someday stories: dad's childhood toys

for father's day this year my sisters and i went in on a gift from a company called storyworth. each monday, dad gets a new question or prompt in his email for him to answer, once he has answered and recorded the question, story worth shares it with us. this is what he shared with us about his favorite childhood toys:

my favorite toys as a child were, well, the first one was my jet prop airliner which was an airplane mounted on a console that actually looked like a pilot’s console in an airplane and you could steer it, make the lights come on, make the props turn on and off. It was just a toy that was really ahead of it’s time. my other favorite toy that i always wanted and always asked for at christmas was a road race set. i loved the tracks and the cars and the speed and the figure 8s and those types of things. the last one that was one of my favorites was my tommy gun that i begged my dad to buy for me at sears one night when we were out shopping for a lawn mower. we always played ARMY when we were kids and I was the only one who wound up with a gun that made that real rat-a-tat-tat sound. so instead of having to use my hands for guns i got to use my tommy gun.

 

nonsense: heartbeats + sunshine

  nauset beach, cape cod, 2017

nauset beach, cape cod, 2017

sometimes, if you aren't careful, life feels like the most commonplace thing. just what it is, nothing special. nothing out of the ordinary. a lot of it a burden. a lot of it hard. a lot of things not going the way you thought they would.

on memorial day weekend, my mother in law, my wife, and i were driving on the cape when we passed a campground. now this was not a spectacularly outstanding weekend weather-wise. it was cold, it was a little rainy, definitely cloudy. my mother in law said, "that campground is full!? who would want to camp on a day like this? it's cold. the ground is wet. ugh." and without putting my words through any kind of filter i said, "it's the perfect morning for a campfire." and then she surprised me. she laughed and said, "b. you are sunshine." that is all. i'm sunshine. i felt like a proud kindergartener that ate all her lunch at school that day. once my internal kindergartner subsided a bit i thought, but am i really sunshine? do i make the most out of every situation? do i always tend toward the bright side? the answer is no, i do not. i feel sorry for myself a lot. that my mom and my sisters were fertile myrtles and it isn't going so well for me. that i didn't get considered for that job that i really wanted. that we don't have our own home. that my photography business has sucked since i started it. that my back hurts. blah blah blah. 

today i went to acupuncture for my myriad of health problems and even though i'm not scared of needles, i get a little nervous each time before she puts them in because sometimes they hurt. and if you move your body, like at all, after she puts them in it sends a searing pain from the point of the needle. at least for me. she always says before she leaves the room, "your only job is to let the needles do their work," like they are little soldiers fixing up all my bad parts. so i try and practice what i learned from fez in my meditation class a few years ago, and i fill myself up with light and let it shine out the top of my head and i try and slow my heartbeat down. i listen and feel it thump against my chest and i say in my head, slow, slow, slow and it turns from a caged bird to a deep rhythm with pauses between the beats. it made me think, when was the last time that i listened to my heartbeat? when was the last time i thought, geez, i AM sunshine!? so maybe i'm not so perfect at finding the gratitude for simply being allowed to live every single day. but there are times, to be sure, where i feel like the very best of myself in just a moment. i want more of those times. more moments where i am just plain grateful that i can feel my heart beat, that i am sunshine.

easter basket stuffers for grown ups

there are so many beautiful objects out there that i would love to see pop up in my own easter basket, that i couldn't resist throwing together a little inspiration for the grown ups. i don't have many men to buy for in my life, and especially to create an easter basket for, so i'm afraid this is pretty much all for the ladies! xo

one: a set of springy dinner napkins

two: a card to write a sweet love note in

three: some spring time scents to boost your mood

four: these beautiful beeswax candles...who says you can't have candles on an easter cake!?

five: a vintage brass bunny to start a collection (so many good ones on etsy!)

six: a set of instagram prints that you can hold in real life

seven: everybody's favorite easter candy! 

