9.20.2014

motherhood // an apple orchard playdate



sometimes you just need to pack up the kids and get out of town to prance around an orchard and pick some apples with your babies and good friends.  so that's precisely what we did and i cannot think of a better playdate.  this orchard place was one of the most enchanting little pockets of missouri we've ever been to.  it was untamed with apple tree rows that seemed to go on forever.  for those who live in the area, i'd make a trip sooner rather than later.  it is simply gorgeous.

the morning was a misty one and the apples were ever so abundant, falling off of trees and spilling onto a bed of clovers.  stella ran through the maze of trees, picking red ones, blush ones, and green ones.  theodore, comfortable clung to my hip, munched on a pink lady for about an hour, happy as a clam.  i'd plop him in the grass to add some apples to stella's growing bag and he'd sit there, his hands clenched tightly around his apple.  my heart bursted about a hundred times.  

between picking apples, stella collected rocks and got as dusty as she could possibly muster during our time at the orchard.  she picked wild grass, pressed her nose into a few red delicious branches, and never stopped running. our little girl is a tomboy through and through.  despite her quick pace, she reminds me to slow down and savor life's little gems.

in the end, we filled a bag big enough for about five apple pies!  i am already dreaming up a lazy weekday morning when my girl and i can roll out dough and perfect our apple pie recipe. i prefer ones with crumbly brown sugar toppings, so that shall be our first.  and since there is no such thing as too many pies we'll be on a baking kick until those suckers are gone.   

9.17.2014

handmade // autumn sage wreath


this might just be the easiest craft i have ever done, but i am quite sure it's one that will continue to give and give as the days get shorter and the air gets crisper.  it's a sage wreath, a trustee cooking companion for the autumn and winter seasons.

i was noticing that the chilly evenings was having an affect on my herb garden so i brought some in to decorate our home and a majority of the rest the rest to dry.  the rosemary now sits in my kitchen in a sweet little brass pot and the lavender is in our bedroom, perfuming our space with provincial notes.  as for the sage, well i snipped it at the base, gathered it into a little half wreath, then tied it together with twine.  i've got it hanging near my pots and pans for each snippage when soups could use a boost or sandwiches a little herbal crunch.  i am planning to do this with my thyme and oregano as well.  but for now, they seems to be thriving in this chilly, damp weather we've been having.

if you guys have any fun ideas regarding preserving herbs, i'm all ears!

9.16.2014

for a very special birthday


today the kids and i were on birthday duty because andrew is one year older!  after stella's ballet class downtown we headed to the plaza to pick up a few gifts we knew our most favorite person would love.  a vampire weekend album, a new chambray button down, some old school lollies, and a charming little tie for work.  we headed home to wrap them and make homemade cards and one fabulous birthday cake.  but not just any birthday cake.  a funfetti one, personally detailed by stella all by herself.  ahem...take a peek at the middle of the cake. her accidental/overly excited pour of the sprinkles dead center on said cake looks pretty good if i do say so myself.  and we ran out of frosting because someone thought it would be a really good idea to sample it before spreading it.  silly gal.

if each one of us was a type of birthday cake my husband would be funfetti with extra sprinkles, which is definitely what he got for his twenty eighth birthday.  i suppose i would be just ol' plain vanilla.  maybe with rosemary lemon frosting or something.  stella would be red velvet without a doubt, all dramatic and a bit untraditional in her adorable three year old ways.  and theodore, well he would be rich chocolate, heavy on the sugary sweet frosting.  he's all charm, our littlest.

i cannot wait to see andrew's eyes sparkle when we cut him the first slice and he sees all those pretty colors dotted throughout the white fluff of cake.  i hope it takes him back to his childhood when funfetti was the only way to do a birthday right.  but only after serenading him in our best opera voices, of course.   we will be sure to sing loud and off-key because we love him so.  then we will fill our bellies before supper, because nana and papa are coming over to babysit while the two of us go out for a late birthday meal.  so tonight, cake first.  supper, second.  you know it's a special day for someone you love when things are arranged in that particular order.

