Thursday, November 29, 2012

Diamonds, Dreams, and Worry Doors

   My morning coffee is often the perfect time to browse through inspirational quotes and essays, opening my mind and heart to those morsels of wisdom that just click into some struggle happening within me. Today offered such a moment of serendipity, and I'd like to share it with you. I hope you'll join the conversation.

"You rush from room to room 
hunting for the diamond necklace
already around your neck." ~Rumi

   It floors me. How common is this? With such enormous appetites for everything from food to material luxuries and even friendships or romance, how often are we chasing after more than we need, or how often do we fail to notice dreams that have already come true? I know I am guilty of this from time to time. And not just when we frequent the Friday Night country auction, though that is a great example. I mean, I don't care what Pinterest says... A person only needs so many rusted antique milk cans or empty wooden frames that want to be painted turquoise...

   We can accumulate more than we need in many areas of life, continuing to pursue duplicates or poor imitations of treasures already at our feet.

   Handsome and I watched a news segment this morning about a pink diamond ring being auctioned off for charity, at a ridiculous value. The female news anchors, doing their jobs, oohed and ahhed over the sparkly bauble then took turns trying it on. They each slipped it on their wedding ring fingers where beautiful diamond rings already sat. This really bothered me, that a woman would put another diamond ring where her wedding ring sits, just because the second ring is pretty. To each her own, but really. To me, that speaks volumes.

   Then about ten minutes later I read the above quote from Rumi, and it lept off the page. Err, phone screen.

   I am not looking for diamond rings, by the way. That was just an interesting coincidence. But this does remind me of a sparkly wrap bracelet I bought about a year and a half ago on a frivolous shopping trip with my friend Marci. It is missing about a third of its stones but is so pretty, and so odd, that I wear it all the time. It cost like nine bucks.

I think this is a necklace, but I usually wrap it a few times around my wrist.

   Anyway, to add yet another layer of coincidence, Marci happened to called me out of the blue yesterday with some of the most encouraging words I have heard in a long time.

   Read into this as much or as little as suits you, but for me I am taking all of this as a big, happy clue to examine my yearnings. Do you remember the Worry Door story, and how it is supposed to be closed tight, forever?  What phantoms do I still allow to creep up and and terrify me, and what dreams am I still chasing frantically, that perhaps have already come true?

Thrifty stuff update: That painting now sits on my writing desk upstairs in the Apartment;
that gray & white tiered stand has served about three hundred cookies by now;
and those paper white bulbs are finally planted and proudly displaying three inch green sprouts! 

   I have this slightly weird belief that some prayers can be answered in advance, at a far distance; they just take a little time to become visible. That is when faith bridges the distance, the waiting period.

   That is when I have to trust that the diamond necklace I am hunting in every room is already around my neck. Or my wrist. So I just close my eyes and imagine it. And give thanks for it. And stop hunting. And allow the Worry Door to remain closed.

   What phantoms chase you around, trying to terrify you and fling open your Worry Door? Let it stay closed, man. What dream are you pursuing, hunting like a diamond necklace in every room? Perhaps it is already around your neck.Or your wrist. I'm not suggesting that worry has no place in life, or that we should stop dreaming big dreams. Just that sometimes it's good to stop and notice how abundantly blessed we already are, and how many treasures already belong to us.

Be Happy.
And if You Have a Friend Like Marci, 
Give Her a Hug.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Few Animal Updates

1.   The llama was skunked last night. Or this morning. Or this afternoon. Or possibly all three, judging from his stench, which I caught on a stiff breeze while photographing him today. His pasture-mates are clean as whistles, though, so hopefully this means that Sir Romulus has finally accepted his role as varmint-dismisser. I absolutely swell with pride to imagine him scooping his long, noodly neck really low and trotting aggressively after a black-and-white intruder. Good boy, Romulus. Good, stinky, untouchable boy.

I can't even cope with how beautiful his eyes are.

2.   The chickens still have not provided me any more eggs. Well, I have collected exactly ONE EGG this week. If by some chance you have been watching my little egg counter on the sidebar over there and wondered if I have just forgotten to update it... No. Just no eggs. Do you know how embarrassing it is to buy a carton of  snow white eggs at the grocery store? I feel like such a fraud. Like everyone there knows. Watching me examine eggs as if I have a choice. Judging me. Calculating in their heads how much money I have wasted on chicken scratch this month. Anyway, the feathery ladies do not appear to be molting; they have plenty of sunshine and fresh water; and only two roosters are around to "bother" them. Hubba hubba. So I know in my calcium-deprived bones that a giant clutch of eggs is somewhere on these nine acres. Somewhere. Not in the barn or the coop, but somewhere I will find them. Eventually. Or I will find a little nursery school of fresh baby chicks, which are only slightly less delicious.

