What I’m into – October 2015

Every month I compose this post in my head and today I’m finally hitting publish to join the lovely Leigh Kramer (a little late) discussing what October held. Hold on to your hats.

  • First things first – my newest obsession is Monica Potter Home. Obviously I was instantly in love because it’s Kristina Braverman, people. As in the best show of all time. And my favorite Braverman (though that’s such a hard decision! Crosby! Julia! Sarah!) But beyond the obviousness of that, it’s brilliant. Her blog has so many fabulous recipes for homemade beauty products (and good food, too) – I’ve made up the winter lip scrub, makeup remover wipes, pumpkin mask, dry shampoo, and my absolute favorite, the eye gel. I’m not entirely certain that I won’t start using this as my moisturizer this winter… It feels and smells amazing. All to say, I have a humongous girl crush on Mrs Potter… and a lot of mason jars in my bathroom.
  • The capsule wardrobe. I know I’m late to this party, but it’s a game changer. Express has these amazing black pants – comfortable, non-lint collecting, flattering, washable – I found them on sale at our local outlet store and promptly bought them up. Now 99% of the time you’ll find me in those wonderful black pants – usually with a black top. I decided to let my accessories, hair and makeup be the color and life to my wardrobe and I have to tell you – I love it! Super easy mornings, I always look smart, and black is slimming & camouflages everything. Plus the hubs can no longer complain about my scarf obsession because I don’t buy clothes otherwise. Now I can guilt-free buy All. The. Scarves.
  • The Great British Baking Show. Have you seen this, loves? It’s a reality tv competition on PBS where they bake decadent, gorgeous things in a beautifully appointed tent in the middle of the English countryside – sheep bleating in the background, breeze rustling the trees. It’s idyllic… And it’s British, so no drama save a quiet tear here and there when a bake goes off badly. They all like each other and are sweet and kind. It’s understated, lovely, and my family is so insanely sad  it was over this Sunday (congrats Frances!). The first season to air in the US (last year) is on Netflix, so have at, friends! You won’t be disappointed. ***note: this will be tortuous to watch if you have no treats. Hit the bakery up before settling in or you will be forced to eat whatever you can find in the recesses of your pantry, which will be wholly unsatisfying. Ask me how I know.
  • For the Love. This book made me laugh, cry and cook – which is about all I could ever desire a book do. Jen Hatmaker is a force, friends – follow her on Instagram, watch her TV show, and read this book. The chapter on fashion was one of the best things I’ve read in a long time (I believe there was shouting of “Amen!”) and alongside the humor she expresses such relentless love for – and from – God. Beautiful. Here’s a taste of Jen…   Also – the beef borgignon recipe in the book is earth-shatteringly good. I may have licked my bowl.
  • Out of Sorts. I am a huge fan of the reckless abandon Sarah Bessey loves with, and her gorgeous poeti11986586_10156005382515464_153999937820776217_nc writing always gets me. This book is like a great big permission slip to be who and where you are in your faith, and it blessed my heart and soul fully. Favorite quote – “I hope we all live like we are loved.” Boom.
  • Podcasts. Yet another game I am late to, but I’m thoroughly enjoying listening as I knit (these!) lately… I’m hooked on the Sorta Awesome show (which has entirely renovated my makeup routine, besides giving me good food for thought and lots of giggles), and On Being… I’m sure that’s only the tip of the iceberg but mama’s only got so much time.

I hope you all are off ot a lovely start of your November… and if you have any good discoveries for me, please share!


a peek into my crazy

Riding the city bus brings out every bit of my neuroticism.

