9.22.2016

harvest song.


I stretched out my hands and snatched up so many gorgeous September days that they are spilling through my fingers.

Buying pumpkins in short sleeves. You cannot top it.

At least not in September.

In keeping with Fallishness, I've hauled out the flannel shirts and the water resistant boots.

 Let the record show that I love like don't hate Fall.

Even tho I've spent my entire life boldly proclaiming my love of Summer.
I live for Summer.
Long for Summer.
If I had a daughter, I would have named her Summer (or Sunshine).
My Granddaughter's name is Summer. (I had nothing to do with it).

In my usual fashion, I'm hanging on to Summer with all I've got.
My knuckles are officially white and tired.
I will not go down without a fight because I know what's coming. (brrrr)  It's not so much that I dislike it, but I'm more aware than ever that Fall signals Winter's imminent descent. And winter, He's extra mean here in Northern Ohio, what with the lake effect snow and all. so my issues run deep, I can't let myself just relax and enjoy Fall completely, there is the ever looming feeling that the axe snow could fall at any moment. There's that chance that I may not get another glorious, golden lighted, blue skied, brisk and beautiful day. This year has brought the best September I can remember in a long time. Snappy mornings and warm afternoons all glowing in the slanted rays of a sun that's headed south for the Winter, a Winter that can come quickly here. Once it comes, it's usually here to stay for awhile.

And yo, I feel like this past Summer was kind of a gyp. I had already lost my flip flop tan-lines by late June.

In other Fallish news, my trees and bushes are trying to toughen up as the temperatures dip. It's pretty cold at night now, and I can hear their knees knocking from my bedroom window. Keeps me up. But, I know they are just gearing up for the fall show when they get all showy and braggy.


Doesn't that make you want to cry?

I'm not one to protest an autumn field full of pumpkins, gourds and sunflowers, but they can't compare to the summer fields of wildflowers and corn which circle 'round me like a three month hug.

Still, it's harvest time, and I'm blanketed thick and woolly at the thought of hay wagons, storing up for the months ahead. In every field, flanneled farmers do the dance. Up, down. Up, down. I take day trips under the thrumming of their motors. I eat my soup with the droning still in my ears.

This is my Fall now. It is new to me.

Last year Fall found me plunking down a twenty for mums that would inevitably die. I had been known to drop pumpkin-scented candles thoughtlessly into my shopping cart. Trolling websites for cute and cozy slippers that I would probably only wear on Sundays.

I never noticed the harvest song.

This Fall I am determined to wrap my arms around the things I already have, the things that are every bit as special and infinitely more unexpected. So, Fall is finding hand-me-down kicks, just in the nick of time.

Fall is hydrangea bushes that just won't quit. Fall is a long-forgotten tomato still on the vine.


I'm spending my evenings cuddled up, putting soup on the menu for three nights out of five. The air around me seems to be slowing and I am once again scratching that baking itch.


But, this air. this air, I've officially decided is the reason I don't hate fall. Well, that and the cozy days, cable-knit tights and the stay-in-your-pajama-pants-all-day-because-it's-cold-and-wet-outside.

I love it best, and maybe only, when the blue sky has a pinkish cast and dry leaves crunch beneath flip-flops that should've been thrown out a month ago. I love it when my arms are bare and I'm cutting perennials back and it just smells like a new start. It smells like a familiar beginning, like something is blooming even as it fades.

My love for fall is situational. I've accepted it.

So, tomorrow may sequester all of us with gloom and rain that chases those leaves right to the ground, stealing their pluck, drowning them into sodden brown.

But today?

Today I drank tea in the fall-scented sun.

I left my jacket on it's hook.

Today, right now, I know that this is right. It is right to feel my Fall in a brand new way. It's right for me to look closer at gifts that can't be bought. It's right for me to bake muffins in my kitchen with the sun streaming in and the windows cracked open just enough for me to hear the song of the season.

It turns out, Fall can be felt even without twenty dollar mums flanking the sidewalk.

Yesterday I worked and I played and it was hard to even say which was which, because it was just that kind of day. I wore stripes with polka dots with mismatched socks and didn't brush my hair until I really had no other choice.

It didn't matter that I didn't match, because it was just me and I'm pretty forgiving.

And then I went and bought groceries. and I didn't change one darn thing, because it's ok to wear your personality on your sleeve. It's ok to just be.

