we can take the long way home

Rainy day.

We awoke early, but soon returned to bed for a morning nap. The storm kept the room dark and muted, save the stray bolts of lightning and the rumbling thunder. Nothing I've experienced rivals the sweetness of sleeping next to a baby.
Soon enough we got up and walked the dog and did the dishes.
All day long I dreamt about the butterscotch morsels stashed in the pantry, and in the afternoon I made oatmeal butterscotch cookies. They are as delicious as I imagined they might be.

Here's Finn on his play mat. Bright-eyed as usual.

The past two evenings I spent hunched over a computer, crazily googling and searching sites for help. I regressed more than progressed, but in the end I came out with that nice new header you see up there. I still can't get it to be clickable, but I'm going to give google a break today and maybe work on it again later. Many, many thanks to Denise, who besides inspiring me regularly with her handiwork and enchanting tales of her family, also happens to be a web designer. She gave me some great advice, and more than that, she inspired me to just keep going. I really needed her kind words, and she gave them freely, much to my appreciation.
Also, a huge thanks to Luke, who let me borrow his computer and use his Photoshop program. It saved and redeemed the mess I had made from html chopping.
Because of those two aforementioned computer screen-riddled evenings, tonight I am hell bent on getting to bed early. But not before a shower - with candlelight. Ah, the small luxuries.
Tomorrow the temperature will drop again and we will return to winter, shortly, before the buds on the trees notice the longer days and spring leaps upon us. Then we will revel in the newness, the smell of soil, the rain.


put me in your suitcase

Spring is almost in the air. Today the temperature was in the 40s, and I felt hopeful. While walking downtown I spotted a couple tiny flowers poking through the mulch and I realized that winter is almost over, and I actually smiled at the thought.
When walking Rufus around the neighborhood, with the baby asleep on my chest, I thought out loud about the garden this year, and my excitement grew. I recited to myself the things I want to grow: tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, spinach, lavender, strawberries. Maybe broccoli, maybe potatoes.
We arrived home, I let Rufus off his leash and brought Finn's bouncy chair outside. I sat Finn down, wrapped up in a blanket, and I started measuring the front flower beds. They are the beds we've grown tomatoes and basil in for two years. Last year Sean (he used to live upstairs) and I gardened, the year before Sean and his friend Phil tended the garden. This year I will be without Sean, but I won't be alone. I have Gen, Mimi, Natalie and Luke who are all interested in helping garden. A real community garden! I hope that they all want to help weed occasionally and help water, but I plan on taking full responsibility (more or less) for the garden, since it's in my front yard. They will surely help me reap the harvest.
I took "before" pictures of our beds. Dormant, sleeping, readying for the spring.

I kicked around the mulch (dry leaves from late fall) and found a ton of pill bugs in the soil. It kind of grossed me out because of the sheer number of them, in general insects do not bother me, so I researched online whether they are a problem for gardeners. It seems that they like strawberries and tender plant shoots the best. I found some good advice on controlling them.

In this last month before planting, I relish the thought of planning. Choosing and ordering seeds, drawing out a plan. Figuring out when to plant what. Learning about organic pest control, watering, sun and shade. Contemplating moving the compost into a container so that we'll have those extra square feet to plant food. Oh, and as always, trying to get the invasive spearmint out of the beds and into a pot instead. I don't know who planted that ridiculous plant, but it will not die.
These are the only things I pulled out today - a tiny dandelion shoot and it's root, and these sprigs of spearmint, so help me.

Not entirely true - I pulled out the spearmint roots, too. As many as I could grab.
After coming back inside, I noticed how different I felt - refreshed, downright cheerful. And all I did was dig around a little in the mulch and pull up some roots. Just getting out there, smelling the dirt helped clear my mind. I am praying for success with our little garden this summer, and for growing relationships along with spinach, lavender and strawberries.


catching the butterfly

I never posted my new year's resolutions, probably because I have never been a fan of resolutions. This year, though, there are a few things on my mind that I would like to accomplish.

1. Learn to can/preserve.
My mom is a pro at this, and she has happily asked if she could teach me! Did you get that? I didn't ask her, she asked me! So I definitely have a way to learn this skill, and I look forward to the end of summer when those tomatoes are coming in heavy and ripening quickly.
2. Garden.
This would be assumed from #1, that to learn to can I need something to can. I will be planning, planting, and tending to my own garden this year. Last year I had help from Sean, but he's moved, so it's all on me now. Here are some links that I want to bookmark for myself, on slugs, beetles, fertilizer.
3. Make a quilt.
This quilt. This is something I've always wanted to do, but had no idea how I would even begin to learn the art. From the outside, it seems so hard to comprehend, let alone actually make it come together and look (and feel) beautiful. That link makes it look achievable.
4. Knit something other than a scarf.
This could mean a shawl, a cowl, a hat, socks, etc. Just something a bit harder and more advanced than a long, skinny rectangle.

This is it so far. I'll add to this list if my resolutions change.


all good things

Good things have been happening.
Last night we ate butternut squash alongside a cilantro omelet sprinkled with feta cheese. Scott and I finally had some quality time - we talked and drank beer, just us, together. We needed it badly. Ever have a week when you and your significant other are like ships passing in the night? You may see one another, but it feels like no real communication is taking place. That's the sort of week we had been having. Or maybe we had two of those weeks. That communication is so important.
Another good thing - homemade granola. I have made granola before. Twice, actually, and it wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. This time I tried a new recipe by the Amateur Gourmet. I love it.
This is what it looks like right out of the oven - cooling, before you mix in the dried fruit.

