Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

On this fabulous Friday evening, the night before Seth turns 15, I can't help but be extra grateful for my boy, and for all 15 of these years. He's a wonderful son, a kind and thoughtful young man, and it's just a pleasure to be his mom. I'm grateful for his hugs, for his laughter, for his jokes and riddles and quick wit, and especially for his open heart and willingness to communicate. I couldn't ask for a better son, no doubt.

I'm grateful for family. For our family just a few acres away, and for our family across the state and *even* in other countries. Grateful to have them, mostly healthy and mostly happy; and to get to spend time with them as well, even if it's not as often as we'd like. We're lucky to get a big dose of family time for Seth's birthday! Fabulous.

The sunshine has continued to bless us this week. I am always so grateful for sunshine! It's so nice to have a drawn out autumn, without instantly turning to rain and mush (knock on wood). It could frost here pretty quick, so I've been clearing out the produce, and the ripening is definitely slowing way down, but wearing long sleeves when I mow, and not having to worry about what time of the day I'm out in the yard for fear of heat and sun exposure, I just love that! Now if only it would last for another two months. Three, if I were really greedy...

I'm grateful for fall flavors. The pumpkin recipes abound on Pinterest, and I've been enjoying a bit of roasted butternut squash as well (I have a recipe to post soon, sooooo yummy). I'm looking forward to all the soups and stews of fall, the hot chocolate and apple pie. Oh dear, getting hungry just thinking about it... Here are a few pumpkin finds I might fiddle around with soon...

I had some really productive days this week. I love (and am grateful for) productive days, when the tick marks off the side of the to-do list are plentiful... and I also had some less-than-productive days. Those I am less fond of. But, each day brings another opportunity to get things done, and I also try not to be too hard on myself for the different pace that my weeks with Seth can have. It's a little amazing how much back and forth is possible with just one kid and a few after-school appointments. I have so much sympathy and admiration for my friends with multiple kids who have multiple music lessons and sporting interests... yowsa!

I'm grateful for a persistent nature. I've been called things *other* than persistent... but, well, I prefer to think of it as tenacious... persistent... yeah, that's it. I have been trying to figure something out in Photoshop for awhile, and have poked around ad nauseum online, asked for a bit of help from a few designer/photographer types, and spend way more hours (than I should, really) with my calligraphy scans and photographs, trying to get the two to mesh the way I want them to. I don't want to jinx things by saying I've got it figured out, but I'm getting it to work more often than not, lately, and I'm glad of that. Visualize a little terrier with something in it's mouth, grrrrr-ing. That's me, but in a good way.

I'm grateful for coffee. Nectar of the gods, I tell you.

Words, words, words. I do love the words. I was reminded this week of the importance of kind words, especially between loved ones. What one person thinks is a joke can be taken completely differently by the other party. Of course, this also reminds me not to take stuff people say so very seriously; really, who can't laugh at themselves a bit? Um, me, some days... But, this instance wasn't about me, and it was interesting to watch the interactions and learn a bit about myself and how I think I might come across sometimes as well. (Just ask husband about the eye roll. Oh yeah.) I am grateful for kind words.

Some of my favorite words from this week:

I hope you have a blessed weekend with those you love. I plan on hugging my 15-year-old at least 15 times tomorrow!

What are you grateful for this week?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday 13: Quotable

So, it's been awhile since I've done a quote-related post, hasn't it? I thought I would share 13 of my current quote "finds." I come across and save so many, but these are the ones that stood out, this month. Enjoy!

1. Don't ever take the fence down until you know the reason why it was put up. -G.K. Chesterton

2. Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions. -Hafiz

3. Never look back unless you are planning on going that way. -Henry David Thoreau

4. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you. -Rumi

5. Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. -Vaclav Havel

6. Life is curly. Don't try to straighten it out. -Susan Scott

7. True peace comes with the discovery that we can respect the seasons of life with a spacious and undefended heart. In it we learn to trust, to rest in the truth of the way things are, to willingly accept the measure of joy and sorrow we are given. -Jack Kornfield

8. Be not the slave of your own past--plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience, that shall explain and overlook the old. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

9. The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy. -Florence Scovel Shinn

10. If I were dying my last words would be: Have faith and pursue the unknown end. -Oliver Wendell Holmes

11. The fact is that very few things have so much effect on the feeling inside a room as the sun shining into it. -Christopher Alexander

12. I dream of an art so transparent that you can look through and see the world. -Stanley Kunitz

And I saved my very favorite new, and seasonal!, quote for last:
13. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. -George Eliot

Which one is your favorite? Do you have a quote to share with me? Please do!

