4.21.2017

The Imagined Life: About a Breadbox

The breadbox was maybe a little impractical, seeing how much space it took up in such a small kitchen area, but it was lovely and made me happy to have around. I would be tempted to open it every morning when the sunlight hit it just so, even if I wouldn't eat anything from it before afternoon tea, even if I knew that I hadn't baked anything for a week or more and it would be empty upon inspection. 

This was not a breadbox for normal sandwich bread. No store bought thin slices resided in its cool, dark interior. This was a place to store my own creations. A heady dense chocolate loaf, interspersed with lavender buds; a vibrant orange and almond tea cake; bright, crumbly crusted zucchini bread - those are the things that would live in this breadbox. Some special farmers markets finds made their way there: the light fluffy yeast breads that weren't my specialty, something that could be eaten with a slice of sharp cheese or a thick spread of butter.

For one week a year the sole occupant would be an Irish Soda Bread, ready to be slice and devoured, a nod to heritage only partly my own. For the week leading up to March 17th, it would be there, whether homemade or not.

Sometimes potatoes would find their way into the box, but never onions which would leave their smell lingering for weeks. No, only lovely golden potatoes ready to be wrapped in foil and buried under logs in a fire. Under the stars or next to a sunset the potatoes would roast, and yes, maybe char a little on the outside while I would drink tea and feel the air cool on my arms. When enough time had passed a stick was the perfect tool for rolling the potatoes out, then it was onto a plate - hot! hot! hot! from one hand to the next - where the foil would be ripped, the potato split, and a generous pad of butter added to the steaming soft insides. That was all that was needed and they were comforting perfection.

Potatoes were the exception, not the rule, of course... but they were a delicious golden tasting treat, and when we had them, they were found in the breadbox.

Our little kitchen and tiny fridge didn't offer room for much beyond the vegetables we bought from the farmers markets that week, eggs, some tins of tuna, some homemade soup frozen for another day. We didn't spare the room for ice cream or cookies, not boxed birthday confections (all icing and fluffiness). Our treats and special things all belonged in the category of What Could Be Stored in the Breadbox.

Yes, the breadbox was a little impractical, but it was also purposeful. The direction of a day could be changed just by asking, "What is in the breadbox today?"



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The Imagined Life is fiction, a world of my own creation, explored through small, everyday things and experiences. 


Picture Credit: Joybilee Farm 

4.19.2017

Semi-Wordless Wednesday {Gwens Latest Writing}


All her own creations, all done without prompting or input!


I'm a proud Mama!


(The pigeon in this last one cracks me up!)

4.17.2017

Repticon - A Playdate!

The week after we got back from New Mexico was absolutely overwhelming! I had meetings with two new potential doula clients (one of which then went into labor - 1 hr of sleep in 37hrs!), Gwen was back to Monday/Wednesday night swim lessons (after a month and a half of having them on Sundays), there was a night out with friends to celebrate a big event in a friend's life, all my normal teaching (and class prep for the following week), went to yoga, plus the myriad of things that needed to be done to get back into the swing of things after being away for almost a week. I did about 8 loads of laundry, a few grocery trips, and did some baking. I didn't get around to vacuuming, and I have a lot more sorting to do. I absolutely needed more hours in at least a few of those days.

That said, the weekend after we got home and before the overwhelming week was a really lovely one! Saturday was much lazier (I desperately needed to sleep in), but Sunday we picked up one of Gwen's friends and headed to Repticon. Not your typical playdate, but a fun one for sure!



There were so many beautiful creatures there: multiple types of snakes, chameleons, geckos, and even sugar gliders (bears)!




The girls wanted to hold everything, and I can't blame them... I sort of did too!


Snakes are such beautiful creatures! It was a lot of fun to see Gwen get to interact with them, and great to see her interacting with a friend.


I'm excited to start helping Gwen see her friends outside of school more. She's definitely at the age when encouraging these friendships to deepen is important; plus its just really nice for her to have the extra companion around while still being with her family. Its nice for us too!

