Monday, February 28, 2011

How Did This Happen?

Yup, that's my little girl. Well, apparently, my big girl. She turned 7 just a couple of days ago.

Honestly, I'm wondering, how the heck did that happen? I remember her arrival into this world as if it were moments ago.

We have deliberately designed a lifestyle which puts our family first. We live in the moment with our kids. We meet them off the bus. We play together. We cook together. We eat meals together. We explore together. We snuggle. We talk endlessly. And, yet, still it seems that time is slipping away. How can that be?

I decided that maybe the best course of action is to hold her back. (I'll start saving for therapy now...) Starting with putting a hold on all birthdays.

I told my daughter repeatedly (and, my husband reinforced this, so he should really be contributing to the therapy fund as well) that we weren't going to celebrate her birthday because I didn't want her to get older. Not that six was some kind of stellar year. (Truth be told, there are some moments of her last year I wouldn't mind forgetting...) I even thought about felting a six on her crown. But, alas I finally realized (was it the tears welling in her eyes that gave it away?) she didn't think it was flattering or funny. By golly, she's been counting the days (since well before Christmas) that she would finally be seven. What's so magical about seven, I wonder? Time will tell.

So, I decided if she MUST continue to grow up (and, I realize that quite possibly the best is yet to come!) that we should party it up. We had SO much fun preparing for - and celebrating her 7th birthday that I'm tempted to share a few little details in the days to come. 

Where Art Thou?

Have you been missing me -- or, tell the truth, have you not even noticed I've been gone? :)

Last week was our school vacation week. And, instead of doing our usual get outta town maneuver (which usually involves crazy cross country traveling) we opted to have a staycation.

It was delightful. (Mostly.)

The secret to success?

Letting go. I took the week off. I put aside my massive, never-ending to-do list. I kept my littlest in her part-time. I spent the week "being" with my oldest daughter. After all, it was our birthday week. We shopped. We crafted. We had coffee (and apple juice) at the coffee shop. We cooked. We read. We danced. We sang. We made and played with playdough. We planned big birthday extravaganzas. We had lunch with Tutu (my mom - that's her grandma name). It was the first time in, well, nearly two years, that my eldest and I had significant chunks of time just the two of us.

Note to self --make more time for one-on-one time with each and everyone.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Maine Artists + Jars = Love

{a snip I grabbed from The Jar Project}

When I walked into my local coffee shop this a.m. a poster on the busy bulletin board caught my eye. You'll never guess why.

It has a big picture of a mason jar and the words The Jar Project.

Honestly, my heart started to flutter and my knees grew weak.

I know, I have such a wierd obsession with mason jars. I've told you, it's not my fault, it's genetic.


What is even cooler than the poster that drew my attention is the actual event. The Jar Project. The brain child of Portland-based artist Alex Sax, the Jar Project highlights the creative contributions of 60 artists with connections to Maine. The jars vary in size, color and texture and contain a range of genres and mediums. The jar is a nod to an era "when our lives moved at a slower pace and we had a stronger connection to nature, community and our sources of nourishment. Whether it is canned peaches, pickles, garlic or tomato sauce, or marbles, pennies, seashells or gumdrops, the items in jars add richness and piquancy to our lives, and keep vibrant a pre-technological vision of human existence."

Sigh. My jar love grows.

I'll be checking out the installation for sure.

In the meantime, do you have jars in your house...what's in them?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

These Totally Rock

Is this the most amazing find ever? Felted floor cushions that look like rocks. I'm totally, completely, utterly in love.

Created by renowned South African textile designer Ronel Jordaan, these freeform oversized floor cushions are made from 100% merino wool. Their hefty - though well-warranted--price tag means I won't likely see them in my house. But, I can dream....and, I can even think about trying to felt one myself, right?

If you are inspired to purchase, here's a link:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

It's a busy day here at our house. It's Monday. It's the 100th day of school. And, of course, as you likely know, it's Valentine's Day.
 I woke to a carefully laid out Valentine display courtesy of my eldest. Red roses from her and my husband; carefully chosen cards; and big hugs. Lucky me.

I had gotten both girls heart tees and socks. In a moment of weakness, it inspired me to suggest that my eldest wear 100 hearts in celebration of 100 days of school (she had told me before going to bed that she was going to wear 100 pieces of clothing and the thought of that much extra laundry still had me in convulsions).
 My daughter loved the idea. And, frankly, I was pretty impressed with myself. An easy win, I thought. Afterall, the dresser if filled with heart-adorned things.

Of course, minutes before we absolutely had to walk out the door, there was a near meltdown because we didn't have just the right number of hearts. And, she hated Dad's idea of cutting out hearts to stick in her pocket. Almost as much as she hated my idea of putting stickers on her hoodie. This near meltdown caused serious internal swearing and reminders about not coming up with such brilliant ideas ever again.

Just as I was about to blow a gasket and exclaim how much I hate Valentine's Day, she showed up with the remaining four hearts -- self-made, heart-shaped, red pipe-cleaner bracelets. Oh, how I love my little girl. She perseveres. And, her creativity propels success.

I hope to snap a photo of her heartfulness later, but just had to share the story now.

Whatever you are doing to celebrate love today, I hope it's special.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Calling All Potato Lovers

{photos via here, here and here.}

I just learned, courtesy of EatMaine that February is National Potato Lovers Month. Who knew? And, to think I was so focused on the other very important February "holidays" -- my birthday, my daughter's birthday, President's Day and, of course, Valentine's Day. (Truth be told, the focus in our house is on my eldest's birthday. In keeping with our love for advent calendars, she has created a very lovely and detailed advent calendar to countdown to her birthday. Yea, don't go there. I, clearly, have not explained advent well enough.) Anyhow...

