Friday, December 31, 2010

December in Review

I did it!  This is the finishing month of the blog camp 365 project.  I began in February and took photos every day.  I submitted 308 photos and met a wonderful group of people.  We are continuing on in a more relaxed fashion in 2011 in the postcards to blog camp group.  Please join in!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Clear Day

 Take off
Our plane touched down back home and I have been flying on the high of a wonderful vacation, coupled with the fact that my body feels like it is two hours earlier.  So I am taking advantage of the energy by unpacking and preparing to host brunch on New Years Day.  I have just settled on the couch for the evening and reach for my iPhone, it is gone!  Then, I listen close and I hear the children chattering away on the phone with grandma and grandpa, only hours after a tearful departure.  In the midst of the utterly normal feel of settling in I begin to think about the past year and what I look forward to in 2011. 
Such a clear day to fly!

I have completed my participation in #reverb10.  I enjoyed it immensely and have given myself permission to stop short on the prompts.  I diligently made it through day 28 and answered them all, but I began to feel that there was be a great deal of repetition.  I could not add more to the conversation than what I had, and that is totally OK.

I am thankful for my little branch to perch on in this blog world and wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who stop by to visit, read and leave little notes for me.  It means so much to me and I am truly grateful.   Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 27 & 28 ~ Achieving Joy

I once again find myself answering two prompts at once.  I feel like these two dovetail nicely and I must say that being on vacation allows me to relax and remind myself as I said in Day 18, not to be so hard on myself if I miss a day.  I just need to catch up and go forward. 

December 27 – Ordinary Joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown)  #reverb10

December 28 - Achieve.  What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. (Author: Tara [...] #reverb10

The steps toward achieving ordinary joy come from those same small jumps toward achieving balance.  When I began this blog, my mission statement, so to speak, was to find balance while creating this family dream on our homestead.  I do not think that you can simply say that you are going to be more balanced and equilibrium immediately appears.  It comes in moments, miniature captures of time, where you get that feeling of peace and ordinary joy.  You achieve balance by recognizing those moments and remembering them, so that they may be duplicated over and over. 

As to the things that I can do to achieve this?  I think those steps simply come from day to day choices that move me forward.  In 2011 I will:
fine tune

yes that is 11 but we are headed into 2011 are we not? :)

We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

#reverb10, ~Day's 23-25 ~ Hey, I'm Traveling

As you can see by my title, I am in need of a little catch up on the last few days.  But, hey, I'm traveling... you know home for the holidays and such.  So here is a little summary of the prompts that I have missed, but still kept up with and contemplated. 

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead? (Author: Kate Inglis)
Leafy Light

I think that I went into the new year of 2010 with the thought that everything was going to be alright.  I do not think that there was a best moment to illustrate this, unless you look to the moment that I made the decision.  As I made the promise not to continue to harp on the one thing that seemed to be a constant drag (if you are new here, then you may not know that we've been struggling to sell a house for, now 3 1/2 years and as a result have also had a double mortgage payment). I will end this prompt with the thought that it is all in your perspective and if you put your energy into thinking things are going to be alright, they will.

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself.  Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

As I am away from home celebrating with my family, my photo library is not available to me.  I will say, that this year especially, I was very stingy with my camera.  With my blog camp 365 group on flickr, I worked hard to make sure that I was taking the photos, not being taken.  This was a little bit of a mistake on my part, and I will improve on being in more and still taking as many as I want in 2011.  I took the above photo since we have arrived in California.  It is representative of me this year.  Reflecting back as I try to capture moments with myself being behind the lens.

December 26 – Soul Food What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul? (Author: Elise Marie Collins)

Today's prompt is easy.  I am not trying to avoid or defer the work, I simply wrote about this earlier in this process.. My moment(s) were all about soul food and friendship.

If you are not #reverb10 -ing, check out all of the wonderful posts!  Read through the prompts and contemplate a year end post incorporating how you are going to manifest what's next!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 22 & 23 ~ Travel & Name

How to entertain oneself on a long car trip?

Travel How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? (Author: Tara Hunt) {Future Tool: New Year’s Goal Questions for No-Goals Creatives from Jeffrey Davis.

A significant part of every year is travel for us.  We spend our vacation time traveling to one family or the other to visit.  We have never really taken a family vacation on our own.  I think that in 2011 we will make it a goal to try to spend some long weekends exploring this wonderful state we live in.  We have never been "up nort" to Door County and beyond.  I'd love to show the kids Laura's "Big Woods" and I've heard so many wonderful things about Mackinac Island.  I think now the kids are of an age that they will enjoy hiking, fishing, small cabins in the woods with stories and outdoors.   The challenge will be scheduling these outings into our busy farm/garden schedule.   I think if we accomplish our goals this winter in the barn and buckle down in the Spring and get our structure solidly in place, we will just have to make that time!

 New Name Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why? (Author: Becca Wilcott)

As to the name?  When I was young I so wanted to be called by my middle name, but I grew out of that childhood idea and can't imagine being called anything else....except maybe "Old Woman",  and that only by my "Old Fool".   (Blatant Walton's reference)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 21 ~ Future Self

282/365 Texture
Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)  #reverb10

Charles came home from school and presented me (not really, he shyly hid it), with this beautiful bowl that he made in art class.  As I sat looking at it, I was struck by its almost fabric quality.  The combination of color, and distressed markings in conjunction with the individual strands of clay so carefully rolled out by seven year old hands, make it so special.

As I began to take photos of it, I immediately realized that it looks just like these wonderful place mats that B's aunt Nancy so thoughtfully sent us.  I did not get the gorgeous knit pocket captured in this shot, but I love the feel of the mat and the bowl together.
Texture 2

So what should my future self tell me to mold my year ahead?

