friday 5 at the farm: Handsome’s 40th

Hello friends, Happy Friday! Today is not just any Friday… Today is Handsome’s birthday! And not just any birthday… Today is his fortieth birthday!! This is a HUGE milestone and a very happy occasion here at the farm.

For Friday 5 this week, I’d like to share five things you might not know about my guy and five photos to illustrate each wonderful truth.

handsome with baby girl

#1. He is a kid magnet. This man, serious in many ways and responsible to the core, well strapped to a fast-paced, stress-laden professional day job, is just a kid at heart. In the very best ways. He has a playful childishness that I adore. He can connect with toddlers and teenagers alike, provided he is free to just play and break all the parents’ rules with abandon. (This is why he prefers to hang out with kids here at the farm: His farm, his rules, you know? Ha!) He is not above throwing children in the pool, letting them play blood drenched, morally questionable video games, allowing ridiculous table manners and all kinds of grossness, or wearing sparkly pink cowgirl hats when the situation dictates. My heart melts to see him with children of all ages. It reminds me of how he was with our girls when they were small, and it previews for me what kind of grandpa he may be in the future. The super smart, dependable, really fun kind.

handsome as batman

#2. He is the Dark Knight. Since he was a little boy, my husband has had a penchant for dressing up as Batman, and over the years his costume has evolved respectably. (Thank you, afore-mentioned day job. $$) He looks really good as Batman, friends. I am totally used to attending costume events together where girls and women hand ME (dressed as Super Girl) their cameras and ask ME to take THEIR photo together, ha! “Yeah sure, it’s cool. I mean, you don’t have to CUDDLE him, but whatever… I’m fine, I guess.” Not only does he look great in his costume, he also fights crime and injustice and has a dark side of his own. See? Batman. Look closely and you will see that my Batman is holding Tiny T. They fight crime and injustice and also pity fools together. It’s a good arrangement.

handsome with buff trough

#3. Jack of all Trades. He can and will happily build or fix anything that is broken, except tile floors. Please, he is begging you, okay, no more tile floors! His design ideas are always exciting. His skills come out of ancient family memories and his own research, often gleaned from the internet. His confidence with tackling projects around the farm just astounds me. Nothing intimidates this man. On a related note, he is the only mostly sane person I know who will turn his back to a bison.

handsome with tickets

#4. The Life of the Party. We stay pretty busy, and I like it that way. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, he is at the center of the fun. I love hearing him laugh hard from across a car show. I love watching him play with kids or joke with friends, often doing impersonations which only happen spontaneously. Do not expect to make a request and get one on the spot! He tells the best stories. He’s not really afraid of offending anyone. He’s spicy. He’s like the sriracha sauce of party guests. Everything’s better when you add him.

handsoem and me at dinner

#5. The love of my life. I think you knew this part already. This man has been my husband for fourteen years now, and every year gets better and better, more loving, more locked in, more comforting and tantalizing. All of it. He is true, perfect romance to me. He is safety and strength, adventure and risk. He is home base. I cannot imagine being more fulfilled or more motivated to be my best and to live really well than I am, together with him.

I love you sir. Deep and wide, always now and forever. I wish you the happiest, most memorable milestone birthday yet. I wish you stress relief, better and lasting health, comfort for your sorrow (which you hide from everyone), and wild and crazy dreams come true. You are more than a dream come true for me.

Smooch
XOXOXOXO

jessica michelle

You were here with me again. Did you know?

Somewhere between Monday and Tuesday, in the sueded navy blue deep, you illuminated everything.

You were all at once young and vulnerable and old and wise, but this time you were no longer gritting against pain.

Instead, you were pulsing joy and radiating love with the most gentle pink and gold peace. Your aura had a fragrance better than any perfume.

We chatted and giggled and I touched your velvet skin and you played with my hair and asked me about my herb garden.

I asked you about your writing and are you in love? Your twinkling brown eyes said that you want to be.

One minute we were on your grade school playground, noisy and happy, the next floating on a muddy lake, blue sky above us, quiet and calm.

A new face emerged around the corner and wondered who I was, then she knew and turned away. Running. Not afraid, just… ashamed. You smiled at me and wrapped your arms around my middle, squeezing tight. I held you still and inhaled sunshine from the top of your head.

There’s a change happening isn’t there? I feel it. I feel you. And this opens such a floodgate.

I have been smiling through my pain, too.

