Monday, December 28, 2009

Quote to Ponder

One of my absolute favorite books is Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Published in the mid nineties, it was a big success, but I didn't find it until around 2000, when I read it sporadically. 4 or 5 years ago I picked it up again, and now I read it pretty much daily, at times getting behind for a few days, and at times reading ahead a little as my soul craves more.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, it's written in 366 essays, one to be read daily throughout the year, and magically, it seems, the timing for each day seems quite perfect for me. I love re-reading because different passages strike me more strongly at different times, and something I sailed by one year without feeling particularly moved, will impact me strongly with it's richness and relevance the next.

This Christmas morning I picked up the book and flipped to December 25th and was struck with the quiet beauty of this quote:

If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things;
if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have time to make the long,
slow journey across the desert as did the Magi?
Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds?
Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary?
For each one of us, there is a desert to travel.
A star to discover.
And a being within ourselves to bring to life.
~Author Unknown~
I think (maybe) I've mentioned before that I'm not a religious person. I'm the daughter of a former Catholic mother and vaguely Luthern father, and I wasn't raised within any particular religious tradition. I have explored various religious traditions and haven't found any one that speaks to me directly, but I find much richness in many of the religious and spiritual practices and this quote speaks directly to me right now in a soft but clear voice.
I'll leave you quietly with this for today.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Next Christmas.....

.....will be a very different story from this one.

I have been pondering a lot on what has been missing for me about Christmas in recent years. As a child, I LOVED Christmas, couldn't wait for it. That changed gradually over time, and more recently I have joined the ranks of those who are overwhelmed by the season and are sadly grateful when it's done.

For awhile, I thought it was an inevitable part of transitioning into adulthood...that the magic was a childish thing that faded as time marched on. Of late, I've become unwilling to accept this and have gone back to wondering what changed.

Certainly, when Santa became more fiction than fact, something of the magic was gone. But still, for many years, I loved Christmas.

It came to me, today, in a sort of epiphany, that it's the giving that I really miss. Not that I have stopped giving at Christmas time, but the quality of the giving has changed for me over time. When I was really young, I was excited to buy a few gifts for my parents and brother. When I was a little older but still quite young, I made many of my gifts. Older still, I made some, spent a lot of time and energy buying the right gifts for those I loved. Then more time passed and life got fuller, the list of loved ones longer, shopping time got thin, finances sometimes thinner still, and Christmas gradually became exhausting and overwhelming as I tried to cram in the shopping, squeeze the budget and stressed when we either overspent or ran out of time or money of both.

I don't think it has to be this way, in fact, I stubbornly refuse to let it be anymore. I firmly (possibly foolishly, naively) refuse to admit defeat.

So next year, starting in January, I'm going to plan for Christmas 2010. I think, believe, hope, that with some planning and attention throughout the year, I will arrive at December 1st, 2010 with gifts to wrap, a home to decorate, and some baking to do, but not this frantic last minute search for the right gifts at the wrong time.

I'll let you know how it goes! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Shopping with Extra Love...

Here's another holiday shopping opportunity, one with special significance...

I recently found this wonderful blog, Bloom, by writing team Anne & Emily. It's worth more than a quick glance for it's own sake. But this week they're doing something a charity auction in support of the family of Benson & Claire, two tiny people with big health problems. Money raised from this auction will be given directly to the family to pay Claire's kidney and liver transplant.

As explained by their parents, "Benson and Claire were born with a rare genetic disease in which their liver produces too much oxalate--called primary hyperoxaluria. Claire's condition has progressed much faster than Benson's. She has been on dialysis since she was 3 months old and is on dialysis 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. She is now on the waiting list to receive a combined kidney / liver transplant. It is expected Benson will eventually need similar transplants."

I've just finished scrolling through the 80+ items up for auction, and there are lots of great things to bid on, heavy on handmade items, with everything from hairbows to wall art to kids clothing to spa and vacation packages.

Follow this link to get to the auction page. Once you're there, scroll down and click older post to get to the first auction item, then keep clicking older post to scroll through all of the items available.

Please consider doing some of your holiday shopping here...the auctions end Saturday night, so just a few days to bid.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Theme Thursday...Friend

I haven't done a Theme Thursday in ages, time not being very available, as it were...but this one speaks to to my heart so strongly.

This is one of my very favorite friendship that was so true for me a few years ago:

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." Author Unknown

Friends have lifted me up when I was lower than I thought I could be, moved my heavy things from one home to another, given me their homes and cars when we were in town for funerals and even just because, been at the other end of phone countless times when I needed them, dropped everything to pick me up when I was broken down (my car, and otherwise) and done so many more wonderful things than I could possibly list....suffice it to say, I'm forever grateful for these wonderful people in my life.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday Suggestions

I had big plans to put together this beautiful, comprehesive, online shopping list of small sellers and crafters. I was going to contact those I wanted to list, get permission to use photos, list shipping specials, all kinds of good stuff.

Life got in the way. Thanksgiving came...I'm still, after 6 week on and off, fighting this cold (flu?, who knows!) that's kicking my butt, ahem!

Anyway, it's Cyber Monday today, thebiggest online shopping day of the year, so, instead of completely admitting defeat (who, me, human, needing rest, not doing it all? never!), I thought I post a few links to some of my favorite sites and sellers, so, without further ado:


If you haven't visited Amanda Blake Soule's rich blog about life and family, click the link just above and take a peek. I get so much from just reading her wise words each week. She's also written 2 books:

Handmade Home & The Creative Family

I have The Creative Family and I love it (thanks mom!). Lots of sweet simple projects to do for and with your children, written in a moving, accessible style.

I haven't gotten my hands on Handmade Home yet (budgets, budgets, sigh!), but I have read some great reviews, and I expect it's equally good.

Great gifts for the families with children in your lives, especially those seeking beautiful simplicity.

Anything on Etsy!

If you haven't visited Etsy, the great site for handmade items, check it out, now! What a great bunch of amazing artisans....lots of cool, neat stuff! You can also get some great vintage buys here, if, like me, you like the feeling of history that comes with something that has a past.

Some of my favorites on Etsy...

Gaddy Nipper Crayons

These are great fun for kids...crayons in all kinds of neat shapes, big and easy to grab for small ones. I purchased some earlier in the year as a gift, and one for Helena too...she loved it! I'm a big fan of giving consumable items as gifts...part of my no clutter goal...and art supplies top my list!

I have more I could add, but my day just got fuller...oh life! Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Many Gifts

This has been such an incredibly full, full year. So many changes, so much good. I have so much to be grateful for. I work at being consciously grateful for my many gifts everyday. Thanksgiving seems like a good day to put it out there, though. I think I'll add to this last over the next few days.

