There is snow on the ground and a blustery wind fills the air. The weather change seems sudden and hard, but I know a few days of sunshine will be warming things up (or so I keep telling myself). The wintery conditions don't bother me. I am well equipped with warm base layers, scarves, wool sweaters, fleece lined hats, knee high socks, and the appropriate climate to be rocking Ugg boots. Because somedays on my drive to work (I see this, below) and feel so fortunate I live in such a beautiful place.
and that concludes 30 days of NaBloPoMo, thank you for joining me and allowing me to fill up your inbox this month.
I no longer buy magazines. Wait, wait, wait, it's probably more realistic to claim I rarely buy magazines. On a road trip, I adore thumbing through the glossy pages with short articles to keep my attention. While waiting in line at the market I'll pick up a magazine and peruse it, but I never follow through with the purchase. Magazines are instant and disposable entertainment so in a way they don't really fit with my lifestyle.
But then this happened…
…and yes I bought it and will cherish looking at it for years to come.
Finally our moment arrived to be an audience member for the Nutcracker performance. No more peeks at dress rehearsal, this was the real deal. There were 4 shows this weekend and I just couldn't wait to be seated, listening to the Boulder Philharmonic live, and witnessing the payoff of the countless hours of hard work the dancers have put into the production. Sitting there in Macky Auditorium, I was filled with a profound joy. A joy where your eyes well with tears and your cheeks hurt from smiling so much. After the show, all I could do was wrap my arms around my dancers and look them in the eyes and tell them how proud they made me. What a gift.
On Wednesday afternoon we realized we needed to start making the pies, as making them on Thursday just wasn't realistic (mainly due to oven space). All of us were feeling lackadaisical about making the crust, so we decided to pop by Whole Foods Market and pick up our favorite ready-to-bake pie crust. What a savior, we still made the filling from scratch for our chocolate cream and pumpkin pies, but the ready made crust worked perfectly! The crust is so good it made us realize that sometimes time savers are the way to go.
Here are some other holiday time savers from Whole Foods Market:
· Mirepoix & Pre-Cut Squash and Garlic – Mirepoix is the perfect “grab and go” item for your Crock Pot. And pre-cut squash and garlic will save you precious minuets of prep time in the kitchen
· Stuffing Bags – made-in-house stuffing bags from our bakery give you the taste of homemade stuffing without the time commitment.
· Frozen Rice in a Bag – makes rice cooking easy and worry-free, especially if you don’t have a rice cooker
· Frozen Rolls – fresh from the bakery department and frozen, so you can break these out and throw them in the oven when the dinner menu calls for rolls!
· Stuffed Cornish Game Hens – not only is all the work already done for you, but these hens are a wonderful alternative to turkey or ham for your holiday table
· Pre-made Appetizers – a wide variety of appetizers that are already plated and ready to serve can make attending a party while bringing something to share both easy and delicious
· Cocktail Shrimp Platters – again, ready to serve and be enjoyed!
Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post! Content including photos is purely at my discretion.
Thanksgiving Day is definitely my favorite holiday, a day in the kitchen, surrounded by family and friends. My parents are in town, so the kitchen tasks were split out between the adults with help from the girls. The day seemed to be remarkably mellow and the food was plentiful. I think the cold and snow added to the feeling of the day, it just seemed perfect to be lounging around and celebrating the day off from ballet.
Whenever the Garnet Hill catalog arrives in my mailbox, its glossy cover is met with both delight and disappointment. Delight for all the lovely items they carry and disappointment that I cannot order everything my heart desires. Of course with the change of weather, comes my deliberate combing over of their sweaters. Garnet Hill is most known for their cashmere and it's dreamy. I found a sweater I really wanted, a cashmere cape priced at $198. There's a 25% off sale right now, so I did the math and $148.50 did not sound as ridiculous at $198, but still I couldn't justify it (maybe for my birthday). The catalog sat for at least a week and a half open to the sweater page, so I could longingly stare at it daily. Here it is:
Now, for the exciting part…
Today I was out shopping with my girls and mom. I wasn't even on the look out for a sweater, but a camel colored turtleneck sweater caught my eye on a round of brightly colored sweaters. I picked it up and gasped! It totally reminded me of the Garnet Hill cape. Now, the sweater was not cashmere (boo), but it was $19.99. I immediately slipped it on and fell for it. And with a savings of $178, there is no way I could pass it up. It came home with me and I haven't taken it off yet.
ps….I need better lighting to compete with that gorgeous Garnet Hill model.
