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.
Oh, how my mouth is watering… I believe that nourishing our bodies and our spirits are among my most important responsibilities as a parent. Every delicious meal means another full belly ready to take on the day. This food is my gift to my family, every day. We don’t spend our money on fancy cars or designer clothes, we choose instead to focus our resources on nourishing ourselves with pure, whole foods. All of these scrumptious images were taken by me on my iPhone 4 and came directly from my Instagram feed. They are only the icing on the cake, so to speak. I post many drool-worthy images of the food both Eric and I create every day. I encourage you to follow me (@cedarmama) or to drop by my gallery to browse if you are curious to learn more about where I find my inspiration or for the links to many of the recipes I use. I love the wonderful community of encouragement and support I’ve found there — you are most welcome to join our foodie tribe!
Art is what we call…the thing an artist does.
It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.
Art is not in the …eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.
Life happens in small fleeting moments. In flashes. Blink, and you can miss it. The light changes, children grow, the song ends. When I first discovered photography fifteen years ago I began seeing beauty everywhere. I tried to capture it. To remember it. Ever so subtly, though, I noticed that my camera was beginning to create distance between me and my life’s magic. Between me and the beautiful wide open world around me. Between me and so many of life’s sweet juicy experiences. I was literally placing my big bulky camera between me and the people I love most. I was inserting a disruption. I was becoming an observer, not a participant. I was shifting the reality of my most precious moments. Oh, how I love photography and oh, how I have grieved this realization.
For this period of my life, right now, while I am so busy with my family, with my work, with my passions, I need simple, easy and effortless. I need balance. I need to both nurture my creative spirit so it can stretch and grow and explore while I remain fully engaged in my life. No more barriers. No more big camera slung around my neck, not right now.
I have recently rediscovered Instagram and am feeling a renewed surge of creative energy. I am able to use my iPhone to effortlessly capture each small, treasured moment of my day without my clunky camera intruding. The food I’m so passionate about, a simple moment with my family, a rare moment alone, a crochet project I’m happily hooking away on. Easy. Simple.
If you have an Instagram account, I encourage you to follow me (@cedarmama) and join in the wonderful community of love and support I have discovered there. If you don’t, that’s okay too. You are most welcome to simply click the link I have in my sidebar (to the left) and explore my images. Just a warning, you may find your mouth watering…
I’m sure this change will subtly alter both the quantity and tone of the images I publish at less & more. In this space is where you will find my very favorites, on Instagram you will find so many more. Enjoy.
I think that we may finally be on the mend around here. We are still in various states of illness, and our house has completely come apart at the seams, but the overall trend seems to be improving. This morning, Freja and I found ourselves all alone for the first time in weeks – the big kids were off at school and Willow had a play date before her kindergarten class – so we decided to step outside of our petri dish of a home and get some fresh air. I took a risk and headed to a park I had never explored before, but that I had heard glowing things about: Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park. What a beautiful treasure! This is now my very, very favorite bit of nearby wilderness.
Freja and I were barely out of the minivan when we encountered a lovely woman trying to find a good place to relocate a sweet little turtle that had wandered onto the nearby (very busy) road. She was pressed for time, but was determined to find a safe place for this rogue traveler, so Freja and I happily volunteered to be turtle rescuers for the afternoon. He was very shy, but after he had been undisturbed for a while on the river bank, he did poke his little nose out of his shell and begin to explore the environment around him just a bit. There was ample water and mud and shelter for our new reptile friend, so I’m hopeful he is adjusting well to his new neighborhood. We wish him all the best!
On the way to and from the river we soaked in the experience of our lush surroundings, so teeming with life, and noticed many left behind signs of the wild things that live among the forest. The light was soft and subtle and warm. The ground was still the slightest bit moist from a sprinkling of rain that fell earlier in the day, hushing our footfalls. Every leaf on every living plant was vibrant and green and alive. I felt so grateful to be out of bed and swaddled in the sweet safety of nature again. Oh, the smells and sounds and sights of the forest, how healing you are.
I have been dreaming of deep, dark, sweet wild strawberries lately. I even posted an image on my Facebook page the other day, they were so on my mind. Look at what I found – I’m so excited!
I will be going back to forage for more as they continue to ripen. My children deserve to know what a real strawberry tastes like. Yum.
In order to maintain balance in my life, I am feeling the need to lessen the frequency of my postings here at Less & More. Don’t fret! Instead of posting almost daily, my intention is to post two to three times a week moving forward. I value each and every one of you so, I want to offer you quality over quantity. That’s what this humble blog of mine is all about!
