Category Archives: Beauty

Protecting Your Beautiful Skin and Hair During Winter Months

The east was hit with an arctic blast this week. I can’t complain since December was quite lovely, with the temperature hovering in the 40’s and 50’s, and making the outdoor run unusually pleasant for this time of year.

Alas, it couldn’t last. And didn’t.

It’s been so cold in New Hampshire that the entire state had a two-hour school delay this week so little ones wouldn’t have to stand in the dangerously cold temperatures. It could be worse. The midwest (Minnesota!) was purportedly -50 below during the night.  We got by with a mere -30 with windshield. Frostbite can occur in minutes. Wet hair can freeze in seconds. I live in thermal underwear.

So far, our chickens are hanging in there, even laying an egg or two every few days (such good girls). A bird took shelter in the coop, but sadly, perished during the night. Baby, it’s cold outside!

Might I suggest? Hat, face scarf, mittens, coat. Obvious, no? Yet I find myself harping at my children (and the husband!) on a daily basis to wear these essential items.

I’d like to share some other small pleasures in life. Here’s what I use to save my face and hair during the very dry and very cold winter months. Very basic, yet very wonderful.

IMG_72951. Paul Mitchell Fast Form Cream Gel. I don’t have a lot of time to do my hair, darlings. I’m guessing you don’t either. “Fast form” means this product helps your hair dry quickly, saving you blow-dry or cold-weather drying time. And for a girl with curl, the cream gel gives moisture but also a little style. It’s nourishing, but light. It smells like heaven. Love it. $16 at salons.

2. Coconut Oil. Trader Joe’s is a good hour away, so I stock up. Not just for cooking, my friends! I keep a jar of coconut oil in the kitchen and one in the shower. No more chemicals delivered straight through the skin and into the bloodstream. Coconut oil is free of chemical and dyes, and is my favorite moisturizer. Great for legs (after shaving,) arms, whole body, and the ends of wet hair. I also put it on my face. Since it’s anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, it cleans without clogging pores (no more zits!.) It’s also incredibly moisturizing. The smell? Delicious. $6-10.

3. Garnier Skin Renew. A “skin perfecter” and man, I love this stuff. I don’t wear a lot of make-up; base has always felt too heavy. But when I’m tired (always?), and my pale, winter skin needs a little pick-me-up, this tinted moisturizer with an SPF 15 really is perfect. After wearing this year-round, I’m as happy as pie. Grocery store find $9.

4. Blistex Complete Moisturizer.  I’ve tried a lot of chapsticks. I like this creamy, soft feel. During winter it’s kept in my coat pocket at all times. Beware the child who “borrows” it and does not return. Grocery store find $3.

5. Vaseline with Cocoa Butter. Vaseline is pretty much the best facial product ever invented. After consulting with my dermatologist cousin, he agrees with me. In fact, he said it first. I’ve used vaseline my whole life. My mother supplied it in my Christmas stocking and always had a jar on her bedside table. I’ve continued the tradition. Oh the many uses! Lips, eye make-up remover, dry nose lubricator. But now, there’s a COCOA BUTTER variety and I practically eat the stuff. Oh, the smell! Oh, the dry lip relief! I even use it on my face when I go running, especially on my lips, around the nose, and around my eyes. Leftover? Rub it on the hands. Grocery store find $5.

I’ll add two more:

6. Water. We need more than we think, and often don’t get enough during the winter months because we don’t move as much. Drink more. Our bodies are 70%+ water. Our skin needs moisturizer and will dry out if not watered. Guess what? You can afford it.

7. A good book. Yes, in winter months, stay indoors and read a good book. Save the skin, feed the mind 🙂

Got any skin-saving favorites? I’d love to hear.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Best of Summer

poppy Early summer. I pondered what in the world these were?DSC_0030 For days I watched them start to pop.DSC_0036 They’re poppies! I adore them. June flowers.IMG_3792 The man is always so full of surprises.IMG_3869 We had awesome grandma and grandpa time.IMG_3808The man is very particular about his barber.

IMG_3802One on one time with the darlings.

DSC_0115Baby birds break out of shells and fly

DSC_0086Bees pollinating

clean Children cleaningDSC_0370Boy kicking

DSC_0096I talked my mom into getting a suit from lime ricki. Isn’t she so vintage chick?

IMG_4817Trader Joe’s is evil.

IMG_4845Some writing time. Here I interview on the front porch – the only quiet spot. IMG_4815 Paige reading Dick and Jane while daddy gets ready for a wedding.IMG_4793 Oh, the beautiful weddingDSC_0572 Climbing a lot. Spectacular views.IMG_4531A family reunion. Bonfires.

IMG_4275

The ocean IMG_4167The World Cup

IMG_4158Peaceful swims

DSC_0049 HayingDSC_0064A garden that grew

DSC_0079 Nelson’s adidas design he’s selling to adidas, of course!DSC_0087An attempt at organization. Brain Research by A Better Blog. Because that makes sense.

