Thursday, September 25, 2014

A season of change

I have found that many bloggers stopped right around when I did.  Bloggers I read regularly when I was on the computer more.  Gardenmama, Waldorfmama, and more... so any more.  All around Jan 2013.  I wonder what shifted that made the urge to experience instead of the urge to share. 

There are many reasons why I stopped writing consistently.  But mostly, it was a strong need to simplify.  I quit doing a lot of things around then, and instead, turned my focus onto my family and my own self care.  I put my oldest child into public school, quit my volunteer work and all of my church groups, and quit blogging.  I'd like to say I became incredibly productive, but I didn't do much more than before.  I was just present more.  For a while, I was just recovering from the harried life I had created for myself that had quickly become a rushing crutch of things I had to do but didn't really enjoy or experience.  Like scarfing down a really good meal in a hurry... I was just missing the point.

I have also found this with pictures.  Photos could document amazing moments… or they were a filter I hid behind to only see the highlights of my existence.  Yet again.  I was missing the point! 

A lot has happened since I wrote consistently.  Alex has finished a year and a half in public high school.  And it didn’t kill anybody.  Which is amazing considering the choice to put him in was a choice between sanity and giving up a lot of things I believed in.  He has started counseling.  Yet another choice that was pushed into place by a necessity between sanity and survival. 

I lost three wonderful people in my extended family.  People I just assumed would always be there.  I am at that age right?  That middle place where people who you have known all your life start passing into their next life and you are raising children who don’t understand how much those people meant to you because they have their own people who they will grow up with… and you start to realize that they are not going to be the same people. 

A lot of grief and a lot of trying to push past the grief because someone needed a snack and the world keeps turning, even if it isn’t what you thought it was.

There was more too… car accidents (nothing horrible, thank God), illness, home improvements….  you know… the normal doings of life.  But for a while, all of this was completely overwhelming.  So I didn’t write.  I didn’t take many pictures.  I didn’t do much of anything.  And yet, I raised children, made food, moved forward….  I am not sure how, but I did. 

The school year has started again.  And I am not sure how this year will go.  The oldest is now a senior at the local high school.  We are taking a distinctively ‘hands-off’ approach with that one.  He will fail, or he will not fail.  We have fought for SO long over him doing his own work and I just can’t fight about it any more.  This is VERY hard for me to do in practice…  I am a saver and a teacher.  I want to save and teach.  We have given him the tools, now he gets to use them….. or not.

Cyan, Logan and Luke are still at home with me… 8th grade, 2nd grade, and preschool respectively.  Last year I can honestly say I didn’t formally teach much of anything.  Thank goodness Cyan and Logan are both self motivated learners.  They continue to move forward, even if all I do is make a space for them to do their work and leave them to it.  I am lucky in that respect.  I would like to be more involved this year.  I would like to continue to educate in ways that I feel are compelling and interesting.  I can plan and hope… but you know what they say about the best laid plans. 

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I know it’s September, but I can feel the winter crushing in.  Depression making it’s way to the surface and changing the way I see the world.  Where I have to shift my focus to the beautiful things.  This year, I am hopeful.  I have dedicated myself this summer to finding a ‘rain wardrobe’ for all of our family.  Rain boots, rain coats, warm sweaters, hats, etc.  We also have two amazing dogs now that will pull us from our shells and into the park with leashes and perky ears.  That will help me get outside every day and that always helps with depression.

I am anxious…. but I am also hopeful.  

I hope I start writing again.  It was such a great outlet for everything my introverted, yet loud, personality was craving.

Here’s hoping!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

No matter what… I still preserve food.

I am not sure what about canning is in my blood.  When I finished building the pantry, I openly told people I may not can this year.  I said it so many times that I actually believed it….  that was, until I got 3 bushels of apples just after getting two boxes of peaches…  It’s in my blood.  I don’t feel like myself without it.  I have gotten the recipes down to a science and I can almost do it in my sleep. 

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Canning is a beautiful ritual of the summer and autumn seasons.  The food is SO abundant here in the PNW.  You can’t NOT can, or dry, or freeze, or preserve in some fashion the waterfall of food you see all around you.  So and so has a plum tree they do nothing with…  the neighbor has an apple tree that drops apples all season long, your mother-in-law grew more tomatoes than she knows what to do with….  all free, just waiting for you to gather them up and put them in their proper place… because wet and rainy is coming!

