• Life Story

    puzzles

    For the last two weeks I’ve been wrestling with a failure. Not such a big thing, just a thing that wasn’t going well and I was privately humiliated over how it was going. More: my involvement with it was as a volunteer, so it didn’t matter either way how it was going, which further frustrated me because why was I bothering with something I was only doing to be helpful, and evidently not doing all that well!

    Puzzling over this and the frustration dead-end it represented, I came upon the most recent On Being episode. It’s an interview with a psychologist about what the last year has done to our psyches (battered em, you may mutter to yourself.) Hostility is mentioned. Lack of empathy is mentioned.

    Toward the end she makes some suggestions about how to essentially make ourselves feel better and settle down. She admits the suggestions sound way too simple. But that’s the point: reach gently and slowly toward the shivering little rabbit in fight-or-flight, resting just below our active conscience. Connecting with yourself: placing your hand on your heart. Placing both feet on the floor, grounding them. Imagining biting into a lemon slice, savoring. And: curiosity.

    This one caught my attention. I realized I could look at my problem with curiosity. Ask, instead of with resentment tinged with failure, ask with curiosity why wasn’t it going well?  What about it could be changed? Was it actually sort of interesting that it wasn’t working?

    Instantly the whole scene lighted up for me. The puzzle felt almost playful, something to be solved. And it went better. More, I stopped worrying about it.

    So, I recommend that episode, with Christine Runyan, to you. Perhaps you too will find in it a method to smooth whatever’s bothering you at the moment.

     

    It’s raining here, most of the snow is gone except the really gravelly grey bits; they are small mounds of the saddest icebergs. Lawn icebergs. I made French onion soup, which the kids complained tasted of onions and wine, and I agreed. But I also made broccoli and sausage pasta from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat which was startlingly simple and delicious, and pleased everyone. Joe gathered enough sap from the trees to boil one enormous pot of sap into the darkest syrup we’ve ever made (see Instagram for details). I planted six tomato seeds inside, Joe planted the acorns that he gathered last fall. On the warm days we did an hour, maybe two, of school, then rushed outside. Time seemed to fly by until it was past dinner when I looked up again.

    I avoided putting the youngest down for a nap several days, not wanting to face the disruption and initial tears (that do always subside into snores within minutes), and deeply regretted it by 5pm when she was often clinging to me, half asleep or actually fully asleep. After these sad half naps I pulled what I consider a veteran-mom move of covertly giving her two pieces of Hershey chocolate to hurdle over the awful late-nap-blues. She was back to the races shortly, and the older sisters didn’t guess her secret. Rite of passage when one is debating whether the two yr old is dropping their nap and learn: no, they are not dropping it.

    This morning, most of the kids were chatting up in their room far past breakfast time, so I watched a documentary about the Dutch gardener Piet Oudolf. He is a landscape gardener who crafts stunning wild-form field plantings. You watch him wandering through nature, appreciating, mixed with watching him draw sheets of landscapes with lovely, different colored, pens. You have to pay $15 to rent it for just one showing, $5 for extra footage on specific topics if you like, but I think it’s worth it.

     

     

  • Vermont

    notes on a spring theme

    We went out today and walked across the snow that is still frozen thickly enough to hold you up. Down by the road a stream is frozen on top but fresh melted water gurgles below, bubbles of it looking like puff creatures from a Miyazaki film, slipping underneath the crunchy raft of ice. The girls stomped on the ice layers and brown water emerged mixed with glittering silt that looked exactly like gold dust. Must have been gold dust.

    The snow is everywhere so the 100 daffodils Joe planted last fall haven’t even had a chance to feel their soil be sun-kissed yet. No signs of spring flowers at all on our hill. But dinner is later, and the sun feels bright at 5pm, which means a lot. Avocado is our one loyal delicious green in the kitchen, Samin’s avocado slatrix from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat refreshing my memory of uses.

    The sap has not been dripping into the buckets tapped onto trees by Joe and the girls (primarily Joan this year) because the temperatures have settled primly below freezing on most days. I called down to the town office to ask about a few things and quizzed the clerk as to whether others were getting much sap. Whether to reassure me or because it was true, she told me she hadn’t heard it was flowing well yet for anyone.

