31 December 2012

2012: a year in review through snapshots

Instead of a post about what this year has rounded out to, or focusing much on what to expect in the new year, I thought I would just share a year in review through snapshots. There is a lot I can say about the last 12 months, but mostly I just want to remember that it was full of transformation. And it was full of love from family and friends. And that I worked my ass off in my day job, as well as in my personal work, and both with awesome results. Whether it was being able to spend a few months focused on Patsy Cline, or to see my 400 Moons endeavor begin to take shape, I am walking forward proud to remember that there is purpose and to keep pursuing it with blind faith. A year that started off with me still having to live alongside of grief and loss, is ending with me being filled with a peace that I did not expect to ever find. My soul is full and quiet. Or as they say, "my cup runneth over." Now off to let this one go and to ring in a new one. Happy New Year's!

22 November 2012


I made a purchase yesterday that was about much more than buying an early Christmas gift for myself, or saving a little money by taking advantage of a sale. It was also about deciding to invest in myself a little, and to take a leap that I have been dreaming about taking for almost a decade. Even though I had a far-off goal of one day doing this, I have lived through enough to understand that we can't really plan our journey out. That life is too short, really, to spend our whole life waiting for that "right time". So since the Summer I have been working to sell stuff, save money, and slowly reorganize my studio space to make room for my very own pottery wheel. I have also been preparing to make room for this in my life on a much bigger scale than it has been. I have a vivid memory from my college days, of a Friday morning spent in pottery class. It was a beautiful morning, and the wheel I was on faced the window. In the background there was music playing, the sun was shining in so warmly on me, and I remember thinking that this was how I wanted to spend my life. That if I could only do one thing for the end of my days I would choose this. It was a fleeting thought, and I assumed it was just because that moment was so perfect. But here I am, 10 years later—and what feels like 50 in living—and I still can't stop thinking that this is the one thing I would choose above all of the other things I have and could do. I wouldn't trade my career or jobs or opportunities, and the truth is, I haven't been ready to be at this place until now. Honestly, I am still not sure that I am totally there. But if there is one thing I have learned over the last few years, it is that you can never actually get to where you need to go, until you take those first steps. I have also settled into understanding that my life will always involve much more work and time to get to where I am going then I would prefer, but I am finally okay with that. Because when I do arrive, I am always much happier with the results. So if, in fact, I am suppose to be spending my days with my hands in clay and water and making all sorts of useful shapes; well, I suppose it is time to start taking those steps to get there. And if not, it has still become a place that brings nothing but happiness. So this year, I am thankful for all of the blessings that years of hard work can yield, and the God-given strength and patience necessary to get there. I am also thankful for the transformation that has resulted from all of the heartache and loss over the past two and a half years. There has been a lot of difficult work and steps taken to get to the place where I am in my life, but can now say that I feel confident I am past grieving, and am fully back to living. I feel this strongly when I am on the wheel. It is a space focused on creating, meditating, and being quiet. All of which brings such joy and connection and thanksgiving. So to spend time that way makes this holiday just about perfect! And the smell of cornbread dressing in the oven right now, is a close second. Love to all!

05 October 2012

my new hobo (bag, that is!)

Months ago when my car was broken into and my purse and wallet were stolen, I posted about being thankful despite all that was lost. That it was more of an inconvenience than real loss, and was renewed by the help that showed up all around me that day. It has taken a few months but I have pretty much gotten everything back in order. Accounts have been cancelled, my information updated, damage to the car is fixed. And as much as I am fine with all of it, I was secretly hoping that somehow my beautiful bag and wallet would magically show back up. They never did. But yesterday, my new bag arrived, and I love it so! It took about 7-8 weeks for it to arrive, but it was well worth the wait! Thank goodness for a mother who came across such a great find, and who kindly wanted to get it for me. Thank goodness for parents who still want to do all they can to help pick me back up when I need it! I guess no matter how old you get it still feels pretty great when your parents get you something special. 

So... with a new bag slung across my shoulder, I am moving on past that incident!

