December 30, 2012

Auld Lang Syne : JT style


I'm a little in love with James Taylor.
That voice — it's like butter (I say in my best New York accent).

James Taylor's songs have been woven into the background of my life ever since I can remember. My parents had his early albums on vinyl, his newer releases we purchased on cassette, and now I own them all on CD. His musical career exactly spans the entire length of my life. His first album was released the year I was born and he continues to make music and tour today.

I remember singing along with "Sweet Baby James" on a family road trip circa 1978. I watched the scenery pass outside my window and relished a line from that song —"with 10 miles behind me and 10,000 more to go." I loved the notion that there were so many more miles ahead. So much promise. A long journey that was just beginning.

My list of "Things to do in This Lifetime" included seeing James in concert and I finally got to see him perform several years ago when he came to Missoula. I cried the entire time. I think my husband thought I'd lost my marbles (Honestly, I was a little concerned too).

My mother once said "That's one of the things I'm going to miss when I die . . . James Taylor's voice." I soooo agree. Gosh, I'm really going to miss it. 

But I'm here now and it's almost the new year so I'm listening to this song and thought you might like to hear it too.

Happy New Year friends.  Here's to all the miles we have ahead of us!

December 27, 2012

Holiday crumbs & bits

Whew! We did it. Another Christmas.

Now it's "hang time" — that nebulous, hazy space between a holiday and the start-up of everyday life. There's lots of sleeping in, lots of lounging in jammies, and lots of munching on leftover things. Outside it snows in fits and starts.

My mind is already moving into the new year. I'm all a-swarm with thoughts — plotting, planning, daydreaming, scheming . . .

Dear 2013, 
Let me share a few of my thoughts and hopes with you . . .  

December 24, 2012

Christmas wishes

Wishing you peace, joy, and a very merry Christmas.


this peace-promoting barn is just a few miles up the road from our house ~ love it

December 19, 2012

Pieces of Christmas

How is it that it's almost Christmas and I'm still making runs to the post office and daily emergency shopping excursions? Geez.

It's been cold, cold, cold. I keep thinking about flannel nightgowns — the kind I wore as a little girl that went all the way to my ankles and had long sleeves. I kinda want one. Has anyone ever made one? I wonder if it would be a beginner-type sewing project or if I'd end up wearing a bizarre flannel tent.

December 17, 2012

Thank you, Mr. Rogers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”  

      — Fred Rogers

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. When Mr. Rogers passed away in 2003 I was heartbroken. In my mind he was one of those people who seemed almost saintly and therefore immortal. The world felt a little less kind now that he was gone.

Tonight I came across this quote, posted in the wake of the recent tragedy and I was reminded of why so many people loved him. 

Thanks Mr. Rogers. 

Weekend in Philipsburg

We spent Saturday night in Philipsburg. It felt good to get away. No internet. No television channels.

It was cold, and the fire in the stove burned all day and night to keep the house warm. It was just the four of us. Our small family, together.

My favorite parts:

~ Walking the dogs at the town park. I love our goofy, misfit pack of dogs.

~  Seeing Emma reading "The Outsiders." I read it at her exact age and to say that I loved it would be an understatement. I still own my ragged, dog-eared copy.

~ Watching "Home Alone" together as a family. We watch it every year, along with a few others — "Elf," "Christmas Vacation," "Rudolph."

~ Hearing my daughters chatting, giggling and making midnight snacks in the kitchen as I laid in bed.

Being together felt like such a gift this weekend. Life is so precious, so tenuous, such a fragile gift. 

These past few days I've thought a lot about that gift and what it means to embrace life and how being in a state of fear can diminish joy. I am scared but I know I need to try to operate from a different place, for myself and for my family.

In this world there is much to fear, that is true. But there is much to celebrate, much to embrace, and so much beauty and love. My heart aches for all of it — the crushing sadnesses and the racing joys.

Wishing you peace.

December 14, 2012


This morning I have been watching some of the continuous coverage coming from the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. Reports say that at least 27 people, mostly children, have been killed and that 3 others are in the hospital.

I am horrified beyond words and my heart feels torn apart for the parents of those children. I simply cannot imagine the panic and horror of racing to that school and not finding your child among those at the evacuation site. Their precious, sweet grade-school children.

News like this is so confusing. So unfathomable. How can this happen? How can people capable of such acts be living among us?

I just don't know what to say.

December 13, 2012


A Woman Reading by a Window by Danish painter, Vilhelm Hammershoi

As promised I'm writing today regarding the article I recently read about introverts. I've always know that I am an introvert. I've just never given it much thought until now.

You can read the short article by Sophia Dembling here

I was surprised to find I identify with every single one of the nine "signs" Dembling highlighted. She put words to feelings I thought were unique to me or made me some sort of whacky eccentric — I'd never thought of them as part of being introverted. 

Dembling points out that while extroverts are energized by time with other people, introverts are drained by it. Introverts gain their energy and power through reflection and solitude. Ahhhh, yes.

Our culture, however, is geared toward extroverts. The pressure to enjoy parties, chatter, and lots of interpersonal interaction can lead people to think that an inward orientation is a problem instead of an opportunity. Introverts can often be lead to feel that they're wrong or lacking in some way. I know there have been plenty of times when I felt like I was an anti-social freak because I didn't want to accept a social invitation or felt like I just didn't have the "energy" to "chitchat" with someone. I've even found myself needing extra sleep after socializing. How weird is that?

Since a lot of writers seem to be introverts, I began wondering about bloggers, as a whole.

Then I started wondering a whole lot of things. Here are some of them: 

~ Are a lot of bloggers introverts?

~ Are my friends and family members introverts or extroverts? How will knowing that info about them help me change the way I interact with them?

