1.23.2015

misplaced promises.


I know it’s still January, not just because I’m bundled under a down comforter wearing heart-printed knee socks, but, a few days ago I spent an hour watching snow fine and shimmery as glitter float  down from a cloudless sky like so many misplaced promises.

I know it’s still January because everywhere I turn, people are talking about change. desperate for a fresh start and new mercies.

In my small town, all the world is white and I want some of it for myself. I want that light inside me, a brand new purity to wipe away all my tears and coat my soggy heart.

The trouble is, I'm not sure if an earlier bedtime or consuming mass quantities of kale is the answer. I’m not even sure “spending more time with family” or stubbornly resisting the pull of stress will wash me clean.

 Life feels upside-down, and logic has taken a wonky lean to the left.

Twenty three days into my best intentions, I toss half the night when I should be sleeping. I quit my exercise class because something had to give, and relationships trump toned thighs. The kale wilts while I devour triple chocolate chip cookies with Pastor Josh, and just outside my window the ground winks up in the sunlight.

Something in me is resisting the idea of making big plans for 2015, or setting major goals. I haven't even picked a word. (I may still be working on one for last year.)

I'm a big picture person by nature. A list-maker. One of my favorite things to do is to daydream about the future. Daydreaming makes my soul feel free, like good things are still possible, or like maybe there's still a shred of control resting within my grasp. Still, over the past few years, my dreams keep changing shape. They shift when I'm standing still. They lose their edge while I sleep. The things I used to dream about are, for the most part, off my radar for the moment.

Back in the day things were different. Time was my own, now when I steal a quiet hour for myself I  sneak off to get a hair cut or buy a new book. There are days it all seems right and there are others when the world seems desperately off-balance. I mourn those daydreams about a house at the beach. I know every life is complicated in its own way, but I look around sometimes and wonder what it's like to not worry about certain things. I used to live that, and now I can't even remember what it feels like. Not even a little bit.

The point of this isn't that I'm some kind of martyr or the Best Girl Ever, the point is, I worry every single day that I'm losing myself and the people I love. 

The other point is, I'm over here feeling like I'm trying to climb out of my own body.  It feels like spinning and rocketing then stopping on a dime. It feels lonely, sometimes. Painful, sometimes.

But.

My life is still good, even though it wants to boss my schedule around. Yep. It wants to keep cramming appointments into an already packed datebook. It wants my days to feel so unmanageable that I impulsively turn my back to the room while I'm stirring marinara and say, out loud, "someone else, take the wheel." (That was an honest prayer I prayed Sunday and I wasn't even trying to be funny.)

I am trying to build myself back up in ways that reflect more goodness, less self-pity and ego, less sack cloth and ashes to be sacrificed on the alter of Much Better Things That are Lost Forever.

But I was kind of crazy about my life and my ways.
I sorta always want to stay a free spirit.

Being a free spirit is the essence of who I am, so I guard it like the Hope diamond.
My wild heart is the source of my creativity, it's the thing that keeps me from fleeing life when it feels too scratchy and hard.

These days, I'm paying attention to what I need and when and where I can find it. I'm doing more listening, less talking. I'm giving myself permission to regroup in necessary ways, and discovering the path to regrouping is to simply Be. 

Be strong.

It turns out, that the economy of Always Enough applies even to me.
I can spend and keep spending my life for the sake of all others, but at some point the best service I can offer is to lock my door and read a magazine.

So, here's what I know right now. I know my house is quiet for the next hour, after which it will be Game Freaking On for the rest of the day/weekend/oh-my-gosh-Monday-is-a-holiday (oh wait that was last week!).

So I will spend this hour well.
I will wear it out.


That's honestly the extent of what I know.

So, my plans for today already include some angst/drama/inconvenience/stress. It's already packed with everything I need to keep running round in circles. The bad news is, I would have chosen differently. The good news is, I'm learning to trust this way more.

Life promises our plans are folly in the light of day. It can be gentle sometimes, but it’s January, and there will be fire if need be. The sky will burn, oceans will drain, and once again I will be knocked to my knees if that’s what it takes for me to hear over the drone of green smoothie recipes and enticing sales at anthropologie. None of that can ever make me new. I will  make my plans, but God has been ordering my days in the weirdest ways. I will follow the purity and truth even when it falls like misplaced promises, and I know for sure it’s this the path that will make me stronger.

 just sayin'.


apple pieke

3 lbs Granny Smith apples (about 6-8 apples) peeled and sliced (No substitutions on apple variety or the pieke will be too sweet)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 tablespoons butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
  1. Heat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 glass baking dish with butter. Add the sliced apples, 1 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Stir to combine and spread evenly across the bottom of the pan. Slice 1 tablespoon of butter into small pieces and dot evenly over the top of the apple mixture.
  2. In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, combine remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 8 tablespoons butter until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at at time, until mixture is smooth. Beat in the flour just until combined. (The batter will be stiff) Spoon batter evenly over apples and spread so that the apples are covered.
  3. Bake 30 minutes or until top is browned. Cool 15 -20 minutes before serving. Can also be chilled at room temperature or cold.

