Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sseko Designs

"Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand based in Uganda. In addition to handbags and accessories, we make beautiful leather sandals with interchangeable fabric straps that can be styled in hundreds of ways. Sseko began as a way to generate income for high potential, talented young women to continue on to university. And it is working! Every woman who has graduated from Sseko is currently pursuing her college degree or has graduated from university and is on her way to making our world a more beautiful place."

Unfortunately this past week drained me so entirely that I was not able to put together a proper Small Business Saturday posting like I had planned (and hoped) for. But I think it's safe to assume that a lot of you reading here already know by now just how important it is to put some of your holiday funds towards small and local businesses. However, to make up for the failed posting and help my ease my conscience in dropping the ball, I decided to devout a good portion of these coming weeks to sharing some of my favorite shops & companies I have on my own holiday shopping lists here, as well as over at The Ma Books depending on where they seem best suited.  

First up is Sseko Designs.  A brand I came across just recently and was immediately impressed to read about their background dedicated to empowering women in Uganda. With a great layout of their detailed 'Mission and Impact' you can read here.

As for the bag, when the company wrote asking if I might like to review their shop and product with readers here I was quick to oblige. For one, the brand falls under all of the qualifications I seek to check off before agreeing to accept product. It's hand made, price appropriate, small business owned and built on respectable ethics.

I had actually been on the hunt for quite awhile, looking to invest in a quality leather bag that would work with everything I wear. Seeing their leather safari version made my heart jump. It's a beautiful bag with Hefty room for all the "essentials" and more that tend to get packed in a hurry on the run. With a sleek double pocket for credit cards and phone. Exactly what I've been pining for.

The Sseko shop is full of all kinds of great items. The ribbon sandals, Carmel Nomad Booties, and hand crafted hex clutch being a few of my favorites.

The bag pictured above can be found HERE with a 20 percent store wide discount available through tomorrow at midnight with the checkout code "Be Merry"

Hope you enjoy it.
And happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Of Our Own

Just the six of us.
Camping on the beach.
Trader joe's boxed turkey breast, mashed potatoes and corn to fill our plates. Warm weather, hot coffee, and a blazing fire at night followed by one long day on the sand building huts and collecting rocks to paint.

Might definitely be "new tradition" worthy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Autumn Seed Salad

A few months back I participated in a little family taste test for NatureBox. A company I had already been very curious about seeing how I am always on the hunt for new (obviously healthy) snack options to keep the boy's school lunches interesting. Especially Leon, who has been gluten free now for over two years and is easily excited about any new snack options that pop up in our pantry that he too can enjoy.

Everything we tried on the initial round we loved. From the Sirracha Roasted Cashews to the Baked Cheddar Potato Sticks to the Lentil Loops, to each of the dried fruit and baked goods, every snack option tested was an instant hit with just about all of us.

This time around they asked if we might like to collaborate on contributing one of our "fall favorites," a personal recipe using whichever of their three snacks we prefer.  I've been on a salad kick (for lunch anyway) for the past couple of months so I incorporated some of their tasty seeds, and dried cherries to a bed of arugula, and then managed to snag a delicious dressing recipe from my good friend Rachel.

If you're craving a new twist on your salad, here's what I used

baby arugula 
1 cup quinoa 
sliced avocado
goat cheese crumbles
Naturebox dried cherries 
sprinkled with : NB honey comb sunflower & smoked pumpkin seeds

1 juiced lemon
4 table spoon extra virgin olive oil
3 table spoon balsamic 
1/2 tsp of honey
1 clove of pressed garlic
1 tsp of course ground mustard
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt & pepper 

Like I said, we were a big fan of everything Naturebox sent our way. I've been recommending them to all my friends. I mean, healthy and unique snacks delivered to your doorstep is pretty heard to beat. And, I just have to confess, those honey comb sunflowers are so addictive I finished off the bag while watching last night's episode of Parenthood.
Tears and seeds I tell ya.

You can check out Nature box snack options HERE and be sure and sign up for a free sample box to see which ones you might want to stock up on for Fall.

