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A Milestone


When we decided to homeschool during the summer Emily was entering seventh grade, it wasn't because we thought all schools were bad. Sometimes people assume we feel this way, that's not true. Our decision to homeschool was born from making a list of pros and cons as we looked at our options - public, private, homeschool - and choosing the one that appeared to be the best (not perfect) of all three. And so, we homeschooled.

For us, the public school options seemed to be lacking more than they were providing. When we looked at private schools, with their hefty tuition, we began to think "what could we accomplish if we used even half that amount as our homeschool budget for the year?" (Turns out quite a lot.) 

As far as homeschooling goes, we did have one concern, and it might come as a surprise. We weren't worried about being "smart enough" to "teach" Emily (that's not really how homeschooling works), we weren't worried about socialization (oh, when are we ever going to be done asking homeschoolers about that). We were, however, a bit concerned about Emily finding opportunities to be a leader. That is who she is. 

It's a little complicated, because Emily is a highly sensitive young lady who really doesn't like a whole lot of attention placed on her (she has not wanted a birthday party since she was five years old). But given the opportunity to demonstrate real leadership - speaking in front of a crowd, coordinating a project with her classmates, speaking to a person of authority on behalf of her peers - she's a natural. 

Even with homeschool co-op and regularly hanging out with plenty of people - as homeschoolers, when would she have the chance to regularly cultivate this part of herself, in a peer based setting? This was the one thing we felt could happen more easily in a typical school setting. But "one thing" wasn't enough reason to attend.

We weren't overly worried about how to fulfill this, but opportunities for leadership have been on our radar from day one of this homeschool journey. Because I truly believe in the limitless abundance of homeschooling (one of the top reasons we chose this path), I had faith the right opportunity would present itself. Our job was to stay active with plenty of feelers out there. In other words, I knew we had to do out part. Opportunity wasn't going to come knocking unless we were actively looking to receive it.

In October a friend contacted me about an opening on her daughter's debate team and she thought Emily would be a good fit. She wanted to recommend her to the coach if we were interested. She told us about the level of competitions they participate in, and the success (and fun!) they have in doing so. 

I should add, this is considered more than just a "debate team." It is a Debate and Public Speaking Academy, how perfect for Emily!

This could be the very thing we were looking for.

After meeting the coach (who happens to be the perfect match, energetically, for Emily), and having a trial run, Emily joined the team. 

You go through life trying not to be too prideful. Humility is good. We love that, yes? 

But sometimes as a parent you find yourself bursting with so much love, admiration, and pride - you can barely contain yourself! 

When these moments are born from incredibly hard work, preparation, dedication, and leadership... well, it feels only right to be present with it all and take in the glow of such a powerful moment. 

Emily had her very first debate competition yesterday.

Her debate team is made up of mostly homeschoolers, but also has a few kids from two private schools in the area. They compete against teams from the best schools in the region, and also some of the best in the nation. 

When Adam and I pulled onto the beautiful campus of Loomis Chaffee yesterday morning, and saw the buses for the schools she would be competing against, it kind of took our breath away. Written on the sides of these buses - ChoateRoxbury Latin SchoolAndoverKingswood Oxford, and our host for the competition, Loomis Chaffee

A quick check on any of those links and you will see these are some of the best schools in our region, some of them among the best in the country.

Wow. And here we come with my twelve year old car pushing 200,000 miles and rusting out on the bottom. 

But you know what? My girl is smart and driven and just as prepared as anyone else here... so let the games begin.

Even though we feel there are many ways to achieve an education, we do stand in awe of academic excellence and the schools that have a history of graduating truly educated and capable young adults. Being among these schools for her first competitive experience was an honor. 

And she did incredibly well!!

I'm still learning the debate vernacular, but I have deciphered that she:

  • won 2 out of 3 debates
  • scored a perfect score on one of her rebuttals
  • was "best in room" at least once during the day

What an exciting first experience filled with great minds and new friendships formed. I loved hearing stories of how the competitive barriers released during social times (brunch and dinner), as they talked about fashion, life as a boarding student, homeschooling, and other teen goodness. 


Photo by Emily

"They have wooden lockers, Mom! With brass locks and hardware! And a brass statue of Athena!"

For Adam and I, Emily's successful outcome was the icing on the cake. We were proud the moment we pulled onto campus in the morning and felt the significance of the day. We were proud as we watched her research topics and prepare her arguments. We were proud when she dug deep and worked through the nervousness of new and unknown experiences. We were proud and humbled that she had the opportunity to do something she loved, all the while standing in her place of grace.