  • My health...down with this cold, but not out!
  • The health of my family and friends
  • My amazing husband and daughter
  • Friends I can call on when I need to
  • All the wonderful people in my life, not sure I could even count them all
  • Our 2 furry friends, so much comfort, so much love, so much silliness
  • Patrick's new this economy, wow!
  • Patrick's first raise...again, in this economy, wow!
  • Being able to cut down on my work hours and home school Helena
  • Our new house
  • Having good food, clothing, shelter (see above:-)
  • Having enough to share
  • Spending a relaxed Thanksgiving with some of the best of friends
  • Having Thanksgiving with friends I don't need to scour the house for (see above :-)
  • Changing the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference
  • Love
  • Hope
  • Joy
  • Believing that I can affect my reality in a positive way
  • Feeling grown up and competent...sometimes, anyway :-)
  • Creativity that wants to overflow...need to find a space for it!
  • New connections with people that I think will become great friends
  • Sunrise today
  • Waking up to a clean kitchen
  • My favorite black tea in my favorite cup

Do you have a grattitude list? Post a comment, I'd love to read yours!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holidays, Shopping and Meaning

The holidays are upon us! So quickly, it seems, November is already drawing to a close, and the year will soon be ending.

This time of year always brings up ambivalent feelings for me. I love the spirit of the holiday season, and, to a certain extent, I love the gift giving aspect of it. But somehow, ever since I transitioned from childhood to adulthood (and thus left some of the magic behind?), I have a certain hollow feeling as we move into this time of year.

Helena and I will be volunteering next with our local homeschooling group to make pies for the Red Cross, which will be delivered to people who need. I'm excited about this! This aspect of service is something I want more consistently in my life, and one that I definitely want to instill in Helena from an early age. It feels good, it helps, and it reminds me of how small my own inner world is (which I can get so wrapped up in at times, ad nauseum) and how much more there is out there than me. This opportunity to get together with others and do something that helps feels magical to me...there, it's coming back a bit!

The gift giving aspect weighs me down, still. But I had an idea...of how it would mean more to me.

I really want to give more handmade items...would love to make all of my own, but life intervenes and that isn't always realistic (we just moved, and I still can't get to my sewing machine!).

So in light of this, I thought it would be wonderful to give more items made by other small artisan business, and even just items, not handmade, but sold by small sellers. I had a small Ebay business a few years back that did a modest volume, and that income was a real help to our family.

So, to get to the idea, I would love to feature, over the next few weeks, listings of individual sellers with handmade items or just small, mom & pop type online shops. I have a few things to sell myself, not much these days, but it is so fun to make a sale!

If you are one of these sellers, or know of someone who would be interested, please contact me. I would love to ad you to my posts. I'll do my best to market this, and would ask that everyone who participates spread the word in what ever way they can: blog, facebook, twitter, email lists, word of mouth....anyway that you usually connect with customers.

Connecting with and supporting others is such a warm, holiday feeling to me! Here's to a season of love and support!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Homeschooling Helena

I have been thinking, a lot, on what it means to home school Helena. On what should be included in our routine, what do I want for her?

I was home schooled myself, back in the dark ages of homeschooling, when few people had heard of it, and people turned and stared to see us out and about with mom during school hours.

My parent's homeschooling style for us would definitely fall under what is termed today as "unschooling," which can be loosely defined as a philosophy of allowing the child to learn through natural life experiences. This style allows the child to lead the learning process by choosing areas of interest to focus on rather than following specific curriculum

On reflecting upon my experiences growing up in this way, I have mixed feelings. In life I always come back to wanting some kind of balance, in this case between the looseness of this style and something more directed. Extremes never sit very well with me, and this seems to be no exception.
It's nearly impossible for me to think about what I want for Helena without reflecting on what I think I would have wanted for myself, and here are some of the things I've come up with so far.

Structure vs Looseness: I do believe that Helena is already learning so much through everyday life, and yet I think she would benefit, even thrive, with some regular, somewhat structured learning. She's a little Virgo and seems to crave routine and structure...something I have a love hate relationship with myself. So finding a balance there seems rather crucial to me. In this I will take some of her areas of interest, and create some structured activity around them...this sounds tricky as I describe it, but I think it can be done.

Regular social activity: Helena is a very social person, likes to play and engage more than not. We lived a very rural part of San Diego county when I was growing up, and I did feel very isolated. I think there is something to be said for time alone, and I value very much the fact that I can be quite content occupying myself for long periods of time, but I also think I would have thrived better with more, regular contact with people outside of my family. I'm less concerned with Helena's ability to interact well with others, she already thrives in this way. I simply want to be sure to provide for this need.

Adult Role Models: This is a really key piece that was lacking for me and that I really want to provide for Helena. As mommy to a female child and as primary educator, (whichever style of homeschooling I choose to follow), I'm very cognizant of the fact that I have a strong influence on Helena. To a certain extent this is natural, but I want to be very sensitive to the fact that she needs to have other views of life and the world than mine presented and modeled for her. Especially as she nears her teen years (sniff, sniff, can't believe in some ways that I'm even thinking that way already), I want her to have other opinions to try on and consider and embrace if they resonate with her.

I think this list will go on and on, but these things are at the forefront for me right now. This will be an interesting journey, to be sure.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Extra Blankets???

Saturday I was googling for sewing blogs to fuel my fire (which doesn't need much these days!), and found Rachelcoxdesigns. She does some beautiful work, so go on over and take a peak. But my eyes were drawn to the button on the side, which looks like this. I've since added it to my blog as well.

As previously mentioned, I'm in the unpacking and sorting phase of moving and am aware of an overabundance of things, many different kinds of things. One category is blankets. Somehow (Patrick!) we have accumulated a lot more blankets than we can use in the foreseeable future. That's my new criteria, by the way. If I like it and can imagine using it in the forseeable future, it can stay, otherwise, bye bye!

But I digress. There are so MANY worthy causes out there, but this one really touched me at this moment. This is a project to send blankets to the children of teen mothers in the Kentucky Appalachians, to some people with so very little. The idea of anyone being cold, especially someone small, makes my heart ache. How fortunate I am to have something that will help here. My box is nearly packed, will go out this week.

If you have extra blankets, I have the address, email me or you can also contact Rachel Cox through her blog. They can be handmade or just any blanket in good condition provided they're not wool (an allergen for some), and size twin or smaller.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Little Etsy Shop

My Etsy Shop

And yes, I do mean little. I have a whopping 3 items for sale. But I figured mention of it was in order.

You see, in my quest for "finding myself", i.e., what's the work I love, I have several times read that one should look back to childhood for clues.

I have always loved to make things, paint things, sew things, otherwise create things. I can remember one December when I was about 8 spending hours painting pictures on leftover board ends from shelves my dad had made....I gave them as gifts to my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I doubt any of these are still floating around but the memory of creating them, of finding the boards, spreading newspaper all over the green shag carpet in my bedroom, of mixing my own paint colors, that memory is vivid and fresh.

My intensely practical nature has led me in many other work directions....being a starving artist, or a production artist never seemed for me....

But at this point in my life, a new year has begun (birthday this week), and it just seems time to jump in.

I have a zillion ideas of things to make...not always much time, but here, at least, are a few of my creations if you'd like to take a peek.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Our new home is coming together very slowly. Partly, because we've all been sick for the past few weeks, Helena and I during and after the move and Patrick just after. I'm not sure what we have, it's mostly cold/ fever or other flu symptoms, but it hangs on like an $&%!. I haven't felt this consistently tired and run down in I don't know when....

Anyway, as I was saying, in part because of our illness, and in part because I have been, frankly, appalled by the volume of stuff we have, it's taking some time to settle in. And it's only been about 10 days, so I guess I need not expect too much at this point.

