Thoughts on a Thursday | Welcoming September

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I feel like my blog has taken a back seat since jumping full gear into the cyber world and it has been this quiet little whisper in the back of my mind just hanging there… reminding me how much I have been slacking in the writing department. I hate that this is happening and my new resolution is to prevent it from happening again. As I begin this post, I do not have a clear direction, but my “Thoughts on a Thursday” never really begin with a set goal, it just kind of develops as I reflect and take a sort of writer’s mental health moment.

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As a teacher, we all know the saying that “August is just one long Sunday for every teacher” which is true. Don’t let any teacher tell you otherwise. Change is intimidating, even for the most experienced and strong-willed people out there. When you are in the education field you know that every year brings a fresh start, new challenges, new students, and a new opportunity to view your year and your students as a chance to always bring your best self to work each day. September can bring on that New Years resolution feel for teachers, it is an opportunity to begin again, an opportunity to reflect on the reasons why you chose this profession. For some unexplained reasons this feeling

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of renewal seems to get lost over time, and teachers begin to lose that fire, the one that burned so strongly in the first few years of teaching. You know what I mean, back during the time when you’re really in the trenches… developing every single worksheet, test, unit, attempting to align standards to each word that comes out of your mouth… living in your classroom… investing in things like “Cricuts”, downloading “Fonts”, and losing hours of your life on Pinterest.

 

No, something happens after a few years… you become nostalgic of how things “used to be…” over everything, literally everything from how the faculty rooms “used to have better ink…” to “only getting 56 days off this summer…” I mean, really?? Say that one outloud to a non teacher and good luck NOT getting slapped. It happens to almost every teacher which makes me wonder… do things really change like we perceive them to? Or is there something hidden in those first few years of a job that really make them so memorable? Or is it that rose-colored glasses effect. It’s like we forget about the sleepless nights, the hours of time and planning. If anything you would think teachers would like their jobs more over time as they are able to make simple tweaks and fine tune lessons that have already been labored over. But it doesn’t work that way. 925cd84c43665f1f195515d740955014--teacher-quotes-funny-inspirational-teacher-quotes

For many, myself included, the entrance of a child changes everything, possibly causing this mental shift in our attitude along with our priorities. Prior to having children, you take your students in as if they were your own, learning every possible avenue into those brains and pulling at every ounce of potential possible from them. You stay after, come in early, whatever it takes to get these children where they need to be in life. No exceptions.

Then you have a baby. And your world. Stops.

Suddenly you become consumed with Mom guilt (or Dad guilt) and you panic as the hours, minutes, and seconds tick away of your maternity leave to the inevitable moment you have to return to work and figure out life with work, a family, and that precious little baby that utterly consumes your life. Regardless of what a go-getter, career minded person you were before that little tiny person took over your soul, your life has forever changed.

Perhaps you are one of the lucky few who figured this out early on and capitalized on these precious years sooner rather than later, finding ways to get home with that sweet baby for those few years before they too are consumed by the schedule of school and extra organized events. Or maybe you were like so many of us who fought the good fight a little longer until that second little miracle showed up in our lives and just pushed the scales a little too far. I was one of those, trying to balance it all, ultimately crashing after our second little lady arrived.

Which leads me to this NEW sense of renewal. This school year is going to be a TRUE fresh start, a chance to be the best Mom, Wife, and Teacher yet. I am going to put my kids first, reach those hard to reach kids, and make meals that please picky toddlers and taste-bud-expert husbands (huuuge eye roll over that part…ugh). This is MY year, the year where I have finally found a way to balance Motherhood and teaching eliminating some of that “Mom Guilt” that has been weighing on me for the past 3 1/2 years of my life.

If you haven’t heard of  One Funny Mother, check out her recent video while shopping for pencils… Here.

I will NOT complain about “staring at a computer most of my day…” using it as an excuse for slacking on this blog, I WILL keep up, because there is no reason NOT to keep it up. So if there is something pulling you in a slump… or a goal you’ve been thinking about tackling… but keep playing the “I don’t have the time..” card, FIND A WAY. Mom life is the best life. Period. There is a coach out there who I keep promising that I am going to jump on board and let her help me get to my fitness goal that I know I can get to, if I just commit.