IMG_4136Toothpick dolls and thread

IMG_4127 Summer stormsDSC_0047Flowers in the window

IMG_3915

If Brynne had a million dollars she would like a duster for the house. I think this says way too much about my housekeeping.

DSC_0311 Summer afternoonsDSC_0295 DSC_0216 A Sunday afternoon photo shoot attempt. They kept flying around in the sky.DSC_0065And kissing

DSC_0418And growing.

Have I ever mentioned I have trouble with transitions?

When I polled the children on whether the summer was too slow, too fast, or just right they said…”a little slow.” And I smiled and said, “that’s just right.”

And here we go again.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

All-Natural Beauty: Coconut Oil and Baking Soda

Coconut oil is the hottest new thing in the kitchen.

And though there is always something new and trendy and supposedly “healthy,” (sorry Pirate Booty and Jello…) coconut oil looks like a clear winner over canola and vegetable oils. (which were once touted as healthy. sigh.)

Coconut oil is such a great fat that I throw a dollop of it into my smoothies sometimes.

Even though it does have saturated fat, coconut oil metabolizes more efficiently than other oils and is more easily converted to energy. And heaven knows we could use energy. Especially since I can no longer take naps twice a day with the children.

This is sad.

So yeah, it’s a great oil to eat, but what I’m really digging about coconut oil is the addition to my beauty routine.

Which is admittedly small, but still. Stay with me here.

coconut

For about $6 you can get a jar of this glorious stuff at your local grocery store or drive an hour to Trader Joe’s. Which we opt for as we can also get the Hansen’s Diet Ginger Ale and be tempted by those Salted Caramel Butterscotch Bombs. Definitely a healthy trend, right?

Anyway, I’ve noticed that coconut oil is often in hair products. So I pondered the great benefits of directly applying it to my hair.

Especially since the last time I went to get my haircut, Chresta, my very own stylist, who I only go see every six-eight months, said I had “difficult hair” and to knock off the at-home haircuts.  I was sufficiently ashamed. But cut more layers last night.

This admission is to validate every single hair product I have ever bought.

I have thick but fine, curly AND unruly hair that is turning white and course and dryer by the minute! Oh how I dread the humid summers that descend uponNew Hampshire as I will likely scare you all of June, July, and August.

So maybe…coconut oil was the answer! And as far as hair products – It’s Cheap!

And also because I have a small hair product problem but don’t ask Gregor about it because he’ll totally exaggerate.

So I brought the coconut oil home and pondered slathering it on while cooking asparagus, but this was not practical nor beautiful. Also, it’s a solid at room temperature and rather hard to dig out with my fingernails.

So the jar of coconut oil went to sit in the shower. Where there are way too many hair products for six people and a dog (who has his very own shampoo, too) who all have their own hair issues.

But how was this going to work? Was I supposed to keep a spoon in the shower, too? Oh, the details one must contend with in life.

Well, what happens is the coconut oil warms up with hot water and steam. So when you open the jar, it’s really easy to get some of that oil.

coconutoilThis is where I paused. Wouldn’t this be great for skin? And after-shave for course leg hair?

Side question: Have you too been banned from using your husband’s razor?

We are finally to the Coconut Oil Beauty part.

1. Legs. After shaving (using it before will really clog up the razor!), I use about a teaspoon worth of coconut oil and rub it all over my legs. It’s so great because coconut oil is so moisturizing that the next time you shave, it will be as smooth as buttuh’.

2. Body. Arms, dry hands and feet, neck – everywhere!

3. Face. Oil on the face? What’s really cool is that coconut oil is an anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. So while I don’t put oil on my chin or nose, I do use it on my cheeks and around my eye area.

4. Hair. Oh yes, coconut oil is fantastic. I rub a small amount all over my hands and then apply it to the ends of my hair. I used to do this with olive and baby oil, but it always looked and felt greasy. Coconut oil? Shine! Moisture! I also read that it helps retain moisture, regrowth, control dandruff, and help prevents against lice. Who knew?

5. Oil Pulling. This is so weird. I haven’t tried it, but if I wanted to be like Gwyneth Paltrow I would. Put 2 Tablespoons in your mouth and let it melt, swishing it around your mouth for TWENTY MINUTES. The experts say it pulls out toxins, whitens teeth, and is good for oral health. I think I’d gag. Have you tried it?

Now, let’s talk about another one of my favorite beauty products around…Baking Soda.

I discovered it as a teenager and we’ve been together ever since.

Baking Soda Beauty

ING-baking-soda_sql

1. Acne. In every bathroom, I have a box of this stuff. When I have a breakout (is this going to happen until I’m 100???) I get the tip of my finger wet, dip it in the box for a little baking soda, then gently wash the “affected area.” This stuff is a miracle. It dries out acne so well. My kids sometimes make a baking soda paste, but I just rub and rinse. It’s a no-fail clear-skin winner.

