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Time Beside Healing Waters

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One thing that is great about being in your early forties is that you really don't feel the need to seek permission or approval anymore. Four decades in the same skin has a way of settling you into being rather than needing. It's kind of glorious. No longer do I feel the need to explain or justify sitting at the lake for two hours instead of using every waking hour to produce something in the name of work and responsibility. My time at the lake, usually spent with a book or knitting needles in hand, is a small window of time that I've claimed for myself once or twice a week while Emily is at classes. It is my blood pressure medicine and my anti-depressant. It restores and nourishes the part of me that comes alive in silence and solitude. Ideas are born here and deep peace is found. 

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Ben Hewitt's forthcoming book, The Nourishing Homestead, will be released in March of 2015. I'm currently devouring this review copy and can't wait to tell you all about as publication draws closer. You are going to love this one!


When I was a younger mom I'd pack so much into solo windows of time - grocery shopping, post office, dry cleaners, dentist appointments - but now? My car seems to point itself in the direction of this lake and drives here without much concern for all that I "should" be doing. At age 42, I have seen the light and it does not shine on my to do list or the appointments I should keep. It shines over these still waters, softening the edges of my day and fortifying my spirit in ways that the grocery store cannot. And we haven't gone hungry yet, so the groceries must be finding their way into our home at other times. Funny how it always seems to work out that way. 

It's true what they say about middle age - you begin to look your own mortality in the eye for perhaps the first time. I know, I know... 40 is the new 30... 50 is the new 40... but I don't really buy all that. I mean, I am 42 right now, if I died at 84 there is not one person that would feel agasp - that I "died too young." Actually, people would honor a long life lived, and it would be. More than ever, middle age has taught me the importance of the mantra, if not now, when?

This is the life I have been waiting for. I've let go of the guilt for creating a life that is quiet, nourishing, and peaceful. It helps to embrace the truth that our world benefits when people live life in this way... quiet, nourishing, and peaceful. Dharma.

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Years ago, a friend once shared with me that $5,000 of therapy taught her such and such about herself. Honestly, I don't remember what that lesson was, but I do remember that it seemed valid because $5,000 worth of therapy told her so. As a culture, we have permission to utilize psychotherapy or prescription drugs, both of which have their place, but what if our wellness routine consists of an extra hour or two of sleep, an afternoon of juicy yoga, food grown without the use of chemicals and genetically modified organisms... or time spent at the lake? Middle age has given me permission to honor these gentler, preventative healing modalities. I've always practiced the path of least resistance, but at this point in my life I no longer carry the guilt associated with taking the time for personal nourishment. I've not once regretted a morning spent at the lake, and hope to always have the wisdom to spend time beside healing waters.

Useful and Beautiful

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“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

- William Morris


I know these words well, I bet you do too. They've served as a guide for many years - a mantra to help navigate my place in a consumer world. But lately these words have interrupted my process on more than one occasion. You see, several months ago we decided to embark on a slow and steady downsizing project. As it turns out, I have many useful and beautiful things in my life. Too many. At this point, keeping only that which is useful and beautiful is not the answer. Keeping just enough to support a home centered life of productivity and creativity is a tricky balance. I mean, I do use all 200 plus canning jars, my food dehydrator, the fermenting crocks, my carefully collected fabric stash, the precious healing goods in our apothecary closet... and while I can't speak for Adam, he seems to always have just the right tool for the job. Around here, the tools for living are many and they require a certain amount of real estate.The goal is not to reduce our goods so that we may live in a tiny house, the goal is to have just enough for the hands on, simple life that we currently live.

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But... it's everything else that I've got my downsizing eye on. Many things that remain from my time selling vintage on Etsy - the beautiful china set from the 1930s, the vintage duvet covers and yo-yo quilt... the pyrex that seems to multiply around here... the spools of antique thread that are cute but the strength has deteriorated and will never be something I put to practical use... the list goes on. When I look at the overall list (or piles, more accurately), I can't deny there is monetary value to it. Money that could translate to a semester of debate classes for Emily, or perhaps a semester of piano lessons. Perhaps it could even pay for that intersession college class she'd like to take. 


More than anything I'd love to just part peacefully with these goods and simply donate them. But there is a part of me, the "be a good steward" part, that recognizes I have responsibilities as a parent and adult. I need to honor that which I've earned, invested in, or been given and find a way to channel these resources into future projects. I need to do the right thing here, not the easy thing. Donating is good... but setting myself up with a new set of tires this winter is also good. 