September is my month Maegan. It’s happening. Ps… if you’re looking for someone to motivate you in to accomplishing a goal, add this Queen of the Entrepreneural Hat on Facebook, she is literally eating, breathing, and sweating motivation. It’s unreal, and exactly what I need in my newsfeed on a daily basis. She is the epitome of setting goals and achieving them.

And to all of my teacher friends out there, just remember: We have the best job! We spend every day shaping and changing kids lives, doing something we love, sharing information we are passionate about and helping kids who need us. Who WOULDN’T love doing that?!

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BRING IT SEPTEMBER, I’m ready!

Cheers!

Whitney

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Home Office Reveal | Making the Most of Extra Space

Now that I have been working from home for about 3 weeks, I’ve really begun to settle in to this new lifestyle. I love everything about working from home. I miss several of my former co-workers turned best friends, but the pros certainly out weigh the cons in this life change decision list. I began to set up my home office months before actually “working in it,” ending up guessing what I might need, what I might use, and how the day would play out based on my previous experiences working in a brick and mortar setting.

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I can say I didn’t do a terrible job guessing in these areas; however, I did discover a few extra things that I would need to fix. It’s interesting looking back at my original blog post, Designing a Home Office and see what I’ve changed just since this first post. My office was functional, and it gave me a sense of segregated space, even though the only extra space we found for my base camp was in our bedroom. This has actually worked out to my benefit. For some reason, a master bedroom never receives the same tender love and care in the decorating department as the rest of the house. Perhaps it is because we focus on those areas of the home where we spend the most time. Prior to this job, I simply spent the 6-8 hours of sleeping time in this room. There is no television in our bedroom, nor is there any additional furniture to sit on or read at. Ironically, this empty space is a significantly large space, and for the first 3 years living in this house, has always felt like an incredibly wasted space.

Originally I had long-term plans of expanding the tiny old bathroom that the girls and I share to create more of a master bath, and utilize the extra barren space in our bedroom. Creating a base camp work space would also never have been an option with my husband’s former work schedule. He works in one of those industries where you’re always on call, make your money in the ridiculous amounts of over time, and basically get sleep when you can. Fortunately, the stars have aligned in our favor over the past year, shifting him to an office, and home each night for dinner. This shift also opened up new possibilities in regards to repurposing the space that has done nothing more than collect dust bunnies for several years.

Our bedroom has also been the home to the, and I quote my husband, “most expensive clothes hanger we ever purchased,” a.k.a. my treadmill. Yes. The two plus years of dust that this little piece of equipment has collected over my time of pregnancy, anti-work-out phases, and frankly overwhelmed and unmotivated months, has since been removed. This little gem hidden in the corner of the room, calling out to me for months and months, while I continue to tell myself that if I don’t make eye contact with it, we can continue to play the “it’s not there and I have no possible way to really work out whenever it’s cold”, game I’ve been playing for about a year and a half.

Yes, all of these things were about to change drastically. Because while I am in this room for a significant portion of my day, my extra time is no longer filled with rethinking classroom layouts or unit decorations, remembering where I might have placed the most recent stack of writing samples or any of those extra thoughts I filled my days with in the classroom. Nope, all of that is gone, and alarmingly quickly. I really believed this would be a difficult transition, that working from home would take some time and self-motivation to really get used to. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. This change, this shift back to the home, came so naturally, so easily, that I have spent the past three weeks wondering why I ever doubted this decision for even a second.

Every morning, I wake up about an hour before my family, get ready for the day, go downstairs with a solid 15 minutes to myself to organize bags that might need to go to the sitter, put stray dishes away that were left on the counter to dry, place random toys back where they belong, and just mentally wake up. Once my oldest daughter is awake, I sneak through the first bedroom where our youngest is still soundly asleep and share a few moments of peace and morning snuggles with this little lady who is growing up all too quickly. We then pick out her outfit and braid her hair (she’s in a “braid my hair like Elsa, Mommy!” phase) all before her sister wakes up. I then repeat this routine with our youngest, and the three of us head downstairs just as my husband has finished getting ready himself.