    One of my favorite spring things to think about is this passage from Edna Lewis:

    I remember when I was very little, our neighbor Mrs. Towles came over one bright afternoon and invited me for tea as she often did. As I walked along the path behind her, we came upon a nest of colored candy Easter eggs. I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my five years of life.

    The unexpected gift of color, a thoughtful neighbor, a tradition and ritual–so much delight in one passage.

    Few people are better on spring than Edna Lewis’s chapters from her A Taste of Country Cooking. She writes about the whole year of meals at Freetown, the community founded by emancipated slaves in Virginia where she was raised. Her writing is precise, firm, and rich with details. The community she describes sounds like heaven.

    Just as an example, about coffee she writes…

    Coffee also separated people by age. As I said, we children weren’t allowed to drink it and aged aunts, uncles, and grandparents never drank coffee from a cup. That was a waste of time. Every aged person in Freetown drank their coffee from a bowl.

    And this passage on breakfast and dandelion wine…

    Breakfast was about the best part of the day. There was an almost mysterious feeling about passing through the night and awakening to a new day. Everyone greeted each other in the morning with gladness and a real sense of gratefulness to see the new day. If it was a particularly beautiful morning it was expressed in the grace. Spring would bring our first and just about only fish—shad. It would always be served for breakfast, soaked in salt water for an hour or so, rolled in seasoned cornmeal, and fried carefully in home-rendered lard with a slice of smoked shoulder for added flavor. There were crispy fried white potatoes, fried onions, batter bread, any food left over from supper, blackberry jelly, delicious hot coffee, and cocoa for the children. And perhaps if a neighbor dropped in, dandelion wine was added.

    Edna Lewis had her niece, who was 12 and had taken a typing class, type up the manuscript for her! All those beautiful sentences, brought into print to begin by a twelve-year-old niece. I loved learning this fact because I’ve had typewriters on my mind lately. The girls recently inherited one from Joe’s grandfather. We haven’t even managed correct typing for the 9 yr old yet, to say nothing of the 7 yr old. They are just pecking at the keys like birds so far.

    But I’m mentally collecting a list of writers who began on typewriters as kids. Ann Patchett is now on the list, thanks to her mention of it in this warm essay about cleaning and giving things away.

    * photo of hamburger buns from the Bread, Toast, Crumb cookbook. She has not posted the recipe online, so I can’t share it.

  • Style by Joanie

    Spring Summer Denim (+ thoughts on wide leg cut)

    A new denim post by my younger sister Joanie, featuring scary wide pants! Isn’t it funny how one can become so attached to the jean shape of their last decade? I always appreciate her encouragement to try something different. I must admit I’m still attached to the period of the skinny jean, but I am also super curious to try something different. Speaking of shopping, if you haven’t checked out Joanie’s Money Talk series on the DesignLoveFest instagram, do it!

    The last denim post was a hit so I thought I’d do an update and gear it towards spring/summer denim and throw in an overall, skirt and short options. To be totally honest, I am personally not a big denim short fan. Unless they are the perfect cut I think they can look really bulky and I don’t find them to be that comfortable. I like shorts in general but find that denim can be hard.
    There has been a lot of chatter about skinny jeans lately and as I said in my last post and I’ll say again, I don’t think we should strictly be following denim trends. There really is so much personal preference involved and the majority of personal fashion is being comfortable in what you wear, confident in your clothes is the key factor to style. What can happen sometimes, is that we become conditioned by trends/style/ads to see that a certain type of denim is best, i.e. we have all been heavily targeted by skinny jean mania for years and that those are the best and only jeans to wear. When in fact they may not be the most flattering/ideal jean for you. And you’ve been pushed into them by going to Madewell and seeing an entire wall of them so it feels like, “well I guess that’s it.” 
    There are some serious pros to skinny jeans like the clean line they give you and how great they look with oversized things, etc. But, also some cons, I think they are restrictive, the high waist often cuts into my stomach but if you size up they slide down your hips and you end up doing a little wiggle dance to pull them up every 30 minutes. They don’t look great with belts, and I love a good belt + denim combo and because skinny jeans are so minimal and the fabric often thin they don’t work well with a big beautiful belt, etc. All that to say, I hope that you’ll experiment with you denim and see if maybe there is a different pair out there that feels good to you. Remember there is no one style/size/design that fits all. We each get to pick what feels good to us and sometimes we lose that personal connection to what we wear. I want you to wear less of what you think you should be wearing and more of what you want to wear.
    Personal style is after all, personal.

