We’ve been traveling the last few days, but before I write more about that, I wanted to share this lilac picture. If there is one flower that makes me stop in my tracks (no matter how much of a hurry I was in when I was passing) it would be the lilac flower. Lilacs pull me in every time, and I must slow down long enough to enjoy their scent because I know how fleeting it is.
I told you that you’d be seeing more pictures of flowers here…
Our family has been absolutely amazed by how many blossoms have been on our apple trees this year. (I love the way the sweet little buds start out pink and then turn white as the petals open.) I thought last year was a record year for that, but this year seems in another realm entirely. Even our young, small trees have been completely covered in white. (Amazing, really, with all the damage the moles have been doing around their roots.)
We’re all hoping for a good apple year. I know it’s a bit early, but I’m already thinking about applesauce. At one point our pantry shelves were filled with canned applesauce and then we had more homemade applesauce in the freezer (that never got canned, but stuck there instead) and I thought we would have plenty to last us for a good, long while. But we ate up every last jar this winter… and lately I’ve been buying applesauce at the store and it just hasn’t compared. I’ve got a little while to wait, though, until applesauce-making-time. For now I’ll enjoy those lovely blossoms every time I step out the door, while they’re still here…
There’s been a whole lot of rain, rain, rain here. (And nothing but rain in the forecast. It’s looking very green and lush outside.) I didn’t mind having a very rainy weekend because I had so many indoor projects to work on. Yesterday I spent the day texturing the walls in Bracken’s room to get it ready to paint. I kept going until I ran out of the stuff to texture it with. We’ll get more tomorrow when the hardware store is open again, but for today I gave my body a kindness by giving it a day off from that texturing business. (I’ve got blisters on my hands and sore muscles, my body has surely been appreciating a day off before I’m back at it.)
Today we were cozy in pajamas, and the boy and I sat side by side while we listened to audiobooks together. I tied buttons on cards for orders and he drew pictures. We played games too. Jeff got some work done in his shop at a more relaxed pace than a weekday, and squeezed in a nap. Firewood was brought in, laundry was folded, meals were made, and dishes were washed. Jeff and I certainly got plenty of things done, but it felt like a slower and quieter day than our usual schedule of work, homeschool, errands, and activities. It felt so good to have a lazy day, in fact it was the laziest one we’ve had in as long as I can remember. We ended it with a movie, and now it’s time to start winding things down for bedtime.
It made me realize how much we need the more mellow days from time to time to balance out all the busy ones. I feel much more refreshed and ready to start my week after a bit of downtime. I hope you got some downtime over the weekend too, friends, or at least have some to look forward to in the near future!
My mom’s friend gave her this bag. She brought it with her to the beach and when I saw it I fell in love with it. Every time I read the words they would resonate inside of me, and I found myself wanting to read them again and again. I love this quote so much, more than I can say, and felt inspired to share it.
“I am going to make everything around me beautiful. That will be my life.”
-Elsie De Wolfe
Where did the week go? I feel like I blinked and suddenly it’s Friday. I had been meaning to come here all week, but a day would slip past me and then I’d think I would come the next day and the same thing would happen. Last week I was burning the candle from both ends and staying up too late and too often to get more work done. It caught up to me and the exhaustion set in. I knew this week I needed to get to bed at a decent time whether my work was finished or not. (I’m still learning!)
Exhaustion seems to amplify everything doesn’t it? It makes a list of tasks suddenly feel like overwhelm too big to handle. It makes little things- like dropping something heavy on your toe while you’re cleaning- suddenly feel like the last straw that turns a day into a bad day. But luckily, when you accidentally bump your spoon and send mashed potatoes flying in the air like a catapult, and in the most silly and ridiculous way possible they land right on your current knitting project- it makes you laugh like crazy and get some perspective again. (It could have gone the other way, I could have cried. It’s not the first time I’ve spilled food on my knitting, but it was seriously so funny that all I could do was laugh.)