Here are the other Thursday 13 participants. Play along if you like.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ten Word Tuesday: Energy drain

Visions of pink bunny and drum from behind drooping eyelids...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Common Miracles, Week #20: Yes, that!

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
–Pema Chodron

Ever have a thought that you want to express but can't quite find the words for it? Yeah, me too. I had that today as I was pondering which common miracle(s) to highlight this week. I knew what I was experiencing, but couldn't find the word for it. Serendipity? Blessed? Some odd kind of deja vu? A crazy love affair with autumn? Yes, a bit of each, but nothing really captured the feeling that followed me much of the day. It was somewhere between nostalgia and joy, but I couldn't come up with a word to fit my mood.

All my senses were engaged. Driving into town, I found myself singing--completely spontaneously--an ELO song, "Ticket to the Moon," and could practically feel myself back in 1983 (or was it '82?). When I was running this morning, all the autumn scents of dirt and moisture and even a bit of rot/death were warming up to the day; it smelled fabulous. I ate some butternut squash and chevre, and of course some figs. I got caught by a sprinkler when I was fiddling in the garden, and even though it was COLD for the first time in months, I loved it. All my senses were in a happy place. (And I swear, I didn't take anything. Really.)

Later, when I opened up my web browser to my blog and went down the sidebar to see who had updated their blogs today, I saw this headline: Do You Often (or Ever) Feel a Wonderful, Joyous, Childhood Feeling of Expectancy?, and laughed out loud. Total a-ha moment... yep, that's it! Wonderful, joyous, expectant. Heck if I know what I'm expecting, exactly, but that's the closest thing I can think of how to describe my common miracle for today. (And no, it's not a word either. I do wonder if one exists and I have a feeling a couple of my readers will tell me if there is!) (Brent, I already looked through the list of untranslatable words you sent my way, it's not there either, though I did not read through all 900 comments... it might be there, somewhere!)

I consider it pretty miraculous to live on this planet and be aware of how much pain and suffering there is every single day--among people close to our hearts as well as those we haven't even met--and to still know joy and wonder and expectancy.

OK, let me have it. What one word fits the description above?!

Keeping track of Common Miracles is lovely. To see how the project began, go here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Link love

Downtime on the weekend makes for a little information super-highway sharing... these links have been hanging out in my drafts folder for a bit, so here they are for your viewing pleasure!

Want to get inspired? Check out these four runners who are each running 100 miles for sponsored kids in Africa. Pretty cool.

A fascinating take on gender differences in competition, as told on Daniel Pink's (of Drive fame) blog.

I love the idea of publishing a book, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that one! Here's a great place to make them: I'm full of ideas on this one...

Speaking of publishing, here's a funny list of buzzwords being decoded by various literary types... so you know if someone calls your book "wildly imaginative," well, they mean you were probably on drugs when you wrote it!

As you know, I've been on the hunt for great ways to keep track of lists and things to do, etc. Here are some savvy ideas from Lifehacker on using multiple calendar views (he uses Yahoo as his example, but I'm pretty sure I can finagle something similar in Google...).

Remember Flashdance? Well, these people do too, and decided to do a Flash-dance-mob in Chicago this summer. Pretty funny. I like the little girls who want to join in...

This is a bit of a startling story about blocking people on Facebook... this woman blocked her former adoptive (abusive) mother, for good reason. The startling thing is that the mother actually thought they could be friends.

A British woman tattooed a DNR order on her chest. Really. Click over to check it out.

Found a really cool site to create your own jewelry... with out those fiddly little pliers and my really bad hand-eye coordination! Looks like fun.

Jacob, keep your shirt on! (This has been billed as "Twilight in 4 seconds." Not having seen/read anything Twilight, I just find it amusing...) (Apologies to my Twilight-ish friends for diminishing Jacob's true impact, whatever that might be... I mean, other than just taking his shirt off!)

