Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LA extras.

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Our trip to LA was special for lots of reasons, many of which will stay nestled in our hearts for years to come. Some of the most special things happen when you least expect them, which is exactly what happened when we stopped in Los Alamos to do little more than use the restroom and stretch our legs. We were met with a small and lovely bakery, which had just been adorned with hand-painted signs by one of Jeffrey's favorite sign painters. We also spent a sun-soaked morning visiting two LA-area lighthouses, which was especially enjoyable for me because I have an odd and unexplained fascination with lighthouses of all kinds.

Small moments are often the best moments and these pictures were captured during what could be described as some of the smallest moments of our trip, which ended up being some of my very favorites. (As a note, that final picture is actually a lighthouse! It's located at the very top of that gable you can see up there!)

For the curious: the bakery we visited, the vine-covered hotel, the first lighthouse, the second lighthouse.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

what i'd really like to say to teachers.

At the age of eight, I decided to become an educator. There was the time when I wanted to be a librarian (still wouldn't mind it!), a veterinarian (until I realized I couldn't deal with the aftermath of my childhood dog's run-in with a car [he was fine, by the way]), and a personal trainer (that one still mostly baffles me), but in my heart, I always knew I would be a teacher. Many people think it's because my mom teaches (phenomenally, might I add), and I spent countless after-school hours in her classroom. I'll be the first to admit that those beautiful hours probably played a big part, but my mom never once steered me in any certain direction, and my desire to teach came from somewhere inside me. I think it was rooted in me from the start.

Teaching is a hard, hard job, and it's often thankless. It is my belief that educators put their entire hearts into everything involving their jobs. They are not separate from their careers — how could they be? And that boils down to feeling every ache and groan of the job way deep down in the gut.

In the past month, I have seen more negative media directed at teachers than I ever have before. Don't get me wrong, I've seen my fair share of hurtful, empty commentary in my time as a teacher, but in the past month it's been everywhere. I make a conscious choice everyday to ignore that noise. It's not helpful, it serves no purpose (keep in mind, I'm not referring to constructive criticism), it's misguided, and it's mostly wrong. But even those of us who choose to stay away from that which is not uplifting are occasionally blindsided by the snippet that unknowingly worms its way into our atmospheres.

And this is what I'd like to contribute to the overflowing noise that is modern-day education:

Teachers, in the midst of stormy skies, you are the sunshine. You give and give and expect nothing in return. Your well is bottomless. You work tirelessly to reinvent curriculum and interpret standards and when your efforts don't work, you never fear going back to the drawing board. You mend hearts. You give thousands of pep talks, daily. You hold hands and celebrate tiny triumphs that would simply go unnoticed by others. You teach what's not in textbooks. You buy supplies for those who are without.

You have an ocean of patience, an endless supply of compassion, and you know when all you can do to make it through is laugh. You ignite passion for reading and writing and mathematics and science and social studies. You make time for all the subjects, even when there isn't even a second left to spare. You pull time from thin air and then use it to teach invaluable lessons.

You find silver linings in mundane situations. You root for co-workers and students tirelessly and with vigor. You gather information about individual students and make a purposeful effort to learn more about Ninjago, insects, volcanoes, origami, hamsters, Doc McStuffins — just to forge a meaningful connection. You read books in theatrical, over-the-top voices just to watch eyes get wide and mouths drop open.

You search for the magic that you know is behind those twinkling eyes and you hold onto it and save it to remember that these are just kids standing in front of you with their big hearts and even bigger dreams — dreams that you can foster and share and lift up.

It is you who builds the raft and blows wind into the sails and keeps the ship floating. You are the glue and the glitter and the hope that is left when every tiny, tiny detail is boiled down to its barest bones. It is you.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

the (fabricated) story of my ring, part iii.

Quite some time ago, I posted a fictional series on my previous blog about the origin of my engagement ring. Truthfully, we found the set in an antique store in Micanopy, a small town outside of our college town. The woman who sold it to us knew very little about the set, other then when it was likely made. I have always been enamored with history, mostly because I love imagining people's lives and the goings-on during different time periods. The series is still one of my favorite things I've ever written, and for that reason I'd like to re-publish it here. It is entirely fictional and has no truth to it whatsoever, although it is fun to imagine otherwise. 

Part 1, here.
Part 2, here.
As George walked out of his apartment, he mourned for his typewriter. So much hard work had been tapped into those keys and it felt strange and a bit depressing to let it go. George wondered if other people had attachments to inanimate objects like the attachment he felt to his typewriter. Probably not, he thought to himself. He needed to make more friends.

Nadine stood perfectly still in her apartment. She walked to the kitchen and opened her refrigerator door to get some cool air. Although she almost instantly regretted her decision to write the Man With the Bright Red Socks a letter, she wasn't one for second guessing herself, so she decided to leave it be. Matilda was perched on Nadine's small, tan couch and Nadine joined her, waiting. She realized it could be hours before the man saw the letter, and even days before he decided to reply (if he decided to reply). Nadine opened a book, and read without understanding. Her thoughts were elsewhere.