But while you were here, glowing in the dark, neither of us had to.

Because nothing is stronger than love.

jess sweet 16

I’m linking up this week with Kat Bouska, grateful for her invitation to write in twelve lines.
I took some liberty, but she is very forgiving.
And without the safety of restraint I might not have even tried to share this.
XOXOXOXO

motivation monday: buckling down for 6 weeks

Hello! How was your Monday? Are you off to a great start for the week, whatever it holds for you? I’m checking in for the second time today to talk a little about end of summer fitness and health. I have spent the last few months kind of following my own groove, doing whatever exercises feel good that week and eating what works in harmony with our easy-breezy summer schedule here at the farm. Not surprisingly, this has meant a few skipped miles and more than one bowl of ice cream. It’s no big deal; this approach has also meant lots of new HIIT workouts, extra very yummy yoga, and delicious, healthy meals in between those ice cream bowls, haha! I still feel really great and have maintained my stamina, maybe even gaining a tiny little bit of speed. But now? Now it’s time to focus. I am giving my mind and body six weeks of TLC for these reasons:

  1. I’ll be running a half marathon the first Sunday in October, and while finishing it is not a worry, I want to finish it really strong, like maybe under two hour. This may not seem so amazing to more experienced runners, but for me it would be quite an accomplishment. Also, I want to feel comfortable running it race in shorts, haha! Personal vanity, yes, but it’s a goal that will require some discipline.
  2. The next three weeks will be HECKA busy here at the farm. We have Handsome’s fortieth birthday, yay! I’m not sure yet what we’re doing but it should be a fun and busy week. Plus, he has some car-related projects upcoming that may require extra time and energy. We have our niece’s wedding here on Labor Day weekend (over the moon excited!) and possibly some lovely overnight guests thrown into the mix. It’s also time to transition the gardens. So clearly my to-do lists are beautiful and filled with loving things, but they keep growing and gaining density. So, yeah, keeping my energy up and my nutrition really vibrant will help everything go well.
  3. Accountability. Some close friends, mostly here locally, have joined forces with me to encourage each other toward healthier living. We chat pretty regularly and share hurdles and ideas. I love it. Everyone is in a different boat health-wise, but we all motivate each other. In a recent conversation on Facebook I jumped in with Mysti (also a book club buddy!) and joined a challenge to meet any personal goal by October first. Perfect, right? For my race date? So my October 1st goal is two-fold: Trim down my legs enough to break a weird 7-pound yo-yo cycle I’ve been on since April., and get my mile pace to a comfortable and sustainable 7 or 8 minutes.

The cool thing about making cleanish eating and challenging exercises part of your normal life routine is that everything else you do is then made so much better. Our energy levels skyrocket. Our appetites tend to adjust to crave fuel foods more often than bad habit foods. Our thinking and concentration is easier, swifter. Our complexions clear up. Our moods are lifted. And, oh yeah, if we stick with it, slowly but surely, our clothes fit better and better or maybe even not at all.  : )

So those are the three reasons I am focusing sharply for the next six weeks. Here is my plan, against which I invite you to hold me for even more accountability:

Increase running mileage starting this week. Over the weekend Handsome bought me a treadmill, which I broke in today. Yay, I love it! No more driving to either Harrah or Midwest City and not feeling safe while running at public parks or golf courses. Things were getting pretty sketchy in recent weeks, but I just didn’t want to admit it. I couldn’t stand the thought of not running long anymore, and looping the quarter-mile in our back field for two hours, well, we went through that last year. The treadmill is repetitive, sure, but the speed work is controllable. A huge plus. And the treadmill of course is impervious to our weather fluctuations. Anyway! Much more running starting today. Kicked off the new week with 5 miles plus strength and an elliptical cool down.

Shake up the variety in my miles. Short runs will be all about speed work. Most longer runs will be intervals, like first a warm up, then a lightning fast half mile, then a slower one, then fast, etc. There is a cool workout called lassos that makes a lot of sense to me. The treadmill timer should help me tackle that. Very excited. Also, the HIIT nature of this workout is supposed to be great for fat burning.

Slash the foods that always trip me up, just for six weeks. Tortilla chips, late night bowls of cereal, and excessive scoops of peanut butter. I will enjoy birthday parties and the wedding reception, and depending on the day I might have a controlled portion of tortilla chips, but these things will not be the endless summer treats they have been lately.