Normally I’m a pretty confident, capable woman, but require me to take a city bus route – particularly downtown – and I become a nervous wreck. Something will go wrong, I’m sure of it – I’ll miss the bus, I’ll be at the wrong stop, the bus route will magically have changed and no longer go where I need it to (despite the fact that I’m looking at the route on my smartphone as I go), I’ll miss my stop, I won’t have the right change, someone will steal my purse, I’ll forget to grab my transfer, I’ll be held up at the dark stop in the early morning, someone awful will sit next to me and flirt with me, I’ll be late, I’ll be too early, I’ll run into someone I’d rather not, I’ll get lost when I get off, I’ll fall in the aisle, I’ll have forgotten to brush my teeth and the person next to me will die from the stench, my travel coffee mug will spill all over. It sounds ridiculous but in my brain? All distinct possibilities. And Metro Transit is not helping me out, either… for instance, stops are listed as cross streets. Friends, there are four actual corners at each cross street and sometimes there are bus stops on all four. How do I know which one? They don’t all have signs. I’m certain to be at the wrong one and watch my bus roar by. And God forbid I have to change buses! My heart rate shoots up just thinking about it.

Never mind that highschoolers and people who barely speak English and folks who are obviously on something all seem to be able to work it out. This gal here, with a college degree and a good head on her shoulders? Destined to be lost and wandering in the city.

It did not help, this morning, that the change machine on the bus wasn’t able to add. “Did you put in enough money?” the driver asked, and I smiled nervously and giggled and said “I’m pretty sure I put in $2.25” because OF COURSE I did – it was pre-counted at least four times and put in a labeled Ziploc baggie so I could put my frantic heart to rest before bed last night. Not that that helped me sleep. And now I’m holding up the line and everyone is glaring at me (why must they do that?) and all my worst expectations are being fulfilled.

But I made it.

And then I got off early. And since I only studied one route home at one specific time and stop (typed up in Evernote with precise walking directions and change counted out and sealed into another labeled Ziploc) I’m seriously considering sitting around until then. Never mind that it’s two hours from now. I can wait.


Out of the mouths of babes

She said it out of nowhere, apropos of nothing.

“Mom, if I were you I’d be really happy.”

“Why’s that, sweetie?”

“Because you have a great life.”

It made me smile. I didn’t ask what her measuring stick was, what she thought made my life so great – I didn’t want the shine to go off the statement if it was only because I could have ice cream for dinner if I wanted to, or because I’m allowed to wear lipstick. I just treasured the sentiment, stored it away in my heart. I’m sure I’ll need to pull it out again – on a day I’m feeling shrewish and frumpy and overwrought. On a day I forget – and it happens so often! – what a great life I truly do have. There are so many beautiful people I have the privilege to know, to love, to be loved by – I have delightful daughters, a sweet husband, a comfy sunny little home, the opportunity to write and craft and cook up a storm. I have enough quirkiness and mystery in myself and my loves to keep it interesting and make certain life isn’t sickeningly sweet. I have complete freedom to be myself and to be loved for it – and that is priceless.

So yes, my dear Olive, I am really happy – because I do have a marvelously great life.


help, please?

I absolutely love every bit of them. Let’s start there.


They are the light of my life and they amuse, appall, challenge and inspire me beyond what I ever dreamed possible. And yet…

And yet maybe because I work with kids all day, too, or maybe because I have only the precious few moments of my daily commute that are kid-less in my entire day or maybe because I single parent two girls 5.5 days per week or perhaps, perhaps because I’m absolutely never alone – even in the shower…

I have very little left to give to them.

We spend our evenings on playdates, or hustling around running errands, or watching horrendous amounts of Curious George and Elmo while I fold laundry and try not to play on my phone. We have occasional dance parties and we read and sing together some, but, on the whole? It’s not what I dreamed or imagined for my family, for my life as a mother. It feels all too often like putting in time. It nearly kills me to play dolls or a board game or (God forbid!) try to do a messy craft. I’m snappy and impatient and I find myself bellowing and sending little girls to their rooms when really? I’m probably the one who needs to go to her room.

I’ve tried to set the alarm a little earlier so that I have half an hour or so to myself in the morning quiet… but it’s so much easier to snooze it when half an hour would feel so good and I’ve only gotten five hours of sleep, anyway…

And here we are. Mommy burnout.

