Blueberry Pickin’

As children, we begin to make associations between each season and its traditions. For many of us, spring is a time we remember picking flowers for our loved ones; summer is filled with memories of water play and sunny days; fall holds the memories of choosing pumpkins and picking apples; and winter is a time those of us in the north remember playing in the snow.

For me, some of my best summer memories are from the berry patch. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and red raspberries- we lived in an area where we had easy access to all of them. In fact, within walking distance of my grandparents’ farm was a very large strawberry patch, and a blueberry patch so extensive I’m not sure I ever reached its limits in all the years we spent picking there. There’s no end to the stories I could tell from strawberry picking- like the time my mom went to pick dressed as an old lady because she was convinced that the elder clientele were directed to the most bountiful areas of the patch. And the much less amusing time she spent bent over the berry bushes in the hot sun for so long that she had a sunburn that blistered between the line of her shirt and shorts.

But my fondest memories are from picking blueberries. The couple who owned the blueberry patch across the road from my grandparents’ farm were so sweet, and would deliver patrons to the best part of the berry patch via golf carts. Mom would always tell us she was going to have us weighed both before picking and after so she knew how many berries we’d eaten so we could pay for them (clearly she never did). Regardless, we would always sneak a couple, because…blueberries.

In the years since my grandparents have both passed away, the family farm remains, and a high school classmate of mine has built a home where the cherry trees once stood next to the blueberry patch. A high school classmate of Ryan’s (and a former coworker of mine, from my first job as a convenience store clerk when I was 15) lives next to her. It’s funny how things work out when you get older- passing acquaintances become forever enmeshed in our past, somehow making them an integral part of who we are.

I don’t think I’ve picked blueberries since the summer before I started college, a decade and a half ago, though I stop often at the patch near our house and buy the already-picked ones. For a long time, I couldn’t find time between school, work, chores, and life. Then it was because I had three babies in three years and that was a lot to manage. But a couple of weeks ago I finally decided it was time. The boys and I got up early on a Wednesday morning and headed off to the berry patch. I was not optimistic that we’d have a positive experience, but I really wanted to go and pass on the nostalgia that I tend to associate with these summer traditions, so we did it anyway.

Man, did I underestimate my kids (not the first time, folks, and certainly won’t be the last). Armed with a one-gallon ice cream bucket (for me) and three half-gallon buckets, my boys and I hit the blueberry bushes. For one solid hour, my friends, my three boys and I picked berries, and sang songs, and laughed, and there was not one fight or negative word the entire time. They listened, they followed directions, they didn’t wander off- not even my wild child. That hour was probably the single most peaceful block of time in our entire summer, and it resulted in two and a half gallons of blueberries, which have since been frozen, turned into blueberry muffins, baked into blueberry scones and eaten by the handful. One of my brothers has a favorite blueberry cake that I usually make only once a year (my oldest son asked if that meant it’s a “seasonal item”) that we may make again with our bounty.

In the end, we left with probably way more berries than we really needed, but they’ll last us past the season. And so will the memories.




Nobody Burned Down your She-Shed, Cheryl

Our area was hit by a hail storm in April, and many of our neighbors and others in our area are filing homeowners claims through the insurance companies to help recover losses caused by the storm. Our home sustained some damage- nothing terribly major, but enough to require some attention and repairs.

We’ve spent most of our summer planning repairs, speaking with insurance adjusters and claims specialists and our agent, and meeting with our contractor to coordinate all of the work we need to have done. This week, we had the roof replaced between thunder storms. (Let me tell you, my friends, there are few things in life as unnerving as a man’s shadow crossing next to the window of your second-story bathroom.)

Incidentally, one of our twins loves the State Farm she-shed commercial. At four years old, he shakes his head and mutters, “nobody burned down your she-shed, Cheryl.”

I think it took my boys awhile to comprehend what a she-shed is, and why one could possibly be necessary. After all, in our home, they’ve completely taken over every possible square foot of space. They feel perfectly comfortable showering their toys all over our home- their bedrooms, OUR bedroom, the guest room, the kitchen, living room, dining room, basement…heck, it’s not uncommon to find Lego’s and other small toys littering the floors in the bathrooms! The idea of Mom or Dad needing their own space is a little foreign.

