A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life

My to do list is ridiculously long this time of year. I have gifts to make, gifts to buy, a house to decorate, cookies to bake, craft shows to prep for, boxes to ship, soaps to wrap. I love every single one of these things. I don’t want to cut any of it out. But I do want to stay centered during it all and enjoy it.


A couple weeks ago, we decided to hike in a new spot. Our hikes are pretty slow going and easy, because, you know, we have a two year old. My shoulder was bothering me, but I didn’t anticipate it would give me trouble during the hike. We hiked down the road a bit, then decided to follow a tractor’s path over a hill. We followed that to an elks’ trail which then started to go the opposite way that we wanted to go. We ended up tromping through long grasses and blackberry brambles to get back to the road.


It was a beautiful place, but by the end of our walk, most of that was lost on me. I was walking ahead of Ruby as she held my hands and leaned on me for support while we both tried to untangle ourselves from the blackberries. She was frustrated, I was sore, it was not pleasant.


This past weekend after my fun trunk show at Irenes’, I pulled a muscle in my back, which just happened to be near the top of the rods screwed into my spine. I don’t think I need to tell you this was extremely painful. I spent most of the weekend laying on the couch or in bed asleep on pain pills.

Some relaxation is due. I am giving up some things on my to-do list. Even some of those fun things. In exchange, I’m hoping to create more time to snuggle up with my family reading Christmas books next to a crackling fire and a twinkling tree. I probably won’t get around to making an advent calender this year. I might not finish making everyone gifts that I hope to. And I’m okay with that.

I’m reading A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life (perfect timing), and am believing in it very much. I’m letting go of some things and savoring others. My body is telling me to and I’m going to listen.


link love: family

Thanks so much for all the love and comments on my last post! You have no idea how helpful extra support is right now.

Ruby has been wanting more time on the computer these days and I think she’s old enough (5 yrs.) that she learn some basic computer skills. Lately she’s been enjoying Sesame Street and Sid the Science Kid.

Ruby loves to read as well so I’ve been looking up some of our favorite author websites that have “behind-the-scenes” information, games, the authors reading the books. It’s been fun for all of us to dig around. Here are some that we’ve been enjoying.

This is Ruby’s drawing that she sent to Mo Willems. It’s posted on his blog!

Mo Willems is our family’s favorite author lately. I wish I had known about Elephant and Piggie books when I was teaching. They are THE BEST books for beginning readers. Ginger (2 yrs. old) can already “read” several of them with us. He is the author of the famous Pigeon (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus) and Knuffle Bunny books (the third in the trilogy made me tear up the first 20 times I read it) too. There’s a bunch of fun games on his site including these pigeon games.

Mem Fox has been one of my favorite authors since I saw her at an IRA conference as a beginning teacher. Both of my girls have loved listening to Time for Bed as babies, so she holds a special place in my heart. She has written a fabulous book for adults called Reading Magic that I highly recommend, and her website has great resources for parents and teachers too.

I happened upon Todd Parr’s book It’s Okay to Be Different when I was teaching kindergarten and immediately loved it. I’ve been a big fan ever since. In fact, we had several pages of his The Peace Book framed in Ruby’s room when she was a baby. We gave his The Grandma Book and The Grandpa Book to my parents right before we told them I was pregnant. He’s got some fun activities and snippets of his books on his site. The girls are loving his underwear app that we’ve recently downloaded too.

I had several more sites I wanted to share, but I don’t want to overwhelm! If you like these links let me know and I’ll write another post about other children’s author websites I enjoy. What are your kid-friendly computer games or websites you visit?


Book::Food Rules

Food Rules by Michael Pollan is a simple book that didn’t make my reading list until I discovered that he updated it, this time illustrated by one of my all time favorite artists, Maira Kalman.

I love Kalman’s work – her children’s books, her TED talk, and her handwriting all make me happy. I should probably dedicate a post to her. Of course, I love food and have learned much from Pollan’s other books. The simplicity of the writing of Food Rules marries well with Kalman’s paintings. Some of the rules, like #13 “Shop the Peripheries of the Supermarket and Stay Out of the Middle” are not new to me. Some are funny – #39 “Don’t Eat Breakfast Cereals That Change the Color of the Milk” and some make me happy – #52 “Have a Glass of Wine with Dinner” – yes, please.

