Saturday, November 30, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude

For the month of November, I have been snapping a photo of the everyday as an exercise in appreciating what is taken for granted. I drew inspiration from this post, and challenged anyone interested in doing the same to join me and link up here in this space at the end of the month.

Well, it's the 30th! What did you find and capture day to day this month? What did your lens bring focus to that you might have otherwise not given a second thought? Were you surprised by what you saw, what you captured?

I must admit, there were some days when I found it challenging to find something representative of the item of the day. There were other days where I found multiple opportunities to capture what I was looking for.

On the whole I did enjoy this challenge, and it may turn out to be a tradition worth repeating in another year... we'll see!

Anyho, without further adieu, I present my 30 Days of Gratitude:

1: Favorite Food

2: Smile

3: Happiness 

4: Leaves

5: Morning Light

6: Books

7: Something Funny

8: Favorite Color

9: Inspiring Person(s)

10: Nature

11: Something Old

12: Hands

13: Written Words (or Numbers)

14: Movement

15: Technology

16: Animals 

17: Memories (I cheated here and scanned an old photo of my little bro years ago at a Thanksgiving table)

18: Something New

19: Best Friend(s)

20: Seasonal

21: Where You Sleep (apparently not just me)

22: Clothing

23: In Your Closet

24: Gratitude

25: Artwork

26: Transportation

27: Daily Routine

28: Nighttime

29: Light

30: Self Portrait (as I am in the morning, before babies wake- and before makeup- when there's quiet enough for concentration, writing, focus)

So, what did you find yourself feeling grateful for this month?

Friday, November 29, 2013

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving.

"Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map.
It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together.
Not a place, but a moment, and then another, 
building on each other like bricks 
to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life,
wherever you may go."
~Sarah Dessen, from What Happened to Goodbye

Wherever you find yourself today, whatever company you keep, whatever traditions you observe, and whatever ends up on your table, may it be with gratitude and health. Happy Thanksgiving.

And please to enjoy at your leisure A Hipster Thanksgiving, lest you find yourself wishing your holiday could have been just a little more pretentious and strained. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


A portrait of my kids every week for 52 weeks.

Quiet, stillness, focus. Christmas project time.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Right Now

Right now, I'm...

...shaking my head at the freakout that always comes from my community- and all the surrounding ones- when someone official says "winter weather."
...feeling relieved that the roads were actually quite clear when the hubs left for work, despite the predictions.
...finalizing cooking and baking plans for Thanksgiving (and maybe lingering a bit in denial that it's this Thursday?).
...taking advantage of the time spent inside avoiding the wet and cold by working on a few Christmas gift projects with the kiddos (who take their parts in the projects very seriously).
...taking the bitter with the sweet that came from weekend projects:
   -we've found out that we just can't use the big fireplace in the family living space, as it fills the house with
    smoke- not from a blockage or from negative pressure, but because the chimney itself is too short to
    clear the trees around the house. However, since we don't have a negative pressure problem after all,
    we can use the smaller formal living room fireplace. (yay!)
   -during the process of swapping out the last of the major light fixtures slotted to be replaced, we realized
    that our master bathroom is wired incorrectly... and by incorrectly, I mean it was downright unsafe.
    However, the light-swapping project was 90% completed. (hooray!)
...looking forward to sharing my gratitude photos this coming weekend, and really looking forward to seeing what others are thankful for*!

Right now, I'm feeling thankful that so much was done over the weekend, overwhelmed by the aftermath of it all, and glad that this week we have nothing to do but recover from said projects and prep for the oncoming holiday! Happy Monday!

*Don't forget to share a link in this space on the 30th to your own gratitude photos, be it in blog form, instagram form, or other, for all to find and see!

Friday, November 22, 2013

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Keeping It Real, Again

Oh, autumn, how I love you. And oh, how everyone else loves you, too. What a beautiful season for spicy-scented candles, baking with cinnamon, an occasional fire when the evenings start to chill, and lots and lots of photos like these:

Looking around at Instagram, posts on Facebook, and all the lovely blogs I occasion, I can't help but feel like autumn is the season of perfection.


Um, no. At least not over in my neck of the (lovely-colored) woods.

As I did once before, I think I'm past due for another reality check. After all, it sure would be easy to get wrapped up in all the flashy colors of the season, and not be prepared for when they all blow away and you're left feeling naked and exposed.