2. Teeth. It’s nasty, but I definitely brush with it for whiter teeth.

3. No-Poo Shampoo. Have you heard of this? Well. I started washing my hair with only baking soda and guess what? It totally works! I did it for a whole month (and I sweat a lot while I run!) without really knowing what I was doing, but it works best if you put 1 Tablespoon of Baking Soda and 1 Cup of Water into a squeezy bottle thingy and shake. Then you use this mixture for 3-4 washings. Then…to finish off, put 2 Tablespoons of Vinegar (Apple Cider is fine) with 1 Cup of Water into a squeezy bottle and shake.

Am I off my rocker? Read This if you are curious. She explains it in great detail. I get lazy and just use shampoo sometimes, but I think it’s really cool that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to keep your face, hair, and body clean and moisturized naturally!

4. Pit Paste. You may recall that I have slight deodorant phobia. Chemicals and lymph nodes and all that. I have a small tupperware bowl in the shower that has baking soda and after I rub my nose and chin with it, I make a little paste and wala – pit paste! Here’s a cool DIY recipe that combines both baking soda AND coconut oil. Maybe, when I have a minute I’ll actually try the combo.

The End.

Are you excited?

Usually I post a weekend recipe, but now that you’ve applied all of the above treatments, you are completely edible!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day! We’re going to run two 5ks, including the Black Fly Blitz of course. And just in case you really do want to eat something more than coconut oil and baking soda…

Try my favorite summer-time dip of all time!

Or perhaps you want to grill some Scallops with Green Velvet Cilantro Sauce

Pasta? How about Allison’s Italian Goddess Red Pepper Sauce?

A weekend must: Slimmed-Down Hot-Mama Artichoke Dip. Oh yes.

Super-Grain Waffles for Memorial Day Brunch? With strawberries and blueberries. Love ’em.

I’m trying this this weekend – So cool and the healthiest cake in town!

Have a great Memorial weekend, friends!

 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Unplugging and Seeing Signs of Spring

Did your mother ever order you out of the house? To go play outside and enjoy the good earth? It’s been hard to do that in New Hampshire as we’ve been living in the movie Frozen. But hark! On Sunday, spring began to tease….

Mom ordered all minions outside to investigate if it really was true.DSC_0111The boy lugged over the trampoline so he could dunk.

DSC_0113Look who’s been busy…the voles. They are like big mice that burrow little highways underground. Doggie is in heaven, nose to the ground, sniffing them out.

DSC_0117

We hauled out the bikes and began a walk, finding trees that stretched high and dry

DSC_0133New England soil is full of big rocks. So when settlers needed to plow a field and build a home, these stone walls were built by hand. The stone walls go on for miles and are so artfully built that 21st century children can run across without a rock toppling. I’m in awe of the craftsmanship.DSC_0145Two will still smile for the camera

DSC_0150Finding puddles of mud to write messages for water buffalo neighbors

DSC_0153 DSC_0154 In just a few months, these apple trees will be in bloom

DSC_0164 We switch sides of the road and walk on the other stone wallDSC_0165This is the start-up vineyard up the hill; a hard thing to do in New Hampshire with so much cold. Will the trees survive?

DSC_0170And at the top of the hill we turn back around DSC_0177And follow all the melting water that flows down to where our house sits. Well. It came, flooded our basement, forcing us to pull up baseboards and part of Cope’s new bedroom wall. So frustrating. We’ve pumped the water out, but I block out all the work that still needs to be done. Let’s go back to enjoying Spring.DSC_0175This is an old hay machine. You’ll find this a lot out here; abandoned farm equipment no one knows what to do with. These relics around the neighborhood could fill a museum.

DSC_0171 Countryside as the sun starts to set

DSC_0180As we headed down the hill we saw a sight we don’t often see…four children playing together?DSC_0189It made me smile to see the older kids with their hands in the mud, dirt, and water. The boy got that devilish look in his eyes as he said, “Do you want to see our DAM?” “Mom, we’re making a DAM. Do you like our DAM?”

DSC_0202Proof! There were four who played. In mismatched pajamas. Perfect.

DSC_0215And then they were off again, headed home, flying fast.

I had to close my eyes and breathe in every oxygen molecule, bottling up the fresh spring air. Because I am a wiser New Englander: who knows when spring will come again?

Good thing I grabbed it. Tonight, the forecast predicts snow!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

a Scary Mommy finds redemption (in false eyelashes)

therealthing

Today I am a Scary Mommy at Scary Mommy. Is that scary? Thank you for having me, Jill! post script: to all the concerned readers on Facebook…this story was written from a humorous angle. I didn’t include the many, many conversations that followed when the story ended – pediatrician, nurse, pharmacist, school principal, every mother I’ve ever known…I’m sorry if it came across as me not taking this situation seriously. It was scary, but mostly funny.

To redeem self from terrible smoothie concoction fed to children, I’ll tell you about the false eyelashes. I think I’ve found my Superwoman cape.

I have never worn fake eyelashes (fake? false? clueless mommy). I’ve always associated them as accoutrements only blond bombshells can or want to pull off. But when my very-brunette friend Meredith told me she and her sisters wore them for her 40th birthday a couple of years ago, I was intrigued.