Enjoy the texture of life.
Reach out and embrace all of the peaks and valleys.
Capture the essence of living.
Savor each interwoven moment.

What would I tell my younger self?

Go for it, you did a great job!

Monday, December 20, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 20 ~ Beyond Avoidance

Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)  #reverb10

I've spent the last year feeding my soul.  Enjoying the creativity within.  I have made it a definitive part of my lifestyle and intend to continue. 

What have I been avoiding?  Well, the age old desire to get into shape.  Just over two years ago I had been in a great routine.  Worked out regularly for almost two years and felt great.  Enter a bout of gall bladder disease and surgery and that all went out the window.   Eighteen months ago I got back on the bandwagon and began my workout routine.  That same day is when B got hit by the car while riding.  It left me reeling, like there were few things more important than just being; together, us, family.  Convenient excuse or just having the wind knocked out of me?  I don't know.  Going forward, I need to get that back.   Huffing and puffing going up the three flight of stairs in the house is ridiculous!  So will I do it?  Absolutely!  After all, I've got to keep up with my uber fit hubby!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 18 & 19 ~ Try & Heal

taken this summer on a very windy day

Oh no!  I'm a day behind.  I just got caught up in the day and now I am playing a little bit of catch up.  I felt terrible yesterday that I didn't get the prompt accomplished right away.  Interestingly, having gotten behind gave me the perfect response to yesterday's post.

 Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn't go for it?

What didn't I try this year?  I think I embraced every new interest and launched whole hearted into them.  So moving forward into 2011, I'll continue on my path, but I want to try not to be so hard on myself.  If I don't get something done, well... life happens.  As my one word indicated, I do not have a problem with getting things done, I need to try to lighten up on myself.  If I am a day behind, it is for good reason.  I needed the extra moments to be with the family or simply relax (I've done that a few times recently, what a novel concept!).
Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

 I have heard the phrase many times that "blogging is therapy".  I would have to agree that it feeds the soul.  I do not know that I needed any healing per se in 2010.  I have been fortunate.  There are always challenges, but nothing that felt like I needed to go off and recuperate my spirit.   I began 2010 with the commitment to worry less, and I think that I have accomplished that.  There are all kinds of healing.  I think that working toward balance, building a strong support system, and always finding your smile is a great way to work toward healing on a daily basis.  The little steps, when you do not necessarily need them, will be your foundation when you do.


Friday, December 17, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 17 ~ Learned

Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?  #reverb10

 So, what is it that have I learned this year?  

Even a sudden summer rainstorm has amazing light.
When you take a breath, close your eyes and just listen.
I find that the truly important things tend to be those right in front of you,
 and always within your grasp.  Everything else is simply noise,
 and will melt away.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 16 ~ Friendship

Friendship.  How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)     Check out  #reverb10!

What have I learned about friendship this year? 
They come in many shapes and sizes. 
Some are more intense at certain times of your life than others. 
Some are pure fun. 
Some are up close one day and distant the next. 
Some are based on common goals. 
 Some are deep and enduring. 
Some are in person and others are like dear pen pals who I'm eager to meet.
But no matter what type of friendship, they are all immensely important in their own way.

My year was and is comprised of many friendships.  Each of which allowed me grow.  For each and every one of them I am thankful. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 15 ~ 5 Minutes

Lavender Smear

5 Minutes.  Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)

I have looked back over the year and there are so many things worthy of being a final five minutes of memory.  A mother daughter trip to Madison, the kids rolling the base of a snowman much larger than themselves, learning, Charlie's first grade musical, planting, loving, time spent with the dearest of friends, and travels to family in both happiness and sadness, to name only a few.

But as I went through the day and continued to think about the prompt and read so many wonderful responses, I realized that I don't think the specifics are what I would want to remember.  After Gram's long battle with dementia, and realizing in the last 18 months or so that she didn't know me other than as a nice person among many, I don't think the individual moments are what I want to remember.

 I want to recollect the feelings.  I want to know that I felt loved.  That I experienced contentment and happiness with family and friends.  I want to know I felt a peace with the world around me that comes from living a good life.  I think these impressions would fill the void and ease the uncertainty that comes from the loss of memory.

What would you like to remember if you knew you could only retain five minutes of the last year?  #reverb10

One Word Wednesday ~ Wish

Today is One Word Wednesday.  Thank you Jillsygirl for a weekly post that I so look forward to!  Please forgive me for cheating a little.  When I heard this weeks word, I knew exactly the photo.  Then as I dug a little deeper into my year I found I'd already made just the post.  So today, I am doing a re-post from earlier this year.
Innumerable wishes that by simply being here, makes them feel as they'll come true.

Isn't it bliss? Just remember the simple pleasure of childhood,
when blowing a dandelion's tender, feather-like puff
would make your heart skip a beat as you
waited for some facile,
yet wonderful
wish to
taken from 5/4/2010 ~ Homestead Gratitude #3

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 14 ~ Appreciate

Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?  #reverb10

I appreciate the simple beauty around me.

I am grateful for the risks that we have taken so that we can work really hard in order to:

Relish a nightly stroll to look at the garden and what little landmarks of growth that have been surpassed.
Marvel in the crazy social order of the chickens out for an evening scratch.
Find solice in the light at different times of day and how it can completely change my perspective.
Gaze with pride at our children who can run free, and just play.  As a result of joining us for strolls they can spot many a variety of bird and name most trees on the homestead by name.
I appreciate being able to bask in the simple beauties around me and am so grateful that I get to share them with those I love.

Monday, December 13, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 13 ~ Action

This amazing frozen sunset was our view driving home (taken while moving) from school tonight.

Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

The last three and a half years for us has been all about action.  Moving to the homestead, setting up our increasingly self-efficient life while being unable to sell the other house has taught us how to live and do as much as possible for ourselves or with minimal costs.   This has been a challenge, and one that we have met head on.   So our implementation, of dream realization, will come from two fronts.

* The hurdles we will  overcome in 2011*

For us this involves paying off debt and saving.  With a renter in the house now, we can breath a little easier and catch up a bit more.  Some of the dreams involve capital, and one of the best things we an do is make sure that we are debt free going into new ventures and horizons. 

*What we will accomplish while we overcome above hurdles*

My, oh my do we have aspirations to realize! We made giant steps this year in experimenting with our little home grown CSA.  Moving into 2011 we will continue to perfect the process.   We may pull the trigger on additional livestock of some kind; probably goats.  I see cheese and soap items added to farm baskets by year end.  Finally, templates will be created and experimented with for B's new baby.  UpCycling....Stay tuned.

How are you going to take action in 2011?  #reverb10

Sunday, December 12, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 12 ~ Integration Snapshots

Today's #reverb10 prompt was: Body Integration This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

As I sit here watching a gale blow snow sideways outside, I began to think about this question, and I thought, wow I really haven't had that this year.  This year has just flown by, so I decided to boost my memory a little and went back through this years photo library.  In looking at the beauty around me and composing it through a lens, I have learned to focus on capturing a moment in time. When I sit down to compose a blog post, the process of writing is often remembering, marveling at and then trying to articulate something meaningful. It is when I do this that I recognize all of the amazing moments that I have appreciated throughout the year. From our toast to dreams at the new year to simple moments enjoying our family time, marveling in the kids, or working shoulder by shoulder on the homestead. I guess that I have found a way to hold on to those moments by recording them.

 I realized that this year was comprised of multiple snapshots reflecting moments of integration, not just a single pivotal one.  I decided it is more about recognizing when these moments occur than searching for the one or few perfect ones.  You might find those harmonious moments happen more often than you think,  just by bringing your focus in on the snapshot. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 11 ~ 11 Things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

Eleven letters together create a phrase of action for 2011
Clutter Free

Free my home
  Have you ever noticed that it is truly only when you move or do a mass re-arrange that your eyes are opened to the masses of stuff you have?  We have worked very hard through both desire and necessity to par down what we purchase.  We are careful of choices we make.  We are thoughtful in quality versus quantity and need versus want.  I feel good about that.  What we do not do as easily is sort and be done with.  Do I need the loads of toys the kids have grown out of?  Do I need to hold onto the clothing that I haven't looked at in 3 years?  I was irked by all of the stuff, when we switched the kids rooms several weeks ago.  Good grief, that was a can of worms.  Party favors, little toys and trinkets collected along the way.  A little purge will allow for a freeing entry into the new year.

Free my mind
 Clear the constant to do list.  I have always prided myself on my ability to keep things organized and in line in my head.  I need to write down what I want to accomplish, give myself reasonable deadlines and not live going over and over the mental list.  I sometimes create these lists so that I can feel good about how I've spent my time and what I have accomplished.  I do not need a list for that.  I can only imagine what freeing my mind of this clutter will allow me to do.

Removing the superfluous clutter from my life will create a calmer more focused environment where we can make important decisions and plans and continue forward on our journey. 

Check out all of the great submissions over at #reverb10

Friday, December 10, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 10 ~ Wisdom

Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

Thinking back to different points in my life, there have been books that were very meaningful to me.  Writings that I remember resonating, especially at that time, because I was where I was in my life when I read them.  Wisdom is growing, learning and evolving.  I've always felt that I was an old soul but was amazed at an easy lesson learned this year....thankfully fairly early on. 

I read "Peace is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh.  Beautiful thoughts, simplicity of concept, yet in today's busy world apparently easily eluded by so many.  What little bit of wisdom did I decide to follow this year?  No matter what, take a deep breath.  Then; "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."   Try it!  Simply smile.  To yourself, to someone else.  When you do this notice how you feel.

 Breathing + Smiling = Joy


Happy Weekend!   #reverb10

Thursday, December 9, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 9 ~ Party

Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

It was not simply one social gathering that rocked in 2010, no it was the spontaneous inception of a gourmet group that met throughout the year.  It all started this time last year.  A friend posted on facebook about wanting to try cooking Julia Child recipes.  I had just seen Julia and Julia and two of us responded eagerly that we were game to do it too.  We met the first week in January to pre-plan.  We decided that each couple, there were three, would contribute two dishes, one prepared and one to prepare together.  We decided it would be fun to dress the part that night, so we boasted our pearls and best aprons, then waded through every word of technique.  We had a ton of fun and an amazing meal to boot. 

And so was born "Taste Buds". 

This evolved into a monthly dinner club, rotating houses, bringing the kids (so no need for a sitter, yea), and amazing evenings.  We choose a different chef or genre of food  each time and always try to dress the part.  We let the kids play for a bit while we get the appetizer ready and then get them fed and settled to play or watch movies before bed. Then we sip wine, or a signature cocktail for the evening and chop, prepare, assemble and cook fantastic slow food.  Our average meal takes four plus hours for us to prepare and eat in courses. 

This year we've accomplished Julia Child, Giada De Laurentiis, Jaimie Oliver, Jamaican Jerk, Campfire fare, Asian Fusion, Ina Garten, White trash food reconstructed, and BBQ.  The timing of this prompt was perfect as today I'm preparing masses of dough for our first Christmas cookie baking Taste Buds. We are baking six types tomorrow and each bringing one prepared in advance.  Since the ovens will be busy, we will be having a crock pot feast of Slow-Cooked Hoisin Pork Wraps with peanut slaw.  Slow food, fantastic foodie friends and incredible's to manifesting this on-going party forward in 2011!