    a. Current/Elliot

    b. Acne

    c. Weekday

    a. I like the classic deep blue wash of this slim leg pair by Current/Elliott. And the subtle
    distressing gives it a relaxed vibe. The styling notes say that this pair runs one size large but I don’t know if I would follow that, they seem pretty true to size based on the model notes. The Outnet is also one of my favorite places to shop, quick shipping and easy returns on items that would often be final sale elsewhere and epic discounts.

    b. Denim by Acne is very popular. I have never purchased a pair because I think the price point is too high but I love the classic look of this pair and it’s 50%+ off. It’s a 100% cotton which means it will stand the test of time and only get more wearable with age.

    c. This is the perfect spring/summer jean. A creamy off-white color, the line down the front and pocket detailing give it a subtle spin that makes them unique but still very wearable. Weekday is a new to me brand that our brother Alex’s girlfriend Vicky told us about. The price point is great. Pay attention to the size chart as sizing is European. I also like this beige trouser pair they have as well.

    d. Rag & Bone

    e. Levis

    f. Calvin Klein

    d. If you want to test the limits of your denim wearing I highly recommend ordering a pair of wide leg jeans (the cream pair is excellent too!). They will take you a minute to get used to but then you’ll have fun playing with tucked in t-shirts that pair perfectly with the wider silhouette and the freedom of a pair of jeans that is easy to move in. I’m a Rag & Bone fan, I think they do denim really well (I’m also very into these chic sandals.) At that price point these will sell out in many sizes quickly!

    e. I’m into denim jackets regardless of the fact that they fall in and out of style frequently. I think they are an ideal summer jacket. I love them paired with a dress and sneakers or with army green pants. I own this one and it’s a classic. It’s hearty, order one size up for the oversized effect.

    f. The combo of Calvin Klein and denim skirt is almost painfully 90’s but if it’s a good skirt, it’s a good skirt regardless of the decade. Denim skirts can be a tricky line to walk, I don’t like them distressed, too short, too long and I want them to be a solid color. This one is perfect and I’m including it even though I know at $38 it will sell out very soon. (FYI this is final sale!).

    g. Old Navy

    h. Everlane

    i. Madewell

    g. I bought a pair of black overalls from Old Navy years and years ago and this one is very similar to what I own. I like the black and I think it’s wearable all year round. They look great with a feminine blouse underneath and they are surprisingly useful and comfortable.

    h. I scored the internet for the best of denim shorts and came up with very few options. I refuse to even link to a pair of $120 denim shorts. But I found these at Levi and I think they are good. I like the price and the wash. I also really like the cotton twill shorts from Everlane, not denim but a very solid wearable short that comes in great color.

    i. In general, I don’t gravitate towards colored denim but wow, I love the wash on these Madewell jeans. Fresh and perfect for spring/summer.

    Thank you Joanie! all links are affiliate.

  • Vermont

    mood: Loré Pemberton illustrations

    It’s the season when I can scroll through photos of summer on my phone and stare in awe at the colors in our summertime backyard. We get used to the sight of it by July, but looking back, I realize it’s a rolling lawn of green with verdant jungle-like trees lining the edges. The noise of the wind ruffling through the leaves comes back to me, along with the way the air feels when its both damp and warm in the morning.

    To experience the same feeling about the current season we’re in, I have only to look at Loré Pemberton‘s illustrations. The warmth, the fading light, the weary affection, the shambled chaos that often doesn’t feel cozy, but can be seen as such, if only you step away from it for a moment. I just love her work! I would love to see some older children’s books revisited by her, like Noisy Village, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, and The Railway Children. Puffin Classics if you’re reading this: call Loré up! Interesting note: Garth Williams, the illustrator for the Laura Ingalls series, was hired to illustrate her first books after they were already bestsellers. I feel lucky to have met the words and the illustrations at the same time.