The book has some rules that have stuck with me and I can see myself returning to the book when I need some healthy inspiration. It would be a great book to start someone off on a healthy eating journey but would be educational at all levels. Go check it out at your library, and be sure to pick up Ooh-La-La (Max in Love) while you’re there.

I’m in love…

I hope you had a lovely holiday season! My parents came to visit and they spent the week spoiling the girls, taking us out to eat, and baby-sitting (spoiling me and John). It was wonderful.

I mentioned the book Miette that I wanted badly. I had avoided this book for so long because I knew I would have to have it. But I finally looked it up online and watched the video trailer (scroll down and you’ll find it here) and I was lost in it.

But then. But then. My friend went to San Francisco, visited Miette, and brought me back some cookies! I’m embarrassed to say how quickly they disappeared and that I only shared one. I just couldn’t help myself. I visited the website and learned that they use local, organic ingredients as often as possible. We share the same favorite brand of butter, Straus. It was really all I could do to wait until Christmas for this book. I was hoping that John had picked up on my obvious hint (from the blog post) and when he got a box of books from Chronicle in the mail, my fingers were crossed that the cookbook would be under the tree. I was right!

I cannot wait to get started baking. The instructions in this book are detailed and thoughtful. I have gained much insight just from reading the methodology. I want to run a bakery! But for now, my happy place is flipping through the scalloped pages (!) and beautiful photos in this book.

Link love

I recently read a post on Meet Me at Mike’s about how to grow a book worm. I highly recommend reading this if you have children in your life! There were lots of concrete, fun suggestions about getting kids engaged in books. We are tripping over books in our house and Ruby already has so many books memorized, its amazing. I have loved watching her love of books develop. I burst with pride when I hear her “reading”.

Here are some more links related to parenting that I’ve bookmarked. Any you want to share?

Art/Spring/Easter project: Recycled Yarn Eggs

Nature/Art project: Leaf Printing (picture shown above)

Holiday Crafts for kids on Alpha-Mom

Art project: Recycled Guitar

P.S. I’ve updated the links on my sidebar as well.

baking together

Kneading dough for bagels

I’ve mentioned before that Ruby loves to bake. She helps bake bread often, even if it is just to eat the dough, and is so proud of baking some apple pie. She checked out a book from the library recently called, Waiting for Baby. This is a great book for soon-to-be siblings. So many of the books are about issues that the older kid might be feeling, which are helpful too, but I don’t want to give Ruby any ideas. If we run into those things, then we’ll check out those books. Anyway…this book is pretty realistic. The very pregnant mom is on the couch a lot and they’re all waiting for the baby. The grandmother comes to stay at the house and she, the kid, and the mom make cookies. After reading this book a few times, Ruby and I decided to make cookies one day. (It was about a 2 second decision.) She loved the process and the product, of course.

A few days later, over our breakfast of oatmeal with blueberries, Ruby said, “Let’s make blueberry muffins.” Another book we’ve checked out, Henry in Love, involves some blueberry muffins. We did that too. I am so proud of her coming up with this idea and relating our activities back to literature.

I recently read this post on Culinate about baking with kids and love it. Don’t let all the baking rules get in the way of kids being involved. The food will always be delicious and so will the memories.

P.S. I updated the banner and links if you’re interested…

book love

I finally got my hands on a couple books that I’ve been hearing about for a long time. If you follow the same blogs I do, this is all old news, but just in case you don’t, go to your library and check out these books now.

Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule of SouleMama

This book contains lots of projects (mostly sewing) to fill your home with love, all made with re-used materials. It has re-kindled my interest in thrifting again, but of course, you can complete the projects with new materials as well. Each project tells you if it is kid-friendly as well. I haven’t made anything from it yet, but I’ve been thrifting and looking at old fabric with new eyes preparing for my first attempt. I can’t decide what I want to make first.

The Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette

This book reads just as easily and warmly as Molly’s blog. It is full of life – its sad, funny, loving, and delicious. I surprised myself by making the first recipe in the book – potato salad. If you read my blog at all, you know I love the sweets. But the story that goes with the potato salad sold me. It was really yummy. This is a cookbook and a memoir. I finally found it in the library and was so disappointed when it was time to return it.

John and I decided to start Netflix again. We are so behind on movies. Any suggestions for us to fill up the queue?