Amaro e Dolce

Life, unfiltered


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Working from home

Before I deleted facebook, I had a few different people ask me for recommendations regarding working from home. You see, even without kids around, working from home is a bit more challenging than it sounds.

If you’ve ever tried it, you know what I’m talking about. The temptations abound. “I’ve got to send this email, but first let me do the dishes…” three hours later you realize, “oh shit! I forgot about…”

Many people will tell you how great working from home is, but once you dive deeper, they admit that the lines between personal space and work space start to blur after awhile.  Knowing this, and having taken the opportunity to work from home whilst working for “the man” at previous jobs, this is what I found worked for me:

Establish a work space. Currently I work from my kitchen, but until I could focus, I worked from our office area. Both my husband and I found that putting the desk against a wall with minimal decor has been helpful because it provides enough visual interest without visual distraction. I recommend finding a place in your home that also has the right amount of (or absence of) noise. I can’t work in dead silence or extremely loud spaces. I eventually moved in to my kitchen space because I get the noise from our AC unit, which is just the right amount of even, quiet noise.

Establish a schedule. Since I only work part-time, I set reminders in my phone to do things like check in on projects at a certain time every day. This way I know generally when I need to feed myself and the kiddos. It’s also forced  me into a routine with the girls, which is always a good thing. I also have a general schedule for when I do stuff around the house vs. work.

Make a list. I keep physical lists of things I need to do for work, home and myself. I keep these lists right next to my computer because this is how I’ve always worked and it works for me. Other people integrate their lists on their phones or computers. I happen to like the satisfaction of crossing things off. It helps me understand how much I have left to do in a week, and how much I’ve accomplished.

Establish a break area. This is something I always advocate for – no matter where you work or how much you work. El Hombre has put a lot of love into our patios, and when I need to take a minute or two for myself, I hop outside for a deep breath of fresh air and sunshine. Even if I’m not working that day and the girls are fussy, I find myself taking a break outside. It’s never a bad thing to refresh your mind sometimes.

Set boundaries. If you work from home, your lines tend to blur between work life and personal life. Unlike an office, you never really leave so you find yourself checking emails, etc. at all hours. Make a commitment to get your work done within a given period of time and then “clock out.”


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Minimalism

When we got pregnant, we quickly realized that we needed to divest ourselves of a bunch of stuff. You see, with no plans to move, we had to convert El Hombre’s office/man cave/storage to a nursery. I vividly recall the satisfaction of a cleaner living space, so as the year progresses, I’ve vowed to slowly reduce the amount of things I own.

I’ve discovered that I tend to hang on to clothes and makeup so that was the first thing I groomed. Out goes old exercise clothes, freebie shirts and general things I haven’t worn. In stays well-made, classic pieces.

Next month I’ll go through accessories and shoes. With less stuff junking up my space, the easier it is to put outfits together!


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Oh hi there

What’s going on? I’m sure you’re trying to cram all the last-minute stuff in before the holidays, much like the rest of us. I admit, this year the holidays seemed especially daunting. Not only do we have two babies to contend with, but for the first time I’m staying put and my family is coming to me.

Some part of me is a bit bummed that I’m not making the jaunt up to South Carolina, but I’m mostly relieved. The thought of trudging through the airport (or driving 12 hours) with two teething babies in the midst of a growth spurt made me want to gnash my teeth with anxiety. I’ll happily deal with the logistics of driving stuff from one place to the other.

As the holidays get closer, we’ve made the following decisions regarding gifts:

No gifts for the girls as they are way too young and have enough toys and clothes. Besides, right now they get excited to play with granola bar wrappers and spatulas.

My siblings and I have decided to not give gifts to each other. Our gifts are that none of us has to spend time or money.

Our gifts are all in the family grab bag. Everyone brings one wrapped gift per round. It’s always a hoot and I’m pretty amused by our gifts. It’s our family tradition and it’s definitely my favorite.

I hope you all have a merry Christmas (if you celebrate). I’ll see you all after the new year!IMG_1497.JPG


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Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving eve and we are headed to the Keys tomorrow. It’s our first road trip with Z&E and who knows how this will go. Hopefully well.

As I’m pulling things together I’ve been reflecting on the things I’m grateful for. Thanksgiving is a good reminder to remember these things, but truthfully I think about these things all the time – especially since a few months back my brother started a weekly family “grateful” text. But I digress from my point.  These are the things swirling about in my head that I’m grateful for:

My family. From my husband who’s an absolute rock star of a partner and a great father, to my little minions. And of course my parents, siblings, grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws who are so supportive and positive. I couldn’t imagine having any better of a support system. I’m also thrilled to see my family continuing to grow with cousins also having babies.