Patrick looked at me the other day and said that it feels like we have already unpacked everything we need, so what is all this other stuff still in boxes? This, coming from my darling pack rat, was unexpected, and also echoed my own thoughts.

So with that in mind, I've decided to make this an intentionally slow settling process. This time around, and, blessedly!, with the support of my spouse, I want to really consider the things which occupy our space and how and if they really work. And then let a lot of them go.

To add some interest to this, the previous owner of our home left (with our consent) some things behind for us. This list ranges from some cleaning and canning supplies to furniture, to this gorgeous, vintage, just tuned up (can you tell I'm just itching to use it?) sewing machine.

Many of the things that were left here have already left to go on to new homes. But it has been interesting to live with the items that lived, at least for awhile, in this new home of ours before it was ours.

Today I find myself rather frazzled, unfocused, unsure of where to start with the unpacking and sorting process. We hit the kitchen and bathroom first, since these are utterly essential, and these two rooms are shaping up nicely. Bedrooms, beds at least, needed to be accessible, and this too is working. Logic seems to dictate that I focus on the office and living room next, but the spare room is calling me...

The "spare room" which has a guest bed, but will also be my sewing room, I think, is going to top the list. I think I will feel so much better about wading through all the rest of the stuff if I can just do some creating here and there.

So I think I'll work at this with the "pay yourself first" philosophy. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Autumn in Upstate

I have definitely had the feeling that Autumn has been passing quickly this year. My head has been down, packing boxes, pushing paper, getting ready to move and I have been fighting a persistant cold for several weeks (and honestly, not resting enough).

But Sunday, when I went out to dump compost, the brillance of that autumn day struck me enough that I dashed back in for my camera. Here are a few moments of autumn in our yard.

Leaves on Helena's Playhouse

The Geese are Leaving...a sure sign that winter is coming.

O Our very old barn.....not so much autumn here, but I love the look of it. After almost 7 years here, I sometimes forget that these cool, old, decrepit buildings we see everywhere were novel once.

Maple leaves that Helena collected and set on our bench.

The leaves that stuck to my shoes when I came back inside.
May you bask in the glory of autumn, wherever you are.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ithcing to be settled

in our new home.

We finally, after some delays, have a closing date, this Wednesday, phew! Patrick is back in town, we're partially packed, partially painted (THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to current owner Sandy, for giving us early access!), and things are moving along.

It's autumn, and has been a mixture of chilly pre-winter and indian summer. I'm really ready to hunker down for the cooler season, can't wait to dive into some craft projects, and, of course, cool weather cooking.

I have been pondering the fact that I really am a goal, as in, getting there already, okay!, kind of person. So for the next few weeks, I'm going to focus on the journey as much as possible. I find the disassembly of my home and to an extent, my life, tedious, at best, and mentally disorganizing, as in, totally loosing focus, what the heck was a trying to pack and how did I end up in this room when I was working in that one, at worst.

So here's me, working at being zen in process of changing and resettling...Ooohhhhhmmmm!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What Does it Take to Unfold?

This is something I've been mulling over a lot of late.

For along time I "knew" I was more afraid of failure than success. I inwardly scoffed at the suggestions that I might really have a fear of success. Now, I KNOW otherwise.

I certainly do not like to fail. But the fear of success, of a bigger life, overwhelms me. Especially in recent years, since trying to balance the responsibilities of motherhood with work, household, marriage, friendships, I often feel stretched and inadequate. And I have told myself that I can't take on anymore, be anymore, do, anymore. Now, I'm not so sure.

In my search for balance, I often bump up against the question of is it really the situation (that is overwhelming, too much), or is it my own thinking, my own beliefs, especially in my own inadequacy, that overwhelm me? At this point, I think that it's the later.

This weekend I attended a Feng Shui refresher course, and, as usual, the experience blew the lid off of a lot of my conditioned thinking. I am so utterly grateful for having this come into my life. I love the practice of Feng Shui, the balance of intellect and intuition that it requires. And I always get so much more than just the course work from it, phew!

I'm not sure what the next steps are, except that it's time to move forward. I think the ride's about to get wilder!

One of my favorite writings of all time pops into my head just now. Many, many people are familiar with this inspiring piece, but it's worth re-reading. I'll leave you with it now.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson, from A Return to Love

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A month ago

Since I last posted. I think that's the longest I've gone since starting this blog.

September was so hectic, exciting, exhausting, stressful, exhilirating. I'm hoping for a calmer October. I doubt it.

Our annivesary, Helena's birhday, ears pierced for our big 5 year old (I wished we'd waited, she's THRILLED with them!). We're moving. Found our little house, should be closing in 2 weeks, moving in 3. Time to pack, sort, clean, disassemble, reassemble. I find myself dreaming of dreary winter days indoors, books, craft projects, staying HOME. I hope the new house will feel like home quickly. I'm ready to settle in.

We will be the second owners of this home, built in 1949 on land that was a wedding gift. It's a smallish (1400sq ft), simple, sweet, home. It feels odd, yet oddly comfortable. I think with a few things to make it us, I will really love it. A family started there, lived theirs lives, children moved on, and ultimately a parent died in this home. It carries the history of generation. I wonder what it will hold for us.

I'm very sensitive to the energy of spaces, more so since practicing Feng Shui. This home feels so solid, grounded. I think it's what I need right now.

I'll post some photos soon. I had the opportunity to walk through again with our agent, take measurements, get ready to do a Feng Shui layout. The floorplan is quite different from any home I've lived in before. I'm still trying to imagine how we'll use the space's exciting!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Soaking up the Outdoors

Monday, Helena and I and our young friend Jaret (who has been hanging with us this last week and a half while his mom starts a new job at Cornell) ventured into the Lindsey Parsons Biodiversity Preserve.

We have driven by this sweet preserve hundreds of times on our way to Ithaca. Yesterday we finally had an adventure there.

I was tired and frazzled..we've been house hunting, which has consumed a lot of our weekend down time. This was just what the doctor ordered.

When we returned home, we were mellow, played with play dough, and finished the day with a tea party (which, sadly, is no longer referred to by Helena as a Tea Tea Party). More of this in my life is a definite must.
Tea Party, complete with Play Dough Cookies

Helena's Favorite Tree

Golden Rod...hearlds the coming of Autumn

Checking the Map

Flowers by the bridge

Black Eyed Susan

Beaver Pond
(no sign of beavers today though)

Fall is definitely in the air. Summer, which barely made it to upstate, has quickly fled. The temperatures have dropped, the light feels different, fallish, if you will. The mosquitoes are down, which is lovely. I feel a certain urgency to soak up as much outdoor time as possible.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fear as a motivator?

In advance, this is going to be a ramble....

I am in an odd place in my life....

I think I have lived on adrenaline for a long time. Fear has been a strong motivating factor throughout my life. I have worked my tail off, been uber precise in my business dealings, striven hard for security, all from a place of fear. I have been afraid, somehow, that if I slowed down, let up, didn't hold it (life?) all together, it would all fall apart. I remember, sitting in massage schooling, listening to a description of the sympathetic nervous system, that fight or flight center we should only activate during extreme need, and I thought "that's where I live, more than not." Apparently, that's not uncommon.

