Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Little Things

My mornings begin with a tiny gesture, a small offering left on the table outside our bedroom: a mug of hot coffee.

This sounds weird, I know.

Lately, my mornings have been beginning earlier than I would have ever contemplated. I'm not an early bird by any stretch. Too early, I even feel slightly ill. But I have learned to take my opportunities where I can these days, and early mornings can belong to me. Before little man, I would get up, not too early mind you, and wake up slowly, reading the interwebs, all the blogs, news, while slowly sipping my coffee and rejoining the world again. I haven't had that for a while. Quite a while. And I kind of miss a little morning time to myself. So, when my husband gets up for work, I get up too. Kind of, since I don't actually get out of bed.

That makes me sound lazy, that I stay there. But W. has usually wormed his way in by that point, snugged down between us. I know there are many opinions on this, but for us, it works. He wakes often, trapped against the side of his crib, unable to turn over to the left due to his weaknesses on one side of his body. It has to be scary, to awaken in the dark, alone, unable to move. During the day, he compensates for this. He's like an acrobat really, for all his limited mobility. He has ingeniously devised his own system of movement, graceful and effective. But, eventually, he winds up with us. Sleep is important, any way that you can get it. Yet that means in the mornings I am tethered, as I have not managed to move him back to his bed without waking him. He always knows.

So I use this time instead, that I am awake and he is asleep. The room slowly grows brighter and sunnier, following that pre-dawn grayness, tinged with pinks and yellows. There is usually some book or another next to me.  I hear a slight clink as my husband sets a coffee down on the table outside our room. Sometimes I hear him quietly making his way down the hall, before the clink. Other times I hear nothing until I hear the sound of the front door closing as he leaves. Those mornings I slip out from under the covers, bare feet on the cool wooden floors, everything cool now really, these early spring mornings, and open the door just a crack and spot my gift right there, waiting for me. I tiptoe back, making sure not to wake W. and plan and read and dream and yes, read the internet too, while I wait for him to wake.

It's kind of like a secret, but not.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Getting Hygge With It

There is something intrinsically so appealing about the Danish/Nordic lifestyle, the feeling of coziness that they call hygge. As an American, I feel that I can disappear into my endless to-do list, which gets longer everyday. My son has cerebral palsy, and we are running to therapy four days a week. We have at least one specialist doctors appointment a month. And that is of course in addition to all of the rest of our everyday things we have to do, that everyone does. Pay bills, grocery shop, clean, work if we work, go to school, all these things. Where do we find time to indulge our own selves, to take care of our own souls? It's a rabbit hole for sure. The answer is that we need to find time, make time, just let stuff go a little bit, and enjoy the moments before they are gone.

This is something I have been reminding myself for a week or two now, since reading a few books on the subject, and looking at Pinterest and YouTube.

It's the food that is drawing me in right now. I used to love spending time in the kitchen, making soup and baking while dancing around drinking a glass of red wine. Now, I feel like food has a different focus. W. is not a great eater. We have to practically stand on our heads to get him to eat, and we always need to add more fat to his food, just to increase calories. His CP also causes him to lose weight easier, as someone with CP actually uses 30% more energy than someone who doesn't. Last week though, I began to relax a little about food. I would get so stressed about it ~ and I honestly think my stress and anxiety about W. eating was affecting him. The past two weeks he has been eating like a champ. Perhaps it is the food, as I am spending more time making food - and not with medical instructions on my mind, but love. Care. The instinct to feed those that I love good food is very strong in me, and I think by burying that part of myself somewhat, it was reflected in the food I was making, and thereby perhaps extending itself to my boy. I could be crazy, but I do believe that it could happen. We have been enjoying pancakes, muffins, and I plan to make homemade pop tarts tomorrow. I have made lemony salmon, quinoa with avocado and a squeeze of lemon, meatballs for the boy, and he has eaten them all with relish. I've used fun plates, my china, and some dishes made by hand by my mother-in-law on her potters wheel, making the meal even more special. (W. does not eat off the fine china however, lol)

And if I end the night with a glass of wine and a Reese's peanut butter egg, then so be it. By letting myself enjoy the process, I think that W. is enjoying the product. I even had some fun with an ordinary peanut butter and jelly the other day, cutting it into a whale shape when serving it with his all time favorite Goldfish crackers.

