Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Final Days of Summer

"There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
~ John Adams

We've been busy savoring the final days of summer.  Morning swim lessons. Momma knitting, sewing and canning.  Waiting, waiting, waiting for eggs (c'mon already girls!).  Learning the art of applique. Giving old pillowcases new life.   Contemplating new projects. Watching butterflies and ruminating on the start of school.  

We're also working, putting new tires on both cars (ouch and double ouch) and eagerly anticipating a Momma and Papa conference/getaway to Chicago.   

We are working on both our educations - making a living and living life.  

Happy Weekend All!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

This evening I find myself in a peculiar place. The kids have been dispersed. The husband is fishing. I am alone. Sort of. With me are two dogs, one cat, four chickens and a bothersome yellow fly. I have things to do. Items to list on Ebay. Dishes to unload. Laundry to be done. And yet I am perfectly content to sit here and watch the chickens have a dirt bath. To listen to neighbor's wind chime sound a deep and peaceful melody. To watch the black and white cat stalk the black and white chickens who are twice his size. To relish the evening sun flitting between the pine branches. To drink "recession buster wine" and read knitting tales from the library. This evening is, in one word, lovely. Tonight even the chain link fence is attractive. Life is good.

I hope you are also having a wonderful weekend. Here's to the beauty of the every day!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Domesticity 101

My mother was a first generation superwoman who worked throughout my childhood. She realized early on that we, as women, can not do it all. Thus she hired a bi-weekly housecleaner and was smitten with easy prep meals such as Hamburger Helper. The invention of the microwave greatly expanded her nightly repertoire and quick, yet soggy, fish sticks with a side of peas became a staple. To this day my mother owns two microwaves and does most of her cooking with them.

I obediently followed in her footsteps and also became a working woman. Only neither my husband or myself chose careers based on income production. As a brewer and veterinarian we work hard. We get by but are far from wealthy. Accordingly I do not have a housekeeper or cook. And, oddly, I’m not fond of frozen food.

I want my children to have delicious home-cooked meals, milk and cookies after school, clean clothes in the closet and someone to help with their homework. I also want them to have a roof over their heads, indoor plumbing and some mode of transport to and fro. As such I find myself in the precarious position of being a working woman by night and a domestic goddess by day.

Only here’s the thing. After eight-years of formal schooling I am well-versed in veterinary matters. My domestic skills, however, are faulty at best. As a child I did my own laundry and was forced to pick up my room (cleaning for house cleaners ... who ever heard of such a thing!). I also took a few cooking lessons. End of story. I never truly learned cook or bake. Knitting was passe as was any mode of sewing. I was not trained to clean a floor or, according to my husband, load a dishwasher. It seems I am self-taught in all home matters.

I tend to pick and choose my domestic pursuits. I lean towards the crafty ... knitting, baking, cooking, sewing and gardening. My husband would be ecstatic if I would, say, become heavily involved in the fine art of toilet scrubbing. But alas this does not hold my interest (though I have tried my hand at plumbing). Accordingly my house sits in disarray as I feign ability.

This week in lieu of laundry and dishes and general tidiness I dabbled in canning and embroidery. I dare say I have two new hobbies to add to my cache. First I made an Apricot-Basil-Riesling Jam. You see we have an apricot tree (well really it belongs to our neighbors but I lay claim to the generous portion that falls over our fence). In years past the fruit has shamefully gone to waste. This year I decided to make jam. I loosely followed this recipe and added the basil on the advice of a friend. The thrift store had an inexpensive canning pot and I found the jars at our local market. The resulting jam was/is delicious. I may have to buy more fruit and make another batch.

As for embroidery ... I fell in love with a set of “vintage” tea towels at JoAnns. They were just begging to be embroidered. Once again the thrift store had what I needed - embroidery hoops and floss. I traced a pattern in pencil and, in honor of my soon to laying hens, fashioned a Wyandotte.

It looks like I may have a theme for Christmas care packages. Now if I could only find someone to scrub the floors ...


Please tell my I'm not the only one struggling to "do it all". I'd love to hear how do you manage house, hobbies and all that life demands.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things I'm Loving Today ...

