Three Mornings

The thermometer in my car has not read higher than 8 degrees since Sunday. My mornings have been consumed by weather in ways I can’t remember acknowledging before. Typically I get ready for work and leave my house with few moments of staying present. I am quick to dress and pour coffee in my to-go cup. I am quick to strap up my boots and get to my car. I am quick to turn off lights and lock the door behind me. Everything about my mornings is centered on quickness. But this week has been abnormal. The cold weather has found me procrastinating what I should be focused on, looking for excuses to stay inside. Three consecutive mornings I found myself on the couch with my coffee, savoring a few moments of morning silence. Once I caught myself looking at my boots on the rug, thinking that the salt stains add a chapter of intimacy to their story; the weather they have encountered has heightened their awareness of inner-strength. I have slowed my morning routine just enough to notice my mother’s reflection in my eyes as I’m applying make-up.  I have also recognized it is a personal challenge to slow my pace. My natural speed is not lackadaisical. But in taking hold of these small moments to shift from drive to neutral, I have discovered another layer of my day I didn’t have before. A sweet and salty layer that belongs to only me.  winter bootsBlue chair and mughouse plants 1

 

Michigan Women

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It is bitter weather today. Walking outside reminds me instantly that winter life in Michigan is not for the weak. There is a woman who lives across the road from us, who, each day starts her snow blower and clears her driveway. Her daughter stands on the porch, a pair of eyes peaking from her neck warmer and hat, watching her mother, amazed. I look at the two of them and think, women in the Midwest are pretty amazing. We possess a strength that is inherited from watching the women before us survive. We learn to take care of ourselves and our families without complaining. We survive together with knit mittens and knee high boots.   We are a community that will not give up. We are strong. And when I think of Michigan in this way, my story becomes more than bitter weather and snow blower fumes.  My story comes alive; and I am no longer tired. I am ready.

Not So Wordless Wednesday.

On day we looked at our new house, Sean and I came home feeling lot’s of emotions. The biggest was a shared need for escape from the city. The sun had been tucked behind clouds for days, and suddenly seeing it in the sky we had to grab our coats and hats, and go play under it! So where do we go when things get tough and need fresh perspective? Pickerel Lake, of course.

I have never hiked hiked the lake in the fall before. And this time, instead of taking the path that winds around the lake, we went higher into the woods, where I quickly learned that Sean’s long legged pace leaves me gasping for air and running to catch up. The entire time we hiked we talked about the house we had just seen. We talked it about like it was already ours. I said to Sean that we should be careful about getting our hopes up like it already happened. And Sean told me to think positively and send our confidence into the world through our speech habits. I smiled, remembering how we had met in a literature class, and how this part of our beings will always find a way into our lives. Even in conversations about houses there is language to discuss.

Leaving Pickerel Lake we felt content. We had found the peace we were seeking. And the next day, we got the house.
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Life in that Moment

It had been a long time since I had seen my friend, Kate. Too long, if you had asked either of us. For years after I graduated high school I had kept in touch with my french teacher. I had found her inspiring all of those awkward years. Often the class she taught was the only one I could manage through. And even though I struggled in French, there was comfort in learning when she was the teacher. And then, graduation came and time passed and we would get together often on breaks. In this passing time, as I developed into my own, our relationship transitioned into a friendship. A very good friendship at that. So when she invited me last Friday to have a dinner celebration with her friends, I knew I would go no matter what plans had to be re-arranged. Sitting around a table with seven women, I was floored by each of them. Despite the paths we were each on, there were seven women coming together, bonding, laughing, challenging and wondering together. It was a powerful night for me to look at these faces and to feel nothing but content. Life was so good in that moment, sitting around a table with seven women.

Saturday morning came with a wake up from my sweet baby niece. My twin sister and I sat on the couch, drinking coffee and catching up. Then, a call from my mom encouraged us to get up, get dressed and get out the door! We had things to do! Off to the farmers market we went, sleeping baby in stroller to collect apples. Together we went to my grandma’s house to make applesauce. We had done this many years before, and the prospect of doing it again excited me. Looking around her kitchen at the generations surrounding me, I was floored by each of them. Despite the path we were each on, there were five women, coming together, bonding, laughing, challenging and wondering together. It was a powerful day for me to look at these faces and feel nothing but content. Life was so good in that moment, working in a kitchen with five women.

