Saturday, April 18, 2009


So in my newfound interest in cottage style, I went to the internet.

I found a whole lot of stuff that had nothing to do with the styles I had seen in that book. Hmmm.

Coastal living?
Coastal cottage living?
Eclectic style?
Casual PNW coastal cottage eclectic style?

I don't know what the proper name for it is, but I'm still intrigued.

Saturday morning

The family is still sleeping - all four of them. (Mozart has taken to sleeping on the foot of Tessa's bed, which she loves - she's been begging him to do that for years. Shep is curled up in a little dog ball on his bed, and I know that Ryan's still asleep because I can hear him snoring.)

I logged in to work a bit on the book before they woke up. And to drink coffee - mmmmmm coffee. I made progress on the book yesterday, and today is more or less a day off, but tomorrow I'll work on it sunup to sundown in preparation for my meeting with my boss on Monday.

Gardening, a little trip to REI, and playing in the sunshine are in our future today. Ahhhhhh - sunshine.

I fell asleep last night thinking about cottages and how they reflect a lifestyle. It is amusing to me that I've been reading "deep" books about simplicity, but somehow this fluffy little book with the pretty pictures has made a more lasting impression on me. I think that it gave me permission to embrace eclecticism, which is really the ultimate simplicity. It's a form of letting go, while still embracing the beautiful. The text of the book made most of the cottages sound like vacation or summer homes, and implied that the owners had busy lives at home, but came to the cottages to escape all fo that, and I just kept thinking "why not LIVE like that?" Yes, there are jobs and homework and school and such, but why not approach it in a simpler way? If the best part of life is drinking coffee while curled up in a chair and reading a book, surely we can all find fifteen minutes a day to do that? I love my commuter mug - it helps me to sustain my coffee addiction - but isn't the best way to drink coffee in one's pajamas, out of a favorite mug (the one I have know was purchased in Portland maybe ten years ago, and it's hand painted with a cobalt design and hecho a mano in Mexico)?

What's right for me isn't right for everyone, but this is right for me.

Another thing I'm trying to do more simply: food. I get all caught up in food, and it sometimes feels like I spend half of my life cooking or planning to cook. I use recipes most of the time, experimenting with new food ideas, and finding those recipes and executing them can take forever. Last night, though, I just wasn't in the mood, so I went with some old standards....and they were delicious. I made a pot of brown rice, and grilled asparagus (snap the ends, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt, and grill; serve with lemon wedges) and grilled salmon (a little garlic powder, some lemon pepper, and put lemon slices on top to lock in the moisture; grill) and it tasted fresh and good and Tessa didn't even complain about it. I kept my sanity, it was there a down side? I need to do more dishes like this.

(Note: My unfussy daughter has become SO PICKY ABOUT FOOD! Is she doing this just to torture me? She is also in a period of a few days of being a sass-talker. Yesterday I resorted to all kinds of "consequences" and I'm not sure a single one of them made an impact on her. Arghhhhh! She's so lovely, why is she doing this? Sigh. Nobody's perfect, but I really hope that today is an easier day for us.)

Stumbling through, day by day. I'm learning a tiny bit every day, and I know that I have a forward momentum to the life I dream of. It does go slower than I'd intended, but c'est la vie. I suppose it is la dolce vita, anyway. (And there you have just about all of the French and Italian in my vocabulary.)

Here's wishing you some la dolce vita today, too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Three in a row

"Look, Mom!"

Wiggly tooth #3 is right next to the already-large gap on the bottom front. I think that raw carrots and apples are going to be out of the question for a while.

(It's not gone yet, but from loose to lost was a mere day last time.)

It changes the way she looks - I can barely catch up with her....

Little bits of progress

I am working on the book today - taking a break at the moment to write this. It goes so SLOWLY! I am hard on myself, and I want the word to flow trippingly from my tongue, and instead I have to stumble and fall and pick myself up and try again, and again, and again, and walk away, and come back in order to make it "right."

Yesterday I went to a workshop on home organization. It was interesting, and I'm glad that I went, because it's always helpful to hear others' perspectives, and to gain perspective of my own clutter (better than some, worse than others, which I think is how it should be). I was glad to find that I felt more or less on top of things as the speaker presented her materials, and when she offered free consultations I was confident in declining. I know what to do, just need time to do it. I did do a little organizing when I got home yesterday, cleaning out two of my three dresser drawers, and organizing my clothing closet a bit (finally solved the shoe dilemma by getting a rack for the bottom of the closet).

I am participating in a monthly Simplicity Circle through our church, and I find it fascinating to hear others' ideas of simplicity. What was a little confusing to me was that for many, it seems, simplicy is equated to a clutter-free lifestyle. I wasn't looking at it that way, but I was in the minority in that regard. I was thinking about how to recapture some of my zest through regaining simplicity; others were approaching it as a ways of simplifying their things. Certainly, there is an overlap, but this has given me pause for thought.