    I found Loré on Instagram, where she is wonderful to follow, but she has many prints, a printable calendar pages, and $1.50 coloring pages available from her shop throughout the year.

     

     

    PS: This week I published my ninth homeschool newsletter, you can read it right here. If you read one thing this weekend, make it Mary H.K. Choi’s essay about intimacy and sickness in the pandemic.

  • Style by Joanie

    white, grey and nude sneakers

    a round up of nine sneakers to wear with everything, by my sister Joanie! So many to love here.

    This post is an ode to the white sneaker! Or, maybe I should say shades of white sneakers. I love a white/cream/tan/beige sneaker all spring and summer long (or if you live in LA like me, all year long!). I love them paired with dresses, long or short. I think they give a relaxed I care about comfortable feet and I’m not trying too hard vibe. They are the perfect thing to pack for vacations (remember those?!) when you don’t want to fill your suitcase with heavy shoes but want to look chic. I went to Paris a couple of years ago and it reignited my love for them. So many stylish woman wearing sneakers with jeans and trench coats and ankle skimming pants with oversized sweaters and slim skirts with tucked in t-shirts. Some wear them sock-less or they have little bits of color and pattern peaking out. The options are endless really! And if the pandemic has shown me one thing, it’s that I probably wear five pairs of shoes in total, three of those being sneakers, and own about 50 pairs too many.

    There is the classic sneaker like Keds that has a low profile. They give you a clean line and are very versatile when it comes to styling them. And then there are ones like the ever-popular New Balance. They have some lift to them, and a thicker sole. Those will give you a longer line on your leg (aka make your legs look longer). If you’re used to wearing something with a heel with your dresses or skirts, you my opt for the latter as the lift will give you the look you’re used to.

    Some people worry about wearing white shoes, that they might get dirty, but I think you should just wear the heck out of them and let them get scuffed and marked. One of my favorite pairs is a 5 year old pair of Keds (the ace ones below!) that look aged yet perfectly worn in. Have you ever seen Golden Goose sneakers? They are the absurdly priced designer shoe that comes already worn-looking, and dirty. I recommend not buying them, and wearing a pair of any of the ones below into the ground instead!

    a. Keds

    b. Tretorn

    c. Veja

    a. These are my most worn sneakers. The style is Ace from Keds. I am not a fan of many of Keds’ style canvas styles, they look too dainty. When it comes to sneakers I want a little weight to the shoe. I love that these are leather. They’re super comfortable and an all around wear with anything sneaker.

    b. I am thrilled for anyone whose size is still available in this Trenton Net shoe. These were my favorite summer shoe for years, I’ve owned three pairs because the mesh does start to fall apart but I love them. They are so comfortable and look cute with anything. I wish I would have bought more before the brand stopped making that style.

    c. These are on expensive side but I like Veja and these are a good example of the style of shoe that has a little lift to them. These also say that they are running shoes, so maybe you can look cute and also sprint at a moment’s notice?

    d. New Balance

    e. Vince

    f. Adidas

    d. So, these are technically more grey than white but they deserve a mention. I’m a big New Balance fan and I love this style. Yes, they look like Dad on a Saturday at his kid’s soccer game but that’s the vibe. You’ve probably seen many off-duty models wearing this style.

    e. I love Vince for their timeless execution of classic pieces. There are a couple pairs from them (on major sale!) that deserve mentioning. One is this perforated pair. I had a pair similar years ago and loved them. You will be reminded of the convenience of slip-on shoes. And also this pair which they call an “espadrille sneaker.” I think they are very smart and a great alternative to a sandal for summer.

    f. I am a fan of the look of classic Adidas sneakers and this slightly modernized version is a winner for me. I love the different textures and the bit of navy with the gold detailing, and the heart on the back. They are on the expensive side but I think these are a timeless pair that won’t go out of style. I also like this ultra boost pair.