The Winter Light Faire. That’s what I came here to write about. Bracken and I went to that at the Waldorf School last weekend, looking forward to it as we always do. I had plans to arrive early, but got there a little late instead because I had so much to wrap up before we left. Luckily, we still had plenty of time to do all the activities we wanted to do anyway. As you can see, I hardly took any pictures this year. (More pictures in last year’s post.) We didn’t make a wreath this year, we made a holiday swag instead. (I guess that’s what it’s called, wasn’t sure if I was using the correct terminology there.) We hung it next to our front door.
The highlight was the performance of the Nutcracker at the end, which is probably what Bracken looks forward to most every year. This year he asked me how many times we had gone to the Winter Light Faire and out of curiosity, I looked it up. The first time we had gone Bracken was three! This was our fifth year going. Amazing how time flies by like that, isn’t it?
P.S. Are any of you planning to go to the Trunk Show tomorrow?
I came here today to write about Thanksgiving before more time had passed, but I had a dream last night that stuck with me all day and I had to write it down. When I was writing about it, I realized how perfectly it fit in with what I had come here to write about in the first place. I’m afraid I won’t be able to put the dream into words as beautifully as it came to me, but I’m sharing it here anyway.
Last night I had a vivid dream that I was in a classroom. The teacher went around the room giving each student a different lesson. He wanted me to give a speech on the topic he gave me, and as far as I knew I was supposed to give the speech at the end of class so I was figuring out what I was going to say. As I was deep in brainstorming and working on my speech, he announced to the class that he wanted us all to pair up into groups for a different project altogether. Those first projects were meant for another time, something else had to come first.
Suddenly he realized that he would be leaving us and he only had a little time left to teach us one last lesson, and he wanted the entire class to focus on that one lesson. It dawned on him that the classroom overall was lacking an understanding that he felt was extremely important, and not only important, but an essential foundation for the other lessons he wanted to teach us. He was frustrated with his limited time, and there was an urgency to his teaching, he so desperately wanted for us to understand.
Each group of two or three was handed a dictionary that was the thinnest dictionary any of us had ever seen, with a brown leather cover. Our teacher told us to look up the word Gift. Under the word gift, it said that there were two types of gifts. It simply listed two words there- the two different types of gifts- with no further explanation. They were words I’d never seen before. (When I woke up I couldn’t remember the second word, but the first word was something like avience, not completely sure on the spelling, with another form of the word something like avienco. Prounounced, I believe, like ‘Aa-vee-en-say’, with the A sound like apple. Just for fun, I looked it up this morning in an online dictionary, which said it didn’t exist. But it wasn’t the word that was so important in the dream anyway, it was the meaning behind it.)
The second type of gift meant a physical gift, but the first type of gift- avience– was the one our teacher wanted us to learn about and understand. He had us look up those two words in our dictionary and on the page for avience there was a picture of what looked like an old, hand drawn map. It was beautiful, and looked like it had been painted with watercolors in subtle brown hues. The map showed a trip that someone had taken, but instead of dots on the map with labeled cities and towns, there was a single word next to each dot that represented a memory from the travels that had taken place in that location.
The first type of gift was not physical, rather it was the gift of a memory, experience, feeling. Our teacher was sharing with us that a physical gift could be given with love and bring joy to the person we gave it to, but avience was what gave any gift it’s true meaning. It was the truer gift, the one whose value needed to be recognized. There was such a huge focus on the physical -too much focus- and the other aspect needed to be noticed. He gave the reminder that when we left this world we couldn’t take anything physical with us, but all of our favorite memories with our loved ones would stay with us.
I woke up before the dream finished and was disappointed, I wanted to close my eyes and go back to it for awhile longer. Our teacher had communicated to us that he wanted us to work on our individual lesson, that he had first assigned us, after class. He wanted us to take days, weeks, years -whatever it took- to allow ourselves the time and space to fully understand it and absorb it into our being. He planted seeds that he wanted us to reflect on long after he was gone. But that lesson about gifts, that’s the one he wanted us to understand the most. He wanted us to know deeply what was really important, and to not let all the distractions of the world keep us from holding that truth close to our hearts.