#reverb10   It's never too late to join in!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 8 ~ Beautifully Different, Our Gift

This post reflects both #reverb10  and One Word Wednesday ~ Gift

Prompt:  Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

I am learning to practice patience, so I may step back to
take in

In order to better

 "The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach -- waiting for a gift from the sea."
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 7 ~ Community

 Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

Upon reading this today my mind began to swim.  How many times have I said this year, how fortunate I am to be a part of this great blog community.  I've come across so many amazing, creative and generous people and it has enriched my life.

We belong to communities both by choice and by design.  The ones that we focus on are the ones in which we participate everyday.  Our schools, neighborhoods, places of employment and churches, are all communities.  As my kids have grown and gotten involved in more and more activities I find that I run into many of the same families in different contexts.  It is like there is a parental synchronicity.

 There are also mostly silent communities that go unnoticed.  One such group are the families at our local shelter, which this year is bursting at the seams.  Through the idea of a friend, the gentlemen of  our neighborhood community rolled up their sleeves and cooked a hot breakfast for the women and children just before Thanksgiving.  A few short hours made an amazing difference, giving these kids a hot breakfast before school.

A blog community friend looked into helping some families in need, when asked, the items on the children's wish lists were essential items like warm clothing.  She was so touched that she enlisted the blogging community and began a collection of gifts for children in four families to help give them a beautiful Christmas.  I then began to reflect on the increasing population of elderly in our country.  Those in there second childhood, who are often alone and forgotten.   This is especially difficult for me to contemplate this year.  Our family dynamic has changed with the loss of gram in October and I begin to contemplate how this hole effects us.  Some of these aging adults, don't have a child who cares for them 24 hours a day.  Many have outlived their families.  After seeing a post from a friend on facebook (yet another community), I found out about the adopt a senior program.  I eagerly ran and pulled an ornament, then prepared a gift and a card for my selected senior. 

I've always enjoyed opportunities to give back through community service.  As an adult with two young kids, time is always scarce.  I realized that the time necessary is minimal to make a big impact for even a single person.  The best way to do it is schedule it.  Many of us are here because we feel drawn to write, create and express ourselves.  Write it down.  Prioritize it.  Make giving back to the community,  part of what you manifest going into 2011.

Monday, December 6, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 6 ~ Make

Birthday Cake Quilt top Done!

When this I first read about #reverb10 I was worried that I would become overwhelmed by the project.  Instead, I find that I am eagerly looking forward to the daily creativity nudges and am thoroughly enjoying all of the responses posted.  Today's prompt:   Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

This is a tricky question to be posing to me this time of year!  I have made several things recently that I would love to share, but Christmas is a mere few weeks away and I don't want to spill the beans! 

With that, I will say this has been a year full of making things.  Actually it began a year ago when I decided to create a homemade Christmas.  At that time, I took it as a challenge to myself to see what I could do.  Recently, I realized,  that the homemade emphasis has flowed from last year throughout this year.  I guess I caught the bug and now it is just part of who I am. 

The photo above is a quilt top that I finished in September.  I did not post it then, though I was eager to,  because it was for my nieces birthday.  I have been waiting anxiously and am in the clear now, because she opened it last week.  She is three now, so we will see whether someday it's a family heirloom.  Maybe years from now, when it's worn and faded, she'll share it with her daughter or niece, and tell the stories of memories she has of it and her silly sentimental aunt from Wisconsin.  Brilliantly, in my eagerness to wrap it up, I never did take a picture of it once I'd quilted and bound it. 

I love creating from the heart something to be handed down, something that weathers time and tells a story.  What have you made recently?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Day 5 ~ Let Go

 Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?  
This was the question today on day 5 of #reverb10.  

I have let go of anxiety.
The anxiety of owning two homes for going on four years in 
this oh so stagnant economy.  By refusing to give in to the anxiety of this
we have made it through another year and now have a renter, a little
glimmer.  Though this road is not always smooth, it now has a
band aid placed firmly over the uncertainty.

By pushing this anxiety out of my head I am
amazed at how much more freedom and peace I have.  
Enter a year full of frugal yet fulfilling activity.
I think clearing my head of this burden has allowed me to more
clearly see how to best react to the anxiety that can stem from other situations.
I have learned not to feed into the anxiety sparked by the drama of others,
and have found the ease that calmness brings.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

#reverb10 ~Day 4 ~ Wonder

I think today's prompt for #reverb10 is simply perfect.  Wonder.  How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

This morning we woke up to everything covered in a pure white blanket.  The first accumulating snow of the season.  This sight is enough to strike up a feeling of wonder in anyone!  Waking up to this made me feel just like those kids coming out of school earlier this week lighting up and yelling S-N-O-W! with just a flurry in the air. 

I have always had a sense of wonder, and innate desire to feel the light hearted awe stemming from everything that surrounds me.  Having two young children who wake up each morning and drift to sleep every night loving me is a beautiful wonder.  Watching their minds work, figure out and reason is an amazing wonder.  It occurs to me that cultivating wonder is cyclical.  Cultivating wonder is simply loving my children and allowing them to experience all that life has to offer.  Then there is the great benefit that we as parents get by being able to live through their experience with them.  A full circle.