Today I Love:
  • Learning to make apricot preserves (with homegrown fruit!).
  • Knitting in progress.
  • Treasures from the library.
  • Delving into embroidery even though I don't have a clue.
  • New vacuum hoses that don't short out every 10 seconds.
  • Tiny onions harvested from the garden.
  • Lemonade stands run by little girls.
  • Semi-annual haircuts where someone else deals with my daughters' tangles while I sit innocently by and knit.
  • A boy who can think of nothing but fishing.
  • The caw of a scrub jay whom I can call a friend.
  • Mom's night out and a great film.
  • An "in" with my daughter's kindergarten teacher (I promise I won't abuse the privilege!).
  • Sending all the neighbor kids home and having family reading hour.
  • Autumn's beckoning ... I adore that season!

For more love check out Love Thursday!

Monday, August 17, 2009

What a girl wants ...

My cup is half full (or half empty depending on the day). But that’s not what I want. I want my cup to swish and swash. I want the contents to splash down on the saucer below. I want it to runneth over.

I do not want fancy. I’m not hoping for bigger, better or more. I’m not looking to increase my material possessions (well not by much ... I do dream about a set of bagpipes. Seriously.). What I really want is to be debt free. I crave security, prosperity, abundance and freedom. I want enough to share.

And yet the question remains ... how do I get there? This morning the answer was hollering at the children for leaving the lights on. Tonight it is being grateful for bedding that hasn’t been shat or vomited upon. Tomorrow it will be dinner and a movie with a friend.

Each day is a balancing act; tempering frugality with desire, pitting long-term bounty against instant gratification. Often I feel like the hamster on the wheel -- running and running. Getting nowhere fast. Why do I work so hard? For what end?

But we are moving forward (though at a snail’s pace). We are ever so slowly chipping away at our mountain of debt. So I will continue to visualize the life I desire. I sincerely hope to be sucessful. In the meantime you can find me here spinning my wheels. That I know I can do.


“Abundance is, in large part, an attitude”
~ Sue Patton Thoele

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And the winner is ...

The winner of the poppy stamps, complete with a poppy-stamped drawstring bag is ....

Commenter # 2 -- Rachel (via random number giveaway).

Rachel - please contact me so I can send you your prize!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

More Love ...

Things I love today:
  • Gloriously cloudy days signaling the end of this dang heat wave.
  • Finished sewing projects.
  • Thrifted and repurposed recipe boxes (middle daughter's idea).
  • Knitting in progress.
  • Good reads (Too Many Cooks by Emily Franklin).
  • A (sort-of) clean house.
  • Freshly laundered sheets on the bed.
  • Dinner in the crockpot made from items on hand (born from an unnerving glance at our checking account).
  • A renewed determination to live frugally.
What do you love today?


Don't forget ... tomorrow is the last day to leave a comment for a free fun giveaway!

Happy Love Thursday!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Forever is Composed of Nows

Yesterday was a harrowing day at work. Many clients had seriously ill animals and some very tough decisions had to be made. The tension was palpable. Not all people deal well with high levels of stress. Some clients were, let’s just say, less than polite.

Each time I walked into an exam room it was as if someone placed a brick on my shoulder. My job was to bear the block’s weight and to balance it with the previously laid masonry; a human jenga. Through each tear, each expletive, each explanation ... I took on their stress as my own.

My co-workers, thankfully, remained level-headed and kept the place afloat. Somehow I muddled through. Needless to say I was quite relieved when yesterday came to an end.

As Emily Dickinson said, “Forever is composed of nows.” This morning I needed some new nows - now. Fortunately my family was game. We got up early, dropped the little one off with a friend and took the two older kids on a hike.

The trail was gorgeous. We stopped to admire wildflowers and waterfalls, snakes and frogs. With each pause a brick fell to the ground. My stress lay prostate in the dirt like a trail of breadcrumbs (I’d caution you to follow that path ... you may not like where it leads). Nine miles later the bricks were gone. I was worn and properly fatigued. I was ready to empathize and to forgive.

Tonight my muscles ache and my bug bites itch. I’m quite sleepy and ready for bed. And I’m ready to watch forever unfold because now is good.

I sincerely hope your nows are wonderful too. Good night.