eight: a pretty coffee table book about eggs (to share with all your young friends)

nine: sel de rose for your spring veggies

ten: this is a splurge, but a farmhouse pottery beehive crock

eleven: a french market basket to put it all in!

twelve: a pair of spring-hued, suede vans (my favorite)

easter basket stuffers for kids

ever since i left oregon nearly 8 years ago, i've missed out on things like easter and birthdays with my niece and nephews. i make sure to send them birthday gifts every year, but easter always sort of sneaks up on me, along with valentine's day, and other little holidays. this year i'm sure to spend easter with my newest nephew (on my wife's side), and we can't wait to throw together a tiny basket for him. here, a few items that caught my eye, a mix for young and old-ish. enjoy! xo

 

one: a tiny dustpan and broom, for helping with spring cleaning

two: jelly beans, because every easter basket needs them!

three: these sweet wooden buses and cars in the perfect spring hues

four: a classic tale

five: a book about eggs, accompanied by the most beautiful illustrations (also look for the nest, butterfly, and seed editions!)

six: possibly the sweetest bunny i've ever seen, and it rattles

seven: seeds bombs, need i say more?

eight: a perfect sunny day, weekend activity

nine: a chocolate spring bumper crop

ten: linden wood eggs for sorting and hiding

eleven: a jump rope, for a little spring in your little one's step

hello, spring

i'll tell anyone who will listen that i was born in spring. of course these new englanders never believe me because we usually have at least a few inches of snow still on the ground by the time my birthday rolls around. when i grew up in oregon, the spring rain made everything a bright green by the end of march. the hyacinths, tulips, and daffys were popping up from the ground and those soggy, partly sunny days always felt precisely as if they were made just for me. i miss them. sometimes i think about how i'll never have a spring-like birthday again. how i'll always be celebrating among the end of winter bits, brown and bare, with dirty mounds of snow piled on every corner. but it is kind of sweet that i get to welcome spring with a new year of life...i'll just have to close my eyes and pretend i'm breathing in the scent of wet, mossy earth. welcome to another year, spring. xo

sweet + easy valentines

one of the things i love most about being a teacher is having a reason to create valentines every year. this year i found ice cream and popsicle erasers and fancied them up a bit with a cheeky saying. to create them i painted a simple, sprinkle background, scanned it into photoshop and created a template. after printing, i popped the erasers into a tiny cellophane bag and taped to the card.

caturday 04

hobbes is the snuggliest cat i've ever met. sometimes we wait too long to finish dinner and he will come downstairs to get us. and then he'll hop into bed or onto the couch for a pet and snuggle in for the night. he's the best company. 

caturday 03

hobbes likes to get on my desk when i'm sleeping or i'm not around and chew on my plants and make tooth holes in them. i can't stand it. sometimes i walk in and he's sitting there perfectly perched saying, "oh, hi. i'm just trying to bird watch in my sunspot for a bit. don't mind me. and by the way, i haven't touched your plants." [insert winky cat emoji here] but i mean, look at how handsome he is!

simple advent garland

nothing pleases me more than dreaming up easy little projects to decorate for holidays. i love the christmas season and having visual reminders + counting down to the big day is just the most fun. we don't have children in our home, so i just picked up some little chocolates for us to have after dinner each night. in previous years i have put little slips of paper in for each day that have a christmas activity for the family to partake in. here are some ideas:

- walk/drive around the neighborhood and look at christmas lights

-go out for/make hot chocolate with marshmallows

-watch your favorite christmas movie (our favorites are: miracle on 34th street (the original), white christmas, the family stone, all i want for christmas, and a charlie brown christmas)

-put on james taylor at christmas and decorate the tree

-drink eggnog by the fire

for kids:

