i love people who… (thanksgiving edition)

I love people who set the table with formal precision, using place cards and evenly spaced forks and multiple wine glasses. This makes their guests feel fancy and loved.

I also love people who buy colorful harvest-themed paper plates and serve the meal on TV trays to save that dishes-washing time for extra cuddling later. This makes their guests feel relaxed and loved.

I love people who fold linen napkins into amazing designs and also people who spin stacks of paper napkins into silly little spiral towers.

I love people who get a thrill from cooking the entire meal alone, to serve their loved ones in one grand gesture.

And I love people who divvy up the menu, throwing caution to the wind, and eat everything anybody brings.

I love people who make reservations at restaurants and spend every spare minute talking face to face with their people then tip their waitstaff generously as a holiday gift.

Folks who order full traditional meals from boutique grocers? Love those folks.

I once worked at the bank with a woman who had been so poor as a young, single Mom that for Thanksgiving one year all she could afford was a Spam and canned vegetables. She added what she could to the Spam, served it, and counted her blessings. I think of her every single year while I am planning and cooking way too much food. I love her and her story.

I love people who buy a stack of frozen pie crusts on sale in August then thaw them in November and fill them with canned fruit fillings, and I obviously love people who spend hours mixing their own fats and flours to get the perfect flaky crusts then fill them with peeled fruits they probably grew at home.

I love people who fall asleep watching the Thanksgiving Day parade, and I love people who go on nature hikes while the turkey roasts.

I love people who insist on playing football during the Thanksgiving party, or watching it on television, and I love people who write complicated toasts for their people no matter how botched they end up every yea (me)r.

Some families are good at discussing hot button political topics over stuffing and pumpkin pie. Others wisely eschew this minefield and get really familiar with each other’s day to day life instead. I love it all. (Have you seen the SNL skit yet where they use the new Adele song to dissuade an explosive family fight?)

I love people who deep fry their turkeys just as much as I love those who roast it the same way every year, using Grandma’s pan and secret method. I love people who brine the bird and people who brown bag it.

I love the canned-cranberry-jelly citizens out there in Thanksgiving Land, and I love my grandmother’s raw citrus-cranberry relish and all who love that along with me.

Some people search out every traditional family recipe they can find, and others reach for a more global, cosmopolitan vibe for the Turkey Day menu. Still others (like the Snapp family we know and love) opt for their own unique tradition of steaks and baked potatoes. I love all of these people. Maybe especially the Snapps.

My friend Carmel was the Indian to my Pilgrim way back in 6th grade, for a church pageant. I still wear this apron. xoxo

My friend Carmel was the Indian to my Pilgrim way back in 6th grade, for a church pageant. I still wear this apron. xoxo

The different ways that people celebrate this pretty cool holiday are just delightful. I so enjoy looking around and noticing that, for all our homogenization and structure (and retail saturation), we can be a pretty imaginative and various culture. We are good at honoring our roots while growing our wings. And that is beautiful.

This Thanksgiving, enjoy your details, whatever they may be. Celebrate your traditions and your quirks. Love your people harder than ever. That’s my advice. And give some thanks, actively. It matters.

Very Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours
from The Lazy W, Oklahoma


unbridled joy and easy gratitude

Ahhh November, the month of thankfulness. The season of expressing gratitude and counting our blessings, of celebrating the gifts in our life.

Over these past few years I have shared with you guys stuff I’ve learned (reluctantly at times) about the muscles of gratitude, about the importance of showing our thankfulness even when we aren’t really feeling it and about how that discipline can get you to a brighter place. I believe deep down in my bones that the purposeful, conscious act of choosing joy is vital to our temporary well-being and infinitely beneficial to our long-term spiritual health. I also believe that your choice to see the good in life becomes your pulse, gradually, and that over time you cannot help but feel drawn to the brightest of everything and even learn to overlook the dark. So often in life, after all, we are clouded by worry or surrounded by grief and joy does not come naturally.

autumn ivy

And then sometimes joy comes very naturally.

Sometimes life surprises us with wave after wave of unbridled joy. Do you ever feel so happy and giddy that you look around to see if anyone else is feeling it, too? Almost like you need someone else to be similarly caught up in your elation in order for it to be real, or for you to feel okay about it? Especially when huge oceans of grief seem to be swallowing the globe, or swallowing our friends, it can feel self-indulgent to just be really happy about life.

Sometimes you just feel so great that you simply want to share it.

Things are looking up for us, friends. In three or four million different ways. Handsome and I still have normal problems like everybody else, and we always will. Some of them are pretty serious, actually. But we have better perspective than ever. The seasons of grief and waiting have taught us all those important lessons about gratitude and humility, upward gaze and steady breath. Now the unbridled joy is building strength. I find myself grinning for no reason at all. For every reason. At this point, giving up on those yet unanswered prayers would be so ridiculous. We have more evidence than ever that miracles are real. That faith counts. That grateful hearts are receptive to the best gifts.

frosty roses

frosty pots

We woke up to a beautiful, magical, frosty farm. We have in front of us just as much play as work. Our blessings are easy to count. Thanksgiving week at the Lazy W is starting with a big swell of energy and Love, and we want to share it.