Continue good habits like drinking seven thousand gallons of water, taking iron and vitamins, and doing strength and yoga on off days. Yes, for sure, the foam roller feels great and makes a difference. Doing more of that.

Just daily stuff, you know?

On Saturday Handsome and I went to an invitational car show that was partnered up with the One Healthy Bod fitness expo in downtown OKC. We had a ton of fun! The cars were all gorgeous, of course, and we chatted with several people with special Smokey and the Bandit memories. Fun fun fun!

This cutie is my husband.

This cutie is my husband.

That Trans Am there is his.

That Trans Am there is his.

 

The fitness expo part of the day was a great mix of stuff, and overall it was all super inspiring. The men and women who do Crossfit are a whole other breed. WOW! So strong! And those who compete in bodybuilding? Well, my friends, this is how I feel about it…

AMAZING

Finalists!

Finalists!

Okay, thanks so much for checking in twice today! I wish you the healthiest, happiest, most trailblazing week you’ve had in a very long time. Treat yourself well, okay?

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”
~Mahatma Gandhi
XOXOXOXO

 

 

motivation monday, short & sweet

This morning’s post will be short and sweet, friends. Already since Handsome left for the Commish I have had the most wonderful couple of hours of refilling my tank with Love (thanks for the phone call Marci!) and knocking out a few piles of organizing stuff to get the week started. Now I am on to the last bit of morning work and then a tempo run on my new treadmill! Yay!! So excited about this!!

get to work out graphic

I am happy because I get to work out. Exercising hard just makes the day better. It sharpens my mind; it energizes my body; and as a result the remaining hours are so much more productive. As I lace up I feel super, truly, deeply grateful for the freedom and the health to do this.

Happy Monday everyone! I will check in later today with a more detailed post, but for now I hope your new week is off to a beautiful start. Take care of yourself.

XOXOXOXO

 

thursday morning magic

Somehow the morning sun is bolder, more gilded and alive, with the windows open. Or is it the time of year? This sneak peek of autumn? Wide, flat sheets of moving light slice across the wood floor and make floating bits of dust look like fairies. Magic. The early birdsong is definitely stronger. And I had forgotten how sweet the air can taste at this kinder temperature.

I passed by the upstairs hallway windows, the ones overlooking the middle field, and marveled at the thick prairie grasses and their diamond wet. Grey fog rolling upward off the pond in strong, thoughtful columns of energy. Water that normally has a reddish cast, this morning was a murky blue-grey, a werewolf shade in broad daylight.

Chanta was grazing just below these open windows. I could hear his gentle horse breath and the juicy chomp-crunch-swallow of his green breakfast. I wondered briefly what were my odds of injury if I were to pry off one of those window screens and jump down onto his broad, muscular back? I never made a sound, but I think he must heave heard my thoughts because he let out an extended snuffle and walked away, sharply to his right.

Now the Lone Ranger music is in my head and I need to go for a run. I need to taste the sweet air more deeply. Feel the brackish touch of sun and shade on my skin and let the dew splash high on my legs. As much as I love the brutally hot summertime, this cool morning is filled with magic and I love it. I won’t waste it.

pull magic

What magic are you pursuing today?

XOXOXOXO

 

friday 5: plans gone awry & a menu

Let me start by saying that nothing I had planned for today went quite according to plan. But that’s fine! Because far be it from me to only carpe the diems that go according to plan, right? Turns out, today has been awesome and as I type that sentence it’s barely halfway over. Today and I are buddies.

I spent almost two hours cutting, pressing, and pinning fabric pieces for some really cool gift projects before discovering my machine was busted. Womp-womp.

Before things turned around, I spent almost two hours cutting, pressing, and pinning fabric pieces for some sewing projects before discovering my machine was busted. Womp-womp.

After a weirdly frustrating morning of obstacles (like pent up energy from preparing for a long run that never happened then working on sewing projects before discovering a busted sewing machine) and rainy day cabin fever (although yes I most definitely appreciate the rain), my friend Marci agreed to meet me in Oklahoma City for lunch. It has been ten thousand years since just she and I were able to meet for lunch, and I loved every minute of it. We consumed the most beautiful food Panera has to offer, and we chatted efficiently in that condensed-soup girlfriend catch-up style.

490 calories of yum

490 calories of yum and nutrition (eat the rainbow!)