The more the boys take over, the less space there is for Ryan and I. Even Ryan, though, has claimed his corners and crannies in our home for his work and hobbies. I guess you could say I have my domain too, if the kitchen, littered with everyone else’s stuff, counts. And my closet where I’ve hidden my I Love Lucy collection, because, pink. And boys. And I have my wall in the dining room where my desk goes, to collect my project supplies- paint decks and samples, reference materials, sketch book, etc. Maybe I’m a bit spoiled, thinking I need more…

I’ve tried to make our house homey and welcoming without being over-the-top feminine. I don’t use a lot of floral prints in fabrics- though our living room rug is maybe a little more feminine. It’s balanced with solid grey furniture, black and white accent pillows, and a warm gold on the walls. I did request purple on the dining room walls- it’s a deep, deep plum color that’s brightened by the sunlight that floods in through the ceiling-high window angled to the vaulted ceiling. The purple is accented with a more masculine, dark wood hutch, table, and chairs. I can bring in more feminine touches with how I set the table- a centerpiece, a collection of candles, some interesting accent pieces, dishes, napkin rings, etc. I live with four males; I’m doing my best to strike a balance between masculine and slightly glam.

Since I brought up the idea, my boys love shopping for she-shed necessities. They’ll point out pre-fab plastic shed displays in Sam’s Club and ask me which one I want. Our oldest will point out accessories and furniture and lighting and tell me, “Mom, you need this for your she-shed!”

They’re really indulging in this fantasy of mine.

And so I dream of my she-shed. I dream of my own girly space, where I can have white furniture, white walls, some glam lighting, a fainting couch (a lifelong dream of mine), as much pink as I can cram in (tastefully, of course), and plenty of wine storage. I dream of a space for my most creative moments to happen- both in writing and design. I dream of a reading nook, surrounded in bookshelves, a desk…and maybe more pink.

And I hope to never have to call the insurance company to file a claim on my she-shed. My little guy would take too much pleasure in telling me that nobody burned down it down.



Moms’ Night

Ladies, if there’s one valuable piece of information you will ever find on this blog, I hope this is it. And I hope it doesn’t take you nearly as long to heed my advice as it took me.

For the past several years, I’ve been chatting up fellow moms in our community, moms I cross paths with at the elementary school, the preschool, the library, extracurricular activities, the playground, field trips, birthday parties, the grocery store…it’s a small town; we share space regularly.

Anyway, I’ve had the chance to chat with these moms many times, and we never fail to get into a conversation juuuuuuussssssttttt far enough that we’re starting to get to know one another by first names rather than “That kid’s mom” when one of my kids starts whining and throwing his shoes at peoples’ heads, another starts picking up random merchandise and putting it into my shopping cart, and the third has to go to the bathroom.

About two years ago it occurred to me that I’d love to have the chance to have a real mom conversation, uninterrupted by kids. It was a completely foreign thought (at the time I was probably sleepwalking through life with a four year old and two two year olds), and I brushed it off as an impulsive desire bred of spending 97% of my time in the presence of all these boys.

After the initial spark of thought, however, the idea kept nagging at me. It nagged to the point of mentally choosing dinnerware and glassware and picking out recipes for both food and drinks. It nagged to the point where I’d chosen linens and dishes (when I purchased new appetizer plates for our New Years Eve party this year, “Moms’ Night” was also a determining factor in my selection). And I kept talking myself out of it. My boys- what would my boys do while I filled our home with women who desperately needed a night off? I couldn’t justify it.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I fought my need for a night with the girls, afraid it was too selfish, it would be asking too much, it wasn’t fair to kick my husband and children out of the house for a night…a hundred excuses, all of which Ryan immediately squashed, assuring me that he was happy to help me to bring my vision to life. I had a mental guest list, so as soon as he agreed to help me out and we discussed dates of weekends he was free, I sent out invitations.

Of course, we’re moms and it’s summertime, so roughly half of the ladies I invited couldn’t make it, but I’m hoping we can do another soon; it was an evening that should not be limited to once in a lifetime.