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I wasn’t planning on it, because I built a pantry this year.  Isn’t that enough work for the food I put on the table??!? 

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I really wasn’t planning on it… but I now see that my shelf where I keep my canned goods is full of applesauce, tomato sauce, plum jam, apple peel jelly, blueberries, and peaches…..  Isn’t it nice that mother nature plans such a season for us?

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cyan’s Winter Wonderland 13th Birthday Party

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My only daughter turned 13 last week.  It’s amazing to me and yet about time in coming.  She is not the typical 13 year old at all.  She is a special girl who acts more mature than me sometimes and who is a HUGE help to me in all ways.  She is my little social butterfly, loving and fitting in with all people, and I wanted to find a way to truly honor her during her special celebration.  This year, when asked what kind of theme she wanted, she told me that she would like to have a winter party in summer.  So we got out the Christmas décor and started planning a party! 

It all started out with giant pinecones, burlap and Christmas balls.

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Even though she wanted a winter wonderland, my weather app said it was supposed to be 92* on the day of the party so I set about translating traditional winter fare into a summer feast!  She especially requested hot cocoa, so I made each of her guests a hot-chocolate pudding mugs with mini-marshmallows on top!

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I searched for Italian Coffee mugs at thrift shops in the weeks before the party and set them on a mirror I also found at a thrift shop that doubled as a beautiful party tray!  (It now hangs in my entry way.  At $10, It was a score!)  I added the marshmallows when the pudding was still hot so they melted a tiny bit on top, which added to the ‘hot cocoa’ feel of the whole thing.  Just before serving I stuck a chocolate hazelnut wafer cookie into each pudding cup.

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I had used a red table cloth and a burlap runner down the center.

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And the table was garnished with Queen Anne’s Lace, which you can not find in winter, but looks like snowballs when put into a bouquet and, bonus, they were free!  (They grow everywhere around here!)

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The backdrop was tons of paper snowflakes cut out and put on the dining room window.  They were beautiful, but in the bright sunshine, they were a little hard to photograph.

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We used pinecones and Insta-snow for fluffy white stuff around the centerpieces and it added beautiful that touch of wintery flare.

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The dinner started off with typical party platter food, fruit, cheese, and crackers all put on silver tiered trays (from my wedding 15 years ago!) which gave them a very beautiful and elegant look running down the center of the table.

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The main course was hot tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken skewers.  Some of my daughter’s favorite winter foods!

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Insert baby photobomb:

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The cake table was my favorite space at this party.  I used a frame I have and added all pictures of Cyan growing up to give it an immediate celebratory flare with Cyan at the center of the party.

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The cake table was decorated with red table cloth, burlap runner, twigs (from Pier 1 imports), cardinals (from Michael’s Crafts), birch straws and napkins (from Amazon Prime), and Christmas décor (from mine and my neighbors stash of decorations).  It was so beautiful that I think I kept it up for a week!  (Minus the food of course) 

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The cake was red velvet with cream cheese frosting, decorated with fresh raspberries… which was an awesome combination!  I may actually do this again!

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After dinner was, of course, time for cake and gifts.

 

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She had a little trouble blowing out her red flamed birthday candles…..

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Silly girl!

After that, I packed everyone up in the vans and headed to the ice skating rink.  I had gotten tickets on a Groupon so they were all 1/2 off!  It was the perfect end to our Winter Wonderland afternoon. 

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Each girl went home with a hand-poured peppermint, beeswax candle in a red and white stripe.

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It was a lovely day and a wonderful way to celebrate this amazing girl!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Meet our newest baby

This is the last addition to the Rose household that we are planning for a good long while.  Don wanted a dog and Ember wanted a friend.  We were set up for dogs in a really good way and so I said yes.  I was thinking this fall, but this little guy just fell into our lap and I fell in love.  I am sure you can see why.  He is a black German Shepherd. 

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The naming conversation went like this:

Don: “If I picked him, I get to name him right?”

Me: “Sure, as long as you don’t name him something dumb, like Boba Fett.”

Don: *long pause* “You’re right!  A pure black Shepherd… his name is Vader!”

Me: “NO!” *smirk*

Don: “Put it to the masses… I bet I get at least 50% vote.”