happy birthday, andrew! xo

9.12.2014

homestead // preparing for autumn


a few days ago our lingering midwest summer decided to call it quits and trade places with autumn.  overnight, a few golden, cripsy leaves had drifted onto our driveway and the weather had shifted from begging for popsicles to all things cozy, like chili and cornbread.  in fact, we had our very first fire in our new home last night to commence what is my favorite time of the year.  the kids and i gathered some small twigs and branches from our wood pile earlier in the day and andrew came home to chop the big stuff.  it was his first time using our axe and i could tell he felt rather manly, whacking away at those old, walnut tree logs that have made their home on the side of our wooden fence for who knows how long.  together, we brought them in and made our first fire.  we listened to it crackle and warm our toes, making our house smelled like a forest, but better.  with that, i started a little list of things to do to prepare for the autumn season.  upon jotting down ideas i realized i had been getting ready subconsciously for the past few weeks!  you see, i have this deep-seated love for autumn and with the first of september already crossed off our calendar, i has started nesting for fall without even realizing it.  so in between doing homeschool projects with stella and trying to keep theodore out of our floor plants and our dog's water bowl, i'll be home making our home ready for autumn...preparing for those cooler days that welcome lazy mornings munching on homemade pumpkin bread, and evenings watching jimmy fallon around a crackling fire, red wine in hand.  here's a little list to help you make your nest all ready for the upcoming season, which in my opinion, is the best one.

- think comfort.  make your couches and chairs and nooks more nap-friendly by adding a few more throws across the arms, with down pillows tucked into the corners.  in this scenario, less is not more.  more is more and thus, better and cozier.  i like to put a good majority of our throw blankets away for the warmer months because it is fun getting them out once september rolls around.  i love thinking, "i forgot about this one!" when pulling things out of storage.  that never gets old.

- collect pinecones from your walks and bring them indoors.  put them in big wooden bowls or string them as a simple seasonal decoration.

- re-arrange your furniture.  when we moved into our new home we decided to take what was a very large living space and turn it into two areas: one for sitting and chatting and the other for watching tv.   so utterly silly of us because in the center of the room, anchoring our home as old home's do, is a gorgeous hearth.  a beeeeautiful fireplace. it is outlined in detailed crown molding and is a grand focal point of this home.  why we neglected to make our fireplace thee center of attention before now i do not know.  but we did a little rearranging and now when one plops down on the sofa all you see is the promise of a warm fire and perhaps a few styled branches from our garden overhead.  i love it so.

- stock your pantry.  now is the time to harvest your garden and preserve all that you can.  bring in your herbs and pot them for beautiful kitchen decoration or tie them up to dry.   take that unruly bunch of sage and make a wreath.  and time to start making stocks and soups to freeze.  we love waking up on a slow saturday morning with lunch all ready to go with a simple thawing from our freezer.  to do this, i double all of my recipes during this autumn season when they are freezer friendly.  then, voila, a home cooked meal of comfort ready to go in minutes.

- now would be a good time audit your pantry.  throw out those old mixes and things you thought you'd use over the summer but just sat and collected dust.  you probably won't use them if you haven't already.

- get your flannel on.  from your bed to your wardrobe, just go crazy.  i have yet to purchase flannel sheets but am betting on target to help me out.

- it's a good time to clean the oven (thanksgiving is on the horizon) and maybe dust those baseboards.  just maybe.  i'm not talking spring cleaning here, but give spots you tend to neglect a good scrubbing.  i think the start of every season is a good opportunity to make things good and clean again.

- spruce up and dust off your kettle.  set your tea out within an arms reach where you can easily get at it if you need a bit of warming up in the afternoon.

- think about your guests.  when the holidays roll around we tend to have more company.  dinner parties become apart of our weeknight routines and guests from out of town tend to stroll in and stay the night.  make a space for them to feel most welcome.  give them plenty of towels.  extra blankets.  maybe even a pair of slippers if you have cold hardwood floors like we do.

- get a pumpkin candle or something with sandalwood or cedar.  light it everyday and savor the warmth it brings to your home.  it's always the little things.

- do a wardrobe swap.  get out your knits, hats, scarves, boots, tights, coats and wool everything and put away your summery items.  i like putting my summer things in a tub to store in the basement to make room in my little closet for chunky sweaters and chambray button downs.  i tend to keep a few dresses out for layering but put most away, out of sight and more hanging room for the bigger items.

- time to get out your little one's snow suit and/or warm jacket.  theodore's thermal moose snow suit was a gift and one of his most cherished items of clothing.  i want him to wear it forever.  i love knowing that when we walk to the market for eggs or milk he will be all warm and toasty with his little nose peaking through.

- make your entryway cold weather friendly.  set out an old chair or stool for helping you out when that boot won't tug on and place a nice basket next to it to house all things knit.  make it easy and effortless when you walk in the door and need to peel those toasty layers off.

- put pumpkins everywhere.  real ones.  white ones.  and bumpy green gourd looking ones.  i do not buy much seasonal decor because i don't like storing it.  plucking things from nature and buying little pumpkins at a local pumpkin patch is a beautiful way to embrace the season.  then, throw them away when december arrives. easy peasy and no storage required.