The weather lately has also been amazing, and we have been taking advantage of it as much as we can, and in a hygge sort of way. Soaking up nature, the sun, the wind. Walking through the woods, even just sitting and enjoying a few minutes on the porch.

The night though has always captivated my little 2 year old. He is fascinated by it. On some of these nicer nights, we have gone and stood outside, looking up at the dark sky, lit here only by a few stars but still, beautiful, twinkly. He laughs, a real laugh, which rings through the quiet as he throws his arms skyward. A perfect moment, for this mom.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Enchantment of Plants

The room is cozy, with cushy overstuffed furniture, warm colors that invite you to stay, an eclectic clutter that draws the eyes seeking out all the hidden treasures - a ceramic bird here, a treasured book there, an oversized ceramic mug that would fit perfectly in your hands. But that isn't the magic, although it is evident that magic does live there. The magic is found hanging around the room, the bright splashes of green, alive and vibrant. Ferns, with their feathery soft leaves; succulents that are waxy and shine, plants that I can't hope to identify or recognize adorn the room with their vitality, giving the room and the house and the inhabitants a feeling of enchantment.

When I was little girl, my mom took me to visit one of her friends. We lived in the Detroit suburbs, a landscape of factory houses that sprang up in the 1950s, cookie cutter homes, with their postage stamp sized yards and chain link fences, not there is anything wrong with this landscape, but where we went was not like a place I had been. It seemed charmed and slightly wild, out in the country, a house made of wood and glass and plants and macrame (it was the late 70s). It was earthy, funky, homey. 

Recently I was reminded of this house, that feeling. My friend and I were talking about how a mutual friend of ours house had this same feeling, this feeling of comfort, peace. The feeling that we were tucked away in some enchanted glen, and we tried to put our fingers on just where that magical spirit came from. The plants, the people, the design, the decor, where and how can we gather this magic for ourselves, light up our own house, touch that piece of our soul. We decided that the enchantment sprang from the kingdom of plants strewn about the house, willy nilly. 

So in my quest to replicate this warm, cozy, wildness, this feeling of a wonderland, I made a few new plant friends. I read that plants do better when you name them and talk to them, so I did that too. I have to say I am pretty happy with my new plants, although I haven't quite achieved the level of magic that I am hoping for. I think part of me is yearning for springtime, and the sprouting of new life, for the blossoms to emerge like white snow on our apple tree, for the roses to bloom, for the flowers to burst to the surface. For now, I will be content with my three indoor houseplants - Old Ironsides, who lives in my dining room, Charlotte with her pink striped green leaves, and Seamoss ~ like Seamus, but "moss" instead of "mus", because well, Irish moss, who currently hangs in our shower. My little seedlings have sprouted too - it always brings a smile to my face to see them in the morning, bright green against the grayness that is outside these days. One day they will be bunny tail grass and chives, but for now they are just bright green babies in my kitchen.

I have spring in my soul these days, green bursting, waiting for the sunshine. I can't wait to get outside and start planting. I also have a great plan for a sensory garden for the boy I can't wait to get started on!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Badger Badger Badger

Somehow, we are a house obsessed with badgers. 

Well. I do know where it came from. Our little guy has cerebral palsy, and fights some every day tough battles. He is tenacious, relentless, determined. Tough. But seriously the sweetest kid you will ever meet. He loves snuggles and kisses and hugs and cuddles too. But he has a fighting spirit that has him doing so well in his four times a week therapies. 

I also do this "thing" where I imagine what spirit animal my family members would be if they were animals. Long story. Little man is a total badger. But a good one, not a grouchy one. 

Billy had read recently that stuffed animals are great for children and their development. That they offer an impartial ear, someone to commiserate with, play with. We decided the perfect little friend for our badger, was of course, a badger.

I found this one and fell in love:

This is Hugo, made by the artist Lesne on Etsy. He flew here all the way from Poland to be with W. He was destined to be a Christmas surprise...

then I got nervous that he wouldn't arrive in time, and found this guy, and ordered him too...

So we now have two stuffed badger friends for the boy. I call them his collection of International Badgers, as Edgar is from England.

Around the same time, I found this.