An old photo, from more productive days...

3.   But Mia's love is still going strong. I sat in the sunny front yard today and fed him and his downy compadres a bag of stale bread, and he cuddled and honked me properly. I happened to be listening to music via headphones at the time, though, and apparently he objected to this. He started pecking at my head and really zeroed in on my headphones, almost in perfect beat to Ice Ice Baby which is the song that was playing at the time. The thing is, Mia is simply too young to appreciate fake rap from that era.

Stop! Collaborate and Listen! Mia's back!

4.   My friend, neighbor, and fellow book clubber Seri surprised me today with a tray of made-from-scratch sweet potato biscuits! You guys, they are so good. So soft and pillowy and sweet, just the exact thing I needed for an afternoon pick-me-up. But I tore off a little corner and offered it to Chunk-Hi and he not very politely refused. He really likes crunchy treats, we should always try to remember. Oh well, more for me. Thanks Seri!

Crunchy stuff only, please, Momma.

5.   Our parrot, Bobby Pacino, is not only learning new words lately; he is also assembling his growing vocabulary in terrifying fascinating ways. I knew it was coming, because in the days leading up to a burst of new words and phrases, Pacino always sits quietly on his perch, eyes lowered, one claw massaging his throat. I really need to write down every single thing he can say, because it's pretty impressive. This week his new thing is "I don't appreciate it, OK?" We've heard worse from him, unfortunately, but for some reason this sentence just cracks me up. The thing is, he says it with such appropriate disgust. His inflection, you guys, is spot on.

Someone told me... If you have a parrot 
and you aren't teaching him to say
"Help! They changed me into a parrot!"
Then you're wasting your time.

Oblah-Di, Oblah-Dah!

My Next Big Thing (sort of a link up)

   Do you remember back in October when our Dinner Club With a Reading Problem welcomed Tulsa author Jen Luitwieler to discuss her book Run With Me? Well, perhaps I haven't impressed this on you enough, but she is still on my radar. In kind of a big, inspirational way. She is in the publishing stages of her second book, an historical novel based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and she is also finishing up the rough draft of her third book as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). 
   NaNoWriMo is staged annually for the month of November, during which time writers are pushed, prodded, and propelled to flesh out just the rough drafts of their imagined novels. 
   Somewhere along the way I got sassy enough to tell Jen and Margi (The M Half) and a few other supportive people that I intended to participate. 
   And finish.
   Anyway, Jen has graciously invited both Margi and me to share our answers to these questions about our soon-to-be-novels. You can click around to see Jen's answers, her friend Mitchell Allen's answers, and more, all over the inter-webs. Here we go with my own!
What is the working title of your book? Louisiana Treasure This is actually just how I have it titled on my desktop. I doubt very much it will stay.
Where did the idea come from for the book? This past summer, while driving home from a particularly lush and inspirational trip to Louisiana, I was scribbling down my immediate memories and descriptions of the scenery and was also taking inventory of how homesick I always feel for this placed I have never lived. So I decided it had to be memorialized somehow. Also, Handsome has been encouraging me for some time to sit down and write something. Plus I have this idea of being wealthy beyond reason just from writing, so that my husband can retire early and I can give my children anything they need and help our parents retire comfortably and go play either in the French Quarter or at a beach once a month.
What genre does your book fall under? Either simple literary fiction or maybe mystery.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I am a big fan of Eva Mendes for the lead female character, and that's as far as I've gotten. I just now officially spent more time googling and trying to remember this certain guy's name than I have spent writing today, so that little detail will have to just work itself out.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A young woman inherits from her eccentric Great-Aunt a sizable fortune but with it the burden of distributing to her disconnected and far flung family members some odd possessions which slowly reveal a pattern filled with dark implications; and along the way she learns about herself and her family and has a sexy, tumultuous love affair with more than one person, plus she has a lot of fun not being poor.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Whichever gets me to the beach first.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I pretty much wrote the whole thing this morning. Almost done. Wait, I might need two more weeks.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Hhhmmm .. I'd say this will eventually polish out to be a cross between Moby Dick, Fried Green Tomatoes, and The Stand. With a touch of 50 Shades.
Who or What inspired you to write this book? The details of Louisiana's beauty and mood combined with the complexity of a woman's heart provide oceans of writing material. Period.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It will include plenty of romance and even sex, because it's attempting to be about real people. 