    g. Reebok

    h. Converse

    i. Asics+

    g. Reebok has made a serious comeback in recent years and although I am not a fan of the ones that look like you’re wearing boats on your feet, I am a fan of this pair. I don’t like the wide Reebok style because they go out too much on the sides and I think they look sloppy. I love this pair with the green accents, it is vintage but still modern enough. And if you’re tired of neutrals and looking for something fun, I’d do these.

    h. My favorite when it comes to converse are both the low and high tops of either the all white leather or the classic red and white. The leather version definitely stands the test of time, sometimes the canvas ones can start to smell after awhile of wearing them.

    i. And last but not least, this pair of nude Asics. They are on the sportier looking side of things but the color but the nude color with the white accent makes them very chic.

    thank you Joanie! I couldn’t help but note that Keds has the same all-white leather style in kids’ sizes too. All links are affiliate.

  • Vermont

    “She puts flowers on everything.”

     

    The brand new shows produced by Chip and Joanna Gaines are available to stream for around $7 a month, please choose the ad-free $3 upgrade for your own precious clarity of mind. Right now only the premier of Floret’s show is available (it is SO good). Almost the whole season of the show about Erin French and her restaurant in Maine, the Lost Kitchen, is available to watch. Both shows have tremendous positive energy, I’m just astounded by them. The producers managed to get to the heart of these woman founders who hustled so studiously after their dreams. And the talent in them! Wow. It’s like they had a sense of the visions and abilities they’d been given, so they pursued them, but no one else around them was really clear on what was happening, or how they’d been caught up in this talent vortex. Pretty amazing to get to watch.

    The shows are obviously taking a note from the British Baking Show and have very little worry/scary plot twists throughout. They are beautiful, educational, and calming to watch. The Lost Kitchen episode 2 ends up being a primer in fried chicken and biscuits–what could be better! If you fall in love, Erin’s cookbook is another way to learn from her recipes and perspective.

    Highly recommend for your February.

  • Style by Joanie

    Best of 2020 and a Few Great Sales

    a new style post straight from sunny LA, by my younger sister Joanie!

    We took a style post pause over the holidays because there is already too much pressure to buy the perfect gift and make the perfect list, and think about what you’re cooking and baking, etc.

    But it’s February now! We’re deep in sweater weather, but also already feeling the hopefulness of spring. I always reflect back on my year and look at what I bought and loved and wore the heck out of. I’m usually a little surprised by what becomes a closet staple and favorite. I think the MVP of my closet in 2020 was my Everlane alpaca sweater. I bought it in petal and a size medium which is rather oversized but I like it big and cozy. Second runner up are these $18 H&M sweatpants that I wear nearly every day. I recommend sizing up because they shrink a bit and they also shed when you first get them but the fit is great and I love a wide waist band that doesn’t fold down.

    It was definitely the year of the blouse for me. I think I wore less dresses than usual and gravitated towards pants and with a fancy-ish tops. Ulla Johnson and Emerson Fry are two of my favorites for blouses. I wear this one on lot and Cale (my husband) got me this Ulla top for Christmas and I’ve been wearing it on repeat. What was the MVP of your wardrobe last year?

    And now for a few things that I have my eye on, plus a couple that I own and love. I’m drawn to shades of pink all year round but especially in February, I blame the combo of darker days and Valentine’s spirit. -Joanie

    Mango

    Everlane

    skims

    I love this pink coat from Mango. It reminds me of the one that Mansur Gavriel made but this one is about $800 less expensive. I’m a big fan of colorful outer-wear, you’d be surprised by how happy it makes you to put on a colored coat.

    I have mentioned my affection for Everlane denim and this pair is hitting all the right notes. I’m always looking for something that isn’t a skinny jean but not necessarily a wide leg jean. The sizing seems tricky, the model is wearing a size 28 which tells me you’ll want to order up a size at least.

    This everyday bra has exceeded my expectations, it’s so comfortable and creates a really smooth line under t-shirts and blouses. Good Job, Kim K!

    madewell

    Clare V

    James Perse

    I like how much fun Madewell is having with their sneakers I am a big fan of sneakers with everything! I like their colorful options and that they’re having a 20% off everything sale this weekend. This neutral pair has rave reviews.