After lunch I stopped at a cheap but ritzy grocery store there, which I don’t frequent much because it’s basically forty five minutes away from the farm. I bought everything on my list and then some, including some freshly fire-roasted hatch chile peppers. Not a case of the beautiful things as you see below, just a 99-cent zippered baggie of them. Still, a treasure.

My new best friends. Sorry Marci!

My new best friends. Sorry Marci!

You guys.

The smell of peppers roasting in that big tumbler in the parking lot on a rainy day… The smoky, throaty fragrance in the air-conditioned store… Then the spicy cloud of mouthwatering goodness in the cab of my truck as I drove home… So intoxicating. I am such a sucker for good smells.

So anyway. Time with Marci and a leisurely trip to the grocery store helped me reset. I finished my in-the-city errands and made it home. The groceries are unpacked and all the animals are checked on and the last bit of laundry has been folded.

So now, the fun part… Writing our menu for the upcoming week.

Do you love this task as much as I do? I mean, of course you take a rough-draft menu and shopping list with you to the store, right? But while you’re browsing the aisles don’t you ever see something on sale or get inspired by a display and tweak things a little? Of course you do! Me too.

For example, these fire-roasted hatch chile peppers changed everything. The zippered baggie is marked “H” because I brought home the hot stuff.

friday groceries

So for Friday 5 at the Farm, here are some recipes I am really excited to make for us in the coming days. More than one of them includes my new treasure.

1. Chile Rellenos! Add homemade salsa from garden tomatoes and cream & cheddar cheeses, try ground Panko for crust.

2. Garlic-lemon baked salmon Serve with parmesean-roasted broccoli and a wild rice-quinoa mix.

3. Pasta night! Plain marinara for Handsome and vegetable-pesto sauce for me. Sweet Italian sausage, mozarella, and salad too.

4. Movie Night Nachos! Make with roasted peppers and shredded chicken, add salad.

5. Homemade pizza: Choose from grilled chicken, Canadian bacon/pineapple, pesto, Alfredo, olives, roasted veggies. Try whole wheat crust?

I also think these gorgeous peppers would be amazing in a frittata or as a burger sauce (look at this recipe by Katie!) or as a hot link topper… I probably need to go buy more.

These are perfectly delicious eaten plain, as is.

These are perfectly delicious eaten plain, as is.

Happy Friday, friends! Happy weekend to you. Happy life. I hope that even if things don’t go quite as you planned them, that you are surprised by something wonderful today and that you carpe this diem with great fervor. I also hope you eat well. Really well.

Thanks so much for checking in! Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow form some reading fun?

“Would you like-a-de-pepper?”
~Dana Carvey
XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

 

 

 

deep summer

For nearly a week now, every time I sit down to a clean, wordless draft page I freeze and cannot construct even one sentence. My eyes get too wide and my mouth goes dry and I am tempted to just delete this blog completely. Instead I click over to Facebook or scan Feedly to see what other people are saying. Or I shut everything down and read a book. It’s not that I have writer’s block, whatever that is; it’s that there is just so much happening in my life right now, both the internal, unseen stuff and the vibrant, flesh and blood thrumming relationships and the dirt and hooves goings on of our farm, that I scarcely know where to start. Where to dive in. How to begin unraveling the messy, twisted, knotted pile of different colored yarns that make up my life lately.

Last weekend my baby girl turned eighteen. That is a wonderful, amazing thing, truly a gift, but because of our family circumstances right now I have no idea how to write about it, except to say that my heart bursts with pride and withers in pain and bursts and withers over and over again, daily. I wrote for her and about her a hundred or so times and deleted everything. But my gosh, you know, it’s not all about me, even though mine is the only story I can tell accurately and with full permission. We’ve been through that.

So not writing about that has kept me from writing about anything else. Nothing else is as important except for her sister, anyway, and by the way her life story is taking more fascinating turns every week. If a moment arises where I feel unprepared or unworthy, I have to stop and say thank you because nothing here is abnormal. It’s all I’ve been asking for for years.

This is where I have sometimes had to read my own messages again about worry and faith. Prayer and positive focus. No doubt in my ribs and belly, these messages are sent to me first, for me. I realize that sounds goofy.

The hours between 6 and 8 each evening are the most gilded, most stilling, of the day.

The hours between 6 and 8 each evening are the most gilded, most stilling, of the day.