How do you wear them?

Do you actually glue eyelashes to your eye lid?

Won’t they fall off?

Don’t you look like a floozy?

What if you forget they are there and they fall off in the cereal?

For years, every time I passed them at Wal-mart or Target or saw eyelash extension deals on Groupon, the curiosity grew. But still, I just wasn’t the type. Was I?

But then I too, began to climb closer to age 40. Something had to give.

Being born with puny lashes, this is just a curse I’ve had to be content with. Or…is that really not true? Having finally mastered the blowdryer after 38 years of life, I now know that “natural” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. My hair is proof.

Perhaps with a little more effort, I too, could have eyes that “pop.” Perhaps husband would fall over in swooning delight when I stepped into the sunlight and into his arms…perhaps traffic would stop. Perhaps the show donkeys would bray, the mother hens would lay down an extra egg in my vixen honor.

Perhaps we all need to feel a little Marilyn-glory.

Armed with this new dream, I stood in front of the eyelash display in Wal-Mart. Oh, the choices for the cheap and clueless. Knowing there must be differences in eyelash quality, I was willing to lay down exactly $1, throwing them in the cart with glee, as giddy as that one time I drank Red Bull with Meredith before a soccer game (she is a suspect mommy influence.)

My new eyelashes sat in my closet for a couple of months as I gathered the courage to actually wear them. Finally, after persistent badgering from darling daughters, I decided they would be showcased at my parents-in-laws’ 43rd anniversary dinner at the Red Apple Chinese-American Buffet, encountering hundreds of diverse folk in need of fried wontons and sushi rolls.

Paige and Brynne were thrilled, watching me get ready that night. Paige had lost her tooth that day and was wearing it around her neck in a very special tooth container. She carefully showed it to me as I carefully peeled off eyelashes from plastic.

The directions were easy: Put glue on the lash rim and place on eyelash. Easy enough. But actually applying them to the upper eyelash was comical. For one thing they were too long and extended almost to my temple. The extra was hacked off and reapplied.

First impression? Definitely not Marilyn. More clown-like. Fortunately, I persevered and sought out mascara. And then? Wowza! It was kind of…fun. so different. so not-me. Eyes were actually popping!

As my love language is words, I sought out the validation:

6 year old: You look so booootiful!

9 year old: Um. Yes, Mom, keep it. I love it!

I left the bathroom. And walked down the stairs.

12 year old boy: He gave me a very strange look.

14 year old: No mom. No.

Me: I’m doing it!

Husband: He does fall over. I can’t decide if this is good or bad. He does say, “Wow.”

The whole way to the restaurant he keeps looking at me, wondering who is sitting next to him. I flutter the black bird feathers that sit on my eyes. Oh, he’s definitely swooning.

The closer we get to the restaurant, the more insecure I become, constantly checking my reflection in the mirror.  Panicking, I say, “Should I just take them off?” This is a bad habit of mine. I’ll put on lipstick and then bite my lips until all color is gone and I arrive at an event in chapstick.

“No, Mama,” husband says. “Leave it.”

So I do. And the night goes splendidly. Dear in-laws like the look and look legitimately shocked when I reveal the secret. No one at the sushi bar falls over at my great beauty, but no one points their fingers and laughs either. Born this way!

We went home for bedtime, stuffed with crab rangoons, up the stairs, into the bathroom for some teeth brushing and flossing and potty time and all the rest. To have a record of the momentous night, I pulled out the camera.

While trying figure out the perfect eyelash picture, Paige carefully took out her tooth from the hanging tooth vial around her neck…and accidentally dropped it down the drain.

The lovely life she once knew? Ended.fakeeyelashes

The only picture of the night.

Pure hysteria. Eyelashes were forgotten. Sobbing wails echoed as Brynne frantically looked down the drain. There was no way we were going to find that tooth. But hark – what was that little white thing down there? A tooth? You see, we have a drain problem in this bathroom. Too much hair, toothpaste, Polly Pocket shoes, toilet paper, and who knows what else. It has had more Draino poured down it than any other sink in the state.

But could that clog save our tooth?

And so, I found the lone wire hanger I keep for such occasions and began excavation. I knew it was a lost cause, but we just had to try, right? While Paige sobbed at my side, Brynne exclaimed, “Oh sick, disgusting. What is THAT?”

All I could say was, “Oh sick, disgusting. What is THAT?”

Apparently, in a house of four girls, we lose a lot of hair. Long, lost hair that somehow gets washed down the drain and slowly accumulates for months. And then we get to a crisis point when the water doesn’t drain as it should and I wonder why I don’t try all those natural DIY baking soda drain cleaning methods. All this long hair was twisted and lodged into something black and slimy that made me turn my head and wretch.

I worked for a good fifteen minutes, using my non-existent surgical skills until finally the very tip of the hanger began pulling up a 12-inch long black snake. It was beyond horrible. Dissection began. Which goes to show how much I really do love my children.