It’s so strange what a difference a simple shift to your morning routine can make in your entire day. Once everyone has shoes on, the four of us head out to the car, my husband now present and able to assist in loading kids and just like that, we are off to work and the sitter’s house. Just the fact that I am the one dressing my girls and doing their hair, has made all the difference in my day. I no longer lug sleeping children to the car at 5:45 in the morning, racing to get dressed and do my make up in 20 to 25 minutes just to avoid having to get up any earlier than I already have to.

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Upon my return to the house, I have 10 to 15 minutes free to make breakfast, a REAL breakfast each day. That has also drastically improved my mood, and focus throughout the day. After this has all be completed, I head up to my office with a fresh cup of coffee and log in to my “classroom.” During the first week I had a significant amount of down time listening to trainings and feeling my way through things, so I began to really multi-task, analyzing my surroundings and trying to determine how my office could become more complete, and less like a corner of a bedroom. I already invested in several great items making my life all the more easy, but I knew I would need a few more pieces and some items rearranged to feel complete.

And so, after all of my ramblings I present to you, our finished Home Office and Master Bedroom.

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To begin, the desk is a piece I purchased from Target about a year and a half ago, needing some space for all my clutter, bills, and whatever else crossed my path to land on, especially heading into my post-graduate work accruing my administrative paperwork. You can find that desk HERE for White Desk on Target’s website. God I love Target. The filing cabinet is just your basic black two drawer with additional top storage, and I’ve also given you that link HERE for Black Filing Cabinet.

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And then of course my favorite part. I am in love with pink hanging file folders! I hate the green, which I left in the photograph just so you could see the difference they make in a bright white crate. You can find these Pink and Gold Hanging Files HERE. They also have the same files in Black and Gold, along with a Grey Marble Hanging File Folder. The Marble would go great with the UBrands Marble Dry Erase Board with Gold Frame hanging above my desk. Of course no hanging file folder is complete without some motivational 3-tab white and gold folders.

Now, lets talk about this lamp pictured below. The Desk Task Lamp with Touch On/Off in white. This lamp is actually part of the infamous Pillowfort line Target has strategically designed to make Moms swoon and children indulge in magical room themes. I must admit I am totally sucked in by the creativity this line brings to both of my girls’ bedrooms.

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Going back up to the planner and pens, I have always utilized a desk calendar in the brick and mortar setting, and felt the need to continue this with a book planner than can be neatly tucked into my drawer, saving space on my desk top since I typically have two laptops running at all times. The AT-A-GLANCE WorkStyle Monthly planner was the perfect thin, planner that gave me the monthly view I needed and was accustomed to. Now those darling pink and purple pens you see, are perfect for the thin paper in this planner, as I typically write with Paper Mate Flair Marker Pens, and you can see from my pen organizer, I’m a junkie for them. But these Paper Mate Ink Joy Gels were a parting gift from a newly acquired work friend. They write so nicely, that I might just have a new favorite pen! And the best part, the actually write in pink and purple! (Can you say… #teacherproblems ?!)

And of course, my desk wouldn’t be complete without my better halves. From my new found best friends, to my lifelong best friend, to my work friend/mom/inspiration to be the best at whatever I strive for in life. Yes these mounted photographs give me the friendly faces I need, and the motivation to continue to work my hardest.

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams” – Dr. Seuss

That quote says it all. If you haven’t had the opportunity, I strongly recommend researching some of the information behind Dr. Seuss. What a brilliant man. I think I love this quote because it applies not only to my marriage and family, but now to my career as well. Such simple but powerful words. Finding a quote that reminds you daily how precious life really is, is so worth reading.

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Now, as we continue to travel around the room, I have added several new pieces to the space, because when you spend your entire day in a room, you want the whole thing to feel complete and pretty. At least, that’s what I need to function. Yes, yes, I am aware of my weird issues.

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Now I have to get very specific regarding our “night stands” because I was tricked once by this. The cubes you see in the night stands were purchased about a year ago, with the intention of using them in my cube shelves shared between my daughters rooms. One major problem: these cubes are not the same standard size as the Closet Maid Brand. These specific ones are Threshold Brand 4 Cub Organizer and are 13 inch cube spaces. Now the individual cube storage bins: I purchase two Fabric Cube Mint, turning one backwards so it was solely mint, and leaving one forward facing with the gold, mint, and coral pattern, and one Fabric Cube Coral.  I purchased a Threshold Brand 2 Cube Organizer to function as my husband’s night stand.