George felt ridiculous. He felt completely and utterly alone without his typewriter and no human friends. I need a cat, he thought. He turned to open the apartment's lobby door and step outside when a piece of paper caught his eye. Certainly it's not for me, he thought, but it does look like it's attached to my mailbox. He stood still and considered reading the letter. But what if it wasn't for him? He decided to read it anyway. He blushed.

After reading a couple pages without really paying attention to them, Nadine decided it was high time she go and do something productive. She fed Matilda and gave her a small bowl of milk, something she liked to do on Saturdays. She thought of her friend Emma, who was probably doing something marvelous and exciting. She then thought about how boring her life was in this moment. As she sat in her living room with her cat, thinking of a man she did not know, writing a letter to that same man, and running back up to her apartment to think about how silly she felt for writing the letter to the man she did not know, opening her refrigerator door to get fresh air, reading a book without understanding — it all felt too predictable. With that, she grabbed her purse and headed outside.

Hearing rustling in the lobby, George ducked outside to catch his breath. His heart felt as though it had dropped into his hands and he felt silly for being so nervous about a letter from the woman in the hardware store. Surely it had to be the same woman with the floral skirt and hair just so. He memorized her handwriting, the curves of the letters, the way she addressed him as The Man With the Bright Red Socks. He relished the fact that she noticed small details and he felt himself melting into a puddle, a happy one no less.

Nadine walked outside and did not notice the missing letter, or the fact that George was standing just outside their apartment entrance. She was much too consumed by being someone who was unpredictable (something she was consumed by quite often). She thought about all the ways she could not be a bore. She thought of ways to be mysterious, unattainable. Someone who struck curiosity in others. These were all things she thought of quite often, almost as though she were rehearsing for a part in a play — herself, but different.

But what Nadine did not realize was that somewhere, The Man With the Bright Red Socks, who felt a connection to a (now broken) typewriter, was intrigued by her forwardness, her desire to be up front and transparent in any given situation. What she did not realize was that with just a few of her scribbled words on a piece of paper, The Man With the Bright Red Socks felt a lift in his spirits, the chance to make a friend other than a typewriter. How unexpected, he thought.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

succulents, gardens, and my dreamworld.

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I have this dream in my mind where I live in an airy, white farmhouse. It is situated on a large-but-not-too-large piece of land, nestled somewhere in the middle of the mountains. It's almost always raining in this dream, the natural light streams through the windows, I am enjoying a cup of tea, wearing a flowing, white dress (to match the white farmhouse?), there is a brick chimney, and there's something delicious bubbling on the stove. I am looking out a large, paned window onto my well-tended garden. My garden is full of many, many things — vegetables, fruits, flowers (ranunculus and daisies, please), and regardless of the season, it all grows just fine.

And in this dream, there were never really succulents present. That is, until we visited Jeffrey's grandparents' home and I saw the beauty and majesty of a yard overgrown with succulents. In my real life, I've had plenty of small, potted succulents, and I've loved each of them dearly, but it wasn't until I saw them growing in vast quantities that they became a part of my dream garden. And now, when I imagine this dreamworld, I see the succulents, too. And of all these things growing in my garden live in perfect harmony. And since it's a dream, they probably grow and survive without so much as a wink and a nod on my end.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


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This weekend was a Richard Gere movie marathon, lunch with my parents, Jeffrey's homecoming (after a week away), cooking decadent lunches, leisurely walks with Woody, staying up late, sleeping in, trips to the grocery store just for a fresh bunch of flowers, warm, hearty breakfasts, and dance parties in the living room.

P H O T O G R A P H S / /
( 1 || Woody in the evening sunspill, forever on-guard. )
( 2 || Warming oatmeal for late breakfast [recipe in this post]. )
( 3 || Fresh flowers, my favorite thing to buy just-for-me. )
( 4 || A deliciously satisfying lunch, made on a whim. )

Thursday, January 8, 2015

the (fabricated) story of my ring, part ii.

Quite some time ago, I posted a fictional series on my previous blog about the origin of my engagement ring. Truthfully, we found the set in an antique store in Micanopy, a small town outside of our college town. The woman who sold it to us knew very little about the set, other then when it was likely made. I have always been enamored with history, mostly because I love imagining people's lives and the goings-on during different time periods. The series is still one of my favorite things I've ever written, and for that reason I'd like to re-publish it here. It is entirely fictional and has no truth to it whatsoever, although it is fun to imagine otherwise. 

Part I, here. 

Nadine turned to leave, a handful of supplies in her arms, none of which looked even remotely useful (or familiar to her). As she left, she fell in perfect step behind the man with the bright red socks. The closer she got to her apartment, she worried the man with the bright red socks would think she was following him. She sat on a bench and waited. Watching the man, she noticed he stopped at her complex. Her heart swelled.

George was determined to fix his own typewriter with what little knowledge he had of tools and handy work. As he walked home, he thought about what would happen if he gutted his typewriter and then couldn't fix it. It was just then that he realized that the sweet woman with the floral skirt was in close step behind him. He wondered where she was headed and felt compelled to ask. As soon as the thought entered his mind, he realized how ridiculous it sounded. Just then, she stopped at a bench.