- try your hand at making things from scratch.  as the days get cooler baking is a fun way to spend an afternoon.  this autumn, i am going to learn how to make bread and different pies with stella.  we shall use math while measuring.  one egg, i think a butternut squash, sage, feta tart sounds mighty fine.

- check out the local farms that let you apple pick and choose a weekend to go with your family.  we are planning on going when the leaves start to turn a bit more.

- now would probably be a good time to check your home for drafts.  we live in an old, old home and i've been noticing them here and there.  choose to fix them or just get more wool socks.

- bring your outdoor furniture in and make your patios and porches autumn friendly.  put a few mums out and maybe a nice wreathe.  i got a vine branch one from target and love it.  simple but classy.

- in between preparing for autumn, drink big mugs of cider and make time to curl up with a new book wearing your husband's sweater and socks.  give your babies longer bubble baths and take walks in the crisp air with your family.  enjoy this season, for like all good things, it's beautiful but brief.

9.02.2014

motherhood // keeping it simple


ever since i can remember i have always been someone who likes to plan.  i have a big, bold monthly calendar nailed to our kitchen wall i oh, how i love pulling back the old, tattered, scribbled on page to unveil a fresh clean month, only to fill it up again (quickly) with black ink.

i am like that with lists too.  i make them all the time, these long, overly-specific lists to commence my day, whereupon i strategize to tirelessly check those little boxes until each last one is no longer staring back at me, blank and pleading.  and i almost always add silly things to said list like both "load dishwasher" and "unload dishwasher" on separate lines.  sometimes "shower" makes my list.  a stay at home is obviously writing this post.

i have always felt the need to fill my plate extra high and i have no clue as to why.  i suppose it is just a part of who i am.  part of my makeup.  always feeling the need to have things in their proper place and written down and all tidy and always full.  which seems pretty great until the inevitable happens not too far down the road.

utter burn out and anxiety.

luckily, i am at the point in my life where i can sense it coming before it gets here.  like an eerie green cloud hovering before a storm, i see it looming overhead before it showers me with with agitation and unease.  it has not always been that way.  in the past i would recognize my anxiety mid-storm when all hell was breaking lose.  some rather unsavory happenings in years prior have taught the ways of listening and watching for those unwelcoming storm signals.  over time, i have learned how to lasso that ominous cloud and hurl it far, far away.  sensing that i am about to get worked up, these tools i have acquired have given me permission to retreat and edit parts of my life.  to cut away those sharp thorns so that the roses in my life can really be seen.

it boils down to this: simplifying always leads to satisfaction.

whether it be cleaning out my underwear drawer or getting rid of all my mis-matched dinnerware or saying so long to random toiletries in our hallway closet or keeping a week free of obligations out of a otherwise busy month...editing needs to be done.  by assembling my life in a simpler fashion i feel those dark clouds quite physically drift off into another direction allowing for more joyful feelings to take their place.

i must say, being left with a few choices instead of many is freeing in this regard.  it effortlessly forces me in a direction of peace and contentment.  when i had a free moment today i did just that.  i opened a few drawers, ruthlessly edited some of my belongings.  i filled a garbage bag and threw it in the back of my car to donate later this week.

i felt lighter.  less tense.  freer.  that green cloud i sensed this morning was gone.  i was now able to focus more on my kids, helping stella learn the letter "B" and help theo use his plastic fork.   it's not about these particular things you know, it's about making space.

i think as stay at home parent there is a need to fill up one's agenda in order to feel worthy and valuable.  this is true for me anyhow.  while i think playdates and field trips and outings are all well and good, i am learning that so too are quiet moments at home spent doing less exciting things like making dinner and folding laundry on the bed.  the older i get the more i know this to be true.

because we live in a world that rewards a fast pace, sexy, free-spirited, and independent lifestyle, the importance of being a young, wholesome mother that focuses on domesticity is sometimes overlooked, scoffed at even!  ridiculous as it is, i have been criticized, even ridiculed, for being a young mother, and a stay at home mother at that.  therefore, in my own fleshy and insecure mind as a parent it is sometimes difficult when reminding myself that simple is indeed really good.  truthfully, there are days when it is pretty hard being confident in that seemingly transparent but not culturally celebrated ideology.

so i tell myself all the time and mostly out loud, that quality is always better than quantity and by keeping a minimum of good rather than handfuls of so-so's is ideal.  because sometimes saying it helps, too.

as the months get crisper and leaves start to fall, this will be my personal goal as a mother.  probably after the fall and winter months, too.  to not just keep it simple, but be okay with it, and embrace it.