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On my night stand, I purchased this new lamp because the one I had before was the last remaining from one of those boxed “get every lamp for your house in one kit” sets we originally purchased for our very first dumpy apartment 8 years ago. While it held it’s own for a long time, the curvy silver base and tapered white shade really needed to exit the scene… like a few years ago. This sweet little Geometric Accent Lamp was also another excellent Target find, adding sense of warmth to the space. And the flowers were miscellaneous clippings from previous artificial blooms, and an older white vase, originally purchased at target, but no longer available so I have provided this link to a similar White Vase option.

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Our bedding is not a new purchase, but a re-organization of several other sets of bedding. I love when you can pull items from various placed around your house to create a new space. The Pinch Please Comforter Set from Threshold is by far my favorite comforter yet. It’s simple and can easily be updated through the various seasons by changing throw pillows and blankets, but ultimately keeping the same bed set. The current arrangement really pulls at the spring vibes with the hints of light minty blue in the Micromink Printed Blanket by Room Essentials and the soft mint throw pillows and ruffled white throw pillow for a little texture and character.

And of course, we cannot forget these Gallery Wrapped Canvas prints, hanging above the bed. I just love both of these photographers who have so meticulously documented milestones in our lives. Please take a moment to look at these stunning women’s portfolios and craft. Sonia Levy Photography, the photographer to the right of the sign, has documented our engagement, wedding, countless weddings of our bridal party members, the newborn session to both of our daughters our first family photoshoot, and our oldest daughters 6 month and 1 year photos. We will forever cherish these priceless moments she has captured in our lives.

 

And then of course, Vanessa Huey Photography, who began photographing photographing for us with our youngest daughter’s first day in the world, a follow-up updated family session after her birth, some gorgeous photographs of our oldest daughter in the snow, and then of course, the photo session that became the face of Shimmering Twig in it’s initial phase, our most recent family picture. Both of these women have given us irreplaceable gifts of time, art, and talent.

So here we are, 2,000 + words later and another completed room, in the on-going project I like to call my home. Please feel free to pin, share, and replicate anything you see here, because the best part about this digital world of inspiration is just that, inspiring each other to try new things, create new ideas, and refresh our lives whenever things get a little stale. Enjoy the week!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

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Saying Goodbye | Looking Forward

Yesterday could only be described as similar to watching my own funeral. It was so similar to family and friends coming in and out of a deceased  loved one’s home to pay their last respects. Between emotional hugs, heartfelt words, funny memories, letters from students, videos of my classes of students saying goodbye, and even disagreements put aside, I spent my final day in a district I have been teaching with for 5 years. I was surrounded with students I’ve been responsible for their entire high school career, only a few weeks left themselves before they too will leave the district and head out into the real world. It is an incredibly surreal experience when you realize how much a small community of people can feel more like a life long family. But what is even crazier is how you don’t realize it until you are saying goodbye. That school has been a massive part of my world for my entire professional teaching career. I have so much emotionally invested inside those brick walls, picturing day to day life without entering that building feels like an impossible task. Prior to this district, I worked part time at my local district, but that doesn’t compare to the day in and day out responsibilities, personal connections, and extras, you put forth without even realizing it.

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I think the part that was undeniably mind blowing was the fact that all of these people went above and beyond to describe the impact I had made on them personally or with students they worked with. It was utterly overwhelming. I have a stack of 32 cards sitting beside me with intimate details of friendship, inspiration, and well wishes that I can’t even begin to read yet. The wound is too fresh, my heart still broken. I have learned so much from this family, this community, about sacrifice, looking at the bigger picture, realizing what is truly important, developing life long friendships, realizing when you’ve misjudged and learning from those mistakes, brushing aside the nonsense and staying focused on why we are here, and understanding the difference a relationship built with a student can make.

I have had the privilege to teach around 230 students in my short 5 years teaching with the district. Within those students I have seen the potential, the growth, the failures, the accomplishments, the future, and most importantly, the hope. Each child held the promise for a better future. If we could give each child the skills to prepare them for the struggles in life, the heart aches, the knock-you-down moments, then they would be ok. It wasn’t until my second year though, that I realized most of these students have experienced more “real life” more “struggle” and more “knock-you-down” in the short fifteen years of their lives than I may ever see in my entire life. It was at this turning point that I realized, these kids will teach me as much, if not more, than I could ever teach them.

