Monday, October 29, 2012

Wellies: a story of lust and practicality

Today marks 500 published posts!
It has been raining here in the PNW since the beginning of time October, or so.  Which means indoor projects are piling up all over the place since it's here that we'll be spending the next seven months, AND because and I don't want to look at my blue wall that shouldn't be blue, or the three different kinds of texture in my living room, or the sporadic missing baseboards throughout the house any longer.  Wait, these are my problems, not yours.  But the rain is a heavy subject for many of us, and it's the exact reason I wrote, '5 Ways to Embrace the Rain This Season'.
The rain is also what inspired today's topic: Wellies.  
You know the weather has changed when you're excited to spend your Nordstrom gift card and then some on a pair of rubber boots.  Not on a blouse, jewelry or on the MAC makeup that you would like to re-stock, but boots. Rubber boots.  And I'm not talking about the kind of rubber boots like the $15 pair that you bought last spring at Walmart and wear into your chicken coop.  
Those boots serve a different purpose--like walking in chicken poop. 
I'm sure wellies have been around since before I was born, so I'm not sure why I never connected owning a pair and wearing them regularly while living in the Pacific Northwest.  It's like simple math.  Where it rains = wear wellies.  You can wear them anywhere--grocery shopping, to the mailbox, to and from the kids' bus stop, while on an afternoon stroll through the neighborhood, Christmas shopping in the city, or to retrieve your dog from the neighbor's, after his 213th unscheduled play date with their dog, in the rain. 
You can even wear them in the snow!  Husband did you hear?!

Style:  Simple.
Practicality: Awesome.
Variations: Plenty*.

*I just happen to love the Hunter version.

Have you been considering a pair of rubber boots?  Here's a great review on the pros and cons of Hunters by Sunday Love xo  Glad to know that I wont be complaining if/when I get my hands on said boots.

Are you lusting over a fall clothing item that you want to see in your closet?  
If so, what is it?

Edit:   I have been informed via A CUP OF JO that Hunter has recently released collapsible boots.
Now you wont have them taking up half your suitcase when you travel!  Genius!

hunter boot images via pinterest

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pumpkin Picking at Joe's Farm

I'm loving my pumpkin spice candle, creamer and have been eyeing plenty of pumpkin treats on Pinterest lately, but I must admit something--I haven't pulled any of my fall decorations out, yet.  Then, I found myself thinking about Christmas today (maybe it was the eggnog I saw at the store) and how excited I am to put up the decorations that I made last year...but then I stopped myself.  Back up.  What?!
Leave fall in the dust?  This is so not like me.

So while the pumpkins are still orange, I'm going to keep talking about fallish things.  Deal?  Deal.

Last week, I went to the pumpkin patch twice in one day.  First, with Asher's preschool class and then after Brooklynn got home from school with Husband and my brother & sis-in-law.   I decided that my girl most definitely needed to search out her own pumpkin, and since she's "outgrown" the school pumpkin patch field trips and because the weather was headed for more gray skies and rain, we decided it had to be that day that we returned to Joe's Farm.
 So we did, and all was well in pumpkin land.
We were finally able to update our pumpkin patch adventures
with a new family photo, too.  Thankfully!!

We went on a hay ride, ate farm apples,  purchased pumpkin butter and more apples even though we have an apple tree...?  Husband wasn't there for that part or he would have reminded me, I'm sure of it.
The weather did indeed turn on us, near the end of our visit, so we are so glad we were able to go when we did.  Do you make an annual trip to the p. patch?

Hope you have a festive weekend, friends!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Walk With Me

 "Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile."  William Cullen Bryant

This morning, I'm meeting deadlines, helping in Brooklynn's classroom, chasing down a wet dog and searching for a curious kitty.  I'm pretty sure I can hear her under the house.
A walk in the rain sounds nice, too.  It's quite peaceful in the rain.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jeremiah's Hope For Kindness Day: A Pledge To Be Kind and Wear Yellow

Yesterday afternoon, as the kids and I drove into town for pizza before the presidential debate, Brooklynn started telling me about a boy on her school bus.

"When he got off the bus," she said, "he yelled, I just can't take it!"

Of course, I needed to know more, so I started to ask questions.  What couldn't this boy "take" anymore?

"Were kids being mean to him?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said.  "Maybe."

I told her that I hoped not, and that if kids were being mean to this boy, it was wrong. 