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.
The more you express gratitude for what you have,
the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
~Zig Ziglar

letting go, change is good, and a waterfall in africa

After twenty one years of motherhood (I am being generous here and including the pregnancy months), I have reached the conclusion that our children’s life stages have more to do with us, the parents, being ready to let go than with our children being ready to move on. Yes, of course there is the preparation and the skill set building. The growth and the strengthening. But I believe it is harder on us for them to leave than the other way around. Our instincts are all wired for this, so it has to be true. That is my thesis statement, and I am sticking to it.

She left in March, remember? And I thought she would be home by September and we would get back to our shopping and our cooking lessons. I thought we would be talking about college perhaps or who knows what, just here in Oklahoma, haha. She did come home, of course, but only for a week around her birthday. And she brought a boy. The same sweet boy I met when I visited her in June. And then they were gone again. And now she is off pursuing her own joy and blazing her own trails. Feathering her own nest, as nature commands.

I snapped this at the peak of Old Man, moments after the three of us reached it. These two led the way that day. They pointed out the footholds. They laughed and ran and climbed and worried for me and encouraged me. Quite an amazing little role reversal on a gorgeous mountain in Colorado. I will never in my life forget this day. xoxo

I snapped this at the peak of Old Man in Estes Park, moments after the three of us reached it. It was quite a little rock scramble. These two led the way that day. They pointed out the footholds. They laughed and ran and climbed and worried for me and encouraged me. It was an amazing, loving little role reversal on a gorgeous mountain in Colorado. I will never in my life forget this day. xoxo

I have had a different idea of how things might go, but that has been true since the beginning. Since before she was born. And you know what? No matter how different the details have been, it all has been pretty wonderful. In so many ways, life has been far better than how I would have designed it all by myself.

Which is not to say that my deepest wishes and wildest imaginations have been neglected. Not by a long shot. Plenty of the visions I had before she was born have come to fruition. And looking back over the past 15 years, especially just these past 15 months, I can say with a trembling sort of confidence that our prayers are always being heard. So make them really, really good but keep an open heart about what else might happen.

Without a doubt, life is big and beautiful and full of amazing surprises, and life goes on even when we are quite off course from where we expected to be.

For these reasons I am no longer really afraid of change. So many surprises in life just turn out for the best. I occasionally get nostalgic for the past, or for the unfulfilled longings of motherhood or just life in general, but I try not to nurse those wounds too much. Instead, I just acknowledge the feelings then actively focus on the blessings right in front of me. When I compare those little losses to the big, miraculous ways life has actually been happening? It is amazing. It is just unreal how much God leads and guides and protects us, despite ourselves.

Let’s rephrase this to be a little more real, a little less preachy:

It is amazing how much God has been leading and guiding and directing my life and protecting me, despite my mistakes. Despite my shortcomings. Despite my failures and weaknesses. It is amazing how generous He has been with my prayer requests, despite my worrying mind.

A friend once posed this question: What if all of your dreams came true? What you got every single one of your wishes? 

A big reason I am no longer really afraid of change is that the Universe seems to have so much better in store than what I have been asking of it. Letting go is difficult, and change sometimes hurts for a while, but thank goodness for the explosion of growth. Thank goodness for the renewal available to us all the time, if we choose it. Thank goodness for all those thrilling surprise blessings that we didn’t even know were possible.


For the past few nights I have fallen asleep listening to the most luscious program about the extreme corners of the earth and the people and animals who survive there. It has been a soothing and stimulating way to fill and empty my brain before rest. One segment was about the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. These are the largest waterfalls in the world, and they are stunning.

(photo credit to http://victoriafallstourism.org/victoria-falls-photos/)

(photo credit to http://victoriafallstourism.org/victoria-falls-photos/)

What got my attention even more than the sight is the geological history. The falls empty into a deep, wide gorge which didn’t exist before a diverted flow of the river eroded the rock there. The rock just collapsed, and the wide, powerful river followed. I cannot remember exactly how the narrator phrased this long process, but it churned my heart up.

Water. Just water, in its natural state, moving energetically and following its own path and purpose, over time dramatically altered the face of the earth. And then it kept on being water and was, one day, this magnificent, complex, dangerous and beautiful waterfall.

The original river must have been beautiful enough. But what if we had never seen this waterfall?


My Dad has always joked that once a baby learns to walk, it’s all over. He’s right. And with this joke he is gently acknowledging that this new skill opens up the world to that baby, including Colorado Rocky Mountains and waterfalls in Zimbabwe.

So, yes- change is okay. Change is good. Roll with it. Let your children go when the time comes. Trust that Love has both you and them in a firm, safe grip. Abandon control and “shoulds” a little bit and watch for amazing surprises along the way. And pray always. Persistently. Be like that river and change the face of the earth with your prayers.