My theme for the evening was, “relaxed, casual, and classy.” I wanted a simple menu, so I could relax and enjoy my evening too. Also, it’s July, and the evening of our party was a perfect one for a light, simple selection and dining on the deck. We joked that the menu was perfect for the ladies, because any of the men would’ve asked where their real dinner was. One of the ladies I’d invited recommended a cheese plate (find the inspiration recipe here), with each guest bringing her own ingredient to contribute and assembling at my house as everyone arrived. Additionally, I made an olive oil dipping blend to serve with French baguette, and a friend also contributed a delicious kale salad with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and a lemon poppy seed dressing.

Photo credits to my incredibly talented friend, graphic designer, and photographer Angela Glass, at Angela Glass Creative. Find her on Facebook @angelaglasscreative

For our drinks, I provided rum, vodka, tequila, and mixers to invite everyone to mix their own signature cocktail. I also mixed up a pitcher of this tropical rum punch and served it from my beverage dispenser. Finally, I offered red and white wine. And for dessert, we had this California Lemon Pound Cake– the perfect refreshing, sweet treat for a summer evening, with some homemade vanilla ice cream as an alternative.

Sometime around midnight, we looked at the clock and realized we’d chatted and laughed through the entire evening in a blink.  I think we all agreed that the evening was a success and that we should definitely get together again, sooner rather than later- especially for those who were unable to attend.

My hope for you mamas who are feeling burned out, alone and isolated, and starved for adult interaction, will consider doing something like this with your mama tribe. Choose a day or evening and just plan it. It could be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like to plan- order a couple of pizzas and buy a case of beer, make a big dinner, do an appetizer party- whatever your taste is, just please take the time to do this for you and your closest mom friends. You-and they- deserve it.




It’s Official: I am NOT a Morning Person

I’ve been around the mom scene for awhile now. I’ve read the advice of all the experts, all the Supermoms out there, all the organized and together ladies who have a grip on schedules and herding children and balancing life and kids and work and all the other stuff moms do. (If you are one of these moms, please comment below. I may be willing to pay for all of your secrets. In wine.) In all these years, I’ve adamantly poo-poo’ed all the encouragement of said moms who recommend that in order to have a most productive day, a mom must wake up an hour or more before her children in order to have quiet time, alone time, time to meditate and enjoy a cup of coffee. I’m not a morning person; I never have been. The later I stay awake, the more energized I become and, consequently, the more creative I can be- without interruptions. The downside is, I’m not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the mornings. It takes awhile for the caffeine to kick in and the synapses to start firing.

When my alarm went off this morning, nobody else was awake yet. As per usual, I hit snooze and rolled over, but an impending thunder storm had the dog pacing, her long nails clicking on the hardwood floor of my bedroom. Reluctantly, I rolled out of bed and stumbled downstairs to put her outside and put some fresh water in her bowl before the heavens opened up and she got wet (I don’t call her “Princess” for nothing, folks. My girl does not like to be rained upon.)

While she was outside, I made myself a cup of coffee, emptied the dehumidifier, and did a few other morning chores before picking up a book I’d started last night. I didn’t get through one whole page before I heard one of the twins breathing in the upstairs hallway. (Yes, for real. Come on, you know you know what I’m saying). He wasn’t talking- he usually doesn’t for awhile after he wakes up (he may or may not have inherited this genetic pleasantry from his mother)- but I could hear him rustling around on the carpet. I went up to check, and sure enough, he was lying in the middle of the floor with his blanket. I hadn’t made it to the shower before his twin- much more boisterous and loud from the second he wakes up- bounced out of my bed, where he’d been asleep between Ryan and me since about 3AM, and followed me to the bathroom.

So much for peace and alone time.