"What if kids were being mean to your friend, Summer on the playground?"  I asked.

"I'd take her away, and tell her come play with me if they are going to be mean."

"Wouldn't you say something to them?"  I asked.

"No.  Because then they might be mean to me."

And so the cycle goes--the human instinct to avoid confrontation--even when it is necessary.

"You have to say something," I say.  "You have to tell them it's wrong to treat people that way."


Sixteen years ago, at age fourteen, I went through a lengthy period of regular and traumatizing peer abuse.  I wrote about it here and in a handful of other places, while I also talk about the self-worth issues and depression that have trailed me over the years.  What has come from my experience is my heart for struggling teens; teens who deal with bullies, teens who bully and those who are affected as they watch abuse happening around them.  The reality that his happening to some extent in each school is vicious and real.  Human nature i s flawed, and as much as people want to look the other way and pretend it doesn't exist, it will continue to run rampant hurting hearts and hurting lives.

Two years ago, I became a certified Olweus Bully Prevention Program trainer.  While I was in Seattle, I met Ann.  I wrote about her and her story when I returned, and it was these things that solidified my purpose and my heart for bully prevention efforts.  I knew my experience, how it changed me, rocked me and left me yearning for something greater, but I'd been having a hard time seeing the bigger picture.  Until Ann and Jeremiah.

You see, Monday marks the six year anniversary of when Ann's son, Jeremiah, completed suicide.  I still recall Ann's soft words as she shared the heaviest of burdens a mother could ever carry.

Over the last two years, I've watched Ann forge a fierce fight for bully prevention efforts in her hometown in Minnesota, even in a school Jeremiah attended, through her non-profit organization and large Facebook page following, Jeremiah's Hope For Kindness.  She is tender, bold, achingly passionate, carries a strength unmeasurable and a longing heart for the boy that she lost and for the others who are battling a similar fight.  She truly is a mentor to me and I'm so happy to be able to work with her on the board of JHFK.

In honor of Jeremiah, Ann and her family and the many other lives that are affected by bullying, I invite you to take part in Jeremiah's Hope For Kindness Day, October 22nd.

From Ann:

Jeremiah's Hope For Kindness Day 
On October 22, 2006, Jeremiah Gettis completed suicide at age 21.  He wrote that he no longer wanted to live in a world in which people were so cruel. He also wrote about the devastating effect being bullied had on him. 

On Monday, October 22, we invite you to wear yellow, Jeremiah’s favorite color, a symbol of hope and your commitment to spread kindness. 

Also, please resolve to begin a new daily ritual of kindness and become part of the kindness movement!  

More info/ideas at: 
How you can be involved:

You can show your support by joining this event on Facebook, sharing this event on Facebook, and changing your profile picture to a yellow ribbon or this JHFK profile badge.  Please visit Jeremiah's Hope For Kindness on Facebook as well.

  150x150 badges:

Blogger friends:  I invite you to join the cause by sharing your own experience/thoughts on bullying, a link to this post and an image on your own page.  We hope to see yellow everywhere on Monday!

220x220 JHFK Day button to link to this post:

Thanks for your support!  It means so much.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Watcher In Writing

In high school, my favorite English teacher had us read 'Watcher at the Gates'.  This article came to mind today, as I fidgeted in front of my computer screen, scrolling through drafts of posts that are written but have never been given a final click.  I too have a watcher.

In this space, there is a struggle.  To tell the truth, or to keep the heavy stuff to myself?  And it is a dilemma that I've found myself fighting for months.  On the one hand, I believe writing saves.  It's been a lifeline for me, therapy, an exercise of hope.  I also believe that to share such writing with anyone who lands upon it is an exercise of courage, vulnerability; a leap into the dark.  When I let myself get there.  But because the move is bold and requires a certain braveness, I've been placing this space in tight parameters, keeping my eye on where it goes, rarely giving it an un-restrictive pass.

I consider my own watcher; who he/she is, what they're after, why they want to stop me from being productive, and fully honest in my own space?  My mind floods over stories, stories that I'd like to tell, but the watcher keeps his finger pressed firm to the cover.  He shakes his head at me, saying, it's not worth it.  No one cares.  Why do you still think about that?  Move on, just move on.  Are you sure you can even call yourself a writer?  What is this stuff?  And that's about the time I hit save and close the draft.

