finding silence


Oh. Hello.

Here I am, after a long silence. Many times I said I was going to be back. Life is complicated, what can I say?

As my dear wise friend The Bird says, “Sometimes things have to fall apart so they can be rebuilt in a new and better way.” Or something like that.

I felt I had to be quiet for a while to find my voice again.

Let me explain: I am a lover of Pinterest. As a visual person, it is my favorite place to go for visual inspiration. I love seeing what others are up to. What others are making, cooking, spinning, and knitting.

The Internet can be a wonderful place.  I love it. I really, really do. It hasn’t replaced my love of the library, but it’s close.

But honestly, I’ve wondered if I have anything new to add to the conversation. It’s all out there, and seeing the same content over and over is frustrating.

And when I hear women making self-deprecating remarks about how their lives aren’t pin-worthy, it makes me sad.

Like, really, really sad.

I don’t want to make anyone feel bad. I have always tried to live my life for myself, and not worry about the judgement of others, whether it be good or bad. I’m here to live authentically. How many times did I hear my mother say, “Do what makes YOU happy.”

This blog is me. But it’s not all of me. Sure, I have days where I lose my cool with my kids. There are days when the dishes pile up, I spend more time on discipline than homeschool, and I generally question my sanity when it comes to this whole homeschool thing.  There are days when my house looks like a tornado went through it. Sometimes, days pass before I realize I haven’t had a moment to myself.

I am not perfect; I have bad habits and bad days.

But this space is for me to remember. To make those few golden moments memorable. So I don’t forget.

And I give you permission to do the same.

Let us begin: focus on one beautiful moment. The way the dust floats on a beam of light. The way your children are playing together happily for hours without fighting. The beautiful thing that you created with your own hands. The gloriously simple and comforting pot of soup you made for dinner. The joy of putting your feet up after a hard day and reading a great book. The smell of your sweet (not-so-little) baby. The perfect peach you bought at the grocery store. Those moments are there. We have only to realize that our lives are beautiful in ways we never imagined.

My word of the year this year? JOY.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do….And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson






I am trying to find the words to describe how I feel about these dolls. But let me start by saying there is a beautiful story that goes along with them.

A dear friend of mine suffered an unthinkable loss recently. The day the terrible tragedy happened, I could hardly sit still. I was overwhelmed with an unsettled feeling that would not go away. Heartbroken and shaken, I knew that the only thing that would bring me peace is working with my hands. Sometimes that might be cooking. Or cleaning. Or creating something. I needed to do something to help, when I felt completely powerless to do anything else.

My thought was that I would make two dolls, auction them off, and send the proceeds to the family.

And so I began making these dolls. Days later, as a testament to the amazing community that I live in, one of our own stepped up and decided to throw a fundraising benefit in the family’s honor. I volunteered to complete to dolls, to be sold in the silent auction.

I managed to pull it off, with a weekend of crunch-time at the end. And I am so pleased with the result. The blond doll absolutely stole my heart. Secretly, I wanted to keep her, but I knew that I wouldn’t. And I kept thinking to myself that her name was Lisa. No idea why, she just looks like a Lisa to me.

The Girl helped me choose fabrics for the dresses. It was hard for her to see me making dolls that, for the first time, were not going to her. And while I wasn’t able to give her the gift of a new doll, I was able to show her that when someone is hurting or in need of help, all we can do is what we do best. No matter what that that is.

The day of the fundraiser came, and we were a little late getting there. Before we left the house, I received a text message that the blond doll had already sold. The midwife who “caught” my first born (who has since become a close friend of mine) was at the fundraiser, and had asked for a “buy it now” option on the doll. And she bought it outright, for more than its estimated value.

I am over the moon thrilled that the doll went to her, for her own daughter. And thrilled that we were both able to help our friend in the process. The other doll went to another friend of mine–the organizer of the fundraiser.  Altogether, both dolls raised over $200, proving that truly, love conquers all.



on forty, and a perfect dinner


FORTY. I didn’t freak out in the way I did when I turned thirty. I feel so good and confident in my skin that I know forty can’t be all that bad.

