what’s on our table

kabobbruschetta

zucspizza

Art comes in many different forms. For me, making a pretty plate with local food is one of the ways I unwind. When I try something new, and it looks appetizing on the plate, it makes something in my heart feel alive. Here’s what’s been on the table at the Brankshire home this summer. Best part? Most of the vegetables came from a tiny little patch right outside of my door. Can’t beat the flavor of food that was picked 10 seconds before it hit your table.

What’s been cooking for you guys this summer?

blog while the baby sleeps

Before I became a mama, I heard all kinds of things about the glorious naptime moments when your hands would be free to do a little work, a little sleep, a little reading, or a little writing. It was the common knowledge among all motherhood that naptime was for getting things done.  I thought it’d be like that for me too.

Well, eleven plus months ago, I became a mama too. For the first three or four months, I was in survival mode.  Everything felt a little blurry behind recovery from surgery as well as labor, and adjustment to motherhood. My baby cried. A lot.  She had reflux. She had colic. I don’t know if one caused the other or if it was just bad luck. But she slept best…and often only…snuggled up in mama’s arms. I can’t say that I minded at all.  Baby days pass so quickly. I knew that all too well.

But,  the colic went away finally. The crying didn’t happen as much. There were smiles and giggles and sweet baby talk. It has been a wonderful 11 months.

Naptime and getting things done? Well…that’s been something else.

I can easily count the number of times my arms are free during naptime.  Baby girl still sleeps best snuggled up against mama. She still rarely sleeps more than 45 minutes at a time. No matter what I’ve tried, it is what it is. And honestly, I still can’t say that I mind too very much that her favorite place to fall asleep is tucked into my arms, or leaning against my chest. It won’t be long before she doesn’t nap anymore. I want to treasure these snuggles as long as I can.

But dishes, laundry, and blogging while the baby sleeps? Those happen once in a blue moon. Most often on work days,  I work with one hand while cradling her sleepy self with the other. With naptimes that short, it’s only just enough time for my leg and arm to fall asleep before she’s up and ready to play again anyway.

Then of course, there’s that one rare day when for some reason, the little miss decides it’s a good day to take a really long nap. Like one that  lasts for an entire hour or maybe a little more! On her own, snuggled in bed.

And even more rare, it lands on a day like today . The dishes are done. The floors are clean.  My hands are free.  So what do I do?

Go sneak back to the bedroom every 10 seconds to watch my baby sleep.

Getting Alaska

Even though I have lived down South for a whopping four years now, I still haven’t perfected my “southern” apparently.

I’m a Washington Born, Alaska Grown Transplant. I’m pretty sure everyone  here knows that by now.  But down here? I like to fancy that I look just about like a normal Southern girl.  And probably that’s all in my head.

The truth is, when you grow up in Alaska, you just have a different perspective on a lot of things like temperature, and distance, day light and what a mountain looks like, for example.  You aren’t necessarily stronger, but maybe you’ve had to be tougher. After all, there’s not necessarily a Publix or a Dollar Tree or Walmart five minutes away up North. And the mention of snow isn’t going to get you out of School. 

But that’s all beside the point. I really love my new Southern roots. I have fallen in love with the novelty of four seasons, seven foot tomato plants, humidity (I’m serious.) and fireflies.

And after four years, almost no one asks me about where I’m from anymore. Maybe I look like I’ve settled in.

But now and then, I get busted for the Northern girl I grew up. Usually this is  when I say things about  flags, bags or rags. And sometimes when I try to talk about berms.

And every once in a great while, I bump into someone who gets it. Someone who has been where I’ve been. Who knows “my” mountains. Who understands how cold and dark and long Alaskan winters are, and also how absolutely indescribably beautiful the Aurora Borealis is. Someone who knows why Fourth of July isn’t about fireworks up there. And can understand what it’s like to dodge a moose.

Because just like these new Southern friends who talk about childhood down south, unless you’ve lived there, it’s hard to really get it.

It’s crazy to realize how much cultural differences that there are in our own nation. And as much as I love my new home, sometimes it’s really good to bump into someone who can share survival stories from the days we roughed it up North.

And thank goodness for me, no one here has any reason to know or talk about berms because I’ve seen and shoveled through enough of those to last me for the rest of my life. I don’t miss my old home state as much as I thought I might. I think I may be a Southerner at heart in a lot of ways. But sometimes the memories are best shared with someone who understands it.

So to the new  people who I had fun talking with recently, thanks for getting Alaska with me. It was a blast.

putting two sentences together

I’m a writer. I dream words. I think about beautiful paragraphs when I’m washing the dishes. I hear lines of poetry, or compose entire posts in my mind while I’m doing other things.