Friday, December 3, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Moment

Today's thought was moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

Interestingly, I did not have something come immediately to mind so I went back through my photos.  This, the diary of my year revealed to me that through happiness, concern, gaiety and pain, it was a great year.  With that, I did not have that aha moment that one can sometimes get.  I didn't have a moment this year where the skies parted and everything was clear and peaceful, for just that moment.  I understand those moments, I have had them before.  Those moments seem to be very personal.   The  moments that came to mind for me this year are also personal but more reflect community, grand friendships, conglomerations and the recurring theme was food.  Have you ever noticed that people gather around the hearth of your home....the kitchen?

Food seemed to be a central focus, whether bar-b-ques, camping trips,  or gourmet club.  Everything revolved around the pure love of cooking slow food, the melding of flavors, the aromas of lasting conversations over chopped onions, or the laughter over a final glass of wine astonished that we were able to produce such a song thorough our meal.

Our children have learned, playing with wild abandon, sharing the crazy parents that love to cook, and indeed understanding the importance of flavor in different foods that touch their young pallets.  So this year, filled with vivid memory of so many events, is more highlighted by an enduring theme.  The theme of friendship, sharing and love that comes from relationships that endure.

Though there has not been one moment that has made me feel most alive, this multitude of moments has breathed life into my year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

#reverb10 ~ Write

Today is day two of #reverb10 (check it out, it's never too late to join in)!  The prompt is Writing.  What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing -- and can you eliminate it?

This is actually a tough question.  My initial response is nothing.   There is not a part of my day that I'd want to eliminate in order to write.   At the point of my life right now, my writing reflects just that, my thoughts and feelings about our life and the goals of our family.  So I gain perspective, ideas and thoughts from everything that happens in my daily life.

Conversely, time is always a challenge, and writing is important, so how do I reconcile the two?  As I mentioned in yesterdays post, I'm excited and driven to learning and doing new things.  But I refuse to let that detract from my commitment to my family and the time I am spending helping at the kids school and with activities, and the time needed to realize our aspirations here at the homestead.  It is these things that I am interested at this moment in reflecting on.  So moderation and balance are of the utmost importance.  I am finding the time I need now to explore and begin to hone my skills.  They will continue to develop as I mature and as a result of my experiences.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

#reverb10 ~ One Word

 In reflecting on one word that best described me this year, I'm not sure that I can say I achieved balance this year, so what would it be?   I think....


Yes, that's it.  Many years ago when B was in the midst of woodworking, and beginning to cycle again he said "you should have some hobbies."  Beyond being a business owner/mom/homemaker I just didn't know what I was interested in.  Well I seem to have found a multitude of  things this year!

I love to write, and my blog has really become important to me.  This year I reached my first year milestone in blogging and I have been so taken with the generosity of spirit in the blogging community.

Though I lurked for the first month, with a little push from Julie, I  committed to the blogcamp 2010 PAD project and found a new love and eye for my budding photography. 

I learned to sew by volunteering to help with costumes for the famed first grade musical at the kid's school and then learned to quilt through a fantastic group of ladies at a quilt a long.  Now, as I continue to learn, I'm trying to pass the small bits I know onto friends who are anxious to pick up this lost art.

I've found that I have a patience, that I never anticipated, for my own mistakes that leads me through projects to their completion.  I am continuing to find new things that I want to learn, and with renewed energy each time.  

Each of these things I've picked up, felt driven to learn, complete, enjoy,  and to do this having minimal interference with my family and our quest to sustainability.  Which I do!  But I think going forward into the next year my word should be moderation, but maybe only slight moderation :).

I once stitched my grandmother some needlework that said "Busy hands make happy hearts".  For me this is most true. 

Please check out Reverb 10 where you too can reflect on this year an manifest what's next!

November in Review

We are closing in on the end of our picture a day in 2010 project.  I joined the project in February so though I did take photos every day in January, I didn't post them in the group.  It has been a fantastic journey with a lot of dedicated people!  Here's a look at how November transpired through my lens.

One Word Wedensday~Stuffed

 *This lovely dough is just stuffed with air*

Have you ever had one of those nights?  You know the ones I'm talking about....where you have something on you mind and go over and over it a million times in a semi-dream state all night long until the alarm clock goes off and you feel like you've just run a marathon.  Last night was one of those nights for me.  Jeez such a simple thing as a new recipe had me tossing and turning!

When we were in Kansas last week I was introduced to a very basic, homey meal that the kids just loved.  They are sandwich's called Bierocks.  It is a homemade sweet bread stuffed with a mixture of seasoned hamburger, onion, cabbage, cheese and a touch of mustard.  So simple, so freezable, so perfect to pull out for a quick dinner on cold hectic nights.  Just serve it with a cup of soup or a salad and you are all set!

My angst came from properly executing this amazing bread recipe..kneading, letting rise, punching down then shaping, stuffing and letting rise again.  I guess I was truly getting lost in the details, since I did them repetitively in my sleep.  Loss of sleep or no, a stuffed sandwich recipe well worth doing!

1 1/2 -2 lb hamburger, browned
1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp Onion flakes (I diced an onion)
Dash of pepper & Celery salt
Big squeeze mustard ~1/4 cup

4 1/2 C flour
1/8 C. Nonfat dry milk
1/8 C. Instant potatoes 
1 Tbsp. Salt
1/3 C. Sugar
1/8 C. Yeast

Mix dry ingredients, add 1/3 cup melted butter and 1/2 Quart (2 Cups) water.  Mix until wet ball forms.  Add 1/4 cup more flour and knead until smooth.  Let rise.  Punch down,  and then roll out 1/4" thick and cut squares.  Place 1 ice cream scoop of filling in center of square.  Fold square together and pinch seam, and allow to rise again.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Makes 30-36.  They freeze great and just need to be re-heated in the oven!