I threw myself a fabulous birthday party (more on that later), and I did some thinking. Thinking about what I want from this next decade. Now that I’m out of my thirties, I am glad to leave all that hard work of having babies and very young children behind me. I feel more confident about myself, what I want and where I want to be.

One of the small goals I made for myself was to simply savor life more. To put more enjoyment in the simple things. To perfect the fine art of Living. To find joy in the simple things.

I’m trying to look at summer with a new sense of enjoyment. It is my least favorite season and ironically the longest down here in the South. Believe me, the irony of this is not lost on me. I tend to get pretty bad cabin fever because I can’t bear the intense heat and humidity along with the insects that come along with it.

With things being so topsy-turvy in my life for the past year, things have been decidedly not joyful. But I don’t know if it’s the beginning of a new decade, saying good-bye to a very difficult year, or just simply the passage of time, I’m feeling at least more optimistic about the future. Why shouldn’t I be? My life is awesome.

The first place I decided to start with my new inspiration is in eating. I’ve got to do it so much that it may as well become enjoyable again. There’s a little more space in my life to allow me to get in the kitchen and cook something beautiful and delicious simply because I want to.

Since The Daddy Monkey and I haven’t been out alone in almost a year, I decided its time to start date night dinners again. Years ago,  I used to cook up a fancy dinner for The Daddy Monkey and I to enjoy after the kids went to bed.  But it sort of fell apart a few years ago, and I’ve been missing it. So I decided to start it back up again, and last night we had the most amazing meal. I’ve been playing around with the concept of serving meals in courses, and it’s been fun to think of meals in a new way.


roasted artichokes with lemon, garlic and grass-fed Irish butter

le plat principal:

rack of lamb with dijon mustard and herbed breadcrumbs

parmesan garlic mashed potatoes


locally grown red bibb and romaine salad with apple cider vinaigrette

le fromage et le dessert:

goat’s yogurt cheese drizzled with dark chocolate sauce and fresh organic strawberries


Blason de Bourgogne 2010 Pinot Noir Bourgogne

It was perfection! What a glorious way to spend a Saturday night with the person you love!



winter nature table 2013

Even though it is not feeling very spring-like, I’m clearing the nature table in anticipation for spring.

Whenever she decides to arrive.

circle of life

No sooner had I written that last post, than my grandmother passed away. I don’t usually like to talk about such personal things in this space, but I feel so compelled to do something.

Grief. It has hovered over my home so much in the last year, I can hardly breathe from its heavy burden. It sneaks up on you when you are brushing your teeth or reading a story to the children. And having two young children around, I can’t really pause for a breath. I love them and I want them around, but they don’t get it.  So we go on.

And on.

That’s surely what my grandmother did. She saw love, loss, pain, joy and peace in her 84 years. I can only imagine how much of it she had in a home with a husband and five children.

I’m coming up on my 40th year here on this planet, and while I don’t consider myself exactly an expert, there is one thing I have learned: life goes on.

Whether you want it to or not.

So I go on. One foot in front of the other. One breath at a time.

She was a crochet-er, my grandmother. She kept her hands busy.  Making afghans for family members and new babies.  Even though I’m a knitter, I’ve always felt a connection to her through our love of yarn.

How ironic that I started a new baby sweater on the day she passed. Some dear friends are expecting their first, and I am knitting the baby boy a sweater. To keep my hands busy and to welcome new life.  As Elizabeth Zimmerman says in her book Knitting Without Tears, “Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crisis.”

 Grandma would have been pleased.

gentle transformations

If this blog were a journal, I’d be buying a new Moleskine.

I used to beat myself up for not finishing journals. And then I realized that sometimes, I just outgrow them. That sometimes, I was not the same person who had started the journal and that I just needed a fresh start.

I’ve been quiet in this space lately, but not in my head. I’ve got plenty to say, but I don’t know where to begin. I’m feeling a transformation. I’m freshening up my home (new paint), freshening up my thinking, and hopefully freshening up this space.  And why not? It’s Spring!