   So there ya go! I am actually doing this, although I will not be done as soon as many of the other writers. Thank you, Jen, for inviting me to the Q & A party! That was super fun. 

You Know What They Say  About 
All Work and No Play...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Grateful Holiday Launch 2012

   Whew! What a Thanksgiving! How was yours? Are you exhausted? Exhilarated? Are you so full of decadent food that you now want nothing but Greek yogurt, salad without dressing, apples, and chicken breasts? Is your house weeping for a good scrub, or is it already shining and sparkling with Christmas? I am somewhere in the middle of all of that good stuff, and happily so. Today I get to clean and decorate the house, run a thousand miles and do yoga, make Christmas cards from scratch, cook something healthy, sew nine aprons to sell, then read and review two books.

   I should do approximately all of that, 
before Handsome gets home from the Commish. 
In my dreams.

   My Thanksgiving weekend started with a long, wonderful Wednesday spent with my youngest daughter Jessica. Words cannot relay how refreshing it is to be alone with her, to catch up on her life and her heart, for her voice to fill the room and her arms to wrap around me. We had a girlish meal of hot tea from an antique strawberry tea pot, English muffins with local honey, peppered bacon, and fresh pears and oranges. Feeding her food we both love fed my soul much more than my body. I watched her with the animals, and she is the same as ever. Sweet and confident. I watched her walk across the room, though, and she is suddenly a young woman.

I love this photo so much. Jess named this bee Fred when it landed on her glove, 
and she seemed to thrill at the sound of the buzzing as much as I do.

   She suited up and helped me inspect the bee hives (good news/ bad news there; more on that tomorrow), proving her sweet spirit with every slow, steady movement. Saying goodbye at the and of the afternoon was painful, always more difficult than I show, and I think she would say the same. But I am deeply grateful for those hours together and for the rest it gives me to reconnect with her. I love her and her big sister so much, so constantly, that words fail me here every time.

   That evening Handsome and I attended another Thunder basketball game and screamed our lungs out! It was a close contest from beginning to end which culminated in an overtime victory for our beloved OKC team. So. Much. Fun. And such a great way to release tension!

   Watching the games on TV is great, but the entertainment value of a game there at the arena is in its own category of awesome. The music, the lights, the crowd's energy, the wildness and civic affection of it all, is just unbeatable in my opinion. And the fact that we have a basketball team whose sportsmanship and skill kind of blows everyone else out of the water? Wow. So yes, the two of us are extremely thankful for the gift of game tickets so frequently. What fun!

   After some crazy late night grocery shopping on Wednesday, Handsome and I luxuriated Thursday morning then spent many long, carb-filled hours divided between his parents' house and mine. We laughed with a fraction of our siblings (not everyone lives nearby or could travel this year). We played with nieces and nephews. We made plans to see lots of them next summer. Mostly, I think, we enjoyed seeing our parents happy and busy. It is a blessing not lost on us that we both have our parents alive and well and present in out lives. We love them all so very much and are grateful for all of the work and love that they poured into giving us a happy Thanksgiving!

   We had planned for house guests at the end of the week, but last minute changes left us with a clean, empty Apartment, so we did more luxuriating with each other at our own end of the house... Then a leaking hot water tank changed our plans again and some necessary Black Friday shopping for a major appliance tested our holiday resolve. Happily, we passed the test. I even bought poinsettias.

   Friday night both sides of our family gathered at the farm for a bonfire, some leftovers, pizza, and roasted marshmallows. I am still so thrilled that we can invite both of our families here and everyone blends in and has a great time together! This is a big source of joy for me, and I also appreciate that everyone is happy to bring treats to share. Watching children from both families play together and make memories warms me up.

   I think it's just perfect that in the United State we celebrate Thanksgiving immediately before the onslaught of Christmas and all of the materialism and consumption that inevitably comes with it. This week I have stopped several times to be actively Thankful, to record my blessings either on paper (the spiral mandala) or on a chalkboard we have screwed to the wall of our stairwell. The chalkboard is a leftover from Brian and Rebecca's wedding back in May, and we use it for all sorts of things now.

