Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Welcome Home


She grabbed my face between her soft hands and said, almost sternly, "Welcome Home."

Her exclamation summed up everything my heart felt. It had been so long since we had gone out to fly kites. It'd been forever since we laid with our backs on dewy evening grass and looked at the clouds pass. And here she was, laying stomach to stomach, face to face, pronouncing her little greeting, blessing and benediction.

Welcome Home.

In the last month, I've completely changed my daily life. I left my Fortune 500 company job as an Art Director to embrace the daily living that I'm meant to have now.

I felt like I had been living a double life-- deeply trying to find balance and rhythm in our home, but fighting for the illusiveness of time everywhere else. "Gotta do more, gotta be more" felt like a runaway train. So, I chose to disembark.

So here I am, barely a month of newness under my belt. I'm practicing healing. I'm embracing the life that is right here.

I'm choosing to reclaim wonder. I'm carefully putting my heart back together. Loving my husband and children, loving our little house and our rhythm.

I'll be here more often too. I feel like I've come home on so many levels.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Be a JOYfilled Mom!



This summer, I decided… my word would be participation. I would no longer be the mom on the sidelines.

There is so much JOY in participating! Pave your life in stones of DOING!

Throw being ‘cool’ or ‘refined’ out of your vocabulary.

Jump in pools with your kids.
Wear an Ironman mask and play light sabers in the front yard.
Throw water balloons and get really wet!
Go on a walk to pick up discarded sticks, bark and recycling for a fairy house.
Skip.
Jump.
Love.
Dance in the kitchen.
Stay up late and watch movies on the couch with your kids.

And go kiss your husband. IN PUBLIC!

I promise you.

Your life will feel a bit lighter, a bit brighter and you’ll be JOYful too!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In Defense of Solitude

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.11.00 AM

I sat in the grass, under the shade of a tree and breathed in and out. I tried to drop my stubborn shoulders, they have hovered near my earlobes for quite a while.

And I contemplated how I had ended up in this grass. On a beautiful day. With about 20 people I did not really know.

My spiritual director administrated a retreat for those who needed a day of solitude, prayer and direction. And I paid a small fee, hopped in a minivan with two friends from church and traveled one town over for the day. And I have a really hard time taking time to myself these days. But, divinely, I took the plunge and made time for the retreat.

In the morning, we had prayer time, a guided reading and then we were set loose on the retreat grounds to find a quiet spot for a few hours.


I was a bit apprehensive, I had no idea if I could sit in silence for 2 plus hours at a time, but here I was.

After a bit of silence, I felt myself drift away to this quiet, spellbound place--  as if the solitude itself was feeding my soul. Gently handing bits of bread and sips of wine.  It reminded me of the line in a Eucharistic prayer, "Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal."

The quiet was as satisfying as a cool drink after a hot day. A part of me that was bound up-- tied in knots slowly faded away as my pen struck the paper of my journal. And it was not all comfortable, but it was stretching and growing.

After a few sessions of solitude that day, I felt refreshed, whole and hungry for more time, more bits of bread, wine.

I am wondering how to get this type of solitude in my life without a formal retreat, without an entry fee and without driving to a venue a town or tow over for a lake view. How can I take this time in daily life?

So I started bit by bit. When I walk at night, I turn off my ipod and run towards the sunset.
I find a quiet spot with my journal on the front steps of my home. Even if it is just for a few minutes.

"Glaciers move in tides. So do mountains. So do all things." John Muir

Do you take time for solitude? Do you set aside time to be alone? What feeds your soul?

Love After Love
Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Prep Kitchen: Veggies and their Secrets



I was sitting in Kerry Young's kitchen when her husband, Neal, started prepping the Veggie Box. A simple + brilliant idea. We have single serving sized things in the fridge, but I never thought of easily accessible cut and washed veggies. Amazing, I am always learning from these two.

I've adopted the Veggie Box idea into our own weekend prep. And the carrots, celery, peppers or even shelled edemame are there and for snacking. I quickly rinse carrots before chopping or serving to bring back some luster and just-cut freshness. Or, I take a few seconds to dice them before plopping on salad greens.



Which brings me to salad greens. 

I have tried, unsuccessfully, to prep salads for a week, like I'd seen others do. The veggies got gross and slimey.

But I've been keeping iceberg lettuce heads fresh in a plastic bag with a paper towel or a microfiber washcloth for some years now (Thanks Grandma Eunice).


I thought maybe we could transfer that idea to chopped romaine. I chopped three heads of romaine lettuce and used a Tupperware container without the lid. I laid a microfiber towel directly on the chopped lettuce and then secured cling wrap with a rubber-band.


We were salad ready everyday this week. And even though, my beloved husband said, "we will never eat three heads of lettuce." We did. And it was glorious. The leaves are just a bit drier, but we make a vinaigrette most days so we didn't notice much. If you like super crunchy lettuce with your ranch dressing. Might want to cut up the iceberg. It looks silly, but it really works.