Because every boy needs a badger cardigan. (I got it from Mini-Boden at Nordstrom) We get so many compliments on it!

And now we are in love with badgers. We have added two books to our collection, and are on the lookout for more fun badgery things!


What about you? Any quirky collections or treasured items?

And if you know of any badgers, let me know!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Milk, Cookies, and Cake Please! Birthday Party Time!

Our big timer is two years old now! Time really does fly ~ I never believed it when people would tell me that once you have kids, time goes by so quickly, but it is very true. It seems like just yesterday he was a wee tiny baby, and now here he is, two!

I was also excited because I felt like this was the last birthday I really could plan out on my own lol. Is that terrible? I have so many ideas for kids parties ~ but I am sure Wyatt will have his own opinion on things like theme. This time though, I had fun with a cookies and milk theme. 

When you look online, there are so many different ways to do this party, from elaborate to very simple. I went for a more simple version, I am kind of minimalist about things these days, but I am very happy with how it turned out!

 I bought a few dozen cookies, including whichever birthday cake flavored cookies were on the shelf, and had my husband put them on the cake stands provided by my stepmother. She has a million, thanks to an obsession with the Great British Bake Off. (one which I share!)

We had gone to Target the night before the party, and just picked up a few things. A few little decorative party hats, the cookies, festive birthday themed paper products, individual Horizon milks, flavored milk straws, and individual bags of Chips Ahoy, the latter two for the gift bags for the kids. I had decided I didn't want to go too crazy with the milk and cookies theme, so I did a mixture of birthday with the cookies and milk, so it was more of a birthday party that included cookies and milk than a milk and cookies themed party, but everyone seemed to be happy about it, especially the kids. And seriously if you haven't had a Birthday Cake Fudge Stripe cookie, I highly recommend them. And so does my two year old.

I let him play with that elastic for about one second, which resulted in some quickly dried tears. Better than an injury though! The treat bags all had those personalized mason cup jars, with blue and white straws, which I picked up on Etsy from the store Mason Jar Party. I just thought they were so cute, and such a good price! You get a personalized set of 10 for just $19.99, and they are even BPA free! I just loved them.

I love this photo, since the angle makes it look like the cake is ten times bigger than the boy. It was a huge cake, but not bigger than a toddler. Lol. It was seriously delicious. We ordered it from a nearby bakery, a real one, named Sorella's, and they did a fantastic job. It was chocolate chip cookie themed, with chocolate chip batter, with Bavarian creme in between each layer. It was three layers of deliciousness! Bravo Sorella's! I have to say, I contacted a few bakeries regarding a cake, and two I never heard back from one and one outright ignored me when I went into the actual bakery. Sorella's not only did a fabulous job, they also provided the friendliest service ever. They worked really hard to give us what we wanted, and they succeeded. They have a customer for life now!

Everyone had such a good time ~ the kids had a blast playing with their milk mustaches that my mother in law made for them, and just being kids in general. They came up with the craziest pretend games, imagining themselves to be unicorns, complete with a "unicorn horn" on their heads, made from what they found around the house and blue painters tape from a drawer. I love when kids play like that! The adults relaxed for the most part, munching on cookies, cake, pizza, and bread sticks. (If you are ever in Tecumseh you need to get Basil Boy's bread sticks!) Wyatt was completely tuckered out by the end of the party, having had such a good time with his family. 

Which was exactly what I had wanted for him!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Bringing the Outdoors, In - OAC, Detroit

The DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit was designed to bring "up north" to Detroit, and it really captures the spirit of being outside, while teaching about the natural resources and treasures that can be found in our state. We had been wanting to visit for a while, and we decided it would be a fun little excursion for our family to celebrate Wyatt's second birthday. 

As you walk through the OAC, you are introduced to all the different natural resources and landscapes that make up the state of Michigan - water, sand, forest, flora, fauna. I didn't take photos of everything, but you get to "explore" the watery world of the Great Lakes and Michigan's rivers, complete with a simulated kayaking ride and simulated fishing,  stand in a giant yurt and learn about the many camping opportunities that abound here, stand behind a giant waterfall, explore a mine (Detroit has huge salt mines), learn about the sand dunes, and duck into a beaver dam exhibit. The waterfall was a big hit with Wyatt, as was the aquarium. The waterfall was my favorite part too.