   Friday night our families helped fill it up with some really happy graffiti of thanks, and I gotta say... eventually erasing this communal masterpiece will be difficult. I predict these words and scribbles will be up for many weeks. Here is a list of what I found there:

  • romance
  • laughter  Laughter is so powerful.
  • sleep
  • happy marriage
  • my babies
  • my home
  • family
  • darling
  • family
  • Brandy & Marie  Okay, who wrote this one? Are you jockeying for an awesome Christmas gift? Because it's totally working.
  • love
  • Mom
  • good jobs
  • life
  • time to play
  • God
  • ...and his love for us 
  • our parents
  • home
  • marriage
  • bills paid
  • happiness
  • life
  • pets  Between the households just represented that night, I bet we have easily over a hundred pets. 
  • good books
  • art supplies
  • Matthew
  • healthy children  Amen, amen, amen. Whatever our other struggles, having healthy children is a blessing we should never stop appreciating!
  • friends
  • Matt I am growing a little suspicious of this now...
  • life
  • family
  • Amy
  • the right to bear arms  We are in Oklahoma, after all, where the open carry law just passed, and several of our family members are law enforcement. No surprise at this little celebration.
  • family

   Just look at how often different people mentioned marriage, family, home, and friends. We are obviously thankful for whatever brings love and security. We prize these above so many other things, even as wealthy and indulgent as we are. This floors me and motivates me all at once! Does it you?


   So... Happy last week of November to you all! I hope you are off and running in your own beautiful ways to a memorable holiday season. I hope you take time to focus on the things for which you and your loved ones are truly thankful, and build on those rather than bleed your energies out toward things that don't really matter. Pray for each other. Pray for my sister if you can. Dwell on beauty and possibility every chance you get.

   If I accomplish my crazy Monday Tasks list in time, I will be back tomorrow to discuss our Lazy W bee situation and maybe sell you some aprons. Have yourself a fantastic day!!

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
~Thornton Wilder


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Inviting a Peaceful Holiday Season

   I actually have some fun holiday related stuff to share with you guys, but I just finished reading some excellent news from my friend Nadya over at Journey Keeper (please find a  link to her wonderful blog over on the right hand column of this page; for some reason I cannot paste links here right now). Nadya has just become an accredited yoga instructor! Yay Nadya!! She has been working on this for some time, and I am so excited for her!
   Nadya's most recent blog post about mindfulness and thought control reminded me of a circular written meditation she once taught me, one that incorporates lots of blessings-counting and calm mindfulness.

   Especially at this time of year, anything that calms us down and guides us to count our blessings is worth the time spent.

   All you do is start in the center of a blank sheet of paper and slowly write one thing after another for which you feel truly grateful. Add one item, then another, curving outward as you go, until you have built a spiral of gratitude. A very personal mandala of your own life, celebrated. And for those moments that you worked on your spiral, you have deliberately focused on only good.

   In my book, focusing on life's good is powerful. It's more than just not being negative; it irrigates and feeds what's going well in your life and increases your positive movement. Being thankful shows the Source of your blessings that you appreciate those blessings and are open to more. How many times does the Bible remind us to be thankful, content, and filled with praise? How eager are you to shower someone with gifts when that person doesn't appreciate what you have already done or given?

   As the holiday momentum ramps up, chances are pretty decent that stress will build too. For different reasons, peace will wear thin. But that's okay. Before that takes hold, throughout the month, I intend to use this circular exercise to keep my heart steady and my energy focused on life and abundance, not lack.

   From materials concerns to practical holiday snags and the like... all the way to my heart's deepest waiting  I am so happy to have this plan. To have this simple, peaceful, visual way to return to contentedness over and over again. Maybe I can even think up a way to make these December meditations into holiday ornaments! LOL

   Anyway, sincere congratulations to you Nadya! I know your yoga students, as well as your own sweet little Guppy, will benefit greatly from your instruction. If South Africa were a smidge closer to Oklahoma, then I would surely make time for a few of your yoga classes. Instead, I wish you so much success. I wish for you unbridled joy and rivers and rivers of peace. Thanks for sharing your discoveries and successes with the rest of us!



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Proverbs 31 for the Single Woman (Guest Post)

Today I am so happy and honored to introduce to you fine people 
a remarkable young woman named Misti. 
She has been in our famous little Oklahoma Dinner Club With a Reading Problem 
for about a year, but I only learned this week that she also writes a blog.( 
I became quickly enamored with her forthright and tender approach to Bible themes 
and asked her to contribute her thoughts to my study on Proverbs 31, 
which she graciously agreed to do. Thanks Misti!!
I think you'll really enjoy what she has written, especially if you too are a single gal. 
Please say hello and share your thoughts!

