Sunday, November 30, 2014


A list:

:: enjoyed sharing Thanksgiving leftovers and conversation (insert a much needed nap on the couch for yours truly) with two of Keith's sisters and their families.

:: "it's only a sliver" self-justification with all this leftover chocolate sheet cake and pumpkin pie.

:: long walks. hoping to burn all these extra calories from too much holiday indulgence. (see above.)

:: watching a few episodes of Middlemarch (a BBC production, of course), as well as the delightful documentary Advanced Style, also on Netflix. These fabulous ladies are awesome, full of life, and just plain inspiring.

:: after these six months of having Jane living at home after her return from Taiwan (rooming with Isaac), I helped her move back down to be with her old roommates in their college town apartment. Shopped with her to set up house. Felt that same old familiar ache in letting her go. Excited that she'll be closer to her friends and social scene. Glad that she can get back to the independence that she was used to for so long. Getting used the idea, the quiet, and the changing dynamics of having only two children living at home. So many mixed emotions about this.

:: scored some good finds at the thrift store. A few books, a beautiful blouse, and a perfect belt.

:: the niceness of getting the house put back to order and tidy.

:: Isaac's science fair project (constructing and learning about crystal radio) that he and Keith were working on all day yesterday. All these found objects gathered from around the house, all scattered on the kitchen table, and put together to make something not only really cool, but actually functioning.

:: Kung Pao Tufu, veg sushi, and lettuce wraps hitting the spot.

:: visiting G & G's new digs for the first time. Darling and charming and so happy for them. 

:: as kind of a last hurrah to autumn (gearing up next week to put up Christmas), I baked some loaves of pumpkin bread this morning to share.

:: preparing to address our church congregation this afternoon. Keith and I both asked to each share a 15 minute "talk", (message or speech) about parenting. Kind of ugh for me to do this (and especially with all that's going on this week), but at the same time grateful to recommit myself and be able to share the strong and tender feelings/experiences I have about my own motherhood and those who have nurtured me along the way. Wish me luck, folks.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” 

Thornton Wilder

I've been up since the crack of dawn. On pie duty as I am most years. Lingering thoughts of last night's houseful when we hosted Greta's family (ours and theirs totaling 15 children!) for dinner and games. So much fun, laughter, and love here.

We will leave in an hour to join my extended family for dinner, stacked plates, and more laughter.

Wishing all of you dear ones a day filled with warm smells, filled bellies, and happy hearts. Your presence here and friendship towards me has been one of the grandest blessings of my life.

lots of love
and xo


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

can we talk about lipstick?

My appearance has altered quite a bit this past year. 

My "you're-too-young-for-gray hair" transformed to a nice, auburn brown with golden warm highlights. Man-short, pixie growing (shockingly) out into a head of natural curls. Embracing bolder, richer color in my wardrobe choices. 

It all feels so right, comfortable, and true for me. And to be totally honest, I feel more confident and beautiful than I ever have before in my life.

I'm wearing lipstick now, too. Like every day. Even when I go out (unshowered) in the morning on my walk (boy, does it put some "pep to my step") or am staying home all day.

It's not like I've never worn lipstick before. But I just felt hesitant to go bolder; sticking with soft, neutral shades and lightly tinted lip gloss. As I've gained more confidence in my appearance, I've happily implemented the use of deeper colors (attracted to shades of plum) on my lips. 

And do you know what? I've noticed an interesting phenomena about this lipstick thing. Marveling how something as simple as wearing a little lipstick can have a powerful effect on my emotional well-being.

It's almost magical.

lipstick selfie.

As a little girl, I noticed this phenomena in my mother. When she would come downstairs in the morning to wake me up, I could sense a feeling of pep, energy, and happiness in her those days when she put lipstick on.

Mom + lipstick magic = good mood. 

And as I now think about it, this little ritual she gave herself really became something powerful for her. Not only bringing a little color to her beautiful face, but a feeling of self-confidence and a positive mood.

Just looking at the above photograph that was taken on Christmas Day in my kitchen four years ago, I look at myself and acknowledge that, yes, I do look fine, but a little washed out, flat, and tired. (and yes, I know I was tired, as every mother is on Christmas Day.)  

How much more "pop" (like my mom!) I'd have if there was just a little bit of color to my face. I think that this simple addition would have really pulled my energy up.

So to be clear, this much I do know. 

My mother was and is beautiful with or without lipstick, or any ounce of make-up for that matter. Her beauty and my own beauty come from within and radiate without. A woman's happiness and self-confidence isn't the result of whether she chooses to wear or not to wear lipstick and make-up or fancy designer clothing.

But for me, right now and today, a bit of lipstick seems to be working wonders. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

G & G

We are delighted to announce 

the forthcoming marriage of our son 
Gary to Greta.

The wedding will be in San Diego, California on
December 27, 2014,
with a reception here in Utah on the evening of
January 1.

Dreams do come true.

And we all couldn't be happier.

(all photographs credited to Louisa Jane Ballif, Greta's talented sister)

The proposal site...

 white roses, 
the custom-made, carefully and thoughtfully designed engagement ring, 
all a surprise and set up in the master bedroom of their future first apartment, 
the cozy, love-nest bench of early romantic interludes 
which Gary borrowed 
from the kind stranger's college town yard 
(with permission given, of course)
 for this most important of  occasions.

She sat while he knelt...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

creating: a thanksgiving paper cut banner

Hello! I wanted to pop in this afternoon and share what I've been working on for the past two days.

I love creating and completing projects. Sure, I could fold laundry, but I find so much pleasure and satisfaction making beautiful things and working with my hands. The whole creative process is an essential element to my happiness.

I am, when it all comes down to it, an artist.

For about fifteen years, I've dabbled in the art of paper cutting. I have a thing for cutting intricate paper snowflakes, too. 

