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A teaser of my wedding dress
I missed this post last week, and I almost missed it this week. But I honestly feel that taking the time to have gratitude for the things in my life at present is transforming me. To put it simply, I am happier. I am learning to be more compassionate and less controlling, more accepting of myself and those around me, less reactive to stressful situations, and more joyful. Every moment is a new moment and a clean slate. Every day is sacred.

Here are some things in my life that rock my socks!

1. Soak, a festival of fire, music, dancing, gifting, volunteerism, waterfalls, and rain (and much more!) that I went to with friends and learned to love my friends and self more and more.
2. Going to get my wedding dress yesterday and trying it on for the first time!!!
3. The life of Kentucky (more on this to come in a future post).
4. The fact that it's summer vaca and yesterday I forgot that it was Friday, the day I normally would post this!
5. Being able to sit with a delicious egg and spinach burrito and a cup of coffee while writing.
6. The beautiful, beautiful people in my life. This is really one of the great things about getting older, isn't it? We learn what kind of people we want to surround ourselves with, and our friends are our friends purely because we love each other and that's all we have to gain from each other, is the joy of love.
7. The smell of jasmine in bloom.
8. Hot showers.
9. The many many many beautiful moments that make up a wedding day, because a wedding is more than just that one day: it's shopping with friends, toasting with friends, crafting with friends, solitary musings over vows, choosing readings with your loved one, the shared excitement and joy at the life you've chosen, texting mom questions, texting sisters questions...So many moments shared with so many people, all special.
10. Geraniums blooming in pots on porches.

What are you grateful for? Happy weekend. xo.


nom nom!

I am entering the end of the second day of a three-day detox, something that I wanted to start the summer off with after a stressful year of school and then some end-of-the-year celebrating.

I have never done a detox before, and I have to say that this one is particularly gentle and simple, especially if you are already a fan of veggies and whole grains. It basically consists of whole grains and fruits and veggies, with no caffeine, dairy, alcohol, meat, or simple sugars. I have started the past two mornings with a bowl of oatmeal with strawberries, for lunch yesterday I had quinoa salad, for dinner we ate brown rice with tons of awesome greens and veggies, for lunch today I had a large spinach salad, and for dinner, this amazing wheat berry salad. For more on my detox, go here.

Which brings me to the first ever "nom nom!" post! "Nom nom!" will focus on my discoveries about food that I suddenly feel everyone should know. What should you know? About wheat berries! What should you know about them? They are a whole grain, easy to prepare (if you have the time), and delicious. (Some of my readers have been eating them for ages, I'm sure; while others of you may be like me and have never tried them.) You can treat them like quinoa or couscous. In the salad above, I dressed them with olive oil, fig balsamic vinegar, lime juice, salt, pepper, cilantro, chopped mint, chopped arugula, cumin, coriander, and tarragon. Then I added everything delicious and wonderful that I could: celery, carrots, strawberries, avocado, spinach, purple cabbage, pea tendrils, red onion soaked in vinegar, garlic, and green onion.

Nom nom! So good!

Here's how to cook wheat berries: put 1 cup of wheat berries into 3 cups of boiling water for about 3 servings. Cook them on low heat for about 45-50 minutes (until soft and chewy), and then drain.

Enjoy! xo.



Bench outside of my neighbor's house

Happy Solstice!

Wishing you a wonderful and sacred longest day of the year. If you didn't stand on a hill, surprised by an amazing sunset in the midst of gathering clouds, then I hope you did something luscious to celebrate the start of summer. And if not, do something luscious soon.



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Gratitude brings us closer to the present moment. We become more engaged and more awake when we fill our lives and hearts with gratitude. This is something worth striving for every day, every moment.

1. Iced tea made from loose-leaf darjeeling.
2. Sun-soaked morning.
3. Sun-soaked afternoon.
4. A kitty meowing for attention.
5. The first day of summer vacation.
6. The smell of incense.
7. A freshly cleaned house.
8. Life's synchronicities.
9. A morning bike ride.
10. Now.

Have a wonderful weekend. xo.


34 by 35: Routine vs. Ritual

Take the time to smell the roses.

It's the last week of school, which means in four days, I will be enjoying days that stretch out like blank canvases. That means sleeping in, lounging around, wandering aimlessly around my house staring at books and projects, trying to decide what to accomplish, then getting caught up in a project and forgetting to eat and then realizing that it's 3 pm and I haven't really accomplished a whole lot, nor have I eaten anything yet. Then getting stressed because I'm not being as healthy or as productive as I wanted to be! Ah! Sounds...awful.

If you're anything like me, you actually do better with some routine in your life (you also live in denial of this fact and love breaking out of routine because the word "routine" itself sounds confining and, well, boring). For example, you are more likely to make that dentist appointment, get those taxes done, or make that gift when you have a structured day (wake, work, come home, exercise, eat dinner, etc).

So this summer, I am going to create a summer morning ritual (a much better word than "routine") which will hopefully jump start my days into a positive productive motion that will enable me to enjoy my time in a healthy and accomplished way. I will start off each day de-stressing in a purposeful way.

Here's the plan, inspired by the ladies at the Maven Circle:

1. When I wake up, I'm going to drink water and eat a small breakfast like a green smoothie, bit of yogurt, a banana, or a piece of toast. I habitually don't drink enough water, and it makes such a huge difference in my energy level and skin when I do. So hydration first thing, as well as a small snack to give me a little boost through step 3.