It was raining when I left my parents house on Saturday night. My little niece, Sloane, was snuggled in her car seat behind my driver’s seat, already in her pajamas for the night. I turned on a slow-paced, peaceful song from my i-pod and listened as her breaths slowed, fading in to the rain on my windshield, drip drip drip. Looking out to where my headlights ended in front of me, all I could think of was how small she seemed in this moment, of how dependent me she was, of how much love I had for her. It was just she and I in that moment. Looking in the rearview mirror, at the small lady behind me, I was floored by her. Despite the path that she will take in life, I will continue to do things for her intentionally to bring us together, so that we may bond, laugh, challenge and wonder together. It was a powerful night for me to look at her face and feel nothing but content. Life was so good in that moment, driving home with that one little lady.

On Sunday, I volunteered to spend the afternoon with my brother’s daughters. Five and three years old, they are growing all too quickly for their Aunt D’s liking. But each time I see them, they run to me with hugs and love (and if they don’t I force them to anyway). Once their parents were out the door, I cranked the volume on the CD player and the wild rumpus began. We latched hands and spun in a circle, giggling and falling to the floor. Laying on the floor, heads touching, I was floored by the two of them. Despite the path that I have been on these past few years, they have have always been there for me. Always we come together, bonding, laughing, challenging and wondering together. It was a powerful day for me to look at their sweet faces and feel nothing but content. Life was so good in that moment, laying on the living room floor with these little pumpkins.

My weekend home was amazing. And not because of anything I necessarily did but because of who I did it with. What would I do without all of these women in my life. Damn, I am lucky.

My Favorite Things/// Grand Rapids Downtown Market

I love our city. I love it so much. And here’s reason number five::: our downtown market.

A new addition to our Midwestern city, this market, nestled under the highway and filled with fresh vegetables, local fish & meats, all sorts of sweets & coffees, and cute shops, is hands down one of the coolest spots our city has to offer. Wandering the shops and aisles with a three year old in hand, I couldn’t help but become as excited as she was, pointing and saying “look at this” and ‘check out that”. Sometimes when you’re with a kid, it’s hard not to act like one, you know? We tried breads and smelled coffee. It was, in fact, a lovely, lovely morning with a great little friend.eating area cupcakes city produce fresh flowers greenhouse roof

How lucky we are to have this little niche in the city. Spoiler alert: I’m doing all of my Christmas shopping here this year.

& then the weekend came.

This week has been a lot of this and that, here and there, up and down. And now it’s the weekend! A busy weekend, for sure, but the weekend nonetheless. Have a good one.

heated blankets & watching new girl
shower planning & craft projects
coffee in the car & preschool drop off 
farmers Markets & sunshine
calling caterers & organizing addresses
dreaming & goal setting
helping friends & laughing hard
planning & following through
orange leaves & green grass
being patient & having expectations
hide & seek
ice cream & rummikub
bananas & peanut butter
orange paint & potato stencils
rice & lentils
lead & rubber
wind & sunglasses
music & clarity

plant on shelfrugpostcardshine oncoffee on bookshelfpurple circle

Life Lately

This week has been a good one. Life at work has gotten on a regular schedule which brings a peace to the pandamonium that is juggling a large family’s needs. Friday morning has brought cooling temperatures, with Sean making the rounds to close all of our windows and turn off our fans.  How one night has brought such a change amazes me, making me feel grateful for my life in Michigan. Good (or bad) we feel the impact of four seasons here; just when we tire of one, another shows it face, allowing us an opportunity to pack away our tank tops and find our box of sweaters, hidden in the closet. Yes, this week has been a good one. Cheers to the weekend, though. I am always glad for Friday.
3 clay jarsStenciling and cutting and designing our save the date cards.
Attempting to plan our meals better this month.
Playing games on the living room floor.
Rearranging our bookshelves.
Mailing invitations for a 1920’s bridal shower and 1920’s bachelorette party to follow
Appreciating that Sean will help me clean.
Re-watching the first seasons of Parenthood.
Waking early for mornings by myself.
Wondering what the kids are doing in preschool. 
Avoiding beer on weeknights.
Cooking a monster batch of breakfast burritos to freeze.
Talking to caterors about our wedding menu.
Running, again. Feeling healthy and happy about this.rummikub slippers on orange rug making granola red chicken on table