The honey helps the clumping and the brown sugar (I used dark brown instead of light brown) really gave it a beautiful color. The almonds were perfectly roasted, and I am in love with dried cherries, so the fruit suggestions were right up my alley. Hazelnuts I'm unsure about, and next time I think I'll use walnuts and/or pecans instead. Also, the saltiness was a conundrum. Hand to mouth, the granola was perfectly salted. It tastes a bit salty, and I like it! Eaten with plain yogurt, the salt tastes funny and out of place. I used 3/4ths a teaspoon instead of the full teaspoon in the recipe, and I think next time I'll cut it down even more to just 1/2 a teaspoon. I am truly impressed with this recipe, however, and I'm sure it will become my stand by.

And then this - Natalie let me borrow "3191: A Year of Mornings" and it is incredible. It's very inspiring for me, it encourages me to take a closer look at the world around me, and to notice the quiet, joyful every day pieces of my life. In this picture my two dear friends, Mimi and Genevieve are sitting with Finn, flipping through the borrowed book.

Speaking of good things, Mimi and Gen are two of the best things about my life. They are so generous, and kind, and thoughtful. They help me find my sanity and my sense of adventure. They are also good friends with Finn, as you can see above. They eat the food I make, which is the highest compliment my cooking/baking could receive. I am so grateful for their friendship, and for their willingness to share so much of their lives with me.
(Natalie, Gen loves knitting. We should form a little group.)
There are so many good things in life, particularly God, friends, food, books, the outdoors, music - and the best thing is sharing the good things with the ones we love.
I'd like to share this smile with you:


such a winter's day

These photos are from yesterday's morning walk along one of our standard routes. We walked to Rock Hill park and enjoyed the morning.
The creek, lined by naked trees.

A spot of moss.

The baby fell asleep on my shoulder, as per usual.

Rufus took a dip despite the 20 degree temperature. He had to crunch through a layer of ice, but that didn't stop him!

We found a leaf covered in frost.

And a pretty little nest.

We ventured up to the field.

And spotted these beautiful pods.

The best for last - someone threw their tv out. It looked like it wanted to hitch a ride.

Walking in the mornings is sometimes a chore I dread. Carrying Finn strapped on me is a heavy task - pun intended. He's at least 16 pounds, and growing. Trying to control the dog when he spots frolicking squirrels can be trying. And I constantly have to clear my anxiety/frustration when dealing with the distracted dog. But once we get our rhythm going, and the fresh air starts seeping into my sleep (or lack of, for that matter) -addled brain, and the baby naps or coos, then the walk is just wonderful. It calms my mind, and gives me time to talk to God, and to let Him show me the smallest and most important joys in life - like that tiny nest.


yours and mine

February is going quickly.
Finn is growing even more quickly.

Valentine's day was no large affair, Scott and I are not influenced by television so media rarely pressures us into buying flowers, chocolate, etc. for one another. But we do love chocolate. Scott gave me a tin of assorted Ghiradelli chocolates, as well as a metal spatula. Well, he certainly knows the way to my heart! Kitchen utensils! I actually said, "How did you know!?". He said I had mentioned wanting one before and he remembered. How clever.
I gave him a bar of chocolate that was 85% - super dark - and fair trade and organic. Scott would eat 100% pure cocoa if it didn't taste bad. He loves dark, dark chocolate. I made him a little card from construction paper and some things I had clipped from magazines.
He worked in the afternoon, and I played with the baby. I also had a snack of dark chocolate and bread - a very favorite snack of mine.

In the evening, after ordering pizza - not having to cook was certainly a gift! - we had friends over for dessert.
Jessica K. made carrot cake.

I made strawberry rhubarb cobbler. And we all gorged ourselves on both, with ice cream, of course. We played cards and talked of playing Monopoly or Scrabble, but our conversation buoyed us through the evening until we were all tired and ready to sleep.

I have spoken with Natalie again, yesterday, after our friends' baby shower, and I find that the more I speak with her, the more I adore her. I find in my gut a hope, a yearning, for a new friendship with her. I envision many more conversations highlighting our shared interests, and hope to enjoy the seasons with her as a friend.
I'm trying to enjoy this winter light, because though short, it grows longer by the day, and soon it will be spring, then summer, and I will find myself disbelieving that the air was ever so chilled, or the light so clean and spare.


right as rain

Hello, and sorry for the absence.
Life is sweet, as per usual, and I've been baking and cooking and taking care of a teething baby!

Last night we had Natalie and Luke over for dinner, and it was so needed. Just relaxing, eating acorn squash and kale bean soup by candlelight, eating cookies and knitting and playing cards - what more could a person ask for in a single evening?

Natalie and I were excited to learn we both blog and even frequent some of the same blogs, such as Molly's. Talking with Natalie inspired me to post again - something I've been meaning to do nearly every day.

Here's the problem - I go to update (I've started 3 posts before this one) and then I get caught up reading other blogs. It is a compliment to those who write the other blogs, because their words, pictures and recipes are enchanting to me, but it is really derailing my attempt to write.

Finn is nearly 5 months old now. Life with Finn is precious and wonderful - everything is new. I constantly plan activities for us in my head such as outdoor concerts this summer, taking him to the farmers' market this spring, summer and fall, taking him camping as soon as the weather permits, etc. I just can't wait to share life with him every day! His smile is pure sunshine to me.

Here are two things I wanted to tell you about.
This is a quilt that our friend made for Finn. What a beautiful surprise!

This is the dessert I made awhile ago - it's homemade pound cake, toasted, drizzled with chocolate-honey sauce. I served it with an orange slice and a tiny scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. It turned out delicious.

That is all for now. The day is beautiful and I'm about to settle down for a quick nap with the baby.