We had an amazing girls-weekend/mini-vacation in California. We stayed at Christine and Andy's new home in Malibu. This is the view of the canyon and ocean from Christine's balcony (Wow huh?):
Here Lili is using her foot to point to Christine's house in the morning light:
Evidence of the fire that swept through her canyon in the past year:
We spent spent some of the time working on plans for Christine's upcoming wedding:
We went to the farmers' market on Sunday:

And made yummy Indian food later that night with the vegetables:
We went shopping and Lili tried on a $150 hat...
We got to spend a lot of time lovin' on Christine and Andy's dog "Chunk":

Overall, there was a lot of giggles, tea, and catching up...
Lili did fantastic on the 4 1/2 hour plane ride. I was nervous about that bit, but, she was great. On the ride there we got seated next to a sleepy businessman, he was less than excited to see us sit down next to him. On the ride home we got seated next to a wonderful grandmother named Deloris. Deloris entertained Lili and I with sparkly jewelry,pictures of doggies, and stories of her world travels. Having a young child on a long plane ride is a LOT of work. I think the key is to pray to be seated next to the right person though... that and lots of treats.
After Malibu, our home seems a bit campy in comparison, and the mountains here seem jungly, and there is little hope of running into any stars where we are, but I am happy to be home. Both Lili and I were overjoyed to see Alex's bearded face beaming at us when we got off the plane in Asheville.
Here is the view from our road as we drove in:


southern California bound...

We will be getting up at 3:45 am to get to the airport so that Lili and I can fly to California to visit my dear friends Christine and Carrie. Alex is such a sweetie to drive us at that indecent hour... I know it sounds silly, but we will miss him for the four days we are gone. :(
Wish me luck for the 5 hour plane ride with Lili... and hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!


You do have a break.

I have created enough posts now that I find myself wondering did I already write about that? Well, I am sorry if I have, but this is one of those revelations that I keep reawakening to, and not a bad thing to state twice, (or more if it happens again!)

About a year ago Alex and I took a birth class through the midwives we used for Lili's birth. This wonderful experienced midwife named Nancy was our teacher. We learned a lot of the basics of birth, and also did a lot of exercises from the book: "Birthing from Within". (Highly recommended) I came into this class with quite a bit of knowledge already. (I am sort of a birth dork) I had already devoured all the birth books in the library, and already read "Birthing from Within" twice. The class was all good practice though, and I enjoyed the company of the four other pregnant couples also taking the class.

I did come away from the cla
ss with one pivotal lesson for my birth experience, and this lesson has also seeped into my day to day life post birth as well. Nancy explained and even acted out a woman in labor experiencing contractions. This is what I gathered from what she said: You need to be completely and utterly in each moment. You may feel like you have no break. It probably will be overwhelming. The contractions might be coming at you like a rough sea, and you'll feel like you hardly have time to catch a breath. However you do have a break*. If each contraction is 60 seconds long for example, often there will be 30 interval between them. If you spend your labor like this: Oh this is painful, oh it's bad, oh @*%#, oh it hurts...Oh that was painful, oh I hated that, I can't do that again, that sucked, oh that was bad, oh I can't do that again...Oh #$(%*$ here one comes again, Oh ahhhhh, this is painful, oh it's bad...you feel like you don't have a break because you are spending the little minuscule break you do have reminiscing about the torturous last contraction and dreading the next. Rather, once a contraction leaves, if you are in the moment completely you DO have a break. Taking it for what it is, and accepting the small gift and making it work for you. This is such a fundamental lesson for me, and yet so hard to practice. I managed to remember this lesson during the birth and it helped keep my spirit up during that incredible journey. As a mother, and someone who is working away from home more than I want to be, and feels like the chores bundle around me tirelessly, and feels like the time to make art is sparse, and as someone who gets way less sleep than I wish... it is very helpful to remind myself: this is your break, enjoy it!*In birth, and also in life, there are exceptions to this. I know that the in the labor of a sister of a friend of mine, she spent every "break" between contractions barfing and could hardly breathe. There are also times in life when the cards you are dealt are almost unbearable. This lesson may not pertain in these instances.



This being an intense election year in the States, and given the major economic mess that is unfolding here, and given that in the mountains of NC and TN we have no gasoline(slow pipeline in the South), I find the turmoil nerve wracking at moments. I find myself worrying about the things I can not change too often, and I really do not want to give into the panic of these situations ...

When do I find myself taking a deep breath and letting my shoulders drop?... In moments like this when I see this little person that I adore, giving me such a heartfelt grin, in her too big pajamas. Thank goodness they still make
PJs with feet, they certainly are a comforting sight for a worried mind.

Sunday's napwork


Pick of the Week: Suzanne Caporael

Here are some beautiful woodcuts from artist Suzanne Caporeal.

BIO: "She was born in Brooklyn, New York. She has been working in the visual arts since the 1970's. Caporeal's work has a singular vision focused on nature and our concept of the earth itself. Her images of the sea, snow, water, and earth attempt to investigate the various facets of human nature and the physical world. An avid printmaker, she has worked with Tandem Press for over a decade."

Aren't they lovely?


Full day...