Do you have any kitchen prep ideas? I'd love to hear them!

Joining with This Week in My Kitchen.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gluten Free: Marsala Mushroom Cream Sauce


Not too long ago, I found myself standing in front of the fridge, like I do most nights, wondering what in the world I was going to make for dinner. I thought it would help if Lynne Rosetto Kasper showed up, at least we could play 'Stump the Cook' and I'd have a beautiful meal out of her other-worldly suggestions, but alas. It was just me and the few things I thought I could make into a meal.

On the immediate list the end of a bottle of cream, a few mushrooms needing to be used up, leftover steak... and I started turning my wheels. My mom used to make this really beautiful chicken Marsala-- so I grabbed a bottle of cooking wine and started assembling flavors. A bit of this an that. It turned out really well. And once the table was set, wine poured and the candles were lit, it seemed like my dinner dilemma was a far away memory.


Perhaps, you'd like to tuck this in your back pocket for an front-of-fridge emergency?

Marsala Mushroom Cream Sauce
1/4 onion diced fine
1 clove of garlic diced fine
2 carrots diced
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 of cooked steak
1/4 cup of Marsala cooking wine
1//2 cup of cream
1 Cup Chicken stock
5-10 Baby Bella mushrooms sliced
Sprinkle of Thyme
Sprinkle of Savory
Springle of Garlic Powder
As always, I started with a glug of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. I sauteed the onion and garlic until they were fragrant. Then add the carrots and stir until they are coated with oil. Salt. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock and wine. Then add the seasonings. Simmer about 10 to 15 minutes until thickened. Add cream and sliced mushrooms. Stir until combined. Cook gently about 5 minutes more. Add to pasta. We use gluten free.


Friday, May 30, 2014

All because of Origami: Adversity Breeds Hope





Isabel couldn't fold an origami crane last night and she got frustrated. Tears, big tears. Then she looked up a video on youtube and she couldn't hear what they were saying. More tears. And anger.

"Why don't you just do this for me?" She asked, choking on frustration.

"I don't want to take all the hard things from you, my job is to help you deal with the frustration as you figure out your own problems."

Last weekend, we were learning how to fish and the same type of issue. She is used to things coming easy for her, she's naturally coordinated-- in most things. It took her a long time to understand how to coordinate her hands to cast.

Folding an origami crane or casting out a fishing line are not true hardships like poverty, addiction or any of the world’s problems. But, making small steps in our own personal lives help us learn how to deal with larger issues.  Resolve to finish something you started is important. Knowing the depth of your intellect and the depth of your capabilities is important.

I want my kids to know that they are capable. That they can take care of themselves. And that they can finish a project, even if it is an origami crane.

"If one of my kids is struggling, it feels excruciating to let them go to school and figure it out for themselves. Hope is a function of struggle. People with the highest hopefulness have the knowledge that they can move through adversity. When we take adversity from our children, we diminish their capacity for hope." Brene Brown

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Rhythms, New Adventures


I do this every season don't I? I stop, look and listen.

And then we adjust our rhythm to fit the needs of now.


This new space, season is so different from the rest of our life changes because we took a leap. We tried to be brave and we took an opportunity that seemed like the hand of the divine was holding it out for us.


With our glorious friends, we bought a coffee shop. The coffee shop.


It became our joy and responsibility. And, for a bit there it took tons of energy and passion to get it up and going. But it was all out of love. And the passion and energy are still going.

This place, this coffee, this community, the deep conversations, the continuing connection-- it's what life is about.

So, if you've wondered where I've been. It's been here. A three house walk away from our own backyard.

Our beloved coffee shop is now a place we too call home... well you know, it kind always has been.


Friday, March 7, 2014

What's in Store for the Weekend: Home Style



When Isabel woke up this morning, she asked me what we had planned for tonight and I said, "nothing!"

"And in the morning?"

"Nothing"

"And on Sunday?"

"Nothing!"

It was quite unbelieveable to me too.





But we do have quite a few things planned. But they are all based out of our cozy little home.

We will probably have Sketchbook Saturday Morning, but we'll be around our own table. In our jammies.

I am going to make a few of these awesome and easy fabric baskets.

I will be watching a drawing class from the uber-talented Lisa Congdon.  

We'll walk to our local fair-trade store for some equal exchange coffee.

I'll be making wedding gifts for my little sister! So exciting.

A big pot of Abondigas soup, meatballs and veggies in a beautiful bone broth.

I'll be investigating fermenting Green Tea and Honey.

And I'll start this little project, small but smart knitting!

Isabel has been begging for carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Or maybe, a gluten free version of this is in order. 

Maybe, I'll finish reading the Perks of Being a Wallflower, I'm almost done!

I hope you have a happy weekend! I am sure we will!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Multicultural Children's Book Day: Josephine!


Isabel has been wearing an old hat of mine lately and offering to be my personal detective. She wrote her name on a piece of scratch paper in red crayon. It says, "Isabel- Detective" and every time I turn the corner, she asks me if I have a case for her to solve.