I love seeing the world through a child’s eyes. Their perspective is so different from mine. They notice beauty in the most unlikely of places and see things I would never even notice. Every once in a while, I’ll place my camera in the small hands of one of my children so that they can capture images of the world as they see it. I want them to experience the altered perspective that happens when you are looking through a camera lens. I have found it to be comforting to focus my attention through that little viewfinder – using my artistic eye, my creative brain. Well, all of that, and when you are at a playdate in the park, thoroughly engaged in an exciting and meaningful conversation with someone brand new who doesn’t think you are bonkers for talking about homeschooling or self-identity or art spaces, handing them the camera just keeps them occupied for a while.
The pictures above were actually snapped by one of Jarl’s best friends (age ten) on a recent sunny Sunday afternoon. I was surprised to find pictures of Jarl on the camera at all when I went through the images from that day. He is turning into quite a little shutter bug – I hadn’t expected him to relinquish the camera. Instead of finding a collection of silly pictures of his friend, I found these telling pictures of him. I found it so interesting to get a glimpse of how his friend sees him.
Jarl does things, like handing over the camera to his friend, that surprise me all the time. He’s just such an old soul kind of kid – older than me in a lot of ways, I think. He has an awful lot figured out already. I’m still working on so much.
Jarl and I sat down this evening to catch-up. We do that sometimes, a check-in. I feel like these conversations are of special importance now, as our family identity is shifting and so many changes are happening in our lives. Jarl acts as my canary in our proverbial coal mine, sensing first when something is off in our tight little tribe. I trust his judgement, I always have. Tonight we curled up on my bed, I asked him a few questions and he answered in his old soul, little boy kind of way. The following is what transpired. Oh my, do I have a lot to process.
(Jarl’s words are used with permission, of course.)
How would you describe yourself?
Hmmm. I don’t know. I’m pretty smart and sometimes I talk too much. If there is something I want to get done I can usually do it pretty easily. I am responsible. Sometimes I’m not, like when I’m goofing off with my friends, but that’s not very much.
What are some of your favorite things?
I like reading a good book. I can read for hours to finish it, just stopping for snacks. I really like manga, otherwise known as graphic novels. I like eating good, tasty food. I like playing with my friends outside and building with my Legos. I like bugging you (silly grin) and snuggling with you too.
What are some things you don’t like?
Homework, except for reading. I don’t like rudeness, like when my sister spoils my jokes. I don’t like wars, they are interesting – the weapons and stuff, but I don’t like the actual wars. I dislike getting injuries.
What changes have you noticed in our family lately?
We changed around the bedrooms. I’m being allowed to get things I wouldn’t have been able to a year ago, like my hatchet. We are going outside more. You have been very absorbed in your blog.
What do you think about my blog?
Sometimes it bugs me because you can’t do much else. Other times I like it because you are so happy and you can talk to other people. It is a good way to share your thoughts and ideas and I like that you are feeling successful.
What do you think about the other changes in our house?
I’m still getting used to your room being my sister’s room. Sometimes I walk the wrong way. My room is a little different now because we reorganized it, but it isn’t too different. I like it. I don’t get to use the computer very much anymore.
You didn’t even mention that we got rid of the TV.
Oh, I’ve just gotten used to it. I don’t even really miss it anymore. Not whatsoever. I guess it was fun to watch, but books are much better. They can be longer than movies and the thing about books is that you need your eyes and your mind and your hands to enjoy them. All you do with TV is sit. With books, you sit too, but kids my age read stuff like Harry Potter and Hatchet, which are great books. Some of the best books aren’t movies, or they are made into terrible movies that ruin the story. The book is always better than the movie.
On a tangent, he continues…
I’m not becoming a man or a teenager, but I am getting bigger so I can have more responsibilities and I am able to be trusted more. The reason I think this is because you are letting me start fires in the fireplace and I’m getting to chop wood with my hatchet. It’s uncommon for kids to have a hatchet.
What are your dreams for your future?
I haven’t really decided on a whole lot. But, I’m thinking I might get into martial arts, that seems like a fun profession. One of the things that I want to happen is to be really rich. I doubt that would really happen, but it would be really nice.
Why do you want to be rich?
My parents and siblings wouldn’t have to work as much. I would definitely share it, even with my sisters, depending on how much money I have. Let’s see… If I was rich, like Bill Gates, I could collect a ton of cool ninja stuff – a whole room full.
What else would you do with all that money?
