Sunday, January 11, 2015

Make A Joyous Sound

We've been super lucky lately.  The holidays were great.  Christmas in Cincinnati with family and old friends and lots of little ones to taunt and snuggle and read to. And then the lead up to New Years back in Cicero with Scott in for a long visit. Getting to watch how happy Dan was with his twin in town was amazing. Then a bunch of good friends in our house who braved the cold to come to our homemade tomato soup and cheese sammie New Years party. Super special few weeks.

It also feels like we've seen loads of great live music lately at Fitzgerald's and the Hideout.  Dan and Scott playing together. Dan and Ziegenhagen and Liesl at the Hideout.  And last night we saw a bunch of country sets at the Hideout rounded out by Nora O'Connor. And then the show slid into a deejayed dance party--Dan and I shaking it and being silly together.

I feel happy. I feel surrounded by love. I feel good at loving other people. And I feel lucky lucky lucky.

I also think this is the year when we will meet our baby. 2015 and our family will grow a bit. It's exciting and terrifying and wonderful.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Morton Arboretum's Illumination show is totally worth it. If you didn't make it this year, you should plan to go next year. 

Pretty lights and a few special interactive bits (hug a tree, sing to a tree), plus enough big fire drums along the trail to keep you from freezing.  Our favorite bit was probably the light show on the hill that was choreographed to classical pieces. 


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hiking on the 1st Day of the Year




Turns out the best thing to do on the first day of the new year is take a chilly walk on the prairie. Extra nice that Scott was in town for the family walk. 

We were cold, but happy.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Years Day 2015

What a lovely year 2014 turned out to be. I mean that on a very micro-just-in-my-life-quieting-and-becoming-settled-and-smoothing-into-a-small-loving-thing sort of way. Important to clarify because the much larger world was frightening and disappointing in so many ways this year. But my tiny isolated world was rich with family and friends and the kindness of strangers and creativity and reading and becoming still and better at being a friend and maybe even a better human.

I blogged infrequently, and this is often a place where I try to slow down and think things through with words. But this past year, I spent a lot more time quietly thinking inside and alone in my noggin.  That was important and good and helpful.

But now it's New Year's Day. . . maybe my favorite day of the year.  I can't help but take stock of the previous year and dream big dreams for the coming year. I throw clutter away. I organize things. I cook savory cold winter meals and try to remember that simple is often better than complicated. I am terrible at that last one. (for example: for New Year's Eve, I planned a "simple" grilled cheese and tomato soup dinner for a small group of friends. That's a meal that usually takes me about 12 minutes to get on the table for me and Dan.  But I couldn't just open a can of Campbell's tomato soup for people I love. 3 hours of soup making, another 2 of bread making and sandwich item prepping. Crazy. . . but it was delicious.  Sometimes, though, friends just need a cup of tea and cinnamon toast because they're there for your company and listening and warmth, not to be impressed by your cooking prowess. Important to remember. . . ).

So, here's what I want (all within my power to get) from 2015:

1. A baby. I think this will be the year that a teeny-tiny lands in our laps. I can't wait to meet them. . . but I also can't wait to meet the dad that I know Dan will be. It's hard to imagine even more love in my life, but I so want my heart to grow in that way.

2. To be really present for the people in my life. To listen and support my giant family--both the biological and the chosen.

3. To grow a small creative business. If it grows in the future? Super. But for now, I just want to get over my nervousness about failing and just use the act of throwing myself in to learn new things. Exciting.

4. To learn how to make croissant dough and then translate that into morning buns like the ones we ate a few years ago at Tartine's in San Francisco. It may seem like a small goal compared to the other things in this list, but that trip on the west coast bloomed something in me and Dan. We flew home more in love and together than ever before. The feeling has lasted and grown and it makes me want to create a tangible edible piece of that magic at home to celebrate that.

5. To continue on my road of remembering who I am and what I am capable of--which means writing and being wildly creative and learning ukulele and not setting limits on myself based on fear. I can do anything I put my mind to. . . you can, too. Join me in this.

So, for today, I'm just going to relax and be contemplative and enjoy the quiet of the house. The brothers Phillips are here, listening to music and being quiet.  LP is curled up nearby. There's actual sun slanting through the windows and glinting off the Christmas tree in a winter in which the rare amount of sunlight in Chicago can be tallied by the hour rather than by the day. It feels lovely and filled with luck and happiness.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Riding the ferry to Ocracoke right now and I can't believe how different this year is from last. Mostly because I'm so happy. There's no panic, no hidden panic. There's just big deep breaths and smiling smiling smiling.

If you are crushingly sad or worried in a way that closes you up inside, please get help or take a break or practice yoga or something.  The world is a spectacular joy-filled place. I promise.