2. I am then going to read for at least a half an hour. Anything I want. Blogs or novels or articles. Just read.

3. I will then exercise. This might mean a walk, a hike, a run, a bike ride, a bike ride to a yoga class, or a Pilates DVD. It might be 10 minutes of exercise or an hour, but every day I'm going to do something.

4. Shower, brush teeth, get dressed. Even if I plan on staying home all day, I will feel refreshed and ready for the day.

5. Meditate for at least 10 minutes.

6. Eat a real meal, maybe some eggs or a sandwich. Something yummy and fulfilling.

Then I will start my goals for the a day, be they wedding plans or working on projects around the house or even just going and sitting by the river because it's too hot to do much else. At least I'll have started my day off in a healthy way.

What rituals or routines do you try to maintain to keep you healthy and productive?

Here's an update on my list. I've made a few minor changes based on some realities.

34 by 35 list of goals.
Deadline: Jan. 15, 2013

1. Wedding favors, embroidery design, and labels. Started to some degree.
2. Handmade bridesmaid gifts. One done, one almost done, two designed.
3. Creative aspect for the ceremony that is true to us. Perhaps a poem? Started.
4. Be super organized and thus more ability to relax as people start to arrive to town: create a calendar and stay on schedule. Going to revisit this on Friday. A bit off schedule.
5. Help with handmade invites and create a way to display photos. Invites in the mail.
6. Enjoy every second of our wedding day.

7. Build an herb spiral. Done but not planted.
8. Build a pond.
9. Landscape around redbud and apple tree. Sheet mulched and in progress.
10. Strawberry (and borage?) patch
11. Prep garden for spring 2013 planting
12. Try vermicomposting (again).

13. Slaughter 1 chicken myself.
14. Get baby chickens.
15. Help build new coop in side yard.
16. Get ducks. I'm honestly not sure that this is a realistic goal for this year because of the prep work that needs to be done.

17. Go to beekeepers meetings
18. Learn more about TPH management
19. Get a colony for new Langstroth hive It's too late for this, but that's ok. We didn't force it. B. built a hive and we're ready for more bees when the time is right.

20. Get a new passport
21. Save money for Fiji
22. Go backpacking this summer

Physical health:
23. Run a 10k
24. Get bike fixed. Done.
25. Bike to yoga 1x per week-2x per month With the exception of when I was sick, I am being pretty good with both 25 and 26.
26. Run/bike/hike 12-25 miles per week

27. Renew teaching cert. Done
28. Clean kitchen top-to-toe
29. Paint trim inside house
30. Make bedroom and closet curtains
31. Sand, stain, paint, and make front porch look pretty.

32. Learn to knit and finish at least one project Develop embroidery work and keep designing and creating.
33. Read 10 books, including one on film.
34. Continue to develop identity and readership for blog. Ideas and lists are being made.


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Sunflower by Liz Collins

What are you grateful for? Take a moment to reflect and be thankful. Happy weekend!

1. Sunflowers!
2. The creative people in my life.
3. The first cherries of the season.
4. Summer reading lists.
5. Crisp sunny mornings after a rainy night.
6. Cloudy days for sipping coffee and grading.
7. The approach of summer.
8. Streaks of light lingering in the sky well after 9 pm.
9. My talented and loving life partner.
10. Elephants.

Please feel free to comment with some of your own blessings in life. xo.


The Sunflower Project

Sunflowers represent the sun. They represent adoration, as they follow the sun's path across the day's sky. They are symbols and examples of the golden ration. They are a combination of beauty and utility. Bees love them. They are easy to grow and yet impressive. They are perfect for the permaculturalist because of their ability to provide shade, borders, beauty, seeds, oil, and food for the pollinators.

I love them.

In my dining room hangs the above photograph of a sunflower from my garden two years ago. Above it, a framed photograph from my mom of a field of sunflowers on a breezy Pennsylvania afternoon. On an adjacent wall hangs a close-up of two sunflowers with some baby's breath from a wedding bouquet, a photograph taken by my artistic friend Gary.

So I've dubbed our dining room the "Sunflower Room," and I'm asking for contributions. If you'd like to participate, I would love to have you mail or e-mail me your favorite sunflower photograph for me to frame and add to our Sunflower Room as a reminder of our community of friends, fellow bloggers, family, and so forth.

So if you'd like to contribute, please leave me a comment below. And thank you. 


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"T" by Jacob Magraw.

While my American literature students read The Great Gatsby, I was again struck by the importance of gratitude in our lives. These characters are corrupt, hollow men and women. They follow the siren song of the American Dream, or live in spiritless boredom, destroying everything around them, once they have it. They have no gratitude, only desire. Only greed, hunger, and  the belief that they will be filled by something that will only continue to eat them.

Thus, with great gratitude, I present my list for this week:
1. This beautiful and inspiring garden of "T" by the Seattle artist Jacob Magraw. So lovely.
2. Beginning a morning ritual, even if it's just a few simple, slight changes to my morning routine.
3. Being a teacher.
4. Having the ability to surround myself with people who inspire me and push me to do better, be better.
5. A moonlit bike ride over the St. John's bridge.
6. My breath.
7. For you, reader.
8. Digging in the dirt, planting food and flowers.
9. Self-improvement and growth. I am a garden that I must tend.
10. Stories.