And so I did.  And everyone on Facebook and text LOVED the name.  So his name is Vader. 

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And it fits… if Vader was made out of puppy fur and cuteness.

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We are all in love.

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Completely and absolutely.  Even Ember loves him to pieces…

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which made me doubly glad we got a pup when we did.  They adore each other.  In fact, Ember looks a little like Vader’s mama:

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All in all, we are one big happy family and training is already going well.  It’s amazing how the trickle-down effect also works with dogs.  Have one smart, well-trained dog and she will train the new one.  It’s been a great puppy experience!

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Couldn’t you just squeeze him???

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sharing Spaces with Dogs – New Fence

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I will be the first to admit that I am not really a dog person.  I am a cat person.  That being said, when my daughter spent two years asking for a dog, and she happened to be the daughter that also takes care of our chickens and rabbit every single day without forgetting or without fail, well, I eventually said yes.  And I love this dog.  I adore her. 

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She is sweet, VERY smart, and the perfect size for a ‘not dog person’.  (Not yappy-sized, and not ‘bigenoughtoknockyouover’ sized.)  The only thing that was killing me was the poop.  I spent a lot of time wondering if all dog owners were crazy.  Do they all poop this much? 

So my daughter set off to train her dog to poop in one place.  There is a barked off area in the back of the yard between the garden and what we lovingly call ‘the sticky tree’ because this huge fir is always putting off pitch.  The puppy took to using that space beautifully, but after a while, we realized it was the medium, not the spot, that she enjoyed using as her bathroom.  That became a problem, because my entire garden is covered in the same bark.  So now the whole side of the yard was free potty space, and she used it liberally.

Then, as I started planting the garden this spring, other things came up.  She loves blood meal and egg shells.  Both of which I use liberally as I am planting.  She is also a whole foods lover, so she would eat my broccoli sprouts right to the ground, including the egg shells I had put around them to deter slugs.

All of a sudden, my dog was not nearly as charming as she was before planting started.  In fact, I had dog-homicide on my mind regularly as I would go out into the garden and find that my pea seedlings had been trampled again, or she had taken down my trellis netting and it was now stuck on her collar as she drug it past my newly sprouted dill seeds, ripping them all from the ground… there were many instances like this and it wasn’t getting any prettier.

 

I set about making my space ‘dog free’.  At first, it was a trial, because we were spending money, time and energy, but she could still get in there easily…

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Super effective, eh?

We got gates and started to put them together.  Considering the arbor and boxes are my own design and by no means ‘professional’ (or even square in some cases) this proved to be a bigger task than we thought but we figured it out.

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Last week we got the last gate finished and the latches put on. 

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And now I love the view from this side of the fence. 

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It’s like having my own room outside.  And the dog is back to being wonderful and delightful again.

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Isn’t the view from the garden gate lovely?

Friday, May 16, 2014

{this moment}

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{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{Inspired by SouleMama}

Friday, May 09, 2014

{this moment}

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{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{Inspired by SouleMama}

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

More nature notebook

This nature notebook has become a sort of  therapy.  

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A way to remember the world is beautiful around me when it just seems like the dark and cloudy, inside my mind and outside of my house, just will not let up.  

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I like to log our nature adventures away from anywhere.  Some of these creatures we see in our own back yard, others we see driving through more rural areas, and even others we have found at wildlife parks or the parking lot of a local store.  I love packing them away in a neat little package to admire later when I have some distance and can remember when Logan was excited to see the bird in the parking lot or the moment when we saw three red winged black birds on the drive home from an especially fun Letterboxing hike (I’ll write more about Letterboxing soon).

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This one is from the last week in April.  I wait for this week every year.  For when Mother Nature loosens her grip on all of the nutrients that grow everywhere around us and things start to grow that will sustain our human bodies and feed our beautiful souls.  These are Mother Nature’s salad greens.  I spent some time showing the kids (and my friends kids too) where to find them and what they looked like and I just couldn’t help adding it into the nature notebook.  That passion has been ingrained deep in me to find the food for which to feed my babies if the world fails and the grocery isn’t the abundant world of calories.

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At this point, it is easy for me to see doing this for years.  Having a collection to come back to and flip through of all of the different animals we have seen and my imaginings of what their homes and spaces look like in each season.  I look forward to collecting many more of these moments!