Wishing you all the very best surprises life has to offer.



extra curricular activities, lately

My life and schedule seem to be undergoing as much change lately as the leaves and temperatures outside. The changes are gradual, for the most part, but certainly noticeable. I thought I’d fill you guys in a tiny bit and see what feels like a story worth telling.

The Oklahoma Master Gardeners, which you heard so much about last year as I attended classes, is now a more permanent part of my life. If you follow along on Instagram then you might have noticed that a few weeks ago we graduated from student-interns to certified. I think. I mean, are we yet? Who knows? haha We might be at least certifiable. But the ceremony was fun and satisfying after so much reading and so many hours of phone duty. Now my ongoing responsibilities are mostly with the group’s Social Media Committee. This is great for me, because I like to stay home as much as possible but still contribute and keep in touch with folks. As the momentum with this fledgling project builds, I will have the opportunity to share really good, useful gardening information with anyone who feels like listening. A week or so ago was our monthly meeting, and afterwards I went to a brainstorming lunch with Elizabeth, one of the other two ladies on our committee, in fact the chair. She is one of the friendliest people you will ever meet. Do you remember our garden tour stop at her Mesta Park home? Same sweet lady. She is very encouraging and direct when it comes to brainstorming sessions, and she has excellent taste in lunch fare. We tried a place in midtown OKC that was completely new to me. She also took me to a nearby community garden filled with foods and herbs, but I will show you more of that another day.

me w elizabeth nov 2015

This was a "haus salad" topped with feta and fresh falafel. Delicious to the max.

This was a “haus salad” topped with feta and fresh falafel. Delicious to the max.

EC mg decor


Another big slice of my time is being devoted to the Oklahoma Beekeepers’ Association. Perhaps you already knew that our Lazy W Honeymakers went the way of the dinosaurs, so I have been lax in giving pollinator updates around here. But I never gave up hope. My great-grandfather was so accomplished, and I am so surrounded by knowledgeable, generous people, how could I  ever give up? So anyway, at the recent statewide conference for the Oklahoma Beekeepers’ Association, I was elected Secretary. I had already agreed to write the state newsletter whenever needed (I am a dork and love pretending to be a reporter), so this is a great fit. The fact that my new role will give me even more exposure to successful beekeepers is just icing on the honey cake. haha Below I am posing happily with Maribeth, my mentor and friend who you have met several times here on my blog. She is serving as President for the organization in the coming year, probably the coming decade. I am super exited about this new undertaking. (If you got the bee joke there in that last sentence, bonus points to you.)


EC me maribeth

When I make time for it, I am running again. I’ll post more about that probably next Monday, but the short version is that I have set a goal for November of 100 miles, just to get back in the groove of things. When I don’t have a race or a “little back dress” event coming up, it is scary easy to make excuses about my nutrition and put running at the bottom of my priorities list. I always pay for that mistake with a bad attitude, low energy, and more, so this month I am happy to be back in some healthy habits. I am already seeing improvements.

The west field loop is just perfection right now. Wedding Meadow is crunchy but colorful.

The west field loop is just perfection right now. Wedding Meadow is crunchy but colorful.

Something else old that is new again? Sewing! My embroidery machine is finally home from the repair shop, long story, and then Handsome surprised me with a second brand new sewing machine. So on the days that I seclude myself in the Apartment to drum up a cottony, scrappy storm, both machines plus the iron are going pretty non stop. It’s a very soothing sound, often shadowed by some Sting or Carla Bruni music. I am having lots of fun filling orders for friends and hope this trend continues.

EC sew

The farm is doing pretty great, all distractions considered. Yes, I could spend a little more time scooping manure or raking leaves or maybe learning to ride our lazy horses, who have no real duties besides snuffling me. I could also spend more time in the gardens before winter hits, because I know in a matter of weeks I will be sad for sunshine. But the days and weeks are in balance with my priorities right now. I truly feel settled. The season for other things will roll around eventually.

Can you tell from this distance how much Klaus has grown? When he runs between my legs I can just about sit on him.

Can you tell from this distance how much Klaus has grown? When he runs between my legs I can just about sit on him.

So all this is what has been keeping me too busy to blog much, all the stuff I’ve been doing between feeding and cooking and cleaning up after said feeding and cooking. And laundry-ing and ironing. And driving my cute car.

EC car

Taking stock of my gratitude is pretty easy these days. I am more protective over our domestic bliss and private joys than I have been in a long time, for reasons that are so lame I will not even give them air time here. Suffice it to say that no attack from the outside, whether professional or personal, social or downright spiritual, really matters so long as the home is healthy and strong. Kind of like the beehive, you know? So let’s tend our lives and our homes well. Stay healthy and strong, friends, and be happy.