    I think we’re going to see a lot of yellow and orange this spring. If bold colors scare you, adding it in a handbag or purse is a great place to start. I’m a Clare V fan and the price on this suede clutch cannot be beat.

    An ode to a great basic. I love James Perse, they make great t-shirts that last forever and are cut really well. I don’t advocate buying them full price because it’s too $$ but sometimes I find them on epic sale, like this top and snap it up. I also love that Nordstrom’s generous return policy extends to all markdowns at The Rack, which is usually hard to find with sale items.

    H&M

    H&M

    H&M

    My love for H&M knits is at an all time high. I love this chic sweater. Also this in yellow, but be prepared that the fit is going to be very oversized. And this ribbed knit cardigan.

    and finally, I think we should start a movement for the return of wearing silk scarves. They are fairly inexpensive to buy vintage, they can be worn tied in your hair or around your neck or tucked into a coat and they add a burst of color. I love vintage Vera, Gucci and anything bright and floral.

    all links are affliate.

  • Faith

    lent

    easter is early this year, so Ash Wednesday will scuttle quickly behind Valentine’s Day, arriving just three days later. When Easter arrives there will very likely still be snow on the ground in most places (the places I frequent) when we do some edition of an egg hunt. Late Easters, like the one we’ll have in 2022, with a chance of tree blossoms and visible grass, are my favorite.

    There will be an abundance of ashes this year. The pre-blessed, pre-packaged, distantly-picked-up kind, the homemade kind from a smudge of ash on the inside of a glass or leaf burned in a dish, its bits smushed with olive oil. And the kind sitting in homes across the world, held in memory or in waiting for a chance to be scattered, from someone who was very much alive last Easter.

    Instead of a gently bold touch of another pressing them against your forehead, there will just be your hand, or the hand of one in your household, to smush them on.

    There won’t be people walking the street in the costumes of plague doctors but maybe there should be. There won’t be weeping and people rending their clothing in public grief but maybe there should be. The sun won’t disappear for 24hrs but it would feel appropriate if it did.

    The dust to dust, the careless razor edge between death and life, the elemental grief of Ash Wednesday will come easy to us this year.

    Thinking of the opening lines of Amanda Gorman’s recitation at the inauguration

    When day comes we ask ourselves,
    where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
    The loss we carry,
    a sea we must wade

    And after pinching ashes, maybe we will take on the voluntarily limitations of Lent with something like joy? Anything we accept will stand next to the limitations we’ve already accepted, the things we’ve given up for so much longer than 40 days: smiling frank handshakes with a new friend, visible smiles altogether, sticky bar drinks at night in the corner, potlucks with baked beans.

    Anything we accept for Lent will be our choice to be our challenge. Ideally it’s a collective choice, one you make with another person or group of people, to experience together.

    Reading through this pamphlet published by the Diocese in Toronto, my imagination was captured by their thoughtful list of suggested fasts. Week 7, an ignorance fast: Only creation can teach us how to live in the the face of creational lament and decline. This week we are fasting from ignorance: ignorance about the injustice that our lives are built on, and ignorance about the creation that surrounds us. They quote Job:

    But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
    ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
    Job 12.7-8

    Week 6, electricity fast: During this week, try to eliminate as much electricity from your life as possible. Light only the area in a room that you need for your activities, and only the room that you are in. Try a week with no movies, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, television, or Youtube cat videos. This week culminates in Earth Hour on Saturday evening: turn off all electricity from 8:30-9:30pm.

    I’m not sure what fast I’ll take, on but I do know it feels best to consider them in advance, and anticipate them. I invite you to click the link to the pamphlet and consider some of their suggestions.

    A bit more Amanda Gorman to close

    When day comes we step out of the shade,
    aflame and unafraid
    The new dawn blooms as we free it
    For there is always light,
    if only we’re brave enough to see it
    If only we’re brave enough to be it

     

  • Books,  Cooking,  Vermont

    a month of so off instagram & energy bites

    Deleting instagram off my phone ended up being a delightfully simple switch-up for January. My thumb hovered over the vacant spot for the first couple of days. Soon my reclaimed moments seemed to accrue and I found myself finishing more books. I read so many good books that I am now posting my recent favorite reads on the sidebar of this blog! If you click on any of them, you will find a 1-2 sentence review on my bookshop page.