I checked out a ton of simplicity books from the library, and the beauty of the library is that I didn't have to just get the ones that I KNEW were right on target, and I was able to check out big piles of books. One of those is a "Cottage Style" book with the tagline about "living simply" and strangely, even though it's mostly just pretty pictures of cottages covered in flowers with big porches and adirondack chairs, it has me thinking in a new way. As I looked at those pretty cottages, I found them increasingly beautiful. And nothing matched. And their were patterns of all kinds - stripes and florals and plaids and paisleys; there were textures like chenille and wool and wood and paint and stone and pottery. There was even a form of chaos - cups stacked on shelves, open shelving with big bowls all piled up, eclectic art in unexpected places. Formal pieces right next to yard sale treasures. Chipped paint that was unashamedly so. But beautiful things - particularly pretty prints, beautifully shaped pitchers filled with gorgeous flowers, and elegant things, too. Bright colors - these cottages did not have taupe and tan, they had robins egg blue and pumpkin and cobalt and turquoise and sunny yellow and crimson and pastel pink and mossy green.

And I wanted to jump right in. I wanted to sit on a big painted cobalt wicker chair with rose floral cushions and tuck my feet under me and invite the cat up. I wanted to grab a mug off the shelf, grab a blanket, and curl up on an Adirondack to peer out at the garden and drink morning coffee. I wanted to sit around a table with friends and have a potluck with things fresh off the grill.

What I really want? I want this quieter life. For me, the pictures captured a lifestyle that is slower, and THAT is simplicity to me.

Identifying it is important. Now, I must work toward it. Well, I AM working toward it. The garden, home made bread, and our own Adirondack chairs - which DO get used, and regularly - are all part of that.

I only have Tessa in one after-school activity (horseback riding lessons, her greatest joy and passion), and because of this we're able to have her friends over with some regularity. Yesterday, the weather was nice for the first itme in a while, and we stayed at the playground after school until dinner time! I had packed snacks enough to share, and many of us sat on a bench talking while our children played. One family stayed as late as we did, and we ended up getting dinner at Sunfish (fish and chips - and man were they good....I usually avoid fried food but this was worth it) with the dads when they got off work.

And THAT is simplicity. A little bag of snacks - string cheese and pistacios and apples - and not much more, and it was SO relaxing. Tessa and her friends ran all over with no toys and not needing any - drawing with sticks in the dirt of the baseball diamond, doing the monkey bars over and over (sideways this time! now skip bars!), chasing one another, building things out of twigs and sticks.....essentially, a whole lot'a nothing.

I think that the world needs more nothing, and that is what I'm working on. I don't want to give up on the big stuff - oh no, I certainly don't - but I want more of just the simple stuff. Not email and voicemail and trying to connect with everyone, just playing on the playground with whomever is around and loving every minute of it.

I said "no" to a couple of volunteer things recently. I did NOT sign Tessa up for running club. I have unloaded more armloads of stuff from my closet to get rid of it.

I am seeking out the simple. I think that I am finding, in my own way, that the simple is what makes me the very happiest, and that is the most complex thing of all. Being simple is not at all simplistic, either, and takes great creativity and thoughtfulness and perseverence. Some of being simple will even change the world: simply standing up for what is right, without a fuss; or making simple, unprocessed food; or writing a simple letter; or saying a simple prayer; or simply marching for peace or love; or simply picking up a little litter.

Tessa is six. I want to teach her these great, simple joys. In uncertain economic times, we never know what is next, and I certainly know that life is short. I want to teach her simplicity....or perhaps I want to teach her not to lose what she already knows. Perhaps I can learn from her.

Back to the book - no time to proofread this. Here's hoping that I can keep my writing simple and straightforward, because there is great beauty in simplicity!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I feel like I was sleepwalking all day.

Did chores. Took Tessa and Shep for a walk (Tessa rode her Razor). Made dinner (ham and cannelini bean soup using the Easter ham bone).

And I feel like I ran a marathon (not that I know what that feels like, exactly).

Gotta go to bed.


Okay, sniffly, but the girl is healthy.

So, breakfast and get ready and off to school.

What is WITH the lack of sleep?!


Was a bumpy night. Tessa went to bed at her appointed time - around 8:15. We let her read until 8:30. She was WIDE awake at 10:30. She was then awake at 1am.


I'm letting her sleep in this morning, and she is still asleep. What is UP with this? I have ten billion things to do and this is not helping.

She's still sniffly - is she sick? Only the day will tell. I feel bad for her if she's sick....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Take two

Tessa improved over the course of the day, and rallied to play with her Weitz cousins Heather & Kendra, as well as Aunt Linda, in the evening. (Much gratitude to these lovely girls/ladies - they were very accomodating of their younger, crazy cousin.)

She's still stuffy, but headed to school today, and horseback lessons after school, followed by dinner with Grammy.

And me? Book book book. I'm working on finishing the overview and writing the chapter on Leigh S.W. Hunt. (By having two topics at a time, when I hit writer's block on one I can skip to the other.)

Off to the races...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Scratch that

The plan: work on the book all day.

(And get the house ready for guests, and make dinner for a friend who just had surgery.)

The reality: child who is feeling a bit under the weather, possibly from overdoing it all weekend, and has a stuffed up nose. Charlie and Lola on the tellie, Tessa on the couch.

I'm feeling punky and out of sorts today.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Getting ready for dinner with a few neighbor friends, and enjoying a lovely day.... Pictures show Tessa on her egg hunt, with her loot, in her Easter dress, smiling with a big gap, and the table set for supper (ham, eggs, asparagus - does it get any more Easter-y than that?). We went to church and the farmer's market today, and we're having a quiet afternoon before guests arrive. Tessa is excited to have a table for the two girls (Elena is a guest), right beside the big table, because that seems even more special somehow.
Happy Easter, everyone!