Of late, I have been working on faith...if faith is truly a thing that can be worked on (at?). More than anything now, what I want to cultivate a sense of peace. I think I'm getting's not something that comes naturally to me, or at least, not anymore. I find myself sometimes whipping myself into a near frenzy over something that is SO not a real emergency. Old habits die hard. Often now, I catch myself in the act and can SLOOOWWW down a bit. I'm trying now to replace this with something more quiet, more grounded in what's real, and really important.

I'm leaving my job, training my replacement this week. I haven't replaced the job. We're okay in the short run, in the longer run, I need to replace that income. This was a necessary choice for me, but an uncomfortable one, because I'm not going toward anything I can clearly see. I have some ideas...I'm moving on them.

I woke up this morning with a sense of disquiet, disease. I realized, upon some consideration, that without that sense of fear, of urgency, as a motivator, I'm ill at ease. While on one level I welcome it's absense, on the other, I miss it like an old, worn out pair of shoes. Not longer functional, not even comfortable, long out of style, but ever so familiar.

Time to find a new pair of shoes...not sure where to shop. Fortunately, it's summer, and I can go barefoot for awhile.

I believe, that somewhere inside of me, there's something I'm here for (all of us, for that matter) on planet earth, in this place and time. Maybe not vastly significant in the grand scheme of things, but signifcant to me. Something deep within me, that would fuel me, drive me, from some deep place. I wish I knew...I have some ideas. What I know to be true right now is that the pursuit of security, financial or otherwise, is too hollow a goal for me to follow. Not that it isn't important in it's own way, just not enough makes my world so small.

So for now, I stand in this place of odd, uncomfortable stillness. Maybe in time it will be more comfortable.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Follow Up to the Skirt Post

After my last post, I emailed Patrick's aunt Linda, to show her the skirt photos, as I thought she had probably seen the original dress. She had, and sent me this photo, which was taken on Jim and Linda's wedding day, with Patrick's maternal grandparents, parents, and siblings in attendance. And, or course, Patrick himself in the form of a 6 month belly bump.

I love wearing this piece of history...and have gotten some lovely compliments on the skirt.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Crafting again....

I haven't posted a lot about things I've created, but have been working away at a few projects over the last several months. I'll get some pictures up eventually.
This morning, I woke up early, did a bunch of paperwork, saw Patrick off to work. Helena was up late, excited because Patrick came home last night after a 3 day trip, so she slept late.

I had been chewing on a small project for months, and this morning the time was right.

Before her death last fall, my mother-in-law, Toni, sent me some sewing items and fabric she was clearing out. In retrospect, I think she was preparing on some level. She had moved, and downsized considerably, but she had also been gifting us with a lot family treasures she had been saving and was ready to pass on.

One of the things she sent last summer was some fabric she had saved from a maternity dress she made herself and wore while pregnant with Patrick. It was still in panels, some still attached. When she sent it, she suggested we might make something for Helena with it. Helena, however, with her penchant for pink and purple, was not interested in this yellow and orange combination, so there it sat, and I've been thinking and thinking on it....

This morning, I decided it would be a skirt from me. I did a little research on a-line skirt patterns and this seems to fit the shape pretty well already. It was fairly easy to construct as a lot of the work was already done. With all of the half finished projects I have hanging around, it was wonderful to start and finish something in the same hour.

The icing on the cake is that I have these great shoes that I got on clearance last fall, to go with it! And if it stops raining for more than a day I'll get to wear them this summer.

I'll try and take a better photo, or have one taken. It's really pretty cute on, but my arms aren't long enough to take a decent shot of myself. I sew a lot, but rarely clothing, and never for me. So this was a lot of fun, maybe I'll try something again after this success.

I love that it's something that is part of Patrick's family history, love that I made something useful out of something that was just sitting for years, love that I had everything I needed to do the project on hand, and love that I have a new clothing item even though I have no room in my budget for that stuff right now. I think it's going to be a good weekend!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I have mulling over the topic of roots of late....

I'll beg indulgence for what I expect will be a rambling post, I'm exhausted, things are a little nutty, it's time for me to reign some things in.....

But in the meantime, back to roots.

When we left San Diego, we uprooted ourselves and our lives, and to some extent probably disturbed the soil around the lives of our friends and family. I did this not lightly, but without a true sense of what it all really meant. That meaning has become more full for me over time, has triggered a time of grieving all over again for what I truly left, and for awhile I had an intense reticence to establish new roots.

And, as always, I wonder what it all means. What does it mean to establish roots somewhere? How much energy should one (I) put into to growing roots in a location that is somewhat temporary? If I do commit to what's temporary and begin putting out roots, will I bloom, only to wither more intensely when it's time to uproot once again? Is it really possible to be firmly rooted in such seemly uncertain, tumultuous, transient times? Or, in a larger sense, is it all really temporary anyway? Can spending to much time thinking of such things drive one a bit crazy? Probably!

When we moved from my parents home where we resided (but never felt rooted to) here in NY for 5 years, I felt intense conflict. I loved and still love our sweet rental home, this gracious, old, somewhat unloved but still lovely old half of a house, called The Willows by the 19th century owner who planted the now enormous willow trees that grace our front yard. I loved setting up my own space again, but wanted to be there already, set up and settled, that is. I love the yard here. I have a love/hate relationship with the village of Spencer. Love the sweet smallness of it, love things like knowing everyone at the liberary and post office by name, that some of the people in this town have known my daughter since birth or even before. Hate sometimes the smallness too, the lack of activities in the winter, the distance from anything to do, the distance from a grocery store with a selection, the small rural town-ness of it.
And there I was(still am), and for the first 6 months or so I avoided putting down any sort of roots. I wasn't sure I wanted even stay in the state of NY, let alone commit, even on a short term basis, to little Spencer.
But after a time, when the dust settled, and I began to ponder this question, I decided I would be doing myself and my family a disservice by holding back. I don't know how long we'll be here...when the time will be right to purchase our own home. Oh, how I long to own my own home again, to make choices from a more permanent place, to invest time and energy and know that (can I really know, though?) that I will continue to reap the benefits of that investment for as long as I wish.
But I digress. We live in the house, our rent is SO low, that we decided that some improvements would be well worth it for the benefits we would reap, and that whoever comes next will hopefully appreciate these things too. I decided that I didn't want to experience another spring without have my own tulips come up in the yard, so last fall I planted some, and they were glorious. I've made friends...with some of the local families, parent's with children Helena's age, some of my older neighbors. I even have a neighbor who comes from Ocean Beach. We love to talk about places back in San Diego over a beer! And people are starting to become dear to me...yikes!
Which brings us back to roots.
Shortly before leaving San Diego we had a large yard sale. Over that weekend we met most of our neighbors on our block, most of whom I'd barely seen, let alone met. I remember thinking, wow! What a lot of lovely people, just a stone's throw away, and I never knew, never had the time to find out until now, as we're leaving.....
Last evening Helena, Patrick and I were sitting on a blanket in the backyard, enjoying the first, glorious, sunny, warm evening in more than a week, when around the corner came Illie (probably not spelled correctly), our next door neighbor. I'm not sure how old Illie is, I would about 75, but I don't know her well yet, would like to know her better. She had, in the package pictured above, some Dahlia bulbs for me. When Helena and I had stopped to chat a few weeks ago she mentioned she wished she had some left for me. Illie has a beautiful front yard, one we admire regularly when we pass. She had given me some cuttings of a shrub, I don't know what it's called, but if they take (some seem to be), I'll take a photo and post it.
So it occured to me last night, as I walked Illie back around to the front to show her the shrubs I planted, that now I have friends, neighbors, and perennial plants....I guess I have roots here, for now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


These are decidely tumultuous times...around the world, in this country, in this region....some of this has effected the lives of those I know personally and I'm sure we all have some stories to tell to this affect.

