Wednesday, December 31, 2014


2014 has been an incredible year. One where I've learned and grown and braved new ventures and explored. It's a year that I've bottled up goodness and happy and stockpiled them right here for all to see. I've lightly let go of people and relationships that needed to be loosed, and come to terms with that being a necessary part of life. I've realized that I will always be aspiring to more, but that I'm good with who I am and where I am. I've fallen into a beautiful place of peace, a place, where I know what is most important and what I really desire in my heart of hearts, and I see that I have it already, and that makes life pretty sweet.

I'm not big on resolutions as I never keep them, so all I will really say is that I hope to continue learning and doing. That I take the lessons and happiness I found this year and carry it over. That I fight to stay present and calm for these beautiful little wilds I have in my charge, and I selfishly hope theres more travel in the coming year. Traveling as a crew as crazy as it can be, is a big dream of mine. We've got to do more this past year then ever before, and I so wish the trend carries on.

I want to thank you readers for coming here, for your kind comments,and thoughtful emails. You have been such an intregal part of the goodness this year has brought me, and I'm so grateful to you. I hope 2015 is a year filled with excitement and adventure for all of us. Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Day- Part 1

I had visions of what christmas day would be like dancing around in my head. Daydreams of the six of us snuggled up cozily reading book after book, legs and arms weaved together and a mess of blankets all jumbled on the couch as we watched christmas classics on the small screen, all intermixed with snacks, treats and delicious warm drinks.

It was nothing like that.

I have lovingly taken to call my brood- the wilds, because- well, that is who they are. There's a lot of them and they rare to never sit still, and quiet they are not! So, I'm not really sure who's family I was picturing in my head, but it certainly was not mine.

That being said- it was hands down the best Christmas I have ever had! Better than I could have planned and dreamier than the ones I imagined. We adventured, we were active, we played, we imagined, we created- we enjoyed.

It was a tradition in my childhood home to make Christmas last all day. We would start with stockings, have some breakfast, open a couple presents (one at a time), go play together, open a few more and so on and so forth, til you opened your final present right before bed. For me, this is the way it should always be done, and how we have continued operating in my own home.

The wilds woke up and we dove right into stockings, examining each piece, taking the time to check out each others riches, before finally moving on to our breakfast feast. For the next round- we brought out their big gifts- a kitchen for Aussie, a dirt bike for Zain, and a pocketknife for Isaac. Each child was so genuinely ecstatic about their gifts. I can't even describe how much fun it was, just sheer happiness all around.

We spent the next few hours with lessons in knife wielding and biker safety, and plenty of time spent in the little kitchen dreaming up all kinds of deliciousness. 

Kaleb and I could not get over how well Zain did- he was so wildly brave! On his first attempt, his legs were shaking and his eyes wide, completely quiet he climbed on, his time had come to put Daddys instructions into practice. I have to tell you, I was so nervous. I've not been around dirt bikes and hardly know how to even ride a bicycle, so this is quite new to me. My heart was pounding and I had a huge knot in my tummy as he revved the engine and took off. The kid, was amazing, such a natural. The rest of us were so excited- running around behind him, cheering him on, excitement thick in the air- it was a moment. . . an incredible one.

After he had had a few go's, he hopped off and came to stand next to me. Helmet and goggles still in place, and with a gloved hand he held mine- staring straight ahead at his bike, he said "this is the best gift I've ever got," and like the sap I am, I started balling. Tear after tear dripping down my face as the impact of what an incredible day it had been and what a beautiful life we have, hit me. Sweet little kiddo, he had no idea what was going on, which then just got me giggling.

After a quick look at the time, we realized it was going on four o'clock and we still hadn't taken our annual christmas hike, or ventured inside to open another gift. There was still so much goodness left to come, but I'll tell you all about that tomorrow!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sojourn Thru a Concrete Jungle

Kaleb and I are taking our crew to Chicago for a little post holiday adventure!! Yay- I am so excited! This will be our first time ever really exploring a city with kiddos, which means it's been a long time for the both of us too. 

It seems the teensiest bit scary with a bundle of small children in tow, there is so much unknown. Which, if you take away the daunting aspect of it all, is really quite thrilling.

In my head I've always thought I would be best suited for city life, but in reality, farm life is probably much more my pace. Still, this will be a perfect opportunity for a small sampling. 

We have plans to explore museums, ice-skate, sight see, and eat! I'm probably most excited about the food, but it all sounds quite dreamy.

If you have any recommendations for places to go and see or do or any ideas for traveling in a city with a gaggle of littles, send them my way!

Until then, hope your prepping and planning and holiday festivities were everything one could hope!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

a holiday wish

So, yeah- this is my third year running to not get a Christmas card out- ridiculous. Do you know how tricky it can be to get a picture with all six of us- trust me, it is a feat. I quickly had my sister-in -law snap this before our family get together last weekend, and well, it's the best we got.