26 September 2012

cookbook dinner party

I was graciously invited to join in on one of the best dinner party ideas I have ever been a part of. A group of cool foodie folks that I have been fortunate to get to know have decided that they were all loving Hugh Acheson's cookbook "A New Turn in the South" and that they wanted to make their way through the book by basing dinner parties around it. With everyone bringing one or two of the dishes from the book, you get to try out more than if you were making them on your own. It is also an added bonus to get to hang out and eat fabulous food together! Although I was told to just show up this first time, I have a hard time showing up somewhere empty-handed. So, I hopped on over to the bookstore and got my own copy. This is turning out to be one of the best cookbooks I now own. I love a cookbook and I especially love one that is either Southern focused, or is based around simple and solid ways to prepare food. This is both, with a little edge. And it doesn't hurt that it is graphically inspiring with its handwritten notes all over the pages, and lovely snapshot-style photographs guiding you through. 

06 September 2012

my pottery + food photography = happy accident of colors

As you know by now, I photograph food a lot, and lately I have had my own pottery as the canvas! Here is a glimpse of a few of the pieces that have made their way into my meals and snapshots. What do you think? One big reason I love to photograph food is because of the beautiful color palettes that happen naturally, and I am just now noticing that the glazes I have been choosing just might be subconsciously inspired by this! Everything but those two blues, which just seem to me the perfect colors to make anything stand out happily and boldly! I will be diligently working towards introducing more pottery through my 400 Moons shop and at upcoming markets, and would love to hear feedback on the goods and the bads!

28 August 2012

cramming Summer into a month

I have been a little MIA this Summer on my blog. The lack of extra time to write and post has really bummed me out too! I haven't had much down time from work until recently and I cannot believe it is the end of August. Honestly, this Summer as a whole has not really been a fun one. It hasn't been bad, but besides a few highlights here and there, it has been pretty lame when it comes to trips and typical summer activities. This was realized at the end of July, so I decided I would try to make the most of what Summer I had left and turn this thing around! I have managed to squeeze my 32nd birthday, time with family, running (the majority of) my first 5K, having some dear friends in town, the Tomato Arts Festival, the Wilson County Fair, sewing and pottery, the Gee's Bend exhibit at the Frist, and just more hang time with friends in general into the month of August. So, I guess now I feel I am a bit more caught up on this season and can be ready for a new one. I realized yesterday—while digging up mounds of bermuda grass, that due to the heat and my lack of wanting to be outside in the heat, had taken over my once lovely flower beds—that I might just be ready to transition out of this summer. Being eaten alive by mosquitos while having this realization helped solidify my feelings on the matter!

26 July 2012

Bug & Bell children's clothing

I have come to realize that I am a lucky person in the fact that the majority of my closest friends are really creative and talented. I have had many conversations recently that have made it clear that this is not as common as I have maybe thought, and for that I feel so rich. There is nothing like collaborating with one of your best friends on their project and to see it come to fruition. It is rewarding enough to see someone you believe in go for it, but even more so to be of help! One of my best friends, Kasey, has recently jumped off into her line of children's clothing and accessories, called Bug & Bell. We have been discussing this for about 2 years now and I couldn't be more excited for her. What began as a mother finding ways to save money, make clothes for her two darling daughters, and have an artistic outlet, has grown into a successful venture! Each piece of clothing she introduces gets more adorable, and I am so proud for her! It also makes me wish I had kids! I am close to just buying one of those little maxi dresses on good faith that I will one day have a little girl to wear it!

I was happy to create a logo for Bug & Bell, and to help her think out how to brand this line of wonderful clothes! And at the rate she is going she will need a catalog soon! I can't wait to see how she will grow this, and to hopefully help in any other ways she needs so she can take it as far as it can go! If you are in Jackson, check her booth out at the Livingston Farmer's Market today. And you can always place an order through her Etsy shop.

25 July 2012


 A print I created back in the Fall—"Heart Wide Open" mantra print, Flat Press Studio.