Okay, I look a little crazy eyed there. But that's a lie. That smile is a genuine sane smile . :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Pillows on Fivetrees

Hey Folks! My darling husband bought me a digital drawing pad for my last birthday and it's come in super handy this year of creating.  Hot off the presses are these new pillows that I designed/drew, had printed on fabric and then sewed into cute little plush items for the nursery or kiddo's bedroom.

Posted in the fivetrees shop just today. . . . Hope you like them!

And with an impending vacation on the horizon, I suspect more animal head designs or scaled down ornament sized pieces will be on their way before the holidays are upon us!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer is winding down

Despite the cool weather this summer, it's been a pretty great year for the garden--loads of tomatoes, beans, cukes, nasturtiums, chard, swiftly growing basil, zucchini, squash, and plenty of fresh herbs.  And beyond the weather, it was nice to have the time to really tend to the garden.  I stuff an awful lot of food growth in to a teeny tiny space and so weeding and trimming and staking regularly makes a huge difference in yield and overall garden prettiness.

Spending time gardening is curative and restive--both things that, frankly, I needed quite a bit of.  It makes a small sustainable peace within me. The joy of stewarding the land (even such a small plot). The connection to my family and my family's history of gardening and farming. The pleasure of--for a few short months--eating food that tastes deeply like food and that I know is chemical free and sustainably grown. The pride that comes from feeding that food to my friends and family. Gardening can truly fix what ails you.

There was a moment while picking beans in July and throwing them into my rubber trug, that they made this sound--a little hollow thump and roll--that I suddenly remembered so clearly hearing as a child when helping out on the farm. It was a moment that made me nostalgic and glad. It's a pleasing sound and I felt lucky in that moment to have heard it and remembered for a moment weeding and picking in the garden in the bottomlands with Mom and Dad and Rich and Grandma and Grandpa Stewart.

And so, a wonderful summer, and somehow it's already coming to a close. This may be the best summer I have ever had. I suspect that Dan might say the same. But the hyacinth beans are blooming and the cicada are grinding long and loud during our front porch Scrabble games and butternut squash are beginning to show up at the farmer's market--all sure signs that things are winding down.

In honor of the close of summer coming, I thought I would borrow from Pip from Meet Me at Mike's, a fun way to take stock of what is happening right at this very moment. . .
Making : Animal head pillows, hoping they turn out.
Cooking : Just found a recipe for California Roll Nachos.  Yes, please.
Drinking : Iced Tea, by day.  Gin and Tonics by night.
Reading: I don't think I want to admit to what I am currently reading, but David Mitchell's new book is on its way to the house.
Wanting: More core strength.  My new thing is not worry about thinner, only stronger.
Looking: at all my favorite blogs as I do every weekend.  a great mix of design and farming/cooking sites. One of my faves is Whole Larder Love--farming, hunting, gathering in the Down Under.
Playing: Scrabble with Dan, but also trying to learn ukulele
Deciding: What to do with my life.  How at 40 can I not know what I want to be when I grow up?
Wishing: I could have all the dogs
Enjoying: Dan's and LP's company.
Waiting: For a match with a birth mother.  I am ever so ready to mother somebody.
Liking: Lots of cool kid's stuff on pinterest. While we wait, I am planning.
Wondering: where I will be this time next year
Loving: Dan, LP, everyone, life, being creative, reading, being settled and centered
Pondering: How to make a cloth totem pole and beautiful tailored wool clothes for dolls
Considering: inviting people over while Dan is out of town--pretty late notice, though.
Watching: whatever I want. Dan goes to Hopscotch later this week.
Hoping: that I will continue to be happy and well
Marvelling: At what a difference a year makes.
Needing: Cool weather again so that I can start cooking fall food.
Smelling: So sad. . . I don't really have a sense of smell
Wearing: A new Boden tunic--far too often
Following: Steve Mulcahy on facebook. He cracks me up.
Noticing: the signs of the impending end of summer.
Knowing: that soon turning forty-one-derful will be lovely
Thinking: about what big project to knit next.  Need a trip project.
Admiring: This Naterade cartoon. being good too each other is sooooo important.
Sorting: through critters for posting on etsy.
Buying: A small boost to my fall wardrobe from Boden.
Getting: ready for our fall vacation to the Outer Banks.
Bookmarking: Library books.  having a library card and using it has been amazing.
Disliking: Ebola. . . there should be a much harsher word for this, but is this freaking anyone else out?
Opening: An Amazon box soon filled with books for our late September vacation
Giggling: at old Frank Sidebottom videos.  So joyful and weird.
Feeling: Lucky
Snacking: On cherry tomatoes. They're coming out our eyeballs.
Coveting: Moleskin Livescribe Notebooks, check it.
Wishing: That I get to go to MFK for my birthday dinner.
Helping: Hopefully, my friend Piper with her new teeny boy when her man returns to work
Hearing: Dan practicing in the basement.

You should try this.  It's fun.  Thanks, Pip!