I have so many favorite childhood memories of Thanksgiving at my Grandma and Grandpa Jensen’s house. I remember my Grandpa Jensen standing at the kitchen sink peeling potatoes, and later the creamy white mashed potatoes with the pretty gravy boat sitting next to them. I remember the corn harvested at the farm where my grandpa grew up. And the pies! I remember my grandma’s squash pie, the best pie in the world. I remember my uncle jokingly holding his belly and cracking jokes while he went back for another plate full. I remember the white table cloth and the birds coming to the bird feeder right outside the window. I remember sitting by the fire, content and full, listening to card games at the table and all the conversations going on around me.
And though the food was indeed delicious and memorable, what always stuck out in my memory most of course was that feeling of being surrounded by so many people I loved all at once, and how warm and safe and cozy that felt. It was a feeling of belonging, of being just where you’re meant to be. With aunts, uncles, and cousins all around… I was connected to my roots and my family tree. When I moved away after high school, I missed those Thanksgiving gatherings at my grandparents’ house deeply. Thanksgiving just never really felt the same to me when I wasn’t at their home with the whole crew, but my life had brought me to a new place and I was ready for that change, even though the holidays made me miss being there.
This year when I had the opportunity to go to my grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, for the first time in many years, I was so grateful. But more than wanting it for myself because I’d missed it so, I really wanted it for Bracken. I had told him stories about Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house when I was growing up and I wanted him to get to experience what it was like, to have it become part of his childhood memories too. Going back, there were things that were different and there were things that were the same. This year I stood at the kitchen sink, in a different house, and peeled the potatoes. With the peeler in my hand, I stood there thinking of my Grandpa Jensen, who I miss, and felt closer to him somehow. I imagined what he felt, listening to everyone around him, and doing a quiet and repetitive task to nourish those he loved.
My grandma baked six pies this year and she brought most of them to friends and neighbors. It’s something she loves to do each year and she said it’s one of her ways of saying that she is grateful to be alive. Bracken enjoyed his time at his great grandma’s so much, he came home with endless things he wanted to tell his dad about. We both savored our time there, appreciating it immensely. Tonight I’m thinking of my dream from last night and I’m thinking of our recent trip, and I’m feeling grateful for the gift of -memories, experiences, and feelings- the kind that warm me years later as I remember them.
All of those favorite memories you carry that make you smile or laugh out loud, the ones that are so precious they make you teary… let’s be reminded of what a gift they truly are. And let’s create many more with the ones we love.
Well, I guess it is a time for change around here! I’ve been thinking about the weekly tradition of Gratitude Sunday and have been feeling it’s time for a change. I love writing Gratitude Sunday posts and sharing them here, but doing it every week starting becoming too much of a should, and less of a joy. I want to shake that off to make it fresh and fun again. (I have enough shoulds in my life, and need to be letting some of that go!) Many of you have written to me about how much you love Gratitude Sunday and look forward to those posts, and don’t worry- I’m not stopping Gratitude Sunday altogether, but I’m feeling sharing a gratitude list on a monthly basis, rather than every week, will be such a better fit for me right now.
I still write a gratitude list before bed most nights, and that daily spiritual practice of simply counting my blessings has been so enriching for me all these years, but I want to skip nights when I don’t feel like it and not stress about coming up with a list each week! That stress really defeats the purpose of what it’s all about for me, which it to connect to my spirit and have a quiet relaxing practice before bed each night to bring me back to the center of myself, by choosing to focus on the gratitude in my heart. I don’t want to feel like a gratitude-list-machine cranking out a certain amount per week. (Or worry that I’m saying the same exact thing over and over!) That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed writing Gratitude Sunday posts here all these years, I have, and I feel like for the most part it’s been such a positive practice for me, it’s just that now I feel a shift inside of me and I need to go with my feeling.