Anyhow, I'm so excited that it's all finally begun, whilst the tiniest bit heartbroken that it will be over soon also. It's such an incredible season- filled with so much sweetness.

I hope you enjoy the days ahead spent with friends, family and loved ones. Thank you so much for stopping here and reading my space day after day, it has meant the world. Merry Christmas and happy everything!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Vittles

These last couple weeks have been filled with late nights, bustling bodies, holiday secrets, happy surprises and lots and lots of baking.

I am by no means a natural in the kitchen, but I am adventurous and nothing quite says Christmas like all the goodies that go along with it. 

The scents of cinnamon wafting thru the home, flour dusted all over chubby hands and a mound of dishes that will take hours to complete. Surprisingly it all goes hand in hand in making this the most coziest of times.

This year will be our first to ever spend Christmas day just the six of us. It's exciting, but also quite daunting. I've spent many an hour searching, debating and agonizing over our Christmas menu. 

Finally, Kaleb and I decided on "hand food" for Christmas dinner. One of our wilds favorite things about the beach is that they get to eat "hand food" as they call it, every night. Shrimp, Mussels, Clams- food that requires no silverware, has some work involved and ends in smears of goodness allover faces and fingers that must be licked clean. 

Bearing that in mind- we have settled on Maple-Pepper Salmon Bites, a recipe Kaleb and I use to cook every week as newlyweds, but had completely forgotten about. As a side I'm thinking steamed artichokes with a selection of dipping sauces. I've never made them and the kiddos have never tried them, but it sounds like fun and something they might, possibly, if I'm lucky, enjoy- risky business, but I'll let you know how that one turns out! We also want to try these sweet potato pumpkin rolls. I realize they are pumpkins but they are so cute, with little notes tucked inside, they should pair perfectly with our theme. 

Now, onto the goodies. As I previously stated- there has been lots and lots of baking- here's some of our favorites and a few we will be attempting in the upcoming days!

- We made four batches of the Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls, two batches of plain, and two of the orange rolls. I actually like the orange rolls so much better- not near as sweet, although I can still only eat just one. We froze them in batches and have given some away as gifts, but will definitely save some for our own Christmas morning.

- I hope to be cooking up this almond biscotti later in the week. I've tried to make biscotti before with little to no success, but hopefully this recipe will do the job!

- Kaleb really wants us to try a Buche de Noel for our Christmas dessert. There's an interesting history that goes along with it, and we thought it may be fun- although I'm quite worried we're  overshooting our skills on this one!

- I'm most excited about these gingerbread cookies from My New Roots- I love cooking with natural, simple ingredients and I hope these will be a hit. They are in the oven right now, so I can't say for sure how they will turn out- but my goodness, the batter is good!! 

- Of course, nothing says winter quite like hot cocoa, and as it's finally descended, I've been whipping up lots. I've tried many a recipe and my favorite and thankfully the simplest is to melt ghiradelli chocolate and caramel squares in milk. It's so yummy- not too sweet, not too chocolatey- just right.

I will so be needing a kitchen break after this week, but for now- I'm going to turn my christmas music up a little louder,   pull on those dish washing gloves and dance myself into a floury frenzy!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Whole Lot of Happy

There has been a whole lot of happy here on the farm. I can honestly tell you that it's been quite wild. There have been moments when I've been so exhausted that all I wanted was to sit and cry. The excitement of the season has taken hold of my littles and they have been non-stop. Wild to the core. My bones are weary, my muscles sore- but my heart full. It seems near pushed to it's limit, bursting with love and a feeling I can't quite explain, but I know it's good. It seems a heady combination of contentment, peace, and maybe beauty.

Here's a few things that have made it all so grand.

On a hike thru the farm recently, Aussie and I stumbled upon a blown in strand of holiday tinsel. Nonchalantly, we placed it on an evergreen as we walked home- but then we got an idea, a lovely idea. We always take a big hike on our Christmas day, so we have sneakily bought and made ornaments and decorated the loveliest of Christmas trees right smack dab in the middle of our field. We are so excited to surprise everyone on our walk! She and I have stowed away candles and books and hope to make it the sweetest of traditions yet. 

Aussie has been asking for a kitchen for Christmas. I have not been so intrigued- they take up a lot of room, can be quite tacky, and I didn't really see her playing it with that much. Well, we really couldn't come up with anything else, she is definitely the hardest to buy for, so we decided to build her one. Kaleb has crafted her the cutest little play area, made of refurbished barn wood and old treasures we've garnered from Grandparents. I've spent my evening painting it, and not to toot my own horn, but it is so charming, I think she will love it! Plus, it can go outside come spring, so it's a win, win.