Proverbs 31 for the Single Woman

   For the longest time, I’ve thought that Proverbs 31 was something to attain to, but not entirely applicable to me. After all, I’m not married. I don’t have children. The closest thing I have to a dependent is a shaggy mutt of a dog who lives in my back yard most of the year. Other than a bit of attention, some food, water, and shelter in from the weather, he’s pretty content and low maintenance.

   I’ve been asked once or twice before to share my thoughts on Proverbs 31, and I have to admit, I felt pretty inadequate. I don’t have a family to provide for. I don’t have a husband to sit in the gate and be known for his wisdom. I don’t have children to rise up and call me blessed.

   But tonight, I thought about the story of Tabitha, or Dorcas, in the book of Acts. She was a woman who took what she had and made use of it to help others. So much so that when she passed, the people begged that Peter would pray that God would raise her from the dead because of their need of her.

   It blended with something else I’ve been thinking of lately – the impact of the single, childless woman in society. From the perspective of someone who does genealogy for a hobby, the single, childless women in the families tend to be forgotten. It would seem that they've left no legacy. But then, I have thought about the ones I have known about.

   There is the blind aunt of my great-great grandmother who lived next door to her family and helped with the family duties and the children. Her story was passed down through the family, and she is not forgotten.

   And the ones who have touched my life:

   Sis. Hattie Montgomery was an elderly lady in the church when my dad was a child. She married, but never had children of her own. All the children who went through her Sunday School, or who knew her as Aunt Hattie, or who grew up seeing her faithfulness in the church and heard stories about how she helped build the church building, or the stories of her near mishaps while continuing to drive into her 90s, has forgotten her. She left a legacy.

   Sis. Jewel was the quiet lady at church who filled in as Sunday School teacher, or who prayed. She was my brother-in-law’s great aunt. And she was the one who told me I should be singing in the choir and encouraged me to do that. She never married or had children, but she isn't forgotten. I’ve heard about how she was such a help to Sis. Hattie in her later years, and always there to help out those who were in need.

   My own aunt, Jennie, has been a blessing to the many children she has led in the singing part of children’s meeting at church. She’s a woman of so many talents, and indispensable at the job she has done. She’s touched many lives in her work at the junior high for several decades. Her nieces and nephews, and their children will never forget her.

   These women didn't have children of their own, but they have touched many lives. I see the traits of the Proverbs 31 woman in these ladies. They have been resourceful, talented, busy looking out for the ones in their circle of influence, and a great blessing to the family, the church and the community. I appreciate their good example, and the legacy they leave to us.

Again, Misti, thank you so much for sharing these beautiful thoughts 
and memories of some very special women in your life! 
I appreciate that you have illuminated the loving traits of a Proverbs 31 woman, 
traits that any woman can adapt to her own circumstances. 
Support, encouragement, care taking, tending, availability... Just love.

Love Your People. Whoever They Are

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sewing Day: Things to Never Discard

   Today I am spending most of my negotiable time upstairs in the sun filled Apartment, sewing and sewing and designing and sewing and crafting and stuff like that. I am having so much fun and am knocking out orders and gifts left and right! This makes for a good Wednesday, you guys. On a quick brunch break (on solo days like today I skip breakfast and don't really need lunch), I thought I'd share a few thoughts on resourcefulness. With Christmas right around the corner, if you are anything like me, you can use a little encouragement in this area.

   Thanks to my sweet Momma, the Queen of the Art of Leftovers for Dinner and the world's original Re-Purposer, my habit has always been to use found fabrics and materials, recycling stuff as many times as possible before resorting to purchasing anything new. I prefer to collect old things and make them into new things and try to put a new spin on classics before dabbling in a trend. This leads to a lot of, umm, stuff piling up. Some people call it hoarding. I call it stockpiling on the cheap. Thank goodness for excess storage space, right? So my sewing caverns are full to bursting with old castoff fabrics originating anywhere from bed sheets to beach towels and everywhere in between.

Remember when Handsome built me these colorful raised garden beds?
They're made from all reclaimed lumber from the kids' old playhouse, 
which was itself built from stockade fencing we had found on someone's curb a thousand years ago.
Then we filled the raised beds with shredded office papers for soil building.

Zero waste. Unless you count the manure. Technically, that is waste.
But we used it, too. I mean, whatever...

   Okay, the animals and gardening are an entirely separate conversation about resourcefulness. I could talk about composting and healthy diets and cheap, old fashioned organic farming methods for hours and hours. Like, for longer than I could talk about running. But not today.

