August 20, 2014

Comfort


Today I need some comfort. I am writing this from my studio surrounded by loveliness, where I have the curtains drawn, a cozy cup of chai, my favorite candle burning and a little Michael Buble, affectionately referred to as The Boob in these parts. While I sit here in my happy place, there are plumbers outside doing all manor of loud, destructive and expensive things to my pipes and my neighbors yard. Let me just say that I was upset when I got a water bill that was 6 times the normal amount so when the plumbers gave us a $2300 bill for this job, I was less than excited. Old house living. I still wouldn't trade it! Looking on the bright side (because that's what I do) we are going to have a hose spigot on the side of the house now so I can easily water the front beds and they say our water pressure will be outstanding now. Laundry and a shower at the same time? I'm there!


As the disasters pile up, our nickname for this summer changes. We are now calling it the $10,000 summer. And we won't even talk about the cat that needs dental surgery. The dog already had hers. So, you can maybe see why comfort is in demand right now. But you know what's really important here? Perspective. We are all healthy and have a roof over our heads. Get over it girl. Life goes on. Though hopefully less expensively after this. There we go. I needed that pep talk. It's easy to choose joy when times are good, much harder when you are down 10 grand, right? Doing it anyway!


Chai tea is a new comfort habit of mine that Maddie got me hooked on. Trust me, I am NOT a tea person. At all. But I love chai. It's like a hug in a mug. It's like sipping Christmas. I'm quickly becoming unable to get through a day without my fix of it. Plus it's cheap. Which obviously appeals to me right now. And the best part? I finally have a real excuse to use these lovely mugs. Don't be fooled, the ugly ones with guns and maps on them that my guy insists on using, are hiding in the back.


Maddie's Chai

-Heat milk for 2 minutes in microwave
-Steep Trader Joe's Chai tea bag for 5 minutes
-Squeeze and wring every ounce of flavor and life out of tea bag, dunking as necessary until milk begins to darken
-Add a heaping teaspoon of brown sugar (dark because light is for amateurs)
-Add a dash of cinnamon (or more if you are heavy handed like me)

Stir and warm for another minute in the microwave.
Sip.
Sigh.
Feel instantly comforted.
Repeat.

How do you like yours?


August 12, 2014

Beginnings



Today the house is quiet. It is overcast and cool so it still feels like it is not quite daytime. The windows are open, the neighborhood peaceful. The children are back at school and even the birds seem more quiet than usual. The dishwasher hums in the background as I clean up, light some candles.


There is nobody here to leave their milk glass on the breakfast bar or to gently remind to push their chair in. There is just me alone with my thoughts and dreams for this next year. Just me occasionally talking to the cats, asking the dog a question. It is at once heavenly and not. I love quiet, yet I long to hear Emma upstairs humming.


8th grade today. A beginning that feels like an ending too. I didn't cry this morning but if I think about it too much I will. I'm right there. My wish for her is to continue to remain true to who she is. I hope that she can avoid the teen girl drama and not just survive this year, but thrive.


Just like that the summer has slipped through our fingers and it is back to the regular routine. Maybe with a few changes. I am in the midst of ridding my life of all unnecessary and unbeautiful things. My computer says that's not a word but I know it should be.


I'm entering a new season, not just of the year, but of my life. It is one that requires peace and as few obligations as possible, an empty calendar. Time to think. One that I hope is filled with creativity and beauty, small moments, spontaneity and life. I have things I want to do and learn this year, I have given myself homework.


I look around me and don't want the beauty of my life to be blocked by clutter, stress or negativity. There is joy to be found everywhere. We need only look. It's ours for the taking.


August 01, 2014

Good Things


School starts here in 12 days and we are trying to squeeze every last ounce of joy out of this season. Reading, baking, friends, family, traveling, games and the occasional nap too. It has been a wonderful summer. I will miss my girl when she goes back but I also know I will find the joy in my quiet days and finding some time to take care of me again. That seems to always be the challenge of summer for me, living in the moment and making the most of summer while trying to find time to clean, cook, exercise and maybe even a moment to relax or be creative.


So many good things have happened around here lately. Our Maddie girl turned 21. For any of you out there struggling with a teenager, let me just hold Maddie up as a shining beacon of hope. That girl gave us a run for our money during the teen years. She made several bad choices, choose bad friends, didn't care a thing about doing well in school, had an attitude that ruined many days, almost didn't graduate and was very clear in telling us that we could not make her care about anything. Heartbreak. My biggest worry, besides the obvious teen girl worries, was that I wouldn't like her when she grew up. Well. Let me tell you. I do like her! So much! She is a wonder! She turned it around half way through her Senior year, went to Community College for a year and a half, transferred to a 4 year school and is in her Junior year of getting a degree in psychology with the hope of eventually going into research or occupational therapy. She goes to school full time, is an excellent student, works two jobs and lives on her own. She is respectful, hard working, thoughtful, beautiful, smart, sassy and loving. I'm so proud of her!


This summer has been a hard one for my Sweet Man. He is working long, hard hours and then muddling through the never ending porch project on the weekends. His brother came to help him put on the metal roof a couple of weeks ago and we are loving the look, sound and lack of leaks.


Last week we managed to slip away for a little Michigan vacation. No laptops. Bad cell coverage. It was perfect. We are head over heels in love with Saugatuck but plan to explore more of the state. Seriously, Michigan is amazing! How did I live three hours away for 10 years before I realized it? The peace of this spot. The waves lapping, the cool breeze, laying on a quilt under our sun shelter, a book in my hands, falling asleep on the beach. I'm looking forward to getting back there soon with just my guy.


The weather this summer has been the most beautiful I can ever recall. The temps are well below normal and we've gotten so much rain that I have scarcely needed to water which is great since I seem to be too wrapped up in other things to pay much attention to the yard chores. My veg garden is a bit of a mess, my bean obelisk is falling over, my cilantro is not thriving, I am not impressed with my tomato production and I can barely keep up with all of the dead heading which is my fave part. I have several plants that need to be moved but it will have to wait until I am no longer consumed with all things porch. However, my crape myrtle tree, which I was afraid didn't survive the polar vortex, came back as a lush blooming shrub after I cut it to the ground. We've actually gotten more blooms out of it this summer than the two before. I'm just thrilled to have such a beautiful southern specimen in my midwest garden. It brings me back to my roots every time I look at it.


After 6 weeks of waiting, we finally got the wicker chairs we ordered for our front porch. Sadly when they finally arrived after 8 hours of waiting for the freight truck, they were no where near the bone white color advertised and had to be shipped back. After 2 more days of waiting for the freight truck to pick them up, they are gone and have been replaced by these vintage style porch chairs I found at Pottery Barn which I love even more. And bonus, they were on clearance!


Already so many good things, but then on the way home from Michigan my doctor called me with good test results taking away worry I've had hanging over me for 6 months. Pure relief. Then a few days later I realized that the fourth anniversary of the day my Mom was killed, had passed me by and I didn't.even.realize! Not until my brother brought it up. It may never have occurred to me! The joy that gave me! I don't ever want to remember that day. I want to be able to remember the good without having to remember the bad. I'm so filled with joy that it passed me right by. Then this past Tuesday Em had a chest x-ray which showed no abnormalities and that her pneumonia is completely gone.


This summer has given us a lot of challenges, but the blessings far outweigh them!