Thursday, October 30, 2014

three things + an update

Three things I'm thankful for this Thursday (not including a dose of all-too-easy alliteration ;)).

1. Stripey pants and new shoes (presents from his grandparents) on the legs and feet of our almost-toddler. He's been cruising with a walker like it's his job (and even threw a very toddler-like fit when it was time to be "all done" with the walker at his friend's house). 

2. I found my favorite bracelet! It was missing for a month, lost in the couch cushions as it turns out. I'd blame this on the aforementioned almost-toddler, but it was definitely my fault. I often take my jewelry off to type/write, so that's probably how it ended up buried.  I wear this piece almost every day, and I'm so glad it was lost (and found!) in a safe place :)

3. At some point, I became a person for whom cooking is frequently a way to relax and unwind. Last night we needed something quick for dinner, since I worked late, and our simple meal included this roasted kale. As I was preparing it, I couldn't help navel-gaze just a little bit and wonder, Who IS this person??? But I have to say, I like her.

Here's how I made the kale (it really is incredibly easy, and it makes you look like you know what you're doing in the kitchen ;)):

Roasted Kale Sprouts
with Pine Nuts and Pomegranate Seeds


Kale sprouts (I used a pre-washed bag from Trader Joe's)
2 Tbsp EV olive oil 
1 Tbsp pine nuts
1 Tbsp pomegranate seeds (again, I used the ready-to-eat version from Trader Joe's)
Sea salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375°. Spread kale sprouts in single layer on rimmed metal baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. 

Place in heated oven for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. As the kale nears "doneness," the edges of the leaves will become crispy. Once they're slightly crisp, toss in the pine nuts and broil for 2 minutes or so to toast the nuts. Remove from oven.

Plate each portion (or place in a bowl) and sprinkle on pomegranate seeds. Add additional salt and pepper if desired. Done!

. . .

I will reiterate that I am no chef; I'm still learning and making it up as I go. But roasted veggies have become a staple around here, and this dish did not disappoint.

And now for a little update. I layered the quote and image from Monday's Cup and like the results enough that I'm planning to print this out and hang it by my desk, so I thought I'd share it. In keeping with the recent theme around's very (very) simple. But that, I'm learning, is how I like things best. x

Monday, October 27, 2014

monday's cup: a collection of coffee & quotes

I am a coffee lover. It's my one vice, as close to a drug as I'm likely to get. Besides the drink itself (dark roast, black), what really draws me in is the ritual of it. It's such a huge part of the morning rhythm around here. Caleb wakes, and we head to the kitchen to heat his milk and begin boiling water for my coffee. A predictable, comforting dance to commence each day.

For the past few years, I've collected images of coffee on a Pinterest board. Many years before that, I started piling up quotes. Single lines, page-long passages, and anything in between. When I was younger I'd use a piece of paper as a bookmark as I read so I could write down what grabbed me, and once full I'd file the paper away. I still have a folder stuffed full of quotes somewhere. These days, though, I keep a "quotes" document on my computer and save the words that resonate there.

Now that I'm getting back to blogging regularly, I'd like to help myself keep it up. I thought one way to do that might be to have a simple Monday morning series, where I'd share a (virtual) cup of coffee and a quote to ease into the week. A way for me to stay in the habit of posting while also sharing a snippet of what I love. So, without additional explanation or fanfare, here it is: The first installment of Monday's Cup. Enjoy :)

. . .

Image here.

"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest." 

Thomas Moore

Thursday, October 23, 2014

from swimming to stars

Came across this quote on Pinterest shortly after my last post, and I had to share it. Image via.

i am only me

[and my greatest fear is that I'm not enough.]

Keep swimming: The water will hold you. Image here.

I'm not really sure why I keep a blog, other than sometimes, I enjoy having a place to write things down and feel like I've shared them. It's like a message in bottle, in that I publish each post fully assuming it's gone "out to sea." I basically treat this space as a form of journal, and I write whatever I feel like, when I want to.

I've been wondering lately if I should attempt to be a "real" blogger--actively comment elsewhere, seek readership here, plan posts, build stats. To feel like I have a place on this overcrowded dance floor, instead of hanging out in the corner wishing I'd never showed up to the party in the first place.

But I really don't want to. I want to be a person with a blog; not a blogger.

I'm the kind of adult that would always rather sit at the kids' table, even now that I have a kid. I love love love being Caleb's mom. But I can't help feeling like there's something else I should be doing, and that it'd be nice if maybe one day, that thing could also generate an income. (For right now, in addition to loving on Cabey Baby, I take care of another little person three days a week.)