A pitiful few find their way into even a scrap of paper.

Because, while my brain may have the workings of a writer, it’s also the brain of a mommy.

And by the end of the day, I’ve also put books back on the shelf, picked up toys, rescued the kitchen and bathroom cupboards, and saved the plants at least two dozen times before lunch. (I’m trying to be conservative, but it could be upwards of 10 dozen times most days.)

I’ve fed a hungry munchkin 6 or 10 times. I’ve changed enough diapers that you just don’t count anymore. I’ve probably been peed on, and likely have held a sad baby who is learning about balance and has hit her head probably almost as many times as there are hours.

Add the fact that I have a wonderful opportunity to work for myself from my own home.

By the end of the day, those beautiful words and thoughts are interspersed with random things like “pat-a-cake”, “stinky diapers” and “Let’s not tear the books”.  “If you’re happy and you know it” tries to weave it’s way into the lines of my  poetry.  Toss in a few work related topics to the mix and you have fonts and lines of short codes tripping happily into what was once going to be a blog post.

And when you sit on the couch after supper by your hubby, you know you’ve got a case of parenthood when you randomly reach over and push his nose and say “beep”. 

I absolutely love this season of life. I love working from home so I can watch our munchkin. I love ever tired, messy minute of taking care of our baby. It is hard, beautiful life.

But when it comes to putting profound sentences together?  It’s a rare moment when that happens.

And then I wonder why I don’t blog as often as I use to. 

Oh, got to go rescue the family bible from an over zealous book lover….

this is how the garden grows

After a miserably wet (cold, moldy…) 2013 in which my garden washed away twice and drowned the rest of the year, 2014 is feeling good.

I may have had to plant an  entire month late due to a colder-than-normal spring. I may have planted another month late because our tiller broke down and we had been trying to hand dig a new plot in a less likely to flood area. But…I have a garden, and it is growing. It makes me happy every time I go  out and take care of it to see flowers and fruit forming.

Oh, it’s not perfect. I haven’t figured out how to keep all the blight away. But I’m still pretty happy about what I see.

Today, Charlotte and I picked a pile of Anaheim peppers.  It’s our first harvest, and we’re excited!

What’s growing in your neck of the world right now?

Rule # 1 of gardening: as soon as it’s picked, you gotta taste it.

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when a blogger loses her voice

I think somewhere in the hurry and scurry and the dos and the don’ts of modern blogging, I lost something. I’ve said it before, but I miss the good old days. When we blogged to make connections, not money. Friends, not followers. I miss the stories, and the reality of it all.  So much has changed in a decade.

And then, there’s this crazy life. A life that is full. Good things happen. Sad things happen. Life happens. Sometimes putting fingers onto keyboard doesn’t happen as often as it use to.  That’s okay.

After all you can’t write what you haven’t lived.

And one day, this blogger looks up and can’t remember the last time she really blogged. And when she does, it feels like dry words crumbling out. The poetry and music of words don’t flow like they use to.

So, she wonders (and maybe panics just a little): am I out of practice or have I lost my voice? And if I have, where on earth do I find it again?

It’s a good question. One I don’t know the answer to, because right now? I am that blogger.

I’m still in love with words. I have so many that tumble around in my head. But they feel choked and strange when I try to pull them out. I’m not sure if I’m so out of practice or if I’ve just lost my voice.

But I want to find it again. I know it has to be here somewhere…tangled into the weavings of life and seasons. I don’t aim to be a giant in the blogging world. But I just want my voice back.

Because you know, I miss this.  A lot.

light bulb moments

I think I had a strange light bulb moment this month. 

I’ve been running on almost empty for a while now, and I didn’t really notice it until that warning light had been on for far too long. All of a sudden, you come to a sputtering halt and  you wonder what on earth just happened. Yeah, that was me this month.

I love working for my own business. I love working from home. But sometimes I don’t know how to just stop. If I open my computer, it’s like I think I absolutely must work. So I do.

And then I never write anymore. Or spend a lazy afternoon with pen and paper. Or read anything. Creativity gets to be drowned out in productivity.

And then I hit the low spot of being empty and tired. It’s a place that’s best avoided by balance.  I should know that by now.

So I told myself that this weekend was for everything except working. For writing blog posts, and letters, and cooking just for fun. For digging up more garden space and for pretending that I actually left all my work at the office and can’t get back to it until Tuesday.

I decided today was write a blog post about anything that comes to your mind day. No planning, and editing and pouring over it to get the words just right. Just write.