Everyone around us is geared up for a new school year, posting photos of newly sprouted, suntanned children in crisp new clothes, parents either bemoaning the end of summer or celebrating a quiet house that can finally be cleaned in the daytime. Meanwhile I am working to keep the small veggie garden producing and the animals happy in the heat and humidity. I am paying better attention to the flower beds in anticipation of a our niece’s outdoor wedding here in just a few weeks. And I am running hot, early morning miles and swimming every chance I get. Here at the farm, summer isn’t over until the pool closes and I have to wear a jacket to run. From the looks of things, we have several weeks remaining. This is good.

Have I told you yet that we bid adieu to two llamas? Romulus returned to his original home with Dean and Maribeth (thank you, friends!) and has already adjusted well to his guard post there. Dulcinea has a new home with the cousin of our transport and hay farming friend Billy, and that new home has a pond which I know she must love. Dulcie is a swimmer. We miss them both of course, but the purpose of this change was to bring our two horses home to graze freely in the middle and back fields. Previously, the horses and llamas could not mix at all. Lots of violence. So this has been bittersweet but ultimately wonderful. The youngest of the three llamas, Meh, still lives here at the W, and he and the horses have adapted to each other splendidly. This is all very, very good news for lots of reasons.

Meh frequently seeks kisses from the pup but never quite connects.

Meh frequently seeks kisses from the pup but never quite connects. Pardon the manure you see there. Middle field clean up is on the agenda for Thursday.

Also on the happy animal-integration front, Klaus our new German Shepherd puppy is learning more every day about appropriate animal relationships. He shows measured restraint with the buffalo, unbridled passion with the barn cats, and a dangerous sort of are-you-or-aren’t-you-a-stuffed-toy? curiosity with the smallest chickens. Our days and evenings are infinitely more fun with Klaus here. My Facebook friends have been very kind, indulging me with love on every photo of him I post. He is one hundred percent the best farm dog in the history of farm dogs anywhere on this planet. And he is already almost too big to sit in my lap, but yesterday I did manage to teach him to drive a stick shift. The Jeep is plenty roomy enough.

We had so much fun! And afterwards he had the hiccups.

We had so much fun! And afterwards he had the hiccups.

Things are good. I am catching my breath emotionally, having just realized I’d been holding it for a while. And working and playing and carpeing every diem to the best of my ability. Sometimes this includes an afternoon siesta on the deck.

hay

Are you happy we are midway through August? What does that even look like in your life? August used to be so hectic, so blistering hot and uncomfortable, such a month of transition. I am looking around now, happy to see that actually it is a month full of more of all my favorite stuff. Some extra challenges. But mostly? Overwhelming peace and hope. And so many beautiful sunsets.

“Deep Summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
~Sam Keen
XOXOXO

 

 

worry door cracked open

This is the door to our smoke house, which is actually more of a garden shed right now. The door was salvaged from a century-old Land Run house in northwestern Oklahoma, a property belonging to my husband’s family. I fell in love with the chipped milk paint (original, not fashioned in a trendy boutique), the heft of the door, the memories attached. Its hinges are rusted and the window opening is only covered by hand pleated drop cloth fabric stapled on, a band aid really, but it’s beautiful to me. I love how ivy grows around it and how it creaks and swells with rain. How difficult it is to open and close. You have to kinda lift and scoot it. At the threshold, mud collects and sometimes we find snakes and scorpions.

worry door

Most doors are easy to open and close. That’s the nature of most doors, to be used and used easily and often. But we barely use this outbuilding, at least not on a daily basis, so having a cumbersome but beautiful door here is fine.

Speaking of doors that aren’t supposed to open much…

Do you remember the Worry Door? The vision I had almost exactly three years ago of the big, thick door that was forcibly (but lovingly) sealed shut against a room containing all of my worst fears? Well, something strange and wonderful has been evolving here lately. The Worry Door has been cracking open, only to be either pushed shut in a spongy, gentle way (like we do this antique wooden door with the muddy scorpion-rich threshold) or maybe, sometimes, left just barely ajar.

Weird, right? After so many lessons on keeping it locked shut, no matter what?

Well, in the time since my first hard lesson that worry is wrong, I have been on a spiritual and emotional roller coaster. I’ve learned a lot not just about the direction to worry not and only trust but also about my own personal strengths and weaknesses, my own propensities and, honestly, addictions to negative thinking.