So it makes sense that, mere moments ago, I sat here on the couch and mentally screamed:


I screamed it so silently and so hard that my heart hurt and tears welled up.

This is what I got back:

What is being asked of you? 
To stop. To notice.  
To sit quietly and look at the trees outside those living room windows, until you realize just how grateful you are for an entire wall of windows that allows dappled light to shine in through brilliant yellow leaves.  
Enjoy the quiet of cars passing and keys tapping as the baby naps. The sounds of silence. This is all there is. Recognize how beautiful this is, and that it is enough. Cultivate a thankful heart, one that acknowledges abundance and has no fear of the next step. There will always be a next step, and you'll know what it is when it's time to take it.  
For now, you are here. Be still and know. Sometimes it's OK to hold still. It doesn't mean you've stopped climbing. 
"The artist finds the beauty sleeping in all things." And you are an artist. Even if no one else sees. Just as you are a writer, even if no one is reading. So be still, and notice.  
All shall be well.

This blog will never be a "blogger's blog." It will be messy and imperfect and sometimes rambling and boring. But it will always be honest, because it will always be mine. And I refuse to be anything--or anyone--else.

Monday, October 20, 2014

the who of the what [slow fashion]

"I like it when clothes have a story, and I like finding things that move me somehow, but I think it’s very important to not make fashion too much of a thing in your life. It’s a tool to show who you are to the world but only if you’re privileged enough to be able to worry about it." Clémence Poésy

"Buy less. Choose better." Vivienne Westwood

. . .

Minimalist fashion and capsule wardrobes are all the rage in blogland these days. Everyone and their mother seems to be paring down and posting about it.

I get it. When we moved this summer, I brought just a handful of items to tide me over until the rest of our stuff followed a month later. Once the panic of "maybe possibly not having enough" subsided, I realized how freeing it was to live with less. To know exactly what was hanging in my closest, or sitting on a shelf, or living in a cabinet, at any given time. Glorious. 

Until I was more or less forced into it, minimalism wasn't an active pursuit of mine. (Looking at the remaining piles of crap around here, you might still judge me a pack rat. But trust me: We've come a long way, baby.) However, there's a huge internal tug that happens whenever I read another one of these live-with-less posts. As I say, I completely get wanting to simplify (try it, you'll like it). But I think it's time to go beyond what we're allowing in our closets and homes. We need to ask better questions. Namely:

Who made this? 


Where did it come from?

Asking these questions makes it much easier to avoid, say, impulse purchases at Target. It forces me to stop and research the practices of the brands and stores I would normally shop. This goes hand-in-hand with a minimalist approach: It's not just about buying less; it's about buying better. And if I can't make the time to figure out the background of an item...Do I really need it? (I realize it's hard to suddenly research the story of, well, everything you buy and own. To which I say: Take it an item at a time. Start anywhere. But start.)

It isn't easy. When I first decided to really find out the story of my stuff (...kinda like that video from way back when...), I went through a lot of "pick up, put down". As in, "Oh, this decorative melamine bowl in on-trend seasonally-appropriate shades of coral and mustard is cute--and it's only three dollars!" Pick it up. "Made in China. Ugh, of course it is." Put it down. Rinse, repeat. 

These days, I don't pick much up in the first place.That said, I am by no means perfect or an expert in this area. Minimalism is a fantastic concept, and I'd urge anyone to try it on for size. But in doing so, again I say: Dig deeper. Ask harder questions. Every item in your closet and home was made somewhere, by someone. Figure out those faces and places to the best of your ability. If you want your wardrobe to tell a story, it helps to know its literal history, too. 

The fact that minimalism has become such a major trend says a lot. We're tired of spending. We're tired of such a low cost-per-wear for cheap stuff we end up wearing once, or for items that fall apart too quickly. And I, for one, am tired of not knowing the human cost (or, sometimes, investment) of the items I allow on my body and in my home. There are faces behind these items and issues. I believe it is our social responsibility as decent human beings, and especially as Christians, to be more conscious consumers. Let's talk about the dignity of the human person, then take a peek inside our closets. 

None of this is new, but it can be difficult, which is perhaps why it still needs saying. So please, in our efforts to "buy less and buy better"... can we also make sure we're asking decent questions about just what that means?

Hopefully a list that will continue to grow! 

Please note: These are not necessarily "budget-friendly" sources. But in the name of quality over quantity I think it's good to consider investing in ethically-made, well-crafted pieces that will stand the test of time. For me, this means no more than a few well-researched and worthy items each year. 

:: I have my eye on this gorgeous basic.

:: Purchased my first tees this summer, and they've quickly become staples.

:: Dream list, big time.