   Today, back to sewing.

   Some things in this beautiful world translate to re-imagination better than others, and that's kind of what I want to share with you today. These are just my own thoughts and experiences, so take them with a grain of salt (collected frugally from the counter top, of course; no need to waste NEW salt!). And please share your own re-purposing ideas too!

The Lazy W List of Material Things to Never Discard

  • Jeans Any denim, especially once it's broken in, is easy to press flat and sew with and combines really well with all kinds of cotton and chenille, etc. PLUS the pockets are usually fun additions to aprons, etc. The possibilities for reusing denim are endless.
  • Sweaters Sweaters might be slightly less enthusiastic than jeans about being cut into new shapes and sewn in with other fabrics, but if you can handle the pilling and stretching, they make luxurious textures for new projects. One of these days days I'll show you the blanket I'm working on using old, mismatched sweaters. Pinterest is filled with mitten-making tutorials too! Have you tried this? I'd love to know how it goes.
  • Men's Oxford style shirts Again, endless possibilities. The fabric is usually super smooth and often has nice geometric designs which make cutting straight lines a cinch. I really like to reuse the pockets. And I have found that one men's shirt, butchered carefully, can become a ruffled half apron in just a couple of hours. If you don't need the buttons right away, remember to save them! That's what Mason  jars are for, ladies.
  • Bed sheets I can't even describe to you how sad it makes me to think of people throwing away bed sheets. I mean, obvious hygiene requirements aside, sheets have built-in straight edges, generous yardages than you can't buy at the fabric store, and that smooth cottony-ness that makes any sewing project wonderful. SAVE THEM. Some of my favorite projects have been made form a stack of sheets passed down from my Grandma.
  • Worn out bed pillows. Lumpy, yellowed, or otherwise just not fit for slumber, bed pillows can be cut into smaller squares (or left whole, I suppose) and recovered easily for throw pillows, etc. Pillow forms are expensive. And I don't know about you, but in  my book free is a lot cheaper than expensive.
  • Beach towels So far I have only used beach towels as a quilting-type filler, but I know there are millions of other possibilities hanging out there in the universe just waiting to be lassoed! 
  • Canvas-type (muslin) drop cloths My personal fave way to use this little textile treasure is as a table cloth base. I let it fall flatly to the ground then add more colorful things on top, like silk scarves or ratty lace or actual tablecloths. But drop cloths also make excellent window treatments (they ruffle and embellish easily), place mats (because they are sturdy and bleachable), and pillow covers. You might say that these heavier duty sheets of neutral colored fabric are blank canvases for your fertile imagination. PLUS they are pretty cheap and come all hemmed up already. Not bad, folks.
  • T-Shirts Oh my goodness. Scarves, quilts, tote bags, drawstring tank tops, wall art, you name it. If your family collects sports team or charity event t-shirts like my carpets collect stickers, then you will always be supplied with free craft material. The weirder or more sentimental the shirt, the better. Don't toss these, man. Just fold them neatly somewhere until you can spend the day with some scissors.

   The items pictured here were all made exclusively from found materials...

Okay, I did purchase the black and white striped dish towel new.
Everythinng else is reclaimed. The hot pink floral apron used to be a sundress.

Again, the onesie is new but embellished with found fabric.
I had SO MUCH FUN making this scrappy little gypsy tutu for my cousin's baby!

This half apron is fully up-cycled.
The waistband and some of the autumn leaves are made from
part of that bed sheet collection from my Grandma.

Kind of a dark photo, but this is an example of a t-shirt scarf. 
I love these so much, planning to make a bunch this winter!

All reclaimed cotton tote bag.
The floral pattern is really, really old. Like, vintage old.
The striped pocket is just lifted from one of my husband's old shirts.

Brand new cotton tea towel, embellished with ruffles made from an array of very old garments.
You absolutely cannot beat the texture of old, well worn cotton.

A crib quilt made exclusively from found fabrics.
Again, why not surround a beloved infant with old, cherished scraps 
that not only feel better to the touch but also
are drenched in memories and wisdom from decades past?
Even better, use those old pieces and discreetly label some of them
so the provenance is not lost.

   So my brunch break is over now! I am headed back to the Apartment to finish a certain list of projects before the sun warms the horses enough to welcome my brushing and the water hose doesn't mind doing a little trough filling. I would be so happy if you shared your inspiration for reusing perfectly good castoff stuff!

Waste Not, Want Not!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

You Might Be a Runner If...