~ How does an introvert live harmoniously with an extreme extrovert? (yes, my husband is about as extroverted as they come) How do we, as a couple, make sure our social needs/quiet time needs are both met?

~ Do people tend to get progressively more introverted? (I think I am.) Like, will I eventually end up a hermit?

Hmmm . . . I must find out more.

My friend Steve, who's an introvert too, told me about this book: Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. I'm going to read. I also saw another book that sounded good called Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength.

Meanwhile, I'd love for any of you with thoughts to leave me a comment here on the blog or email me. Bring on the insight folks!

December 12, 2012

Live a Quiet Life

I started the day with a huge list of things to do, but somehow I got distracted and found myself, um . . . surfing the web. Guilt.

But then I came across this poster and I was so smitten with it that I felt vindicated and proud of myself for clicking the appropriate links and somehow discovering it. 

And then I thought of you, all my blog peeps. I thought they're gonna like this too. We're kind of a quiet life folk, aren't we? Always puttering around, making and doing or at the very least thinking about making and doing.

You can have your own 24" x 32" version of this poster by ordering it from this site. Through the end of 2012, all of the proceeds from the sale of this poster will go to Many Hopes, an organization committed to loving and educating children who have endured the worst of poverty and exploitation in Kenya. For more information, Visit the Many Hopes website.  Kinda cool, huh? (You can get it in black, blue, or green too). I think I'm going to ask for one for Christmas!


Speaking of "being quiet" I read a really interesting article on introverts yesterday. I want to tell you all about it but the sands are quickly funneling through my hourglass today so I will have to do it tomorrow. 

Hope everyone is staying warm, and dry (it's SNAINING here - nasty combo of snow and rain, ick). See you tomorrow!

December 11, 2012

Easy paper ball ornaments

Paper Ball Ornaments (hang individually or string a whole garland)

You need:
- Pretty paper (ooooh, so fun)
- Paper circle punch or scissors and a circle template
- Double-sided tape (or glue)
- Twine

: Cut or punch out at least four circles for each ball (5 or 6 look fancier).

: Fold each circle in half

: Tape (or glue) each folded circle on top of one another, making a small stack. Place your twine, then seal the final edge to form ball.


December 10, 2012

O Holy Night

Saturday night I sat snuggled in bed, swimming in flannel and cotton, reading, and waiting for the phone on my nightstand to bring me some news. My brother and sister-in-law were clear across the country, in a birthing room, nearly 8 hours into labor. 

The deep darkness of night settled all around the house and snow fell quietly outside my window. I waited. I waited. I made last-minute pleas for the health of my sister-in-law and for that new little person, trying to be born. I wondered, boy? or girl? big? or small? sooner? later?

Finally, around 10:30 a text popped up from my other brother, "Baby here. Dan will call you with the details. Yay!" I held my phone and waited. A few minutes later it rang and my brother let me know that I had a perfect new nephew, Parker. Yay, indeed.


Later, as I thought of the birth and its juxtaposition to the Christmas season I remembered a quote I once heard.

"Each night a child is born is a holy night."

These lovely words are part of a song written by Sophia Lyon Fahs. (You can read about her here.)


Just hearing that a baby is born can send me right back into the delivery room, to the births of my own two children. The wonder and deep awe comes right back to the surface and I can feel that same golden dreamy feeling again. I wonder if parenthood is such that once you've witnessed the miracle of birth you can always easily revisit that sacred place. I hope I always can. There's no place like it.

Congratulations to my brother Daniel, his wife Jennifer and big brother Cooper. Parker is a lucky little guy to have the three of you!


December 9, 2012

Busy as Elves

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Things are busy, busy, busy . . . and the snow arrived Friday night to add an extra dash of holiday spirit. I rallied everyone out of the house with a trip to Dairy Queen for ice cream and a drive around the neighborhood to look at all the Christmas lights. We opened the front door and found a full-on blizzard outside. The short drive to Dairy Queen was quite an adventure — large drifts, cars cautiously navigating unplowed streets. At one point it was blizzarding sideways. Just a solid whiteout heading from West to East. I loved it.

All of the houses in our neighborhood are gussied up with lights and wreaths and some have those crazyhuge blow-up things — 10-foot tall Santa balloons and whathaveyou. It's fun to see all the different styles and tastes in lighting and decor.

After that little adventure we hunkered down for most of the weekend, only venturing out when necessary, although the girls did gather their friends for a lot of sledding and snow play. Being one who isn't too fond of the cold, I was waiting indoors (where it was cozy), prepared with hot chocolate when they came piling back inside.

The polymer clay snowmen I made are now standing in my Christmas village. I am pretty proud of how they turned out. They stand about 1-1/2 inches tall and have real twig arms from the spirea bush out front.

Kate got bit by the creativity bug today and got busy melting chocolate and crushing candy canes (results in marshmallow photo above). She hummed Christmas songs while she worked — sweet girl.

And Izzy? Well she just follows me all around the house asking "Now what are we doing?" "Where are we going now?" "Can I eat some of that too?" "Should we take a nap together?" Oh, that FACE.

December 6, 2012

Happy Saint Nicholas Day

December 2, 2012

Tree hunt

Some years we're bundled up like Randy in "A Christmas Story," plodding along through two feet of snow. This year the snow is still up too high so we clomped through the rainy forest, searching for our 2012 Christmas tree.

True to tradition, Gary couldn't settle for any tree less than the perfection he was envisioning. The girls and I couldn't feel our toes. And there was a brief period of time where Gary forged ahead and we thought he'd gotten lost. It wouldn't feel right without any of these elements.

In the end, he found the ultimate tree.

Tonight we're digging out the boxes of ornaments and putting on Sinatra's "White Christmas." Time to deck the halls.