EC women

Until we meet again, will you please give this idea some thought? Who are the women who have changed your life, really? I feel a big, juicy post coming on exactly this.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
~Annie Dillard


we are too old for this

Age may be just a number, but hopefully life and time do bring us some evolution, right? It may come either in spurts or so very slowly, but change can be a welcome gift. Life is always better after a little growth. Agreed? With some recent changes in my life I am realizing there are some things that need to be left behind. I’m just too old for some stuff. And whatever your age, I suspect you are too.

  • Gossip: Oh man, friends. Is it just me? Am I being too picky? Because, when did gossip get to be so commonplace again? We learned in middle school how destructive it is. I feel like as a general population of people my age, both male and female, gossip was for the longest time not tolerated. The Golden Rule reigned. But somehow gossip is making a comeback and sarcasm has become the humor of choice for so many folks. Criticizing each other behind our backs, making snide and deeply hurtful remarks, forming secret allegiances, it is all so normal that I can no longer keep track of who feels how about what common friend. Not a good feeling. And who knows how those same people truly feel about me? Even a worse feeling. I’m too old to share in or tolerate gossip.
  • Feelings of Inferiority:  My natural tendency is to be extremely self punishing while seeing only the impressive, amazing qualities of others, especially women. While this could serve anyone well in a healthy context, I’m really too old to dwell in a state of self hatred. It poisons the atmosphere, you know? This weird combination of tendencies magnifies both assets and deficiencies into a distorted, fun house reality that only breeds low self esteem, jealousy, insecurity, then a twisted kind of inter-personal battery. Inflated self worth, which is bizarre. And to me this includes allowing myself to be bossed around or mothered by people who are not my mentors or authority figures.  It can invite people to be be awfully condescending, you know? I generally try to make room if someone close to me has a need to give advice or lecture, and often I even ask advice when I don’t particularly need it, because of either self doubt or politeness, but all of these habits can be extremely destructive to both parties. If I put up with it for too long, I will eventually snap and catch the advice-giver quite by surprise. That’s not very loving of me. And posturing myself to receive lots to unsolicited advice from others who probably don’t know my heart and also don’t now any better than me, well, it’s a recipe for bitterness. Harboring feelings of inferiority is not the same as seeing room to grow. I’m too old to waste time and energy on this any longer.
  • Active Negativity: Everyone has bad days, difficult seasons of life, and straight up bizarre, confusing situations that have us occasionally kind of howling at the moon in frustration. Sometimes there is a legitimate need to vent or acknowledge problems so they can be dealt with. But then there is the bad habit of being determined to feel defeated or attacked. Short changed, victimized. The tendency, no matter how much good is flourishing, to focus on the blemishes and failures. The funny thing about focus is that it works as a magnifier. It’s fertilizer for reality, and I’m too old to keep focusing on the negative stuff. I’m also too old to surrender my time to chronically negative people.
  • Aimlessness & Losing Control Over My Time: This hearkens straight back to posturing myself for others to take control. And it has been resulting in lots of time wasted and resentful feelings of obligation then bitterness. I am just too old to allow it to continue.

And with none of this do I mean to sound superior or overly maternal; although this is all advice I’d be thrilled to offer both of my daughters at a receptive moment. They are both at the perfect age to launch their womanhood and adult relationships in healthy ways. Besides them, this writing today is just an expression of what I have learned about myself, of what thresholds I have for my own little corner of this big, beautiful world. To the people in my personal life, it might help explain why I have less tolerance for some difficult relationships than I used to have. Again, this is not about judgement of other people; it’s about deciding what I can handle for my own life. Judging what is good for my own environment and for those close to me.
So, hey… Let’s not magnify this darkness too much. Let’s instead cast some light into it, replacing those bad habits with good ones. This is a healthier mechanism, right? What can we do more of that will eventually get us to do less of the gossiping, feeling inferior, remaining in negativity, and living aimlessly? Here are my thoughts:

