these days (deep summer)

IMG_8630These days I’m…

*waking to transcendent bright morning light and savoring this luminous time of year when the sun is in full blast as she welcomes me into my day

*finding succulent tomatoes and crisp garden cucumbers left on our doorstep by our neighbors almost daily

*reverting (happily) to whipping up last year’s favorite Asian Cucumber salad and crunching away on it all day long

*freezing homemade popsicles made from fresh picked berries to the delight (and utter mess-making) of my very favorite toddler

*pausing, many times a day, to notice the quiet; the absence of our beloved, old kitty Lima Bean who passed a few weeks ago

*feeling my heart grow warm every time I see this almost-3-month-old smile at me

*loving the excuse that summer gives to many people we love to come for a visit.  Loving these delightful people up while they are here.  Loving all the food we eat together.  Loving all the great places we get to take them around town.  Loving all the love they shake out on our kiddos.

*missing my sewing machine and all my fabrics.  Knowing there will be time, one of these days — some little pocket of time — to get my hands going again in my studio.

*appreciating the social nature of summer.  Summer birthday parties, summer potlucks, summer playgroups.  All kinds of reasons to gather in parks and backyards and celebrate the season and blooming friendships.

*putting fresh tomatoes and charred corn in everything I can think of.   Savoring how distinctive summer’s flavors truly are.

*hearing, for the thousandth time, “Don’t Let Me Down” being banged out on our makeshift-furniture drum set and the wailing vocals of a boy who loves music.

*feeling my heart crack open as I witness my two boys learning how to be brothers.  Feeling the newness of my sweet little babe transform, slowly, into a comfortable, most welcome known-ness…a not-so-new-now feeling.  Noticing the fresh energy he brings into our family dynamic.

*and relishing these long warm days, sweet, slow memory-making days and the green beauty of this bountiful time of year.

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tying the [ultra-creative!] knot

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In 90 degree heat, late in the afternoon on a Wednesday, there are few things I’d rather do than marry two wonderful women who love each other.  And so it was, Wednesday last, that we — these two loveliest of ladies, their families and friends, and I — gathered around  just outside the barn at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, outside of Portland, and had ourselves a wedding.

A few weeks before the nuptials, I met with these two and discussed the particulars: bow-ties for the groomsmaids, vintage tea dresses for the bridesmaids, handmade bouquets, original poems, symbolic candles, sacred rings to pass around the audience, and one lifelong commitment.  Sounded good to me.  We moved through the important topics– intention, tone, spirituality, self-expression, and the uniqueness of their choice in partner.  I learned a little something (as I always do when I meet with couples) — this time about the importance of feeling okay to be wrong with your partner.   I was reminded, by their wise words, that “when you put out light, light comes back around.  Light finds you.”  And I got to see, in live motion, the beauty that happens when you take the time to hear and know the whole story.

Love and freedom was at the center of this union, and the happy duo gazed into each other’s eyes for the entire ceremony — with a depth and intensity I’d almost never witnessed before.  Their sweet, simple love permeated the thick air and by the end of the ceremony, we were all drenched in it. .

Afterwards, the whole, thirsty lot of us made our way to the barn to guzzle lemonade while the newlyweds went off for a short while to sit in the wooded area together, letting the realness of their lives set in.  As I watched them walk off arm in arm, I thought to myself, there are some days, like this one, where everything just feels right.

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big boy bed

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Hey, wait a second!  When did my little boy become such a big boy, and a big brother at that?  It’s a fascinating thing having a baby ’round these parts, and the effect his tiny-ness has on my perspective of Orlis.  Who seems so huge.

A few months ago, as my nesting phase went on longer than expected, I did what any semi-insane pregnant woman would do — I made a quilt.  While making baby quilts — for gifts — has become a symbol of my very existence, I had never ventured past the 3X3 foot terrain into larger, truer, longer-lasting bed quilts.  Seeing my [now older] child grow inches on the wall, and make his way s.l.o.w.l.y out of the family bed, I figured it was time he get a bonafide, mama-made quilt of his own with which to grow into late-toddler, little boy, (gulp) older boyhood.

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For many years, I’ve had my eye on the simple, fresh design of the sunny-tied quilt from the Purl Bee.  I decided it would be the perfect design for my color-loving boy in his bright orange bedroom.  I had a great time picking out lights and mediums and darks and patterned fabrics to accentuate his two-toned bedroom, and got to work immediately, cutting them into scraps and piecing it all together.  Without much deliberating, I also decided that doing that many yarn ties (as the tutorial dictates) to hold it all together would exacerbate my pregnant crabbiness and poke a hole in my thumb, so I sent it out to be quilted instead.  As soon as this sweet thing got back, I tacked on the binding and threw it on his bed.