One Word Wednesday is a weekly post inspired by Jillsygirl.  Thanks Sally G. for hosting the last few weeks it's been great!  Please join in the fun!  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What It's All About

262/365 First Snow
Today, this last day of November seemed to really kick off that Christmastime Feel.  I was humbled by a beautiful post and gesture initiated by Se'lah that I whole heartily participated in.  Thank you Se'lah for your generous spirit!

As I headed to pick the kids up from school, a fine, light snow began to fall.  I was listening to Christmas music in the car and watching the dreamy blowing of this snow on the roads.  It danced like sand across a road in the desert where I so long ago resided.  Talk about moving from one extreme to another!

Then as the parents were all huddled outside the school.  We braced ourselves against the wind that feels so bitter to us now, but will be balmy in a few months.  The bell rings and out come the kids.  Chorus after Chorus of SNOW....IT'S SNOWING!!!  Open mouths trying to catch these tiny powdery flakes.  Pure, innocent joy at it's best!

Once home I began a warming chicken tortellini soup.  I smiled as I dug down in the bucket full of damp peat moss in the root cellar to grab a few garden carrots;  this is what it's all about.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Creating Dreams

As we turn our attentions indoors, we have gone from garden planting, nurturing, harvesting and preserving to planning, and dreaming.  I'm only thinking of this now because last night I caught a glimpse of one of our kitchen chalk boards.  We had it loaded with goals early this spring and had crossed them all off!  So a month or so ago, I began to refill it.  When I saw it last night I excitedly realized that I could cross two of the items off already.  Never fear, I added two more, and since I began writing this post, can add another two.  

We will enjoy Christmas and the New Year with loads of traditions and love.  Our planning/dreaming process will not start in earnest until mid January.   It is at this time that the cold and snow will have truly set in and we will be antsy to be productive.  What is so amazingly fun about this time of year is that I can look back on all of the crazy things we planned last year and see just how much of it we accomplished.  This type of reinforcement further bolsters our ambitions.  I so look forward to many years of this as we create our dream~ our homestead.

How Was Your Thanksgiving?

Zoo 2010
We are back, settled (transferred all of the photos), and had a great trip!  We spent Monday at the zoo and it was a great day.  I'd say the only hitch was it was supposed to be 60 and it was 40 and windy.  It certainly made running between the indoor exhibits a priority!

I think the zoo was a great pace setter for our trip.  Full of colorful family moments, beautiful light and quite contemplation. Add in a few batty excursions, waterfalls of conversation, and eating an amazing meal~ Perfect!  How was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One Word Wednesday~ Splatter

What a great word we have today, this day full of Thanksgiving preparations!  Please check out this great weekly post that is the brainchild of Jillsygirl and being hosted over at  Sally G.  for a few weeks.
Rays 2010 TG 025
I've spent the last few days paying close attention to the smattering of splatter around me.  Being in Kansas this week and spending a little time on country roads you can see there is a definite pattern of splatter on all of the cars around. 
Rays 2010 TG 001
As we have chased the sun this week coming further South, we've been given another hour of daylight and a giant picture window out of the back of my mother-in-law's house over vast stretches of farmland, a perfect frame for the amazing splatter of colors across the evening sky every night.   It looks as if Van Gogh has taken his paintbrush thick with oils and liberally stroked the horizon. 
Rays 2010 TG 027
Sid, even got into the spirit yesterday after hearing the word and drew her impression of ~splatter~, a splatter bug, I think it highlighted her new bling strings so well! 
Rays 2010 TG 026
Now onto the most important splatter of the week...preparations of the Thanksgiving meal.  We began last night leaving just a smudge of splatter.  I'm certain as I head out to begin making three different kinds of pie today, there will be very tasty splatter all around!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Change of Scenery

255/365 Change of Scenery

November has been a tough photography month for me. It seems that after the leaves finished changing and falling and the stark greyness began to emerge, I had a hard time finding inspiration. I felt like I was capturing the same thing over and over.

On Friday when we hit the road for Kansas, that stale feeling seemed to melt away and I've been taking pictures right and left! My posting may be a little sporadic this week, since we're deeply involved in visiting, but I'm finding my photo mojo again and am so happy!  A little change of scenery seems to be just what I needed!  Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chasing The Sun

 Do you ever feel that there is a convergence of thought or at least of similar things that all at once hit you?

This evening as I was driving the kids home from school,  I caught a glimpse of the most amazing sunset.  The cold clouds, low on the horizon, had just slit apart and the sun's blinding ball of fire was peering through.  I drove past the house to a nearby field to capture a picture.  I got a few shots in, but apparently my p & s is on the fritz and the photos were less than stellar...sorry.

Anyway,  as I watched this, I  remembered B saying, just after noon on Sunday, "wow, look how low the sun is in the sky!"  How true!  Did I mention that the time that I saw this beautiful sky this evening was at 4:15?  This time of year the sun stays low, just under the radar, every day.  When you are lucky enough to capture it on a cloudless day it seems bright, yet muffled, barely warming the cold air.

I wonder if this muted feeling is what contributes to the amazing comfort we receive from the special warmth of home that comes this time of year.  We begin our drive tomorrow toward our Kansas Thanksgiving homecoming, and will gain a few more minutes of sunlight.  I look forward to chasing the sun as it dances across the sky, 600 miles South.  

Happy Weekend! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One Word Wednesday~ Dynamic


For the next few weeks we are posting over at Sally G's  for One Word Wednesday.  Jillsygirl is taking a break while she prepares for family holiday fun!  Thanks for hosting Sally!

dy·nam·ic [ dī námmik ]

**Vigorous and purposeful: full of energy, enthusiasm, and a sense of purpose and able both to get things going and to get things done.