  • More Constructive, Loving Words: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything,” may be a good start. But silence can be  pretty hurtful, too. Let’s replace the gossip and sarcasm with genuine, loving words. Not fake stuff, either. I want to make a better effort to see the best in people, even people I find difficult at the moment. Then speak it. Words are phenomenal. Women can be supremely effective with this if we choose it. I’ve enjoyed female bonds that are nothing but constructive and nourishing, amazing stuff! And unfortunately I’ve seen female bonds deteriorate into deep wounds, all because of words. I want to remember how powerful my tongue is and how influential my spirit can be, then make an effort to draw out the best in those both nearby and far off. I want to remember that everyone has a history I know little to nothing about, and assume that most folks are at any given time doing the best they can do. Replace judgement, even when I am feeling hurt, with understanding. At the very least, I will check all the words coming out of my mouth so that I never start or participate in gossip, nor allow it by passivity. Speak well of other human beings. Period. No matter who they are or how I am feeling temporarily.
  • Honest Assessments of What I Bring to the Table & Taking Better Ownership of My Decisions: For me this starts with just a nice, deep breath. Maybe some yoga or a long run, but mostly just listening for God to say something soothing to me. Assessing my place in life has a lot more to do with listening than declaring. Is the same true for you? We can always go about setting goals and staking claims around the planet, and that’s great! But settled confidence and stronger, more deliberate decisions come with a quiet mind. Fewer distractions. Lots of deep breathing. I’m too old for being so desperate to fit in and allowing others to tell me how to live.
  • Harnessing My Imagination & Choosing to Dwell in Possibility: It’s a choice that can become habit and then blend seamlessly into a natural state of being, but it is first a choice. Maybe a long series of tiny choices. I think this has a lot to do with gratitude, too, so yes to purposefully saying thank you for more stuff in my life. Yes to making as many conscious little choices as possible throughout each day to see the good around me and imagine better things coming. I believe in the wild, wonderful power of imagination, after all. I need to get back to acting on that belief.
  • Focus, Then Speak My Mind Without Apologizing:  This has a little (maybe a lot) to do with pawning my decisions off on other people for fear of making my truest opinions known. The old habit is based in fear. Its replacement is based in love. Not just selfish love, either, because being gently but firmly honest about my heart can only build more genuine connections with other people. It could mean occasionally saying goodbye to people, or maybe just redefining my relationship with them, but if those bonds were based on something other than the truth of my heart, what am I really losing?  Also, the older I get the more quickly time passes, and I keep hearing that this only becomes more and more true. I’m too old waste time or to live anything but a genuine life, day to day.

You know what I’m not too old for? Bouncy houses. Not too old for that yet, thank goodness.

I’ll be 42 in March, making me neither a spring chicken nor terribly old. You may also be 42 or maybe 18 or 60. All of us are too old for the stuff listed here. xoxo Reclaim your health and happiness.

What do you think? Are any of these things plaguing your every day life? Your relationships? If so, how do you hope to remedy it?

Happiness is an inside job.
Get to work.

friday 5 at the farm: stormy day photos

Thursday brought some crazy weather to Oklahoma. A lightning quick (get it?) and rather violent storm hit the farm suddenly in the middle of the afternoon. The morning’s flannel grey skies turned black. The warm, humid air turned icy cold. And all those fallen oak leaves twirled upward in spirals and autumnal confetti bursts. Rain flooded the middle field in just moments and ran in a silver-white, frothing stream downhill. The pond churned like a tiny ocean. Our east facing barn doors were blown out, or maybe the horses broke them out? It’s hard to say.

fri5 rain c

fri5 chanta wet c

fri5 meh wet c

Then the storm passed as suddenly as it had arrived. The skies calmed. Half-hearted thunder and thread-thin cracks of lightning kept me watching the skies for a few more hours, but overall the farm was quiet. I returned the horses to their field, consoled the agitated llama, and texted photos of the barn doors to my husband.

By evening, the air was so sweet. Clean and sweet, rinsed out and blown through by the storm. Settled. Fog appeared between the trees and above the grass in cottony streaks, filling every dip and corner with opaque white. It was a stunning kind of quiet. I adore the way fog muffles everything, and I think evening fog is an especially nice gift.

fri5 klaus fog east c

Klaus played and romped around in the gentle dusk while I watched Handsome repair the barn doors. Then he (Klaus, not my husband) appeared from behind the giant hay bales, smelling like sage bush. I imagined he was a small, Spanish-speaking werewolf, which may in fact be the case.

When the farm is so drenched in magic like this I cannot fix my eyes on one thing. Neither my mind. I want to collect all the details and force them into some kind of permanence. Which is silly, of course, because a big part of magic is that it is fleeting, elusive. So instead I hope to at least remember how pink the eastern sky was as the moon rose and how the pine trees vibrated with fragrance. I hope to remember how hard my husband worked to fix the barn doors, at the end of an exhausting day at his real job. I hope to think about this storm, its suddenness, and how grateful I am that no animals were hurt.

fri5 fog c

Storms come and go, and everything is beautiful and weird.



happily anticipating holidays at the farm

Late October. Such an exciting time of transition. This is when everything really starts looking different in Oklahoma and when we officially trade our summertime pool parties for blanket-wrapped bonfires. This week marks the uphill climb to that first tall peak of the roller coaster known as The Holidays.

For hostesses, Halloween is the point of no return… Mwa-ha-ha…

I groove hostessing. Maybe you call it entertaining or simply having people over. I straight up love opening The Lazy W to friends and family, sometimes my husband’s professional colleagues, even strangers. We indulge in this pretty often and for a wide variety of reasons. In fact, if ever too much time seems to be passing between special occasions, you can bet that I am thinking up an excuse to invite people here. Lots of different personalities living and breathing in this house, all over the farm really, eating and laughing and infusing these walls with their Love and energy, it’s what keeps this place alive. Luckily Handsome is on board with my passion for people about 87% of the time. That other 13%? I can usually bridge that gap with something chocolate. Like this.