So I've opened a little booth at a vintage resale shop in my community. It's just a few shelves really, but is a place for me to offer up some lovely items that have mostly been in storage since we moved to this house. I probably have enough inventory to carry my booth for a few months, with weekly restocking. Donating these things would swiftly answer our desire to downsize and free up space, but I could also roll up my sleeves and dig into the work of sorting, cleaning, tagging, transporting and displaying items that remain from my time selling vintage on  Etsy.

The healing properties of clear space are powerful, for sure. I'm glad we're finally sending these things off to new homes, hopefully they will bring great beauty and usefulness to their new owners. As for me? I'm breathing easier already.

It's Never too Late for New Traditions

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Knitting Cranford Mitts (making them extra long).

I'd like to take a quick moment to thank you for such a generous, kind, and supportive response to my last post. It's nice to know you understand where I'm coming from. My point in sharing those thoughts was not to declare a particular style of blogging bad or wrong, it was simply to share that my blog will not be going in the new style direction. It was probably one of those subjects that could have gone unsaid, but for me it was sort of an elephant in the room as I watch blogs all around me become polished and professional. Given that I do "work" through this blog in a broad sense, and many people who do the same are upgrading to the new style, I felt like acknowledging that I'm not missing the memo. Taking my blog to the "next level," just doesn't appeal to me. It's really that simple, I don't have a particularly grand philosophy on the subject, it's just not for me. 

What does appeal to me, however, is people earning their living (on whatever scale they would like) in a way that is on their own terms, free of geographic dependence, doing something they truly love and believe in. I'm actually downright passionate about that, I hope I didn't give the impression otherwise. I realize words can be interpreted in a few different ways so to clarify, my point is not that I'm against the existence of a certain style of blogging, but rather that I don't care for it as a reader and therefore won't adopt it as a writer. It's a personal thing. I also don't care for mini-blinds but I'm pretty sure that's a billion dollar industry so what do I know. 

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Our last beets of the year.

In other events, I'm beginning to doubt my decision to turn our chickens out into the garden these last couple of months. For two years now we've worked pretty hard on establishing semi-raised beds of healthy, rich soil. These beds have years to go before they are truly fertile and optimal, but we are on our way. Our beds do not have wooden frames around them, they are simply long mounds of dirt and compost. The slight rise of our beds is of course helpful for drainage, but almost more importantly it defines the planting area. Raised beds serve as a reminder to "keep off the grass." Our human steps can do quite a number on gardens beds, compacting soil in a damaging way that can take years to recover from. Most experienced vegetable growers feel that garden beds are not for walking on, pathways are for walking on. Differentiating the two is a good idea. But, we forgot about all that chickens are capable of and turned them out in the garden at the end of summer. And wouldn't you know it, they have completely destroyed all evidence of our raised beds (except the one section they are not allowed into... my garlic and dark greens are in there). What was I thinking!? Yes they are scratching, yes the are fertilizing, but they've also exposed the root system of our entire raspberry patch (we fixed that yesterday - raked the soil back up, added mulch, fenced it off), and the entire garden shows no trace of our beautiful, carefully crafted raised beds. I really loved those raised beds! We are back to square one it seems. 

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Elving... can only share a tiny glimpse.

It's the time of year when my hands seem to be constantly busy with holiday preparations. I might love the two months leading up to the holidays more than the holidays themselves. Maybe. I'm looking forward to our second annual intentional solstice celebration. We've always acknowledged and appreciated this day - in fact, it is my husband's favorite day on the calendar. But given that neither of us grew up with a family tradition involving solstice, and it not feeling separate enough from regular world activities (the work day carries on), it had trouble finding its celebratory place in our holiday calendar. Until last year! 


From last Solstice Eve.

Last year I noticed that solstice arrived on the weekend, with Solstice Eve on Friday night. There were certain ideas that felt best suited for an evening celebration - bonfire, exchange of handmade gifts, a special meal, candlelight, reading of wintry stories, etc. And certain things that felt best suited for Solstice Day on Saturday - making treats for the birds and hanging them from trees, a daytime outdoor fire, a winter hike, soaking up the sun. We consciously chose to begin building our traditions last year, knowing that for three subsequent years some element of solstice would fall on the weekend - be it the eve of, or the actual day.  Plenty of time to establish this long desired part of our holiday season without the interruption of a workday. If this seems forced or deliberate, it is the opposite, indeed . Actually, it's been missing from our lives for years and finally including this holiday feels like coming home. It's never too late for new traditions.