The leaves on certain trees slid from luminous into withered in just the span of one day and I'm happy to say that I noticed.


This year, I'm letting my guard down and for now anyway, my heart belongs to September and spiced pumpkin cake and hand me down mums.



 just sayin'.
                          Chocolate Chip Harvest Cake with Cinnamon Nutmeg Whipped Cream

For the cake:
15 oz can Pumpkin
1/2 c oil
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1 c sugar
1 c dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 c chocolate chips

For the whipped cream:
1 c heavy cream
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together pumpkin, oil, applesauce, sugars and vanilla until well blended. In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and then add to wet ingredients until just blended and then fold in chocolate chips. Pour into well greased bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour or until firm. Let completely cool before removing from pan. Serve with Cinnamon Nutmeg Whipped Cream.

Notes: I always use fresh ground nutmeg and just eyeball those measurements. Also, it is helpful to reserve about 1/4 c of your flour to toss with your chocolate chips so they don't all sink to the bottom of your pan. You could use all oil for this recipe but the applesauce lightens it up and you don't miss the extra oil at all. I will probably try it soon with all applesauce just to see.

This cake was incredibly moist and even more so the next day. I couldn't stay out of the cake the next day so I cubed it and froze it and will make a trifle out of the leftover sometime soon.

8.31.2016

every shade of blue.


I can't even tell you why certain things continue to bang around in my heart....I planned to write a big, ole bossy post giving you a list of things that you *must* do in your garden this week-end. Because, you know, we all need more to-do lists especially on the weekends. But then I found myself going through my cedar chest and the usual spell came over me. I started spinning sugar-dusted whimsy from old cards and a ball of twine. It cast a spell over me...willing me to laugh, cry, and remember. You understand.


So now it's Wednesday and what we all need less than a week-end to-do list is a middle of the week to-do list. Just trust me on this one. Anyway, I've been collecting little mementos for a while now and it's time to share. I was thinking about why I love them, so much!... why the thought of secret treasures stashed away...dusty, passed over, almost forgotten, (some say) useless... gives me goosebumps. the thrill of unwrapping things I've had forever, feels new. every single. time. something that once was lost becomes found. youknowwhatImeanright?

I do keep only the good stuff though. a tiny box filled with tooth fairy treasures (aka lost teeth) creepy? um... excuse me, priceless to a mother. Old cards and sweet letters makes me want to smooch someone on the forehead. School papers, ribbons, awards, broken jewelry. baby clothes, poems, love letters, programs, ticket stubs, pressed flowers, blobs of whimsy etc. and so on...scattered all over the floor. because, no matter how many times I try to set up a traditional work space for myself I always end up sitting on the floor! there's just something about the ability to sprawl out and sit cross-legged, or lay on my back, staring at the ceiling when I get stuck, that has a way of getting my mind going, again. I'm a dump it all out~loud music~sprawl on the floor kind of girl! I came across several heart wrenching items and found myself starring at a patch of sunlight on the wall. my hearts all a tumble these days and words sometimes fail me. Instead, I started sorting through every shade of blue the day has to offer; the sapphire morning, the cerulean afternoon, the cornflower dark of evening, and everything in between. Combining the stable and calming aspects of blue with the mystical and spiritual qualities of the sky and the sea. Blue Hydrangeas' satisfy my need for reassurance in a complex world, while adding a hint of mystery and excitement. They calm me in a time that has been challenging lately,

so......
when the hubs told he had a surprise for me the first thought that came to my mind was, I am going to punch you in the nose or pinch you, really hard. these things do not alarm him. when he asked me to marry him, my actual response was throwing up all over him.  I have curiously odd emotional reactions to certain things. yet, he loves and adores me anyway. even though I can be controlling, independent and sometimes scary. even though sometimes when he does sweet things I think about punching him in the nose. someday, I will tell you how we met and our hairpin twist and turn love story. the story of us. it's hilarious. in an I can't believe we are still married kind of way. I help to keep his head in the clouds, he tries to keep my feet on the ground. it is straight to the heart. it is why I believe. it is about taking broken empty fields and planting beautiful seeds. it is about staying and learning to care for something. to protect it. to honor it. to be a life giver. to breathe life into love. to make something beautiful out of dust. and, to be grateful for it.