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And, oh glory, isn’t it adorable!  I love the way the few subtle blues pop out, drawing attention to the mis-match lineup of the two sides, and I love the way the oranges and whites bring to life the birds I stenciled on the walls.  Mostly I love how much he loves his cozy quilt — making a burrito of himself during a sweaty nap, and burrowing deep for the long nights.  He’s learning how to comfortably be alone, and I’m learning, too, how to help him do it.  As he is warmed by his own homemade blanket, my own heart is warmed knowing that, in good company my little Blackbird dreams.  ”I want “mama cuddles” he calls the quilt already, as we settle him in for slumber.  And I think to myself, “oh, baby.  You can have Mama Cuddles.  Do take them to college too, won’t you?  But not for a good, long while.”

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a reading nook

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Forgive me, I’ve gotten a bit behind in sharing with you some of the exciting things going on this house.  There’s been birth, baby, post-partum, yes of course.  But there were other things going on a few months ago during my supreme and most-elongated nesting phase that I had the wherewithal to photograph, but not necessarily the wherewithal to post.  So here we are.

A long while back, I shared with you a few projects that I did around the house as a result of taking a really cool online course called “The Playful Learning E-course.”  It’s a really neat go-at-your-own-pace class that gets you inspired to make some simple changes and doctor up your house so it’s more child-centric.  I did this room, this little space, and this wall organization as homework for the class last summer.

One of my favorite things about this e-course is how the teacher encourages you to find little nooks and crannies around your house.  With a little imagination and usually some objects you find lying around elsewhere in your home, you can re-create these small spaces as mini-learning and playing centers.  The nook you see below, at the top of our stairs, has always beckoned my attention.  When we moved in to this house, we immediately painted this hallway space (you can see a horrific “before” and lovely “after” here).  Once it was sparkly white, I fell in love with this little space that’s about 4 feet by 3 feet.  But I didn’t know what to do with it.

At first, I put a shelf and some toys there in hopes that Orlis would want to play there, but it never drew him.  So, I thought for a few months, and then decided, after taking this course and learning the importance of creating a cozy space for reading, to make it a book nook.

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after painting, before reading nook

I took a class to learn how to make some zippered floor pillows.

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(I’m very proud of these.)

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Then I knocked out four more regular pillows while Orlis serenaded me.  I gathered up some books, a bit of artwork, and a couple of fluffy rugs…

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and a reading nook was born.

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After! A reading nook.

(Wall art by Johanna Wright; faux lambskin rugs by Ikea.)

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And, oh, what a cozy place it is — to snuggle up with some good books and my cuddly boys and treat ourselves to a good read.

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Note: I updated the books on the sidebar recently — there are some good reads floating around this house (and landing in the reading nook).  Check ‘em out!

 

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jammin’

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Hello there!  Please forgive my absence the last several weeks!  I’ve missed you in this space.  I’ve been a little busy learning how to juggle two [energetic] babes, traveling, and hosting friends and family.  Things have been hectic but good.  Whew!  (I wouldn’t exactly describe these as “the lazy days of summer….”)  As always, I appreciate your patronage and loyalty to this blog.  I know the next several months, with much adjusting still to do, that posts will likely be sporadic.  Thanks for staying with me.

 

I’d be hard-pressed to designate my favorite time of year, as so many months hold special characteristics, rhythms, and rituals of their own for me.  But, I do love summer.  Oh, how the heat and the bounty of all things growing makes my heart sing.   Last week, we had some special visitors, who drove up from California, come and stay with us for a week.  We did lots of front-porching and back-grilling, but these outdoorsy folks also wanted a taste of the good life, so one day we hopped in our cars and caravanned out to Sauvie Island for berry picking — one of my very favorite summer rituals.

There we were, 11 of us, out there in the fields filling our hands and our buckets with as many succulent berries as we could pick.  I’ll tell you, there is nothing quite so satisfying as picking a ripe raspberry off its little husk.  All it takes is the smallest tug and she gives, landing in your open palm, staring up at you just waiting to be consumed. Oh, the perfection!  We weren’t shy about sampling those sweet fruits, nor were we shy about filling our wagons and heading back to the weigh station knowing we had a few afternoons standing in front of the stove in store for us.

And jam we did.  The evidence of of black marionberries making itself visible all over my kitchen towels — as we fed cup after cup of berries into their cooking pot, letting them stew with sugar and lemon peel, and then filling jar after jar with their glorious liquid mess.  Oh, the hot work of jam-making is so worth the jars of sweet goodness that last and last all year long, reminding us of these fleeting summer months when everything is abundant and green.

And now, my goodness, we’ve got ourselves a shelf full of homemade jam.  Jam to give to those we love.  Jam to spread on toast and bagels and big bowls of yogurt.  Jam for jam crumb-cakes and homemade muffins.  And plenty of jam to stuff in the car of these find folks as we send them on their way.

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