I'm looking forward to more playdates in the future. 

4.14.2017

Spring in Colorado

It’s time to break out —
Jailbreak time.
Time to punch our way out of
the dark winter prison.
Lilacs are doing it
in sudden explosions of soft purple,
And the jasmine vines, and ranunculus, too.
There is no jailer powerful enough
to hold Spring contained.
Let that be a lesson.
Stop holding back the blossoming!
Quit shutting eyes and gritting teeth,
curling fingers into fists, hunching shoulders.
Lose your determination to remain unchanged.
All the forces of nature
want you to open,
Their gentle nudge carries behind it
the force of a flash flood.
Why make a cell your home
when the door is unlocked
and the garden is waiting for you?


– Maya Spector
 
It's been a beautiful spring so far! There are have been so many walks, hot days with cool breezes. Burning sun, and the relief of lovely sunsets. Stream wet dog and kid.


Its so nice to live right off such a great trail!!


We had a rough time for a week or so after the daylight savings time change. Gwen was not herself, instead more fragile and easy to upset. It was a relief to us all to get out there and walk it off. To get hot and sweaty, and then come home and relax together with cold drinks and a movie.


Its hard to get too cranky with each other when you're zoning out to a cute movie together. (Recent favorite: Moana! Gorgeous!)


I've also worked through some of that Netflix/On Demand backlog I talked about, watching crying my way through This Is Us. I've read most nights and written more creatively then I have in... well, ages.


Of course, I've slept a bit less then normal thanks to all that, but I catch up when I can! I still need a few more hours in the day, but I'm fitting things in.


Spring is such an amazing time of reawakening. Its like by the end of winter I get so bogged down in it all, just everything about normal life. Then the weather warms, the breeze gets mild, and things start to bud and bloom. It all starts to feel possible again!

Best of all, the sound of birds is back. How can you not feel joyful when happy little birds are heralding the light?! I'll take a tweeting chorus any day of the week... and now I get one every day of the week.  :-)

Happy Spring indeed!

4.12.2017

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday {New Mexico Pics and Lessons Learned}

I had too many pictures from New Mexico, so even with culling things down from what I took... I still had to pull pictures out when writing my post the other week. Here are the others I wanted to share.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

I hope you'll indulge me a little bit too. Every trip we take is a learning experience for me, and thought it would be good to record some of those lessons.

Valles Caldera

Lesson #1: Setting up and breaking down a tent gets tiring. I have no problem camping for 5 days straight in the same place, but three days of camping in different places is enough for me to want a break in a hotel/motel/friend's house for a night!

Bandelier

Lesson #2: By day 5, no one is going to want to see peanut butter, nuts, or seeds for a very long time. I need to pack more things that *I* like, even if Gwen won't eat them, because more variety is always good! I also need to up my game with more foil packet cooking. And yes, maybe even plan a dinner in a diner just so everyone can eat whatever they want for one night. 

(We did complete our entire journey without stopping at one fast food restaurant! Win!)

White Sands NM

Lesson #3: Even though I want to be a camping purist and only cook on the fire, building a fire first thing in the morning just too cook breakfast is time consuming and sometimes more exhausting then I'm interested in... especially when its just me and Gwen. Might be time to invest in a mini camping stove.

Carlsbad Cavern

Less of a Lesson, and More of a Reminder #4: I love camping with just Gwen and I, and frankly Trav wants to save his vacation days for the bigger trips (Cape Cod, and this year France and Mexico) so it will normally be just us... but it does make things more difficult being the only adult in charge of everything. Gwen is a great help, and as she gets old it will get easier; but right now I need be okay with the fact that I'm doing all the set up and break down, all the cooking and all the entertaining. (Hence #3, and maybe even investing in a smaller tent for these trips.)