... you go for a relaxing pedicure with your girlfriend and select a nail polish color that exactly matches your blackened toe nails. All the while, you resist apologizing to your manicurist for the condition of your feet and in fact manage to spark two and a half ounces of pride over their recent destruction.

... you look up one day and suddenly realize that you care more about the numbers on your mileage sheet than the number on your scale.

Seriously, folks, that second one feels incredibly good.

...  your husband slightly cringes when someone else broaches the topic of running in a group conversation. Because he knows you won't be able to be quiet. And he's pretty much heard it all already. (Sorry babe...)

... you sleep better at night after enjoying a run longer than three miles. In fact, you can't sleep at all on the days you skip. have more stamina to work after a good, strong run.

The energy relationships in the human body are fascinating.

... you can no longer wear yoga capris to relax around the house because they trigger something in your legs that makes them bounce frantically until you lace up.

...when clothes shopping you are more likely to browse racer back tanks and lined shorts than jeans and shoes. Unless they are running shoes.

   So have you started yet? If you're local, would you like to schedule a long run with me soon? I am focused on being ready for the Oklahoma City Memorial (half) Marathon by next April, and the holiday season seems like an excellent time to burn a few extra calories. Hit me up!

   However you stay healthy and happy, keep it up. It's worth it.

"He conquers who endures."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Catching Up

   How are you guys? I haven't blogged in a week, for a multitude of reasons. We're pretty great. Just awfully busy and fairly sleepy and sort of occupied keeping ourselves fueled from day to day. Balancing fun decisions with necessary ones. Feeling voids and then filling them. Not quite believing that I have had much to offer you fine citizens, in the way of prose or poetry. Just thinking a lot whenever I sit still.

   But life is good. The four leggeds are all healthy and happy. The newly adopted poultry have integrated really well with the existing flock. The mild nighttime freezes we've enjoyed have nearly eliminated all flying pests.

   We have been so lucky here lately to spend time with great friends. In fact, I spent election day last week with one of my most beloved friends, but also a woman with whom I agree on precious few issues. You know what? Not one scruff. We had a great day together and made a hundred happy memories. This is a blessing in our life for so many reasons. It's good to have a variety of people to influence, support, challenge, reflect, entertain, and basically LOVE us. Our friends are treasures.

   So is our marriage. As time passes on the calendar, I see more and more proof of the importance of a strong, happy marriage. How it can serve as a wonderful foundation for so many other beautiful life experiences. How it's not just an event or a simple relationship or even a familial bond. The complexities of a fulfilling marriage (in my view) are matched only by the incredible wealth of love and joy that can spring forth from it. In so many directions.

   I've still been running, though only in short bursts. I crave a nice, long run badly. I have realized that training for a half marathon on a quarter-mile track is kind of like reading Infinite Jest on a smart phone. There really is no underestimating the value of this development in my life, you guys. I feel better in every way from running, and if you are still on the fence about it I strongly suggest you take advantage of this brisk weather and get out there! Sweat out whatever is going on in your heart. Find that pace where you barely feel your legs and your thoughts glide past easily.

   How is the weather where you are? Is anything still blooming in your garden? Does it feel like Thanksgiving yet? We woke up to frost on the ground (and on the llama) today, and to round out our time off, Handsome and I are lighting a bonfire at sunset and welcome local friends and family. I sure wish all of you could join us.

   I hope life is good for you. I hope you have a seed of gratitude in your heart and a swell of warmth for Veterans near and far. I hope you have plenty to eat and thick blankets to cover you at night. I hope your prayers are alive with hope and your coffee is perfect.

Talk soon.
"Promote what you love
Instead of bashing what you hate."



Monday, November 5, 2012

Senses Inventory: Coffee Shop

   Late this morning I had the sort of rare opportunity to spend time 
on a leisurely brunch all by myself in an unusual setting. 
It seemed like a perfect opportunity for a Senses Inventory.

See:  I see sanded and waxed hardwood floors, brick wall painted red, blue icicle lights hanging from a soffet, multiple chalkboard menus, and a wild collection of original artwork all over the walls. I see a menagerie of interesting characters floating through the shop, some professionals, some bicyclists, and others bent on personal expression. I also see my own collection of odd things... My second hand green leather purse with a long black scarf tied on, my trusty notebook, cell phone, a paperback C.S. Lewis book, a giant cup of cream colored dark roast coffee, and a square of cellophane squeezed into a crumpled heap and filled with crumbs from my breakfast. I look up and see sunlight blasting through the tall, arched windows.