Sleeveface is a pretty self-explanatory phenomenon. Here are a couple of funny examples:

And here are more sleeveface examples.

More publishing: a pretty online magazine called Styled.

Jessica Hische, she of the fabulous drop caps I use religiously, writes a design blog as well, and her piece on pricing design work is really good reading for any creative type thinking about assigning a dollar value to their work. As usual with these kinds of pieces, the comments make for almost as interesting reading as the piece itself.

I could just repost kottke all day, but that would just defeat the idea of YOU going over and signing up for the updates yourself, which I highly recommend. There's always something worth reading/viewing over there. The piece about sending kids through the postal service is no exception.

This article on Whole Foods and how they get you to buy more of what they want you to buy made me chuckle a bit. Think you're too clever for them? Hmmm. (Of course, the author of the article is promoting his book, Brandwashed, so it's not like he's without an agenda...)

Don Miller's writing is always thought provoking and his blog is no exception. His latest post on leading others through fear is a good one--and actually led me to the very first piece I tagged in this post on the running team. See, full circle, this blog post is. Don't say I'm too scattered. Scattered, yes, but not TOO scattered!

And because I really care about you, I leave you with this bit of wisdom: Tom Selleck's moustache makes every movie better.

I hope there's a piece or two there that piques your interest. Happy weekending! I feel better just knowing I've shared.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

It's that night again--Friday--and I'm grateful, I really am. Mostly that it's Friday night. But I'm also tired this week, and feeling kind of at a loss for real, unique words to wrap around my gratitude, so I'm going to cop out a little and express my gratitude through pictures... and even some pictures with words, too. (Of course.)

I have lately been really grateful and reflectful (Is that a word? Probably not. But I heard someone say funner and funnest in an interview yesterday, and so I'm just going to let a reflectful fly!) of our setting, the natural beauty of the valley. And as I drove to Spokane (and back) yesterday, I was filled with nostalgia for the Palouse as well...
OK, so there's no actual green up there right now, but the rolling hills are as beautiful as ever. (hills )

Kinda wow, eh? (clouds)

Isn't that the truth? (autumn)

I am truly grateful this week for health and home, for the challenges of life as well as the blessings, and for my place in the "grand scheme" of things. (OK, you're going to laugh, but I had challenges listed twice in that sentence above--challenges of life as well as the challenges. Ha. The blessings are many, truly, even if some days I forget that for a couple of minutes...)

I hope you get a little weekend time to reflect on your blessings too. What are you grateful for this week?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thursday 13: 13 preserved items for this year

Right now it feels like my main task in life is figuring out how to preserve the river of produce flowing out of the garden. I know, a rough problem to have, eh? And, too, it's already slowing (46 degrees this morning, an overnight low of 42), and I'm sure soon enough I will be lamenting store-bought produce (especially tomatoes...). I have been rationing fresh blueberries for weeks, rather than eating them by the fistfuls as was my mid-summer habit...

But as I looked back over the summer, I made a list of everything I've put up for the family to consume over the winter. And wouldn't you know it, there are 12 things, one (maybe two) item left to go!

1. Blueberries (frozen). Yes, I did manage to freeze a few, which is an accomplishment as I enjoy eating them fresh so very much.
2. Blueberry lavender jam. Really subtle and lovely. I'm glad I experimented with this one.
3. Tomato sauce. These jars will probably end up in soups, mostly...
4. Tomatillo sauce. Fabulous for soups and enchilada casseroles. A little zipppy, a little sweet...
5. Corn (frozen). Good for enchiladas, and soups, and just eating. It was our best year of corn yet, which is so odd, given how late we planted it...
6. Green beans (frozen). Seth's favorite cooked vegetable.
7. Strawberry jam (well, more like sauce. Had a little issue with the setting up...). Great for ice cream and milkshakes. I think I might experiment with stirring a little into my unsweetened Greek yogurt over granola in the mornings...
8. Pumpkin (frozen). I learned that mashed pumpkin should not be canned, and so since I'd already roasted it, I put up a few bags in the freezer just today. Canned cubed pumpkin will be on the list for next summer... Not sure what I'll do with out bounty from this year, but I do like pumpkin soup, and of course there are always pumpkin breads and pumpkin muffins, in addition to the obvious pie!
9. Salmon (frozen). We indulge when it arrives fresh to Costco and enjoy grilled throughout the winter. I think we have Copper River, Coho and Sockeye... Didn't grow it, but I did preserve it!
10. Beets (roasted and frozen). Will be great for borscht in the winter months.
11. Kale (steamed and frozen). Though I read some debate online about just chucking it into bags and steaming on the other end, I decided that steamed = less bulky kale in my freezer and went with that.
12. Lavender simple syrup. This is really yummy for making lavender lemonade, maybe even lavender ice cream.
13. Still to go: Applesauce! I need to get out to the orchards and pick up a couple of boxes of fresh, crisp apples. (And get an extra box just for eating!). Yum.

