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.
We have been dreaming for so long of our home in the mountains. Of peace and quiet and untamed land. Of space for gardens and chickens and room to roam free. Of water nearby and of neighbors not so nearby. Of trees and flowers and birds and snakes and wood smoke and stars. Of growing some of our own food and of homeschooling. We have been dreaming of slowing down. Of a simpler life. Our dreams are finally manifesting and we are oh, so excited to really, fully live our life in line with our values. In the mountains. In the beautiful, rocky deep forest of the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia near the Shenandoah River.
While surfing Craigslist a few weeks ago (as I often do when my mind drifts to our dreams of more peaceful living) I found six or seven properties that were worth seeking out more information. I sent off a few emails and then decided to take one last look at the current listings — I was feeling hopeful. I typed in one of my favorite key words, “acres” and a brand new listing popped up. The image above of a snow-covered home was the first thing I saw. Then I saw the creek that runs beyond the fence line, then the green house, then the raised beds (which I later learned are full of asparagus!). My heart skipped a bit. The rent was right and I was flooded with good vibes. Could this be it? I sent off my standard email, “We long for a house to make a home… We have four kids… We have a dog and two cats and a guinea pig and a mouse and a fish… We want to get our hands dirty growing our own food and exploring some wilderness…” I am always very honest in my inquires, knowing that in order to make a sincere connection I need to be completely open.
Not half an hour later, I received a simple response with a phone number. I called it. Surprisingly, a real person answered! How often does that happen anymore? We had a great conversation about gardening and chickens (did I mention the home has a chicken coop?) and pets (he has six!) and family. We immediately hit it off and started a fast and furious exchange of emails — us asking about details that escaped my mind during our first excited conversation and him about updates on the work he is doing to make the home ready for its first tenants (he landed a once-in-a-lifetime job in Florida) and features of the home he forget to mention. Oh, yes, there are cat doors and a compost area and a strawberry patch and a nearby swimming lake! Would we be willing to adopt their nine-year-old grouchy Oscar fish because he’s too old to relocate? Of course we would be willing! (I can’t wait to show you this seriously cool fish!)
We met face to face last weekend and he and his wife are definitely our kind of people — family centered, humble and hard working. The two acres that surround the home have been lovingly tended to and cared for since they built the home in 2005. There are blackberry bushes and a vertical windmill and a garden already fenced in and ready for planting. The kitchen is a dream — upgraded to support his part-time catering business. (Can you see me doing a happy dance about that convection oven?) The best part of this whole arrangement is that he is as excited about us stewarding his property as we are to move in and get to work. They wanted to find a family that would get dirty, make noise, laugh, eat well and play. They wanted people who could appreciate their slower, more intentional way of living.
We so feel to blessed to be those people. Oh, life is so good.
We get the keys at the end of April and will take our time transitioning to our new home as the kids finish their school year. We have a spring drama performance to attend and a few Girl Scout activities already on the calendar. But there will be frequent joy-filled trips to our new house to get seeds started in the greenhouse (did I mention the sprinkler system on a timer?) and to ready the chicken area for the sweet baby chicks that will be ordered to arrive just as we finally move in full-time. There are pantry shelves to be built and gardens to prep. We feel like children the night before Christmas, so excited that we drift off to sleep thinking of the pros and cons of different chicken breeds (maybe Australorps and Ameraucanas? Chicken folks chime in here…) or which veggies we want to give a go this first year (pumpkins and kale, definitely… sweet peas and carrots, maybe).
Now we are beginning the messy part of moving — the packing and purging of the extra “stuff” we seem to inevitably accumulate, planning for the end of the children’s school year and their transition to a new school (or dare I say out loud, homeschooling). Negotiating a new work schedule for me and a new commute for my hubby — test drives and different routes are in the works. Oh, and then there is the matter of purchasing and prepping wood for our new wood stove (wood stove!) that will be used as our sole heat source during colder months and budgeting for that 1000 gallon propane tank.
So much to be done, so much to be done.
This work is heart and soul medicine…
Better get to it!
We woke to snow. A late March snowfall had silently blanketed the bits of spring that were just beginning to peek up from the cold, damp ground. The daffodils hung heavy under its weight, their new green leaves appearing even more luscious in contrast to the colorless cold all around. After a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, I sent my kids out into the weather to stomp around one last time before this in-between season shifts toward the sun of spring. It was silly fun for all. Then they were off to school.
I decided to make the most of this last wintry day, and the fact that I was not due to work at the restaurant, to enjoy some time my kitchen — oven on, burners blazing. Nothing warms up a home like the love and heat that are generated in a busy kitchen. After a hot cup of coffee, Freja and I decided that what we wanted most for lunch was a batch of yummy baked pumpkin pancakes. Baked? Yes! These are the easiest all-in-one-bowl-super-easy-paleo-grainfree pancakes ever. That they contain pumpkin officially puts them into the “epic” category. Well, at least according to the sophisticated palate of my four-year-old paleo kid. (Yes, she actually said they were epic.) She sure knows what she likes and what she does not like. She will not be swayed. I like that about her. She’s sassy, like her mama.
