left over whimsy.

Today was one of those days, one of those days that stretched on for miles and miles before me. in a good way. Today I was served up a heaping plate of left-over whimsy, only in this case, the whimsy just so happened to be of the everyday variety. Everyone knows that is the best kind. and what can I say about this weather! and this sunshine. and this sky! Break my heart already, why don't you? Well, I've officially decided that this is the reason I love this time of year. I don't love it for the flip flops, strawberries and sunglasses, or the sleep-with-the-window-open-nights. I love it best, and maybe only, when the sky wears every shade of blue in the box. I love it when my arms are bare and I'm planting perennials. and it just smells like a new start. It smells like a familiar beginning, like something is blooming all the live long day. That was today, in short, it was perfect. Perfect weather. Perfect company. Dang good food. Swoony finds at the garden center. Even the bathrooms were surprisingly tidy, and I'm a girl who can appreciate a thing like that. So, tomorrow may sequester all of us with rain, But today? Today I drank tea in the sun. with people I love. I left my worries on it's hook. I worked and I played and it was hard to tell the difference, because it was just that kind of day.

My freshly-plucked hankering for vibrant color persists. In fact, it's gathering steam as we head into the end of June. I'm day-dreaming all manner of crazy, along the lines of wallpapering the gardens in something vintage-y and bright, painting the gazebo turquoise and splashing the yard with fuchsia and fits of orange. It was only a matter of time before I started staring wistfully at my lovely, weedy natural yard. Sure enough, that day came on Thursday. It's tricky out there, because there's very little sun light, with all the trees. Also, I'm a reconverted environmentalist, which complicates things. But the plants! It occurred to me that they were the perfect candidate for a switch out. And...since they are my trademark obsessions, I knew it would be easy enough to find something zingy. Naturally, my mind wandered to thoughts of wisteria, ladies mantle and all of the other woven up whimsies. Then I thanked my lucky stars that a green thumb comes with a spare. my garden. I adore it. It probably still seems a bit splurgey at times, but considering the number of moments in my life that warrant ruffly, whimsical places, this girl just can't ignore the siren call of frivolity. It's pure serendipity that the peonies match the color of my heart. I've been smiling ever since they bloomed. As I've said many times, Flowers, dude, are my Jimmy Choos.

Tonight I think and nod my head. My world last summer spanned only as far as the length of my arms, and my arms are ridiculously short. to short to hold the gift of three hazy, lazy months, lined up like daisies waiting to be plucked. To do that, to fully hold the gift of summer, it takes more than two hands. It takes certainty and innocence. It takes a soul able to see up past the clouds. It takes a heart with plenty of room to store up the sunsets. This summer I will spend within a hearts beat of my dreams, every minute. I will spend time in my garden, the place that sings me out of frustration and hugs me into hope, has taught me that the better parts of the days are spent outside. reconfirming the universal belief that watermelon tastes best eaten outside, at night, in my pajamas.

 I wore stripes with polka dots scattered about with tiny flowers, flip flops, and no make up.  and I did not brush my hair until I had no other choice. It didn't matter too much, because it was just us, and well, it's just so the way we are. plus, we are pretty forgiving. But then, then we went to lunch and I didn't change a dag gone thing, because it is okay to wear your personality on your sleeve (or your legs, feet and hair.) It is okay to just be yourself. In fact, it is preferable.

We geared up. just enough to sweep out the remnants of a busy week  and slowed down just enough to take in the glowy views from all sides. The truth is, I'm not exactly sure what's gotten into me these days. I've never been one to yammer on about minute to minutes or day to day, yet I can't seem to stop giving a play by play account of my life. I'm sure it is getting a bit boring, if not redundant.