Simple and Authentic


About two years ago I began to feel the name of this blog didn't quite fit me anymore. No reason in particular, I wasn't looking for a change, I just felt it. I searched for a new name, scratching titles and various word combinations onto countless scraps of paper. Nothing had staying power. Eventually, a new name found me in the pages of a book I was reading. Words within a sentence, just like the name of this blog is words within one line of a song. These new words moved into my heart without invitation, claiming their place. Words that capture this current and near future chapter of my life. Words that I have sat with for months and months to see if they would leave me. They haven't. This winter I'll share them with you. It's not quite time yet. But soon - a new name, a new chapter.

I'm creating a new blog home and I hope to move in after the new year. I'm not sure yet if it will be a few weeks into the new year or a few months. I can't predict for sure. Nothing fancy, just a new place to hang my hat (and all my archives). Change is slowly brewing for my family and I'd like to create a new web home that reflects and captures our new place in life. In less than two years Emily will be done with high school. She may move away for college, she may stick close to home. And that's the kicker! We don't own this particular house so we're not exactly sure where home will be. But, we are in the beginning stages of preparing for this change, which basically just involves cleaning out and letting go of items that we can live without (hence my #operationdownsize posts on Instagram).

So, a new blog home and at some point probably a new physical home. Both places I'd like to keep real simple. 

Blogs have changed so much over the last couple of years. They've become quite sophisticated and purposeful. Two things I'm not so sure I excel at. That's not true. I connect deeply to femininity, which can feel sophisticated; and I try to greet each day with purpose. But it needs to feel easy and genuine. Sometimes I think that my old school style blog is passé. I don't have pop-up windows that try and capture your email address when you visit. I don't have fancy ads embedded within my posts, assaulting the flow of a perfectly good blog. It's what the experts say we should be doing these days, as bloggers. But they are the very things that turn me off when I visit another blog so experts be damned, it isn't going to happen here. 

I'm also supposed to be really good at writing newsletters and I'm not. I send one out (to the good folks that somehow find the sign-up on my sidebar) as a new workshop is about to launch. And I always feel wicked guilty for doing so. I can't even bring myself to automatically email said newsletter to people who have previously taken my workshops. They have to manually sign up themselves. Crazy right? Marie Forleo would give me a talking to for sure.

Incidentally, I attended Marie's B-School last year and it was amazing. An absolute world class program that I'm not sure I'll ever fully complete (it is a serious amount of work - NO fluff - excellent content). The average student takes a few years to go through it all and I cannot imagine my experience will be any different. If I had a dollar for every person in class who said they had an MBA and Marie's program far exceeds anything they learned in business school... yeah, it's that good. BUT, you have to do the work, it doesn't do itself. 

My accountant told me (and my near zero overhead business) that I need a write off or two. We do IRAs and a couple other things, but he said I needed something else. So I signed up for B-School. I might have been the black sheep in the B-School family though because I realized early on that I'm already happy with my work and the way I put it out into the world. I'm proud that my programs are very reasonably priced (even if I don't like handing over 33% [!!!] of your enrollment fee to the government). I don't want a flashy website that captures your data so I can build my "list." I don't have a virtual assistant, not because I couldn't use the help but because I couldn't even begin to tell them what I need. Mary Oliver's words, "mend my life" come to mind - inspired by the relentless scattered thoughts and new ideas that plague a creative person's headspace. Perhaps if I do hire an assistant someday that will be in the job description. Heck, that IS the job description. It was unexpected to attend B-School and learn early on, through the super intense process of several assignments, that I'm doing all right! I'm happy with my work flow and the number of people that attend my workshops. Maybe things can always be bigger, better, more wonderful... but they can also feel perfectly content as is. 

A few years back when I created my first online workshop, I knew of only two other people teaching them - neither of which were nutrition related. Now, the choices are endless and that is totally okay. Abundance is good. When I began developing workshops I never saw them as a "class" or an "ecourse." My background as a yoga teacher only knew "workshops" - experiences designed around a particular theme that encourage, support, entertain, inspire, and validate. Not unlike a day at the museum, an evening at the theatre, a great concert, or dinner out with friends. One rich experience along life's incredibly diverse journey. 

All of this to say that I'll always keep it low key - whether it be blogging, leading workshops, or creating my home. Beautiful, high quality content is important to me, but those things suffer if in their polished glory they sacrifice simplicity and authenticity. Now that I think about it, maybe that is what my imaginary virtual assistant can tell me every day... "Keep it simple and authentic, Heather. That's really the heart of it all."

This Week In My Kitchen

Capturing my love of whole foods, combined with the activity of a bustling kitchen.

A weekly collection of photos from the center of my home. 