In addition, I might break down and actually freeze some grated zucchini. I'm not a big zucchini bread fan, but I have seen a chocolate-chocolate chip zucchini bread floating around Pinterest, so I might just break down and preserve some zucchini... And I have been gleaning off my basil and eaten it fresh so far this year... I suppose before frost I will probably harvest the lot and freeze that either whizzed in olive oil, or as pesto. So, the preserving continues!

How about you? Any preserving in your world? Tell me about it!

For more Thursday 13s, go here. And play along if you like!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ten Word Tuesday: Taking liberties with the form. Deal with it.

My eyelid twitches at incompetence. And when it's accepted? [I get a little] Stabby.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Common Miracles, Week 19: Listmaking

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
– Pema Chodron

There are few things that bring me joy quite like making a list. I often forget that in the whirl of life and in the doing--my sometimes haphazard approach to just getting things done. But, when the whirl gets to be too much, and I sit down with "pad" and "pen" (ie my computer, once the post-it notes have piled up too thick to manage), and set a little structure to what actually needs to be done, oh, the joy that fills my soul!

I have known for a while now that the fall would bring the need to apply some additional structure and discipline to my days, and in many ways I've been looking forward to it. There are projects, some actual (paying!) and some just desired and dreamed up, that I need and want to attend to. There are personal habits I enjoy and know bring more energy and better rhythm to my days. And there's the great wish to not feel overwhelmed by all that is on my plate and not to lay there at 3 in the morning thinking about it all. Yep, that little piece I could really do without.

So the return to list making doesn't come from any other place than a need to survive; or at least, a desire to survive better than I have been. But it is an old and well-loved habit, learned happily at my mother's knee as she made lists for her day, week, month... somehow, it just seeped in. The habit sustained me in my corporate days and helped me wrangle a variety of tasks every day. And in my catering life it was essential--ingredients? Check! Menus? Check! Recipes? Check! Order in which items need to be made? Check! The one piece I never did exceptionally well was come up with an "at events" checklist so that I wouldn't leave the kitchen without an essential tool or item. That one bit me in the butt a couple of times... ice, anyone? trash bags? Yes... essential, and five miles away.

My celebration of ordinary this week is simply putting it down on the paper--putting words to what needs to get done and letting the energy from that act become momentum toward accomplishment. Just saying it like that makes me feel like I've gotten something done. (Ha. My bar is obviously a little low at the moment...)

A couple of list-like items have inspired me lately:

I don't need to clean all 40 of those places, currently, and I may not pick the order that's stated above (I went through my makeup drawer on Friday, so I'm currently 19 days off schedule!), but it's a great way to approach getting the clutter out. Gone. Poof. Vanish.

And, I signed up for a daily email that asks me: What did you get done today? Highly accountable, even if what I have to say is: napped, read, ate, watched church on TV and napped some more (hmmm, Saturday, anyone?). I am looking forward to seeing my little entries on the calendar add up over the coming days, weeks, months...

The 40 bags in 40 days poster reminds me of my springtime inspiration... 60 things in 100 days. How many days did I last with that one... hmmm. I'm pretty sure I DID get 60 things done in 100 days, but how intentional was it? (Side topic: does it matter whether it's intentional or not? Some days I say yes, some days I say no.)

So. I return to the list. I celebrate the list. I love the list. I especially love the checkmarks off to the side when items are complete, oh yes I do.

What's on your list this week? I hope you get everything accomplished that you need and want to.

My week's off to a great start; the lists are made and the checkmarks are piling up!