Many times we thought we had actually found the tooth somewhere in that slime clog, but it always turned out to be something else disgusting and unidentifiable. As shrieks and “ewwww!” echoed through the house, I pondered my fallen state of fake eyelash sophistication at a Chinese-American buffet only hours earlier.

“It’s gone, Mom. You’ll never find it,” Brynne said in defeat. Paige collapsed on the floor.

Brynne began to furiously write a note to the tooth fairy, explaining the debacle. Please, please, she begged, please come for Paige anyway!

Remembering it’s not the critic who counts, but she who is in the dissection arena, I gave it one last try, and there – in the midst of the clogged slime – was the tooth. I smiled and held it up. TRIUMPHANT!

I’d like to think my lack of drain cleanliness was destiny.

Nasty slimy snake clog was tossed in the trash. Tooth was washed and presented to a awe-struck six-year-old. My girl looked up at me with shining stars in her eyes.

“Thank you, Mama!” she burst out. “You’re the best Mama in the whole world.”

I looked in the mirror, at my long luscious eyelashes, at the small child hugging the life out of me. I was struck by how our Marilyn moments come in so many different ways.

p.s. the tooth fairy forgot to come that night, but she’s just not as reliable as a mother.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Hay Day

Happy October!  My favorite month of my favorite season.
 
From my window where I write, I see a hay field.  I’ve spent much time looking out this window, watched many seasons come and go.  Around here, you won’t see much oohing and ahhing over the name brands of the latest pair of jeans, watch or car. But now, you’ve got a tractor?  We’re talkin’ big time. Shucks. 
 
Even my professorial husband longs to be part of the club.  Every time we pass a tractor shop he wants to take a peek.  Keep on walkin’, his wife says, you keep your nose in the books.  But we both agree – we’ll be farmers someday.  And still read books.  And he can have his tractor.
 
I have to admit, I’m kind of a farmer stalker myself; who’s driving what, who’s haying where…there’s been farm drama, neighbor conspiracy, and donkey talk that would rival The Housewives.
 
Oh yes, it’s quite exciting.  I feel an anticipation as summer wanes and fall comes into full swing, because that means its hay season, the crowning glory of the field.
 
I love the dutiful farmer (they often really do wear overalls!), the long grass, the drying, baling, and gathering.
 
My father grew up on a farm in Idaho and often expresses his wish that we had too.  So I feel lucky that we’re getting a tiny piece of that wish.
All spring and summer the grass grows wild and free.  First you must get your Little House romp in while you can.  After the romp, you must turn the grass over to the farmer.  Your time is done. 
 
Hay is especially valuable if it has clover; cows love clover for its sweetness and good hay can fetch a pretty penny.  The other day I needed a bale and was told it was going to cost me TEN DOLLARS!  Ha.  I went to talk to my farmer friends.  It pays to stay tight with the farmer. 
If it’s a good season, you can get a couple good hay runs in.  I don’t know if that’s what it’s called, I just said that.
 
The long grass is cut and then sits for days in the sun drying.  It’s a careful balance of rain and sun.  I know this from my observing, from my comfortable seat in the house while sipping something cold and sweet.
After cutting, the hay is then fluffed and set to dry again
and fluffed one more time for good measure.  If you try to gather hay while it’s wet, it will rot and be worthless. My farmer friends tolerate me while I snap picture after picture, waving all excited and giddy – it’s HAY DAY!
Nice and dry, perfect for baling.  See how I’m mastering my farmer lexicon?
Sometimes, if rain is coming, the farmers do the cutting, baling, and gathering in one day, from sun-up to sun-down.  If I’m away for a day, I come home disappointed that I missed all the action.
This is Hersey Farm, just down the road from us.  It is a multi-generational farm that is now protected from building; this makes me so happy.  I see this picturesque, romantic scene and swoon.  I’m sure they see and feel the hot sun, sweat, fatigue, and a long long day.  My dad always laughs, “haying is hard, hard work.”  Hence his computer job.
But it sure is a beautiful sight from where I sit. 
These guys are getting older and I wonder – are there young kids to take over the haying?  Is there a place on the college apptitude test for haying?
The end of a good hay run:  Hay for the winter.  Hay to keep the summer weeds down.  Cow and horses will be fed and kept warm.  My chickens will have a nesting spot.  
 
Next time you go for a hayride or see a bale of hay outside the supermarket or sit on a hay bale around a warm campfire, remember the farmer and the pains it took to gather that hay.
Hay makes for some great photo shoots
And is somewhat itchy.
 
It’s late in the hay season now but if we’re lucky we will have one more hay crop this year. If it doesn’t snow or hail or monsoon…the weather is always full of surprises.
But the grass continues to grow, waiting for the next romp and the next hay day.
 
I’m watching out the window, like a scene out of Rear Window, keeping tabs and biting my nails with anticipation.
 
Coming from a hay field near you…
FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Hay Day

Happy October!  My favorite month of my favorite season.