Little Eleanor, has been a bundle of mess lately. Getting into anything and everything. She simply cannot leave the presents under the tree alone, they beckon to her, taunt her, and she must, she simply must have them. It's been hilarious to see her crawling under the tree, debating and finally grabbing one and hustling away. She is going to be so fun come Christmas day, I can't wait to see her open gifts this year!

Kaleb and I had been hoping to find a little dirt bike for Zain this year. Yesterday, we came across an old and very used one that hopefully will be perfect. It has been hilarious to watch Kaleb- I swear, he's more excited than Zain will be. Every night after kids go to bed, he makes me bundle up and head out to the garage to tinker with it, and then proceeds to ride it all over the farm. I wish I had a picture, because it is too much! He has on a headlamp for light and even with his knees tucked completely up, his feet are still dragging the ground. Hopefully, Zain will be as thrilled to receive it as Kaleb is to give it!

Then there's the little things, the moments that add up to make it all the better. Snuggles by the fire place as we read book after book, the sweetness that snowbeard has brought us, each kid taking a turn staying up late to wrap gifts for each other, sitting at the table chatting away as everyone colors and crafts, all made cozier with treats and warm drinks. 

So, yes- there hasn't been much quiet or calm, but I know there will probably be too much of that in future Christmas's, so for now, I think I'll simply settle in- revel in the crazy, the noise and the slight chaos that is right now.

Friday, December 19, 2014

capturing the mundane

Lately, I've been in something of a photography rut. Just ever so slightly bored of the same settings and subjects (beautiful as they may be.) I find myself only wanting to tote out the camera when I have the perfect trifecta of interesting light, sane ensembles, and a smidgen of kitsch for good measure. Determined to beat these blues and get out of my comfort zone whilst getting in some extra practice, I strapped on the ole picture box with a plan to shoot all day. 

Here's what I ended with:

It was a good exercise. Showing me areas I definitely need to improve, and opening my eyes to capturing the little moments with less care to circumstance and presentation. Photography at it's core, is freezing time. It's a moment, that's captured forever. This was us, on an everyday, a typical day- and these simple days are great days, worthy of capturing as is.

Also, I wrote a post for Daydreams of Summertime, with some photography tips, getting started and some resources to help you find your way- you can find it here.  

p.s. a few of you were asking about my braid, it's a super easy fishtail I learned for my daughter, but ended up loving for my own, you can find the tutorial here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Legend of Snowbeard

While deep in the midst of assessing our Christmas this season- I happened upon a blog post that was so eloquently written and calling in it's simplicity. It was written by the lovely Kim of Mothering with Mindfulness  and based on a tradition she plans for her son involving a gnome bearing scrolls with daily wishes  to integrate into the day.

Straightaway, I knew this was what I had been hoping for. Now, I'm not ever going to be as thought out, organized and crafty as Kim is, so I knew I needed to let all preconceived notions about that go and find my own way. Kaleb assured me we could plan and be prepared for next year, but that simply would not do.

This is the trouble and the beauty that lies in parenthood. It's quick. The thought of it's passing can literally render me immobile, and the idea that I would need to wait a whole year, was too much to bear. I needed to partake now, lest another missed opportunity pass me by.

Blessedly, I had the perfect little elvish ornament, given to me by my Dad- which I had been saving for something. . . 

We dubbed the little man with rich white facial hair and golden attire Snowbeard, and as quick as that, we were on our way!

Each morning the feisty little fellow is hiding somewhere around the house, clue in hand as to what our treat may be for the day. We've kept it fairly elementary: crafts, hikes, fishing, slimes, baking, bonfires. Much would have been part of our festivities regardless, but this makes it so much more fun.

With the sun just barely peeking over the horizon- the sounds of wilds not too quietly traipsing around, reverberate thru the house. Occasionally, it brings them single file into our room to tap, tap, tap us on the shoulder. With a smile, I'll creak open an eye to peek. "Can we have a clue?" they chant as I pull my covers up higher and close my eyes tight. Out they go, the pitter patter of padded feet on the hunt again. This is all proceeded by a loud peel of jubilation as someone (usually Zain, that kid is a finding genius!) has finally spotted the illustrious Snowbeard- and I'm up.

This is one of those activities that posed the potential to be overwhelming, but it's been the complete opposite. It's carried a weight of ease and peace- Kaleb and I enjoying it every bit as much as the little bugs. It fit perfectly. Exactly what we had yearned for in a holiday, bringing us together in excitement and doing.

p.s. I love me some pinterest, but unfortunately rare to never have time to simply browse. Mainly, it's used as a tool to search for what I need. Regardless, a lot of the small art projects, slime, and dough recipes are on my board cleverly titled- Crafts. If you find yourself in quick need of simple ideas to entertain your wilds- help yourself.