Rio Grande Del Norte

Less of a Lesson, and More of a Reminder #5: Be flexible! We had more downtime in Bandelier because Gwen made a friend and was having the best time playing with her around the campsite, and didn't really want to stop to do another hike in the evening. That's okay. Yes, I want to get the most our of our stops, but if she's having fun, then let go a little. Does that mean we forwent all previously planned hiking/activities? Clearly not! But letting go of some arbitrary number in my head for how many miles we should do? Absolutely!

Rio Grande Del Norte
Less of a Lesson, and More of a Reminder #6: Its okay for Gwen to be bored! The "free day" I built in didn't end up being as fun as I hoped. We made it work, and it was fine; and the downtime was needed.


Also, for the love of all that is holy... woman, buy a damn ax!  😳


I can't wait for our next trip. One that will hopefully be even better with these little lessons!

4.10.2017

Reader of the Day

As I walked in the room, Gwen looked surprised, then pleased, then completely joyful! With a little yip, and a yell of "MOM!", she barrelled past the crowd of her classmates and slammed into me in a full-contact hug. We've been talking about not doing the throw yourself at someone, so you almost knock them over hugs so much; but I'm not upset by it this time - not when it comes from a place of real happiness instead of a mischievousness.

Gwen's teacher, Ms. M, gives me a warm smile and invites me into the room. Gwen's classmates stream over to the reading corner and take their seat, ready and waiting. I drop to the floor behind them, in my best "criss-cross applesauce" seat, and give her an encouraging look.

"Red or Blue, I Like You," she reads the title to begin. Bolstered by the surprise, and relaxing in the knowledge that she's done the work to be ready, she makes her way naturally through the story, pausing to show the pictures on each page before moving on.

Only when she finishes the last page do her classmates start to move again. Hands shoot into the air, confusing me for a moment.

"You read fluidly!"

Ahhh, questions and comments time.

"Why did you chose this book?"  "What was the author trying to say?"

She took a moment before answering or responding, sometimes looking to Ms. M for confirmation. They ask for responses from her classmates as well. "I loved when they ate spaghetti, because I LOVE spaghetti!"

When everything is answered, they give a round of applause. A literal one, with hands clapping in circles, and Gwen beams in a happy, bashful way. She brings her book to put in her backpack, as she walks me to the door, where she hugs and kisses me goodbye. Its only a little over an hour until I pick her up at the end of the day, but we say good bye the same as if its for all day.

As I walk home, I feel content and loved, and I know that Gwen is feeling the same back in her classroom. I hope she can always be made so happy just by my surprise appearance.

4.07.2017

Thinking Green - An Earth Day Giveaway!

Earth Day is just 2 weeks away! You've probably gathered through the years that I'm a big fan of this holiday. First celebrated on April 22, 1970, the idea for this (now) international day of environmental awareness came from Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who is considered the founder of Earth Day. Last year, Gwen and I planted some trees to celebrate. This year there is a great Earth Day festival downtown that I hope to check out! I also donated to the Earth Day Network's Trees for the Earth campaign, which has a goal to plant 7.8 billion trees worldwide by 2020!! (Make a quick donation if you can, or if you planted your own trees, let them know so they can count them!) We'll probably also take a few trips out onto our local trails with a garbage bag and some gloves, to pick up any trash we see.

In the meantime, I decided to join this great Earth Day Giveaway blog hop! A chance to win some fun green prizes (be sure to check out everyone's blogs to see all of the prizes). There is sure to be something for everyone, and you can enter one or enter all.

Since I have been trying to move away from giving people more things that they may or may not need, my giveaway is a $20 E-Gift Card to Amazon, to use for whatever your heart desires!



Welcome to the Earth Day Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Pistachio Project and Green Moms Network! Each of the participating blogs will be giving away a prize to help you go green and celebrate Earth Day! Earth Day is just one day out of the year but we want to give you ways to go eco-friendly all year long. After entering my giveaway, be sure to hop around and enter all of the other giveaways listed on the link at the bottom of this post!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Now that you've entered my giveaway, make sure to check out the following bloggers who also have eco-friendly prizes for you to win!