Top photo via

Saturday, October 18, 2014

a few things which may be Nothing but which feel like Something

Last week I had a dream about pink roses. I didn't think much about it, probably something like, "Huh, roses, weird." Mostly I forget my dreams. But this stuck.

Then, a few days ago, Trader Joe's had just gotten a big shipment of beautiful flowers delivered. (I know this not because I watched them unpack the boxes, but because I am at Trader Joe's far too frequently, and two days prior the flower section had been measly pickins.) 

"Huh, roses," I thought. "Weird." But the days have been so gloomy and grey lately, and the roses were so fresh and pink and only five dollars. So even though they aren't very fall-like, and even though I have never purchased roses, let alone pink ones, before... I bought some. 

When Andy got home the first thing he noticed was the vase of pink roses on the counter. "Oh, you bought flowers, huh?" Buying flowers is not out of character for me, but, as I said, buying roses is, so Andy's expression was questioning. 

"Yeah, well, I had a dream about them last week, and then, well, there they were, so um, I dunno... I had to get some."

Andy shrugs. "OK, cool."

I decided to go Google "pink roses" and get to the bottom of this.

. . .

For the first few months of my pregnancy with Caleb, I believed he was a girl. In fact, I told people I'd never trust my intuition again if the baby in my belly turned out to be a boy (uh, oops?). But then, shortly before our 20 week ultrasound, I had a dream that I gave birth to a boy, and we named him Caleb. It was so real and very powerful. I looked up the meaning of Caleb: Faithful and wholehearted. The Observer in the Old Testament.

And I knew. This name had never once crossed my mind before, but somehow, I knew (the way you know about a good melon). This was our child, and this was his name. And it suits him.

All this is to say: Every once in a while, I take my dreams seriously. Maybe five or so times, my dreams have been powerful enough to warrant deep investigation. For whatever reason, the roses had a similar hold on me.

Here's what I found: Nothing.

At least, not at first. I gave up and called my mom. Not too far into the conversation, I brought up the flowers. 

"The only connection I can think of," I said, "is Grandma Miller." My mom's mom, who loved roses. She agreed, a sweet sentiment, and we hung up shortly thereafter.

And then I had one of the biggest DUH moments of my life thus far. My grandma loved St. Thérèse.  St. Thérèse, THE LITTLE FLOWER. Who is often depicted holding (can you see where this is going?) ROSES, kinda like here.

Oy and vey.

Every day this month, my mantra has been a question: "What would love do?" 

Here's how it works:

  • Baby wakes up 15 minutes into nap. What would love do?
  • Andy complains about the state of the mess building up at home. What would love do?
  • "Faithful Catholics" are working themselves into a tizzy and throwing barbs at Pope Francis (who is kind of my hero and is one of the main reasons I started attending Mass again). What would love do?
  • Bill O'Reilly claims white privilege doesn't exist because he fails to understand the definition of this term. What would love do?

It's a very helpful mantra, in that it unclenches my heart, even if just a tiny bit, every time I ask it. Thérèse and her Little Way have been hard at work in my mind and spirit.

The Little Flower as a young child, found here
I've said in the past that if I'm feeling animosity towards anyone, all I need to do is picture that person as a small child. Not that I harbor any ill will towards St. T., but I do love looking at this sweet face. Oh, Babies! I love you all.

So, back to the Googling. This time, I try "pink roses Saint Thérèse" and HOLY MOLY. Connections to Jupiter and back. I was dumbfounded. Here's what stuck out:

  • We share a birthday (January 2nd), and while I've taken stats classes and done The Birthday Problem, I've never actually met anyone else with this birthday
  • Her National Shrine in the U.S. is less than a half hour drive from my house.
  • Countless stories of "roses from Thérèse" (even as a cradle Catholic, I had no idea this was a "thing")
  • An article on G.K. Chesterton and St. Thérèse as "soul twins," or spiritual brother and sister.

A few weeks ago, I read a reflection on faith and God that referred to our human, worldy existence as "the back of the tapestry". God/Heaven/Beyond-the-Veil is like the top of a gorgeous silk carpet; what we get in our day-to-day is the big ol' mess on the underside. In "following the roses", I feel like I'm finding the threads that connect me to the beauty on the other side. And those threads, they all knot together somewhere. 

This is what makes that last bullet point up there especially significant. The article I'm referring to was about a talk given at Mundelein Seminary, which is also not far from my house and features a statue of The Little Flower in its garden. I know this because when I posted on her feast day, I included a quote from Fr. Robert Barron. I pulled this quote from a video of him speaking on Thérèse, and in the video they show the statue. (As a recent revert, up until two weeks ago I had no idea who Fr. Barron was--he wasn't part of my awareness, even peripherally. But apparently his ministry is kind of a big deal.)