From that point, my morning went much the same as one where I sleep until the last possible moment (ahem, every day…). I never got the dishwasher unloaded, forgot to pack a lunch to take with us, barely got the boys out the door on time, and didn’t get a chance to finish my second cup of coffee- instead, I dumped it into a travel mug to take with me as I sprinted to the driveway in the pouring rain, hastily packed lunch bag banging against my knee, my “mom purse” (a large Vera Bradley tote stuffed with reading materials, makeup, my wallet, phone, and Kindle) weighing down my right arm. It was then that I noticed that two of my boys had locked my car doors and I couldn’t get in out of the pouring rain. (Insert expletives of your choice here. Be creative. Be very, very creative, because in my head, I was having a four -letter- word field day.)

It was then and there, my friends, that I decided I am most definitely NOT a morning person. After all I’d gone through, optimistically experimenting with a new method to make our day flow more smoothly, I’d actually made it worse by trying to get ahead.

And so tomorrow morning, my friends, you will find me hiding under the covers until approximately the very last second.

The end.



Things left unsaid

My second grade teacher nicknamed me “Chatterbox.” I’m sure I don’t need to explain that one. Some things, apparently, never change.

However, despite my ability to move my mouth constantly and chatter incessantly about very little of consequence, I find it hard to say the important words out loud.

We’re driving back north after a weekend with our families. We spent time at the races, met a brand-spanking-new nephew, loved on our other nieces and nephew, met another- less new but still very tiny- cousin, and had an afternoon of farm exploring. We talked, we laughed, we enjoyed two full consecutive days of warmth and sunshine. It was a wonderful, fulfilling weekend. All three boys- and the dog- are snoring in the backseat.

Yet somehow I’m finding myself shooting off text after text on our way home to say all the things I didn’t say while we were there. The “I forgot to mention…” or “I never asked you about…” or, “here’s a story I wanted to tell you but didn’t get the chance,” peppered with the occasional, “Oh, crap, I think we left…(insert someone’s unaccounted for personal item) at your house.”

Two weeks later, on our drive home, I’m reflecting on all of this, plus another weekend of running into old friends and classmates I haven’t seen in, erm, well over a decade (closer to two, actually, but let’s not dwell on that) and how Bon Jovi himself once said “who says you can’t go home?” And, well, who can argue with Bon Jovi?

Ryan has teased me in the past about my ability to spend all weekend at home and continue chatting with my mom for the whole two hour drive home. He’s not wrong. In fact, often our conversation flows from the weekend for weeks without pause- at any time of day or night. (As evidenced by the fact that we were still exchanging texts last night well after midnight.)

I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder and actual physical connection fortifies bonds that phone calls and text messages can’t touch. It’s such a gift- particularly as a parent- to be able to be able to keep in contact via text,(I don’t know how my mom carried on telephone conversations when we were kids if I was anything like my kids are. See chatterbox, above. I can barely call to make a dentist appointment, never mind catching up with far-away family) but you just can’t replace the gift of being in the same room as those you love. That leaves the opportunity to convey everything one may want to say, without having the actual conversation. “Miles don’t matter. This moment is important. I love you. I’m here.”

But then…

some things are better left unsaid.



Playing with modern/coastal

I’ve been having so much fun with the Sherwin-Williams color of the year (Loyal- SW 6510) and the creamy white (Westhighland white- SW 7566) and pink (Rosy Outlook- SW 6316) palate that I’ve been working with, that I decided to tackle yet another style incorporating the same colors. (Survey also suggests that it’s helpful to see the same colors used in different styles, so if colors appeal but design concept does not, maybe I can hit on your personal style through one of these posts. Or perhaps vice versa).

It’s summer, I’m thinking breezy and cool and relaxing. I’m thinking margaritas and Coronas and sangria and seafood. I’m thinking clean and beachy, but not kitsch (remember Trading Spaces designer Doug Wilson? His mission was always to avoid a “kitschy” design. Channeling Doug).

Ryan often talks about someday owning our own beach house. Me, not so much, not because I don’t love the beach but more because I don’t want to be overly invested in one location; I want to see it all. I want to travel to as many different places as we can, broaden my horizons, see as much as I can see and absorb as much culture and as much of the world as I can. But that doesn’t stop me from imagining what it might look like to own an oceanside escape. There are few things I love more than the ocean- the salt air, the sand between my toes, the dolphins jumping in the waves, a cold Corona or a Landshark in my hand, my boys covered in salt and sand and sunscreen and smelling like a delicious combination of all three.