But I don't want to do that today.

I admit to being a rather anxious person, and at times it's an effort for me to remain calm and effective when the world I live in doesn't seem very grounded and solid. But somehow, with all these glorious signs of spring all around me, it's hard for me not to be cheerful at least some of the time.

I wish I could lay claim to this glorious bed of tulips, but they bloom in the yard of our neighbors cross the street. Erica, you've done an amazing job!

Helena has a magnetic attraction to them and wants to go walk along the path everytime we go outside. Thankfully, she's old enough to understand that we can't pick them. We spent probably 40 minutes just checking out the tulip bed on this glorious spring day.

We traded Helena's trike for a "big girl bike, " which she's become quite proficient at riding.

Garlic mustard (have no idea what it's scientific name is) grows like a weed in our yard. I learned last year that it was edible and I used it to top a delicious tart, the recipe from Amy at
Eggs on Sunday . If you haven't visited this amazing cooking blog I highly recommend it. She's a local Ithacan and uses fresh, seasonal items in amazing gourmet recipes, yum!

I used the garlic mustard as the topping instead of ramps...which I didn't have around. It turned out really great, and I like the idea of using weeds for food:-) It's quite tasty in salads and I've added to pastas as well.

We have these sweet little flowers blooming in our side yard...and my mom identified the plant as blood root, which has medicinal qualities. It does bleed a rusty color when you pick the blooms. My mom, who has studied herbalism extensively, is going to dig some up and transplant in her yard

Princess Petunia, Helena's "best puppet friend" (a topic which deserves it's own post sometime) got to tip toe through our tulips. We have a small bulb bed. I got ambitious last fall and bought 90 bulbs to plant in the bed in front of our house....but after digging up several pieces of slate that were roughly 12" x 12" x 4" I downsized my ambitions and ended up with about 15 tulips and roughly the same number of hyacinths.

Some other friends enjoyed our flower garden as well.

Violets, also edible, bloom profusely this time of year. Helena and I have pressed a few. We need to get or make a proper flower press.

We've finally passed our last frost date (May 15), and although it frosted for the last two nights, the 10 day weather report promises night time temps of 45 and higher, so our garden starts go in this week...tomatoes, basil, oregano....pasta sauce in the ground! Also cucs, peppers, squash and lettuce over the next few weeks as they get a bit bigger.

My kale has been in the ground about a month and I can start harvesting some soon. Radishes, carrots and sweet onions are all poking up. We're going to plant more seeds too...corn, winter squash, maybe a few others. This is a very ambitious garden for me, but once we get everything in I think I can keep up with the weeding and occasional watering that may be needed. The canning I'm less confident about, but I bought a pressure canner this winter off craigslist and tons of jars, so here's hoping!

I'll try to get some garden photos up soon...and the lilacs are blooming now...I have photos on my camera of those!

Happy Spring!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spring is the season for change

for our little family....

Patrick, after negotiating for about a month, finally signed a deal memo Monday and began a new job Tuesday, as an energy auditor trainer. I'll explain more about what that is another day.

This is huge change for our family. This is the first regular, full time job I think that Patrick has had in our 15 years together, aside from a fairly regular bartending schedule (at night, of course) some 12 or so years ago. There are benefits, there is a fairly consistent schedule. Quite frankly, it's a little weird for me.

I think it's going to be a very positive change for our family in the long run...that is my want for us. In the short run, for the next year, at any rate, he will be traveling about 75% of the time.
Helena is less than pleased with this prospect. Our trial run this week, while he traveled for just 3 days, was emotional for her...she missed daddy at bed time, missed daddy in the mornings, and wanted to put some of his things away so she wouldn't be reminded of missing him and had a very hard time being left with her grandparents, an adventure she usually relishes weekly. The 3rd day we settled in and she was more herself, it was my day off, and we had a lovely day together. Then he came home and it was a joyful reunion. I expect it will be quite different for her, and me too, when he leaves for 2-3 weeks at a time.

I have incredibly mixed feelings about the whole change in our lives. On the one hand, the idea of medical benefits and a regular paycheck that I can budget to is very appealing. Direct deposit, even!

On the other hand, I feel, in a weird sort of way, like a mother whose child is about to leave the nest. Our relationship has had a lot of that flavor, maybe because of the relatively unstable childhood home life Patrick had compared to mine, perhaps because he is the youngest child in his family and I am the oldest in mine, we've gravitated toward those roles. Whatever the reason, it has been an uneasy element in our relationship for both us, I think. He has half wanted half resented the mothering I've tried to give him, which, especially since the birth of Helena, I have very little energy left for and have resented myself.

He shows a strong desire, for maybe the first time since I've known him, to truly learn to care for himself and take good care of himself, and I'm optimistic about his ability to do so. And oddly, I think this intense travel schedule will be helpful in allowing him the space to learn to care for himself while giving me some physical distance from our relationship so that I can learn to let him go to take care of himself, which after so many years has to be a conscious effort for me.

So on the one hand I'm excited about the relative financial stability in our lives while mourning the loss of scheduling freedom we've grown very accustomed to. I'm relishing the space to claim some space for myself and relearn how to be in my marriage in a healthier way, and on the other hand, I'll miss him, Helena will miss him, and I'm rather stressed about how to handle the details of our lives for the most part on my own, while still's rental season, the apartments have to be shown on the weekends even when all I want to do is stay home and hang with my little girl, we have a final apartment to renovate which I will be, at least to some extent, coordinating, seeking financing for, etc...

So for the moment, I'm seeking the balance between loving and separating, rest and work and work and work, supporting without smothering, and finding some space for the solitary pieces of me that still ache for attention while I care for my precious daughter.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oh, the indignity...

of being a cat in our family!

Our two feline family members, Sauntee (15 years young) and Luna (5 months) have made, I think, a few brief appearances on my blog. When I was scrolling through some photos, I decided they warranted a special post, so, without further ado, a peak at the lives of cats in a household with a 4 year old.....

You get to play horsey and carry around fair damsels in distress!

The Hats are divine!

Wardrobe options are simply endless, and you have your own personal dresser,
just a like a movie star!

There's lots and lots of love...

.....and snuggling to go around!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Theme Thursday.....Egg

A couple of months ago, I gave away a $50 toaster oven. We weren't using it, it was collecting dust, I tried to sell it on craigslist at a low price, to no avail. I wanted it to be used so I listed it free to a good home, and it was gone in a day, to a neighbor, as it turns out. In return she left me these lovely eggs from the chickens she doesn't have (chickens are not allowed in our village).

I was so thrilled to receive this lovely, unexpected gift, on top of being thrilled to have the toaster oven move on to where it was needed.

