At Home,  Baby,  Books,  Vermont

the birthday edition

Here I am, 35. Weaning my fourth daughter, thinking about buying a lamb. Saying “last baby,” in the way that people who believe in last babies say, because they want to see it coming and say goodbye.

Baking bread, simmering beans. Wish I cared less about messy corners.

Once I believed in no shampoo. Once I believed in all shampoo. Now I believe your body changes what it needs and you should look in the mirror and decide then.

Did I ask for anything for my birthday? yes. I asked for new slippers because I wore mine nearly every day last year and they simply gave up on day 360. I asked for oysters and a cake by mail. I received a handwritten book (“My Story” by Lux Ringenberg), a cherry wood platter sanded to gentleness by Joan, and a small box for my drawer of chaos crafted from wood and glue by Alma. There was also a sawdust cake topped with real candles and sprinkles (ferried away from the kitchen without my noticing), with frosting made from flour and water.

This week the girls learned about valkyries and watched The Ring Cycle opera which is available on the Metropolitan Opera’s streaming service. The fact that the Met has a streaming service is a thing I never would have bothered to google if not for this being week six of family quarantine. Thanks to Ronia (Netflix/Astrid Lindgren) the girls already love harpies. The valkyries seem to be an even fiercer inspiration for them to contemplate.

I did not watch it with them but I listened from the other room and overheard the selective reading aloud of subtitles. “Giant. I think that’s a giant? ‘Unless you are honest and keep your word. A simple minded giant tells you this–wise woman, heed what he says.'”

I came in to watch a few minutes. “Mom, you’ll love this, it’s so cool. It’s freezing cool.” said the four-year-old who cannot read subtitles.

If you can’t make a list of what you love in life on your birthday, when can you? A few things:

I’m in love with the anti-fragility of google forms right now. I feel like everything wonderful has migrated to a google form of one sort or another. Sign up. Volunteer. Spread the news. Let me know.

example: This farmer in Southern Vermont grows the most beautiful and obscure flowering plants of all sorts in her greenhouse, and then sells them from her front yard. She has a google spreadsheet order form posted up for spring orders. Place the order, drive and get your plants sometime in May. Bunker Farm Plants (click the link in her instagram profile for the order form.)

Bon Tucson: such a classy shop that seems to carry only the most lovely things presented in the gentlest way. I so admire their style.

The cookbooks story on Tonke’s instagram account. What a pretty collection she has, and her reviews are wonderfully precise. It’s the most recent story listed.

Our monthly coffee subscription from my hometown coffeeshop Madcap (Grand Rapids, Michigan). It is the best most delicious coffee I’ve ever had, they strive to pay more than fair trade prices to their growers, they are obsessed with quality, and they ship three bags once a month. It’s been perfect for the last year and I’m so thankful for it.

Speaking of cookbooks, Tim of Lottie and Doof told me about Midnight Chicken and it’s one of the books I happened to have with me during quarantine. My quaran-team. A thoughtful reflective cookbook filled with short memory-essays and encouraging ideas. Extremely British. It is the single reason I buy more expensive butter for toast now (strictly for slathering) than I did before.


  • Jen

    Happy Birthday fellow late-April baby! Your celebration looked lovely. Your blog is one of my absolute favorites and I always really enjoy your recommendations, so please keep them coming. Love hearing about your life and family as well. Be well and safe and thanks for sharing with us ❤️

  • Una

    Happiest of birthdays! I always feel a wiggle of excitement when you publish a new post. Your writing is joyful and refreshing (even when the times are neither joyful nor refreshing!) Also here, here for fancy butter for toast. I have what I call “grocery store butter” for baking, cooking, etc. and Kerrygold for toast. Good bread slathered in good butter is the stuff of life.

  • Lindsay

    Happy Birthday, Rachel! What a delightful way to celebrate. And Midnight Chicken is now on my list to read. I’ve been meaning to say for *quite* some time how much I truly enjoy your writing; the silver lining for me in this quarantine is the uptick in your postings!

    I also wanted to recommend Kerrygold, if you haven’t already succumbed to its charms. (And if you have a Trader Joe’s near you, I find they have the best price for it.)

  • Mary

    Wanted to pop in as a mostly quiet reader who LOVES your writing and how you see the world — I’m so grateful for it. I’m also (as a fellow Midwesterner) excited about the possibility of trying Madcap coffee — do you do the roaster’s choice subscription? Or have a favorite?

    • Rachael

      Hi Mary! Thank you so much for your kind comments. Yes, we do the roaster’s choice. It’s a good mix of occasional blends with mostly single source roasts. They are very talented!

  • Julee

    Happy Birthday!!!!!
    Like you, I have four children, but one turned out a boy on my end. I had him in my 35th year. I had my last baby (if there’s such a thing) when I was 38. She’s just 5 months old.
    We’ll have to chat about Weather before my zoom Bookclub (sigh…) discusses it this week!

    • Rachael

      Did you see my comment on your question about the book on the last post? I liked it but didn’t love it. Was sad to feel it was short and sort of thrifted, like the bottom 40% was cut out. But it had wonderful sentences and ideas. Viewed like a poetry book, perhaps, would be the best perspective.

      • Julee

        Yes!!! I did see. Thank you.
        As a breastfeeding, now homeschooling, mother, I delighted in the short sentences and brief ideas. Easy to read, easy to put down.
        I found all of the relationships in the book complicated and ever changing, like my own.
        It really was kind of like poetry, wasn’t it.

  • Emily

    Happy birthday! i am so happy to see more from you of late. Reading new posts has been something to look forward to, just when it feels like there is distinctly less to happily anticipate in the world. I secretly (or not-so-secretly now!) hope you’ll someday share names you considered but didn’t choose for your babies, and the boy names that were on the tip of your tongue, and how you chose the girls’ names – if indeed your child-naming days come to a close. I have always wondered.

  • Lynzie

    A most joyous solar return was had, by the sound of it. I’m grateful to you for keeping up your blog, it is a great comfort to me in these days. These days, I find that I’m (strangely?) longing for the internet-that-once-was and yours in a place where that still seems the case. I’ve been keeping up my quiet little corner of the internet, and it has been bringing me an inordinate amount of joy during this time of quarantine. In searching for other, similar spaces – certainly, there must be others – I landed here. A most lucky find, indeed.

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