I originally found this recipe on one of my all-time favorite blogs, Boho Girl. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting Denise’s space, you really should. She is wise and gentle and her images are breathtaking. Pure bliss. Really.
To feed just myself and Freja I doubled the following recipe. If you have hearty eaters like I do, you will definitely need to increase the recipe accordingly.
Grain-Free Pumpkin Pancakes:
- ½ cup almond or cashew butter
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 2 whole eggs
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Preheat your oven to 350F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix until a smooth batter forms.
- Use a ¼ cup to scoop the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheet
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the pancakes are fluffy and golden.
- Serve warm, with pure maple syrup or whatever you desire. (I love slivered almonds with mine.)
After our yummy lunch it was time for some snuggles and a little snooze…
Then before I knew it, there were kids bursting though the front door dumping backpacks here, there and everywhere. Gloves were scattered about and the demands to be fed began in earnest. I don’t know about your kids, but mine come home from school every day ravenous! I often feed them a hot breakfast of eggs and fruit before they leave, pack them a full, protein laden lunch, and a snack but still, still, when they arrive home it’s as if they have not been fed all day! I am often confronted with a lot of uncooperative behavior and grumpiness as a result of this after-school low blood sugar situation, so I decided to head them off at the pass this afternoon with two of their favorite foods — bananas and oh, yeah, bacon.
No milk and cookies in this house. No way. This is so much better!
I call this treat Sweet and Salty Paleo Perfection. It’s delicious and just about the easiest thing ever to make, it just takes a few minutes to do it right. Good bacon takes time. Don’t rush it!
Sweet and Salty Paleo Perfection:
- 1 pound of good, high quality bacon. (We acquire ours locally though our favorite butcher.)
- 6 just-ripe bananas. (This recipe works best with bananas that are still just a touch green.)
- Slice the bananas in half lengthwise and then in half width-wise so that each banana is quartered.
- Open the bacon package and slice the whole block of bacon three times so that each slice of bacon is quartered.
- Separate the bacon pieces and place them in a COLD pan.
- Turn the burner on to Medium heat and slowly fry the bacon, turning the pieces often. (I have found that the very best kitchen tool for making perfect bacon is a solid pair of wooden chopsticks. Seriously.)
- Remove individual pieces as they finish crisping and set aside.
- Once all of the bacon is finished, immediately place the banana pieces into the hot bacon drippings. (Watch out, the fat will spit at you.)
- Cook the bananas until they are golden brown and crisp around the edges, turning only once. This usually takes about 4-5 minutes on the first side and only 2-3 minutes on the second side.
- Place a hearty helping of now caramelized bananas on your plate and top with as many crispy bits of bacon as you desire.
Eat, then eat some more!
We were warm and well-fed all day, snow and all. I am grateful for this last hurrah of winter and these last bites of our cold-weather favorites. Soon there will be sweet peas and baby carrots on our plates. Baby greens and spicy radishes will replace the squash and soups of winter as we move into a season of abundance at the farmer’s markets. As the seasons change so does the food on our plates. What a lovely seasonal rhythm to notice and to celebrate — our simple (and delicious) farewell to this long season of cold and welcoming of the coming spring.
We are so ready…
Usually I leave no words here on Friday — this sacred space is held for quiet meditation — but this week has been of such humbling proportion I am feeling called to offer my gratitude for so much abundance. My heart is oh, so very full.
In this moment I am…
:: so grateful for the love, patience and support my family has offered me without hesitation while I have been completely absorbed in my creative process for Cedar Tree Crochet.
:: tired in the most wonderful and satisfying of ways. Working from my heart space is new and thrilling and exhausting.
:: swept up in a swirling river of possibility. What a gift to be able to look at my life’s path with renewed hope and sincere joy in my heart.
:: open. I sit in awe of how the Universe provides. I am listening, watching, trusting.
:: enjoying hearing the distant sounds of my sweet daughter, Freja, busy at work in our art space. Creativity is becoming the foundation on which all else is built in our family. My dream, my vision, my soul’s work, is finally beginning to manifest. There is art and music and play everyday.
:: aware that there will be challenges ahead, but know deep inside that I am prepared for them. I am walking my path and will not be deterred or distracted.
:: feeling the Earth beginning to wake from her long sleep — stretching, yawning. Flowers are beginning to bloom. Yes.
:: beyond thankful for the friends that walk alongside me on this journey both new and well seasoned. I am thankful for you.
:: excited to begin a new project that feels exactly right… just as soon as I finish some serious snuggles with my sweet silly girl.