From my window where I write, I see a hay field.  I’ve spent much time looking out this window, watched many seasons come and go.  Around here, you won’t see much oohing and ahhing over the name brands of the latest pair of jeans, watch or car. But now, you’ve got a tractor?  We’re talkin’ big time. Shucks. 

Even my professorial husband longs to be part of the club.  Every time we pass a tractor shop he wants to take a peek.  Keep on walkin’, his wife says, you keep your nose in the books.  But we both agree – we’ll be farmers someday.  And still read books.  And he can have his tractor.

I have to admit, I’m kind of a farmer stalker myself; who’s driving what, who’s haying where…there’s been farm drama, neighbor conspiracy, and donkey talk that would rival The Housewives.

Oh yes, it’s quite exciting.  I feel an anticipation as summer wanes and fall comes into full swing, because that means its hay season, the crowning glory of the field.

I love the dutiful farmer (they often really do wear overalls!), the long grass, the drying, baling, and gathering.

My father grew up on a farm in Idaho and often expresses his wish that we had too.  So I feel lucky that we’re getting a tiny piece of that wish.
All spring and summer the grass grows wild and free.  First you must get your Little House romp in while you can.  After the romp, you must turn the grass over to the farmer.  Your time is done. 

Hay is especially valuable if it has clover; cows love clover for its sweetness and good hay can fetch a pretty penny.  The other day I needed a bale and was told it was going to cost me TEN DOLLARS!  Ha.  I went to talk to my farmer friends.  It pays to stay tight with the farmer. 
If it’s a good season, you can get a couple good hay runs in.  I don’t know if that’s what it’s called, I just said that.

The long grass is cut and then sits for days in the sun drying.  It’s a careful balance of rain and sun.  I know this from my observing, from my comfortable seat in the house while sipping something cold and sweet.

After cutting, the hay is then fluffed and set to dry again

and fluffed one more time for good measure.  If you try to gather hay while it’s wet, it will rot and be worthless. My farmer friends tolerate me while I snap picture after picture, waving all excited and giddy – it’s HAY DAY!

Nice and dry, perfect for baling.  See how I’m mastering my farmer lexicon?

Sometimes, if rain is coming, the farmers do the cutting, baling, and gathering in one day, from sun-up to sun-down.  If I’m away for a day, I come home disappointed that I missed all the action.

This is Hersey Farm, just down the road from us.  It is a multi-generational farm that is now protected from building; this makes me so happy.  I see this picturesque, romantic scene and swoon.  I’m sure they see and feel the hot sun, sweat, fatigue, and a long long day.  My dad always laughs, “haying is hard, hard work.”  Hence his computer job.

But it sure is a beautiful sight from where I sit. 

These guys are getting older and I wonder – are there young kids to take over the haying?  Is there a place on the college apptitude test for haying?

The end of a good hay run:  Hay for the winter.  Hay to keep the summer weeds down.  Cow and horses will be fed and kept warm.  My chickens will have a nesting spot.  

Next time you go for a hayride or see a bale of hay outside the supermarket or sit on a hay bale around a warm campfire, remember the farmer and the pains it took to gather that hay.

Hay makes for some great photo shoots
And is somewhat itchy.

It’s late in the hay season now but if we’re lucky we will have one more hay crop this year. If it doesn’t snow or hail or monsoon…the weather is always full of surprises.

But the grass continues to grow, waiting for the next romp and the next hay day.

I’m watching out the window, like a scene out of Rear Window, keeping tabs and biting my nails with anticipation.

Coming from a hay field near you…

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

The Grand Canyon: Giant Hole in the Earth

When your spirit cries for peace, come to a world of
canyons deep in an old land.
-August Fruge

We are back from a whirlwind western trip.  I feel I’ve traveled the world, though it was only 6000 miles and a 3-hour time change.  I’ve decided I will never get so comfortable that I can’t pick up and leave and see a new piece of the world.  Home is where the RV is, right?
My parents have moved to Arizona, so the Grand Canyon was at the top of the TO SEE list this year. Who knows if we will ever have the chance again?  When the opportunity presents itself, I say grab that bull by the horns and charge!  After an 11-hour road trip with my sister (did you know Siri does not talk when there is no service in the middle of Hopi/Navajo country…ah!  thank goodness for old-fashioned things called MAPS) we awoke early with eight wee ones (children) and headed to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World:  The Grand Canyon.
It’s huge.  It’s a giant hole in the ground:  277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and more than 6,000 feet deep.  One could get to the South Rim to the North Rim as quickly as the raven flies, except we’re humans.  And can’t fly from one rim to the next. Travel is a precarious situation.
The Grand Canyon is a result of the Colorado River cutting through the rock millions of years ago. Did you know the Colorado River touches seven states?  But the Grand Canyon is decidedly only in Arizona.
Do you like the history lesson?
The Grand Canyon is managed by the National Park Service, the Hualapai Tribal Nation and the Havasupai Tribe.  I like that.  
See that winding path?  That’s where we were going.
I am very afraid of heights.  I wish I wasn’t.  I wish I could look down and want to bungee, jump, and fly off the mountain, but an overwhelming cold inches over my body until I am near paralyzed.  Don’t tell Fear Factor; that’s the fear they would pick for me.  I blame this fear on a ill-fated hike up Timpanogus Mountain when I was ten, clinging to the side of a mountain, watching my mother and brother slip and slide down a giant glacier.  I remember looking down off the ledge I was scaling (we were lost), wondering what it would be like to die by falling.  That cold, overwhelming fear overtook me. Crying, I prayed that I could be teleported far, far away to a safe place, but soon realized quitting wasn’t an option; we either finished or… we didn’t. 
We got down off the mountain far after sunset, and met the rescue crew who had started to search for us.  Fears.  Deep like the Grand Canyon.
A deep digression.  This is like therapy.  Thanks.
And so we set off, our brave little crew, down the winding rock paths