But with the holidays so close upon us, reasons and excuses to gather are about to be plentiful.

This weekend we will dress up in costumes and share sweet treats, maybe attend a few parties and then sleep one extra hour Sunday morning. Handsome will be Batman, of course, the best Batman in all the land. I will be at least four different characters to go alongside Batman, taking photos of him with random strangers. My costume criteria is always twofold: How much have I been running lately and not eating tortilla chips- can I pull this off? And also- will it leave me free to be Batman’s fans’ photographer? haha Yeah, we are definitely excited about Halloween this year!

batman w bane

Actually I am looking forward to all the holidays this year! The gathering spirit has got me tight in its happy grasp. To me, preparing the farm for people is all about this: Love. Why are we gathering, and how can I set the stage for Love to move freely between us? How can this event, whatever it is, meet needs and make memories for everyone? So the details of that are pretty simple: atmosphere, food, and comfort.


holiday board


ATMOSPHERE, LIKE NATURAL BLOOMS & PAPER DECOR: I love wild color around the house all year long, and when given a choice I will go for natural decor like real trees and indoor plants and flowers. So for the wintertime holidays that means forcing bulbs, for one thing. This year, in addition to paper whites and amaryllis I will force some more colorful stuff, and it’s very exciting! At the Master Gardeners meeting next week, they are selling flower bulbs to members only and I cannot wait to see what they offer. Bring on the tulips and hyacinths!! The cozier months mean lots of yarn and tissue paper crafts, too. These are soft and inviting in any room, plus they are a relaxing way to keep my hands busy during movie marathons.


ALSO, LIGHTS: I love having twinkle lights strung all through the house, around the nearby yards, in trees, over our deck, around mirrors, wherever I can find an electrical outlet nearby. Handsome, though he chagrins wasted electricity, understands my biological need for sparkle and one day brought home a giant box of energy-efficient lights. I think he got them on clearance after Christmas last year, and now we are both happy, haha. : )


THEMES Some of the themed parties we threw this past year were Oscars Night, Pizza and Board Games, Car Show Pinup (that was my husband’s surprise 40th birthday), and Fiesta. Each of these was a fully developed, top to bottom, inside and out themed party that just made us so happy. I love starting with the invitation and carrying the idea through food and drink, music, decorations, and activities. For the wintertime holidays, we will likely go for a cookie exchange, a a chili cook off, some Dirty Santa fun, and more.

party posts car show

My handsome guy surrounded by some of our friends at his surprise 40th birthday Pinup Car Show party. THAT was memorable! xoxo

party post oscars joe

Our friend Joe filling out his ballot at last year’s Oscars party. Fun!

In addition to themes for gathering, I will be drumming up care package themes for our oldest daughter. She is living on her own out of state for the first time, and I want her winter to be as cozy and happy as possible. (Send me your ideas!)

party post joc pacino

FOOD Ahh, wintertime diet, you are so good and so bad. I foresee lots of baking. Lots of biscotti, lots of homemade chicken pot pie and chicken and dumplins, a pot of red beans and rice here and there, so much bone-warming food. We can totally throw homemade pizza parties in wintertime,too! Thank goodness for my new treadmill.

party post pizza jason

Our friend Jason crafting his pizza masterpiece. We had an exciting tornado that night and ended the evening playing Cards Against Humanity. My gosh. FUN.

SNOW, maybe ICE All the almanac-type signs point to a snowier than usual winter in Oklahoma this year, so I am looking forward to lots of snowman building, snow angel making, snow ice cream, bonfires, fireplace chats, you name it. Snow is gonna be a fun excuse to cozy up and talk closely with people we love. And our buffalo told me he is ready.

snowy buff

SPEAKING OF PEOPLE Who to invite, and how to get them here? We are super blessed to move in several interesting circles of friends. Sometimes these circles overlap naturally, and sometimes we cause them to overlap, and this is always fun and interesting. We have some wonderful, beloved local family, too, so gathering people at the farm is pretty easy. Usually it’s just a matter of how to spread the word? Until now I have always just texted folks or mocked up a silly Facebook event page.

fb event

But recently I discovered Paperless Post and cannot wait to dive in! I am such a sucker for themed-out events, and this just looks so fun. They offer a huge variety of styles and prices; in fact browse just the free stuff and you’ll be blown away by the selection. It’s actually dangerous for a person like me, who is always looking for an excuse to gather her people together, because just seeing a pretty invite sparks ideas for new events. haha I mean click on this one, for example. Hilarious! Check out all of their creative invitations right here. I literally explored for half an hour. SO much fun!

Paperless Post can print your holiday cards, too, and I think I’ll try that this year. Nobody warn my husband, but I think we will have our portrait made soon. We will wear matching khakis and white shirts and big red holiday bows on our necks, and our new puppy will be stage center. Obviously. Or no, scratch that. We will wear acid washed denim and carry bow-staffs. Yes.