You never really think about what you are carrying around in your purse or wallet until it is taken from you, and then you have to rack your brain about what personal information might be floating around out there. Or laying in a ditch somewhere. Along with scraps of paper that house all of your to do lists and various project ideas, and your work badge. And the new lipstick that was a perfect shade, which took forever to find, and you can't remember the name of now. This was how I spent my day last Thursday after walking out from the trails of Shelby Bottoms Greenway early that morning to find my car window smashed. I would spend the next 7 hours dealing with the aftermath of this, and then I would go into my day job. All the while I kept wondering what the thieves were doing during that same period of time. I feel confident they were probably cracked out, laying on a couch somewhere. Or robbing other folks. Whatever they were doing, here is a tally of their efforts from about 6:45 - 7:00 AM:

$43 —debit card transaction at Mapco
$54 —debit card transaction at Mapco
$41 —credit card transaction at Kroger
$43 —credit card transaction at Kroger
$60 —attempted credit card transaction that was denied at Wal-Mart
$2.19 —attempted credit card transaction that was denied at the Red Box machine outside of Wal-Mart

I have to hand it to them for being so swift in their work though. I also have to hand it to my credit card company for being so on top of shutting down my card the minute it suspects fraud! So in a matter of about 15 minutes, close to $200 was stolen from me.

My efforts took a bit more than 15 minutes however. From 7 AM until about 2:30 PM, I would spend my time canceling my debit card and my credit card. I would have my locks replaced at my house because my house key was still in my purse. I would have to open up a new checking account on the advice that if my checkbook was still in my wallet they may decide to use it at a later date. And I would have my window replaced. Not to mention spending the following morning waiting in line to get a new license. I would also spend the next few days dealing with the fraud paperwork, changing all of my direct deposits and accounts that are linked with my debit card, getting my work i.d. replaced, and getting the remainder of my window frame replaced. Fortunately, the charges made to my cards will be refunded, but all of the other costs will not, and they look a little something like this:

$132 —new locks
$240 —new window
$12 —checks for new checking accout
$8 —new license
$350 —purse and wallet (did I mention this was my "grown up girl purse" that I had saved money to buy last Fall. The first purse I had ever spent more than $25 on?! And the wallet had been a gift from my parents)

What a pain. However, all of this has been more of a inconvenience than a loss. I have lived alongside of real loss for the past few years and this is not comparable. At the end of the day I mostly feel grateful. I feel grateful that I didn't walk up on my car while this was happening. And that all they stole were items that can be replaced. I feel grateful that while I would rather have not lost that money, I can afford to do so without too much trouble. And I keep thinking about all of the people I had to encounter because of this that were so quick with their help. The folks at the bank and credit card offices. The locksmith who not only replaced my locks swiftly, but was kind enough to put new plates on the door for no charge. And the lady who worked at the gas station who was willing to go look in the garbage cans for me on the chance that my purse or wallet was there. The glass guy who showed up within a few hours and replaced my window in the heat of the day, before a storm would roll in that night. The police officer who cut himself helping me get as much glass out of my seat as he could so I could drive home. The folks with the park police and DMV offices that understood my situation and did what they could to try and get things back to normal. All of these folks I encountered who were more than willing to not only do their job, but be kind and helpful in their response. And so one act of unnecessary evil was overshadowed by many, many acts of kindness. I am grateful for this reminder that there is more good than bad out there, and that choosing to be kind and full of love really does matter. So while they took money that was not theirs, and took way too much of my time, I can say that I am walking away with more than I know they have. A few hundred bucks cannot compare to a sense of peace about life and what is really important. You can't steal or buy that.

22 June 2012

Chicken, Cherry, and Crouton Summer Salad

Now that we are into the Summer season, I find that I want my dinners to be lighter and not require very much oven time, but still need to make sure I don't find myself staring into my refrigerator a few hours later because I am still hungry! I came across the original recipe for this salad while perusing Epicurious for Summer Salads/Main Course Salads. I loved making it as much as I did eating it, so wanted to share it! For those of you who like to do things by the book, here is the link to the recipe! I decided I was less interested in making the Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs, that the recipe calls for, and instead snagged a rotisserie chicken on my way out of the grocery store. And also, instead of searching for butter lettuce, I used the romaine that I already had. For a single girl with a busy week it is usually better to figure out a more realistic way to prepare dinner! So, here is my version:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tbsps Spicy Brown Mustard (Use Dijon like it calls for if you have it, this is just what I had in the refrigerator. I think it made for a great substitute though!)
couple of pinches of Dill (I didn't have fresh, but felt that dried was just as tasty)
2 tbsps honey
1 garlic clove, minced, aka, a small spoonful of the minced garlic in a jar (i love garlic, you may not, add as much as you prefer)
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper

—whisk all of the ingredients together and set aside. This made more than I needed for my salad, but it is so good you may want to make a bigger batch and store in the refrigerator for future salads!

Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

—The original recipe called for pan-frying in the leftover chicken fat. Again, no doubt that tastes amazing, but to keep it a bit more healthy and because I was not making the chicken portion, I stuck with good ole olive oil. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a pan. Slice the baquette in a few slices that are roughly an inch thick. Cube the slices down into bite-sized pieces. I got about 6 out of each slice. Pan-fry until browned on the majority of the sides. Season with salt and set aside on a paper towels to drain.

To prepare:
Chopped Romaine
Chopped/Shredded Chicken

Combine the chopped romaine, chicken, and cherries. If you don't have a fancy cherry pitter, just take a knife and cut close to the pit and then you can wedge the pit out. The final result of the cherries in the salad is to be crushed so keeping them perfect is not necessary. Toss in the croutons and the dressing and you are done!

20 June 2012

Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice is happening today. The longest period of daylight this year. Makes sense why it is believed to bring inspiration and spiritual insight. More time to reflect, maybe? More time to be open to it? For whatever reason, I find the comfort in imagining that point of shift. That peak where the day almost stops just long enough to hang on, and then follows course to keep moving. The reminder that there is always movement, even if we feel we will never get past where we are, is refreshing. Recently I crossed from the second year of E's passing, into the third. I can say the first year felt like eternity. Most days felt so heavy because they were coupled with grief and feeling lost, that I wasn't sure I would make it out of that hole. This past year has turned out to be the year of learning how to live again. How to live alone again, how to live within that transitional balance of wishing to still be in one place while being pushed forward into another, learning how to let go in order to let new things in. How to allow more days in that did not involve grief, learning who I really am and how to live a more authentic life. I expect all that learning will begin to shift into actually living again as I move into the third year. I wrote in my first blog about this loss that "Life doesn't stop for anything....We either jump back in or we watch it race by from afar. We are not promised tomorrow, so I suppose it is better to find a way to jump back in." Well, I did. I still am. I feel I am at my own peak of sorts—able to stop a bit and reflect on the stretch I have traveled—and then keep following the course that is already set out for me. Knowing that I have more strength, and experience, and understanding of love, to carry with me. That there is a purpose worth pursuing. And that connection is at the root of it all.

31 May 2012

the month of may

The last three or four weeks have been such a blur at work. Too many projects, with too many components, and too little time. This leaves very little space for things like blogging. But amongst the sea of country music artist headshots, and signage, and flyers, and ads, and photoshoots, and stress, I have managed to get a few other things worked into any bit of day I had left. Things like a raku firing in pottery class, a visit to Oxford, mornings cutting herbs, evenings on the deck, Memorial Day with friends, a visit to the vet. Notice the photo of my crazy dog Oskar laying down while waiting for the vet. This is a rare thing for him, who for 11+ years has never stopped moving unless it is time to sleep. Time flies by too fast. This fact becomes more prominent when you look up one day and notice your beloved dog slowing down. It makes you stop and realize nothing is forever. Not even a stressful few weeks at a job.