there are times for golden silence... and so here I am. with my vague thoughts and less than revealing prose to accompany them. don't you just hate that? I guess I could skip it.. but it seems less than honest to not at least acknowledge where my heart is these days. yet wisdom tells me that not every story is meant to be sifted in the public eye. I have many emotions running through my veins, but things still feel sort of magical, as if I drank unicorn juice for breakfast. they're all still in there, trumpeting their half truths and simple charms. but the one that has settled down into my bones is this, it seems my fear and faith have grown side by side. like two flowers competing for the same space, they match each other word for word and deed for deed. in the name of balance. in the name of safety. in the name of it's just plain easier. but it's just easier doesn't seem like something I want to hang my hopes on...and safe and balanced in the end dude is just not me. 

 it's just that at times it sneaks up on me, that nostalgia does.  maybe from a song, a fleeting memory, distant smell...there's just no way to know when it will hit. when I will be forced to stop and remember, usually with a bit of an achy heart. it sounds sad, but really it's not. that's just the way nostalgia rolls. why is nostalgia like that?  is it just that as time passes we know with all certainty that we are not infinite?  (not sure if that is it.)  could it be that I want to relive those days that are now mere memories?  (don't think this is it, either.)  maybe it's because my memories let me know that life goes on, and that every moment that passes is one that I will be nostalgic for. (I may be getting closer.)

hmmm, this may be getting a bit deeper than I had intended.

but anyway, nostalgia.  I am a nostalgic kind of girl. I remember my past and the people in it, mostly with a happy heart.  it keeps me grateful. I am actively nostalgic (actively nostalgic?  what does that even mean?) I am truly grateful for the people and times in my life, now and remembered. I don't like to live or think regrets.

again, not really sure where this is going!

The times when I allow myself to daydream, I walk down memory lane, straight to my childhood. I see every detail, hear every creak in the floor. I walk myself through the years, not one bit surprised I can remember it so well. after all, I lived it. I don't know what this does for me, this memory walk that I do, but I do it anyway.  in this walk my parents are young, much younger than I am now. We are all strong, healthy and idealist. happy. in my heart I hold those memories. the nostalgia. 

I miss it.

oh yeah, that's where I was going.


just sayin'.



Mom's applesauce cake

2 cups flour 
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter (room temperature)
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 jar apple sauce or home made
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix until blended. Mix in the flour and baking powder until it all comes together. Gather the dough into a ball and press it into a small buttered baking sheet ( I use a quarter sheet). Spread applesauce over the dough.
 topping...
1 stick cold butter
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Mix together with your hands, unless they are really hot, the ingredients for the topping and crumble it on top of the applesauce. Bake at 350* for 30 to 35 minutes or until everything is brown a bubbly.

8.18.2016

65.


This is a celebration year.  This is the marking of the 2nd half of my life.  Yes I can do math but I'm planning to live to be a hundred and thirty.  And now of course I won't because I said it out loud!

At this age, I feel like I've had enough experience with failures and successes to know what I'm getting into.  I can now mostly weigh the consequences and calculate the recovery time.  I have recently determined the possible upside of actual success, and quite frankly the exhilaration of the pursuit, outweighs the failures.

I don't need the "for your own good" speech.  I don't need the dream police. I don't need the drama.

As I'm getting older - this is finally coming into focus.  I don't have all the time in the world and...

Life is the adventure of a lifetime.

I'm actually feeling good for this momentous marking.  Way better than I had ever dreamed. Not like the last decade big hurrah.  The year I turned 50 was an unmitigated disaster.  I never saw it coming.  Yes I saw the birthday coming but I didn't see the psychological mayhem that would accompany it.

For some unknown reason I ended up with some bizarre facial metamorphism.  It literally started the day before my birthday, getting ready to go to the "surprise" party my friends had planned for me.  I had a break with reality.  Each time I looked in the mirror, I saw only my grandmother's face. I kept touching my face.  What was wrong with me?  Was anyone else seeing this?  I couldn't shake the feeling.

This birthday feels nothing like that.  This might be the fresh outlook on life I now have talking but I am feeling so much more content about my age.  I've crossed over.  Wait, no! that's another thing right?  But I am older~ish and it's okay.  I'm not the hot young chick in the room (unless it's a room full of ninety year olds, then I kill) but I might be the one with the loudest laugh or the funniest quip and that's something.  I hope I'm the one who hugs the hardest. 

