Wednesday
Mar212007

comments, comments, comments

before I started blogging (last tuesday), i had been reading a bunch of blogs for a few months. january one was the first blog i started reading regularly – i became fascinated by the photography, the knitting, the extraordinary color combinations, by the green log cabin blanket

some of the blogs i was reading are knitting blogs, some are crafting blogs, some are cooking blogs. each one has stunning photography, and the writers are people i find intriguing.

but i never thought i’d want to have my own blog. truly, it never even occurred to me.

and i kept reading. and jumping - via links - from blog to blog. and i discovered this world of writers and artists.

i know there was a conversation last week-or-so on lollyknitting about whether knitting – following someone else’s pattern as instructions – is art - and i've been thinking about that question ever since (though i never commented there, either). [as an aside, lollygirl also has photos of the big shiny egg in her post!]

i believe that what we create with our hands is born out of our own creativity. we are, each of us, inspired by color or shape, line, texture, light, ingredients or flavor. and we are not only inspired, but we embrace that inspiration and create something of our own out of that inspiration. being inspired by beautiful yarn or someone else’s pattern or recipe is part of the universe of creative expression – and this, i believe, is art.

so these women whose blogs i’ve been reading are artists, photographers, writers. i find them to be inspiring. and they inspired me to consider my own blog. but what sort of blog would it be?

i knit. i paint. i take photographs. i do some other crafty things. i cook. i bake. a lot. but there is not one singular activity that would be the theme for my blog. it was never going to be a “knitblog” or a “foodblog” (is there such a term?). but it could chronicle my creations – from knitting to painting to baking to gardening – all of which are expressions of my creative self.

i wasn’t worried, really, when i started this blog, about readers or comments. i wasn’t even worried about being included in this circle of bloggers i admire. i felt, truly and honestly, that by documenting my own life of creativity and consciousness, i would BE part of this community that inspires me so. it wasn’t about someone else’s reaction to my work, or validation through comments (though i will admit to checking, occasionally during this last week, to see if, by some chance, there were comments), it was about taking the leap and putting my own creativity out there into the blogging universe.

and so I did. eight days ago.

then today, i went to cara’s blog just to see the photographs since she said that she wouldn’t be blogging for the rest of the week, and there was this conversation about commenting that started at and she knits too (a blog I’ve never read before today) and i suddenly realized that commenting is an essential part of the equation.

not every post requires – or inspires – a comment. but since the community is part of what inspired me to begin blogging, i ought to embrace the mechanism by which that community exists – and that’s dialogue – the posting and the commenting.

and so i see now, as cara and steph expressed so perfectly in their posts, that commenting is exactly what makes this creative blogging community a community. so I took the plunge. i commented at january one. and at and she knits too. and i’m going to remind myself from now on, when i read the blogs from my list of favorites, the ones that I so enjoy, that these are the words of individuals, women, artists, who are putting themselves out there into the world, into a community, into a dialogue – and i am at the other end of that line.

Tuesday
Mar202007

rotting vegetables are wonderful

i love the smell of rotting vegetables.  sort of.

last spring i got the compost bug.  one of our friends was composting - had been for a long time.  and my sister-in-law in philadelphia was doing it, too.  our composting friends here in baltimore told us stories about the remarkable reduction in their garbage after they started composting - and i became aware of the enormous quantities of fruit and vegetable garbage i was throwing into plastic bags every week.  i had been thinking about compost for some time - and admiring (ok, and envying) these two other compost piles.  so i decided to join in.

of course, after i decided to take the plunge, i hemmed and hawed for several weeks about what sort of compost bin to buy, where to put the bin, how to begin.  i checked books out from the library, researched composting on-line, emailed my composting friends with questions.  and then, one day in early april, there was a tiny paragraph (too small even to be called an article) in the local section of the newspaper mentioning that our county would be selling compost bins at a reduced rate in the fairground parking lot in late april!  it was meant to be.

we were on vacation on the day of the bin sale, so my mother went for us (so kind and helpful of her) and bought a bin for herself, too.

Bin

right away i started a container for compost debris on the kitchen counter (only it was thrown away twice by houseguests before i actually got to dump it into the big black bin outside), and ever since last april, i have had a container of rotting fruits and vegetables on my kitchen counter - and much less garbage.

Counter1

Counter2


(i happen to find this beautiful)

our garbage is collected weekly on thursdays - before we began composting, we had two large garbage cans for collection each week (sometimes more); since last april, we have had less than one can each week.  the difference is remarkable.

we compost all fruit and vegetable debris except for citrus (which takes too long to break down - even my aunt julie, the garden maven, doesn't compost citrus).  we also compost coffee grounds, nut shells, rinsed egg shells, tea bags and tea leaves, and the occasional bread.  my friends (and my composting cousin) include pasta and breads in their compost piles.  i haven't been brave enough to try that, yet - though i'm not sure what's holding me back.

Insidebin

of course, we add dead leaves and grass clippings to the compost bin every once in a while.  some are far more religious about layering the compost (greens and browns) than i am, but i go by look and feel, and i add browns when the pile seems to need them.  lately, i've been gathering these browns from a giant pile of dead leaves behind our yard - the "woods" where we dump leaves each fall, and the place where nature's own compost occurs constantly.

Leaves

when i started this project, just about one year ago now, it was solely about the process of turning what had before been garbage into something useful.  we have no garden, and i had no gardening aspirations.  in fact, i thought i'd give away the finished product to someone who might have use for such things.  but, in a surprising turn of events, dave and i have begun planning a small vegetable garden in our back yard!  the garden will have to be enclosed, because we have so many deer and other animals in our yard, and it will be modest - with tomatoes, herbs, a few other as-yet-undetermined items - but it will be an exciting project for our whole family.  and a natural extension of our composting.

until our garden is begun, i cling to my compost pile as an expression of my love for the earth - my desire to reduce my consumption, my desire to be a part of the cycle of nature.  and so, when the rotting vegetables on my counter begin to smell, when my kids complain and my husband looks at me askance, i inhale the aroma of cooking compost and smile inside (while i promptly take the bin outside for dumping) and enjoy the life of a composter.