We are deep in the throws of being a Nutcracker family, both girls were cast this year which means it's a complete team effort. Drop off, pick ups, changing rehearsal times, make up, sewing new elastic into ballet shoes, is it the performance space, studio, or auditorium, and let's not forget the bobby pins for one low bun and one high bun. The bobby pins seem to be found in the most random places and never where we need them when it's go time! The girls have been amazing through this and I have bitten my tongue on many occasions trying to keep it all together. I dare not complain, as we chose this and I feel so fortunate to have both girls performing. I've watched them grow as dancers and love the bonding between my girls and their fellow dancers that has occur over the past couple of months. The question is, will I encourage them to try out next year? My answer will always remain the same, I will support them through whatever they want to pursue!
On most ballet class days, I drop off and J picks up, and I rarely make it inside the studio to watch the girls. This weekend J was out of town, so I was on drop off and pick up duty. Although we typically agree to meet outside for a swift pickup, I decided to drop into the studio to see if the door to class was open today. I caught a glimpse of my girl dancing en pointe. It's hard to believe she's arrived at this moment, it feels surreal. What I captured is a culmination of her determination and hard work (and drive to work through the pain of learning Pointe). I couldn't be prouder. Pass the tissues.
Brands are bought and sold all the time. It always breaks my heart when a fabulous brand gets snatched up by a conglomerate. Although the public is always told nothing is going to change, I have never seen that happen. Plus, when you believe in supporting small companies over large corporations, it's hard to forget who the parent company is. To my dismay, Intelligentsia Coffee Company was purchased by Peets. It felt disappointing, but not as disappointing as seeing your favorite red bags on the shelf in Target.
After the Warren Miller Movie we went out to dinner with a large group of friends. We were hanging out talking when the kids asked if they could go next door to the candy shop. My girls came back begging for Bean Boozled, so I agreed to buy a package (large box with spinner was $8). I can't believe how much entertainment came from a package of jelly beans, it bought the adults another 45 minutes of catching up. The premise of Bean Boozled is you spin and then you have to eat the color jelly bean you landed on, the only caveat is the color could be a great fun flavor or a disaster gross flavor! The kids had patrons of the restaurant stopping by the table to watch them take a spin! We even convinced two super cool Boulder Police Officers to play along when we were waiting for our vehicle that was right in the middle of a bomb squad call. If you are looking for cheap entertainment for a group of kids, I definitely recommend Bean Boozled!
this is NOT A SPONSORED POST! just simply sharing a fun time that was had by all!
She set up her camp chair in the front yard, just on the edge of the
shade, so her body would stay cool under nature's umbrella and her legs
could effortlessly dangle in the full sunshine. Her feet slipped out of
her squishy soled flip flops, her toenails recently painted a shade of
coral, which started to chip in a way that makes her familiar. She's
always been complimented by her imperfections. Her book came to rest on
her right thigh, but there's something about sitting outside that
doesn't make it conducive for her to read. Her eyes wander noticing the
shape shifting clouds, comparing how the sky is pale blue off to the
east, but just above her head it's a turquoise that would give the
Pacific a run for it's money. She may not have the ocean, but she has
the sky. The tips of the branches sway slightly, the leaves whisper and
she longs to understand their language.
----- free write, just sit and fill up the screen, sometimes it goes a little like this.
Tonight I was invited to a free preview screening of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, which releases on Friday November 20th. Typically, I would decline a midweek drive to Denver to preview a movie, but I knew my girl would go absolutely crazy if I took her. I need to note, she's only been talking about the release of this movie for about 6 months. In the past few weeks, we've been getting the daily, I'm so excited Mockingjay Part 2 is coming out in 18 days, 12 days, oh my goodness, it's THIS FRIDAY.