Anyway, three cheers for gathering your people! One big extra loud cheer for the holidays and all the Love they bring us. Check out Paperless Post, friends, and let me know which ones you like. I am signing off now to see if any of my Halloween costumes fit.

“Hospitality is present when something happens for you.
It is absent when something happens to you.
Those two simple prepositions – for and to – express it all.”
~Danny Meyer





super moon reflections, a month later

One Month Ago:

At 5:20 Monday morning, our south lawn was draped in stark moon shadows. Long, dramatic, angular ghosts in black and silver, jutting out to the east of every outbuilding, every oak tree, even the slender zinnias. The sight was truly stunning. I had never seen the farm so zig-zagged by shadow and light. The full moon was still lit fiercely, almost too bright to gaze at directly, and now perched high in the satiny black heavens, no longer eclipsed. I don’t remember even a stitch of a breeze that Monday morning. All the animals were asleep except the barn cats and Klaus. He was bounding around in the moonlight, swirling our ankles and celebrating a new day. A new moon phase, too, though he didn’t know it.

(photo credit to my friend Christina Kamp)

(photo credit to my friend Christina Kamp)

A Few Hours Earlier:

Sunday night before, just as the swollen moon was growing that bloody rust around her edges and the eclipse was beginning, Handsome and I sat with Klaus in the barnyard, the one where we sometimes have outdoor movie nights with friends. We were in plastic Adirondack chairs facing east, toward the Talking Tree. The sky was black and breezy.

That night I had collapsed desperately into moon gazing, feeling more physically and emotionally drained than I had in months. So much of that previous week was spent shredded and crying, angry, deeply examining and weighing everything in my life (big stuff, friends, not what color to paint my kitchen). I watched the sky and measured my internal reactions, actively hoping that the full moon would bring the end of some unwelcome intensity. Breathed deeply.

(photo credit to our friend James Menzies)

(photo credit to our friend James Menzies)

The eclipse was amazing, of course. We sat in that barnyard and watched for a long time, trading cuddles with Klaus and holding hands more cautiously than normal. We saw a shooting star at the same moment and both made wishes. Probably breaking good-luck protocol, Handsome asked me what my wish was. “For everything to return to normal,” I answered honestly. This stung him, he said, because he thought everything was normal. And wonderful. I pulled my frayed orange blanket more tightly around my arms and flinched at a sticker that had found my ankle.

For all its beauty and intensity, that previous lunar cycle was rough. It coincided with my own personal lunar cycle, and the combination was almost too much. As life goes, this cosmic intersection happened alongside some unrelated (or maybe definitely related?) life events, external stressors that became much harder to cope with under these circumstances. My energy was both drained and exploding, which is bizarre, and everything was white hot, sharp, and painfully intense. Just like the full moon in those pre-dawn moments on Monday. The heated edge cast scary shadows on every part of my life.


That was a month ago. Our Super Moon. The Blood Moon that captured everyone’s attention in so many ways. That Monday morning in September, drained of all its color and gleaming fiercely, the moon got my heart and mind all churned up. And the difficulty continued for a few more weeks.

This morning in October, as we watched the moon rise full and bright again, everything is softer, gentler. The weather is cooler but not yet cold. Our windows are open and so is my heart again, finally. My thoughts and emotions are settled now and I feel stronger with this new perspective. We are enjoying a rebuilding in this house, and it feels pretty wonderful. I got my shooting-star wish that things would return to normal, except that having walked with eyes open through that bizarre month, things are better than normal now. Deliberateness brings lots of added beauty, you know?

Did you experience anything like this leading up to the Super Blood Moon? Did you notice the crystal clear dark-before-dawn that first Monday morning after the eclipse? Had you been through an exceptionally potent week (or month) leading up to it?

Our bodies are comprised of so much water, after all. If the ocean can be pulled by the moon, why would we be exempt? I have tried to rebel against this for a long time, but finally the rhythm makes sense. Finally the purpose seems a little more clear, the swell and retreat of energy, all the variations in between. Now, as long we stay centered in Love and navigate the waters honestly, I feel safe riding the waves and plumbing the depths. Who once said that an unexamined life is not worth living?

And one last note: Other life issues aside, I personally believe the color of your kitchen is kind of a big deal. ; ) Choose wisely.

“Summer ends and autumn comes,
and he who would have it otherwise
would have high tide always and a full moon every night.”
~Hal Borland




literary saturday: potpourri

Oh man, friends, we made it to Saturday! Oklahoma did not float away in the rain. We are not burning up under the sun. No winds are blowing down our roofs. Not yet, at least. Today is a serving up a pretty mild dose of autumn, and I like it.

I hope you and yours have a weekend of rest and recreation all cued up and ready to enjoy. Handsome and I certainly do. As we drink some perfect coffee and nibble on one or two things to wake ourselves up, let’s share what we’ve all been reading.


My Life in France by Julia Child This is our current book club selection and it is delightful. Child describes Paris the way Hemingway did, and both remind me of my beloved New Orleans. Also, food! Her passion for food is so alive on every page. Really fun read. I will give you a full review soon.