So that’s what I just did. You know, I almost felt like it was the good ol’ days of blog beginnings again. Winking smile 

Maybe I should do this more often? I’m thinking the answer is YES!

sometimes, silence

For weeks now, I’ve felt like there’ve been a million words racing through my mind. And yet, not a moment to write.

You see, at the beginning of March, I was writing up my February Twitteratures and my phone rang. It was my dad. Come to find out, a surprise birthday party was in the works for my only grandmother and being there was really important. But the catch was…the birthday party was going to be at the end of March.  In Washington State.  A few thousand miles away.

Well, what would life be if it weren’t for some spontaneity  once in a while, right? Two and a half weeks before The Date, we found ourselves some reasonable (given the circumstances) tickets, got travel documents for the Piglet, kicked work into high gear, ( I finished my final deadline the day we left!)  and made a mad dash from East to West courtesy of South West Airlines. 

Traveling with a 7 month old was both more exciting and less scary than I thought it was. Showing up on both Scott’s parents and my grandparents doors over the course of the one week  was epic and a lot of fun. We saw our old hometown, Sandpoint. We saw cousins and siblings and drove a thousand miles between the day we arrived and the day we flew home.

It was fun, exhausting,  but worth all the craziness.

We’ve been home for two weeks and I’m still catching my breath. I haven’t read a lick since March, and I am still digging out from under the laundry piles.

I have watched spring unfolding, planted some in my garden and had too much fun with our now mobile munchkin who loves spring and especially garden dirt.

So…yes. Sometimes, there’s a lot of silence here. Not because there are no words, but sometimes because there are too many. Too many and not enough time left over from living to actually put them into something sensible.

I’ll pick up with Twitteratures and the Reading Challenge at the end of the month. And here’s to hoping that maybe, just maybe….I can sneak in a few moments to write again soon.

<3

checkpoint February + twitterature

1525388_10152354854970628_928067411_nI love March.

  • I love it because on March 1st,  Spring is finally really just around the corner .
  • I love it because the daffodils start blooming. (And I look forward to that all year long…)
  • I love it because March is the month that I married my best friend. (Five years ago on the 15th! Eep!)
  • I love it because everything feels fresh and new in March. And of course, because over on KindredGrace.com there’s the kick off of March of Books. And I love  March of Books.

So…if you want to jump in on an entire month of bookish posts, reviews and best of all lots of awesome giveaways, head over to Kindred Grace and have a peek. I’m reviewing Choosing Gratitude as well as Sophie Hudson’s (AKA BooMama) new-ish book, A little Salty to cut the Sweet! (Two words: SO FUN.)

And now it’s time for February’s Twitterature!

What I’ve Read

The Beauty of Broken: My Story and Likely Yours Too—Elisa Morgan

Every family is a little broken. I’m not sure we can avoid it. Elisa shares about how God helped her to find beauty in her own broken family—and use it to become a better, stronger person.  A few differences in personal thought, but over all I did appreciate this one.  You can read a longer review here.

Notes from a Blue Bike – Tsh Oxenreider

Wow. This book was incredible. From the intro, I knew I was going to love it. And I felt like so much of it was just what I needed to hear about living intentionally and not settling in life for less than the real deal. You can read my partial review of it on KindredGrace.com. And if you haven’t read it, go buy it. Seriously. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Books in Progress

I’ve Never Been to Vegas but my Luggage has –Mandy Hale

Life in spite of Me—Kristen Jane Anderson

Bedtime Stories and Prayers

Last winter, when Scott and I first discovered that our family was growing, I finally had a better excuse  to buy and read children’s books.  I couldn’t wait to share them with our baby on the way! Turns out, we have a budding book worm on our hands who really loves her books! (Okay, she sometimes loves them a little too much! ;) )

Last week, I pulled out Bedtime Stories and Prayers to read with her before a nap. She was so excited about the new book that I had a hard time getting her to calm down and fall asleep!

Charlotte was a big fan of the big eyes in the pictures, the squeaky pages, and attempting to eat it when she couldn’t turn the pages.  Here’s what I think about the book.381114 DSC_7150

The book is filled with these adorable images of little ones and pets. I’ve always liked Dandi Dailey’s artwork for children, so it was easy to fall in love with the images in this book, too!

The poems themselves are sometimes a little forced in order to keep a rhyme going. But the sentiments are sweet and simple enough for tiny ones to grasp.

I wish the pages would have been made out of something sturdier so little fingers could more easily turn them without the danger of them tearing, but I have a feeling we’ll be reading this one a lot in the years ahead as we grow our little bookworm!

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions by Tyndale House Publishers*