So here’s to new beginnings.

new year’s celebration 2013, and the word of the year

We are not much for partying on New Year’s Eve. Even in our younger days, we preferred to spend a quiet evening at home. While trying to instill a sense of the passage of time with the kids, I thought it might be fun to mark the occasion with a celebration. Since the winter solstice zipped past us with little fanfare, I decided to do our usual advent spiral on New Year’s instead. A spiral walk is a powerful experience any time of the year, why not one to mark a new year?!

I took down our holiday tree, and The Daddy took it outside and removed all the branches from it. I simply laid the branches in a spiral pattern and The Girl and I decorated it with pretty leaves, glitter and glass beads. A tree stump placed in the middle served as a resting spot for our apple candles.

We talked a bit about what it means to set an intention, as a way to mindfully accomplish a personal goal. I’m not much of a believer in New Year’s resolutions, but the idea of setting an intention for the year is something that resonates with me.  So I chose my Word of the Year as “GROW.” The Girl chose “LOVE.” and The Boy chose “FOCUS.” All really great intentions!

We took turns walking the spiral slowly and mindfully, setting our candles on the stump as we reached the center. When we were finished, we had a nice fire with sparklers, s’mores, champagne, and music. The kids even felt inspired to compose poetry on the spot!


It was a perfect, enchanting evening. Happy New Year!


the girl turns 5

For years, I’ve been keeping my children’s birthday parties sweet and simple, and that’s worked for us. However, when The Boy turned four, I threw him a huge “Knights and Princesses” party, complete with handmade tunics and princess hats, a dragon pinata, and nearly every person (adults and children alike) in full costume. It was loads of fun, and after getting a new baby sister, I felt he deserved it.

With The Girl having her birthday right after the chaos of the holidays, it always sneaks up on me. No matter how many times I tell myself to get ready for it beforehand, I never seem to get it together. So with only a few weeks to plan, I decided that it was time for The Girl to have a big, super-blowout party. Since she loves all things fairy, I decided upon an “Enchanted Forest” theme. To prepare, I made magic wands  with this tutorial, (and I forgot to take pictures of them!) and felt masks for all the kids, using this template.

We found an old box of feather masks, and with some fairy wings from the dollar store, our costume station was complete. Each child was then able to make their own costume once they arrived.

We made bubble wands (tutorial here).


One of our guests even came with his magic kit and performed a show for us!

We had a tree-stump cake, with five rings of course!

The kids searched for fairy treasure in the yard.

And for the adults there was great conversation, bubbly drinks, and music making.

It truly was an enchanted party.


a visit from st. nick

St. Nicholas paid us a visit last night!

Each year I share Christine Natale’s stories of St. Nicholas in the days leading up to the festival. This year, The Boy remembered quite well each story, and the lesson in each. The yearly rhythm of festivals resonates deeply within him–a fact that brings me great joy, and reminds me why I do this year after year.

And even though St. Nicholas brings many of the same things each year: a tangerine, a golden nut, chocolate coins, and a crystal, he also has a few tricks up his sleeve.

This year he also brought each child a Lego minifigure and a new paintbrush. For my budding artist, he brought a set of Lyra chalks.  For my fantastic reader (new to chapter books), he brought a copy of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (a favorite of ours).

And apparently St. Nicholas did really well in putting not only a few crystals in each shoe, but also a piece of amber, which was a big hit.

I find that around the holidays, when things can tend to get hectic, that the children and I can relax into the familiarity of the festival and really savor and appreciate these special moments. In the midst of the commercialism of the holidays, it’s nice to impart a little bit of humility and tradition into our celebrating.

(You can see 2010 here, and 2011 here.)


love stones

Back when we were preparing for our Paris trip, I made these stones for the kids. It was to be the longest we had been away from each other, and I was a bit concerned about them getting homesick or missing Mom and Dad.

I simply took two lovely smooth stones and painted on them with a paint pen. Then I found each child individually and took them away for some one-on-one time.  I presented the stone and said something along the lines of, “While we’re apart, we might miss each other, so let’s fill this stone with our love for each other. Let’s hold the stone and hug each other, filling the stone with our love.” We then packed the stone in their backpack to bring along to Grandma and Grandpa’s.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much each of them loved this idea.

Turns out that they didn’t miss us terribly, but I like the think the stones gave them a bit of comfort. And I have seen them around from time to time since we arrived back home.

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