The second floor gave kids the opportunity to stand in a giant duck blind, a prop airplane, and learn about different natural resources, including maple syrup! There was also a nice display about Citizen Science, which I thought was really cool. When we were walking around there was a small school group visiting, so we couldn't get too close to some of the exhibits, but they seemed to center on hunting, which I was fine with skipping. So was Wyatt, who was just a little freaked out by the taxidermied animals ~ including Smokey.

After exploring the upstairs, we headed back down and hung out in the play area, which included a giant tree that kids could "climb" to the second floor, and a slide. It was really neat, for a bit older kid than my guy. We enjoyed hanging out around the faux campfire in the Michigan shaped Adirondack chairs though. 

The fee for entry was only $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for kids two and up, and is a great place to take kids, especially in the cold blah of winter. We left having learned a few new things, and inspired to take a possible small camping trip this summer, which I feel might turn into staying in a cabin near wilderness, rather than in a tent, but close enough for now, right? It was also a nice reminder of the natural treasures that make up Michigan. If you are ever in the area, I recommend popping in for an hour or two! We had a great time. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Maple Sugar Saturday

Growing up, I was a huge Little House on the Prairie fangirl. Not the show, but the books. (Little secret, I still reread them every year.) One of my favorite parts in Little House in the Big Woods is the Sugar Snow, when the whole family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, all get together and tap the trees for the sap to make maple syrup. There is snow and dancing and frivolity, and of course, fresh maple syrup served on top of fresh fallen snow. I have actually never tried that but I am sure back then it was a delicious treat. 

Our local Metropark system has maple sugaring events every year, and every year we miss them. I was bound and determined to get to one this year, and so Saturday morning, amidst snow flurries, we were over the river and through the woods to Oakwoods Metropark by the start of the program. One of our favorite interpreters was leading the event, which was cool, and when we got there, we learned we were the only people signed up for the early program. So our little family had our very own  private lesson.

Just our little badger boy enjoying the day out. 

We learned so much! A few quick facts that I thought were interesting:

  • It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. 
  • Maple trees have opposite branches, not alternating branches.
  • You can make maple syrup from Black Walnut trees, although it will be a little more bitter.
  • It actually isn't a very complicated process; in fact, it is something you can do in your own backyard if you have a maple tree.
  • A grove of maple trees is called a sugarbush. 

Unfortunately, maple syrup production is at risk right now due to the springlike weather we have been having. It needs to be cold at night but warm during the day for the sap to flow. The cold temps cause the sugar content to rise, and with these warmer days, the syrup may turn bitter in flavor. I don't know about you, but I much prefer real maple syrup to the manufactured versions. I can put up with a few more weeks of winter in order to have that delicious caramel taste of real maple syrup.

We also heard two very different Native American origin stories regarding maple syrup, as maple syrup was a staple of the Native American diet in this area. If you are interested, here is a link to the Ojibway legend of maple syrup. 

The program was about an hour long, and although we were the only ones there, Kevin did not hurry or skip any part of the program. Billy and I both found it very informative, and inspiring actually. We dream of homesteading one day, and maple syrup collection would be a fun addition to that dream. Overall, we had a great time, and ended up staying and sitting by the fire for a bit chatting. It was a nice way to start a day.

We learned so much more than I have related here, but I encourage you to check out a program if you have one near you. 

If you are in southeast Michigan, the Huron-Clinton metroparks seem to be doing a few more events. For more information on Michigan's maple syrup industry, you can check out this page.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Date Night at The Republic Tavern

It's been eons since my husband Billy and I have gone out on a proper dinner date. One where we got to encounter new foods, new sounds, a new experience and really, to spend time with each other just the two of us. 

This building is way cool, which is not depicted in this photo. Lol. The restaurant is in the Grand Army of the Republic Building in Detroit, and it looks castle-like.  Republic  is a scratch kitchen, meaning they make everything from scratch. They also locally source as much as they can, which is pretty darn awesome. Since it is locally sourced, it is also seasonal.   

