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    And Adventure Days begin

    Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

    As part of our little home preschool, we have instituted Adventure Days. On Wednesdays we’ll head out with friends and experience some sort of adventure, be it in nature, a museum, or just running around free.

    Today’s adventure was to the local wildlife refuge, located along the shoreline. Our subject for preschool this week was birds, and oh goodness, did we see birds.

    The kids had a great time, and I think the other moms did too. I know I came away from our time outside inspired by the gorgeous color combinations and  lovely flocks of flying birds.  And I came home feeling renewed and more at peace.  Too much time stuck indoors is just no good for anyone.

    (In the third picture down, everyone is looking at a rabbit. Can you see it?)












    Your challenge, should you choose to accept it:

    Have an adventure day.

    Spontaneous or planned- just get out and enjoy something new and different. Then tell us about it!

    Browsing for inspiration

    Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

    Sometimes you just need a little inspiration.

    Some new ideas.

    A fresh approach.

    When I feel that urge, I hit the library. (Oh, how I love the library.)


    Not only do the ideas inspire me (how would I think of them on my own?), but the  lovely images inspire me to pursue greater beauty. (All pictures within the pictures are copyrighted by the people who, you know, actually took and published said pictures.)





    The item in the third picture down is a measuring tape cover. How delightfully ridiculously cute is that? I MUST have one. And now I can make one! And I love those cheese grater lanterns. And the blues in that top picture… sigh.

    For me, when the inspiration yearning hits, I have to stick within the areas I know and am comfortable with. Crafts? Sewing? I’m so on it.   Gorgeously written novels  inspire my writing, but also spark creativity in other areas. But the other day I went and browsed the cooking/baking section and came away befuddled and empty handed.  Just as I’m sure Martha Stewart’s 415 page behemoth would completely discourage some of my non-craft inclined friends, I need to take my “learning books” in smaller doses, and not expect them to serve the same purpose  as my “inspiration books”.

    So, two questions. First, what books (specifictitles or general types) inspire you? And second, anyone want to suggest a good, non-befuddling, inspirational cooking book?

    Embracing Autumn

    Friday, September 11th, 2009

    Here in California, we don’t really have autumn. Not like other places do.  While some leaves are turning brown, for the most part the trees are still green. It could get up to 94 degrees today. Z is wearing shorts.

    While I love this weather, part of me longs for clouds,warm sweaters and blustery crisp days.

    I may have found an alternative.

    Bath and Body Works has a new line called The Perfect Autumn,  with scents called Harvest Berry, Ginger Vanilla, and Leaves.


    Of course I had to check it out, because who makes a body lotion/bubble bath/candle that smells like leaves?

    And what do leaves even smell like?

    I don’t think it answers the question of what leaves smell like, but




    It’s a combination of “golden nectar, juicy mandarin and red delicious apple, paired with toasted cinnamon stick, mulled spices and freshly picked berries” and it is seriously divine.

    Divine, I tell you.

    I used it last night in the shower and just stood basking in the lovely smell swirling all around me. It was almost enough to make me forget the heat.

    Seriously delicious.

    So delicious, in fact, that I am following a very wise woman’s advice to never squelch a generous impulse, and sharing it with you.

    Leave me a comment stating which smell of shower gel you want, and I will pick a random winner. The winner will receive a 12 oz shower gel in the flavor they requested.

    Yes, really.

    You have until midnight tomorrow night to comment. (That would be Sept. 12.)

    The drawing is open to anyone, including contributors to the site.  Please only comment once, and make sure you state what flavor you’d like. If you don’t win, don’t despair, there’s a HUGE giveaway coming soon. But don’t say I told you.

    The Flavors:

    Ginger Vanilla: Rich, creamy caramel, fresh nutmeg and delicious gingerbread are blended with candied apple, lemon zest and warm vanilla

    Leaves: Golden nectar, juicy mandarin and red delicious apple, paired with toasted cinnamon stick, mulled spices and freshly picked berries

    Harvest Berry: Luscious berries, invigorating bergamot and cassis are blended with white citrus, jasmine and anise


    PS. If your comment doesn’t show up right away, just wait. The spam filter is being a little tetchy, so I may have to go in and approve your comment.

    Letting the outside in

    Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

    Charlotte Mason, an education reformer from the early 1900s said that all children should spend the majority of the first six years of their lives outside, “with no pressure, just taking in the fresh air and impressions of nature”.  She suggested that nature was the best early teacher, and that the fresh air and pleasures of the outdoors would incline children to be happy and good.

