that will be incomprehensible to just about everyone else, or if others will identify with it. It just is.

My bottom line is this:

  • ·         Society and the norms associated with it suck sometimes. Maybe all the time.
  • ·         Being a parent is ridiculously hard, and ridiculously rewarding (I know I only have one kid and he’s under the age of one and I can’t even conceive how difficult it will be (though I want to punch every damn person who says “you think that’s hard, just you wait!” in the face.) I’m not very experienced yet.  – I get that.)
  • ·          I choose to define my identity in what is maybe a non-traditional way. Are motherhood and my career parts of it? Yes, but not all of it.

Who am I? I am David and Balou’s Mommy (yes, I’m Balou’s Mommy. You don’t like it – tough.) I am Nathan’s wife. I am a nature lover. I have a massive case of unsated wanderlust. I am a runner. I love to inline skate. I am passionate about National Parks. I think Turbokick is one of the best workouts ever. I love the idea of gardening, but I just can’t seem to bring my own garden to fruition. I adore supporting local businesses. I’m an unabashed Star Wars, Firefly and Star Trek fan. I adore fantasy and adventure novels.  I want to be fashionable but somehow just end up in jeans and cardigans. I have an unsatiable interest in good food. I love to cook.  I have a sparkling water addiction.  I’m an introvert.  I have a job in the environmental sector.  Sitting on a patio/deck on a summer night with good company and an adult beverage is one of my favorite things to do.  I am unashamed of my choice to breastfeed and will continue to nurse David past the age of one. I am an Alpha Sigma Alpha alumna.

And this is only a sampling of my list.

I don’t manage to juggle all of these things on a daily basis and yes, sometimes I feel like being a Mommy takes over my life. What’s important is how I choose to define myself.



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