So here's my bit of abundance for this week's Theme Thursday.

Monday, March 30, 2009

This Week's Menu....

Here's my menu plan for the week....much of it dug from some old issues of Cooking Light. I love this magazine.

While I'm concerned with health, I don't generally look for "light" recipes per say. What a like about this magazine is that the recipes use a lot of fresh, healthy, ingredients, and tend to be adventuresome, which pushes me out of my cooking comfort zone. I can get stuck in a meal planning rut when I get busy, so I like to have something to flip through Sunday night for fresh ideas.

I believe all of their recipes are online...I'm so visual and tactile though, that I really love to have the magazine in my hand:-)

Roasted chicken, basmati rice and salad

Homemade Pizza....going to make the crust from scratch the night before and this one will feature olives, feta and fresh tomatoes...Greek Style, if you will.

...????drawing a blank here still, it's my long work day and I need something fast!

Flank Steak Sandwiches (from CL) with Salad

Black Eyed Pea Cakes and Collards (from CL)
Did I mention how delicious the collards are sauteed in a bit of bacon grease (we get the nitrate free bacon from Wegmans, yummy!).

Chicken Tapenade Sandwiches (from CL)
I'm an absolute nut about olives, mmmmmm!

Probably leftovers

Last week's Cream of Mushroom Quinoa Soup was a hit, even Helena ate it!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Week Ahead, or Organizing my Scattered Thoughts

It's Sunday night, it' s been a full weekend at home. The work week begins anew tomorrow. My weekends seem to fly by all too quickly, and then the week begins and I'm caught up in the seeming chaos of it all.

In an attempt to harness it somewhat, I sat down today, discussed the menu plan for the week with Patrick & Helena, and jotted down some priorities for the week. I tend to get home from work, or get to my mid week day off (yes, I'm very fortunate to have that!) and lose focus, if I had it to begin with. So today I set some of it down on paper so I would have a sense of what the focus should be for this week.

This was spurred somewhat by the angst I felt after finishing a great book, Craft, Inc by Meg Mateo Ilasco. I have always had a creative side, not always had a lot of confidence in it, but have been painting, sewing, and otherwise crafting since I was small. As a little girl I made dolls clothes, during the Cabbage Patch Kid craze, that I wanted to sell. They were pretty cute, but I never followed through with the marketing of them. There were some other attempts too. And lots of dreams. Not a lot of follow through. I've done a lot of personal growth work, soul searching, etc..., throughout my adult life and I believe I am a fairly self-aware person. But none of this has, to date, really helped me be effective in this area. And quite honestly, I'm sick to death of it.

I got the book because it seemed like having a step by step guide would be helpful, and in a sense it was. There's a lot of great information and stories in there. But it left me feeling pissed off and frustrated with myself. The information was good, some of it invaluable, but I lot of it I already know....enough to start, certainly.

This is a rambling post, I'll get to the planning soon, but at the moment, I continue to vent....

When I visited San Diego last month we got to see our nieces and nephew. I'm happy to say, that after a very tough couple of years, they seem to be doing really well. They lost their mother, my husband's sweet sister Val, suddenly in January of 2007. Clister, a young man in his early twenties, took over care of his two teenage sisters Melanie and Sharon, and is doing an amazing job. I'm sure it isn't always easy, but he handles it with class. While visiting with them, Clister handed us his newly released CD, Clister: Directions 2 Real. I have to say, I was floored, and a little ashamed. With everything going on in his life, he managed to write and record a CD. And here am I, still not doing my thing..........

So anyway, here I sit. Not beating myself up, but just tired of my own excuses. Not really sure where to start, but knowing that it's time to just start, and that something wilts in me everytime I fail to prioritize myself, and now I'm aching for water.....

Here's my week:


Pasta with Chicken, Red Sauce and Vegis (whatever we have) and Salad

Tomato Cabbage Soup with homemade bread
This is a favorite recipe, so here it is

Tomato-Cabbage Soup

1) Finely dice 1 carrot, 1 leek, well-washed and 1/2 bunch celery, including leaves. Saute in a soup pot with 1 Tb oil and 1/2 Tb whole fennel seed. When golden brown, add 8 c. water and 1 Tb pesto, if you have it, otherwise add 1tsp dried basil. Cover and simmer 1 hour.

2) Coarsely shop 5 c. fresh tomatoes. You need not skin them. (Or alternatively, add 1 qt. canned tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes somewhat in the soup pot). Add to soup pot with 1/4 c. canned tomato paste. Cut up 1/4 small cabbage into 1" squares and add to simmering soup. Cook another 30 min. When cabbage and tomatoes seem done, add 1/3 c. white rice and cook 10 min more. The rice really needs to go in much earlier to be done on time.

3) Season soup with 2 Tb brown sugar, 2 tsp salt and 1 Tb lemon juice. Taste and correct seasonings if necessary. Garnish each serving with sour cream.

serves 6

Roasted chicken, baked potatoes and Wilted Collard Greens

We're out for dinner

Cream of Quinoa Mushroom Soup with more bread
I made this about 5 years ago and remember loving it. I happen to have quinoa, so I'm making it

Pork chops, rice, salad

Left overs

Priorities for the Week

Get in to the art room and start working on something again!
Clean out cabinets for Helena's room
Work on baby gifts
Weed and prep garden for planting this weekend (root vegis)
Plant onion starts

I still need to make a shopping list based on the menu, and other random items we're low on, but that's a good start, I think.... time to get to bed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Theme Thursday.....Vegetable

My Hopeful Garden

Happy Theme Thursday!

March is a fickle month here in Upstate. It can be 60 and gorgeous one day, and 30 and snowing the next. Myself, and most everyone I know around here are absolutely itching for spring. I find myself impatient with the cold weather, though spring has not yet technically begun.

This year we plan to have a large garden, enough to fill our fresh food needs for the spring, summer, and autumn, and hopefully enough to can and freeze some for winter.

We planted our first seedlings weeks ago, and most have yet to sprout despite our grow light (since we lack good windows with southern exposure). But, less than a week after planting, these little Kale plants came popping optimistically through the soil, and are growing rapidly. This photo is about a week old, some are already two inches tall.

My bulbs have yet to push through the winter soil, though it seems that most everyone else's have....I know this is just my impatience, but I'm really READY for spring.

But my Kale is growing and thriving...I check them multiple times a day! So I can hang on until the warmer weather is here to stay....

Text Color

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Theme Thursday.....Animal

My parent's made this, ahem, "bird feeder," with Helena last summer. Mom asked me for photos for a scrap book they're making of the day the spend together each week. I'm not sure this was quite what they had in mind....

This bird feeder hangs with no easy access...however, the squirrels (which are rampant in our village), manage to dive at this feeder, missing many times, but persisting none the less until the land and can manage to hang on until it stops swinging.

Happy Theme Thursday

Friday, March 6, 2009

A moment of gratitude...

I've been up's now almost 12:30am and I like to be in bed by around 10. But taxes are due shortly, and I had bills to pay.....sigh....

This kind of paperwork often leaves me feeling edgy and crabby. Lately I feel like I'm trying to spread too little much to far. Taxes scare me. Since I was behind on our paperwork all year, I only vaguely knew where we were at, and I tried to throw some money at estimated payments (since we're both self-employed) when I could, which wasn't a lot.