And you know something? I have made a ton of progress. I have literally broken my addiction to negative thinking, and now I kind of have a healthy aversion to it. When I am in the company of people who cannot resist bitterness or anger or something similar, I get itchy. My vision narrows and turns inward to sort of protect myself, you know? Like a filter. My heart can feel some fear but now I deal with it swiftly. My mind can be aware of horrible possibilities but sort through them and take action instead of simmering in awfulness and poisoning my reality. I’m learning how to magnetize for amazing things, not terrible.

For these changes I am so deeply grateful.

The reason it is now safe for me to sometimes leave the worry door cracked open is that I have learned how to funnel that previously dangerous energy into prayer and allow a healthy amount of fear to fuel my days instead of douse them. Does that make sense? This is such a far cry from how life was before the Worry Door vision. The world is expanding, in really tangible ways and in beautifully abstract ones, to so many possibilities. Imagination, prayers, faith, and exponential growth. Love is ruling everything, even the cracked open doors.

We have a lot going on in life, a whole lot of really heavy stuff that never makes it to this blog. Private struggles, family issues, church problems, seriously life altering stuff that Handsome and I never thought we would face. As cathartic as writing can be, I have so far felt like sharing most of it here is just not appropriate. We barely even discuss most of this stuff with our closest friends and loved ones, because we know by now that only prayer and trust will change anything. Talking about problems tends to grow them, you know? Still, some people know a little about what we are dealing with, and occasionally a well meaning friend will ask me a question like, “Well have you heard from…? How long has it been now?” And when I answer truthfully the look of shock or maybe disappointment in me as a person is pretty hurtful. Or maybe, in an incredulous tone, someone challenges me, “Well what if (this) happens? What will you do? What is your legal recourse? Aren’t you gong to do anything?” Surely from the outside some people may think me apathetic by taking less action than they would in my situation, but they don’t see how firmly I am trusting God. How excited I am by what is coming.

Maybe they don’t see that praying and believing is doing.

Yep, I know this sounds a little vague and for that I’m sorry, but it’s just an example of how your Worry Door can be cracked open by someone else. Despite your best efforts, sometimes other people will very nearly insist that you fret over stuff. They mean it with love, usually. They want what they perceive to be the best thing for you. Okay. And sometimes they could be projecting their own fear onto you. Trying to find solutions ahead of time in case the same tragedy befalls them later. That’s human nature. Don’t waste energy being mad about this, and please don’t let it end any otherwise good friendships; just learn how to field it.

One more thought, then I will leave you to your beautiful Sunday: Yoga has been a useful tool in this journey. Often in a sequence, the instructor of choice will offer advice to just acknowledge a toxic thought and let it pass. Spending too much energy resisting or battling opposition can sometimes heighten the threat. Instead, combat these moments with a flood of positive thought. Replace the What if this horrible thing happens with What if this amazing thing happens? Try that for a while and see if your outlook improves.

Love is far more powerful that you are by yourself. Learn to tap into the power of prayer and faith and stop relying on your own muscles to hold this door shut.

Deep breath. Balance. Center. Clear mind. Peaceful heart. Trust that Love is in control of everything and faith can move mountains.

XOXOXOXO

 

 

 

watermelon, life seasons, and making the details last

I have lost track of how many complete watermelons have made their sweet, juicy way into my belly since the beginning of summer. You’re not counting, are you? Good. Know that I appreciate that. A lot.

watermelon heart

Buying different striped behemoths, usually seedless but not always, is fun to begin with. Then hearing the treasure roll around in my Jeep during the drive back to the farm. Stashing it in the pantry where it can stay cool for a while. I love it. It’s summertime. This probably happens at least weekly, but we’re not counting, okay?

The watermelon cutting itself is the true ritual, though. I always stand to the left of my kitchen sink (everything must be scrupulously clean) with probably some French pop playing in the background. My favorite lately is Camelia Jordana. Give her a listen. I like for Klaussen to be near my feet if he doesn’t mind (he never does), and if I can be finished with all my work and possibly wearing three or four of my favorite necklaces while watermeloning, well, even better.

First I cut the gorgeous green thing in two right at the equator, leaving one half in the sink while I work on the other. With no hurrying at all, the fruit divides and divides again, over and over, tumbling back and rolling, and all the while I’m thinking about how miraculously cells divide and then time and sometimes people. And families or political parties. Friendships.

About how joy, when shared, is doubled but somehow grief is lightened.