Happy Clicking, and good luck!



This contest will run thorough April 22, 2017 at 11:59 EST. No purchase necessary. US entries only. Must be 18 years or older to win. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to A New Day and not to Facebook. Please note that A New Day, The Pistachio Project, Green Moms Network and the Earth Day Giveaway Hop bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. 

4.03.2017

Swept Off Our Feet to New Mexico

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


Back in December I was thinking a lot about travel. I saw that Gwen had a week long school break at the end of March, for her Spring Break. It was the perfect time to get away, and the perfect time to finally make it to New Mexico!

Yeah, that's snow...

I started packing earlier that week, breaking things down into manageable bites as always, so we could awake when ready on Saturday, get showered and fed, then only have to pack our food and go. We were out the door around 9a.m. and on our way! We stopped once for gas, and once for gas and lunch, but made good time.

As always, our time was dominated by National Parks and Monuments, and we managed to see a lot of the state that way.

Our first stop was Badelier National Monument, and I think it might have been my favorite!



We ended up camping next to some really lovely people, with whom we ended up sharing a few fires and a few picnic tables. Gwen spent much of that evening and the next running around with the daughter, and I was able to talk to the parents and spend some time reading and relaxing.


Sunday we woke with the birds, eat some breakfast with our neighbors, and headed out to check on Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.


It was a pretty starting place with some amazing rock formations. We started our adventuring with a hike there to check out a little cave.


Each of our 3 walks/hikes that day was between 1.25 and 1.5miles. Enough to get us moving and work our legs, but not so much we were overly tired.

Next we headed to Valles Caldera National Park. I think my car's alignment will never be the same again after the drive in, but it was an amazing place to visit!

The Caldera itself was huge!!



We barely walked around a little part in the middle!


On our way out, we ran into some really sweet horseback riders who offered Gwen a lift for the little bit of trail left. She was ecstatic!


After that we headed back to Bandelier, and down to their visitor center to do the main loop trail. It offered views and entry into a handful of caves, kivas, and long houses... Gwen's absolute favorite!



There were a few places that they had ladders set up, so you could climb into some of the old house rooms. One of them was pretty large, and a lot darker then it appears in the picture. It also had a number of recesses that you really couldn't see all the way to the back of. We were both a little creeped out by it and climbed back out real fast!



The bottom part of the trail was very different from the top... it was their nature walk trail, which was wooded and ran next to a stream. Very pretty!


We camped in Bandelier that night as well, cooking some soup on the fire, and hanging out with our friends just a little bit more (including marshmallow roasting!).


Monday we drove down to Almogordo, NM to hit up White Sands National Monument. We stayed at a KOA in town, which was not as lovely as camping in Bandelier, but it did have some nice perks! After getting our tent set up, we headed to White Sands, equipped with our sleds!


The sand there was so white, so fine, and so soft! We couldn't believe it!


Driving in was surreal, dunes as far as the eye could see... and as tall as houses!


We spent a few hours running up the dunes and sledding down, with a drink/snack break halfway through. It was a little exhausting, and I think if we went back (which I'd like to do sometime!), that it would be better with more of a group.

The next day was a super low-key day. We took showers (perk!), ate a relaxed breakfast, played some table soccer (perk!), then took down our tent and headed down the street to a local park we had passed.


We played on the park for an hour or so (well Gwen played, I lounged), then headed out to Carlsbad. Originally we were supposed to stay at a State Park about 30 minutes from the Caverns, but when we got there the campsites were nothing like I expected... set on a hill with no cover to speak of, we weren't too excited. So we changed plans and headed towards the Caverns, figuring we might as well get closer and see what we could find.

We ended up staying in a little tiny cabin just outside of the National Park. They also had tent sites there, but let me tell you one surprise we encountered on our trip: Wind. It was windy after sunset in Bandelier, but there was enough tree cover that it wasn't a problem. It was even windier at the KOA, but again, there was enough stuff around that the wind wasn't direct. It was windier still down by Carlsbad, to the point that I was worried I wouldn't even be able to get the tent up myself without it being gusted over! The guy I talked to said that it does happen in NM in the spring, that these winds will pop up for a few days, blow everything around, then fade out. No real way to know when they would be bad.