When I recently saw this beautiful Thanksgiving banner on the Lia Griffith website, I knew I wanted to make it. And soon. This talented designer and paper artist has so many fun projects and resources. It's my go-to crafting place for ideas and inspiration. 

Here's my work space.
So grateful to have a place of my very own to create.

And this is me, at work. Intensely cutting away.
(Thanks, Isaac, for the nice photo.)

Here are some things I've learned about the art of paper cutting:

1. You use muscles in your hands, shoulders, and arms you didn't know were there. (I woke up today stiff and a little sore.) A lot of strength doing this tiny, precision cutting.

2. One slip of the x-acto knife, and you could get a bad cut. Luckily, I haven't yet experienced an oopsie. (knock on wood.)

3. Paper cuts make pretty, elegant, and inexpensive gifts (totally a gift from the heart.), cards, and decorations. All you need is a self-healing mat, tiny scissors, an x-acto knife, spray adhesive, paper, and frames.

4. With all the focused concentration, I find the process almost becoming a meditation practice. In many ways, the cutting is very relaxing and centering to me.

Ta-da! One of the completed panels of the banner after taking of the white printed pattern. So pretty.

Here are a some other projects I've done. 

Found this pattern on the Martha Stewart website a few years ago. Along with the vibrant Valentine red, I've done two of this design against a light tan background. Framed in a simple white wooden frame, these made very pretty Christmas gifts.

I've also made a couple framed paper cuts (as well as shrunk it down for a sweet birthday card) of this woodland scene from Charlotte Lyon's delightful Mothers and Daughters at Home: 35 Projects to Make Together. 

I like this simple "Tree of Life" design, but can't remember where I found the pattern.

Really pleased with the way this Thanksgiving project came out. Not only was it fun to make, but will beautifully compliment our autumnal fireplace mantle. A sweet reminder to our family of the spirit and message of this week.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

nice and easy

After a night altering between deep sleep, way too vivid dreaming, being semi-awake and semi-conscious of yet another episode of perimenopausal night sweats, I found myself wide awake at four o'clock this morning. My body is still trying to adapt to daylight savings, I guess.

About an hour later, Jane, who is also an early riser, quietly came into the bedroom and we had a nice, long talk. 

So happy for her happiness. 

As Keith later joined the conversation, I found myself slipping away, deliciously, to more time in dreamland. A rare treat and amazed to see I slept in until after eight. 

That little indulgence sort of set the tone for the rest of the day. A conscious intention to make this Saturday one of quiet and slow, nice and easy.

I soon set out for my walk, bundled up to face the chill. Hoping I'd see the large group of grazing deer in the neighboring field again like I have for the past two days. The day I first drove past them, I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Especially that magnificent buck with his huge antlers boldly standing there so majestically; looking right at us as we sat in the car. Another reminder that I need to have my camera with me at all times.

After returning home from my walk, I decided to head out for a photo-drive. A scavenger hunt for the beauty of my world. 

My kind of play.

More play in the kitchen this afternoon. 

A big pot of soup ("Moroccan Chickpea and Potato") to carry us through the weekend, and with the box of apples I picked up at the fruit stand a few weeks ago, of course, an apple pie was in order. 

A first time trying my hand at making a gluten-free one. (A trial run for Thanksgiving.) Handling and forming that delicate crust was a little tricky, and I honestly had my doubts on how it would turn out, but I'm telling you, this pie was absolutely delicious. Perfection. (I wish I could serve you up a slice!) The crust incredibly light and flaky-- probably the best apple pie I've ever eaten. 

Usually I get kind of grinchy when it comes to Christmas music before the holiday season officially is here (and for me, that means I prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving to really savor it all), but today I succumbed (reluctantly) when the girls put some holiday tunes on Pandora. It just felt natural, as we were all in a homey, cozy, relaxed mood. 

The boys heading off to a college football game and the girls spending time with friends, it looks like I'll get to finish the movie (Shadowlands- an all-time favorite. "C.S. Lewis, a world-renowned Christian theologian, writer and professor, leads a passionless life until he meets a spirited poet from the U.S.Have you seen it? ) I started last night but didn't finish.

Thanks for letting me share my Saturday with you, my friend. Wishing you a weekend full of smiles, with lots of nice and easy, too. Thanks so much for stopping by.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

first snow

What a surprise to look out the window today and see snowfall. I kind of had a hunch, though. The air just had that feel about it as I went out this morning for my walk.

I ran some errands. A list to cross off. Groceries to fill a cart. I found it sad that almost everyone I talked to had some kind of negative comment about the snow. The difficulty it makes for driving. The cold and dreary days of a long winter that is fast approaching and will linger on and on.

I don't feel that dread. At least not now in mid-November. (That feeling will most likely change come late February.) I love the variety and beauty that comes with each season, even though winter darkness and freezing temperatures aren't my favorite thing. But today, this first snowfall was magical to me. As the first snowfall of the year always is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

10 things

1. Yes, "everything always works out". All these plans, hopes, and dreams of theirs unfolding so beautifully and so generously.

2. The happy surprise to open the mailbox yesterday and pull out a sweet, handwritten card. Thank you and xo, Jennifer! 

3. Sparkly morning frost.

4. Sunflower seeds from the garden for the birds to feast on.

5. Soup to share.

6. Christmas surprises in the works. (Giddy with anticipation!) One of my favorite things to love about November. 

7. Cheery thumbprint cookies warm from the oven.

8. Finding and feeling an absolute passion. Joyful tears for this gift.

9. Early, still mornings snuggled with my books and my thoughts.

10. Tummy-ache sick day for him makes for a quiet day at home for both of us. Today's agenda: working on a puzzle together, playing a game of Scrabble, more time with the books, and a back rub. (of course.)