Thursday, April 30, 2009

Family Meetings

I came home from work today to a house full of cranky people. Even Mango was giving me his talk-to-the-tail routine. Somewhere between the pickup line at school and getting dinner on the table, something had obviously gone very, very wrong with my family. My kids greeted me with a low-talking hi mom. My husband was darting around in the kitchen and avoiding eye contact at all costs. Everyone’s panties were in a twist. As I stood in the kitchen assessing the moods in the room, I knew exactly what we needed — a magically restorative family meeting. We are BIG on family meetings. They aren’t always pretty but they always end well. It's how we make our decisions, hand down verdicts, diffuse attitude bombs and name new pets. Family meetings have seen us through the good, the bad and the sticky. It’s a chance for everyone to have even footing, no matter who was right and who was wrong (or wronged in some cases). It gives each person a chance to be heard fairly. We always sit during our family meetings. It helps us to stop — literally — calming us and helping us formulate our arguments and positions on the matter at hand. Inherently one person takes on the role of the peacemaking facilitator, while the accused and accuser square off. The tension melts away a little with each word that's spoken. Until we end up completely seeing the other persons point of view. Apologies, realizations and forgiveness often make an appearance. Today’s family meeting was a familiar topic. Someone said something that upset someone else: resentment stewed, tempers flared, kids fought. After about 15 minutes of reminding my daughter not to interrupt while others shared their side of the story and reminding my husband to rephrase what he’d said that set her off in the first place; we reached an accord. They both said what they really meant to say to begin with. They took ownership for their words and really thought about how their harsh tones had hurt the other person. They took turns saying “I’m sorry.” A few tears were shed, loving smiles and hugs were shared. It's a good practice that I highly recommend. It works for us. And all is right with our world, for today.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lucky Lovely 7

My best to Denise at Freshly Found for sharing the Kreativ Blogger award with me. My interpretation of the 7 things I love list is to focus on things or situations rather than people. Obviously I love my family more than words can express; friends, pets and those I share my life with. That being said, here's my list of 7 things that I love:

1. Being a Mom; the most important thing I'll ever be

2. Learning new things & going to places I've never been before

3. The taste of dark chocolate

4. Exploring perfect design in nature

5. Good memories

6. Hunting seashells at the beach

7. Clever things, funny moments - I love the joy in a good laugh

And now for the list of 7 creative bloggers that inspire me:
pesky cat designs
the constant gatherer
wishing willow
cheeky beaks
oh happy day
simple + pretty

My First Blog Award!

I opened my email today to find that I'd been honored with the Kreativ Blog award! My very first blog award -- thank you Denise of Freshly Found, I am truly honored. The Kreativ Blog award comes with a caveat that requires some pondering, so look for a post later this week where I will share seven things that I love AND pass the honor along to seven bloggers that inspire me!

Little Lost Lamb

I find creativity and sleep do not often visit me at the same time. Lately I've not been sleeping well or nearly enough. My mind is swimming in a pool of inspiration and yet my body is deeply tired. The nag to create is popping into every activity -- like what can I make this empty cereal box into to give it new purpose? What kind of curtains will I make for my daughters room and when exactly am I going to start on that project? And can I tell you the most ridiculous reoccurring nag I've had lately -- I've actually had the urge to drive and sketch at the same time! I know, it's an incredibly bad idea (and one that I promise not to try). It's obvious to me that my days are too tightly packed. There's no wiggle room left for creative pursuits, acts of whimsy or simply relaxing. So my body and my creative spirit are taking over the only time slot that's left, the night; my should-be-sleeping time. Here I am at midnight typing this post. Morning and her obligations come early. May sweet sleep be yours tonight; tomorrow I pray balance and courage will grace us all!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Visual Journal

I've been keeping a visual diary for a few months now. It was inspired by a book I picked up at the library, Creative License by Danny Gregory. It's a clever, honest book about allowing yourself to be creative, specifically relating to observation and drawing. He refers to and has clearly studied Betty Edwards phenomenal book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. This was my favorite textbook in art school. It teaches exercises that will help you learn how to draw what you see, rather than what you think you see (like how we think an eye is shaped exactly like an almond, when in reality it's quite different). It's funny but when I sketch the random, ordinary things that happen in a day – I'm finding that these moments aren't so ordinary at all. Vignettes of a life being lived; moments preserved. As I sketched my son, I was struck by how beautiful he is to me. I observed how careful and precise he was about what he was creating. It made me stop and take stock in the moment. This journal is teaching me how to be more present in my life. I hope you enjoy the sketch-snapshots of my life as I share them from time to time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ott-Lites Rock!