Now slowly slicing the red meat away from the green rind in a curved, sliding motion, then slicing again lengthwise, then chopping, occasionally salting the juicy chunks and taking samples for my trouble. (Friends, it’s okay if you do not count the calories of watermelon chunks you eat while completing this lovely task. I’m pretty sure it’s a wash.)

From this location with my back to the rest of the house, I can see all the artsy treasures that surround the sink. Paintings, metal wind chimes, Mexican pottery. I can scribble things on the chalkboard to my left if a needed grocery springs to mind or I feel like remembering a poem. And I can gaze out to the herb garden. Right now this curvy little spot on the farm is jam packed with color. Buzzing and fluttering with pollinators. Just mesmerizing. Zinnias, roses, sage, basils, mints, daisies, cannas, crepe myrtles, sunflowers, strawberries, and more. One emerald green hummingbird visits a tall flower near the window screen every afternoon, when the day is baking hot.

chair w herbs

I love watermleon.

I love my little herb-and-flower garden.

I love being home and practicing thsese quiet rituals all by myself.

Sometimes, though, after rinsing a big, heavy watermelon, just when the tip of my knife first pierces the rind, a weird sadness washes over me. It’s the same feeling I sometimes get while enjoying the herb garden: A fleeting panic. Like the beauty I crave and need is temporary. The hard truth that soon watermelon season will be over and the zinnias and cannas will fade, and we will be on the sad slope toward another winter.

Nothing good lasts forever, is that what they say? All day every day I am thinking of my girls. Of how true it can be, that the days are long but the years are short.

But I cannot dwell there, emotionally. These past few years have taught me how to better control my thoughts, steer my feelings, and not only live in the moment but magnify it. Squeeze out every possible bit of joy from every gift.

Which is why watermelon slicing has become such a treasured ritual. I know it’s just food. But it’s a brief season and a glorious one, and I don’t want to rush through it. I want to enjoy every pink puddle of sticky juice. Every crunch and whistle of my blade, every empty rind that will eventually be offered to either some chickens or a horse.

If you are in love with something fleeting, whatever it is, I want to encourage you to slow down the enjoying of it. Gather your energies and shape your environment so that you can, without distraction, more fully experience that thing. That gift. The more you slow down and magnify the details, the more you have internalized it. The more it has become a part of you, so that when the season is over, you can recall it better and vibrate with the joy all over again. This way it will never be totally lost to you.

I miss my girls. I miss them hard and sad, happy and hopeful, but it’s okay. Our life seasons are constantly changing, and I know by now to appreciate exactly where we are, right this minute, in every detail.

So I cut the watermelon and grow the flowers and pray for them. Keep the Apartment ready. Smile at every diem I am given to carpe.

XOXOXOXO

healthy recipes lately

Hello, Happy Tuesday! The farm is blazing hot because, Oklahoma in July. I am not complaining, though, not one bit. I adore the heat and the abundant sunshine, even the glorious humidity. It feels like Florida or New Orleans this year. My mind and body are equal parts stimulated and at rest in this exact kind of weather.

I love the seductive pace of summer, too. In the afternoon and evening hours, we do as much swimming and deck lounging as possible, and for me this means so many books and naps and near misses with sunburns. By about 3 pm, the time we reach a thousand and a half degrees, all the day’s important work is done and we can relax a little. Or a lot. So basically, heaven.

By “we” of course, I mean Klaussen and me. : ) But yes, Handsome joins us as soon as his office work allows. haha…xoxo

I've started keeping pots of fresh herbs on a wooden table adjacent to the grill, which is adjacent to the new deck. I love the convenience for cooking our meals and the beautiful-ness for just enjoying.

I’ve started keeping pots of fresh herbs on a wooden table adjacent to the grill, which is adjacent to the new deck. I love the convenience for cooking our meals and the beautiful-ness for just enjoying.

 

It’s Tuesday, so the kitchen is on my mind. Today how about we chat over healthy eating? If you checked in here yesterday then you know I am happily refocused on weight loss and well being, and of course food has a lot to do with that. Like, a whole lot.

Let’s begin.