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I began to empathize with them, to remember that while they might be frustrated or lashing out, it isn’t necessarily at me, but may very well be the only moment they have in their day to release the stress and anxiety of a life dealt to them, that is unfair and at times even down right cruel. I began to stack all of my emotional eggs in these fragile baskets, risking heart break when a student slipped back into old habits, or was taken from me from poor decision making, but every heart ache was worth it, because these kids needed to know they mattered.

So with the tearful goodbyes and life long friendship that I will carry with me, I can look forward to this new adventure, this new role in my life. What does this new career look like? I will find out in a matter of 36 hours. To say I am nervous would be an understatement. I feel this crazy mixture of emotions from lingering heartbreak and loss, to the unsettled nerves of a first year teacher, to the excitement of the potential to be more actively involved in my own children’s lives.

I have a Mom goal in my mind: to be that Mom. The Mom who packs lunches every morning with little notes tucked inside. The Mom who is there and present every morning before school, and anxiously waiting after to hear about her children’s day. The Mom who can assist with PTA events because she wants the best for her children. The Mom other Moms call to pick up their children from school and run them to practices in the evenings, because I am the Mom who is available and ready for anything.

While those events may be down the road a bit, I know that road will come all too quickly. On my last drive to work yesterday, my oldest asked me, “Mommy, after today, can we be home with you more?” I have never had any conversations with her about my job changing, about working from home, or anything even remotely close to this. But here she was, perceptive as ever, picking up on the change, feeding from my emotions. I answered her with a simple, “Absolutely girls, Mommy is going to be home much more after today.” And with that simple little question, I had the energy to pull through what I knew was going to be an incredibly difficult day.

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My work better half, and best friend shared this quote last night, and while it completely broke every barrier I had built up to get through the day, it was so perfect, because it was how I truly felt about her in return.

So here we are, two months after announcing the change and publishing Career Shift in the aftermath of it all, ready to start this new adventure. Today I woke up willing to say goodbye to the past and prepared to only look forward. So thank you, each any every one of you, who have inspired me to be empathetic, to promote achievement, to put my family first, to have the confidence to make a shift when it is necessary, to value my skill set, to leave you even when you didn’t want me to, to strive for greatness even when it’s a completely different path than I started out towards, and to always be myself. Thank you for shaping me into who I am today.

Tomorrow is a new day, a new challenge, and a new adventure.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

Shimmering Twig | Hello Logo, Welcome Home

As a former artist, I fully understand the weight behind an image. At my current state, I’ve been monopolizing on my friend Vanessa’s beautiful photographs of our children to place a face to the name Shimmering Twig along with the initial inspiration photograph of those icy trees on my mountain commute to work.

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A particular website was recommended by my brother-in-law who is, as far as I am concerned, the last word in design. He is  the most creative artist I have ever met. His mind works in such unique ways and the products he produces are unreal. When I was planning our wedding, I went straight to him with a few inspirations for invitations, programs, etc. He took our wedding theme and turned those ideas into personalized, beautiful pieces of art. So when I first began to toss around the idea of giving Shimmering Twig a logo, I immediately ran the idea by him looking for guidance on how to approach the task.

He recommended the website Logo Tournament and briefly explained how it worked. It’s a website where you hold a competition to have designers come up with ideas for your logo, rank them, provide feedback, and ultimately choose your favorite design at the end. This was such a fun concept!

Once I began the contest, I was allotted 4 days of a blind phase where designers would submit ideas, I believe I ended up with 40 designs during the initial phase. I then chose my top 5 designers at that point, and they were given an additional 2 days to fine tune their submissions, requesting input, and tweaking designs to meet Shimmering Twig’s needs. By the end of the first day in the finalist round I already knew which design I wanted. This particular designer was in contact with me immediately, continuing to improve her design even during the blind phase. Janis Aydelette was somehow able to capture my style and ideas for Shimmering Twig right of the bat. But she didn’t stop at just the initial design, she continued to revise and improve until finally, going above and beyond my expectations in the first few hours of the finalist days.