Yesterday was quite a milestone for our family in many ways, I just wanted to share a little bit of that experience here today. Thank you.

Off the Needles (!!!)


Do you know how long I've waited to say those words? 

Well, in truth I've had a few things come off the needles over the years, but they weren't projects that went beyond rows and rows of simple garter stitch. Kind of ho-hum. (Still practical, and I do wear every one of those things.)

But you know, I'm slowly growing as a knitter these days. Forever trying to expand my skill set, I'm even casting off my own projects instead of handing them to my daughter to cast off. Turns out it's not that hard at all! 


The thing is though, projects I've got on my 'to make' list are the projects all of you (my knitty blogging friends) have already made. The very projects I've been dreaming about making for years but lacked the know how. You'll understand that my reveals are going to be a little like watching re-runs of the Brady Bunch or something. Still awesome, but nothing original. That's okay.


Remember the sampler scarf? I finished it, then promptly frogged the whole thing. I can tell I'm going to be one of those knitters that isn't afraid to rip a whole project apart, either for the sake of getting it just right or to reclaim incredible yarn that perhaps wasn't the perfect fit for a project, after all.

Such was the case with the Quince Puffin I chose for that sampler scarf. I knew this going into the project, but I just wanted to knit with something that felt amazing, regardless. As I expected, the finished scarf was just a little bit too puffy and heavy. Not being able to envision proper usage from this scarf (made of such lovely yarn), the whole thing was taken apart. I still have the photos and the experience of learning something new, but now I've also got that great yarn back too. 


A few weeks ago some of you were talking about (and knitting) the Honey Cowl - how pretty it was! Immediately I looked up the pattern and as I read through it, I thought I could manage a go at it. So I cast on... in a yarn that was entirely wrong it turned out. Clearly I'm still learning about these things. It didn't go well and my cowl looked messy and droopy and the yarn kept splitting. Not feeling the love, I did what I seem to do best - I tore it out. 

Being on a long road trip, I had planned well and packed supplies for a back-up project. So I began knitting a ribbed scarf and put the idea of a Honey Cowl on the back burner. The ribbed scarf isn't quite done yet, but it is such a pretty thing I'll be sure to share it when it is. 

After we returned home I couldn't quite get the Honey Cowl out of my mind. A trip to the local yarn store was in order... and I brought your yarn suggestions along with me! One of you mentioned Cascade 220 was your "workhorse." I felt like I needed a good workhorse after my disappointing first attempt so I was on the lookout. 


Cascade 220 was well represented at this store and a little stock up took place. As soon as I returned home, Honey Cowl number two was on the needles. This yarn worked perfectly, even though I had to go a needle size bigger (based on what I had available), and I happily knit knit knit the week away. What an easy to work with, buttery kind of yarn Cascade 220 is. I'm learning so much from you!

Edited: I just checked my notes... I did not go a needle size bigger. For some reason I thought the pattern called for size 7. Nope, size 8, just as I used. ;)

Honey Cowl is a super fun knit. The stitches are rather architectural looking as they come together, feeling three dimensional and spongy. Very cozy.

Last night I had myself a date with a few You Tube knitting videos so I could cast off independently, which happened successfully! (I figured it would have been bad parenting to wake Emily so she could cast off for me.)


Today, warm and toasty in my new cowl (thank you Emily for letting me snap a few pics), all I want to do is cast on another. But I know the ribbed scarf should be finished first. I also want to give the world of knitted hats a go, Emily did pick out a special yarn during our visit to Purl Soho that would be just perfect.

Think I'm ready for a hat...? (Gratefully accepting positive knitting mojo. xo)


I'll be sure to get on Ravelry soon so I can share project details with you. I'm actually there already, but I don't have a single thing posted yet. My profile isn't even set up. Sorry to be so boring over there, one thing at a time. 

Changed My Mind
















They asked me to take a break and go for a hike with them. I told them I was busy, in the middle of some important emails. I felt bad even as I was saying it. Forget about the after guilt that was surely coming. 

Wait a second, Heather. This is the life you've carefully worked to create. The kind of life where you can say yes to Monday afternoon hikes when the January thaw sets in and temperatures rise to 50 degrees. This is not the time for her to be staring at textbooks and you at your inbox. This is the time to be together, out there.

What are you waiting for... say yes.

So, I changed my mind. And by doing that, I changed everything about this day.