10 May 2012

back on the wheel

I have been back in a pottery class this Spring, although I have switched studios. Closer to my side of town and also a bit larger. And the whole space is focused entirely on pottery, so there is better access to tools and glazes and inspiration everywhere. Although I got back on the wheel in my class last Fall, I never really felt like I had that "ah ha" moment that took me back to the days when I first learned to throw. My teacher at this studio is wonderful and within one evening retaught me everything I had already been taught—and then took it a step further. I am in love with this medium again. I am excited to see each Wednesday what else she will teach me, and feel I am finally ready to truly learn it. There are no other classes in the way, no grades or class credits, and I am creating from a deeper place. I have found that this time around I am less focused on coming out of there with a specific list of objects and more on simply creating. Letting the forms unfold, getting used to the rhythm of the steps. I am happy to throw crooked clay bowls back into the bag and start over again the next week. My favorite moment while on the wheel is when I catch myself taking that deep breathe and everything else in my head moves aside, and my whole world consists of only quiet and focus and creating. I move a little more into myself when this happens and it is balancing. Meditative. Healing. I am able to erase a bit of the chaos from the day in these moments, and I am realizing it is here that I feel as close to my nature than in any other place. I loved it before, but I am starting to get it now.

This is a beautiful video of an artist named Sue Paraskeva. Just watching it makes me breathe a bit deeper.


20 April 2012

Em Eye Crooked Letter

I am headed to Mississippi soon for a good long week, and despite the fact that part of me would like to use vacation time to go sit on a beach or travel across the country, I am equally happy to spend a week there! Besides there is something about that state that causes time to slow down a bit. This used to drive me nuts, but these days sounds just about right. I recently got this print from Old Try. A friend from college posted a picture of hers on Facebook one day, and then I happened upon it again through the Garden & Gun website. Both times my heart swelled a bit when I saw it! I love to see it and remember home. And being a little kid running around in the Delta learning that funny song.

16 April 2012

yard makeover

I have been a bit MIA the last few weeks on my blog, but for good reason. I have spent the majority of my free time lately outside—with my hands in the dirt, digging holes, hauling topsoil and mulch, killing grub worms, saving earthworms, getting sunburned. And planting a collection of bushes, herbs and flowers all in the effort to add a little bit more character to my backyard. A place where I spend a lot of time. I have a really great yard, with a lot of space and so many possibilities. But over the years it has almost been easier to just keep it as a playground for the dogs and stick to keeping flowers and plants on the deck. Last fall, with the help from my dad, I dug up and cut down all of the dead bushes that were becoming an eye sore, creating a blank slate. I have spent the winter months researching what I might want to plant and looking through images for inspiration. I decided the best place to start would be to create another little sitting area at the point where the edge of the driveway meets the yard. I made a list of what I wanted it to be—landscaped yet utilitarian, shade for the dogs, organic and loose, use as many found objects as I could, flowering bushes and evergreens, an herb and cutting garden, and a space that could serve as a little more private of a sitting area. Check, check, check! Somehow I did this. Besides input from my dad and my friend Melissa on what to plant, and my friend Brad helping me till up the ground, I managed to do this on my own! And I have the sore muscles to prove it! 

before and after
tilling—turns out there were concrete blocks that proved to be a challenge!
the dogs checking it out; ground after much work to clean out the grass and dig out rocks
building the herb bed
view of herb/cutting garden and bushes; herbs on the right and wildflower seeds planted on the left
backside of bed; bird bath that was a gift from a friend—it is handmade and has a beautiful blue glaze
on the inside and a pressed leaf pattern. Made by a local artist in town
close up of herbs; side view
pathway made of rocks that were bought and the rest of the bed is lined with rocks that
I dug up while prepping the ground; sitting area
herb/cutting bed views; gate to keep out rabbits and more importantly my dogs!

20 March 2012

spring cleaning and high school journals

In the theme of "letting go" that I touched on in my blog post last Friday, I had some time over the weekend while in spring cleaning mode to go through old boxes and bins that I have been carrying around for the past 15 years. Books, journals, old projects that take up space, college papers that I will never need again, clothes that really don't make sense anymore. But, the most liberating feeling was to throw out old journal entries from high school, because they were no longer relevant to my life! I am going to keep a few of the pages that matter, that remind me enough of who I was, but the rest is better left sent off and forgotten. I think that maybe we only have so much space in our heads and hearts to house memories, and I have already pushed all of that aside anyway. Felt silly to let it take up room in my house! It also felt great to make the decision to hang on to the happy stuff, and throw out all of the not so happy stuff. And to be really honest, my writing was so embarrassing I felt some things were better left unread! It feels great to have been doing this whole, living life thing, long enough to have a past that is so far away it has little relevance to who I am now! So long young, teenage Emily, you did good! But, it's time to make room for the things you want to really hang on to and for the things that are ahead! I am looking forward to utilizing my friend's new fire pit to officially let it all go.