When the box came from Chronicle Books for Multicultural Children's Book Day, I asked her to open it. She promptly took the book, Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, out of the packaging and set out to read it, instead of eating her gluten free ramen.



The book set her on an investigation of her own. Asking questions like, "What is Segregation?" This book set us on an afternoon of talking about what life was like for Josephine and how it was different from Isabel's life. Josephine didn't have proper clothes to keep her warm, so she danced instead. She didn't have her own bed, she slept in one bed with her whole family. This conversation was priceless.


We love the illustrations by Christian Robinson, each page is a joy.  The whole book is written in a dance of it's own -- it holds a cadence from beginning to end.  Patricia Hruby Powell's retelling of Josephine's life captures a beautiful story of hardship to triumph, struggle, desire and hard work. Josephine reminds you do do what you love with your whole soul.

Thank you to Chronicle Books for sending us this lovely book, we will be donating it to our library so if you are local, you'll be able to read it too!


Do you want to see more Multicultural Children's Book Day reviews? Visit these lovely folks:

2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica · Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children's Book-a-Day Almanac · Children's Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son's Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gathering Books · GEO Librarian · Gladys Barbieri · Going in Circles · Growing Book by Book · iGame Mom · I’m Not The Nanny · InCulture Parent · Itsy Bitsy Mom ·Just Children’s Books- Kid World Citizen · Kristi’s Book Nook · Mama Lady Books · Mama Smiles · Mission Read · Mother Daughter Book Reviews · Mrs AOk · MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter · Ms. Yingling Reads · Multicultural Kids Blog · One Sweet World · Open Wide The World · P is for Preschooler · Rapenzel Dreams · School4Boys · Sharon the Librarian · Spanish Playground · Sprout's Bookshelf · Squishable Baby · Stanley and Katrina · Teach Mama · The Art of Home Education · The Brain Lair · The Educators' Spin On It · The Family-Ship Experience · The Yellow Door Paperie · This Kid Reviews Books · Trishap’s Books · Unconventional Librarian · Vicki Arnold · We3Three · World for Learning · Wrapped in Foil

Help us celebrate the joy and diversity of multicultural children’s books. Join us for a special day of reading and fun {January 27th} by clicking here!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Wintery Evening

On Thursday the 2nd the kids got home from their first day back at school after the holidays and we were all a bit antsy. I was so glad that I had prepped dinner the night before: quinoa cooked in chicken broth and pan drippings after we baked a chicken.

After work and school, we came home and popped dinner into the oven, rushed into our snow gear and headed out for our favorite trail.

We caught the last few minutes of sunshine, watched the sunset and then fade into a deep winter blue.







Izzo meditatively drew circles like an organic labyrinth into the crunchy snow. As we walked along she asked if we could have our own time on the trail. So the "ladies" are going to take a winter picnic out to the trail sometime this weekend. Even if it just is a thermos of hot chocolate and a quiet walk for the two of us.



We arrived home to the most delicious smell our simple dinner was welcoming to our freezing hands--quinoa with chicken, mushrooms and peas. And we finished our night with a sweet treat, gluten free oven s'mores. A gooey ending to a perfect evening.





Friday, January 3, 2014

Occupied

On Christmas day, I found all of us, busy with something that needed our attention.  I got a glimpse of our future and I think I like it.

Alone and focused, but very together.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

All is Calm, All is Bright


Every year, we choose a guiding theme for the upcoming year, usually I take the theme from a Christmas carol and use it on our Christmas card, but I try to keep it in the forefront of my mind as we live out our daily lives. 

For 2013, I chose All is Calm and All is Bright

It seemed fitting, because who doesn't want to be calm, quiet and full of light? 

Unbeknownst to me our guiding theme became my mantra as we passed through some of the darkest times of our family life and marriage. And claim those words as glorious truth through some of the most adventurous and beautiful times in our family life and marriage. 

I read recently though I can't remember where, that adversity gives birth to hope. Without struggling through adversity, you can be left with an unshakeable hopelessness. And though, I don't know about unshakeable hopelessness, I do know that our hard fought adversity has indeed given birth to hope. And more than that we are now thriving. 

We've learned a lot. Basically, practice radical honesty, ask for help when you need it, take a step back and seek out the good and the beautiful in life. Even if it seems like nothing is beautiful. Be on the watch for it, it will find you. 

And this all sounds trite and hocus-pocus, but looking back on this year, I wouldn't trade any ounce of it, because of the place we're in now.

And remarkably, as we enter 2014. We're entering it Calm & Bright.

So we chose for this years theme, Repeat the Sounding Joy.

Because, we could all use a joyful year to recuperate. (Hows that for honesty!?)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Quotable Sunday: Kindness


Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
Mother Theresa

Quotable Sundaya tradition started by Kyrie of Are So Happy and carried on with Kerry of Young Ones and Linnea of PeppermintAlley.

Friday, November 8, 2013

This Moment: On the Street Where You Live






A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Joining Soulemama

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