And so, I’ve carefully considered what our modern coastal retreat would look like. Forget the wicker furniture and the seashell bedspreads, Mama wants to go a bit more refined. I see lots of glass, some of which should tinted to suggest beach glass, and some clear and modern. I see hints of rope and rattan, and in contrast, a few pops of metallic for glam factor. Artwork is modern and abstract but hints at sunsets and waves, with maybe one set of prints featuring ocean life, in black and white to avoid the “kitsch factor,” because the rug features a pattern reminiscent of coral reef, and that’s kitsch enough.

Tell me what you think, friends! Does this board speak to you? Are you feeling the beach vibes? I want to hear what styles you love!



I didn’t choose the race life; the race life chose me: an interview with my favorite rookie racer

This summer is our oldest son’s rookie year racing go-karts. Ryan started last year, and has encouraged, helped, and guided our oldest son to race alongside him. (Most tracks open rookie racing at age five; our boy is just months away from 7.)

Our big kid has done a pretty amazing job learning the ropes of driving his little race car. I’d be lying if I said the idea of allowing him to drive, in a car, by himself, with other children, around in a dirt circle, doesn’t amp my anxiety to the hilt, but he loves it and he’s proven that he can not only do it, but he’s kind of great at it. This past week, our boy placed third out of seven cars, running a smaller engine than any other kid (more about that in a minute). At the end of the race, after accepting his trophy, I watched my six-and-a-half year old grip his trophy in his left hand, while totally casually steering his go-kart back to the pit area with only his right hand.

I’ve only attended two of his races so far (see: anxiety, above). But the races I’ve attended have shown me even more how capable our kid is. I shouldn’t be surprised; this boy amazes me. He’s pretty mature at his tender age, and there’s not much he takes on that he doesn’t come out on top of. He’s hard on himself; he’s a perfectionist (not sure which side of the gene pool that came from…). Striking out at a baseball game always leaves him shaking his head in disappointment. Bumping another car on the race track leaves him frustrated, yet more amped up than ever to go back and do better next time. At his last race, he veered off the track and into a muddy patch. He kept his foot on the gas and motored through the muck, coming out of it with one hand in the air aimed at his family with a “thumbs up” to show us he was good. Which, come to think of it, is kind of an awesome metaphor for his attitude about life. But on that night, I’d have given just about anything to have had a mic on him at that moment to hear what was going on in that go kart.

Curious to get his thoughts on racing, I asked him if he would grant me an “interview” to share with you. He couldn’t wait to oblige. Here’s what he has to say:

Me: “Mr. Merrow, I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today. I have a couple of questions for you about your racing career.

Little Merrow: “Um, I race on it with dirt and it’s really fun to be in it because last summer I was watching my dad do it, and I was like, ‘I just wanna do this!’ so this winter we went to this kid’s house and got this kart that this kid used , who’s my age…well, he’s seven and I’m about to turn seven and it’s too…well, once I first got in it…it’s really fun. I’m ready for the questions, I think.”

Me: “Tell me about your go-kart. Do you know what kind it is? What year is it? What kind of motor do you run?”

LM: “Uh, I don’t remember. I have a 2012 go-kart.* The motor is from Harbor Freight for a hundred dollars. It’s a Predator 79CC. They’re getting a bigger Predator. I’m racing a kid in DuBois who I came in second against my dad’s engine. They’re way bigger; they’re called clones. He just got a new motor from a guy though who, he made it. It’s called an Animal.”

(*NOTE* We had to consult an expert here. Ryan supplied the following information: the go-kart chassis is a 2012 Mongoose. Our boy has, up to this point, run the Predator 79CC engine, but will be testing a Clone motor in tomorrow’s race. )

Me: “Where do you race?”