    I also discovered that Libby, the e-borrow service that most libraries use, has a “Lucky Day” feature where requested books popup for quick rental. That was how I was able to read Samantha Power’s The Education of an Idealist, for which I had been on a seemingly endless waitlist.

    I also experienced a faint untethering. In my mind I felt suddenly self-sufficient, wholly encompassed, like a human on a walk through a forest, or a swimmer on her own in the waves. Mentally things felt quieter and more expansive. It is the case with social media on handheld technology that neither the developers nor the users understand what exactly is going on. There is no easy division between participation and absence. It feels like we have to be aware of our own state, and make decisions on an ongoing basis for ourselves.

    I did miss keeping up with people, in an old fashioned way—moves, babies, marriages, the news of their lives! I definitely felt less connected to certain people and missed having a visual, present sense of what their lives looked like. One evening I logged onto my browser, hoping to catch up on news, and I was flooded with posts from business accounts. It took ten minutes just to see another individual human that I followed. That surprised me–had I just been scrolling past these accounts all along? I unfollowed a bunch of those accounts on the spot.

    In similar bite-size capsule theme, I want to share with you a recipe from the new Mennonite cookbook, Sustainable Kitchen. Sustainable Kitchen came out in September, and I purchased it right away because the authors are Vermont neighbors, and Mennonite cookbooks have had a place on my shelves ever since we were given four copies of More with Less when Joe and I married.

    Sustainable Kitchen is a remarkable book. The authors intended it it to work as a stand alone resource, no background googling needed (in fact, one of the authors makes a point of not having internet access at her home). There are recipes for making your own tortillas, nut butters, tahini, basic canning techniques, and a guide to beginning a compost pile. It is a plant-based cookbook, and none of the recipes use white sugar, only a few use white flour.

    The authors also make a strong case for valuing what you eat as an effective everyday way to impact climate change. The more I read about carbon sequestering and watch documentaries like Biggest Little Farm and Kiss the Ground, the more I realize how the time I spend thinking through menus and ways to waste less each week IS important and worth it.

    I’ve made these energy balls a few times and dropped off jars of them alongside children for playdates, as a thank you snack for gluten-free, dairy-free friends. They are very kid friendly, but adults looking for a smart snack may very well eat them first. The touches of sweet, cranberry and mini chocolate chips, are absolutely delicious, and the texture is perfectly balanced.

     

     

     

     

     

  • garden,  Vermont

    flowers ordered (2021)

    Black Eyed Susan

    Nasturtium

    Zinnia Isabelina

    Flowering Tobacco

    Strawflower Silvery Rose

    Cosmos Double Click

    Zinnia Candy Mix

    Calendula Ivory

    Tickseed Incredible

    Ordering seeds is a bit like ordering vitamins because the ordering is the easiest and most optimistic part of the whole relationship.

    Some of these are already sold out from Floret, so I share what I ordered this year more as documentation than insistence to buy (though I am using her photos and thus of course linking to her store!). Floret does have an excellent Email When Available feature for some of their seeds–that option worked for all the ones, pictured above, that I wanted to buy this year.

    Keep in mind too that you can discover a flower through Floret, and if she’s sold out, you can still try that variety from another flower seed vendor, like Johnny’s or FedCo or someone local to you. It won’t be as perfect as what Floret has sourced and evolved (what can we say, she’s dialed in!), but it will still be a lovely happy flower.

    You can also find someone who sells seedlings in the early summer. These are plants that they successfully got from seed to happy plant, and now you get to plant it! The poppies I bought as seedlings had a wonderful year, the poppies I tried to start from seed didn’t have a chance.

    Last year I struggled with poppies of all varieties (honestly it felt like raising orange trees), bachelor’s buttons, celosia, globe amaranth (should have potted it), sunflowers (squirrels), and bee balm! I’m sure these things could be overcome, but this year I wanted to order what worked really well for us last year.