The restaurant was packed, as I had anticipated. Luckily, Republic takes reservations, something I am finding that less and less restaurants do. I love reservations, especially now that I am a parent. I don't have the luxury of waiting for a table anymore. My time is limited, so when I go out to eat, I want to know I can go in and get a table. So yay Republic! 

The crowd was a little older, maybe late thirties and up, except for at the bar, which seemed to hit all age ranges. The hum of conversation was perfect - not so loud you had to shout, but not so quiet that you felt weird talking at a normal volume. 

The drink menu had a few good wines and beer listed, as well as handmade specialty cocktails. They also offered a whiskey flight, which intrigued my husband, but he settled on a draft beer instead. I ordered a glass of Biutiful Malbec, and we settled back to peruse the menu. The waitress told us that the menu was designed for us to pick and choose and share, and that the food is served family style. It is also served as it is made, and is brought out as it is done.  This wasn't a problem for us, as we weren't ordering very much, but I am curious as to how that works in a bigger group or with different food. 

We started with the Ploughman's Platter, which was amazing. Black pepper bread, pub cheese, a sharp cheddar, venison salami, pickled celery, actual pickles, and some sort of smoky tasting jam. I didn't care for the jam, it was like eating a bonfire, and I don't eat meat, but the rest was so good. I could have eaten that pub cheese all night. The pickled celery was also amazeballs. 

We skipped the Greens section of the menu and went straight to the entrees, or Pasture, as they called it.

I had the whole smoked trout, with aioli, nuts, and veggies. I knew to expect a head, since it said "whole" right in the description but I still couldn't look at it. My husband and our awesome waitress discreetly took care of it for me. I thought the trout was very good, especially with the sauce. No complaints, but I also wouldn't go wild over it. 

My husband on the other hand, did go crazy over his. He ordered the Pork Steak, which was charred, and served with herbed jam, paneer, cherries and apple. It also had bacon with it. 

I think it is safe to say that he enjoyed it. 

We had also enjoyed a few drinks each by this point, so my photos get a little worse from here! But don't worry, there is only one!

For dessert we split the lavender lemon crumble, which was seriously the best part of the meal. It was tiny but delicious, a bijou jewel on the crown of the dinner. It was shortbread crumble, lavender and honey ice cream, with lemon curd. Oy. It tasted of summer and spring all at once. 

We had such a fabulous time, and laughed like lunatics, and just in general, had a blast. We don't normally splurge on ourselves much anymore, and it was so nice to do so with my guy. Overall, I highly recommend Republic to anyone who is interested in craft dining. They bill themselves as American Rustic, and I would agree that that is their style. If you are a vegetarian, it is maybe not the best option for a night out, but would be perfect for a nightcap and dessert, maybe after visiting the Opera House which is just across the way a bit.

I love all these restaurant options in Detroit these days. We haven't been to the city for dinner for a while (try two years!), so we are behind on all the spots, but we are having fun discovering them!!  Detroit's food game is en pointe these days!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Easy-Peasy DIY Valentines Day Banner

February in Michigan can be tough. Gray, sunless, gray, cold. Did I mention gray? Michigan only had two days of sunshine in the past thirty days. So this year, I decided I was going to try to embrace February to make it a cheerier month in our household. I usually don't decorate for Valentines Day - typically I am not organized enough, and it has come and gone before I can do so! But this year, with the help of my amazing husband, we have managed to decorate in a very bijou and petite way. And that is a good start, I think! 

I have tons of ideas, I am always thinking of different projects. Unfortunately, my creative flow kind of ends there. I am all thumbs when it comes to crafting, I can't draw, etc. Luckily, Billy can make anything. Today, he lent a hand in making a sweet little Valentines Day banner for our dining room. And I love it! 

The materials were simple, and cheap. A romance novel we rescued from the recycle bin at the library, that was already falling apart, and which my husband meticulously removed the pages from, sticker paper, twine, and a printer. Ordinarily I would not support this destruction of reading material, but honestly, this book was already falling apart. Billy then cut the pages into the little banner shapes, and folded over a teeny bit of the top of the page, so that he could run a line of twine through it to hang them. He just used some tape afterward to hold it all down.  He had also printed out stickers spelling out Hugs and Kisses, using a free font that he found online, which he then just stuck onto the pages. I would link to the website of the font if he could remember where he got it from! As soon as I find out, I will add a link. 