17 March 2012

minature orchids

I mentioned in my post about the Nashville Lawn and Garden show that I picked up a beautiful little orchid from the Orchid Society of Middle TN's booth. It bloomed after I got it home and is a lovely orange star-shaped flower. So then this week I found another beautiful little orchid, except this time, it literally is a little orchid. It is a miniature orchid! I have never seen one of these, and it was too adorable to not buy. I feel myself moving into dangerous territory with my recent finds—there is only so much space in my house to put plants and I envision all of the places I could fill with miniature orchids! I fear that I am becoming the crazy plant lady.

16 March 2012

the shift: letting go

"There's a note, I found; Reminding me, not to wait.
That you'd come and look for me,
and not to wait.
I can't explain where the love goes,
I can't explain
cause I don't know...It finds a way" (The Frames)

Even though this winter has been quite mild, there is a clear shift in the seasons as we move into Spring. Bulbs I buried in the ground last Fall are popping up. Recently I looked up and the grass was full and green. My doors and windows are staying open to let in new air. Blossoms are finally ready to show themselves. All was dormant for a bit, but is starting to wake back up. To come alive again.

Including me.

I finally feel like I am back to the living and past the heaviest of the grief. I have turned this big corner recently. My spirit feels a little lighter, more open. My confidence snuck back in. And against all of my efforts to get back to the person I had been, I have finally let go into the person I am suppose to be moving forward. It hit me one day that I will never be able to go back. That I shouldn't even want to actually. Too much learned and loved and lost to be the same person. It was the letting go of the life I believed I was going to have that I have been clinging to. The last intense phase necessary before really being ready to move forward.

I think most of us start out believing we know what our lives will look like and we move towards it. We take the appropriate steps. Lots of times it seems to work out great, and for the most part resembles what we envisioned. In my case I fell in love with Eric, we married, we lived in a neighborhood that we adored, there were plenty of friends and promise of children, and travel, and following our passions. I was taking those appropriate steps, but my journey took an unexpected turn, and one day I woke up and there was a quiet storm rolling in. And before I knew it, everything I knew to be my life was beginning to crumble. And despite any desperate grasping and pleading to keep things on the path I expected they should be, it became clear that I had no say so. It wasn't about me and there was nothing I could do to make it different. It is impossible to describe how unsettling this feels. There was a quiet, dormant space that my soul went upon this realization, and only recently have I felt it begin to emerge again. While it stayed deep down, safe from all of the upheaval and grief that my emotional side needed to process through, my soul stitched back up into a stronger version of itself. Turns out, from struggles and turmoil can come transformation. When it all crumbles around you, there is the option to decide what to pick back up and piece back together. All of this time was necessary to emerge with a real understanding of love and what connections truly are. To shed so much of what has weighed me down all of these years. To let go of expectations in order to open up possibilities. Insecurity, judgement, and independence are being replaced by confidence, openness, and connection. This transformation has been in no way easy, only necessary.

These last 8 months I have been as disconnected from myself as I have ever been though. I couldn't seem to take one more hit, one more loss, and they kept coming. There was a lot of anger and feeling victim. I had no interest in finding the silver lining or good in anything. I misplaced my confidence, and completely lost the battle with the depression phase of grieving. It was all a result of my last ditch effort to fight and kick my way back to what had existed before. But that life that I so desired to still have was literally no longer an option anymore. Because it involved Eric. That option was off of the table that Monday evening on June 14th. That is a difficult thing to want to let go of, especially when it all happened so quickly. But one day I gave in to that being okay. I let the idea of that life go because it was time to, and when I did, the beautiful reality of what it actually is came flooding in. It exists in a very different realm for me now, and in some strange way it is much more connected then when he was on earth. When I finally let it go and asked God to just do whatever he had planned, and I would be open for it, things immediately shifted. Immediately. All of the road maps are being made available and each step is clear, so it's as simple as following them, staying open to them, and having faith. Maybe one day I will have some form of that life I envisioned, but I am less concerned with the details. I have begun to embrace that the final destination each day is to find our way to that place where our purpose meets our maker. And all of the rest is what makes your journey your own.