Who comes up with these national celebrations? It never ceases to amaze me how there is something for everything. But, really, it all makes sense. Here, in Maine, it is the dead of Winter. Snow is piled high everywhere. And, for Maine-rs who have put away food from their gardens (or perhaps from others' gardens) for the winter, potatoes are pretty much the staple this time of year. So, we gotta love potatoes, it's what we've got.

Frankly, I could eat potatoes all the time. I like 'em mashed, boiled, roasted, in soups - you name it. But, I try to limit my intake...and, well, I'm not sure how this happened to my two Maine-born girls (I mean, if you are born in potato country, don't you have to like potatoes?) do not like potatoes. It really even pains me to type that. Not like potatoes?

Well, not surprisingly potatoes don't make it to our dinner table all that often. But, in the spirit of supporting Maine potato farmers (and my love for potatoes), tonight's dinner is going to be all about potatoes.

Even dessert. Yup, in Maine we have a special potato dessert. They are called Needhams (and many a Maine-r has their own recipe) and they are aptly named - because once you've had one you just need them more. Needhams are chocolates with a creamy filling that is potato based. You'd never know by tasting them - though it definitely adds to a creamy texture. It's always our surprise dessert for people visiting us from away. Don't they look delicious!?

How about you? Are you having potatoes tonight? How will you fix them?

PS. Yes, that's Vodka - made in Maine, with potatoes, of course!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Beginning of A Good Thing: Just{BE}Cause

Nearly 1,000 homemade cookies + an afternoon of socializing with some new and old friends=the beginning of something really good.


The vision? (Read more about the hatching of this idea.) Having fun and doing good.

Our initial idea was a cookie un-swap - a cookie swap with a twist, if you will. Instead of swapping cookies, we'd package them for the local Food Pantry as a mid-winter/pre-Valentine's Day treat.

Would people think we were crazy? Would they have fun and see this as a labor of love? Would they even come?

Well, we did it. And, they came armed with baskets of cookies and smiles -- and left eagerly planning months of projects to tackle.

Here's how it worked. We invited a small group of neighbors and friends to bring 50-60 cookies. We served up some yummy appetizers (my friend Amy who hosted the event at her B&B, the Benjamin Packard House, is a phenomenal cook...and made mini gourmet flatbread pizzas!) and beverages and packaged homemade cookies for a special treat for the local Food Pantry.

In the end, we packaged more than 70 bags of cookies. And, they look not only yummy, but special with the Whisker Graphics Divine Twine and Printables [if you are a regular follower, you know I'm addicted to their product!)] to give our packages a special look.

I know some of you are scoffing. Cookies? Who are you kidding? I {we} know we are not solving the painfully difficult problem of hungry families with cookies. But, maybe, just maybe, we are brightening a hard day? And, maybe, just maybe, we are fostering a tighter knit community. Maybe I'm crazy, but, I envision a place (which I'm lucky to have in my neighborhood) - like that of years gone by - where neighbors help neighbors in small ways - just{be}cause. Wouldn't that be a delightful switch from the overwhelming attitude of "what's in it for me" that sadly prevails in our world?

We are, we hope, in the process of inspiring this here - and, we'll keep you posted along the way in hopes that you'll start it in your neck of the woods, too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Husband Warned Me

He told me that this would happen.

Well, not exactly THIS.

But, he has said (repeatedly) that I should be careful what expectations I set..

He was right.

Do you remember this?

Or, this?

Yes, those baskets of holiday inspired crafting goodness made for my daughter?

She looked at me today and said, "Remember those baskets of holiday card making stuff you used to make me? What ever happened to those?"

My heart sank. I created a tradition my daughter loved and I failed to continue to execute it. Then, as is natural when one is confronting failure and/or disappointment, I got defensive. And, then I reverted back to sadness. Priority for tomorrow (amidst making up for yet another lost work day thanks to Mother Nature)? Putting together one of these's February and there are a lot of Valentines to be made, afterall.

I Heart Free Printables

My daughter and I have Valentine's Day on our minds. We working on "our vision" for Valentines for her class...and she was dreaming of a basket full of Valentine supplies. Suffice it to say, it wasn't a pretty scene. Unhappy with her heart cutouts and my ever brilliant writer suddenly at a loss for words AND the ability to craft letters with her pencil.

Wouldn't in figure, just after she is fast asleep, I'd come across these wonderfully fun and FREE printables from the wonderful Whisker Graphics

What to Do When Someone Else Calls the Shots

{image via here. you can buy this little rascal, by the way}

Yup, it's that day. 

Groundhog Day. 

That very odd American tradition when we wait for some silly little groundhog in Pennsylvania to determine our fate for the next six weeks.

Will the storm blanketing the US keep the little guy from seeing his shadow, giving us Northerners hope that Spring is on its way? Or, not? 

In the meantime, I'm thinking that Gourmet Mom On the Go has the right idea of a way to celebrate this crazy day. Get the details here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February: Updike's Take

In keeping with tradition at Maine-ly Home, here's John Updike's take on February. Have you gotten your copy of A Child's Calendar? It really is such a wonderful book with a monthly poem by Updike and beautiful illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman.

The sun rides higher
Every trip.
The sidewalk shows.
Icicles drip.

A snowstorm comes,
And cars are stuck,
Though road salt flies
From the old town truck.

The chickadees
Grow plump on seed
That Mother pours
Where they can feed,

And snipping, snipping
Scissors run
To cut out hearts
For everyone.