LM: “Um, I race at a track that’s called Race 1 in Dubois, I race in Pittsfield, I race in, um, New York, not in New York City, at Stateline, really close to here on Saturday mornings. My dad races in DuBois sometimes, but when we go there we can’t go to Stateline on Saturday mornings because we don’t get home from DuBois until 2:00 in the mornings and I don’t really want to do that. I also race in Clearfield at a track called Flat Run that has a big wall that, like, a bunch of people crash into- I have before- and I only smacked it one time because there’s tires around it and I only smacked the tires then I saw another guy bang into another guy on two wheels and he hit the wall, came back down, and his engine stopped but I wasn’t in that race.”

Me: “that’s a lot of race tracks. Can you tell me which is your favorite?”

LM:”Um, my favorite track is, um, all the tracks that run my engine like Slippery Rock even though we haven’t been there yet but I would like to race my engine, and I like to go to Stateline a lot. I can’t race at Flat Run. Well, I can, but I still would be racing [against other engines like my dad’s].

Me: “What was your best finish at Stateline?”

LM: “Um, my first time I finished second [in the feature]. Well, I won a heat race there. It’s really fun. I’m ready for another question.”

Me: “Your mom gets nervous about you racing. What would you tell me to make me worry less when you’re racing?”

LM: “Well, just think about like, um, how much fun, um, like, um, like if I come out of a race without being in a wreck, it’s really fun about it. And just, like, think about fun things that you and I have done together. And you don’t have to come to all of the races.”

Me: “Do I make you nervous when I’m there?”

LM: “Well, NO! Just, this was awesome.”

Me: “Tell me about all of the safety equipment you have to wear to race.”

LM: “At the end of the interview you’re going to see pictures of me in all my gear”

Me: “What is all of the gear?”

LM: “Well, wear this Armadillo chest protector in case I bump the steering wheel and it hits right here [pointing to his chest], in my chest, I’m fine. And I wear racing gloves that say K1. I wear a K1 fire suit. I wear a Bell helmet. Um, my dad also wears a Bell helmet. And a neck brace (and my dad also wears a neck brace and racing gloves). The neck brace, you can’t move your head around because of the neck brace and you can’t move your helmet like this, side to side, because, um, it’s like really cool and I’m six years old and it’s really fun being in a kart, being a kid.”

Me: “What would you tell other kids, or even grownups, who think they might want to race go-karts?”

LM: “I would want them to know about my wins, really. And I have a bunch of trophies. I think I have four.”

Me: “What’s the most fun part of racing?”

LM: “The most fun part about racing is being under the visor of the helmet and, like, how cool it is to be under it. When I put up my visor, I’m like, breathing so much energy and I love it and I give a thumbs up to you guys who are watching me, and just, thanks for coming, actually, for watching me. My cousin was just at my race last week and he got to sit in my kart and put on my helmet and my neck brace and and my gloves and he got see what it’s like, and how cool it is.”

Me: “That was really nice of you. And it was really nice of you to do this interview with me. Thank you for your time, Mr. Merrow.”

LM: “OK. Thanks.”

Mmmm. Chocolate

Have I ever told you how much I love chocolate? Like, really, really love chocolate. As in, if my DNA were analyzed, I’m probably part cocao bean (I did not spell that incorrectly. Cocao trees produce the beans that are roasted and made into cocoa- chocolate). I’m pretty sure I could qualify as an honorary citizen of Hershey, PA (one of my favorite places on earth). And for all the summers I spent there with them, an entire section of Hersheypark should probably be named after my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Don (or perhaps a building, One with air-conditioning).

Over the years, I’ve collected all of the Hershey’s memorabilia: clothing, jewelry, refrigerator magnets, books, cookbooks, stuffed animals, sports equipment- I’m a walking poster child for Hershey’s, what can I say?

Several years ago, I received a set of Hershey kisses shaped cookie cutters for Christmas, in varying sizes. They’re adorable and I love them. The problem was, it seemed a bit counter-intuitive to use them for regular ol’ sugar cookies. Sure, I could’ve made traditional sugar cookies and then topped them with chocolate icing, but where’s the fun in that?

Problem solver that I am, I took to my laboratory Google and began searching for a recipe for chocolate cutout cookies.

Um, you guys? There wasn’t one.

Yes, you read that right. There was no recipe for chocolate cutout cookies.

