Thursday, May 27, 2010

We're hardly ever this spontaneous...

...but tomorrow, after Ryan's done working, we are driving NORTH.

We just decided this morning that this beautiful cabin weather should not be wasted over a long holiday weekend. "Treasure Island" just cannot sit empty.

So I'm drinking my coffee to get me through the loads of laundry and cleaning and packing that must happen tonight.

I still can't believe it. I feel just as excited as I did when I was a little girl on the eve of the cabin trip.

Even if it is 80 degrees, I'm sitting by this fire on Saturday morning. My soul has been missing that crackling sound.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

freezer jam

My Grandmother Linda used to make the most wonderful breakfasts...Finnish coffee bread, a plate of sliced cheese, sausage, (eggs probably?)...but my favorite part: strawberry jam.

The taste of homemade strawberry freezer jam always brings back memories of her house and her presence. So many daily things do...beautiful gardens, irises, roses, dreams of the cabin, her Rose Chintz dishes stacked in my cupboard.

Once, about a year after she died, when I was in college, I made her strawberry freezer jam recipe and gave the little jars to family as gifts. I still remember the incredible pleasure of making it, smelling it, tasting it. But even though I've thought of making it millions of times, I've never tried it again. Early this spring, I vowed to myself (and even wrote it in my little journal/scrap book) that this year would be different....there would be strawberry jam in my freezer.

I don't have her exact recipe any more (hopefully someone does..Mom?) I tried one I found online (one that uses a lot less sugar than the traditional recipe). It's still pretty magical.

I made six little jars last week. I was hoping to build up a 'stash' for the winter...but we're already on our third jar. I could try to blame this on the girls...but it wouldn't be exactly truthful.
I've got more strawberries in the refrigerator waiting to be crushed.

Friday, May 21, 2010

spring rain

The warm sunny evenings have lured us outside just a little too late all week. The girls' bed times have been stretched a bit more than usual. And as a result, our mornings have been more whiny and emotional. But Maya's and Sophie's long hard naps always brighten them up for the evening full of swinging and digging and running around the yard...

And the cycle repeats.

But the warm grass, the swings, the sandbox, and the sidewalk chalk, the neighbors...we just can't resist. We've been spending our mornings outside too, playing in the yard, a long walk with the double stroller, meeting Ryan for a picnic lunch at a park.

We've also been planting this week...just little things here and there. Ryan built another little garden next to last summer's first attempt. We now have flourishing mint, green onions, oregano, chives, and cilantro, a new strawberry plant, tomatoes (beefsteak and cherry), cucumbers, and a bunch of little snow pea seedlings (that are now ready to be planted).

Last night, Ryan planted an apple tree in our side yard. I'm already daydreaming about home grown apples to eat fresh from the tree, to bake in pie and muffins... It's a pretty small tree now, but I can still dream, right?

The rain that came last night was perfectly timed for all our new plantings. And all day, it seemed right too. Misty and warm. We stayed inside most of the day, cleaning, and pretending, reading, and coloring and cutting and gluing.

And I ended the afternoon with some rare fun...playing string trio music with two wonderful musicians. Unfortunately our rehearsal room had no windows...but I could imagine the rain.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

treasure hunting

For the first time in probably five years, Ryan and I visited an antique store.
Last weekend, we drove the girls in their pajamas to their Nana and Papa's house for a sleepover. On Saturday morning, Ryan and I woke up to the sun, had a quiet breakfast, and went to look for antiques. It was the perfect kind of date. I think I like morning dates better than evening ones now. We had so much fun talking, hunting for treasures, laughing, and dreaming.

These were a few of our finds...
The girls love their little chair. Sometimes it's hard to share...but they manage. Maybe someday we'll find it's match.Poker.

A perfect place to store all my spools of color.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

my dollhouse

We brought my dollhouse home today. As I discovered all the tiny contents, a flood of memories of my quirky and very whimsical childhood came rushing back. My grandfather Ed (my dad's father) built this beautiful wooden dollhouse for me. And one Christmas, my brother Daniel spent hours gluing the wooden shingles to the roof. Some of the furniture was beautiful...but lots of the 'accessories' were my own creations...made out of paper and scotch tape, plastic pizza box stands, scraps of fabric, old candle holders, legos, broken tiles.
I trashed some of the really gross things... but I just had to set it all up..just right. It needed to be photographed this way before I tear it apart and clean all those layers of dust and spider webs.
That photo is of my friend, Arianne Strattan (now a Ford model) on the wall in that frame (made out of toothpicks). I remember thinking that she looked just like my dollhouse family's little girl (with blue eyes, long blond hair, and a pink dress).I can't believe how much time I spent meticulously making things for my little family. Apparently, I thought it very important that every member of the family should have their own tiny Bible. (I even gave one of them gold pages?!?) A custom violin case (made out of scotch tape and black construction paper),......a re-purposed spool of thread covered with a fabric scrap became an end table to hold my oil lamp. I made a miniature pink stenciled bedside table out of one of those round plastic stands that used to be (still are?) in pizza boxes for the little girl's room. A pink towel became carpet, strands of lace and paper scraps fill the windows. I spent hours decorating and redecorating... using anything I could find. I sewed tiny clothes for my people, pillows and blankets for their beds. I knew that I loved to make things as a child. But until I saw this stash...I had no idea.