I like to keep it real here, and be authentic, and to do that I need more space to write spontaneously, rather than always on a set schedule. I feel that monthly Gratitude posts will be such a better fit for me and I look forward to writing them with more joy, less stress, and with more wiggle room to share when the inspiration strikes, instead of what day is on the calendar. I’m also looking forward to more cozy Sunday mornings with my family, without rushing to get my post finished in a timely manner despite all the distractions around me, or worrying that I forgot (again) to take any pictures to go with the post for that week. (And I know Jeff would appreciate getting some Sundays off from making breakfast! Which he is doing while I write this, by the way.)
I’ve had readers tell me that our life seemed so peaceful and problem-free, and I think weekly gratitude lists, as positive a thing as they are, can make the perspective a bit skewed sometimes- as if our life is all rainbows. Like everyone reading these words here, we have struggles and challenges, and I hope my intention to share what I’ve been grateful for hasn’t somehow made you think our life was perfect and not ever messy. Gratitude has always been a humbling thing for me, shifting my view from waiting for some future time when things are just so to enjoy life, to being in the present and seeing with fresh eyes what is before me.
Gratitude humbles me in knowing that I cannot change and control everything around me, but I can change the way I see it. I can always choose to be grateful for something and I hope that’s what you’ll take away from the gratitude posts I’ve written all these years- not that I’m somehow lucky and have so much to be thankful for- but that you have the power to choose to be grateful every moment of every day. That power is all yours. And it’s easy to forget, which is why I practice so often. As I’ve written about before, gratitude is a choice, not the result of a special set of circumstances. I am blessed, as all of us are, in so many ways, and I’ll continue to count my blessings and share them here (I won’t start writing lists of my complaints, though I’m sure that would be very entertaining), but on a day when I just don’t feel like writing a gratitude list, I won’t. And I’m grateful to be giving myself the freedom to do that.
Here’s to positive changes!
[Edited to add: P.S. Even though I make a point to count my blessings, I do complain, just ask my family and friends who call often. Ha!]
We celebrated my birthday last week after we got back from the fiber festival. I thought this year we would do something different and rent a boat at a nearby lake, thinking it would be really fun to be out on the lake for the day, but we missed the cutoff for the boat rentals by a few days so it wasn’t meant to be. Instead we headed to the ocean, and we had such a nice time I wouldn’t have traded it. It was overcast and a bit chilly when we first arrived, but then the sun came out and it warmed up. When we go to the ocean to celebrate one of our birthdays, it always feels like a celebration for our whole family because we all love going to the beach so darn much. I saw the word love written in the sand and it made me smile, and Bracken happily buried our feet in the sand, what a good feeling that is.
I also did some kind things for myself last week, like taking the time to clean out my two knitting tubs and then casting on three knitting projects, which made me so very happy. We went to the river by our house one evening last week too, popping by there briefly before we headed back home to make dinner. Initially we felt too busy that day to squeeze it in, but then Jeff and I decided at the spur of the moment to go and Bracken, of course, was delighted. That short period of time we spent there was such a highlight of our day. Being there, we wondered why in the world we didn’t go there more often.
The other day frustrations popped up and projects got interrupted and it felt like we could hardly make any progress on what we were wanting to focus on, so we all decided on a break from all that to go to the river. Again it was only a short period of time we spent there before dinner, but it was amazingly rejuvenating. I brought my knitting while Jeff and Bracken explored and tried to catch tiny fish and crawdads in a net to look at. I could feel our tension melting away by the minute and a deeper peace and relaxation come flowing in. We’ve all been craving time in nature and especially going to the water- the lake, the river, the ocean. Our schedule is full, our days are busy, but whenever we take the opportunity to squeeze in a little more time outside we’re all the better for it, those breathers can really work wonders.
Sometimes peace is so much closer than we think, and when we slow down our pace and breathe deeply, we can relax into the peace that lives in that quiet place inside us.