Buy good food.
What are your dreams for our family?
I hope my dad gets promoted and that he always likes his job. I hope that my sisters find something that they like to do. I imagine us in the future living out in the country, with some pets or livestock. Not for eating, just for things like eggs. I want us to live near each other or together when we are grown-up. Y’know, close.
Is there anything else that you want to tell me or the people that will read this?
Let me think… How about, re-read this interview and think about how you might answer the questions. Are your answers similar to mine? Follow your dreams, that’s a good thing to do. That’s all.
Oh, and one more thing… Ninjas are awesome!
Jarl is very excited to learn what you might say if you were to answer some of these questions for yourself. He would treasure any and all comments!
We celebrated Eric’s thirty-ninth birthday this past Friday. Please don’t tell anyone, but we were naughty and kept the kids out of school (I made some vague excuse) so we could drive about an hour west to Shenandoah National Forest. The weather was delightfully warm for January – we just had to be outside! Willow declared, “We are hikers now!” We just might be, well, almost.
One of the changes that we have committed to in this, our year of many changes, is to celebrate our birthdays with more experiences and fewer things. Eric wanted to get out in nature and eat really good food, so we did both.
We have decided that Shenandoah needs to become familiar ground for our family. We are planning to head back as soon as we get a really good snowfall, so we can see how the forest and the mountains have changed.
The kids were blown away by the views. We all were.
We decided not to force the evening, so it was a quick dinner and off to bed when we finally arrived home after dark. Saturday was a laid back day filled with food and family time.
Jarl has become really interested in my camera. With his technical mind he will probably be giving me pointers in no time. I love seeing what he sees through the lens.
(This is Moose – our beloved guinea pig, and Jarl’s buddy.)
We sang Happy Birthday and then devoured the gluten-free coconut apple cake I had baked in the afternoon (Thanks Gluten-Free Goddess!). I wasn’t able to get a great picture last night, but this morning I was able to capture an image of what was left.
We all decided that this cake makes an almost perfect breakfast.
In the quiet, after all of our little people were sleeping, Eric and I decided that this new less stuff, more family business felt pretty good this weekend.
Happy Birthday, Love.
I woke up with a sense of dread this morning. I woke to the sound of the dryer running. When that happens I know it is because I have neglected my laundry duties to the point that someone has run out of pants. Pants always seems to be the first thing the people in my house run out of. I must buy too much underwear.
My husband is always the first to rise in our household, not by choice, mind you, but because it’s just what has to happen. I – don’t judge me here – am usually the last one up. I am not a morning person. I hate the scramble to find all the necessary school items, I hate loud noises when I’m not fully awake and I hate laundry, not just in the mornings. I always hate laundry.
So, the pants. Thank goodness Eric always seems to be able to throw a couple of things in the wash really early so that they can be all clean and warm and snuggly before the child with no pants has to run out the door. They love warm clothes in the morning. Someday it will occur to them that their mother was just resistant to her domestic duties. At least Jarl was toasty as he left for school.
I spent the better part of my morning putting away all the laundry that I ignored from the last round, folding all the clean laundry that had been heaped up on the dryer and sorting the overflowing laundry baskets. It had been two days since I last performed this horrible ritual.
I keep hoping that I will discover some sort of satisfaction in having all of my laundry done. Nope. Hasn’t happened. I would rather spend my time doing anything but dealing with clothes. Anything. Someday my laundry monster may swallow me up. It’s a big monster. Six people live here. With pets.
I tried as hard as I could to postpone dealing with my miserable laundry situation so I procrastinated a bit by fixing myself a mighty fine breakfast. My creations are never as involved as the delicious breakfasts my husband prepares, but this was pretty good. (I also hate dirty dishes in the mornings, so I keep things simple.)
I decided to jazz up my usual oatmeal with a couple of sauteed Granny Smith apples, a few raisins, a dash of cinnamon and a handful of walnuts. I topped it all off with some unsweetened almond milk. Gluten free and delicious. I made extra so I can have another treat tomorrow morning.
It was the coldest day of our winter so far, but thankfully the wind that had been whipping around yesterday eased up. After walking Willow to the kindergarten bus, I decided that since we were bundled up anyway, Freja and I would check in with our local creek to see if there was any ice yet. The small stream that runs behind our neighborhood is the one oasis of nature we have found near us. I see a parking lot out my front window. We found a little ice, but the sounds of the stream reminded Freja that she needed to go pee. Right. Now. It was a very short visit to the creek.