Unmasked by Kane Hodder Handsome and I attended a costume/superhero/character event in Tulsa last spring and met this gentleman, the actor so many people know for his role as Jason Voorhees. Oh man, you guys. His memoir is a heart-breaker in the beginning. Reading it is really amping up the Halloween mood.




Indoor Herb Gardens: It’s late October and lots of us are putting our summer gardens to bed. But this is prime time to think about herbs, especially with the biggest cooking holidays of the year right around the corner. Herbs make all of that stuff better. House Beautiful offers some wonderful indoor herb-growing inspiration. Of course, since you’re smart you’ll also contact your local County Extension and favorite Master Gardener for technical help. : )

Yummy Fall Recipe: I am way too obsessed with apple fritters, and this recipe by Not Without Salt (I am also obsessed with her) could be my final undoing in the diet department. Apple Cider Fritters With Cider Glaze. Bless her, by the way, for posting food that is not pumpkin-based.

Ann Voskamp offers A Brave Way to Heal Our Relationships: Often I cannot bring myself to read her words because they cut too deep, too close to the nerve. Then I get brave suddenly and read them and remember that yes, they cut, but with truth. And truth has a way of also healing. Good stuff right here, friends. Good stuff indeed. In this post Ann is talking about the commonality of brokenness, the importance of listening, of setting our children gently into an unknown, and also social media. She challenges us to think about building each other up with bricks, not throwing them. This was refreshing in the best ways.

joc horse colorado

This young lady is doing so great on her big Colorado adventure. She makes us incredibly proud, and seeing her happy makes me happy. But this whole situation sure keeps me praying hard. Trust and faith. Faith and trust.

Gratitude. We know it is so powerful. My friend Kim shared an article at Live Happy online magazine called 8 Easy Practices to Enhance Gratitude. The post is a year old, haha! But that’s fine because this advice is timeless. My favorite is #6: Fall Asleep to Gratitude. I have a worried version of insomnia pretty often, and lying in a quiet room saying nothing but thank you for one specific thing after another is the sweetest way to drift off. A nice extra is waking up feeling peaceful and content, full of heart. Counting blessings instead of sheep is great advice, and so is the rest of this list.

Risk of Moderation: Again I’m reading about food and health and how to navigate it all and still be happy. This post over at The Greatist revisits the idea of “all things in moderation.” The timing could not be better for me, as I have spent these last few weeks, actually the past couple of months, making one weekend full of excuses after another, indulging socially over and over again, until suddenly my loose jeans are a bit snug. (yikes) No matter how much running I have been doing, I have not been not losing weight. And now? The cruel joke is that running is difficult again, even right after doing pretty well at that race recently. Food matters, friends. So the white lie about moderation is a solid attention getter for yours truly.

Hospitality or Entertaining? Sandy the Reluctant Entertainer nails it again with this post. She shares memories of her mom and dad, considers the meanings and implications of the words we use to describe opening our homes, and asks where is our focus, self or others? I love this, as I love so many of her posts. Bless not impress. I just love it so much. Please dwell in these words before you get all stressed out about the holidays. Sandy’s voice is so soft and strong.

circa 1977, just because...xoxo

circa 1977, just because…xoxo

Okay, happy weekending to you!

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
~Lemony Snicket



mud monsters & pain management

In barely any time at all the middle field was slicked down, shiny wet and marshy. I looked down and saw the shattered concrete growing moss right before my eyes, chartreuse and emerald blooms and billows exaggerated in a time lapse that stunned me into fresh tears. The Signature of All Things echoing echoing echoing.

Toward the willow tree rainwater ran downhill, washing away all the day’s good intentions but also a hefty measure of regret. Fair exchange.

trough c

Then the curtain of rain pulled away and revealed filmy, wavering images of my girls splashing in the mud and wearing both t-shirts and sundresses, galoshes and ball caps, my husband’s green soccer jersey from his own childhood. My little Mud Monsters, shrieking and giggling at the sky, braiding their skinny arms together, knowing their mother was watching but not knowing then that she’d never forget that moment. They clawed at the air with their pink and olive Mud Monster hands and bared their pearly white baby teeth and smiled at me then disappeared with that same wavering, filmy trick.

The wind was weirdly absent during this rain and I needed it to sweep my thoughts away. Desperately needed it to comb through my troubled brain. I craved a storm instead of such a terrible, gentle shower and walked to the barn hoping for some tin-roof white noise. It  smelled like horses and hay and ozone. The cats twirled my blue jean-covered legs. One reluctant clap of thunder.


Sometimes people tell us to count our blessings, it could always be worse. True enough. Other people say, pain is pain, no one has a right to measure one pain against another. Also true.

Sending lots of love to all my friends who are hurting tonight, for any reason. The sun will shine bright and true again, in its own time. Rain has its place. Let it fall. Let it nourish you.