    We try to get outside at least a little bit every day, which is sparse compared to Charlotte Mason’s suggestion of a whopping 6 hours a day.  But today…..

    Z wanted to go to the “park with swings”, so we got up and ready early and set off at 8:45. The walk to the park is really lovely, down a tree lined path, over a bridge, and across a levee next to a river.  As we walked we looked at the trees by the river, and talked about how some were changing colors, how fall is coming, how pretty red leaves are. I’d brought the camera, and Z picked things for me to take pictures of, and as we took pictures we slowed down and really looked at the bee, the snail, the dandelion.



    We got to the park and played for a bit, but while the day had started out coolish, it was getting hot.  I told Z it was time to go, and following no logic whatsoever I decided to walk the other way down the levee – something we’d not done before.  As we walked we gathered rocks to paint when we got home (anything to distract her from the sadness of leaving the park).

    After we’d walked for a little while, I remembered that there was an inlet into a nature reserve area off of the levee. I hadn’t been there in years, but the last time I had, there had been rabbits, so I was hopeful.

    Entering the area, I told Z that animals lived there, and that if we were really quiet, we might see some. It was as though I’d cast a magic spell. For 45 minutes she was nearly silent as we walked through trees and flowers, whispering questions about signs we saw.  The only sounds were the calls of birds and the crunching of leaves under our feet. It was so quiet that A fell asleep in the stroller.

    The beauty was stunning. Colors complimented and contrasted, the variety of  textures  was inspiring. We walked until Z said her legs were tired, and then she got in the stroller and we walked some more. She gestured for  me to come to the front of the stroller and whispered, “Momma, I like this place.” When I told her we could come back anytime we wanted, her smile was gigantic.






    On the way home she stopped and excitedly pointed at a pine cone.  In somewhat of a rush to get home, I brushed it off until she said that it looked like an animal – it had eyes!  Looking closer, I realized that it did appear to have eyes, and she deemed it a “pinecone animal” and named it Rosicella.  Of course, Rosicella came home with us.


    I know Z learned a lot being outside today, taking in the beauty of the world. She learned about what bees do and that some trees change colors before others and what jackrabbits do when you get close to them.  She learned the value of silence, the virtue of observation.  She probably picked up any number of things that I didn’t notice and that she can’t put into words. For that I am incredibly grateful.

    But perhaps more than that, I’m grateful for what I got out of our morning outside. Walking in the quiet, in the peace and beauty of growing things, I felt enlivened, inspired, renewed.  I came out of our walk more centered; ready to face the noise and bustle of life.

    We left the house at 8:45 and got back at 1. My feet are sore, but my soul is full.

    At Home Retreats

    Saturday, August 29th, 2009

    I find it easy, in the hustle and bustle of my life, to let the important things slip away in my rush to do the mundane.  I forget to exercise regularly or email my Mama.  Periodically, I find it worthwhile to set aside some special time for what is really crucial, not just urgent.  This summer I did that twice.

    Silent Saturday, inspired by this fantastic book, was a revelatory experience, and has led to other, smaller, attempts to bring silence into my life.  A long walk (sans iPod) early on a Sunday, or just doing the dishes without the TV on, have really awakened me to my own life.

    My week practicing the Liturgy of the Hours using a pocket breviary has adjusted how I pray.  Stopping seven times a day, morning and night, to praise and petition the Lord brought Him more fully into my life than He had been for a long time.  I purchased the full three volume breviary, and have been praying the Offices now for two weeks.  I feel lighter and more grounded simulatneously, and I especially feel the Spirit more at work since I take time at lunch to pray the Midday Office.

    There are several excellent books to craft your own at home retreat, doable on your time frame and with very little expense (a recession retreat, if you will…).  My Mormon friends might enjoy 21 Days Closer to Christ, Evangelical Christians should find The Purpose Driven Life a good fit, and Catholics can gain new perspective from The Rosary.  In truth, though, I’ve read all of these books and done the spiritual pracitices, and found so much good for my life.  All of the books left me increasingly aware that Christ is real and present, and cares for me.

    Have any of you experimented with an at home retreat?  Or if you pick up one of these books, please comment on your experience.  May God bless you on your journey.

    How do you refill your well?

    Thursday, August 27th, 2009

    We are all so busy, working in and/or out of the home.  We give, give, give, and I think it’s so important to take a moment every now and then to refill your well, to recharge your batteries (whatever metaphor you prefer).  How do you refill yours?

    Today I refilled my well by taking a moment to soak up some sun and pray…