And so, it is with extreme excitement that I present you with Shimmering Twig’s new logo:

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Today I will be replacing it on all of my social media pages: FacebookPinterest, Instagram. Check them out! Cheers and have a great weekend!

  • Whitney

What’s in a Name: The Story behind Shimmering Twig

Each day children are born. For months before the birth of a child parents agonize over the name they will give this little human they have yet to even meet. Who will he or she be? What personality traits will each parent contribute? Will they be a carefree wild child who should be named something strong and bold like the personality driving them? Or will they be an observer, sitting peacefully taking in this immense world surrounding them. Should a child be named after a kind soul with ancestral significance? Will this child be carrying on a traditional name? We spent months trying to name our second daughter, not even knowing whether we were having a boy or girl. We developed two hypothetical names, and neither felt right until we saw her. Our first daughter was much easier. Why you might ask? Perhaps it was because we knew the gender, so that bond began to develop before we held her. We were able to use pronouns which made it more personal. Regardless, the moment our second daughter was born we just knew, her name just fit her personally.

It was about a year ago. I was driving to work, about a forty five to fifty minute commute one direction, on a two hour delay. I had just recently returned to work from my second maternity leave, so I was feeling a bit overwhelmed leaving my babies, returning to work, and to add fuel to fire, I had just started my Special Education Supervision Internship. Never a dull moment in this Mama’s life. With all of that going on, the fact that my husband was a devout Oil field employee, who spent an extensive amount of time working away, or working ridiculously long shifts, leaving at all hours of the day, left me feeling a little like an incredibly over-whelmed and over-worked mother of two. But the days continued to pass by, eventually turning to months.

Returning back to that chilly morning in February, I had been using the commute rolling through every possible career move that could get me back with my babies with more time at home, panicking over the workload I had taken on, and wondering, like all mothers do, if every decision I had made in my career was wrong. As I might have mentioned, I am currently a teacher, so you can see how the hormones were adding to my melodramatic thought process. Teachers have a sweet maternal gig. 7:30 to 2:50, only working week days, guaranteed to have EVERY holiday off, not to mention the crazy huge elephant in the room, summers off with my little darlings. But on that chilly February morning, it was hard to keep all of that in perspective as I was headed towards a work that was keeping my from my babies, adding extra stress and fuel to that maternal fire was the work load of an internship, and the projects looming over my head to boot. It was only my fourth year teaching and I had already taken one maternity leave two years prior, so I did not have much time to build up days off for the second maternity leave. I took the majority of my time without pay, so I was basically finishing out the year to break even.

With a new baby, a newly two year old, a husband working away, and a remaining 5 months of working to pay the costs to go to work, along with completing an internship, there was no question where my stress was coming from. Do not get me wrong, I love my job, love what I do and love the kids I work with. I have made some lifelong friends at my job and couldn’t imagine my days without those select people supporting me and motivating me to be the best teacher possible. But at that point in my life, all I could focus on was keeping my head above water.

And so it was on one of those chilly commutes that I was admiring the freshly fallen snow as I crested the mountain top on my way to work. Snow is remarkably beautiful as the sun is rising. There is something so majestic about entangled tree branches encased in heavy snow as it transforms to a glistening crystal sheet of ice. In my former years when I identified myself as an artist, I had this fascination with trees, with their complexity, depth, structure, and uniqueness. No tree was identical, like no snowflake has ever been repeated. I had been tossing around the idea of blogging, or more so, creating a site about event planning. My dream job was always to plan events, parties, weddings, making every detail perfect down to the tiniest features. But the former artist in me was thinking beyond events, and continued to fixate on those shimmering trees lining my commute. It was on this sunny, freezing morning that the shimmering twigs and branches of the trees embedded themselves into my mind. The name seemed to sparkle at me like those branches. What I would do with it, I wasn’t quite sure, but I knew I must file that name. At some point I would know exactly what Shimmering Twig was supposed to be. But for now, it was just a perfect, beautiful name.