I'm figuring out who I am and who I'm not, just as important to know.  I'm going to enjoy these next five years.  I'm saving my next traumatic disorder for turning 70.  I think that's fair. I'm kinda tired lately, but truly content.  I'm really looking forward to the beautiful freedom of having made it over this hump and feeling as good (or even better) as I have felt in years.  I'm excited about what's in store.  About the new adventures that await me.

They say you come into your own and gosh darn it I hate cliches but seriously, there may be something to this one.  I'm not fully embracing every piece of the physical aging stuff.  You already know my position on wrinkles, (I'm against them) but my grandma hands are actually starting to make me giggle and I am feeling just a teeny bit more at home in my saggy skin and creaky knees.

A new journey has begun and you are here with me.  You are filling my life with joy and I am continually enveloped by those loving bonds.  I am saved by continual grace and I hope you know it too.

I am so thankful for this day.

you know about my deep love for making lists, so in honor of my birthday I have written down 65 of the many lessons life has taught me, in no particular order, of course.

1. If you feel a thing in your gut, pay attention. It's true.

2. Lipstick can boost your mood, immediately.

3. Regrets are good teachers.

4.The book is almost always better than the movie.

5. High heels have to be the single, most cruel and absurd invention. Ever.

6. You never know what you don't know.

7. Most people don't listen. They're biding time until they get to speak.

8. Putting something off makes it instantly harder and scarier.

9. Infidelity murders trust.

10. It is easier to stay organized than to deal with the consequences of being unorganized. Getting truly organized can vastly improve anyone’s life.

11. Life isn't always fair, but it's still good.

12. Falling in love is a lot easier than staying in love.

13. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree. 

14. People who make you laugh are important to have around.

15. Religion doesn't make you a better person. Your actions do.

16. Whether you feel really good or really bad, it usually doesn't last for long.

 17. Spend as much time as you can with your parents, while you can. (Or for that matter, anyone you love).

18. Smug is ugly.

19. High school is absolutely not the "best years of your life".

20. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

21. Breakfast is not essential. But caffeine is.

22. Prejudice buoyed with righteousness is lipstick on a pig.

23.You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

24. Children teach their parents far more than parents teach their children.

25. You are either an ocean person or you are not. Forever. It's in your blood. And if you love the sea, don't move to Ohio.

26. Be realistic. Believe in miracles.

27. It is much easier to stay in shape than to get back into shape.

28. A sense of humor is way sexier than six pack abs.

29. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

30. Show don't tell.

31. Living an authentic life unburdens your children.

32. If it seems too good to be true? You know this already, right?

33. Laughing really is the best medicine.

34. When cooking for company choose a dish you can make ahead of time, so you can enjoy the party.

35. Getting up early is more fun than staying up late.

36. Every person believes their own point of view is the correct point of view. Accepting this can free you.

37. Don't assume anything. Not one single thing.

38. If you don't value your time, no one else will either.

39. High fructose corn syrup and MSG are evil.

40. When it comes to health, there is no one size fits all. What works for one person may not work for someone else. Except for the things in #39.

41. No is often the most life affirming, loving choice you can make. Learn to say it out loud. Practice.

42. Perfection is overrated.

43. Curiosity keeps you young.

44. Words actually can hurt a lot more than sticks and stones. Words are immensely powerful. One cruel remark can wound someone for life.

45. We become what we behold, so choose your focus well.

46. I can be instantly calmed by looking at the ocean or the stars.

47. Always say please and thank you.

48. Cards that come in the mail are more fun than e-cards any day.

49. I regret most those things I didn't have the courage to do.

50. Karma. Enough said.

51. Hope is more important than belief.

52. Forgive yourself.

53. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

54. There is no one, right way. There are an infinite number of ways. Diversity is the dance of the divine. Not to mention, creativity.

55. Yelling always makes things worse.

56. Always be kinder than necessary.
57. If you have bad news to deliver, the only fair way to do it is in person.
58. Don’t gossip. Just don’t. It eats away at your soul, and it’s poisoning another one. People who talk about other people to you are probably talking about you to other people.
59. I could not imagine life without my puppies.
60. Shoes that aren't comfortable are never a good idea, even if they are on sale.
61. Not everything about getting older is enjoyable, but it beats the alternative.
62. Killing time is an atrocity. It’s priceless, and it never comes back.

63. Popcorn and wine for dinner can be more romantic and satisfying than an expensive chef prepared meal.


64. Gluten free sucks. 

65. I can live without TV but I'll miss Charlie Rose.


......and one to grow on.

All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

just sayin'.