I accepted the offer to attend and kept it a total surprise. On our drive down to Denver, I made up some story about a blogging event, and she was asking if some of our blogworld friends would be there. I played along right up until the moment we entered the theater. She could not believe it, her excitement was met with some anticipation and sadness because the moment had arrived that the trilogy would be over. There were parts of the movie I would cover my eyes, she definitely got a big kick out of my response. I also predicted the ending and I have not read the books yet (I think I have to now). It was a definitely a moment to remember, mainly because I know how much it meant to her to see the movie before it was released. We spent the entire car ride home breaking down the movie, she's already counting the days before she sees it again! I'm going to have to end with, two thumbs up.
---------- Disclaimer, I was given free tickets to attend the preview screening. I was not asked to post about the movie and as you can see, this is not a review. I just wanted to relish the moment with my girl.
Sometimes I have the funniest timed epiphanies. I was standing at gymnastics pickup, looking down at the grey speckled wall to wall carpet, avoiding a myriad of rambunctious toddlers, when I noticed a mom walk by with a pair of socks on I own. I'm sure you're thinking, so what's the big coincidence? There must be dozens of moms in Boulder own wool socks from Costco. What stood out about these socks, was that they went almost to her knee!!! They were peaking out of the top of her boot that went above the mid calf line. Woah. They are crew socks and this woman was so tiny, the sock went so far up on her leg. I'm not joking the socks are basically ankle socks for me. It made me feel tall and long, mainly because I am, but it was like WOW YOU ARE TALL. All that from a simple pair of socks.
Then, not even 5 minutes later a mom stands right next to me wearing a sweater I own from Anthro. At first I thought to myself, my that's a cute sweater, and then I realized hey I own that sweater! So what's the big deal about the sweater? Well, it went down past her butt. I swear, it barely hits the top of my jean pockets. Apparently she has a short torso and I have a oddly long torso because the same sweater looks dramatically different on me. And then I thought…Wow you really are tall, tall, tall, Denise.
Next week I am swooping in moments before gymnastics lets out, so I can feel normal and not compare myself to all the Mary Lou Retton sized moms. I mean seriously, what in the world is my tall child doing pursuing gymnastics, this is not a sport of my people.
Another year, another movie. If we measured time by Warren Miller movies, 50 was the first one J worked on. This year, Chasing Shadows was the 66th film, so that puts about 16 movies in the can for J. In the can is old school lingo for a film ready to be released. I've decided I'm going to print up all of our family photos in front of the Boulder Theater marquis and frame them together, as a fun way to watch the girls growing up. It's such a wonderful tradition bringing friends together, watching the crowd get excited for the ski season that's upon us, so much excitement is always in the air at a Warren Miller Show!
Some very sad news arrived in my inbox tonight. I sat with my laptop screen open as the tears rolled down my face, I read the words over and over again. My mind wanted to pretend it missed the good news part, the holding onto hope part, but it wasn't there. While the news was not completely unexpected, it did not lessen the pain. It didn't stop my brain from fearing I may never see her again or reflecting upon the fact, if I only knew the Friday in August would be the last day I would see her. I let my mind process what it needs to. I let the tears flow. I cling onto all the moments I remember her pure laughter, her smile, the happiness I felt in her presence, and how it was always a gift to steal even a few minutes of her time to chat. I am overcome by how much goodness she has brought into my life, she is wise and I admire that about her.
But the reality is we are losing a cherished and adored member of our community, someone I love and consider a friend. She is incredibly vibrant, outspoken, and driven by a very unique love of educating children with her whole heart. She is a fierce progressive in the most brilliant sense. We share a love for Twitter and it felt like our bat channel, where we commonly have late night conversations interspersed with interesting articles we were reading. She formed a special bond with my youngest daughter which in turn ignited a passion for learning in her, and I will forever be indebted.
