gratitude lately.

lately, i have been grateful for…

date night skydate nights…

ipsento(delicious) reminders of friends we love dearly…

the gift of watching things grow…

roasted beetbeauty in tiny, unexpected packages…

words* that meet us right where we are & point us to Him…

garden helper
and for my little garden helper…who nibbles as he harvests.

gratitude is a miraculous, wonderful thing. what we have is, truly, enough. more than enough.

happy sunday, friends. let’s choose brave today.

*Unseen by Sara Hagerty; GraceLaced by Ruth Chou Simons

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our greatest expression & a first-in-twenty-years garden.

tomato-basilthere’s just something about having my hands in the dirt & watching things grow.

peaceful and grounding.

soothing. intentional. life-giving. healing. hopeful.

when i was 12 years old i had surgery, and when i got home after too many days in the hospital, apparently i walked straight through the house to the backyard to check on my vegetable garden.

for our wedding, we got a lemon tree instead of a unity candle. to commemorate our first anniversary we got a fig tree.

to celebrate the birth of our son and my husband’s sweet grandpa’s life-richly-lived, we got a beautiful Charles White peony.

my mother’s day gift this year was a little stunner of a rose bush. as if the sweetly scented, delicate, creamy-apricot-y blossoms weren’t enough, the name is fantastic: Champagne Wishes.

and this spring, i got to build my first garden at our very own house. to say that it’s been a treat to spend mornings and evenings watching things grow is an understatement. for Christmas and my birthday, i asked for a gift certificate for supplies. i poured over catalogues and websites hoping to find just the right mix of trusted, must-grow and fun, new-to-me flower and vegetable varieties to plant in my first-in-twenty-years garden.

as seed-starting and mother nature would have it, there has been plenty of trial & error, anticipation, shriveled seedlings, and excitement woven throughout these past few learning-laden months. i’ve planted & re-planted seeds. some sprouted the first time. some sprouted the second time. some sprouted when i tossed a handful on a patch of bare dirt a few weeks ago. others i’ll try again next year. we had a big storm in the spring with wind that scattered my fledgling vegetable plants, damaging many of them. and as for the raised garden, i planted it late in the season and for sure planted more than i had space for.

we have to start somewhere, right? and sometimes starting is the most important step, even if the rest looks a little more trial & error and a little less polished & perfected. as it turns out, i’m ok with this year being more about simply enjoying that i finally get to have a garden and a yard to experiment in, learning through experience, and tucking observations & tidbits away for next year. i’m a rookie, i tried some things i knew could be challenging, and i often learn best as i go. or maybe i’m just in la-la land since somehow my dahlias & sweet peas are blooming after having absolutely zero success last year. that alone is a gigantic – and beautiful!- win in my book.

florals

as i’ve spent mornings and evenings watering, weeding, and watching our backyard actually turn into something rather pretty, i’ve thought a lot about what it is about gardening that draws me in. because, truth be told, it’s a lot of work. much more work than i anticipated it being back in march/april when my mind was a swirl of idyllic daydreams. it was a fair amount of work & time to build the raised bed. planting took time to plan, prep, and actually do. since our yard was full of random overgrown bushes, digging everything up & preparing the beds was a task and a half. and now the watering, worrying about 90º+ days, and maintaining everything takes time away from other things i’d like to be doing.

but even with all of that, gardening brings me incredible joy & thankfulness, and i’m realizing two things.

dahlias

first, i want to pass gardening on to charlie in some way. not that he’ll want to be in the garden with me all the time or will be a farmer some day…but just the simple joy of watching something grow. the being-together-ness of it. planting seeds with him this spring was an experience i’ll always treasure, and it’s been so fun to see him still get excited to water the plants (tonight’s entertainment: him running back & forth between his water table & a planted container on the patio, watering the rhubarb).