Pausing to sit down, drink water, and occasionally cry

Spectacular, no?
Here are the original explorers who saw more than a vast and barren waste land.  Many explorers came, including those appointed by Theodore Roosevelt (who proclaimed it a barren waste land).  Sadly, I had to admit, that had I been in the camp, I may have not recognized Grand Canyon potential.  I mean, you can’t exactly plant a garden in rock.

Here are the new explorers.  A mostly cheerful lot.  Except for the one, “i don’t want to be in the picture!!”  I was intrigued by the sign:  When mules pass, Stand to the inside of the trail.  Follow mule guides’ instructions.  MULES?  Where, mules, where?

While looking for mules we arrived at the Ooh Aah Point

Yeah!  I turned 14 at the Grand Canyon!  Okay, mother, I’m 14, not you.  Whatever.  Let us pause a moment and digest the fact that I have a 14-year-old.  These are times that try the souls of men.  Mothers, too.

Then we had to take a picture on the cliff.  And I was scared.  And inched along the rock, trying not to hyperventilate.  Cope thought it awfully funny.

Nemo!  Get away from there!  Nemo!  Even the picture makes my heart thump.

I don’t want to walk anymore!

And then…to distract us from Nemo and crying…the mules began to come.  Do you see them making their way down the winding rock ledge?

I was perplexed.  These are mules?  They look like horse to me!  They are carrying dirt and supplies down to workers working on the path.  They passed us three times going back and forth.  I felt bad for them, but wanted to ride them, too.

Lucky guide of the tribal nation.  She had beautiful long black hair and was very nice and smiled as we waited on the side of the path like good Grand Canyon hikers should.  Apparently there is a restaurant and a camp down at the bottom…someday. 
A view from the top.  Them is hard mule workers!

Beautiful red, brown, and orange rock

 One more birthday kiss

Whew, we made it all the way out to Hopi Point. We did take a shuttle in the end, thankfully.  It was a momentous, and sometimes arduous journey that made us feel exhilarated and slightly nauseous all at once – the perfect adventure combo!

Oh, darling, please don’t let me fall off the cliff.  Here we are after almost 16 years of marriage…so lucky.
And then we were off to another adventure, through the desolate deserts of Arizona.
Now that the first of the seven natural wonders is crossed off the list, which one should be next? Perhaps Rome?
For each man sees himself in the Grand Canyon-
each one carries his own Canyon before he comes, each one
brings and carries away his own Canyon.
-Carl Sandburg

Wondering…what Canyon did I bring and what Canyon did I leave with?

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Katie Brings Metallic to the Country

Years ago I had started seeing a fellow.  We had been out several times and I thought it was a good match.  Not many men could quote boy band lines as fast as I could, or liked to dance nonstop throughout the night with me.  I was in my early 20’s, so frivolity was essential.  One day, out of the blue, he just went away.  He stopped calling.  I was so disappointed and confused.  What had happened?  The not knowing was the hardest part.  It kept me awake at night replaying different scenarios in my head, looking for clues. 


Manhattan is a small town, surprisingly.  A few months later, I ran into him while out and about on a Saturday night.  He was sitting next to a sleek, shiny haired, tiny brunette.  I was wearing my tried and true black pants, and she was not.  She was stunning.  She wore a camisole inspired print top, Seven jeans (denim trend was just hitting), and metallic strappy sandals.  Well, all questions were answered in that one moment.  She was put together and interesting in a very sophisticated way.  I stared from around the corner at her for most of the night.  Because social media is so prevalent, I know that he married this adorable creature.  You cannot fight true love.

What I took from this moment, from a fashion stand point at least, was that black pants are not the only neutral option, and they aren’t always the freshest choice.  This woman was so interesting to me because she used denim and metal to anchor her printed top.  Metallics are a fantastic neutral option to dress up your look.  Silver, gold, and platinum do the same job as black, khaki, and grey.  Think of metallics as the new neutral.  Wear them day and night.  They are a simple way to add a layer of intrigue to your look.  A good classic is never wrong, but you can add a little spice by switching from a classic neutral to a metallic neutral.  Here are some visuals for you.