It's not difficult to focus on the countless ways she's touched so many lives. I imagine the web of children, colleagues, and families she's inspired over the last two decades. The web is glorious and it sparkles when the sunshine hits it just right and it continues to weave into others endlessly. I wish I could carry around a little box of bandaids and put them over the small holes that have formed in our hearts in an attempt to help us through the healing. I want so desperately to fix this. My focus now is on sending her love and light and on the passage of time being peaceful for her, the way a heart centric person deserves to be held and honored through this time. My heart will forever hold a special space which has been carved out for no one other than her.
More violence, more senseless loss. Another brutal attack on Paris, another blow to humanity. I live in a very insulated world where I believe human life is sacred and I refuse to live any differently. My brain struggles to comprehend reasons for war, murder, plots to harm, extremism in the name of religion, corporations that knowingly poison consumers. I want to live in a world where human lives are not disposable, where change comes from fighting the hard fight in peaceful solidarity. I fear the commonplace of insurmountable loss and contemplate why are our hearts shrinking?
Another violin has entered our home. I played when I was 9, quit by the time I was 12. My oldest has been playing since she was 9, when an orchestra program was launched at our school. Now, my youngest has chosen to join the orchestra and learn to play the violin. For three years now, G has joined us at performances and hung around school during orchestra practice watching her big sister.
When I took her into the local music shop to pick up her 1/2 size rental, her smile was wider than her face. It was obvious she was waiting for her moment. As it turns out, she's very focused. Unlike her big sister, she practices on average five days a week for at least 20 minutes per session. She would power through when her fingers were hurting from plucking the strings and her determination allowed her to quickly progress onto bowing. Tonight I sat on the floor outside her bedroom door unbeknownst to her. She sounded so wonderful for a newbie, it's hard to believe she's only a couple of months into lessons. I began to hum along with her song, after she finished she stepped outside her room to find me. "Mom, have you been listening to me this whole time," she inquired. I told her I couldn't help myself. Being a part of her discovering music, reading notes, placing her fingers, practicing songs until she gets it just right, is pure magic.
We woke to snow, a light dusting. Even though there wasn't much accumulation, snow still comes with the reality that it's cold outside. We talked briefly over breakfast about things we could do with our day, but the majority of options were out of the house. The notion of staying in for the day felt so charming. With no activities to run to in the afternoon, we opted to stay put. The girls begged for a blanket fort and my oh my did J indulge them. He didn't just build a blanket fort, it felt like a rent controlled studio in the Village! The girls grabbed blankets and pillows, the space was so comfortable for lounging around, that's exactly how we spent our day. I'm surprised they didn't request to sleep in there, although they did ask if it could stay up through the weekend. Of course we said yes, if it means more relaxing, easy going days. Why are blanket forts so magical?
What if I could push my words, like I do paint on a canvas. I never quite set out to capture anything when I paint except for motion, lines, and making our eyes move with a flow. And my words? Can they move through the space on the page and create an image? I suppose that's rhetorical, for we know words can take us anywhere.
But where do we want to go…
---- a little side note, I fell asleep last night with my laptop in my lap, when I woke I was in a fog and thought I had hit publish. I'm correcting that now. Life.
I'm leaning in on a NaBloPoMo November Prompt to help me get over the hump! What is the first thing you do every single day (I mean, after you hit the snooze button)?
Here's a little insight into my mornings, which honestly borders on a confessional because sometimes it's hard to believe I have fallen into this routine. Every single morning before I get out of bed, I spend some time cuddled up with my girls. Well, not always my oldest because she's too busy in the morning checking instagram or complaining that the birds are chirping, but a few times a week I demand her to join us. This morning, my 8 year old walked in my bedroom, I opened up the covers, and she climbed in. I don't even know how the conversation started, but we started talking about what life would be like if we didn't have elbows. So to hold onto the moment, I took the thought to Twitter, where I received a few hilarious responses including a video.
We spent at least 15 minutes in deep belly laughs from our elbow tangents. We ran through the gamut of inventing new utensils because eating would absolutely be the most profoundly impacted by not have elbows. There was gesturing to try out our ideas, followed by more laughter. Then the girls carried on with their morning routine, lunches packed and breakfast prepared by J, water bottles filled, sweatshirts on, backpacks stuffed, all in time for our carpool pickup! I carried on reading in bed through the hustle and bustle of the morning rush and even when the calm settled in the house, as soon as the storm door closed.