Smell:  Rich, stimulating, glorious coffee and a tiny whiff of my own perfume. Or maybe that's actually scented deodorant. It smells like spring break.

Hear:  The hissing and gulping espresso machines and some upbeat, wordless jazz music. The music has a monotonous beat that could lull me into a trance if I let it. I hear the hum of the air conditioner, too, and now the music has changed to a Beatles song, heavy on the tambourine please.

Taste: The remnants of a thick, tender, decadent scone that was my breakfast. I am guessing it was made with real butter and definitely boasted dried cranberries, almonds, and white chocolate chips. Delicious.

Touch:  Hard wooden arm chair holding me and the strings of my threadbare denim jacket pulling against my pointy elbow. (Still haven't mended that.)

Think:  ...About the relationships between Hinduism, Christianity and a newer expression of natural law marketed as "The Secret." Thinking of C.S. Lewis and his particular brand of philosophy that seems to defy strict churchiness.

Feel:  Peaceful. Adventurous. Homesick for my children (that never really goes away) but also deeply grateful for them and for the conviction that all is not last. Romantic. Happy that Handsome and I have such incredible friends.

"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, 
you only think what everyone else is thinking."
~Haruki Murakami 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Impromptu Stuffed Mushrooms

   Two special circumstances have intersected to bring about a new recipe at the Lazy W tonight:

  1. Handsome and I have been trying to eat a little less of the sweet, fluffy, carb-laden foods we so adore, because we might want to buy skinny jeans.
  2. Mushrooms were on sale at the grocery store yesterday. Firm, plump, unblemished, clean, earthy smelling mushrooms.
   I started dinner preparations super  late tonight. Hungry but also sleepy from a really fun and busy week, I tried to think of something to cook that would warm up my tired bones but also not undo all the healthy habits we've formed lately. Handsome had already declined a baked potato. So while three thick, boneless pork chops were rotating seductively in the counter top rotisserie oven, I chopped up a green salad and decided to see how hard it would be to make stuffed mushrooms. You know what? Not hard at all. The finished product is not only delicious but also as filling as a baked potato and way more satisfying because it doesn't  give you that sugar-tummy feeling afterwards.

   Pretty much, this is all it entails:
  1. Remove the stems from a package of fresh mushrooms and chop em up.
  2. Dry roast the plain mushroom caps in your oven for a few minutes. They will go into the oven dry and emerge about ten minutes later with little oily puddles of moisture in the center of each. Like pools of collected tears. Or dew drops from the garden of good and evil. Or the sweat of unfulfilled longings. Or... mushroom water. Whatever.
  3. Saute in butter and olive oil those chopped up mushroom stems along with some minced garlic and whatever spices you want. I let it all cook until the butter browned and foamed and the earthy mushroom fragrance filled the downstairs of our house. More autumnal smelling than apples and cinnamon!
  4. Combine the cooked garlic-mushroom mix with some grated Parmesan cheese, Panko crumbs (or I suppose bread crumbs, Panko is just what I had), and more spices if you want. How much? Not really sure. I just poured things into my favorite pink bowl until it seemed like enough. And it was way too much.
  5. Spoon this crumbly, fragrant, slightly moist stuffing into each of the roasted mushroom caps, accepting emotionally that you do not understand the law of displacement since obviously the void left by the stems could not possibly be so great as the mass of said stems combined with several other bulky ingredients.
  6. Bake these stuffed mushroom caps and goof around for a while. Pretend like you're writing a novel in thirty days. Eat some of the cherry tomatoes you had thrown lazily on the salads. Curse forever the bane of houseflies. Try to remember without aid of a search engine the name of the guy who is credited for the law of displacement.
  7. Decide that if you ever have a turtle you shall name him Archimedes.
   These stuffed mushrooms are pretty darn delish, you guys. Firm, flavorful, almost meaty in your mouth, and technically a vegetable, right? They come out of the oven unreasonably hot, though, so do contain your curiosity for a while in favor of an un-scorched tongue.

   I was way too sleepy tonight to stage the food for a nice photo, so above you see, instead of a garlic-mushroom-stuffed mushroom, a kitten-stuffed pumpkin with a side of happy little girl. It's pretty much the same thing.

   Cheers, friends! And happy culinary experimenting to you!! See you soon for a return to Proverbs 31, some nephew stories, and much more!

Actually, Happy Little Girls are Way Better than Stuffed Mushrooms.
If You Have One, Hug Her!


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