What a perfect word as we prepare for a season full of activity!  Loads of travels to family.  The Hustle and bustle of gift making, baking, cooking and visiting.  I'm prepping to head out of town right now, our Thanksgiving drive to Kansas commences on Friday afternoon.  So much to do and I'm a bit draggy instead of my typical dynamic self as I'm trying to fight some bug, grrr!  Draggy or not, I will be able to both get things going and get things done (i.e. get this family of four on the road)!

**Active and changing: characterized by vigorous activity and producing or undergoing change and development.

Sidney has had a huge project she's been working on and it consumed all of our time yesterday.  So I was belated in going through Charles' folder.  I found the note this morning that his teacher is going on a leave of absence for an indeterminate period of time and he will have a substitute.  Quite unexpected, and I suspect will produce an interesting new dynamic that he and his classmates will have to adjust to.

**Relating to energy and motion: involving or relating to energy and forces that produce motion.

Today, we are blog hopping! Such a perfect picture. The wonderful dynamics of this group dynamically hopping from blog to blog to read about each others dynamic illustrations!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mom, Dreams Really Do Come True!

A few weeks ago, on one of our regular Sundays,  a very unusual thing happened.  Sidney came running up to me saying..."Mom!  Dreams really do come true!  One of my dreams has always been to hold a wild bird and I just did,  dad got it on his iPhone!"  Yes, indeed.  A small sparrow got stuck in the barn and allowed my little girl to approach it and pick it up.  Once outside, she set it free.  Off it went into the crisp Autumn air.

I wonder how she dreams?  Does she have a succinct list of dreams, or just vague longings? I've always been very much a list maker.  But when it comes to dreams, or achievements, my thoughts are much more broad and become more refined in the moments preceding my achievement of one.  Many bloggy friends make a bucket list of sorts for things they want to accomplish in a certain period of time, or by some landmark.  Today, I am two years from my 40th year.  I feel like I'm constantly working on and realizing my dreams.  Maybe a goal for the coming year will be to try to better articulate each milestone I want to achieve.  Something to think about, this day, as I revel in the simple splendor of one of my daughters dreams.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chicken Wrangling

243/365 Sunny Side Up

This was the last weekend before we head to Kansas for Thanksgiving break.  Between that and seeing the first big snow storm of the season not too far from us, we really felt the pressure was on!  We had to tackle the most important of the hens to the barn.

Now, before you write this off as a breeze, this seemingly simple task is anything but.  First, B finished building a screen door to limit hen access to the area we had prepared.  I was truly amazed at how this hubby of mine can just head out to his shop and 30 minutes later have made a screen door, awesome!  Light and heat timers set, food and water ready, now just to get the birds. 

Since we are relocating where they roost, we needed to catch them.  This is loads of fun (note heavy sarcasm).  We put them one by one in a large tub with a cover and then as we add another hen to the tub, try not let the scared one(s) inside escape.  In the first batch we transported 4 in the tub and one sneaky devil managed to escape and headed, at amazing speed, for the sumac forest.   Grrr, after the hawk issue last week, I didn't want anyone running around in the open.  In the second batch we got 5, and one more made a break for it.  We transported the last 5 with little consequence. 

Now for the wrangling....there are two lovelies who have gone AWOL.  Now queue some banjo music....picture the four of us chasing, coaxing, herding, yelling, climbing in tall brush, running, jumping from side to side and waving arms wildly, until finally we wrangle the two into a space where we are surrounding them on all sides and slowly walking toward them. After this 20 minute chase, they walk quite contentedly into the chicken tractor.  Yes, it was great exercise and once we brought them to join the others, the rooster let us know, by the raise of his hackles, that our performance was unacceptable, but the new digs made up for it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lift As You Climb....

What is World Kindness Day, you ask?  I found out about it a year ago from a dear blog friend Se'Lah, and was eager to participate again this year.  This year's theme is Lift As You Climb.

Even the smallest actions that we take affect someone else in a profound way.  This may sound dramatic, but we can't possibly pretend to know what is going on in a stranger's life.  What is making them tick at the moment of your interaction with them.  Something as simple as a smile can turn another person's day around.    Have you read The Five People You Meet in Heaven?  Have you taken a couple of hours with your family to watch It's A Wonderful Life?  Have you read Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree?  Many of the reflections in these show how simple kindnesses can change a life.  Interestingly, I participate in a weekly post called One Word Wednesday, and this weeks word was connect.  Our connectedness in so many ways, not the least being this group posting today,  perfectly illustrates how a simple kindness can be contagious.

Lift As You Climb.  What does this mean to you?  As a wife, mom, employer, girl scout leader, friend, daughter, and neighbor I find myself daily trying to encourage and motivate.  I've always been a firm believer in leading by example and first and foremost being a good listener.  When you listen and gently suggest or nudge with encouragement you are giving that soul a boost to it's next level.  For me, the climb is simply navigating my way through my roles and remaining a very grounded individual in the process.  So why not, thorough your actions, create world kindness day every day.  What simple acts of kindness will you do today?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Word Wednesday~ Connect

Funny,  my mind jumps to so many things when I think about this word.  Things like how dependent we all seem to be on being 'connected' or plugged in all of the time.  Yet it is a double edged sword.  Being connected brings us to new communities of people and new experiences.  Being connected allows us flexibility to log in and work from home.  Hmmm, is this flexibility or a new self-imposed view of responsibility?   Being connected is both a blessing and a burden and as with anything else needs to be balanced.

 Then I look at how interconnected people are.  Families, friends, neighborhoods, communities.  People brought together by common ground, common good, common goals.  In today's world recognizing the similarities of our interconnectedness may be the only thing that bridges the oh so publicized differences that seem to overpower us. 