Monday
Mar192007

i'm thankful

back in december, we started a family tradition at dinnertime - each sharing one thing that we're thankful for and recording our lists in a moleskine notebook.  in the beginning, we were faithful about making and recording the list every evening at dinner, no matter who was eating with us or where we were eating - we just toted the book along, and included items from friends and family on our list.  we've lost a bit of steam, and have not been faithful about keeping up with the daily practice, much to my chagrin.

i love the practice.  i love thinking, consciously, about the many things i have to be thankful for.  i love identifying one that is particularly meaningful in a given moment.  i love sharing those things, out loud, with my family, and recording the things i'm thankful for somehow gives them a life of their own.  of course, i love encouraging this same process for my children.

somehow, just the act of considering what i have to be thankful for reminds me to be more thankful, more thoughtful, more careful and conscious in my choices, my actions, and my thoughts.

today, after a grumpy afternoon spent muddling through bureaucracy, i was especially thankful to stumble across this blog.  it was a kick from the universe, reminding me to let go of my frustrations and focus on all that i have to be thankful for.

so, without further ado...

10 things
.  i am thankful to stephanie and janelle for reminding me about the power of giving thanks.  and for their beautiful photography.

lemon water.

Lemonwater

each morning, i slice a lovely organic lemon into a pitcher that i keep full with water all day.  delicious to drink and to look at on the counter.  and a little taste of summer on these cold late-winter days.

fresh flowers.

Tulips

even when it's still not spring outside, fresh flowers on the table remind me that it's coming...

peanut butter.

Peanutbutter

after two years of living in a peanut-free bubble, peanut butter is back in our house!  it is our perfect food - served in oatmeal for breakfast, on apples and graham crackers for snacks, on bread with jelly for lunch, on the spoon anytime.

nuts nuts and more nuts.

Cashews

have also been banished from our home (and our lives) for the past two years.  i am so pleased each time i see these canisters of nuts gracing my counters.  i'm so happy to have them back.

the dry cleaner.

who agreed to have my clothes ready by tomorrow at 4 even though i
didn't drop them off until today at 3.  and if anyone knows of a green
dry cleaner in the baltimore area, please let me know - i'll jump ship
in the blink of an eye (even though they were so nice today) to find a
cleaner that's safer for the environment and for our family.

a cup of colored pencils.

Pencils

seeing the sharp points, the colors is enough to inspire me.  but the joy of coloring with the pencils at the table with the kids after school is overwhelming.  b. draws knights - he's learning about drawing profiles.  l. wrote all of the letters of the alphabet today - her own initiative.  and i scribbled away my frustrations with bureaucracy in varying shades of blue and red.

a wholesome snack.

Snack

very little brings me more pleasure than feeding my children wholesome food (it does bring me more pleasure, of course, when i've made the food myself).  today's after school snack included blueberry muffins baked with l. on friday with organic blueberries, whole wheat flour, ground flax meal (what could be better?), organic apples with organic peanut butter, organic bananas, sliced mestemacher three grain bread (with thanks to uncle morton for the recommendation), back to nature granola with organic valley milk...i think that was everything!  and sitting around the kitchen table together after school is nourishment for the soul.

a red box.

Box2

a recent container store purchase, it sits on a chair in the kitchen to keep my piles of paper hidden until i'm ready to sort.  i'm not sure which makes me happier - the lovely box, or not seeing the piles.

my camera.

nikon d70s.  a gift from dave.  i'm still learning and having so much fun in the process.

Sunday
Mar182007

thirty

happy birthday to my brother...

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and many happy returns of the day...

Saturday
Mar172007

irish feast

we went to kimberly's for a saint patrick's day feast today. it's always an honor - and a treat! - to be invited to kimberly's for a celebration. we always enjoy the company, the food is always amazing, and she thinks of every detail. today was no exception.

i had never celebrated st. patrick's day before. not even a march 17 pub crawl in college (embarrassing, but true). and it's all the more surprising because march 17 is the one day that falls in between my father's birthday and my brother's birthday - so it was a day of some importance in my family growing up. but never a celebration of the irish.

today was a perfect introduction to the pleasure of st. patrick's day - one that has me already looking forward to next march 17.

first of all, kimberly's home is such a pleasure to visit. it is small, but pleasing to admire, and friendly to enjoy - with such a sense of warmth and peace, with beautiful toys that inspire creativity, plenty of light in spite of being a rowhouse, lovely objects and tableaus to admire. her home is truly like a jewel box.

Light

for today, kimberly made a feast in every sense of the word. there was corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and brussel sprouts, marinated cabbage salad, mushy peas, irish soda bread, a delicious grainy mustard, irish butter, orange marmalade - and if that wasn't enough to fill your belly, she served black & tans to drink, and coffee with bailey's irish cream with dessert (which was the rest of the peanut butter cookies - not so irish, but so so yummy).

Bottles

Mushypeas

Bread

Baileys

and then, after we all gobbled up the food and drink (even my kids ate second helpings of corned beef!), there was playing and playing and more playing. there were building blocks, and several games of jenga, and lots of pretending to be farmers and shopkeepers and family while we cleaned up, and then sat in the living room visiting. all three kids had so much fun that there were tears when it was time to leave.

Blocks

Jenga

what a wonderful way to spend this march 17.