We were very grateful for the little cabin (two twin beds, and otherwise bare!) that night as we listened to the wind howl outside and even once rock our little building!

Wednesday morning we were up early to eat breakfast and head to the Caverns. We did the self guided tour, walking down the natural entrance (1.25m), then doing the "Big Room" loop (another 1.25m).


It was absolutely amazing and my pictures aren't going to do it any justice.


The whole thing was phenomenally large, occasionally creepy, always awe-inspiring.


You could fit a 747 inside the cavern. At the tallest point in the big room you could have fit Big Ben!


After the tours, we were stomach rumbling hungry, so we got some lunch, then headed out. We took the scenic loop road out of the National Park lands....


I'll take a moment to note here: everyone I talked to before going on this trip mentioned how much they loved New Mexico, how amazing it is there, and how they'd happily go back. I would definitely visit NM again, but I'll say that I wasn't blown away at first. I'm not a "South-West" kind of girl. I've talked before about how forests are my happy place, and the type of area that makes me feel most at ease and rejuvenated; and specifically I'm thinking more East Coast kind of forests - very green and dense. New Mexico, I think because of that unique shade of orangey-tan of the soil, combined with the SW low, spaced out flora made it all feel very barren to me. Even in areas that I would consider lovely country if otherwise similar in population and notability of human hand, but instead being green and lush, in New Mexico they seemed desolate to me. I really enjoyed the more forested areas of Bandelier (I think it was my favorite stop of the whole trip), but it wasn't until we were making the drive between Almogordo and Carlsbad, passing over the mountains and through such areas as Cloucroft that I thought: okay, maybe I can see it.

All that said, I did find that when I stopped trying to see what everyone else saw, I was able to find the beauty a lot easier. Driving the scenic loop through Carlsbad Caverns National Park, you would get these most amazing flashes of purples breaking up the tans, oranges, and greens. And they were very lovely surprises.

Moving on! 


Our next stop was Roswell. As a big X-files nerd, who truly believes that the cosmos are way too big for us to be alone in them, I just had to stop here. And we treated ourselves to a hotel for the night for our stay.


The town is a little hokey, but cutesy/campy fun. Gwen's favorite part was going to a buffet for dinner. Mine was the nice warm, non-cramped shower I got to take after putting her to bed... followed by the amazing soft mattress and sheets that we slept on.


Thursday we enjoyed our complimentary breakfast, then headed on out to our last few stops. First was a quick tour of the Earthships by Taos! They are amazing structures, and beautiful in a very different way.


They are expensive enough that I couldn't justify it for just Gwen and I, but I would love to stay in one sometime.


Next was a drive over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge...


Then finally, all the way down into that gorge to camp at Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument.


We set up camp, then headed out to explore some trails. I don't know if you can tell, but the river ran right behind our campsite!


It was a beautiful place to finish up our trip.


We played some cards in our tent, ate some more soup for dinner, then headed to bed.
The next day it was time to head home. We packed up one last time, then started heading in the general direction we wanted to go. I say general direction because we had to climb all the way out of that gorge before we had any kind of signal!

There was a point when we finally crested a ridge and before us the land just opened up... snow capped mountains in front of us and to the right, the huge split in the earth marking the gorge to the right. It was pretty damn breathtaking. [This will give you an idea, but its so damn much better in person.]

We made great time through New Mexico and into Southern Colorado, until we headed through the mountains and suddenly found ourselves in a cloud!


That slowed us down a bit... and unfortunately we were under cloud/rain cover for the rest of the trip... and the next few days (blah!). We stopped at a diner in Colorado Springs, then finally Friday afternoon we were home!

It was an amazing trip. Another state to check off the list, and a great start to 2017's travels!!