It's really is hard to go wrong. Promise.

Also, if you try the salad, let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Month Six

In which one brother will decide it's time for you to have a first go at a mo hawk, while another will be caught (and scolded) for trying to force you up against a wall to practice standing on your own.

Where you will still refuse a bottle. Outright. And so I will walk back and forth between hotels during a wedding in the desert, to feed and comfort you. Where you suddenly take to waking three or four times a night again due to teething issues, or growth spurts or whatever it is that makes you babies cry out for someone when you start to realize you are alone there, in the dark of night while the rest of the house sleeps solid, and soundly.

Where you still smile, indiscriminately, at every single person who happens to enter your frame. My tiny sweet hip companion, with the joyful eyes and happy face. The only baby I've ever had strangers stop to remark about how much you resemble me. Reflections I see and cherish too.

Half a year.
In the blink of an eye.

But by now, we know to expect that. How quickly babies turn to toddlers and toddlers into boys.
And possibly, even faster if those brothers of yours have anything to do with it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Scenes from a Weekend

I spent all of Sunday afternoon cleaning. Mainly my room because of all the spaces in this house it seems the most regularly neglected. And then, it looked so nice and I felt so refreshed that I decided to try and snap a few photos to share here because as much as I enjoy home interior posts, it's a wonder I never contribute any of my own.

So I tried.
But then the baby woke up and one by one the boys filtered in and before I knew it it looked just like it usually does. Scattered with random toy parts, and new drawings and unsightly kid things.
And, well, I gave up.

But it was nice while it lasted. Next time I guess I'll have to be a little quicker with the camera.

Here, two photos from my failed tour. The highlight being the postcard of William Burroughs pretending to stab Jack Kerouac that I've had framed since college.

The rest, I suppose will have to wait.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hayes & Maggie

Babies four and five for Anne and I. In matching blue and white knit sweaters with those adorable toothless grins. The golden age of infancy. Offering up new reflections of their personalities, of who will they ultimately will become but still content to sit and play by themselves for brief bouts in a sun-lit corner of the house with a basket full of toys, perfectly happy in your lap, just before they realize the power of those four limbs and set out to uncover all of the endless mysteries that await in unexplored quarters of their home.

Shane and Leon are the same age difference as Maggie and Hayes. Which means six years ago we shared the same long sober holiday seasons and complained about the same summer heat waves. And  now, with our expanded crews combined it can sometimes feel like a traveling circus show of screaming tantrumed toddlers, and dirty diaper explosions, and spontaneous fists flung and peed pants and non stop apologies because we are a notoriously loud and boisterous bunch. But the fact that we can sit and enjoy a beer together, trade movie recommendations or dinner recipes in the midst of all of it, in spite of the side long glances that come with taking a bunch like ours out in public, is still all the matters.

Be it evenings, afternoons, scattered hours throughout the years we will both be equally be thankful for.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Socks For Baby

On A particularly rough thursday morning, when nothing seems to be going your way and you're feeling like a full blown failure because you couldn't find a certain page in their home work packet when they needed to turn it in, or another boy's glasses (for the second day in a row) and you're on the phone with your sister who's in a real panic over the possibility of bed bugs having invaded her home, and you stumble upon your two youngest boys sitting quietly in one room, one singing, one cooing while the older is focused intently on getting socks on those two tiny feet because he thinks they might be cold, your heart starts to swell. In that single moment, that short sweet scene was all you needed to remind you of what you already know. That these days are tough, but fleeting. And that that baby, in his bright blue socks smiling lovingly up at his protective older brother, is all you will remember from  days like these anyway.

And the homework packet will work out. And the glasses will turn up. And the laundry will get done and the windows will be washed, and your sister will call you later to inform you of her relief in hearing that they are not in fact the dreaded bed bugs like she / we feared. And all will be right and somewhat ordely again, and tomorrow is just around the bend with the promise to take it a little easier on you, if you just take a breath, cease the moment, and believe in it.