To open a vein, so to speak, and let the words fall out onto the white space, over the interwebs to a stranger, a friend, a loved one, has power.  It's why I read the words from other blogger friends.  It's why I believe in writing.  It's why I want to teach writing.  It's why I know I have a duty to write.

To write uninhibited and free with courage is what's on the other side of this struggle that has pooled up around me, soaking my shoes, causing my feet to grow cold.  It's the place that I believe I'm supposed to be; a place to channel and navigate if I am to be a good writer.  Although my watcher tells me, don't worry about the truth...find something else to write about,  I know better.  I know better than to succumb to a fear of the truth, or what that might look like in curved, heavy letters, strung across a clean white page.


Around Our Neck of the Woods Last Weekend

 1. a boy in his boots.  2. a kitten and the girl who changes the kitten's name everyday.  3. the boy and the kitten.4. handpicked flowers.  5. one fierce mama Welsummer chicken  6. eggs o'plenty.  7. one crazy dog named Jet, who tangles his runner around anything on the porch and drags it into the yard,on the regular.  Including a rod iron chair (and once, a picnic table).  What good is a watchdog if he's all tangled up?

It was a long, slow weekend, and the kids and I didn't even leave the house till today.  Partially because I wanted to be conservative on gas, and mainly because staying home and being nice and cozy are the best parts of this time of year.  I watched two movies--Machine Gun Preacher--it came highly recommended by Husband who watched it Friday night while I...I'm not sure what I was doing, so I watched it on Saturday while he was working.  It was raw and heart-wrenching, and is a true story that people need to know.  Most people have heard of KONY 2012, but not ex-gang biker turned preacher/African child defender, Sam Childers.  An excellent flick.  To make this weekend truly out of the ordinary, I watched another movie with Husband that very same day called, People Like Us.  Two movies in one weekend, is big deal for me, while two movies in one day is a miracle!  The relaxation was just what I needed.

Am I the only person who feels like Monday is makeup day for the weekend?  Man.  My family knows how to turn a house upside down, and it's always during the weekend that the most destruction takes place.  

Did you catch the chili recipe I posted?  It is my favorite chili recipe by far, and we ate it both Friday and Saturday.  Leftovers sure make a girl happy!
I hope to post another favorite soup/stew recipe soon.

Hope your weekend was swell!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Schmidt's Super Awesome Chili

Like many of you, I believe soups, stews and chili are one of the perks of fall and winter.  And today, as the rain fell for the first time in months, and with my pumpkin spice candle lit, all I could think about was warm drinks, meals, baking...
and curling up on the couch to read. 

But now, let's talk chili.  Oh, boy.  There's chili and then there's chili!
Sure, there's canned chili, boxed chili, throw-yourself-together-an-almost-chili, so on and so on.  Then there's chili that'll knock your socks off and you'll never go back.  
Why would you?

Let's talk details.
Schmidt's Super Awesome Chili 

Throw a party; it's that good.

 Side note: This recipe came to me after a night out in Portland with the girls, and it was the best late-night meal, a girl could stumble upon.  My friend, Shannon and her Husband have given me kind permission to pass along their recipe.  Thus, the recipe has taken on a surname. 
And trust me, the "Super Awesome" bit is for real.

Serves 6

2 teaspoons of oil (or whatever to cover the bottom of your pot)
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1- 1 1/4 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 can dark beer
1 cup strong coffee
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
1 can beef broth
1/2 C. brown sugar
3 1/2 tsp. chili sauce (I used 1 tsp. and it was spicy.  Careful with this stuff!)
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. salt
4 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans
1 chili pepper, chopped (I omitted for the little ones)

1.  Heat oil.
2.  Cook onions, garlic and meat until brown.
3.  Add tomatoes, beer, coffee, tomato paste and beef broth.
4.  Add spices, stir in 2 cans of kidney beans and pepper.
5.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
6.  Add 2 remaining cans of kidney beans and simmer for another 30 minutes.
A few of my notes:
  • It will be soupier than the picture shows (these photos were taken on day 2).
  • Follow the directions.
  • Let it simmer for the full two hours.  It'll meld the flavors deliciously.
  • Top with cheese and sour cream/Greek yogurt and cilantro if your heart desires.
  • Serve with your tastiest cornbread/corn muffin recipe.
  • Enjoy!  

Monday, October 8, 2012

A "Toothy" Tale: In remembrance of the swallowed tooth

“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury
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