I have wanted an Ott-Lite for more years than I can remember. These lamps are amazing, perfect light for artists, crafters, quilters, etc. But the pricetag – yikes! I figured that someday I would snag one at a thrift store or yard sale. Being that Ott-Lites are the bomb, I knew it was going to be a while until that happened. Last weekend I hit a yard sale and there it was, a floor lamp model in perfect condition — and the best part — I paid $2.50 for it! Totally ridiculous. My crazy love for yard sales continues...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Baking Tip: Yogurt for Butter

While searching for ways to make healthier baked goods, I came across some information over at Taste of Home about using yogurt as a substitute for butter. I thought it would be fun to share this info, which I've changed slightly, on my blog. Happy, healthy baking!
  • When a recipe calls for butter, replace half the butter with half as much yogurt. For instance, instead of 1 cup butter, use 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup yogurt. It's healthier and makes your baked goods so moist!
  • When a recipe calls for shortening or oil, replace half the oil with 3/4 the amount of yogurt. For example, instead of 1 cup oil, use 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons yogurt. I also find applesauce a great substitute for oil, I sub that equally (1/2 cup applesauce for 1/2 cup oil). This isn't for every recipe but works great for muffins, sweet breads and some cookies.
  • Substitute yogurt cup for cup for sour cream in recipes.
  • Try yogurt instead of water or milk in a recipe. Start by substituting 1/4 of the liquid with yogurt, up the amount depending on your result and preference. It really makes a creamier, more flavorful result.
  • I've found both vanilla yogurt and plain yogurt to work well so use what you prefer.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


In my constant pursuit to try new things, I decided to go to an auction yesterday. We arrived to find a little stone house surrounded by boxes of stuff under tents and the sound of an auctioneer uttering nearly unintelligible monetary amounts at a staggering pace (the kids found that last part particularly funny). As I wondered around the hay wagons covered with open boxes of personal belongings, I was struck by sadness that this is what had become of a life. This particular couple had apparently lived in this home for many years, raised children, welcomed grandchildren (and maybe even great-grandchildren) and judging by the amount and types of belongings for sale, they had very active lives. There were tools and woodworking devices of every sort. The mister had obviously been a talented wood craftsman evidenced by the beautiful rocking chairs, bed frames and a lovely quilt rack he'd made for his wife. The missus had 3 sewing machines, which assumably meant she'd done a fair amount of sewing in her day; though there were no quilts or fabric in sight. I'm hoping that means someone in the family valued her handywork enough to not sell them.

How much busy work there must have been at this house not so long ago. But now everything they held dear, or simply used from day to day, was being sold to the highest bidder. I thought for a moment that I might just leave. But I didn't. It occurred to me that this sale had become inevitable for the family and very likely necessary to settle debts or medical bills. Maybe, I thought, this little couple was in a nursing home and needed this money to help pay for their care. In any event, I decided to be part of the auction. I wanted to take something away from this that would serve as a reminder to me that I need to value this time, this day for the priceless gift that it is. A reminder that our stuff is just stuff and when we leave here, it will remain. Choose wisely, I thought. And then I saw it - a framed piece of fabric art, colorful and vibrant, native in appearance. It looked old but I wasn't sure how old. I was all anxious about bidding - the auctioneer read me like a book! But oddly no one bid against me. There had been a crazy amount of back and forth for all the other items but not this one. It seemed destined to go home with me. And indeed it did.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Daytripper, yeah

It's been raining alot here lately. According to the calendar, spring is here, but the thermostat in my house tells another story. I see signs of it beginning. The red buds are blooming (which by the way, are actually purple). I feel a touch of free-spirit wanderlust coming on and I'm gathering ideas for a few well-deserved daytrips.

High on my list is a visit to the Vietri outlet in Hillsborough, NC. This one's been on my wishlist for years now. I have long been a fan of Italian pottery and I think it would be a kick. Looks like a the spring sale is just around the corner...maybe this will finally be the year that I break away to North Carolina to do some shopping.

Next up, a trip to the Va Beach Aquarium followed up by a day in Jamestown. This will give Blake a jump start on next years state history studies. We're hoping to find a few hours to spend on the beach too while we're in the tidewater area.

We had also been planning a trip to DC to meet up and explore the city with an old friend. But her travel plans have changed so I'm not sure what we'll do with that now. We were planning to take the train into DC and from there ride the metro. Obviously my kids are really disappointed at the idea of missing out on such a big adventure, so we'll have to see what we can do about that.

I suspect we'll head to Pennsylvania to visit family in June once school is out. I know we're planning on hitting Idlewild at some point. I truly love that place, alot of memories for me - it's a treasure in the forest. My favorite part (as seen in the photo above) is the beautiful carousel in the center of the tree-lined park, which is also an historic landmark. I have a feeling this summer will be filled with lots of little adventures in our own backyard and beyond. I hope yours is too :-)

Friday, April 10, 2009

What Spring Break?

Has it really been 12 days since my last blog post? Crazy how time flies. I switched to a 4-day work week recently, step one in the plan to reclaim my life. My husband is gone every day of the week for the rest of the month, 5 at work and 2 at school, the kids just wrapped up their french classes and Sera started rehearsals for The Jungle Book musical. Add spring cleaning and a week-long visit from my Mom to the mix and my time has been booked. (We loved having you here Mom, come back soon!) Dare I say I was too busy to blog? I know, it goes against a bloggers grain to say they are too busy to keep on keeping on. I did make my first etsy purchases last week, both fabric, from spiceberry cottage and 44th street fabric. They are both wonderful to work with, offer great prices and the fabric is oh-so lovely. So stay tuned - I've got some fun things planned for my blog, a couple of fun sewing projects and a rebrand coming soon.
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