i love that sometimes as he plays in the backyard, he’s running over to me with a bubble wand, as i prune the tomato plants, so that i can blow bubbles with him or with a toy from his water table, as i snip flowers for a bouquet, for me to come splash with him. i’m thankful that he sees and experiences what’s growing around him and that it’s all part of where he lives, plays, and is learning about the world around him.

gardening buddy

second, and probably the most enduring truth in my life about gardening is that it holds immense hope for me. and when so much these days feels uncertain, hard, or discouraging, getting my hands in the dirt, catching a new blossom opening, and watching our vegetables grow feels…healing. it causes me to take a deep breath. to slow down. it restores something that was missing…something that i can’t quite put into words but am deeply grateful for.

floret_truckthe process of creating our little garden began over the winter as i thought ahead to the promise of warmer days. then in march/april when we were all completely over winter, i was able to tuck seeds into their little piles of dirt with hopeful anticipation…waking up each day to see what had sprouted overnight, watching them stretch and grow. once the days were warmer, i nestled the seedlings that had soldiered on through the long, cold winter into the ground, believing that one day, a little bud just might pop out.

then one did! and another. and another! then things started to grow much bigger than i imagined (hello 6 foot tomato plants?!)…some budded but didn’t blossom…a storm/extreme heat left their marks. i know in my head that it’s just a garden/plant/seed, but when those things happened, i felt guilty for having been over-zealous and planting too much, for not planning better, for not thinking of all the random scenarios so that i could have avoided them. and you know what i’m learning (albeit very slowly and with lots of over-thinking)?

sprouts

it’s ok. the plants figure it out. earlier this spring, after a particularly damaging storm hit their farm, our CSA (and favorite) farmer said, “[the plants] mostly just simply re-grow…sometimes even growing back even bigger and more bountiful than before. what a lovely example of resilience for us all as we weather life.” oh my heart, if that it’s so. dang. true.

veggie babes

and i figure it out, too. i trim the squash back to keep them from trampling the carrots. i found 6 foot polls to stake & secure the tomato plants. i let the shallots go & will plant them in a different spot next year. the peony is in the ground now (so its growth won’t be confused by my planting it too late), and i’m guessing it will be just fine. i’ve learned how to prune a rose bush and lemon tree. i’ll try ranunculus again next year.

garden bouquet

while there are things i’ll do differently next year that may result in a few more wins, there will still be lots of learning. and that’s a really good thing. because it means i’m still trying. still hoping. still getting to have these crazy fun, life-giving, special experiences with my boy.

while i have the wonderful gift of gathering little fistfuls of blooms that i grew. watching tiny cantaloupe buds turn into actual growing melons…streaky red-yellow tomatoes grow, slowly but surely…peppers slowly transition from green to bright red.

both/and. the tension of growth & learning, letting go & transitions, holding hope & trusting.

for a seed to achieve its greatest expression,
it must come completely undone. the shell cracks,
its insides come out, and everything changes.
to someone who doesn’t understand growth,
it would look like complete destruction.

~ cynthia occelli

 

inspiration & gratitude.

brave life

*original link is no longer available. if anyone knows to whom credit belongs, please let me know.

oh, time…you crazy, crazy thing. sometimes i feel you whooshing past me. thank you for the nights & weekends & hours filled to overflowing with adventures & laughter. and thank you for the just-plain-busy days and weeks of the mundane, not-so-glamorous yet necessary, every day life stuff. both are teaching me, and memories & goodness are in it all.

so, where i last left off…creativity. fears. dreams. the gap. perseverance.

inspiration is honestly everywhere. in gathering people at our house, in nature, checking out a new or visiting an old favorite restaurant or cafe, in a conversation, in sunsets and conversations…the list goes on. and, of course, there are copious gems on the inter webs, too. i’m thankful for brave, savvy creatives who have taken risks, shared their passions, and created spaces for beginners like me to look up to. here are some of my inspiration, encouragement, advice, & support go-to creatives.