So without further adieu, let's strip away the fall flash and have a look at what's really going on...

-A branch of oak reaching out over our driveway, mottled with color and captured after a romp through the woods with the kiddos (something they now ask for almost every day).
-Our firewood rack, stocked and ready to go up in a blaze of glory in our newly-cleaned-and-inspected fireplace. Also the home of a fairly large lizard that the kids, the dog, and the cat on occasion all enjoy chasing.
-A touch of pumpkin, pine cone, and firelight down the center of our table.

Not Pictured:
-The terrible sniffles that have had a grip on all four of us for over a week, and which have turned us all in to mouth-breathers. Also the main reason why no one is sleeping well, which has lead to very crabby days.
-The condition of my floors under and around the dining room table that so elegantly supports my little pumpkin and candle display. From where I'm sitting right now I can see sheet rock footprints from last weekend's light installation, dried shredded cheese, ramen noodles, a dehydrated pea, miscellaneous crumbs, and sand. Just from where I'm sitting.
-The ridiculous dual temper tantrum thrown just before lunch... over the fact that I closed the back door without giving either kiddo the chance to do it instead. Seriously.
-The pencil drawing on the bathroom door, door hinge, door frame, trim, and wall.
-The stress that goes hand-in-hand with the holidays of this beloved season and their logistics, diplomacy, and travel requirements.

I know that everyone can see the beauty that is everywhere this time of year... but not everyone is willing to look at the harder stuff that's in there too... stuff that everyone is dealing with. It is the best foot we put forward, the best of times we underline and emphasize. It doesn't mean the harder stuff isn't there. It just means that the color shines more brightly for the shadows all around.

Like I said in my last reality check: "Without the bitter, the sweet would not be noteworthy, and on that note, I head out to tackle the day... a day that will have both beauty and ugliness, but a day that I will choose to remember for the beauty of it all."

So yeah. Do that... and maybe this time around, have a glass of wine, too.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hearty Ricotta Dumplings

I love a good dumpling.

The first time I tried to make them with ricotta cheese, they did not turn out good.

I tweaked my recipe every time I attempted them, and after multiple failures (meaning they would immediately dissolve or fall apart when dropped into boiling water), I believe I've found The Ones.

They're soft and firm at the same time without being 'doughy,' and you can sneak almost any kind of finely-shredded and sauteed veggie into them that you want.

A great go-to when you're surrounded by winter greens and winter winds. Here's what I did:

Hearty Ricotta Dumplings
Makes enough for around six hungry people.

1 15-oz container of whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour (don't use whole wheat this time- 
it'll make these guys too dense and will add to the fall-apart factor)
3 eggs
2 packed cups of washed and chopped greens of your choice
(I've used Swiss chard, spinach, kale, the dark green tops of Romaine lettuce,
and also finely shredded carrots, zucchini and yellow squash!) 
3 cloves garlic, minced
~1/2 tsp oregano
~1 TBS sherry vinegar
salt to taste

your favorite marinara, at least 1 quart

Saute greens and/or veggies in some olive oil with garlic, salt and oregano until wilted/tender.
Once wilted, add vinegar and continue cooking until most of the moisture has evaporated,
then remove from heat and allow to cool a little.

Mix ricotta, parm, and eggs in large bowl.
Add slightly cooled greens and mix. Add flour. Mixture should be thick.

Meanwhile, heat a deep pot of water with some salt to boiling, and warm your marinara. Keep them close together
because you'll be fishing out dumplings from the boiling water and dropping them directly into the sauce.

Once the water is boiling, drop heaping spoons of ricotta mixture gently into the water. I didn't put more than
3-4 dumplings in the pot at a time. Watch them closely, and as soon as they float take them out.
Overcooking will make them start falling apart in the water.

Place finished dumplings directly into heated marinara without stirring, cover, and keep at a low temp until they're
all done. Serve with more parm on top and a chunk of crusty bread for wiping up the sauce!

Make leftovers into a sandwich, much like you'd make a meatball sub, and cross two dinners off your weekly to-do list... that is, if there are any leftovers!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


A portrait of my kids every week for 52 weeks.

Henry in our woods, looking for fall colors.
Audrey in the grass, trying not to smile.