It all started with our trip to the beach for our anniversary. Well, actually it started before that. Ever since I moved to Oregon I have seen beautiful strands of driftwood hanging in front of shops, in yards, on porches… you name it. My mom and I loved them and always talked about making some. My mom lives in Florida and told me that she couldn’t find much driftwood on the beaches where she went there. The last few times I’ve gone to the beach she said “pick up some driftwood!” I kept meaning to get around to it (and I did gather a little driftwood at one point, but it ended up turning into garden decor), but this year she told me that all she wanted for her birthday was for me to make her one of those hanging driftwood strands. How could I deny her one birthday wish? (I’m smiling here.) I decided it was time to finally make some, so Bracken and I brought a bag to the beach and gathered some driftwood.
We admired our pile at home. It was a warm day at the beach when we collected it and the driftwood we gathered was dry, but we kept it on the front porch for a few days and everything was completely and thoroughly dried out by that point.
Then I brought the driftwood to Jeff’s shop and drilled a small hole in each piece. I drilled each one somewhere in the middle for balance, but in hindsight drilling them off center would give a fun look too. It didn’t take as long as I expected to drill all the driftwood.
After that Bracken and I brought our pile out the garden and started stringing the driftwood. We used some fishing line. To start, I would tie a knot around a small piece of driftwood (shown above) and that would be the bottom. After I finished stringing the driftwood, I would make a loop for the top to hang it from. The fishing line is strong I and I think it will work well, but Jeff also mentioned that beading wire would be a good thing to use too.
Bracken was proud of his and hung it up in his garden. I made three on the first day- one that went from larger to smaller and reminded me of a stacked rock temple, another with the flattest pieces of driftwood I found, and another with random longer pieces. It was so fun to watch them spin in the breeze and I was so in love with them! The next day I brought drilled driftwood to a friend’s house (because I thought she would love the project as much as I did) and we strung more. Sometimes Bracken and I took ours apart and re-did them or moved pieces around. For my last one I decided to close my eyes to pick my pieces of driftwood and string them in whatever order I had picked them. I also asked Bracken and his friend to hand me pieces and it turned out really fun! Now I’ll stop chatting for a bit and let you see them…
Oh my goodness, I love them. So! Much! We hung some around the garden and spoiler alert: mom- your birthday wish will be coming true after all! I asked Jeff what we should call them and he came up with the best name ever- Floating Driftwood Temples. I thought that name captured their essence perfectly. (Also a big thanks to Jeff -you are wonderful- for helping me narrow down which pictures to include here, I took quite a few.)
They look so peaceful hanging in the garden and they’re simply beautiful as they spin and move in the wind. We will definitely be making more. I wanted to share the process with you to inspire your own floating driftwood temples in case you would like to make one. They are fun to make (for the whole family) and they are such a joy to see hanging in the garden. Enjoy!
Last week Jeff and I celebrated our nine year wedding anniversary. We were working on a big order at the time and thought perhaps we’d wait a few days and celebrate after we got it wrapped up and mailed out. We do that sometimes, celebrate things later, like last year when I wanted to celebrate my birthday right after our festival was done. But we decided to take the afternoon off from work instead and head to the beach. I was glad we celebrated on the actual day because right after we enjoyed a delicious meal out to eat, we went to the ocean and seemed to stumble across the most beautiful beach day. It was supposed to be windy that day and usually the mornings are less windy at the beach and a better time to visit, so we thought our afternoon visit might be pretty darn windy, but it turned out to be so warm and pleasant. The whole time there was deeply relaxing for all of us. Laying on the earth, dipping our feet in the cool water, and feeling the warmth of the sun on our faces in our warm little nook by a creek… and then that glorious background music of the ocean and that wonderfully fresh air… ahh, all so refreshing. These days, whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary, Jeff and I want to go to the ocean to celebrate. Always the ocean. It’s one of our very favorite places to be.