I found this right outside our front door when we made it back home. (Just in time.) You can definitely tell which town home is ours when you walk down our street. I’m sure the neighbors just adore us!
After a hectic morning, a mad dash back from the stream and a huge tantrum about how NOT tired my sweet Freja wasn’t, I decided that I would reward myself by hanging some cranes while she slept. I’ve designated the recessed ceiling above our front windows as their space. It’s so exciting to see all of my cranes up on display! We all have our favorites and have fun noticing which ones we have made.
Because I was still busy with my cranes when everyone arrived home from school, the art space became the homework space this evening.
It’s been a frustrating sort of day, so it makes sense that I am irritated with my camera skills. I am a get-this-perfect-right-now-it-doesn’t-matter-if-you’ve-never-done-it-before kind of person, so I have very low tolerance for imperfection. I’m working on it, promise. I am finding it very difficult to capture candids of my family without the flash because, well, they keep moving! I have to figure out a way to get good shots in low light. Maybe I need a better flash that doesn’t wash everything out. Maybe I should read the camera manual.
I’m starting to smell the Thai Red Curry Stir-fry that my hubby is cooking and it is making my mouth water. Two delicious meals in one day. I guess life isn’t all that bad.
I promise to take pictures…
I love when my husband is home in the mornings. Usually he is up before the sun and headed off to work before the birds even start chirping. He does this so that he can be around for a while with the whole family before bedtime. In the evening he helps with the homework, with the baths and he will sometimes cook dinner. But what a treat to have him home in the morning with us! The whole family wakes up slowly and he makes the most delicious breakfasts. They are his specialty. Today I was treated to poached eggs with fried tomatoes and gluten free toast.
We didn’t have much on the agenda for today except the usual things like wash some laundry and pick up around the house, the kind of stuff that lives on my to-do list. We were just lingering around on winter vacation for one more day. Several times today the kids, Jarl especially, bemoaned the fact that they have to head back to school tomorrow. I’m a little sad. This has been a magical time for us together.
The kids were back in full force this morning, a good night’s sleep having been had by all. It seems that we may finally be getting used to having no TV in the house. There was much creativity in the art space and wild silly playing happening everywhere else this morning.
I took the time while they were all occupied to wander around the house straightening up all the little things strewn about. I began to wonder, what value do all these discarded pieces and parts hold in their imaginations? Could a plastic jewel have been a treasure.? Did this feather once belong to a magical bird? What fantastic adventure is held in the pages of this book? It was fun playing with my camera and noticing the simple objects in my house in a different way.
In the afternoon everyone was getting a little restless. Eric and I were trying to clean out our office in the basement and the kids kept demanding our attention. We finally decided to just pack up our cranky kids and get them outside for a while. We used to take little adventures all the time, but somehow got out of the habit. We have been trying to get back out in nature more, which is hard to do here in our claustrophobic suburban neighborhood.
Today we decided to make a short drive (read: short nap) to Points of Rock, Maryland. Unfortunately, since we were there last a huge parking lot has been laid where there once was a lovely grassy field, but we made the best of it. Everyone was either fascinated or terrified of the rail road tracks that run along the walking path. Our walk turned out to be shorter than expected because the wind was bracingly cold!
Tomorrow it is back to the usual routines. School. Work.
It will seem too quiet with everyone scattered here and there…
Welcoming 2012 quietly…
Today was an unusually quiet day around here punctuated by not so unusual outbursts from exhausted children. Willow made it until midnight last night, but she struggled to make it until 3 o’ clock this afternoon. We spent the morning waking up, eating the most delicious gluten free cinnamon knots (both Sage & I have to be gluten free, Eric just feels better when he is), cleaning last year off in the bath, making a mess in our art space and playing some music. Eric is making strides with his banjo playing and I learned my first four chords on the ukelele. The goal is to be able to play something together… I suppose we would have to agree on a song first. The afternoon was restful and naps were had by most.
(photo by Jarl)
I spent some more time reflecting on our family trip to Great Falls both earlier this week and yesterday and found a few more pictures I wanted to share.
I’m having equal parts fun and frustration getting reacquainted with my digital camera. Once upon a time I was fairly good with a 35mm. Let’s just say it’s been a while. I feel like I am getting a few good shots, but I definitely have TONS to learn. I especially need to work on my skill in low light. I do not like the way my flash washes and flattens everything out and am not yet able to manipulate my camera to reliably capture the moment without it. This should be fun! My camera and I are going to be good friends, I’m sure, but right now we are still getting to know each other.