I think we'll be okay there...if we owe, it shouldn't be too bad, if not, so much the better.

The bills, for the moment, are all paid, and there's a bit left till next week. Winter's winding down, our heating bills will be too. It feels like a bit of a treadmill right now, but at least I'm able to stay on. That one phrase...the bills are all paid, is for me, at this moment in time, with the state of the country and world, something to be deeply grateful for. And I am.

Sweet dreams!

P.S. When I just glanced at my page to check for errors, I noted that the current temp is 39 degrees...AT NIGHT! And, then I had to log onto and it's now going to be in the 50s for the next few days, instead of 40s, so I'm dancing in my seat grateful for that!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Menu Planning...part of the balancing act

It's Sunday night. Helena's asleep. Patrick is showering. We've had a fairly mellow weekend (dug into one project, which I'll describe at another time). I'm tired, but planning for the week to come.

I find, these days, that planning ahead helps a lot in most things. I like spontaneity....I could watch it all day! But as the mother of a 4 year old, somedays I find it challanging to accomplish anything let alone everything on ever growing list.

One the things that helps me tremendously is planning our dinner menu for the week. Patrick asked me last week, were were really going to stick with this one. Of course I said no! So really, it's more of a menu guildline. I depart from it for various reasons...too tired sometimes to cook and just do something simple, too many leftovers we need to eat, forgot we had plans to be out, etc... But having a notion in advance of what to cook these days keeps me from scrambling around at 5pm trying fast thaw something and ending up with a cranky hungry family by the time dinner is ready.

So without further ado, here's my menu plan for this week ( I mean guildline!):

Monday: Buffalo Chicken Pizza (for some reason I bought buffalo style sausage, this seemed a good way to use it. I made the crust tonight and am slow rising it in the fridge, ALA Alton Brown.

Tuesday: we'll be out

Wednesday: Enchilada Casserole (lots of torillas in the freezer, and not the good kind you get fresh in CA, kind of hard, best used this way)

Thursday: Dinner out (Karls house)

Friday: Pork Chops, Collards Greens, Rice or Potatoes (I have both)

Saturday: Turkey Meatloaf, Broccoli, Rice or Potatoes (I have both)

Sunday: Eat up leftovers

Once I have a plan, I make my shopping list and check recipes so I know I have what I need on hand. Sometimes I'll also bump an item to the next day if we start getting overrun with leftovers. I also like to plan in easy nights like burgers or hotsdogs with salad one a day when I know we'll be busy and not get home early enought to cook.

Happy March!

Monday, February 23, 2009

In pursuit of balance... what am I talking about?

I haven't spoken much about the partial name change of this blog....

I wanted it to be a bit more positive...I'm a firm believer in creating my own reality (or my own excellent life, really for the goal), and as much as possible focus on what's good. A friend recently mentioned that this blog reads pretty much that way...upbeat, positive, and the question was posed..."how are you really?"

Truth be told, I have as many ups and downs as the next person, and with the major events in our lives this last 6 months, particularly the sudden death of Patrick's mother, there has been a lot of heaviness in our home and lives. Some of it, I would say, somewhat inevitable, some, maybe not.....

But spring is around the corner, and spring is coming into our lives again too. I can feel it....

I have gripped somewhat in this blog, but for the most part, I talk about the good things, things that are lovely, things that are working, things that I'm working out or working on, and finding ways to improve.

I have strong perfectionist tendencies, hence, the use of the word BALANCE in the title. In my life what I want most clearly right now is a sense of balance. A balance of work, play and rest, a balance of order and relaxed disorder (chaos?), a balance social time and quiet time, a balance giving and receiving, a balance of fun and of reverence.....the list could go on indefinitely.....

I'll post more about some of the ways I achieve these balances, as they evolve. I'll try to keep this blog balanced enough in terms of ups and downs to feel authentic, while still knowing that what I ultimately want to focus on and send out over the miles to those who read, is a sense of what is good and positive more than what isn't......

Happy Monday world!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our Happy Valentine's Day....

We had a mellow Valentine's Day weekend. Patrick ran errands for much of the day, including finally selling our Red Dodge Truck!It has been a real albatross. Helena and I hung at home and played and I tried to unwind after hitting the ground running our first full week back, which included a Drs appointment with shots for Helena and the Valentine's Theme Feng Shui Class I taught at our local food Co-op (and had to prepare for last minute because I hadn't squeezed it in earlier).

Helena & I had our morning tea in our favorite cups.....

We shared a few simple Valentine's treats...Organic Dark Chocolate, mmmmmmm!

On Sunday Helena spent the day with Meema and Papa (grandma and grandpa, for the lay person) while Patrick and I had a rare date out, doubling with good friend Tony and new good friend Kim (Tony's lovely lady!).

We drove up rt 89 along the west side of Cayuga Lake, did some wine tasting and had brunch at the Crystal Lake Cafe at Americana Vineyards.

Kim & Tony @ Brunch....

Tony & Patrick outside Thirsty Owl Winery....backed by Cayuga Lake

I actually had no idea the Finger Lakes region of New York had a wine country prior to moving here, and it's something we haven't availed ourselves of nearly as much as I would like. There's a small micro climate along the lakes that is conducive to growing wine grapes, particularly for the German style sweet wines (not my favorite, I'm a dry wine gal myself). Lately they've been venturing into growing some of the dryer wine grapes, with mixed results. We tried a nice wine whose name escapes me at the moment (hmmm, maybe some more wine will jog my memory) made from a new hybrid that Cornell's Ag department produced. The challenge seems to be to produce a dry wine with substance, as a lot of those we tasted seemed rather weak in flavor, although some were quite good. Some, oddly (at least to me, who knows nothing about wine making) taste rather skunky, for lack of a better description.

I think we tasted at 4 vineyards in all, although I skipped the last one....I'm a lightweight and was also already familiar with the lovely wines at Sheldrake Point, which we visted when good friends Dave, Mel & Solaris came to see us last summer.

It was a gorgeous, sunny, clear day, and although this bare time of year is not my favorite, the lake drive is always lovely.

Cherrio, and happy Belated Valentine's to all of our lovelies!

Monday, February 16, 2009

I can almost smell spring!

Ground hog day is just past, and I guess the verdict on Spring depends on which groundhog you believe (and I always thought there was just one!) I think Dunkirk Dave is closest to us, although I haven't actually verified the mileage. He did not see his shadow, which hearlds an early spring here, and this morning I can almost believe it.

It's not warm, but at 30 degrees it's comfortable to be out walking in a coat and mittens. The sun is shining, there are some light snow flurries, but most of our snow melted with last weeks warm snap, so the bare ground is peaking through. I can't wait to see the tulips and hyacinths we planted last fall popping up.

This morning my bedroom began to lighten as I was waking, and by that I can tell that the days are getting noticeably longer. Technically, they have been since Dec 22, but now I can tell.

I have loved winter more this year in years past, but could learn to appreciate it more, I think. This tends to be the more challenging time for me, when the snow doesn't seem to fall as heavily, and therefore isn't much fun to play in, but it's still to cold to do much outside. But at least it's warm enough to enjoy some fresh air, and for that I'm thankful.