To learn more about the Common Miracle project and how it started, go here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

This week brought a significant step toward fall, and I am truly grateful for that! Cooler temps, a bit of a breeze (OK, well, wind), even a few raindrops... It felt so good to be out in the garden, hacking through the jungle for produce, and not be so very hot. Here comes my favorite season, for sure!

Had some great time with Seth this week, for which I'm always grateful. It was fun to learn more about his day-to-day at school and how high school is going... Mostly good so far, though there was the small hiccup of his girlfriend breaking up with him... or did he break it off with her? Hard to tell, for certain... but I think it's over for the foreseeable future. (I feel safe in saying that here, as I'm pretty sure my blog isn't read by the local teen crowd. Just a hunch.)

Went to the quilt festival this afternoon, and was inspired and motivated by the color, the texture, the dedication these people have to their craft. Beautiful stuff... I'm so grateful for the inspiration they provide. Take a look at some of my favorites...

These first two pieces are by the featured artist, Meg of Crabapple Hill Studios, and I met her! She's lovely and her work--there were a great deal many other pieces--were amazing. That fabulous mix of embroidery and piecework that I love so well. Check out her web site--there are all kinds of patterns and ideas there... holidays, just pretty stuff, and amazingly, she is located less than an hour from here!

This quilt was done by one of the local owners of Stash. I just adore the color and the pattern!


This one was done by another Stash owner... I might be a little biased, but these ladies do lovely work.

This piece was done by hand--the applique and the quilting. Gorgeous!

This quilt was done by the lady I took the applique class from. Isn't the rainbow aspect fabulous!

I like this one--a mix between holiday and tropical... (I see starfish...)

Minimalist and aptly named Frank Lloyd Wright!

I took a great deal many more pictures, but better not to bore you with them... it was a lovely walk through the quilts, and I'm in awe of the number of hours of work represented by the quilts on display.

In spite of the cooler temperatures, the garden just keeps on rolling out the tomatoes, squashes, corn--our best year yet!--peppers, tomatillos, pumpkins (what's with fully ripe pumpkins in September? Their internal clock is off... no jack-o-lanterns from our garden), cucumbers, potatoes... yum. I am always amazed at how long it takes to harvest the bounty, and also so grateful for fresh vegetables on our back doorstep. 

It's the weekend, and I'm grateful for the peace and quiet that will come with that... a little window before a new week begins. Some blissful quiet time and conversation with husband, some time to get organized and ready for all that will be on our collective plates next week--lots to do, and only so many hours in the day to get it done! I'm so grateful for my husband and all he does for our family. He's a blessing.

Mention the weekend, and of course we must talk sleep. I'm SO grateful for sleep... it's something I never underestimate. When it's good, it's great. When it's less than good, everything is impacted. This week has been pretty good, and the additional dark in the morning certainly contributes to that. I had to hit the alarm this morning for the first time in months! And with the good sleep has come some pretty hilarious dreams. One night I was frantically trying to make a catering deadline (dinner for 200 in two hours and the groceries haven't been bought yet? Wow. Run girl, run.). The next night I rode a trolley car in San Francisco with a girl singing alongside me. She is told by an unsmiling man (someone I recognize from Walla Walla who is generally unsmiling), "You know, life isn't a musical." Ha. I think I woke up laughing. OK, analyze away. I love my dreams!

And Pinterest continues to more than hold my interest! I'm grateful for the images that come my way, from boots to pastoral settings to fun food and completely creative ideas I've never thought of before. Crazy good, that Pinterest. Here are a few that piqued me this week:

pumpkin (now here's what I could do with my way-early-ripe pumpkins...)

leaf jars (this list is feeling pretty autumny... I'm feeling a ModgePodge Sunday afternoon...)

hushpuppies (something to do with that summer squash bounty...)

I'm grateful for friendship. This week I want to say especially that I'm grateful for people I've met through this blog, who I would never have gotten to know otherwise--you know who you are! It's a wild thing, connecting through the written word and getting to know people over time and shared interests. Not unlike pen pals of old, I suppose...

What's on your grateful list this week? I hope a few good things have come your way this week, and that even if it has been a bleak one, there's a light at the end of the tunnel... tell me what you're grateful for, please!

Peace to you and yours.
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