05 March 2012

nashville lawn and garden show

I went to the Nashville Lawn and Garden show over the weekend and walked away with a great little orchid, some crazy lemon grapeseed oil, seeds for sprouts and sunflowers, and lots of ideas for redoing my backyard! All of the displays were pretty—lots of fountains and paths made from various rocks. There is also the clear trend of planting herbs and flowers between crevices in man-made rock walls. There was one display that was more up my alley, that made a tiered brick planter of sorts and was packed with loads of herbs and succulents. It was simple, utilitarian, and lovely all at the same time. Possibly something that would be a bit more realistic in my back yard. This early Spring weather has already put me in the mood to be outside with my hands in the dirt, so I am looking forward to streamlining some of the inspiration I gathered into a few doable projects over the next few months!

29 February 2012

cutting board class

cutting board pieced together, before it has been polished into its final form

I signed up for a woodworking class recently, and the focus was to make a cutting board. Strangely enough, I have been on the hunt for a really nice cutting board for quite some time. Turns out the really stellar ones—not some little bamboo guy from TJ Maxx—are quite expensive! So when I saw that this class would not only result in what I had been searching for, but it would also teach me basics of woodworking, I figured why not! My grandfather did a lot of woodworking and I grew up playing around in his shop, but never really learned any techniques. I would just find random pieces to glue or hammer together. This was pretty close to what I did during art school in my sculpture class—finding random pieces in the wood bin to build something that might result in a sculpture! Again, never really learning any real techniques. So I suppose it's never too late! I am really proud of how it turned out. This approach to cutting up pieces, gluing them back together and hoping something will result turned out much better with a little guidance! It will be a nice compliment to my counter and my cooking. My grandfather will be proud, no doubt!

28 February 2012

it's the small steps

This past weekend was really lovely. I cannot believe we may have escaped winter with very little snow and intense cold. I have no complaints! I spent a good bit of time outside, a lot of that time, with my dogs. I have been working with a dog trainer for about a year now. E left me with two huge dogs to be responsible for and when the two together weigh about the same as I do, it can be difficult feeling confident walking them! He was brilliant with dogs, so when he was around it never occurred to me that I maybe wasn't. But, I am happy to say that a year later, after letting go of my ego enough to admit I need help with them, and lots of love and time together, the three of us have come along way. It is funny to watch the growth and change of the dogs alongside of myself. Mirror image actually. Anyone who thinks that dogs do not absorb and reflect what is going on around them is crazy. These two have absorbed ALOT over the past few years, and I am no longer sad to say that—and then in turn, do something about it. Both for them and for myself. I had a simple goal of feeling confident getting Oskar out again and walking him by Spring—a walk that didn't involve him pulling me along, or being nervous I wasn't strong enough to handle them, or things feeling out of control. Things sort of spiraled after E died, and there was a lot of fear and self-doubt when it came to stepping in and handling all of the responsibilities myself. Taking care of two very powerful breeds and getting them adjusted back to any sort of normalcy required me being able to feel confident and strong and happy myself. None of these characteristics have existed in me for quite some time now, and only recently have I been able to face this truth. I am grateful I had the pull to go ahead and get started down this path, long before I would be ready to walk it. This is true for any movement forward that I have been able to make over the past two years. In this case, I had one dog acting out by tearing things up in the house and the other being so sad and nervous, I had no choice but to stop and recognize they were grieving with me and it was my responsibility to help us heal. Slowly, but surely, the dog trainer has retaught me how to communicate well with them. She has helped me observe what needs to shift, as well as, the things that had already begun to change. We set realistic goals for my situation. No longer looking at what I should have been able to do, or what every other dog owner was already doing, but only what it was that I needed to accomplish. Just that one lesson, that one approach to changing this situation began to spill over into the other aspects of my life and vice versa. All of this letting go, and healing, and facing fears, and not comparing has turned out to be an avenue for all three of us to heal.