Happy belated Valentine's Day to all! We had a lovely weekend, and I'll post some photos soon, but don't have them accessible from work (sshhhhh, I ought to be, well, working now).

To everyone we didn't connect with this time in San Diego, please accept my heartfelt appologies and know that you are loved. I went into this trip some completely burned out and spent that I just didn't have the energy to organize or coordinate. I'm finally feeling a bit rejuvenated though.

Monday, February 2, 2009

From San Diego

We're in San Diego, got in later Friday night after having our flights cancelled on Thursday due to bad weather.

It's beautiful, warm, sunny, a nice break from the freezing pipes and fridgid weather we left behind. And I'm Really Crabby.

I love and hate coming to San Diego-it's a very ambivilent experience for me. It's comfortable and homey, I lived here for 32 years. And I'm still at times unsure of the wisdom in my choice to leave here. But, after 6 years, although it feels homey, it's not home anymore.

This is the 9th time we've come back to visit since leaving, so we visit fairly often, considering the distance. Deaths, births, a wedding, and a few pleasure trips have brought us back here, and it's without fail, despite my best plans and intentions, a frantic and ultimately exhausting attempt to see the dozens of people we know and love. This time I really want it to be different. And I just don't know how to do it.

We've drastically shortened the list of people to see, at the risk of hurting the feelings of people we love. And yet, already, at the dawn of the 3rd day here, I'm really frazzled and frayed, and ready to go home. Patrick seems to be faring a bit better, but then again he seems to feel the pull to please much less than I. Helena is at moments cheerful and funny, but much more tired and cranky than is her normal little self.

I believe that the change that is needed is within me. This pasy year and a half or so has been a period of fairly rapid growth on my part, and I'm weary from it. I love so many people here, and indeed have said and meant feverently that half my heart still lives in San Diego with all those I love so much. But coming here, at a time when I feel really ready, finally, to commit to the choice we've made to leave, seems now to be perhaps not the wisest for me.

I'm just beginning to get solidly on my feet in Upstate, to forge connections to people, and my community, to out forth effort to be the person that I want to be in the work world. And when I come here, beyond the sadness I feel because of the physical distance I have now from so many I love, underscored by the changes I see that happened while I was absent, I also feel strongly tempted to rush back to where it feels warm and safe, to where I know people know and love me, especially when I forget to love myself.

But I also see that despite my questionning of my own choices and motivations, there a lot the reasons I chose to leave still stand, and it's time to move forward and give those dreams and goals a chance. To trust in my own worth and strength and know that I can forge the life I want, wherever I am. And being here, now, because of my inner turmoil, isn't perhaps the way I could have best supported myself in all of this.

So, for this morning, Helena and I are off, while Patrick rests as he needs, to the ocean for a morning in the sun and air. I'm going to pretend for a few hours, that I'm in Florida, or the Carribean, or somewhere other than my home town, where the goal is simply to relax and refresh and play. And perhaps, just perhaps, I'll be inspired with how to make this more the experience that I need.

On a completely separate note, I've edited the name of the blog a little. I think it more accurately reflects me and where I'm going, at least for the moment.....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's Another......

Snow Day!

These get to be less of a novelty as the season progresses, but still, it's rather lovely to have an excuse to stay home and snuggle in. I need to move further from work so I can take snow days off too! Today I'm heading home from work to quickly pack!

We're off to soak up some sunshine with a quick trip to San Diego. After the sad trip we had in November, we're ready for some rest and a little fun. One of these days we need to make it up further north to visit some of our friends and family up in LA & SF too. But for now, I'm excited to be visiting my home town again, especially since half my heart still lives there with those I love.

I guess I'm a little over stimulated, because I'm really soaking up the silence today again. The office is quiet, the phone isn't ringing, and the snow seems to muffle everything. With the nasty driving conditions, not too many people are on the road....lovin that quiet!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The blessed sound of.....


Before I became a mother, I don't think I was aware of how important quiet time and solitude are to me. I think people's needs for this vary, and I didn't know until more recently how vital it is to my well being.

Before Helena, back in my working days in San Diego, I never really lacked alone time. I worked a lot, so did Patrick, and although there were certainly times that, due to our divergent schedules, I didn't get enough Patrick time, it was rare that I didn't get enough me time.

Today, after 3 weeks of my family passing around colds and the stomach flu (and let me tell you, when 3 people have to fight for one toilot, it's not pretty!), I'm keenly aware of how badly I need to be alone for a bit.

It, this need for alone time, that is, comes on something like a virus. First, I start to feel vaguly off, uncomfortable in my own skin. Next it progresses to a general crabbiness, for which I feel guilty because often my husband and daughter are being delightful and doing nothing to warrent my grump. Finally, if let go too far without antidote, it progesses into all out bitchiness witchiness, sometimes in the form of things that I say and ways that I behave, often in just the things in my head that I'm trying hard not to say, because I already regret thinking them.

The cure for this is always simple, and yet sometimes seemingly impossible. Some alone time, totally quiet, no conversations, no one to answer to. Sometimes I can acheive this by staying up a bit late or getting up a bit early. But when illness stikes our household, my daughter knows when I'm awake and seems always to wake up about 5 minutes after me.

So I have to get more creative. Today I'm at work...alone! There are 1000 others things I would rather do while alone than be at work. But it's quiet. It's mid January and the promised down season seems finally to have arrived. The phone isn't ringing, there are no emails to be answered, and my boss is blissfully, finally, over the stomach flu too and out at a meeting. So I'm going to work alone and enjoy these blissfully quiet moments.

I haven't made any New Year's resolutions per say, but a goal I have is to somehow carve out enough quiet time that I don't catch that nasty virus anyone more. A little emotional perventative care for me goes a long way!

Friday, January 16, 2009

More projects....

We've been slowing working at more projects, at a much more sedate pace than last month. Here are some...

In our office, we had a door leading actually leads to the hall that would head to the upstairs portion of our house, if it were not split into 2 apartments. So the door was missing and just boarded up with chip board behind it. It looked horrible, so Patrick took an old hollow door we'd removed from somewhere and painted it with chalkboard paint. Helena loves it, and it give her something fun to do while I'm working in the office.

Last spring, before I started working, Helena & I were regular attendees of our local library's preschool story hour. As a group we worked our way through the entire alphabet through the school year, and each week the parents were charged with bringing a snack beginning with that week's letter. We had V week, and in a pinch, I scrambled for an idea and came up with Violet Cupcakes. Helena remembered them recently, and wanted to make them again. I think we added more blue last time, and had a truer violet color. Still, lots of fun.

Yesterday, Helena and I began making Valentine's Day cards, part of my plan to be better organized and working on these things in advance, instead of at the last minute. I bought a few acrylic stamps and some stamp blocks at JoAnns the other day, and away we went. We worked happily on them for a few hours, and will do more over the next few weeks.

I finally finished the curtains for our living room. I got this fabric for $2/yard on clearance at JoAnns several years ago. I didn't know what I would do with it, but am thrilled to have my 3 windows covered for about $20.

Next on the list? I hope to recover these disreputable looking pillows. Patrick brought them to our relationship 15 years ago, and they were faded then. Now, some have holes. I've been planning to recover them ever since, and......