In preparation for my parents visit over Thanksgiving, I spent sometime deep cleaning my kitchen today. My mother loves to putter around the house and for fun I'll find her doing chores like scrubbing the inside of my toaster oven. In an attempt to give her some time to relax, I thought I'd clean the oven, toaster oven, and wipe down my cabinets before their arrival! I couldn't recall the last time I cleaned the inside of my oven, but it only took once glance to recognize it had been too long. Years ago (yes, I said years ago) I did one of those self-cleaning cycles, but to be quite honest I am not a fan of the fumes and when it's hot out, it's hard to convince us to run the oven all day. Then when it's cold out, who wants to open the windows to run the oven all day just to clean it, plus it seems like a waste of gas. There is no way I would ever buy those toxic smelling oven cleaners, so I've resorted to wiping out spills and quite often overlooked the baked on part. I set out to clean the neglected oven. Actually when you opened the door it looked a little like this:
That photo is after I scrubbed the inside of the door. I used my go to Choreboy scrubbers, Bon Ami, Ecover cream cleanser, Seventh Generation free and clear all purpose cleaner and the oven STILL LOOKED LIKE THAT!
Then I did some research and I learned a perfect non-toxic oven cleaning technique.
Let me share it with you!
1. Spray your favorite all purpose cleanser on the dark, baked in spots that will not easily come off with a cleaning cloth and a little elbow grease. I love Seventh Generation's All Purpose Cleaner.
2. Wait 3-5 minutes.
3. Use a razor blade to scrape the baked on, thick mess off! Make sure the parts you are scraping with the razor blade are still wet, this is very important.
4. Wipe down with a wet rag following to shine and polish!
I used a basic razorblade, I don't recommend this. Use a real scraper.
The after shot of my oven door! For real! 5 minutes later and a little scraping. No toxic cleaners were used, which is the best part!
This is the type of scraper I recommend, they cost about $2 and are way safer!
All products mentioned, I purchase for use in my home. This post was not sponsored by any companies.
I casually strolled into an assembly today with my new camera in hand, to take some photos for the school's website. I thought I would grab some large group shots and a few close ups of the birds of prey an outreach organization had brought in to celebrate our 10 years as a Green Star School. There was an owl, a hawk, a falcon, and your everyday BALD EAGLE. But it turns out, I became an active part of the assembly. The birds were marvelous, I was as enthralled as the kindergartners in the front row. The entire presentation was captivating and interactive. One hour and over a 100 photos later, I snuck out of the back of the gymnasium and into my office as the younger kids were letting out. I decided to pass on staying for the second assembly with the older students.
My decision to leave would wind up biting me in the ass. It wasn't even 15 minutes into the next assembly when I received a text message with a photo of my oldest daughter interacting with the owl. I high tailed it down to the gymnasium, but I had missed the moment. As I was decompressing with a colleague about how disappointed I was, the newspaper photographer stopped to give us his card and he mentioned my daughter's name. The guilt rushed out of my body the minute I saw his amazing candid shots of my girl. He was even kind enough to email them to me within the hour. Thanks to the photographer for saving the day!
Girls bring me your laundry now!!! I yelled out to my youngest practicing her violin and my tween, enthralled with ballet on YouTube. My mind instantly takes me back to my childhood home, as they dump their bulging hampers onto the floor in front of me. The mountain of laundry grows as the washing machine and dryer simultaneously let out mechanical roars behind me. Growing up, I rarely saw a pile of laundry, if so it was always sorted into whites, neutrals, darks, or towels. My mother is a laundering goddess and when I say she could outlaunderMartha in a competition, I wouldn't give a second thought to doubling down on Barbara over Martha. She folds with precision and the utmost care, no whites every dulled, three sons always presented her with a stain challenge but none defeated her. Clean clothes never sat cold and wrinkled in the dryer because it was always promptly folded straight from a buzzing machine and put away while they were still warm. The woman can fold a queen fitted sheet to fit in a quart size Ziploc bag. Have I even mentioned she stayed on top of laundry with the utmost care for a household of 6?