cooking

  • smitten kitchen: deb’s writing is fun, witty, & approachable.
  • sprouted kitchen: sara’s recipes are fresh, healthy, & delicious.
  • molly yeh: i love molly’s blog for her lightness & silliness, stunning photography, & all-around inspiration. and a girl who did an in-depth study of the best mix-ins for funfetti cake?
  • sara kate gillingham: co-founder of the kitchn, cookbook author, & a potter, too!

life & faith

  • caroline schandel: this woman’s words pierce my heart & refresh my perspective in ways no one else’s ever have.
  • today’s letters: i could gush about this one – a daily go-to. hope-filled, life-giving, creative, encouraging. em writes most, but tim sneaks in sometimes, too. they write about everything from marriage to their backyard chickens, local coffee & good food, getting outside & the beauty of community, gratitude, raising their sweet babe, recipes – it’s a total mixed bag of goodness.
  • jen hatmaker: this post catapults me into laughter-until-i-can’t-speak with tears streaming down my face every. single. time.
  • story people: i love brian’s beautiful, simple-yet-profound work.
  • natalie creates: this woman really spans a number of categories, too: farming, creating, cooking. very down-to-earth, approachable, and fun.
  • momastery: her post earlier this month, the 5 habits every strong woman keeps, was incredible. this part in particular: “I have come to believe that a woman’s character is not just formed by the roles she plays or the job she has or where she’s from or what has happened to her. A woman’s character is most profoundly shaped by the daily habits she keeps. And this is hopeful to me, because it’s never too late to adopt a habit or two from a woman we admire.”
    part 2 jumped out at me instantly: strong women show up before they are ready. this is an area i have been desperately, intentionally seeking to grow in. i am so thankful for glennon’s thoughts on this. i love what she said about us having two roles but for some reason creating a third that we somehow put first. (although the link above works, embedding the video here isn’t working at the moment. i’ll add it as soon as i figure out what’s not right.)

paper & hand lettering

#WriteOnDesign #inspiration #HandLettering #KidPresident

A post shared by write on! design (@jenngietzen) on

makers

  • little bit funky: i follow crystal on instagram more than her blog, but her blog is full of fun tutorials & inspiration, too.
  • amanda rydell: amanda is such a fun, local creative. she started be crafty workshops that she hosts here in minneapolis but she also travels to host them around the country, too! her instagram & blog are full of colorful, beautiful ideas & projects.
  • curly girl design: i am such a sucker for leigh’s cards. her way with words & whimsical images spark something in me.
  • the purl bee by purl soho: i mean, just one peek at their site is candy for a creative girl’s eyes! the patterns, yarns, photography…i could (and sometimes do!) get lost in the awesome tutorials & ideas!
  • fresh lemons quilts: faith’s quilts & other projects on her blog are beautiful! this is the quilt that first caught my eye (on instagram, of course), but i was quickly enamored by all of her work. definitely lots of inspiration here for this quilting-wannabe :o)
  • floret: ooooh my…erin can do things with flowers that make my mind race. she & her family plant and harvest field upon field (upon field) of the most unbelievable flowers. and her arrangements – i can’t even go there. you need to check out their website, blog, & instagram feed to soak up all of the overflowing goodness. i have never seen such stunning sweet peas, ranunculus, peonies, & dahlias. nor did i ever know there could be such a diversity of each type, color, & shade of bloom. the image below, from erin’s instagram feed, is just one example of what i’m talking about…

My view this evening. #farmerflorist #dahlias

A post shared by Erin Benzakein – Floret (@floretflower) on

one thing that i am beyond excited to work with next year is lara casey’s power sheets. i learned about them last year and finally jumped in when she launched the beautiful 2015 sheets. after learning a lot this year (you know, things like being true to myself, naming fears…) and desiring to grow in goal setting & tracking – paired with being & diehard list-maker :o) – i am really, really excited to see how the power sheets will help me grow personally & creatively in making what matters most to me & our family happen.