Once this part was all put together, he strung them and hung it. 


I think it turned out pretty cute!

Due to the absence of light in our state, it was really hard to take a photo! Sorry for the poor photo quality there. 

I have a few more Valentines Day surprises in the works, and I am excited to keep working on them!

How are you celebrating this month? Anything planned? 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Coffee Talk : Scrambled Eggs

We had been running around all day, getting things done, taking care of business. After a very full day, we were done in - and Billy and I still had yet to eat dinner. We had fed the little guy earlier knowing our day was going to be nuts, but it was 8:30 pm and we still needed to eat. Neither of us felt like fast food, but we also didn't feel like making an actual dinner. As usual, we went to our fallback - scrambled eggs. Billy cracked the eggs into the frying pan, while I assembled the tortillas, warming them up. This was a place we had been before - many times, in fact. The pitch black sky outside, the slight chill in the house, the quiet as we worked side by side, making our humble dinner together.

Our son spent 6 weeks in the NICU after he was born. I would get there early in the morning, Billy would join me after work, and we would stay until the nurses told us to please go home and get some rest. Our hospital didn't allow parents to sleep near the isolettes and their children, which tore at my heart, so we needed to leave if we were going to sleep. We would get home around 9 or 9:30, and every single night for 6 weeks, Billy and I ate scrambled eggs for dinner. At the time, we were just feeding our bodies to keep going. 45 days of scrambled eggs on tortillas, with a sprinkling of cheese.

My whole self remembered this as clearly as if it were happening all over again, when we made that dinner the other night. A late dinner, working quietly together - but this time our son slept just a few feet away in his bedroom. A world of difference, this time.

It's funny how clearly a meal can bring back a memory. Proust had his madeleines. We all have our madeleines, really. Tea is another instant time machine.  Hot black tea, with a splash of milk and a tsp of sugar. Aromatic, sweet, comforting as the mug warms your hands. The sound of the kettle whistling on the stovetop, the clink of the spoon as it hits the side of the mug when I use it to stir, that in itself is like a warm blanket. This is the drink of my family. As a Scottish-Irish family, we drink a lot of tea. I am pretty sure I had my first “sip” when I was little, around 3, which was mostly milk, less tea. We are a family of tea drinkers.  My husband believes we have no feeling in our mouths, as we can start drinking it immediately, no cooling time needed. When we are blue, troubled, worried, angry, sick, celebrating, we can sit down and have a cup of tea. I remember being little, and getting sick and my mom making me tea and toast. Coming in from playing in the snow and having tea. Spending the night at my grandma’s or my aunt’s, and in the morning, splitting a pot of tea. Spilling our woes or our successes over tea. “Would you like a cup of tea?” might be the most uttered question in our family. We end holiday celebrations, usually all quietly sitting around drinking our tea, and talking. I drink tea as I read, as I relax, when I do homework. I have it with breakfast, in the evening, with dessert, with toast, or on its own. It is a constant companion, and has been my whole life. I remember one time I got into an argument with my husband before I was married, and my mother came up to us, and very sweetly said, “Let’s all go have a cup of tea”, because in our family, this is how we solve problems. With tea.

Rice pudding reminds me of steamy kitchens in the middle of winter. Coconut tarts and empire biscuits transport me to all the Christmas days of my life. And now, scrambled eggs will forever remind me of those first 45 days of my child's life, when my husband and I bedraggled, weary, worried, ate scrambled eggs together every night.

What about you? Is there something that resonates with you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Feet in the Snow, Heart Dreaming of Gardens

I always wait for the snow in January to begin planning my garden. For years, this meant gathering my catalogs, shucking on my winter gear, and braving the snow-covered roads to meet my uncle for coffee, doughnuts, and conversation about what we were going to plant this year. He recently hung up his shovel and rake,  passed on his secrets and some gardening tools to me, and is enjoying retirement from the garden. After a lifetime of some eighty years, tilling the earth, planting the seeds, and tending the small new plants as they grow, he deserves to be able to sit back now and just let others do the dirty work. 