-cut paper snowflakes and hang them in the windows

-make snowglobes

-read christmas books (our favorites from childhood: peter spier's christmas, angelina's christmas, the night before christmas, 

glassine bags + clothespins + black twine + thyme

caturday 02

we used to take so many pictures of hobbes, but now i can hardly find any on my camera roll. i think this maybe has something to do with the fact that once cats get big...they don't change much after that. also, every one feels like their cat is so special and unique and does things that no other cat does...but i know (even if i refuse to believe it sometimes) that all cats are pretty much the same as far as habits and routines. sometimes it hits me that one day (hopefully far far far from now) hobbes won't be with us any more and it makes me want to photograph him all day and it also makes me want to sob endlessly into his good smelling fur.

hobbes likes to roll on his back when he gets hot, or if he's starting to feel frisky and no one is paying him quite enough attention. but he doesn't actually like belly rubs all that much so i find this slightly confusing...

a fall vignette

i know that generally speaking everyone's life is a strong mix of chaos and schedules that are busting at the seams. i think this is fairly equitable among those of us with or without children. i hold strongly to the idea that the type of busy changes once you have kids, not that the busy increases. you know, time and priority shift...all of that. anyway, my current form of busy includes but is not limited to, work, school, looming licensure test deadlines, and the figuring out of life (as with everyone). i'm trying to use this space to be intentional about things that make my heart feel light and my mind feel thoughtful and present.

i've always liked about myself that i am able to see beauty in very minute and un-important seeming details. the slow, drifting descent of a leaf on a fall day, the way steam swirls around in chilly air, that gradient of blue across deep ocean water. so it was with a packed schedule, a touch of procrastination (yep, mostly this), and a priority to give my heart peace that i collected a couple of fall treasures from around the house and created a small + simple vignette. 

i've spent a long time trying to urge myself out of procrastination. but the thing is, i'm good at it. and i don't mean that i'm good at putting things off (though i am!), i mean i'm good at getting things accomplished in a short amount of time. sometimes i wonder if my work would be of better quality if i didn't fall into the trap of procrastination every time i had a deadline, but i can't say for sure as i've never done something before it was almost too late. i can't decide if i should work on this quality, or just embrace it. 

 

 

caturday 01

we call hobbes our halloween cat. he loves people, so every halloween, he sits on the stairs by the front door and waits for trick-or-treaters. when they ring the doorbell he gets spooked and bolts up the stairs, but he quickly comes back down to see their costumes.

for the past couple of years i've wanted to dress hobbes as a taco for halloween, but each year i can't bring myself to spend $20 on a taco costume that he might wear for two seconds before wreaking havoc on the carpet in order for us to remove the costume. but mostly i don't buy the taco costume because lauren poo-poos it every time we go into the pet store to buy him food. a couple of years ago we bought him a halloween collar that jingles when he wanders through the house. it has skulls and bats on it, and i don't particularly like it, but it does the halloween job. my mother-in-law tells us each year, "he's already wearing his costume, he's a black cat!" which i guess is technically true. i don't know, i'm still holding out for the taco.

p.s. lauren always carves the elaborate patterns from the pumpkin carving kit, and i always free hand some simple version of a cat. it's tradition. 

best cake. ever.

i found this cake recipe around my birthday this year and i've made it three times since. it is the most beautifully humble cake. it has few ingredients, and as long as you buy a jar of vanilla bean paste, you'll likely always have the ingredients on hand. it is a dream to whip up because it requires slow folds of the batter to keep the air in it. this process allows for your soul to slow to the rhythm of your heart. fold, thump, fold, thump. it is especially effective if you're playing van morrison while the oven heats and the sugary, melted butter scent lovingly mingles together. this cake just feels right. i truly think it has the power to turn any day around. i picture it as sunday cake in mine and lauren's first home. i picture it on cozy winter nights with the snow piled high outside. i picture it with berry compote and whipped cream on a warm july night. and i picture it with our future babies candles stuck in it. i just know i'll have the recipe in my box for years to come. recipe is from 600 Acres. and i am so thankful that this brilliant woman created a lasting, heart warming recipe for me.