So on Saturday I looked up and realized I was there. I was moving down the road, with a confidence I had not felt in a long time, and my dog walking calmly by my side. It sounds so simple, but to literally SEE a tangible change in my life after working towards it, and waiting for it, well, it was a reminder that I am in fact not doing everything wrong. That maybe, just maybe, things will turn around a bit if I keep at it.

17 February 2012

yummy kale salad

Kale is one of my favorite greens. It is fabulous cooked down and paired with fish. Saute it with loads of garlic and lemon juice and it is a perfect winter side. It appears to be making a name for itself as it is showing up everywhere these days. I am grateful to come across some new ways to use it because it is so packed with nutrients, it shouldn't taste as good as it does! Here is a quick recipe for a salad. I had not really thought to eat it raw, like you might spinach or romaine but this has become my new favorite salad!!

Here is the rough rundown—you will need kale leaves, radicchio, garbanzo beans (canned is perfectly fine), fennel, and walnuts. Chop the kale, radicchio, and fennel; toss with rinsed garbanzo beans and chopped walnuts. For the dressing you will need olive oil, lemon, rice vinegar (or any kind of red or white wine vinegar), salt and pepper. I eyeballed this dressing, but basically 2 parts olive oil to one part lemon and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I recommend using a real lemon and adding a bit of zest to the final dressing. I also recommend adding a bit of heavy cream to make it more of a creamy vinaigrette dressing. Takes a bit of the tang out. Toss all of this together and enjoy! 

02 February 2012

little "hun"

We said goodbye to my grandmother over the weekend. It was a short fight with pancreatic cancer, but in reality it was too long if you ask me. I wish she had not experienced a single day of it. But, in true fashion, she did so with strength, grace, and an unwavering faith in God and what was ahead for her. And so a life well-lived came to an earthly end and I am thankful for the inspiration she brought to my family and my life. I am a few days late in posting this because I have been working out in my head what I wanted to say about her. The truth is, she was never one for bringing much attention to herself, so I will honor that and not plaster everything about her life all over my blog. Instead, I will just share a small, yet big, part of herself that she passed onto me. The love of antique shopping and estate sales. It was here, alongside of her, that I discovered a love for these stores and the inspiration they brought to me. We would spend mornings wandering through store after store, and it became one of the few places that would spark my imagination and get my creative brain going. I would envision how I could use the mismatched china set for an afternoon lunch, or the milk glass vase for my makeup brushes, or the old quilt on a wall. Over the years I collected for myself and began to find my own style. It was a mix of her (the elegant cut crystal, white milk glass, silver, and white linens) and me (organic objects, woods, graphic patterns, plants, pottery). I treasure every summer morning spent this way and rarely do I go into an antique store and not think of her. This was the beginning of what I have begun to realize is a bigger calling—for my career and craft. She will always be the root and inspiration for me. 

There is something so bold about genetics and how we can have so much of a family member in us. It is meant to be this way, written out long before we can know it. In this way, our lives can be beautiful. I cannot say why I always had more of a connection with her than I have with others, but I can say that over the years the line has been blurred as to what is her influence and what is actually me. I am grateful I had so much time with her and knew her in the way I was suppose to, as a grandmother. We all play the roles we are supposed to play—sibling, spouse, parent, grandparent, friend—and they are important for specific reasons. Although I will say, I think we all remember her as graceful, devoted, classic, quiet, and strong. She will always be there when I see red and pink roses, crisp white linens, cut crystal and milky white glass. She will be there when I find myself wandering through my house rearranging my beloved objects and feeling at ease when all is in place. Or when I use my good china for a simple afternoon lunch. When I pull out any of the pearls I have gathered over the years, many from her, and feel suddenly polished. When I find myself putting my family before any wish I would ever want for myself. When I find myself unable to ever sit still and stop doing for those around me. Most importantly, when I sometimes catch glimpses of myself, as I grow older.
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