We had a very productive day today. I started the day by making a big pancake, egg, and sausage breakfast. I love making pancakes, and Sunday seems to be the only day that I can carve out time to make them. So, I was happy to find myself in my robe hovering over my trusty cast iron pan that I use for pancakes.
Then, we put Lili down for a nap and Alex and I turned off our phone and listened to NPR's "This American Life" while drinking coffee and doodling around with some watercolors.
Then, Alex harvested most of the remaining basil in our garden, and Ema came over and we all made pesto with our new food processor! I did read that in Italy they do all the chopping by hand and it is supposedly far more superior. However, we did not do it this way.
Then we went up the road (only 1/4 mile) to pick more apples. The kids were climbing the tree barefoot and at my eye level all I could see were their summer worn feet. Something about them in the trees felt very classic. We shook the branches and the apples fell to the ground with a thunk, thunk, thunk. A very satisfying noise.
Then, we went to a different neighbor's house and had a late afternoon apple pressing. Lili sat in her stroller and watched the chaos and excitement around the press for at least 15 mins before she wanted to get out.
The apple press works like this: Somebody cranks the wheel to the left and apples get thrown in this chute. The apples get taken in the teeth of the rotating wheel inside and smashed up as they roll through and down into the bucket below.
Then when the bucket is full of apple mash, you take the crank at the top of the press and twist clockwise. This pushes the wooden plate inside the bucked down and presses the juice of the apples out, where it then drains into your waiting vessel. (In this case a bowl)

We made a lot of juice that got consumed right away (Lili drank 1 and 1/2 sippy-cups full) and we filled a five gallon jug to make into hard cider as well.

It was nice to have such a day. These past few weeks have felt very full, and overall I feel consumed by my seemingly never-ending to-do list. There have been days this last week where the dirty laundry felt like it was going to eat me... Although today was busy- This is the kind of busy that I relish- busy, productive, yet nurturing.


fall shoes...

This boot is one of my favorite material belongings. Unfortunately it has a broken zipper that needs to be tended to by a cobbler. Now that fall feels like it is creeping in I was longing to put on my beautiful boots... So I was daydreaming and I went to the Cydwog website and found this pair of shoes. I guess this fantasy is the equivalent of window shopping. Not that my life is in any way lacking, however, I am daydreaming about how much better it would be if my feet not only got to be reunited with my mended boots, but also got to live inside this lovely shoe as well.

are these two related?

This picture was snapped at a birthday party the other night. It is so cute minus one thing. Alex's mustache. See how it curls over his top lip? He is growing out his facial hair for his Halloween costume, okay fine. But when the mustache obliterates his sweet upper lip... well, I am not a fan. I am hoping pointing this out publicly may be the tipping point for him to realize I really do not like this style. I love you though Alex. :)



We harvested our potato bed this past week. We had maybe 30 feet of potatoes planted. They were a mixture of yellow and red ones. We hand-turned the bed before we planted them, and mounded up the dirt around the plants when they finally sprung up. We put one layer of straw down early on, but then sort of neglected the garden for July and August (this seems to be a trend...) We also had a drought and our spring was low so we didn't water the garden... Needless to say, once again we had a disappointing potato crop. We maybe tripled the amount of potatoes we planted. Hmmm, put that way it doesn't seem so bad. Well anyway, the potatoes we did get were crisp and yummy. And as the potato is on the list of top non-organic foods to avoid, it is nice knowing they where they were grown!
Here is Lili beside the dug up beds, enjoying the dirt. (she only ate a 1/2 handful during this photo shoot.)



I wanted to share one of the presents I got for my birthday from my mom. I received so many fun and thoughtful birthday presents this year... nifty socks, a food processor, great gift certificates, a stainless steel mug and water bottle, a gift certificate for a massage(!), flowers, beautiful cards and sweet thoughts, belated birthday wishes that kept rolling in... that is just a few of all the great gifts... As I said before, I felt very loved.
But my mom sent me these inks:

They are obviously old and are at various levels of full. They smell funny and one has a corroding cap. I was excited but perplexed when I opened them up- There were five random colors and no explanation from her as to where they came from. When I talked to her that night I asked her and she she said "Oh yeah, they were Tomie DePaola's inks."

Tomie Depaola?!

My mom is an art teacher and Tomie Depaola(for some unknown reason) gave these inks to a friend of my mom, and they sat in her closet for years until she gave them to my mom. Where my mom passed them along to me. Needless to say, I honestly feel like I have a treasure on my desk. When I touch the ridged plastic caps I feel like... well, like a baseball fan who has a baseball their hero signed. I have dreams of being a children's book illustrator- and Tomie is an icon in this arena. I played around with them today while Lili napped. They are very translucent, almost like watercolors, only they are waterproof. Thanks Mom!

Here are some biographical highlights and facts about Tomie for you:

Tomie dePaola is best known for his works for children.

Tomie has been published for nearly 40 years.

Over 6 million copies of his books have sold worldwide.

His books have been published in over 15 different countries.

He receives nearly 100,000 fan letters each year.

Tomie dePaola has received virtually every significant recognition for his books in the children's book world.

Caldecott Honor Award for STREGA NONA from American Library Association (ALA)

Newbery Honor Award for 26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE from ALA

Smithson Medal from Smithsonian Institution

Regina Medal from Catholic Library Association

Living Treasure from New Hampshire Governor's Arts Awards


Pick of the Week: Penelope Dullaghan

Here are two illustrations by artist Penelope Dullaghan. I am in LOVE with this first picture. I keep staring at it and staring at it, and am lost in it's simplicity and looseness. I can't remember how I stumbled across her work, but when I did, my first thought was: These are so perfect.

Image by Penelope Dullaghan, penelopedullaghan.com

Lilikoi peeking out the window

My friend and neighbor, Meredith just got back from bringing her kids to the doctor where it was confirmed that they have chicken pox. Her kids, Gita, Nimy, and Lili have all come down with spots the last few days. I just thought they were no-see-em bites, but then Ema and Meredith both said their kids had spots too. Other than not sleeping well and being a little cranky, Lili seems fine, and she only has about 10 tiny bumps. Since I already had chicken pox and Lili is still nursing, I am not concerned about it being a bad case of them for her. I am a little bummed though because Lili is so young this bought will probably not give her immunity...

On a side note, everyone should check out my cousins blog: Loom In Ireland. She is student teaching in Dublin and having some cool adventures!