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Fast forward one year later and Shimmering Twig was still lingering, but the research and faint knowledge of the potential of blogging was fresh. The two seemed to fit so well together, but I was afraid. I kept thinking, “What if no one cares what I have to say?” or “What if I’m mistaken as a know-it-all?” and even still, “What if I am viewed as just ‘another wanna-be blogger’?” But the truth is, I know none of those things are true. I love the advice, and stories I read from other bloggers. When my sister and I were stumbling through the first few years of Gluten Free life, The Gluten Free Girl saved us. She was real, and raw, and funny, and human. I want to be human and share my story. Maybe someone else is out there and just needs that “wow I can relate to this” kind of story.

So here we are, 4 posts later and I have a blog. It’s new, it’s small, but it’s mine. And I’m so grateful for the viewers I have, and will continue to share my story, while continuing to read and support the many blogs that gave me the courage to step out and try something new.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

The First FOOD Post

So, I took the plunge and started a blog. Now, one could really over analyze the direction to take when writing the first real post. Introductions flow easily, as long as you speak honestly and portray your values. But the first post after an introduction speaks volumes. Will you be edgy? Will you be new-age-mom-on-steroids? Or will you throw it back old school with a family favorite recipe or a tried and true craft? I will be none of these things today. I started this to share my life, to present valuable information that real people can use, particularly those who have small children and just want to do it all.

That being said, my life left me off work on this Monday in the very sunny, yet chilly month of February. My childcare was sick, and my back-up child care was on deck to finish out the remainder of the week helping me out; therefore, leaving me home with the little ladies today. We are feeling the small milestones today. My eldest daughter took the plunge last night deeper into the world of “Big Girl” as she left her beloved Binkie out for the binkie fairy to take away. My husband and I have scoured the internet on the Best Approach or the Traumatic Repercussions that could follow when taking a security blanket. The majority of the articles all recommended taking the bink around 18-24 months; however, during that time in my child’s life she received a new baby sister. I was NOT taking her precious bink from her at that point in her life. Once we survived the adjustment period, I continued to find reasons to keep her little, hanging on to that small connection to my baby. But the reality is, I have a three year old. A three year old with the mental comprehension and processing of a five or six year old. She has aged well beyond her years, and as much as I hated to admit it, the bink was not going to prevent this.

So last night, in a moment of courage, I offered the option of (brace yourself for the bribery about to come next…) skipping her bink tonight since it was breaking (also due to a slit I had cut in it earlier) to try and be a big girl. If she was able to complete this big girl step, we would go to the store and pick out a new Paw Patrol pup and vehicle for her massive Paw Patroller (a story for another time). She willingly took me up on my offer. As we negotiated this, her father walked in to scoop up one of the little ladies from the bath and assist in the jammy process, hearing our conversation. He then increased the deal to throwing the bink away for not just one, but three Paw Patrol friends in the morning. She was ecstatic!

Our little lady then proceeded to complete the night time routine and lay down for bed. Approximately 45 seconds after leaving the girls for the evening, the tears began to flow, or so we thought. We painstakingly watched on the monitor, reassured, muted the sound, reassured again, with little prevail. It was then that I went in with some verbal force, and discovered, not a single REAL TEAR on her cheek. She was re-tucked in one last time, reminded of the reward waiting for her in the morning, and not a single peep came from her for the next eleven hours.

Returning back to today, my day off with my little ladies and my first FOOD post. I was feeling very proud of my sweet “Big Girl” and loving the unexpected day home, so I began to explore my immense list of “lets try that someday” recipes, when I came across a simple but homey-feel recipe compliments of Betty Crocker and all of her efforts to make Gluten Free products that feel normal, and delicious. I settled in on a Gluten Free Pot-Pie recipe. (link in the article.)

The recipe was simple, yet homemade with the assistance of quality textures to trick even the most gluten-free suspicious of eaters. It took me about 20 minutes to prepare (it would have been less had it not been for the darling little 16 month old who has identified herself as the next great chef).

potpieOh Betty, you’ve done it this time! This recipe was not only a hit for myself and my husband, but has also won the heart of not just the three year old, but the incredibly picky 16 month old! She gives it a gold stamp of approval!

The recipe is simple starting with melting butter and cooking one onion diced up until soft, then adding in frozen vegetables (every budget lover’s dream), gluten free chicken stock, a rotisserie chicken from the store diced up,  and a touch of thyme.