My Favorite Things// Michigan Wine Apparel

This weekend I stopped over to help a friend with her local company Michigan Wine Apparel.  The owner and creator behind this fun company is the mom of one of my greatest friends. She’s the kind of person everyone loves– always welcoming us ladies into her home, sharing stories with her husband and leaving us all laughing and saying, “your mom is the coolest!” It’s exciting to watch someone so deserving and creative develop a business with such funky, yet classy products. As the summer ends, she is shifting products, adding new Craft Beer designs, resort wear, and updating logos and designs to her line-up. Already I’m planning a cute purchase to wear on our wedding day and rallying my girlfriends to get some gear for a friend’s upcoming bachelorette party.

wine 2I   think part of the lure of her products is that they represent this amazing, strong culture of Michigan by bringing attention to our farmers and wine producers; spreading the good word of Michigan on what we wear to encourage more people to visit us Up North. We live in such an amazing place that it’s hard not to feel a sense of pride and want to share it wherever we go. me wine posingsue wine 3

Have you been wine tasting in Michigan before? It’s worth a trip out here to experience it, that’s for sure.

**Michigan Wine Apparel is in the process of adding an on-line market place. I will be sure to include you once it’s up and running!

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Visiting Blackrocks Brewery

While we were visiting The Northern Walkabout, we went up to Marquette for the evening. Right on a great lake, this city offers a plethora of things for people to do inside and out. But my highlight was visiting Blackrocks Brewery to hear one of my favorite Michigan musicians and songwriters Michael Waite. Man, do I love his music! And man, do I love good beer. Needless to say, with this thrilling combination, I was beyond excited to hear him play live.

Walking into Blackrocks was a completely unique experience. Established in a house, this brewery is really unlike any other brewery that I have been in before. As I told everyone at our table, “I could totally live here.” And the best part of it all…remember my favorite mug that I am completely obsessed with? Well, they were hanging everywhere as part of their mug club. It was so awesome to look up and see the beauty that can come from the hands of this Michigan potter. Yeah, Michigan is a rich place to live with so many talented people and beautiful areas surrounding us.

blackwaters 3 blackwaters brew 1 Blackrocks Brewery had one of the most delicious stouts I have had in a long time! But to top my night, the greatest moment for me was leaning on Sean’s shoulder as Michael Waite played his song ‘If I’m Not Strong Enough’… without a doubt, one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard– and even more powerful in person. blackwaters brew 2There are few things better in life than snuggling up in a booth with your guy, listening to music and laughing with friends. It’s about the little things, right? So, cheers to you and your friends, wherever you are.

Life at the Northern Walkabout

Life at the Northern Walkabout was many things last week. But foremost, it was peaceful. After the building and hammering was done each day, we gathered around the fire, sipping homemade wine, singing original songs and laughing. There were so many hilarious conversations and classic stories told. And the power that came from singing aloud outdoors cannot be described. While Sean and I have nights at our apartment playing music, I don’t typically sing in front of other people. It was definitely a first for me to join with others in making such joyful sounds. At the end of the night, I felt so liberated, so myself, so strong from stepping outside my comfort zone and projecting myself. Playing Music at NWASean playing Guitat at NWAAs the sun set one night, Sean and I found ourselves alone on a canoe, drifting across the lake.  When you’re in the middle of nowhere with a quiet soul next to you, the only thing you can feel is “present”. I felt so very present. As we rocked in the waves and I watched Sean fish I thought, this is what living really is… this exact moment. I think that people have many defining moments in their lives and for me, squinting to see Sean through the sunshine behind him, defined our place in life right now. This is what our relationship is: inspiring. And I hope that even as the years ahead of us are chaotic we can go to the lake to be present and find ourselves.  Sean FIshing on Canoe at NWADock at NWACanoe on DockAnd so our week came and went with hot coffee in the morning by the fire, hiding under the canopy during rainy afternoons, making sweet potato hobo pies for lunch, watching the elk on a nearby farm, crawling atop new rafters for a night-cap, not checking the internet for days, falling asleep on a wooden swing, reggae music playing from a Jeep, chickadees singing, woodpeckers pecking, a little dog barking, hammers hammering and skills saws sawing, with love acted out and gratefulness spreading.Coffee at Northern WalkaboutCooking at NWAelk on nwaLike I said, our week at Northern Walkabout was many things. But foremost, it was peaceful. tammy and sharon at nwa