A Mug of Chai in the Morning (my new favorite thing)


There are so many reasons for me to be excited about having all new recipes in the upcoming session of Whole Food Kitchen. Topping the list, I can share some of my retired course recipes here on the blog! Don't worry, I won't flood this space, but how about just a few here and there? Goodness I've written well over a hundred recipes that have been held for course material, it will be fun (and tasty!) to share some of them here. 

A few months ago I stopped drinking coffee in the morning and replaced my lovely get the day going ritual with a mug of homemade chai instead. This new routine slipped a bit during the holidays, but over the weekend I made a huge batch of our chai concentrate to have on hand. Our family returns to work and homeschool routines this week so it will be much appreciated. I really do feel nourished from chai - and as much as I love good coffee, I can't say it ever makes me feel nourished. 

As I was preparing this batch I thought you might like the recipe too. There are so many variations out there for making chai, so let this be one more recipe for you to try out. I think the reason I love this is for its similarity to the first chai I ever drank over twenty years ago. This recipe tastes true to that steamy aromatic drink I was first introduced to. Other wonderful recipes can be found that call for yummy additions like orange zest and vanilla, but for me it's all about the traditional spices - cardamom, cinnamon, clove, peppercorn, etc... oh, yum.  


Playing with my newly gifted milk frother... Chai Latte anyone?


Homemade Chai

 serves 3-4 


  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 1 3 inch piece cinnamon bark
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger root
  • 2 bags black tea
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups milk (raw dairy or alternative)
  • 2 tablespoons honey or more to taste (maple syrup may be used)


  1. In a mortar and pestle, grind spices to crush and break open the seeds and pods.
  2. Add the spices to one cup of water in a small pan, and bring to a boil. 
  3. Turn the heat off, cover and steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the 2 teabags and bring to a boil again.
  5. Turn off heat, cover and steep for 10 minutes.
  6. Strain off the teabags and spices.
  7. Return tea to pot, add milk and honey, warm until steamy. Stirring.
  8. Serve.


Print Recipe: Homemade Chai



The recipe I'm including today reads as it was written for my workshop. Start to finish instructions for a pot (or a saucepan) of chai, milk included. If you really like it, and would like an easy way to prepare chai daily, I'd recommend making a large batch of concentrate so you can simple heat it up each morning without dragging all those spices from your pantry. Admittedly, that can be quite a production.

To Make Chai Concentrate:

Multiply the recipe several times up to the point of adding milk, but do not add the milk. Do add honey or maple syrup though. Simply strain spices and tea bags and store the sweetened liquid in a glass jar until future use. When you'd like a mug, heat 1/3 cup of concentrate and 1 cup of milk over low to moderate heat. Enjoy!

I multiply the recipe six or eight times to make a week's worth of chai for my family of three. If you love chai like I do, you might be interested in ordering bulk spices through a place like Mountain Rose Herbs (if you can't source them in bulk locally). 


There is an other-worldly experience that comes with drinking chai. The aroma, the time spent handling and gently grinding spices to awaken their natural oils, it sort of carries you away. I love that it doesn't leave me feeling acidic, anxious or agitated the way coffee can. Yet thankfully, chai still provides a warm and robust mug of something yummy to get my winter's day started. I do hope you have a chance to enjoy a mug too. 

Slowly Welcoming 2013


The start of 2013 has felt slow and tentative for me. At about 11:15 on New Year's Eve I felt a burning sensation in my eyes, an ache in my ears, and a scratchy sore throat. Just like that. Hmmm... I'm getting sick, I thought. 

Sure enough, the next morning I woke with sniffles and a heavy head. Oh what fun. Here we are on day four of this not so lovely unwelcomed guest, and I've yet to feel fully immersed in that 'new year glow'. Oh, how I love a good new year glow. 

It feels like I'm in a place of limbo, waiting for the desired energy to whip our home and fresh routines into shape, and put 2012 to rest. I love closure and I love new beginnings. (Although I don't so much care for surprise closure and new beginnings.)


{Sweet little dish from Melissa of Bridgman Pottery.}

I'm in a place of right now. I have to be. Watching my body heal and offering patience to myself, because naturally I'd like for healing to happen quickly and these things take time. Knowing that time is probably what I need most right now.

Having traveled between Christmas and New Year's Eve left me without the space between. You know the space, the timeless pause between December 25th and January 1st. Goodness there's nothing like it, is there? This year was the first year we missed that bubble of timelessness... but it seems I'm getting to sit in that space for a bit anyway. Funny how it all works out like that. 