After bringing to a boil, add in milk mixed with cornstarch and continue to cook until the mixture returns to a boil. Pour the thickened mixture into a two-quart casserole dish.

Mix the Gluten Free Bisquick, milk, egg, and melted butter together and spoon the topping on the top carefully. Here is where I made a change. I love topping on recipes, like love it to the point where I forget there is anything but the topping. I did 1.5 of the Bisquick recipe Betty recommends and it was perfect!

I then tossed that beautiful little casserole into the preheated oven set to 350 degrees for 30 minutes. And like all suzie-homemakers, the recipe came out of the oven a whopping 7 minutes before the husband walked through the door! (Disclaimer: this NEVER happens in my life, so I’m going to relish in it while I can)

So as you can see, my first post is not a designer recipe, created from scratch by myself or the culinary expertise of my sister, (which if your lucky I might share one or two of those with you later on) No, it is a simple REAL meal, in a REAL life. And let me tell you, it was REAL delish.

Cheers!

Gluten-Free Hearty Chicken Pot Pie

(As present on Betty Crocker’s website)

Ingredients

2
tablespoons butter or margarine
1
medium onion, chopped
1
bag (12 oz) frozen mixed vegetables
1 1/2
cups cut-up cooked chicken
1 3/4
cups Progresso™ chicken broth
1
teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2
teaspoon dried thyme
3/4
cup milk
3
tablespoons cornstarch

Topping

3/4
cup Bisquick™ Gluten Free mix
1/2
cup milk
1
egg
2
tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1
tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  • 1 Heat oven to 350ºF. In 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in vegetables, chicken, chicken broth, salt and thyme; heat to boiling. In small bowl, mix 3/4 cup milk and the cornstarch with wire whisk until smooth; stir into chicken mixture. Heat just to boiling. Pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole.
  • 2 In small bowl, stir all topping ingredients except parsley with fork until blended. Drop topping mixture by small spoonfuls over chicken mixture. Sprinkle with parsley.
  • 3 Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of topping comes out clean.

Welcome to Shimmering Twig

Hello! My name is Whitney and I am the average mother in her early thirties trying to feel her way through balancing a career, a family, a creative side, and a never ending need to decorate, redecorate, and decorate again! The latter I am sure my husband would vouch for. In a former life I was labeled an artist, but higher powers had a different plan for me. My Bachelors degree in Art Education turned into a Master’s degree in Special Education and I found myself consumed in education plans, modifications, students who needed someone in their life that was constant and secure, and a newfound love for education I was unable to acquire in the art realm.

I married my high school sweetheart after we both had the opportunity to find exactly where we fit in this crazy world, adding more truth to the statement, “if it’s meant to be, it will be.” I am forever grateful for this man who supports, and challenges me every day. Together we have two beautiful daughters a three year old who never ceases to amaze us with her intelligence and wit, and a one year old, who also feels she is three with all the sas and spunk you could squeeze in that tiny little body.

I dabble in cooking, creating and all things crafty, particularly focusing in the gluten-free recipes. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease at 16, and my sister followed suit 4 years later with the same diagnosis just after turning 30. She then went on to pursue a career in the culinary field studying and specializing in all types of dietary restrictions including but not limited to Gluten-Free. I tell you this as a disclaimer as I in no way shape or form identify myself as a culinary expertise. I have just become fond of cooking, particularly baking delicious gluten free recipes. Recipes I plan to share with you in future posts. There is nothing more frustrating than attending a party and not being able to divulge in the tempting desserts, or intricately decorated cookies. Gluten-Free CAN BE beautiful and I stress this with the most importance. I am now feeding two sweet little ladies in the same dietary restrictions and will share my tried and true tricks with little ones, along with the quality information always given to me by my well-versed sister.

I have found that I LOVE planning events, coordinating details to make a special day perfect down to the final details. I will share my themes, and the resources I have found though the ingenious invention of Etsy independent shops, particularly my favorite shops. Planning, creating and sharing ideas are some of the reasons I feel we as mothers, educators, adults, creators, and any other hat we may wear find a community of knowledge on the world wide web so welcoming. So I hope you will join me as I share this crazy little life I have nestled in the rural areas of Western Pennsylvania.

Cheers!

  • Whitney