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Good morning! Somehow I have only one photo this week which is interesting because over the last couple of weeks I've felt like this series was winding down. There are some busy, exciting times coming up for my work and my family that require all the presence I can muster. Of course, taking a few photos throughout each week and posting them with a paragraph or two is not hard word, but it's the (self-inflicted) obligation that consumes me. Add to that, Thursday morning is our busiest of the week and I've scrambled on more occasions than I care to admit just to get my post up. So, I did a brief evaluation on what I might be able to let go of to make room for more journal style blogging as well as two upcoming workshops and all that my family needs from me at this time. This weekly check-in was one place to cut back.

There are so many things happening in the one photo I have from the week. Snickerdoodles, lentil stew, and homemade marinara are all in the works here. What better way to spend a rainy Saturday? 

Anyway, thank you for joining me over the last few months! I'll still be sharing plenty of photos from my kitchen, but within the context of everyday blog writing. 

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Each day I find myself snapping a picture or two in the kitchen - a pile of ingredients, a table waiting for us to gather around, a sink full of soapy dishes, a cup of tea, dinner as it comes out of the oven - simple, everyday moments in the kitchen. These photos serve as a reminder of days gone by and as encouragement to carry on in this busy kitchen of ours when inspiration is lacking.

Every Thursday morning I'll post my photos from the week, words or recipes optional. Just glimpses into my kitchen and you're invited to do the same!


It's simple to join in:

  • On your blog, post photos taken in your kitchen throughout the week.
  • Words aren't necessary, your photos will tell the the story. Some of us enjoy adding a few thoughts to accompany the images... the choice is yours. 
  • Feel free to grab the brief description at the top of this post, or add a few words of your own to explain the project.)
  • Link back to this post so your readers can visit This Week In My Kitchen and join in. 
  • Come back here and link up your current post (not your main blog) so we can all visit your kitchen!
  • Join me every Thursday or the occasional Thursday if that works better for you.
  • Please be sure to only link up if you are participating in this series. Thank you!


I look forward to visiting your kitchens!



I can't remember the last time it rained on Halloween. Thankfully, about 20 children made their way up our long driveway for treats and the costumes this year were great! We didn't see any of the characters from Frozen, as predicted, but the stand outs were definitely two ghost busters in their homemade ghost fighting gear. Our street has a couple of really big hills, the driveways are moderate to long in length, and the houses themselves all have a fair amount of space between them. In other words, not an ideal trick or treating neighborhood. Some parents have taken to throwing hay bales in the back of a trailer and carting the kiddos around using the car or lawn tractor. Our road is a dead end so it's a relatively safe idea, and there's something kind of quaint about it. Though not nearly as quaint as the father who lights luminaries up and down our entire street on Christmas Eve... "because his daughter was afraid Santa wouldn't find his way to their house, so he creates a lit path to reassure her." A lot of things could be said about whether that is a good thing or a bad thing to do, but I prefer to leave those thoughts to other people. The luminaries are beautiful, the sentiment is sweet, and with my own daughter's birthday on Christmas Eve it has become tradition to end her special day by enjoying the warm, glowy candles lining both sides of our road.

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Saturday was rainy and filled with soup and tea. Emily and her friend took Scout for a long walk in the woods, all decked out in rain gear and rubber boots. Of course, Scout had no problem with the rain and in fact he thought it was the perfect weather, somehow managing to keep one of us humans outside with him for nearly the entire day. Once inside, we played Blokus and watched movies. We made snickerdoodles and I worked on my current sweater that I'm convinced is never ending. Early in the day I took our remaining tomatoes from the freezer and made a big pot of sauce to top roasted spaghetti squash for dinner. Friends came over in the evening and we set our clocks back before bed. Sunday morning brought daylight! It's been so dark until 7am so the early light was appreciated. The wind yesterday was relentless. We chose to stack wood as it was the one outdoor job on our list that didn't involve being under trees. High winds and working among the trees is never a good idea. 

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Today I'm creating a list of work and home tasks that need to happen this week. Registration for two winter workshops will be opening soon, we've got at least one more Vermont visit planned, and my parents are coming down for hunting season and Thanksgiving.

I'm so glad to see November is here. With only the garlic left to plant and some beets to bring in, I'm ready to turn my attention to Whole Food Kitchen and Hibernate, as well as my sewing machine and knitting needles. I feel like I've been crafting so much the last few months yet due to the gifty nature of it all have not been sharing here. I suppose that's what January is for!

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This entire post sure is rambling so I think I'll stop here. I woke up this morning with nothing in particular to write about, but still had the desire to do so. Ramblings it is, then.

Mondays and November... two of my favorite things. I just had to stop in and say hello!