Early in December I started looking ahead to 2013, what I might like to feel and experience in the new year. Some people make resolutions, some people choose words... for several years now I've set a theme (so to speak) for each new year. It's not much different really than choosing a word, but it feels a little broader, more of an intention that I can return to at anytime as needed. And I don't always limit it to one thing. Also, I don't think too hard about it, whatever I need to focus on seems to present itself as one year closes and another begins. My job is simply to pay attention, and to show up for the task. 


The thoughts, themes, intentions (or whatever they should be called) that came to me for 2013 are radical healing, art journaling, and inspired stewardship. Totally unplanned, they each arrived and settled into my being over the last month. I'm feeling grateful and curious as I carry them with me into 2013. 

What exactly do each of them mean? Well, in part it is obvious, but there are some subtle thoughts around each that I'll keep quietly to myself. Sometimes when you speak aloud of certain things, their true essence is impossible to put words to. 


Here's to each of us bringing ourselves fully into 2013. Let's show up for the work and the joy of it all, and may we each find continued growth on this journey. 

Home from Maine






What fun we had in such a beautiful place!

We've returned home from Maine and are happy to be settled in here for the long wintry haul. What a busy few months it's been! None of us have any desire to travel now, for who knows how long. That cup is very full and we are looking forward to dwelling in our natural homebody states, hibernating the next few months away.

We had a wonderful time in Maine. What a big state it is - compared to my own anyway. I've been going to Maine since I was a little girl, about five years old I believe. I remember those long rides in our orange and white VW Bus, the only heater being a tiny slit on the floor between the two front seats - and what a sorry little heater it was. To keep warm Mom stocked the car with Dad's old Navy-issued wool blankets; they sure were scratchy but the warmest blankets we owned so we were glad to have them. Maybe it was a slower speed limit back then, different road systems, slower cars, more rest stops than with older kids and adults... but I recall the trip taking thirteen hours back then, now we can do it in about ten. 




Visiting Grande-Memere's kitchen. My dad and his brothers own this home now, but I'll always remember Memere serving up baked beans on Saturday nights from this very stove, enjoyed at this very table. 

Parts of Maine are much closer to me, I can get to Portland in three hours and we did take a long weekend there when Emily was little. Someday I hope to explore Maine more deeply, it seems so lovely. But for now, and for all of my life, the Maine I know is all the way up, at the tip-top of Aroostook County. This is where the entire paternal side of my family is from, and where much of them still live today. A cozy town with a population of 864, it is a place where everybody knows your name (and perhaps what is in your refrigerator). 

The radio pulls in French stations from Canada, the TV plays French shows, and pretty much everyone there speaks French as well as English. French was my own father's first language. I wonder if he'll get back to using it with confidence now that he is living there full time. Who knows, maybe my Brooklyn New York raised mother will pick up a phrase or two!








Adam and Emily skied at the local hill and had a great time. What it lacked in elevation, it made up for in pristine conditions due to the steady cold temperatures, and of course the abundant, almost daily snowfall. While sitting in the lodge with Mom and Dad (I couldn't ski due to a not so pretty toe injury the night before... so graceful), we were joined by two uncles and cousins who were out snowmobiling and took a break from the trail to watch Emily's inaugural run down the mountain.


This is not the America that I am used to, that most of us are used to. There aren't many places to spend money in this remote corner of Maine, consumerism is not a sport. People stop and say hello, ask if they can lend a hand. Folks aren't gazing at their smartphones in public to the degree that can be seen where I live. I appreciated those things, and so much more. 

Everything feels slower up there, people are kind and hard working. Life isn't always easy, work can be scarce and the winters are very long. But many people who fashion a life in Northern Maine do just fine. Most people who can't seem to make it work tend to leave and seek a life in a place less isolated, with more opportunities. Nobody seems to feel they are owed anything... life is what you make of it, work hard... if that isn't enough, make a change.

(There are many varying factors in life, but this is the general feeling that I sense.) 










Today, I thought I'd share some of the pictures I took while we were there. I could go on and on with family stories and anecdotes about life in Northern Maine, but it somehow seems very precious to me and I don't think I'd do it justice by sharing anyway. 

So long, Maine. Until we meet again...


Now we are home. Today, Emily has a trip to the orthodontist, then she'll meet up with her book club. Friday night her debate team meets, but otherwise we are hanging on to our holiday break until next Monday. The beauty of homeschooling... happy and grateful to embrace it. 

I have a few reflections on the new year to share, next time... until then, I hope your new year has arrived peacefully and with ease. xo