Have you been here? Are you here? Do you have a light you can shine to help me see the way out? Because this? Feels awful. Truly truly awful. And I would love some help.

And a hug.



It’s angry and red and horrible. Painful to look at.

But look at it I must, as she toddles around with her little bum bare, willing air and time to do their healing magic. No more of the “remove diaper, clean area, rediaper, repeat” cycle… her sweet tush must lie fallow if it is to be remedied.

5205612071_b81df1ccd6_nSo too this space. It flourished, went slowly stagnant, died. And though I wanted to write, wanted to make the page flow with life again, it couldn’t, I couldn’t. I wanted so very much to submit something for Listen to Your Mother but it simply didn’t feel right. There were no words. My blog, my tongue, my typing fingers, weren’t ready. It had to lie fallow.

We had been friends a very long time, and suddenly there was strain and awkwardness. I wanted to reach out but there was some barrier, some invisible weight holding me back. And now, a long while later, there is an olive branch. The friendship is beginning anew. It needed some time, some space, some settling of the snow globe we had shook up. It needed a fallow season.

I never realized how much space between was needed – how often the answer is simply to wait and let things fall into place, to let time and the universe and the fates and God work things out as they’re meant to. Things are not always instantly fixable, and healing – whether physically, mentally, relationally, emotionally – takes time. Its like that boiling pot you never could get to boil while watching – the magic is going on beneath the surface, out of our sight. The burner is heating, the molecules are speeding up and the warmth is spreading. The field is resting, the worms are aerating the soil. And when all this behind-the-scenes is played out, then the visible action can begin. Then things can become productive and healthy and glittery again. And then… then… it is all worth it.

The greatest gift is happening while all is quiet, while things are lying fallow.


***linking up with Heather for the 77th installment of Just Write. Join us!



4701785354_8d04d96898_zFor the first time in a long time, I’m homesick. I miss sunshine and sandy beaches, spicy Mexican food under meandering branches of oak and feeding tortilla chip bits to seemingly endless streams of scavenging songbirds. I long for sea breezes and late night bonfires replete with guitars, off key singing, marshmallows on unwound wire hangers  and thick Mexican blankets. It’s an ache that persists, not because now it’s wintry and snowy (I honestly rather adore that) or because California outdoes Minnesota somehow. I have no regrets, no ice-induced angst. I simply miss home, and I need to go reconnect to my family, my beloved friends, my previous selves.


For the first time, I think, it’s a healthy longing. I’m not pretending to myself that I’ll go back and slip into my old life as though nothing ever happened. It’s taken me nearly 10 years to accept that that simply can’t happen, that life has gone on and I no longer have a space there – everyone’s lives and stories have continued and expanded into the place I once occupied, and this is a good thing. Truly, this is some of what I’m longing to see – the lovely ways their lives have gone on, have grown, and who these gorgeous ones have become. To be granted that window – framed in hugs and good food – feels like a tremendous gift. And it’s one I’m longing to open.


almond bars

I bit into the almond whatsit (they had me at almond) and sighed happily when something began niggling in the back of my brain.  I had had something else blissfully almondish… Yes, the almond cake that everyone went wild for, but something else… And then it hit me. Astrid’s almond bars. Eureka!

Astrid was a sweet little lady at the church I grew up in, and one blessed day she brought these luscious bars to a church potluck. Or ladies’ tea. Or something. All I remember is falling in love, and my mother and I sweetly begging the recipe – which arrived on a beautiful little recipe card shortly thereafter.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that I’m making these now – Astrid called them Swedish Almond Bars, and I certainly live now in the land of Swedes and bars! And oh, these are delicious!

Almond bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, divided
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle ½ cup of the almonds in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Beat together the butter, eggs, sugar, almond and vanilla extracts till well blended. Add flour and salt and beat till smooth. Spread batter in the pan.
  4. Combine the 3 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the batter. Top with the remaining ½ cup almonds.
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and cut into bars.


I’ve been a busy little elf, baking away over here.

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