Anyway! I bought one extravagant item for the deck. It was unnecessary. frivolous. It caught my eye right away, I melted right into my flip flops, but I couldn't see spending the money, so I kept walking. shopped around. I decided I would try to forget about it and if I couldn't stop thinking about it, I would go back. If it was still there, it was meant to be. fate. kismet. serendipity. And hopefully it wouldn't be there. And probably it wouldn't, because it rocked just that hard. After ooooing and aaaaing over baby chickens and petting an adorable puppy named Gator I walked back to check it out. I was a little nervous. I was nervous about the price tag and about the fact that it may be gone. And the fact that it might still be there. it was. still there. waiting. for me. My sister agreed it was a chunk of change, but then she said "if you love it, get it!" simple. can I just say that everyone needs someone like this in their lives (I love her, she is the best do-nothing company I know). yeah sure, I could craft my own knock off version of it, but I wanted to honor the person who designed and lovingly planted this. plus it was perfect, and truth be told, i was feeling a bit needy.

Lunch followed and was perfect. while my sister and I ate huge amounts of food and mom looked on in disbelief. but right then? I knew it was good. even better. we ate everything on our plates then went for ice cream, while we laughed hysterically the entire time. Each bite of food ramped up our momentum and by the time we finished eating, we were both five years old and our hands, though sticky from melted ice cream,  fit together so well. and now. now the day means so much more. there is a story. a memory. history. I think about this so many times a day, and every time, my heart nods along.

The moral of the story? It's true, when you see something you really love and it touches your heart, you should probably buy it. You just never know when your life might cry out for more whimsy. 
That's the good news, the bad news is that this time of years happens to coincide with all summer weediness. But weeding is nothing if not therapeutic. I can attest first-hand how digging fingers into dirt and yanking stuff out by the roots is like a spit-shine for the soul. It can cause me to day dream for hours on end. until life pulls me back.

So, the weeds might be winning and the grass a little long. it happens. Sometimes it's just nice, spending the day hiding away from life. I'm not one to protest hard work and every day,  but those days that we spend together, the three of us, circle around me like a forever hug. I am blanketed soft and cuddly at the thought of these times, I am storing them up for the months ahead. This is life. This is our new life. plunking down money for flowers that will inevitably die. Dropping strawberries, yogurt and stinky cheeses thoughtlessly into my shopping cart. Trolling websites for designs to wear forever on our hearts, and especially on Sundays. I never noticed before all the summer songs, but they have me determined to wrap my arms around the things I already have, the things that are every bit as special and infinitely more unexpected.

It turns out, you can feel the warmth even without the sun shining. see the beauty without looking at the flowers flanking the garden. I feel just as happy in last year's colors. good feelings are good feelings, whether planned or spontaneous. and from where I sit right now? Exciting seems a bit overrated. I'm spending my evenings gearing down, putting salads on the menu three nights out of five. The air around me is easy and slow, and I scratch that baking itch whenever I can.

Truth be told, this search for contentment is not quaint or idyllic.  Those feeling from a few years ago still show up like clockwork and I should be so wise as to toss them aside, pages unbent. But I take a peek, of course I do. I quick think in my head. Oh, the damage has already been done. But for reasons I still can't articulate, now is not the time for forgetting. I'm sure that day will come around again. I'll not be a forever-stranger to new thoughts and feelings. The nights are still hard. But the day leading up to the night? Dreamy enough for the both of them, while the air is mellow and sweeps through me like a song.

Today, right now, I know that this is right. It is right to feel my heart 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 windows cracked open just enough to hear the songs of left over whimsy.
just sayin'.

Legendary Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

Legendary Blueberry Muffins Ready to Bake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of one lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup half & half
one pint of fresh blueberries
granulated sugar for topping the muffins

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Line twelve muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Cream the butter with the 3/4 cups of granulated sugar until light in color.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Beat until well combined.  Add the vanilla and lemon zest.

Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a separate bowl.  Stir with a whisk to combine.  Add the flour mixture alternately with the half & half, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Stir to combine.

Mash half of the fresh blueberries with a fork.  Fold all of the blueberries into the batter.  Using a scoop for consistency, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin.  Top each muffin with approximately 1/4 teaspoon of granulated sugar.  The sugar will add a crunchy top to the muffins.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin, comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove the muffins to a rack to finish cooling.

Best served warm.


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