Last night it snowed. I woke up to a winter wonderland, the kind that dreams are born of. This time though, I have my coffee and my cats while my little son sleeps warm and snug in his bedroom. Instead of catalogs, I am armed with my Pinterest board

This year, I am whittling down my garden a tad, which seems contrary to my goal of seeing my own food chain and practicing some self-sufficiency. I am trying to however, be realistic, and grow what I need, with maybe a little extra. I don't think that this year I can start many of my own seeds. I also want to make good choices, and utilize all that I grow. I already have talks of a family and friend veggie co-op in the works to trade extra harvests and possibly even homemade food items, like canned veggies, dehydrated fruit, jams, and bread. This year, I want to be more mindful of what I am planting, and why, instead of being the kid in the candy shop who wants it all.

So this year, I am keeping it more simple. 
Herbs for sure. Potatoes, butternut squash that runs the length of our fence line and down the alley of our neighborhood, and the neighbors can keep what grows on their fences. Pumpkins. Peanuts. Kale for my little second cousins' bunnies. Sugar snap peas, because I love them. Cucumber, and a salad garden. Green beans on a trellis. A few tomato plants because no matter how hard I try I can't grow a decent tomato. Garlic and chives, because chives look so pretty and purple fluffy. Carrots grown alone, in fine dirt that allows them to grow big and strong. And flowers - lots of flowers. 

I want a bench added this year too. One where my uncle can sit, holding my son, and enjoying the warmth of the summer sun. 

If I close my eyes, I can picture it perfectly.

How about you? Any plans for gardens in your future?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

It's Freezing!

Oh Michigan, it is definitely winter now. Temps below zero or hovering right above are keeping this little family in the house!

We have been spared thus far though the more severe winter weather that other parts of the country are experiencing however. Not sure how that happened but comparatively, it could be worse! Usually on cold days I am so industrious, bustling about, making bread, or baking something in the oven, or cleaning and organizing places in the house that I usually bypass due to time constraints. Today though, I am being a bit lazy. A little bit dreamy. I want to woolgather in my wooly socks. I want to huddle under blankets with my family and books and multiple cups of tea and coffee and hot chocolate. It is a cold that has made me snuggly.

This year, a year I plan on being more mindful and paying more attention to my own inner needs, I am going to go with that feeling.

If I want to blog and not clean up the last of the detritus from Christmas, I will.

If I want to play around on Pinterest, without planning on making anything from it, I will.

If I want to sit around in my yoga pants and super warm cabin socks, drinking from my fat round belly mug, I will.

And yeah, there are the things I will need to do. Like entertain my almost two year old when he gets up from his nap. Feed him. Feed me. Feed my husband. The husband actually made us all a breakfast of delicious French toast this morning, so I will reciprocate with dinner. I am thinking soup, but then in the winter, I pretty much always think soup, it's my favorite food group. Tonight I foresee a bubbling pot of tortellini white bean soup on the stove, with a loaf of crusty bread unmade by me, and perhaps a glass of wine, all in my future. Until then, I plan on just hanging out here, letting the day slowly unwind itself and me along with it.

Not everyone stays inside on snow days. In fact, before Punk we used to snow hike all the time. Now we mostly stay in, especially on super cold days like today. Maybe when he gets a little bigger I won't be so worried, but he is still just so little. My friend Kelly is not afraid of the snow either. In fact, he rather relishes it, tromping about the early hours taking photos of the winter kissed landscaped, or whiles away afternoons in the snow taking some gorgeous photos. 

Here are two of my favorites, with two very different subjects, but still both absolutely stunning.

I love this photo so much. The composition, the focus, the bright colors, the vivid white, and even the echo of brown and texture from her hood to the nest. It's stunning.

I love this one too. The stillness yet the awareness, the energy you feel lurking beneath the calm, and the calm itself. The colors again, are perfect echoes from the horse to the trees to the snowy landscape.

Kelly's photos run the gamut from sweet little baby photo shoots to sweeping landscapes to urban gritty photos to photos of the human form. You can check his photos out here. Please note that some photos include nudes, tastefully done. If you like what you see, he also has a GoFundMe right now to replace his equipment. Kelly is the consummate artist, and chooses not to sell his photos for large amounts of money, but rather sells them for whatever people want to offer him, in an effort to put art in the hands of more people. You can check out an article about that endeavor here, if you are interested.

So what about you? What do you do on cold, wintry days?