Wishing you a weekend of wonder and joy.
i thank You [Universe] God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
It is quiet now in the house. My children, both well and ill are safely sleeping. My belly is full of food lovingly raised and lovingly prepared. Soulful music floats around me. I feel oh, so content.
As I end one trip around the sun and begin another, my heart is overflowing with gratitude. I found such abundance in the year that has passed and am excited for the discoveries of this year yet to come.
There has been a shift in my heart.
There has been a shift in my soul.
I feel changed – rooted, nourished, whole. Awakened. This new-found centered-ness — this powerful stillness — has become the foundation of my creativity and of my freedom. As the trunk of a tree is grows deep within the earth, its roots reaching deep and wide and strong, as the leaves of the trees blow and turn and twist and flutter, this is as I am. I am both grounded and free, settled and wide open.
I am so grateful to have found my way to this place on my life’s journey.
I have had a long walk.
No longer moving away from the unpleasant, away from the ugly and the painful and the despairing. No. Now my branches reach for the light, looking toward the sun, embracing the spirits carried by the wind. My feet have found their home. I can feel the dirt between my toes and the strength of the planet below me. My soul has been set free. My arms are wide open, dancing in the air. My heart is open to the sky. My face soaks in the light of so much love, so much wonder.
I celebrate this birthday with my whole self.
I recognize that I will continue to experience new seasons of life. I understand that tides change and that the moon cycles. I am prepared to grow and to stretch. This tree that is me will have new limbs sprout and old dead wood that will need to be pruned. This is as it should be.
This is the gift that is my life.
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.
thank you, my dear friends, for your patience as i continue to devote so much of my time to rooting Cedar Tree Crochet. my first large order will be complete in a few days and i am eagerly anticipating spending some quality time here in this space with you.
I am most myself when I am centered in a creative space. I see and feel the world differently. I am more open, more grateful, more passionate. I remain more aware of the wonder that surrounds me. Reading transports me both far away and deep within. Crochet is my meditation. It soothes the rough edges of my busy days. Please join me as I share the pages I have been turning and the yarn I have been hooking this week.
I am so grateful to again connect with the wonderful community of knitters and crocheters Ginny gathers together with her yarn along each week.
My crochet hook has been flying through yarn fast and furious this week! My seedling of a business, Cedar Tree Crochet, is keeping me mighty busy. (Do you like my new product labels?) As of yet, I still have no website and am still debating Etsy or no Etsy. This is all completely uncharted territory for me and I am purposefully taking time to meditate on these important decisions. I want to be sure that any decisions I make will move me forward in a way that feels really good and gets me excited. When this idea to work creatively first sparked in my mind, I had a vision of myself creating and nurturing personal relationships with local shop owners — driving from store to store, showing them my latest works and selling items on consignment. My intuition is telling me that it might be the right time to sink roots in creative ground with other creative spirits. These thoughts make my heart skip a beat… I am beginning to very quietly hope that I will someday be able to make my living working creatively. My heart would just about pop if I could manifest such an amazing life for myself and for my family.
Until my business plan unfolds more completely, my friends and word of mouth are keeping new orders rolling in. I am slowly trying to build up a repertoire of go-to designs that will be the foundation of my business. As quickly as each new piece finds its way to my wrist someone asks if I can make one for them. (Yay!) Eventually, I would also like to be able to fulfill special orders for occasions like weddings and christenings, but for now I am most called to lacy vintage inspired accessories. I’m loving making bracelets and am thinking that I might try a headband (maybe like this one) next. The Boho in me is stirring.
I, in a frenzy of creative energy, decided that I needed a place to collect all of my inspiration and designs right now. So I whipped up a “look book.” Inside this simple brown paper scrapbook is the essence of Cedar Tree Crochet. All of my carefully collected images that have been tucked away in an anonymous computer folder are now printed and organized so that I can go for a stroll with them, with my dear familiar friends. I am now able pause to appreciate a new detail or a new feeling stirred by something beautiful within this collection of pretty bits and pieces. I also have collected all of my resources for the designs that have been successful so far, labeled and organized all of my yarn samples and printed pictures of all of my sample items to date. I want this book to be the place I go to when I need inspiration — what I am working towards — but I equally want this book to be a place where I can go to enjoy what I have accomplished so far. Last year this time I was just learning my very first stitches! There are still oh, so many blank pages to be filled. There is so much potential in these empty spaces.
As for reading, I have actually found a little time to make progress in An Object of Beauty. (My hands can only crochet for so many hours in a day!) I’m still in love with Steve Martin and his sassy style of writing. He is the perfect combination of snark and wonder. I’m hoping to finished this book by summer… if I can find the time. Ha!
My mind quiets and my well fills when I am engaged with a good book or when my hands are busy creating something beautiful. If you feel moved to share what you have been reading or creating, please leave a link in the comments below so we may revel in each other’s creative pursuits.