I like remembering. I've been remembering a lot lately. In the past week, I've even thought of a few stories to tell Ryan that he's never heard! For some reason, the past has been more attainable in my memory files these days. And it makes me feel richer.

Now that they are awake from their naps (the doll house was sitting on the kitchen table when Maya and Sophie woke up), I can hardly keep the girls away from it. (I really want to clean it first!) I wish they knew their Great Grandpa who built such a delightful and sturdy dollhouse for his little granddaughter. I wish they could sit in his lap and laugh while he pretended to be confused about which were hands and which were feet. I wish they knew his quiet humor and his big twinkling brown eyes. And I wish I could thank him again for this gift that he is now giving to my children.

Friday, May 07, 2010

An emailed response from my last post.

It wouldn't fit in the comment box...

...but it deserved to be posted.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

If I had these...

I think I would put them on everything. It could be dangerous...I don't know if I would know when to stop. I just love how they give everything a place and a name.

This is where Ryan's unique personality and my own have been woven together. His love of structure and pattern and predictability is usually at odds with my scattered, unpredictable intensity-for-too-many-things to maintain a lot of order. But labels are one of many things that bring us together. We both treasure the beauty and function of labels.

When we were newlyweds...moving for the first time (from Vermilion, OH back to MI) we had a lot of time to pack. We put everything (except large furniture) into matching plastic bins. No mismatched cardboard for us. We watched for sales and snatched up all the green bins in Sandusky and Vermilion. Ryan created four computer labels for each box with highly detailed lists of all the contents, stating where it should go, and exactly how much it weighed. The scale sat next to the desk, so each box could be weighed before being perfectly labeled on four sides.
It was delightful.

We never get to enjoy such silly pleasures any more. We just have too much stuff...and too little time. We may have lost a little of that enthusiasm too.

But fresh labels still provide a little rush.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Maybe it is just my (somewhat childish) excitement for school to soon be over, the promise of summer, the long hours of sunlight that stretch the days, the wind blowing through my kitchen's open window, all the little seedlings that are popping through the soil in their tiny pots on my deck, the birthdays of some of my very favorite people on earth, the spontaneous outdoor adventures on weeknights and weekends, the first picnics of the year, the first strawberry shortcake, waking up to the sun....

...for so many reasons, May is extra beautiful. Whether the days are cold or rainy, hot, or doesn't matter. May is still here. It is still spring. All those cold and gray early months of the year now seem distant and insignificant. A settling (and also giddy) kind of happiness about the world arrives in May.

I finally believe that summer will come.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Jjamppong (a.k.a. "Jam Bong Soup")

Seriously. It has been too long.

Maybe I'll just learn to make it myself.

my birthday girl

She's four and so grown up. All day I've been telling her stories about the day that she was born. "And were you so happy? Was I really cute?" she asks. She's looking over my shoulder right now, looking at the pictures I've posted..."is that when I was three?"

She's been very excited about her birthday, but a little bit nervous about being four. For weeks she's been asking questions about "when I'm four" for details, "but I'll still be me right? I'll still be a little girl? Like....just like this, right? Can I still wear the same clothes and stuff?"

We've been celebrating all weekend...visiting the Fredrick Meijer Gardens' Butterfly Exhibit, the John Ball Park Zoo, hot dogs from G & L, a visit to the beach, and lots of time with friends and cousins, Aunts and Uncles, Grandmas and Grandpas (thanks for the fun birthday party, Isaac and Will!)

Maya is becoming a prolific artist, drawing pictures of people (usually me), designing playgrounds, and working on her letters. There are layers of drawings on our fridge these days. Most of all, she loves to pretend. All day long, she's speaking in several different voices (my favorite is her semi-British accent), narrating some sort of tragedy to and with her imaginary characters. Her favorites are Laura and Mary (Ingalls), and Mikey (a mysterious friend from church that she seems to be fascinated with, but has never spoken to). Several times a day, she says "can we play baby Mikey? Pretend I was just born. Say: look it's a baby....we haven't named him yet...let's call him Mikey." She's asked if maybe Mikey could come over to play or spend the night. But whenever I ask about him, she insists that they've never spoken. She just knows his name because "the teacher says it all the time."

We just finished reading Little House on the Prairie a couple of nights ago (back when she was three), and tonight we start book 3, Farmer Boy. So it's time to go put my big four year old to bed.