I on the other hand have failed in all the ways my mother perfected the art of laundering. I will admit, I do have a mean stain fighting repertoire, but the wrinkles and the bottomless mounds leave me so uninspired and defeated. Defeated enough to be sitting here writing while I ignore the cackling from the three loads of laundry that sit on the other end of the sectional, waiting to be tended to. It also sounds like the washing machine just came to a final spin and I give it a 3, 2, 1 until the dryer buzzes to complete the nightmare laundry trifecta. The loads weigh heavily on me and I can't help but wonder at what age is the perfect time for children to begin taking on some of their responsibilities around the house (says the woman who never did a load of her own laundry before I moved out at 18)? They do put away their clothes or I find myself begging them to match up the laundry basket of socks, but I'm dreaming about how exciting it would be to hand some laundering duties off to them…
The funny thing about setting aside time to write daily is that you may sit down with one idea and find a completely different post lands on your screen. Yesterday I was ready to blather on about my internet outage, but instead I focused on gratitude. It's strange how conscious I've been of this process unfolding in front of me, as it has been quite sometime eons since I've posted daily. This time around it's easier to sit with my words, to digest them, to reread, to polish. I find myself cutting and pasting and creating small paragraphs of the same text below the paragraph I'm currently working on and also having no qualms with deleting sentence after sentence. I'm looking at words in new ways, building sentences that simply flow with my thoughts, opening new windows and drafting two sentence ideas for other posts that arise in the moment. There's a lightness to my experience, by just allowing my words to be released. And there's nothing quite like the cliché of a blogger writing about their writing process. Be done Denise, be done.
Tuesdays feel like a gift to me, it's my regular day off of work. Everyone is out of the house either at work or school. I try my hardest to avoid turning Tuesdays into errand day, wasting the day running around in my car. Post office, grocery store, bank, or a return to Target can all wait until any day of the week other than Tuesday. Instead, I have a leisurely breakfast with a chai and allow the morning to simply spill into the afternoon. Today in particular turned out to be the most wonderful day weather wise, 73 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Surely those perfect conditions prompted a couple of hours reading in my hammock. I didn't even allow the crunch of the leaves under my feet as to prompt me to do something preposterous like, raking leaves. I mean, it's Tuesday after all.
------ there was a delay in posting, my internet went out last night at 9:30 and wasn't back up until this am. Boo.
September ushers in the strongest felt seasonal contrasts, the strange and unexpected fading out of morning sunshine. The sunlight feels too slow to grace us and the dark makes staying in bed too easy to do. A solution to combat my lingering in bed was to draw my bedroom curtains back, day and night. A few times in the wee hours of the morning by surprise, my bare windows allowed the intense glow of the moon to rattle me right out of a deep slumber. Although I find it's hard to be disappointed when natural light, be it from the sun or moon, finds it's way into my home. This otherwise hard to find pure white moonlight illuminates our bodies in the dark. My squinting eyes glimpse out the window to capture highlights on tree limbs and leaves, cascading deep shadows, light draping the landscape in a way sunshine never could. I roll over to my default fetal position, pulling my worn in cotton quilt over my shoulder, moonlight on my back, and fall back into a slumber.
Drawing my curtains back has proven to be one of my best ideas yet.
For some reason today, NaBloPoMo crossed my mind. I did quick blog search to discover, I participated exactly two times over the course of this blog's life, in 2009 and 2012. Apparently there's a subconscious three year cycle switch in my brain. Being a woman that takes a deep interest in numbers, I believe it would be a terrible idea to completely disregard I have yet again hit my three year mark in the NaBloPoMo cycle. Before I gave it too much thought, I added my name to the blogroll, and just like that I have committed. Let's do this 2015.
So here I am.
It's hard to express the multitude of times I still have blogpost ideas rattling around in my mind through out the day. I guess I no longer honor the urge to write and share, which feels awful to say. Today I have committed to change that, to honor my voice, and open up again. In an age when blogs are shuttering by the hour, I see the summit of this climb, and it has a date of November 30, 2015 stamped on the flag waving in the wind.