My friends. Seriously, I have the best friends. These people never fail to make me laugh and are always there for me or to pull me out of the house when I’ve become too much of a hermit.

My opportunities. From my part-time work-from-home gig to being able to stay home with Z&E, I feel like doors just keep opening. It’s a lot to balance and sometimes gets overwhelming, but staying home with our girls is so important to both of us. And working for myself has always been one of my goals. Now if only we can get El Hombre out from behind a desk and also contracting… but it’s in the works.

My (now paid-off) student loans. Weird, I know. But hear me out. If I hadn’t been saddled with near-crippling student loan debt then I would have had a lot harder time prioritizing my finances right now. Sometimes eating dirt (or ramen) is what you need to do. It’s a lot easier to forego the things I don’t need in order to make memories I do want because I’ve done it for so long. I’m also grateful that I’ve paid off all my debt and saved money before these girls came along.

My renewed creativity. Admittedly I’ve not been writing so much lately. But I’ve been feeling the flow with my cooking, home and bits of work. But mainly in my cooking. And who doesn’t love a home-cooked meal and a full belly?

Naps. Without them I would have never finished this post. Or anything else in my life. Like the mountains of laundry that I’m also doing.


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Hello silence

There is nothing more luxurious than the sound of silence. Everyone is asleep except for me and Lola. I’m fighting the urge to bang around in the kitchen because then I have to clean. (I’m really into making cookies right now. Who doesn’t like cookies?)

Speaking of silence, I’ve made the decision to start reducing the digital noise in my life. I’ve started with deleting my Facebook app, which means I’m only checking it every few days or so. And you know what? I don’t miss it. It’s very similar to when we cut cable – most of the anger and rage of the every day world has disappeared. No longer am I stumbling across headlines screaming atrocities, written by one party or the other and only loosely based in facts. No longer am I seeing the world portrayed as a hateful place.

I’d blame all this on the election, but truthfully it’s only the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back. Rather than socializing, I’ve found many of my connections are surrounding themselves with like-minded people and supporting their views with memes, or articles that are based on bias and written months or years ago. That’s just not what I need. And from what I can see, it only creates more of a divide.

Honestly, I’d delete most of my social profiles if it wasn’t for my freelance work. But when the gleeful rage hit it’s fever pitch last Wednesday I shut down my computer and went outside. I spent an afternoon in the park with my friend and our babies and you know what? It was much, much more peaceful and interesting than any social media interaction I could have had.


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Things I never thought I’d say

After 5 months of Z & E, I’ve found myself uttering phrases I never thought I’d say. For those of you who wonder what it’s like to have multiples, here are some of those things:

Please don’t vomit on my face.

Don’t chew on your sister’s head. No, don’t chew on her elbow. OK fine, chew on her arm. 

Why are you chewing on my face?

Please don’t vomit on your sister’s face.

Please don’t punch each other in the face.

Thank you for blowing spit bubbles in my eyes. Yes I know it’s funny. Thank you

Seriously though, these girls are funny. They are very interactive with each other and they love to make each other laugh. Zoey loves making funny faces (that she learned from us) at Emma, and they love to hold hands and talk to each other. It’s interesting to watch this bond grow.

Most importantly, now they take naps. Which means I get quiet time!

 

 


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Agua de coco y limón 

We are not known for seasons here in Miami, not unless you count rainy season and hurricane season. I’ve found that I measure our seasons by whether it drops below 90. 

Because it’s so hot, I find myself eschewing my beloved fall stews and soups for more crisp, summery things and today is no different. 

I woke up today feeling rested (thank you babies for finally sleeping through the night!) and I was struck with inspiration when I opened my fridge this morning. A day or so ago, I stumbled across this recipe on Instagram and it reminded me that I had this at the Miami Flea while I was pregnant.

You see, I had just opened a can of coconut milk for another recipe, and it happened to be sitting next to the last two lemons from my tree. So I threw them together in my vitamix and it was love at first sip. 

This can be made with either lemons or limes, but I prefer lemons. I used less coconut milk than what Deb called for because I didn’t have that much left, but I also only had two lemons. 


I highly recommend playing with your portions, but this was my impromptu recipe:

1 cup of ice

1/2 cup, full fat coconut milk (stirred)

Juice of 2 Meyers lemons

3-4 tablespoons, granulated sugar.

Add ingredients in the order above to your blender and blend to your preferred consistency. I use a vitamix and start on 1 and slowly go up to 4.

Pour and enjoy. Add a good rum to make it more adult. 

This will make a tart, slightly sweet and smooth drink for 2.