I reflect on the connection I felt the moment I met the man who was to be my husband.  The connection I felt with my babies when they were born.  The connection I feel with kindred friendships. The connection I felt the moment I stepped onto our farmstead.  These are some connections in my life that are interconnected, plugged in, and that pull me, like a compass needle, to my center.

Join me for One Word Wednesday over at Jillsygirl.  We would not be able to celebrate all of these wonderful words if we weren't all connected.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Quiet Afternoon

It isn't often that I find myself at home in the afternoon on a work day. Sid and Puck (our almost 14 year old dog) had a slight collision last night. As they were both exuberantly at play, Puck, who is quite spry for her age, couldn't stop in her tracks quick enough and it sent Sid backwards onto the drive way where she hit her head. All is well, with the exception of a raging headache and a sore neck. So a little quiet time was in order today.

Over the last week or so the quilting blogosphere has been lit up with mug rugs like the one seen here at Stash Manicure. It's really interesting to see how many rug related posts there have been. They have multiplied, much like summer zucchini, and I am feeling a need to jump on the band wagon so I can leave a few on friend's door steps. So on this quiet afternoon I spent a couple of hours making my own. It was a bit of a challenge because I saw ton's of examples of completed rugs, what the finished size should measure and how to add the pocket but no step by step on the cutting/piecing. So I started playing, took my notes down so I can do it again, and managed to make one with only the completed size as my guide! This was very exciting for this quilter of 5 months!

Thankful that the injury is not serious, I think I'll use the next hour to snuggle my little girl in the quiet before we reintroduce the bundle of energy that is her brother, soon to be home from school. Then I'll fill the house with the warm smells of home and pot roast with garden veggies. Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thanksgiving Comes First

Thanksgiving 2009

This morning I spent my coffee time doing a little blog reading.  As I was reading a post from Barbara of  Long Hollow, I found out about a challenge from Suldog called TCF (Thanksgiving Comes First).  I then became enthralled in some amazing posts by individuals who were telling their wonderful stories of thanks and lamenting the commercialization of the holiday season.  You know what I mean.  Show of hands; who had their first Christmas catalog in July this year??  I've expressed many times that Fall is my favorite time of year.  It's amazing show of color also brings a palpable feeling of nesting and the desire to draw my family close.  I savor every moment.  Each event as we approach year end has always been important in my family and as I get older is an integral part of creating a home for my family.

Every year I remember the Thanksgiving tradition I grew up with, but this year is so much more poignant with the loss of Gram a couple of weeks ago.  My memory stretches back to the youngest of ages and I picture myself helping Gram prepare Thanksgiving dinner.  As a child I was kept busy as dinner approached whisking a cornstarch solution into the drippings to create the perfect gravy.  Now, Gram would step in every so often to assist, and it amazed me how her hips would move as she whisked with ease.  I hit the tween years and my responsibilities increased to include making the relish tray and being trusted with her baking secrets.  As the years passed, I began to spend the night before and we'd get the bread for the stuffing drying, then get up early and be sure the bird was clean and freed of all of her "pin feathers".  I was put in charge of the fresh cranberry sauce and loved that I had grown to be an integral part of the process.  We'd collapse in the early afternoon and I'd get to sip my first sherry in a moment of celebration just prior to the families arrival.  I can still picture, like multiple still Polaroids, snapshots of these Thanksgivings.  The family arriving, the lively conversations, the gleam in my grandfather's eye, laughter, food, and gratitude.  A deep gratitude, that we could gather together as a family and just be.

When I moved away from home, if work schedules kept us away from home at Thanksgiving,  B and I  would create a huge feast and invite a few close friends over.  We used these years to combine our families amazing recipes and experiment with our own.  Now, we have a family of our own.  Tradition, and family are of the utmost importance to us, so even though we do not live close to any of our family, we make huge efforts to visit often and not to miss the holidays.  After a few years transporting two very small children and trying to split the time between California and Kansas (yes 3 1/2 days in each location, we were insane!)  we are now, on an alternating schedule.  We spend every other Thanksgiving with each family and then spend Christmas that year with the other family. 

Our culture seems to be so enthralled with what is coming next, many get lost and completely miss out on the savoring of every moment.  For my adult life (and I'm sure before),  Thanksgiving has been seen as a day that is just the tipping point, the top of the mountain for the snowball to begin it's roll down toward Christmas.  Thanksgiving is not just a space holder between Halloween and Christmas, it is a day for us to reflect.  Maybe we should contemplate the importance of slowing down, spending time with family, creating slow food, and being grateful for all of the blessings that we have.  After all, being thankful does come first.

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?  Please join in!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Perfect Start

 Isn't this just the perfect sight to start your day?  After last weekends busyness, this weekend will focus on home, with a smattering of kid commitments.  Though it is trying to feel like winter today, the rest of the weekend will be more fall like...perfect for leaf collection and hen relocation.  Oh yes and my crafty mind is at work mulling over the approaching holidays.  Loads of family, friends and hostess gifts to create.  I think it may just be the right time to fill my kitchen with the smell of the seasons first gingerbread!  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One Word Wedensday~ Retreat

When I think about the word retreat, I feel the wonderful serenity of those favorite spaces that comfort and ground me.  Then quickly after, this mind of mine began to formulate these sentences:

There is no going back, only moving forward.

Enjoy every day of your life.

Live intentionally and passionately.

Stand by your decisions.

Always be an advocate for yourself and your family.

And occasionally go back to that wonderful place that centers you, and retreat into it's warm embrace.  It gives you the strength to live without retreating.

Come and join One Word Wednesday over at jillsygirl


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