1.16.2015

ride the waves.


Hello New Year, hello house that smells like childhood. hello January. I am somewhere between wide open arms and wishing I could skip you altogether. I am living squarely in the space between. but you're here, and there's really nothing I can do about it. what I can do is gather my strength everyday, wear it like perfume. eat clementines, make salted caramels. keep appointments, organize, be grateful, sing the songs. and ride the waves, ride all the waves.

 It washes over me while I'm standing in the checkout aisle at Target. while I'm trying to decide which flavor of eos lip balm to buy. I'm not even thinking about it. and then I am. around me, people are buying baby wipes and pillow cases and giant bags of kitty litter. I am pushing my plastic red cart down crowded aisles and then I am crying. in public. I am crying in public. I hate to cry in public.

it sneaks up on me while I am reading a book. bam. there it is. I struggle to read the words, to finish even one sentence. I am so tired. I can't hide it forever. I finish the chapter, climb into bed and fall into a deep, crazy dream filled sleep. if I could, I'd sleep forever.

it knocks the wind out of me while I'm driving. when the sun is shining and the radio is on and my mind is in seventeen different places. I grip the wheel and ride the wave. I want to pull over but I don't. I roll down the window instead. and I ride the wave.

this is my life right now.

 When the house is quiet, I am thinking about the week ahead. banana bread, new books, medical appointments, scary tests, organizing my photos, taking down the Christmas tree (I know), paying bills, grooming my puppies, new throw rugs for the mud room. I can't help it, I think in lists. at some point this week, I will complain about the cold. do thirty loads of laundry. fall asleep with the lights on. cry about my mom.

it'd be so much easier to just share some pretty photographs here. just photographs, all the time. but words are important. even when I can't seem to find the right ones.

just sayin'.


Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped onion (about 1 medium)
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or more, to taste)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 15-ounce cans reduced sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 28-ounce can diced tomato
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
Plain Greek yogurt or light sour cream and chopped scallions (optional)


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium high. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, chipotle chili powder, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the black beans, tomato, pumpkin,  and salt bring to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
Serve each bowl topped with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and sprinkling of scallions if desired.

12.31.2014

sparkly lights.



Well. That was exhausting. 2014, I mean. Lovely for the most part. But exhausting.

I hope your holidays were marvelous. I just couldn't let the New Year slide by without popping in here to say hello. I'm still getting used to this new routine, that suddenly has my internal alarms going off about taking time to type more than thirty words. Brevity might be the soul of wit, but it is seriously not my strong suit. Which could be the primary reason why this space is so dear to me. A sentence and an image. Sometimes that's all it takes to convey a month's worth of mayhem and joy. and to lighten my heart.

So. It's that time of year again.

I'm looking out into a sky that spans an entire year. Actually, I'm looking out at two. One behind me, one before me. Here I sit, at my bedroom window wrapped in my childhood blanket, and I might as well be perched on a high-wire. I'm precisely suspended between reflections and dreams. It's amazing to me how in the blink of an eye everything can change, and with one tick of the clock, everything feels brand new, full of possibility, ripe with second chances.

I just returned from a trip down memory lane, via my archives. I read my journal from exactly one year ago, written from this very same spot. I read it once, then I read it again. I walked it once more, every step of the way. I laughed a sympathetic laugh for that girl, doing her dangdest to love the bleak month of January. So help me Hannah, if I could do it last year, I can surely do it again.


I'm noticing this past week, this past month, that December's light had an allure all its own. Have I never noticed before? It's not glowy, like September's. It's not showy, like June's. It's blurry and blue-tinged. A whisper of beauty with just enough time to race out to play before packing it up and heading home. These days are so short and so cold, but I'm toasted up with the truth of the season this year, and the knowledge that it has no end, after all. That, along with a gift of love, a tiny glimmer of hope, and a chance to create a selfless spirit and a million more memories, are some of the brightest parts of me. They inspire me to try harder and try less. They inspire me to eaves-drop on my own life like no body's business.