Nadine wondered how long she should sit on that bench before making her way to her apartment. She then wondered how possible it would be to ask George for assistance with her apartment decorating. Surely he knew something about handy work if he ventured into a hardware store. Not the kind to stand on the sidelines of her own life, she resolved to write him a letter. She would leave it on the row of mailboxes in the small lobby of the apartment. Surely he would see it then.

With her newly crafted plan, she walked into the complex and into her apartment. Sitting down to craft the letter to the man with the bright red socks, Matilda jumped onto her lap and Nadine patted her little orange head.

George sat down in front of his typewriter, gave it one last affectionate pat, and began taking it apart. He realized it was a mistake as soon as he began.

Dear Man with the Bright Red Socks,

Please forgive me if this letter is perceived as intrusive. I saw you at the hardware store today at around 2pm and wondered if you could help me with a bit of decorating. I'm concerned about the weight of one particular piece I'd like to hang and was wondering if I could get your advice. You remind me of someone I once knew.

Nadine (Apartment 3B)
The letter sounded impersonal, formal even. Nadine wondered if it would come off as such. The last bit sounded out of place and silly, but she couldn't bring herself to cross it out. She sealed it in an envelope and took it downstairs to the mailboxes. She labeled the envelope: Man with the Bright Red Socks. She dashed back up to her apartment, sat, and waited.

George looked at his typewriter. Why had he assumed he could fix it on his own? He felt a bit dizzy. His dear old, trusty typewriter seemed to look back at him with sadness. George thought it might be best to get some fresh air.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

december favorites.


1. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman || This is everything I look for in a good book. It seamlessly blends history and fiction, it involves interesting, complex characters, it grabs its reader on the first page, and it manages to tie in a beautiful love story without being too precious. This was certainly one of my best reads of 2014 and may even be one of my best reads of all time.

2. Bite Beauty Luminous Crème Lipstick (in Zivoli) || When it comes to lipstick, I can be especially picky. Something that makes its way onto my lips needs to be created with special care and consciousness. Bite Beauty products are entirely food grade without compromising on quality. This color is bold without being over the top.

3. Trader Joe's Turkish Apricots || Dried apricots are one of my favorite treats, especially when I feel the need to satisfy my sweet tooth without doing too much damage. Look for apricots that are a natural brown-orange color instead of those that are bright orange. I like this bag from Trader Joe's because it's organic and doesn't break the bank.

4. Seabuckthorn Face Oil || Facial oils are a luxurious and nutritious way to show your skin some love. This Badger face oil is especially wonderful in the winter time when my skin tends to lean toward the drier side. I use two pumps on my face and neck at night after cleansing and toning my skin, and I use half a pump under my makeup in the mornings. In the summer time, I like this face oil, which is also made by Badger.

5. Hoop Dream Earrings (in yellow gold) || Jeffrey gave me these delicate hoops for my birthday in October and I've hardly taken them off since then. They're whisper thin, which I think is quite elegant and lovely.

6. Meyer's Clean Day Soy Candle (in Iowa Pine) || This is the perfect candle to burn when you're not quite ready to say goodbye to the piney scent of a good ol' Christmas tree!

Friday, January 2, 2015

a resolution for 2015.

newyearpost Life is, inevitably, busy. I am aware of this fact during some seasons of my life more than others. And sometimes, when things get busy, we are tempted to cast off some of life's simpler pleasures in order to make way for the necessary ones. They are, after all, necessary and can't be left to the wayside quite as easily as some of those things that might make one's heart sing.

And don't get me wrong, I experience some of those simple pleasures while carrying out necessary life tasks, but there are certain things we do just because we like doing them, and I fear that I sometimes let those things go too easily when life becomes a bit overwhelming and I must simplify in order to make my head stop spinning and my brain stop moving at a million miles per minute.

One thing that often gets cast aside rather abruptly is this blog. I have been a blogger for nearly six years. In those six years, I have come to love sitting down at the computer and typing through my feelings or chronicling some of the best moments of my life. I like sharing them with you, but I also like writing them for myself. I like going back through my archives and reading about what was important to me during this time two or three years ago. I like giving my photos a space to live and I like writing words that mean something to me, and might mean something to someone else. And even though I like all of these things (really, really like them), this blog is usually the first cut when I'm looking to lighten my load.

In 2015, it is my resolution to keep this space current and to make it a priority in my life. I enjoy writing here. I enjoy taking photos that will ultimately end up on this space. I enjoy sharing my feelings — the happy ones and the complicated ones. I enjoy sharing the occasional recipe that was shaped in my tiny kitchen, in my tiny home that's filled with big love. I enjoy hearing from you when you feel compelled to write to me.

I enjoy all of these things and it is my endeavor not to let this little blog slip into the shadows and collect dust until I make the time to brush it off and start over again. This year, I want to write frequently. Maybe not everyday, but many days. I want this space to be full of breath and life that can hold all the memories I want to remember. For me and for you.

P.S. Happy 2015, sweet friends and readers! (And, last year's resolution.) xo

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