And so, a few years ago, I set out to create one. Because there is no such thing as too much chocolate. Is there?

The final result is a cookie I’ve made several times and always had great results with. The dough is soft and sticky, and works best when refrigerated for a couple of hours (I usually go with 24, not because it requires that much time but because I have a problem with starting and finishing a project in the same day). Additionally, when rolling the dough, I usually forego the usual dusting of flour on my rolling surface and use plain ol’ baking cocoa instead to keep the dark chocolate color.

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup baking cocoa

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups flour

cream butter and sugar. Add cocoa, then eggs and vanilla, then baking powder and flour. Mix until combined, refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight. Roll, on surface dusted with baking cocoa, then bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.




Stop and smell the flowers

We’re in the car. We’re ten minutes away from where we need to be in five minutes. (I am my mother’s daughter, after all).

Ed Sheeran is singing about the Castle on the Hill on the radio; the littlest little has just informed us that it’s his favorite song and has asked me to turn it up. His twin is crying that he’s thirsty and needs a drink (we left home three minutes ago, and he’d had a drink with his breakfast, right before we left).

It’s the fourth day of having all three boys home with me on summer vacation, and I’m frazzled, despite the fact that the oldest helped the littlest make their own breakfast (cereal and cantaloupe) and they didn’t even make a mess. The bigger twin slept late, and has been very agreeable since he woke up.

Still, getting them in the car and where we need to be, on time, isn’t easy even on the best days. (During a kindergarten field trip recently, another mom and I were commenting on how much easier it was to be on time before kids. I was rarely late, until I was a mom).

We drive past the local college, deserted for the summer but very much alive with its blooming flowers, towering old trees lush with leaves, and shady green lawn. Across the street, a man is walking his dog. And then, out of the corner of my eye, I watch the man slowly reach out his hand, and pull a flowering vine close to his face to smell.

In that moment, I felt a twinge of guilt for my rushing. Guilt for taking for granted the fact that it’s a beautiful, sunny late spring morning, that I have three of my loviest little loves with me, that their chatter and singing fill my car and my heart in a way that not many other things can.

Our boys are inquisitive and precocious, always asking insightful questions (last night we were on a quest to learn “where do snotties come from?” for one of the twins). We discuss and explain and research and ask Google and Alexa daily for the answers to the questions these boys ask that I often don’t know how to answer. We’ve started reading the Harry Potter series to meet summer reading goals.

Summer break is my turn to make sure these boys continue learning and growing and discovering. Through my “grown-up eyes,” I sometimes forget how much they can learn just by remembering to…

Stop and smell the flowers.

Enjoy summer break, friends. It comes but once a year. Let’s make the most of this time.



Expanding my horizons (Farmhouse Style)

Awhile back I shared my love of Joanna Gaines with you, while simultaneously sharing that her decorating style isn’t exactly like mine, in a post where I discussed my love of mid-century modern interior design. As a designer, I’m always trying to push myself to experiment with different looks, so while I have my personal favorites, I love the challenge of going outside of my comfort zone.

Through the years, my personal style has been all over the place. I’ve fallen in love with Victorian decor (one day I dream of owning an old Victorian style home renovated to house my bed & breakfast); I’ve ogled traditional, transitional, Mediterranean, Asian, contemporary, global, eclectic, glam… you name it, chances are I’ve dreamed a room in that style.

Over the past year and a half or so, I’ve started playing with design, color, and layout again, deciding it’s quite possible that my dreams are worth pursuing. And so, even without a specific client in mind, I’ve decided to put together some samples of different design styles for my own amusement, to learn new technology, and to build the online portfolio I plan to put in a separate page on this site, eventually.

Since my last post was focused on mid-century modern, but I also nodded to farmhouse as a very current style, I decided to make farmhouse the next decor genre I wanted to tackle, using the same colors as in the mid-century design. For this post, I’ve also put together a fictitious room, complete with a space plan and 3D renderings, because sometimes it’s hard to picture how all the pretty things might come together if there’s no space to put them in.

Let me know what you think, friends! I’d love to hear your feedback. Are you all-in on farmhouse? What are you drawn to?