They are my sparkly lights.


So, happy eve-of-the-new-year, my friends. Your encouragement and humor and love has amped up my world. I am ever-honored that you come back here and read my scratches. It is humbling. and illuminating.  please know for sure that I appreciate you to the gauzy winter moon and back. 

My word last year was Intentional, and to a degree, it fit. I think  of my word for this year over and over again as I spend my days carving out space for all the new, slowly adding it to the mix. I believed last year and I believe today that things don't just happen because you'd like them to. Sometimes a whole lot of effort is required. and a whole lots of prayers.

On the flip-side, I have seen from the (dis)comfort of the very front row that all of the good intentions in the world amount to nothing when God has something different in mind.

365 days ago, I had no clue that all of my talk about contentment in the new year would mean that my foundation would be rocked once more. I had no idea that my tiny kernel of a feeling about serving others would grow in the way that it has.

I don't know what 2015 might hold. It would be pointless to guess. I know that there are things on my mind, some silly and some grand. I do have some plans up my sleeve and I am charmed and exhilarated by the stretch of white lined up long and clean before me, begging for the touch of a pen and a life well lived. I love the idea of a fresh start on our hands, Baby. It's a brand new book, the spine unscarred, the pages smooth.

So. it's not snowing. Have we even had snow this year? I will never forget last year, and writing my New Year's lists while snowed in. I was on the cusp of so many things without even knowing it. I look back on my resolutions and can't decide if I want to laugh or cry. One thing I know for sure, with all that has happened, I am amazed to still be laughing and loving each day, a little worse for wear, worn out and dusty, but nonetheless whole. And moving forward. That is the important thing. I won't be making a list this year. Instead, I will finish the unfinished and start something new, whatever that might be. No, I never learned to play the accordion, and I am 51 weeks more than a few weeks behind on 52 Weeks of Photos thanks to some unexpected issues, but I will carry on.

Wishing you and yours joy and respite on the last day of the year. December, dude. So much goodness, so much heaviness, all at once. For me it’s always been a month where the decisions, assumptions, and challenges that I had convinced myself were reconciled over the year seem to make their way back up to the surface. You know what I mean, right? Those wounds you thought you’d healed, the parts of yourself you thought you’d made peace with don’t look so sparkly anymore.  There’s this challenge to stay light and grateful amidst those nudges to take stock after another full year.

Once again I'm reminded that holy moses-jesus-buddha-mohammed do I still have SO much work to do in the grace and forgiveness department. It seems the minute I get too comfortable with the idea, or illusion, really, that I’m operating at acceptable levels of compassion or humility or unselfish love, life and circumstance have a way of calling my bluff and putting me on my knees again. I’m glad for that.
And so, a New Year. Here to enjoy and embrace and remember and love one another in the best way we know how. Stitch by stitch, day by day. My only goal is to be a good person, I fail often, but I keep trying. And that is the beautiful thing.

 I would ask you what your resolutions are, my friends, but in the spirit of things, I will ask you instead, what one thing will you let yourself off the hook for this year. Because it's going to be that kind of year, and I am just going to roll with it.

All love and peace and wishes for a Happy New Year

 just sayin'.


 ORANGE CHOCOLATE OLIVE OIL MARBLE CAKE

12 Tbs (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/8 cup sugar
4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
3 Tbs olive oil
1 ¾ cups (230 g) flour
2 tsps baking powder
Gently rounded ¼ tsp salt
2 Tbs milk
¼ tsp vanilla
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
Zest of 1 large orange
1 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a standard loaf pan and fit a piece of parchment paper in the bottom. 

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

Cream the softened butter and the sugar together in a large mixing bowl, beating with an electric mixer until blended, light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time then beat in the olive oil. Beat in the flour mix until blended, scraping down the sides.

Divide the batter evenly between two bowls. Beat the milk, vanilla and cocoa powder into one portion of the batter; beat the orange zest and juice into the other portion of batter.

Spoon large dollops of each mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Drag a skewer or a long, sharp knife blade back and forth through the dough in swirls to create a marble pattern; do not over mix or swirl or you won’t see the pattern. Smooth the surface if necessary.

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes until the cake is set all the way to the center and just barely begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about ten minutes before loosening the cake by sliding a knife around the edged and turning it out, removing the parchment paper from the bottom and allowing it to cool, top side up, on a rack. If you like, prepare a ganache using orange-scented chocolate and cream to drizzle over the top.