film + nonsense

i'm really too busy to be blogging. i'll just start with that. between work, school, editing sessions, planning a wedding, and christmas crafts i can't let go, blogging is the last thing i should be doing. i was in my literacy class last night, barely keeping it together at 9pm, when my professor started rambling about how writing helps us process what is in our head and how when we write, it makes us feel better. "it just does," she said. she's right, of course, and i do far too little writing. so maybe that little sentiment snuck it's way through my fingers and out onto the trackpad of my computer which led me here. this is all nonsense.

really i just wanted to dump some of my film into a post so i could see all the good ones together instead of having to read between the bad ones. when i got this film back the person who processed it in alabama (or wherever it is i ship my precious, very expensive film off to be processed) attached a comment that said, "does your camera have a light meter? if it doesn't you should think about buying one. a lot of these are underexposed which is a shame because you have a great eye. " it stung, kinda, but mostly i laughed because i was caught. i was caught not being brave. i was caught using my camera in auto setting because it has been too long since i manually exposed for film and i thought i couldn't remember how to do it and blah blah blah. i was being a chicken. and i was caught being a chicken by some guy in alabama who doesn't know, or probably care, who i am or why i shoot film. and just in case he thought i wouldn't see it in my film scans, he made sure to tell me how underexposed most of my photos were. ha! but now i know. lesson learned. trust yourself and be brave because you probably know how to do it. whatever that 'it' is. more nonsense. :)

maine, san francisco, cape cod, in no particular order

 


yourself

"It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up and silent with chests rising and falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care inside your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself."

momofuku birthday cake

so. a few weeks before my birthday i was trying to decide which type of cake to bake. i don't always bake my own birthday cakes, but baking is something i take deep, soul-humming pleasure in. so for my 30th i decided that yes, i would bake my own cake. as a gift to myself.

originally i was going to go with a carrot cake because it was my staple birthday cake growing up. my momma made the best carrot cake. she used to dye coconut green and use cadbury mini eggs or robin eggs for the top. once, i remember, when i was maybe 5 or 6 she made little cupcake easter baskets for my school party. i can picture clearly climbing up onto our white with brown grout tiled counter top and watching as she sprinkled the bits of coconut, carefully placed three eggs, and put a pipe cleaner on from one side to the other. she looks like me, in my memory, concentrating hard to make it just perfect. but no, i decided not carrot cake. mainly because mom's is the only carrot cake i want to remember. 

after i ruled out carrot cake i did what any one would do. i turned to the internet. i went to bon appetite's website and typed in the search bar "best birthday cake." because obviously i want the best, not just regular birthday cake. and then the heavens parted and i was led to this cake. the momofuku milk bar birthday cake. and then i watched the video and i knew i no longer needed to search.

i didn't have a large enough sheet pan for this cake, but i guess i also didn't have 6 inch cake pans either so never mind. i actually just wanted crusty edges. the way christina tosi makes her cake of course looks like unkempt cake perfection, but i knew mine wouldn't come out like that. and i had a different vision anyway. what you see above was not actually my vision, but i'm giving myself a pass as this was my first attempt at a "naked cake," or half naked...whatever it turned out as. don't worry, i'm not fooled. there is for sure room for improvement. a lot of it. 

so let me tell you about this cake. there are a lot of components to it. the cake, the crumbs, the frosting, the soak. but they're all really easy and surprisingly quick. it would be crazy for me to write it all out here, so if you're intrigued then definitely go watch the video. my favorite, genius part about this cake is the cake soak. genius! why didn't i think of that!? each layer gets a nice little bath in whole milk and vanilla extract and lemme tell you...that cake was the definition of moist. it. was. so. good. the downside to my long, drawn out cake story is that i always forget that i don't actually like cake that much. if i had to choose between baking a cake and eating it, hands down i would choose baking it. every time. which kind of works out perfectly for everyone.