My friend Katie blogs at Dishin and Dishes, and back in January she provided the most perfect recipe for roasted garbanzo beans (aka chick peas). I LOVE it! And I have been making these periodically ever since. Click here to see the instructions for yourself. Bottom line: she suggests some flavorful heat, and she gives us good technique advice to keep the little treasures from burning. Try it. Here is one of my batches. Makes my mouth water just looking at the photo:

spicy roasted garbanzo beans

spicy roasted garbanzo beans

I’ve been looking for higher-protein and higher-fiber alternatives for side dishes, and lentils came to mind. I don’t know why but in my mind a veil of mystery has always surrounded this particular food, so it took me all these years to finally try it. Realizing how quickly and easily lentils cook was a huge, silly relief. One day recently I cooked them in some rich, flavorful chicken stock instead of water then to the lentils added chopped mushrooms, some steamed broccoli, and about a cup of slow cooked, shredded chicken. All of this made a hugely satisfying meal. Really good. Quite healthy. So yummy. And lentils are so inexpensive! I will be doing this a lot more often. So good and versatile. This link was helpful. Last night I used cooked lentils as an alternative to both a starchy side dish and salad dressing, and I wasn’t sorry. It was filling, salty, yummy, and just moist enough to make the lemony kale really really good. Try it!

Just boil a quarter cup of dry lentils in either a broth of your choice or salted water. Simmer until tender, maybe ten minutes? Then drain. So good. Cheap and simple, really nutritious too. Completely eliminates the need for heavy salad dressings and filling enough to also replace potatoes or rice as a side dish.

Just boil a quarter cup of dry lentils in either a broth of your choice or salted water. Simmer until tender, maybe ten minutes? Then drain. So good. Cheap and simple, really nutritious too. Completely eliminates the need for heavy salad dressings and filling enough to also replace potatoes or rice as a side dish.

As a delicious main dish idea, perhaps an occasional sub for red meat? I want to encourage you to try making chicken-zucchini poppers. They are basically just baked meatballs made with ground chicken and bound together with nothing more than shredded zucchini. Talk about a lot of protein for very little calories or fat! And super flavorful. Different. Refreshing. I have made a hundred variations of this recipe since first trying it back in June, and in fact this was my dinner again tonight. (I make these for myself when steak is on the menu for Handsome. Tonight he got a nice ribeye.) Chicken-zucchini poppers are just so versatile. One Lovely Life provided the inspiration, so thank you Emily! Here is her recipe. Below is one of my first attempts. This particular incarnation had chopped mushrooms in it, too, and I ate just a few of the poppers on top of a big green salad with a hard boiled egg. VERY filling.

chicken zucchini poppers on a big salad

chicken zucchini poppers on a great big, beautiful salad

So, trying to eat healthfully does not mean we never have a sweet tooth, but thankfully the internet is full of smart chefs who are more than willing to share their recipe modifications with us. Below are a few “cookie” ideas that were big hits with me for different reasons. Sorry I don’t have any photos of these experiments. Just take that as evidence for how devour-able they all are.

  • Healthy Oatmeal Apple Raisin Cookies Really good. Moist, chunky if that’s your jam, and made with whole ingredients, most notably diced raw apples. The only downside is that they do not really “firm up” much, you know? They absorb humidity like mushy little beasts, so you might want to plan to serve them all at once. I don’t know. But they taste a lot like apple pie and are crazy nutritious, so I’ll keep this in my pocket for those kinds of cravings.
  • Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies SO GOOD. On the complexity scale, this recipe is exactly the middle of these three. Visit her website for a few fun seasonal variations.
  • Two-Ingredient Cookie For real you guys. Two ingredients is all you need, bananas and oats, which are not risky for your diet! Add stuff if you must, then enjoy. Please try these. Kids and adults all love them. I am about to hit publish then go make a batch of these with pecans and craisins. This recipe actually does keep really well, so I like having a batch of them available throughout the week. Excellent afternoon snack or dessert with some ice cold almond milk.

Soon I will share a post all about healthy food basics I keep on hand every week to prevent or cope with those inevitable hunger emergencies. Spoiler alert: hard boiled eggs, salad, and fresh fruit.

hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, and a crisp green salad

 

Okay, that’s it for tonight! I would be so happy if you shared a link to some healthy recipes you’ve tried recently. Or tell me something you like to serve yourself or your family that is really nourishing. Something satisfying and good for you. Something genius,okay?

Happy summering, Oklahoma. You’re gorgeous and steamy. Happy eating everyone. Thanks for checking in, friends.

“Healthy is not an accident, a gift, or a rabbit’s foot. It is a HABIT.
It is a habit that will shape the bodies that we were born with,
a habit that will support the genetic makeup we got from our parents.”
~Cameron Diaz, The Body Book
XOXOXOXO