Now for the Chesterton bit (and I know this is all pretty long-winded, but! This is a good bit). Over the last month, I've had a growing fascination with G.K. (to the point of: "Andy, how do you feel about the name 'Gilbert' for a boy?") and have wondered WHY ON EARTH this clearly brilliant human being hadn't once made an appearance in my high school English classes, or any other classes, for that matter. The more I read, the more I wanted to know. 

Photo of G.K. Chesterton via The American Chesterton Society

I stumbled across the website for the Chesterton society and discovered they have branches around the world that meet to discuss the man and his works. On the off-chance that there'd be one near me (maybe in the city?), I typed in my ZIP code. And DO YOU KNOW WHAT I FOUND?!?

The oldest consecutively meeting branch of the G.K. Chesterton Society in North America meets at a bookstore TWO BLOCKS FROM MY HOUSE.

It's crazy, I know. I feel crazy. But...


The skeptic in me won't shut up. There's probably some reasonable, logical, pseudo-psychological, scientific explanation. It may all be statistically probable, total coincidence.


I prefer the alternative. The idea that it just might maybe possibly be The Holy Spirit in action, the convergence of threads from The Other Side of the Tapestry, working themselves into my life as I finally, finally begin to figure out that there is one thing, and one thing alone, that can fill the God-shaped space in my heart. Fill it so full that it's right up to bursting, and then some.

So, for the time being:

I dwell in possibility / A fairer House than Prose.

(^^At least those English classes taught me something.)

Not very typical of my blog, but this meme made me laugh. Found via.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

at the orchard

A few weekends ago we spent Sunday afternoon at the apple orchard. I love that Andy has regular weekends now. (Before going full time in his current position last July, he pretty much worked nonstop. Days off were sometimes months apart and often midweek. It sucked, frankly. It's great to have space to just live, breathe, and be as a family. Sacred, really. Anyway.)

Caleb was getting over a cold (not to mention Molarmageddon just two days prior), so he looks a little rough around the edges in most of the photos. Still, the day yielded some great memories, in addition to the apples, pumpkins, and cider doughnuts we brought home. It was the first apple picking experience for both Caleb and Andy, which made it that much more special. A new family tradition, to be sure.

Friday, October 3, 2014

plenty of practice

Holy. Molars.

Who, me?

Pretty sure that's the reason Caleb screamed his head off for two hours this afternoon, while I fumbled around trying to find something, anything (TYLENOL! TEETHING BEADS! ICE CHIPS! MY FINGER WRAPPED IN THIS BLANKET!), that might comfort or calm him.

Also, every single diaper today was a poop explosion, leaving him with a very sore, very chapped bum. Cue howls of pain with every wipe. (Of which there were many. See: "poop explosion".)

Also, he figured out how to take his own pants off. He did it in his crib this morning, then again while he was playing a little bit later (and by "playing" I mean methodically throwing our shoes off the shoe rack, followed by an attempt to empty the garbage piece by piece). Hence, he is currently sleeping pants-less. (Yes, sleeping. FINALLY. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. And I mean that in earnest, as I prayed dramatically for intercession during Molarmageddon. I'm not sure she heard me over the screaming, though.)

Also, he held my hands and walked across the entire dining room after lunch. Major developmental milestone for the month: Check! So of course there's got to be some crazy mental processing going on in his little baby brain, along with the torturous physical pain happening elsewhere in his little baby body.

I've been so lovey dovey lately with this "motherhood as a vocation" thing (which I still absolutely mean) and talk of The Little Way (which I still absolutely admire and subscribe to) that it was about time the universe threw me a good curveball. Isn't there a saying about teaching what you most need to learn? Today has given me plenty of opportunities to put my words into action. Our neighbors probably think I'm forcing Caleb's hands on the stove or something. Nope, just poop! And teeth. And learning to walk. (It's hard work being a baby. And the mom of a baby. We both might've been crying at one point. It happens.)

I'm not sure if practice makes perfect, but you know what? I'm actually finding myself pretty dang grateful for it, and that's something.

(Although, full disclosure, if a band of gypsies happens to come by looking for an almost-toddler, I'm pretty sure I know where they can find one. At least on loan. And only if they wake him up ;))

OK, fine, never mind. We'll keep you. Ohhh, Cabey Baby! I do love you so.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

happy feast day, little flower

“The heart of her spiritual teaching, which is The Little Way, [is] as challenging as anything in any of the great spiritual masters... Namely, every moment, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing: What is the demand of love? That’s all that matters. Everything else is commentary.” Fr. Robert Barron on St. Thérèse of Lisieux 

Image here