The first jeans and tee is an easy, timeless outfit.  
It’s well put together, but basic.


basic 



By switching your black to a platinum gold and adding a rocking bracelet, you have a new way to wear your basic jeans and tee.




Our next options are more formal/cocktail attire.  The first look with a pashmina, black pumps, and pearls with a simple sheath is a no brainer. It always looks nice.  Yes, it is unoriginal, but it has stood the test of time for a reason.  The next metallic update makes it very current, but still formal.

Even your black pump has had a makeover for 2013 with its studded toe. A jacket serves the same purpose as the pashmina, but in metallic leather, you will be the silver belle of the ball!  

To get started on a metallic makeover for your wardrobe, start with these basics in your preferred metallic shade:

A Sandel
A Metallic-Toed Ballet Flat or Wedge

A Purse, Clutch, or if you’re daring – a bigger bag


A Sweet Little Belt

A Great Piece of Jewelry
What metallic eye-liner or eye shadow?  Cool or would I scare the editor at a meeting?  This metallic look is new territory for me.


So tell me, dear Mamas, are you brave with metallic? I think we should be.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

May Came

At least that’s what the calendar says…and now June is almost here. School activities are keeping us running and busy with field trips and end-of-year celebrations.  Mother nature is keeping us busy with planting, weeding, and tree climbing.  Make sure you get that last on in.  Life was meant to be enjoyed in a tree!

Last month was barren and cold and suddenly it’s blooming and beautiful.  

We decided to put the chicks out so they could get some fresh air.  But really, it was all about me; they are so smelly and stinky I needed them OUT.
Tenny, of course, was going crazy.  The sight of a bird makes him lose all rational thought.  He spots a robin and is off like a race car, speeding and careening until the robin cheeps with delight before flying away.  Such a tease.  We put a chicken fence around the chicks as a safe guard.  The natural dog inside Tenny has not yet been overcome.

“Mom, I think we should put Tenny inside,” Brynne said.

“He’s fine,” I said.  They can’t get out and he can’t get in.”

You already know this isn’t going to end well, don’t you?

Aren’t they cute?

I am not going to tell you the end of the story yet, because it’s a tragic one that will detract from the lovely blossom pictures I’m now going to focus on:  
Today I’m focusing on the happy things.

But in my mind I can still hear the screaming…

Let us now focus on the running in our lives.  There has been lots and lots of running this month – wahoo, it’s been so exciting.
This was Cope’s last year at her little elementary/middle school, and her last year running track (no track at her high school…so sad.)  She was a super star, running the mile run.  She won her first race (I may have been a little teary-eyed b/c watching my children run does something terribly wonderful to me), and here she came in third.  She gained A LOT of confidence this year, was well-coached, learned strategy, and how to find her pace.  There are so many great lessons learned from athletics.

She qualified for the state meet and ran her personal record of 6:09.  What a great season!
Nellie, also on the track team for the first time, bonded with his sister on long bus rides, and ran the mile, the 800 (2 laps), and threw javelin (the highlight of his life – a long spear he was actually encouraged to use.)  He missed qualifying for the state meet by .2 seconds (like the snap of your finger).  

This boy is so fast, he has a long running life ahead of him…he may have even beat his mother this weekend at a 5k.  Twice.  He ran a 21:50 5k today…I just couldn’t catch him!

I tend to be more…vocal at track meets.  Here, Daddy watches with that phone in his ear.

The girls were always super-excited to stay for long track meets.

Last month was blah and barren.  And now the world is lush and beautiful.

I found a turtle in the middle of the road.  Did you know that keeping a snapping turtle in NH carries a $10,000 fine?  I sent one to school and was promptly told this information.  Why does this make me laugh?

While older kids went to track practice, girls ran home to Mama.  One of my favorite parts of the day.

Apple blossoms bloomed

Dandelions bloomed and were picked in big bouquets

I can’t seem to do a million things at once, and lost my mind several times.  My dear mother-in-law had to turn off the oven after I was 40 minutes away and realized I was cooking English muffins.  Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Brynnie boo had a birthday!  Donuts on a string….

The black flies attacked Paige and her ear swelled three times its normal size

And the girls ate the donuts with gusto.  Happy Birthday, Brynnie!  This is kind of a lame birthday post, but I love ya, girl – you know I do!

I’m not sure why this is so fun, but it has been vastly entertaining.

Especially when it pops repeatedly in sister’s face

Waah!  My ear hurts.

In bloom

The climber of trees

I’ve been after the kids for running outside with their dirty feet and then coming inside with their dirty feet and then running up the cream carpet with their dirty feet…

Sometimes I think I just need to let it go.  But something inside of me just can’t do it.  My solution is…they WEAR shoes when they go outside.  Is that so wrong?
This is supposedly a weed

For one week out of the year, this crab apple tree blooms the most beautiful pink blossoms

And we must pick them and swing from tree’s branches.  And the tree is happy.
I like this quote:

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction. 
-Rachel Carson

Why does the sight of Daddy mowing the lawn make me so happy?
I can’t stop loving them, either.

May came.
Happy May.
xo.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare