Waited too long

The girls and I are enjoying some time these next few days at my parents' house. They are currently still at work and I am working it out at home with my littles while I wait for them to return. I finally sat down to write a lil' something for today, but it seems that I didn't crank it out fast enough. I spent too much time catching up on some of my favorite blogs that I hadn't visited in a while. Oops. Now I'm being summoned by my little non-napper. (Screaming from the office/guest room, "Moooommmmy--I love you!!!!" Alright kiddo, you got me.

So, won't you take this time to do the same and scroll down to see my favorite reads? There are some goodies out there, I promise. Of course, this one, this one and this one are at the absolute top of my list. Enjoy your halloween weekend--pictures of my "Horton" will be posted on Monday. ;)

I can't stop

I think everyone with young children (and perhaps older ones too, but for now, this is all I have to go on) can relate to the concept of pockets of time. Very rarely do I have a great chunk of minutes, or heaven help me--hours, in which I can accomplish whatever I'd like. Nope, instead I have tiny little pockets. A few moments here and there when both the girls are content at the same time and I am free to run and complete a small little task super quick, before a hole rips in the pocket and it's all gone.

Usually I find myself running to brush my teeth, get dressed, empty the dishwasher, fix a quick snack (for me, not them), send a chat message on Skype or simply go to the freakin' bathroom. But now that I have discovered these darling little gems, I can't help myself from staying in my pajamas until the next pocket comes along just so I can make another one...

Sniff, sniff... I smell a giveaway in the near future.

Tasty time saver

Up until recently I thought quiches were among the more difficult things to make as far as brunch dishes go. Flaky crust, fluffy center, yummy ingredients... sound hard, right? As it turns out, I was so very wrong. At my friend Rebecca's baby shower several weeks ago, she clued me into the easiness of quiche making and since then I have never looked back.

These days I throw a quiche together on Monday morning, and then enjoy a slice each day for breakfast with my cup of coffee. 50 seconds in the microwave and I have a delicious meal that fills me up until lunch.

The trick is to use store bought pie crust. Put whatever stuff you like on top of the crust, dump in 5 eggs combined with 1/3 cup of milk, bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Done.

This one had about 1/2 cup of spinach (it came from the freezer, and measured about that much after I thawed it and drained all the water), 1 tsp or so of minced garlic, around 4 oz of crumbled feta cheese, salt & pepper. Oh, and the egg/milk mixture of course. That's it! Spanakopita on a crust. Divine. Now go make one!

Fabric flower ring

These finally arrived from Hong Kong yesterday...

Which means I can finally make these...

Love, love, LOVE!!!

I mean, who knew that 5 minutes with a rotary cutter and a glue gun could yield such fantastic results?!
(You can find the tutorial for these lovelies right here.)

Saying goodbye; not forever, but for now

Yesterday held an afternoon filled with laughter, tears, remembering, hugging, dancing, celebrating. A small group of friends gathered to share what we loved best about our dear friend and we said goodbye. While we all felt sadness, there was such a sense of comfort and love floating around that room. So many stories were told and memories were jogged while we shook our heads in bittersweet recognition with wet eyes and smiles on our faces.

Instead of a guest book, we had a scrapbooking table to offer meaningful space for sharing memories.

I wanted to share the words I wrote about Lisa and what she meant to me so those who couldn't make it can get a small sense of what yesterday was, and to share with those who didn't know her a tiny bit of her spirit. 

Friends, I stand before you as a person whose world feels shattered at the loss of our shining light, Lisa. I am devastated to face the reality that she is gone, yet there is a part of me that whenever I think of her, wants to laugh and truly celebrate the woman that she was to me and so many others. The past two weeks I have been in awe of how many people Lisa impacted, yet I'm not at all surprised that so many were touched by her in small and grand ways. It never took long for anyone in Lisa's presence to recognize that she was someone special--a genuine soul who really saw people, a woman who handed herself with incredible confidence and grace.

It's funny though, I think "grace" is probably one of the last words Lisa would have used to describe herself. I believe she was quite possibly the only person I have ever known who would spill coffee all down the front of her shirt, and then giggle while she wiped it up. That is a profound lesson she taught me: it's so important to be able to laugh at yourself. And man, we did. So often we would wind up in hysterics with tears running down our faces because of something awkward one of us did. By the time we got ahold of ourselves, we wouldn't even remember what it was that got us started in the first place. That's another amazing thing about being in Lisa's presence. I'm pretty sure we can all agree that she never ever laughed alone. Her giggle that shifted into a contagious cackle had a way of turning up even the most pronounced grimace. Really, it was almost frustrating--there was no way you could stay irritated or angry when Lisa made up her mind to crack up.

Wildly contagious laughter was only one of Lisa's incredible gifts. With her deep and profound insight, she truly found her calling working with women as a therapist. Which brings me to lesson #2: sometimes silence is the best way to ask a question. Even in the simplest of situations, Lisa had a way of just looking at you with such a sense of inquiry. It could be something as bland as why you ordered something different from the usual at Starbucks. "Pumpkin spice latte. Huh... (stares...) OK." "WHAT?" (stares... smiles...) "Nothing. It's just not what you usually drink." And then before you know it, you're spilling your guts about your latest heartache you didn't even know you had... Right there in the middle of Starbucks, before her favorite girl crush barista has even finished steaming the milk.

Ah yes... A girl crush. Lisa introduced me to this concept in the most unlikely of circumstances. Don't worry, it isn't what it sounds like. One winter, I contracted the flu and was sicker than I had ever been in my adult life. I was living in a very old apartment and the only source of heat was from a grate in the floor in the front room. I was sleeping with a knit cap on my head to stay warm and was too weak to come up with a reasonable solution to the problem. Lisa came over to check on me and when she saw what was going on she said, "Sara, you're going to die in here!" She packed me up and drove me to her apartment, just after an emergency run to the grocery to buy soup and other items essential for flu recovery. The rest of the week, I lived on her couch as her patient. When she left for class one morning she told me to watch The L Word on demand. "It will change your life," she said. Umm... yes. She and I both developed this crazy girl crush on one sexy character, and we often joked about how if Shane ever walked into a room, we would get into a scrappy fight to see who could get to her first. But I don't know... Seeing as my friend single handedly just nursed me back to health, I probably would have had to give her that one. Lesson #3: you can be straight and still have girl crushes--really, it's ok.

The acceptance of girl crushes is actually a complete side note of that story. The actual point worth noting is that Lisa would drop anything and everything to help out a friend. She could have brought me soup, driven back to her apartment and gone about her day. That would have been a sweet gesture and that's what most friends would do. Not our Lisa. She possessed a rare selfless generosity that anyone in her presence experienced. Whether it was offering a cigarette, picking up the bar tab with no strings attached, or giving up a greatly anticipated quiet evening alone to listen to your love life struggles, Lisa gave whatever she could to anyone she cared about.

And she gave whatever she could to perfect strangers. As we all know, Lisa’s life work was to empower women. She worshiped Gloria Steinem. She was the very definition of feminism. Up until the point when I knew Lisa, I had a very different idea of what feminism was. Lesson #4: this is a true feminist… Someone who listens with her whole soul to the entirety of a woman’s story, not just the parts required for an intake form. Someone who can lift up men as well as women, and believes that men can be true allies. Someone who seeks to understand not just the struggle itself, but why it exists and work to eliminate its cause. Someone who accepts each woman for who she is without trying to change or smooth out her rough spots. Someone who walks beside you down a path of difficulty, not holding your hand or pushing you faster than you’re ready to go, but offering a gentle presence of support to ensure you are not alone.

All of those qualities were at the core of how Lisa functioned as an advocate. She never resisted an opportunity to give her clients everything they deserved and she never compromised her integrity in offering whatever services they needed. She fought the good fight, for them, for all of us and for herself.

During Lisa’s last year in Lexington, she and I became inseparable. For all practical purposes, we were both single, living alone, and we took full advantage of our freedom. We spent countless hours together sipping coffee or cocktails, smoking cigarettes, talking about important matters, solving the world’s problems or gossiping about the latest celebrity fluff. When I really try to stop and think back on specific memories, I am saddened to find that it’s hard to pinpoint particular anecdotes. Were we really always that drunk? Perhaps we were, but probably not. I think the essence of our friendship was that we effortlessly clicked, and the simplicity of most of our interactions lent itself to more of a feeling of closeness than a calendar of events.

After Lisa moved back to Philadelphia, the frequency of our phone calls grew farther apart, but the closeness of our hearts did not. As life unfolded and we built our families, we simply became busy. Although we only spoke every few months, we probably called one another at least every other week. The messages we left each other sounded something like this: Hey, I was just trying to catch you and wanted to hear your voice. I hope everything is going OK. Give me a call when you get the chance. No big deal, I know you’re busy--just whenever you get a minute. OK, honey. Love you. Bye. (And weren’t we all Lisa’s honey?)

I found this passage from SARK’s Fabulous Friendship Festival that really captures the essence of a conversation Lisa and I had months ago about this very subject:

“Let’s get together and catch up:” Let’s not.

Sometimes I don’t call or contact friends because of this concept of “catching up”. If I haven’t spoken with a friend for many months or even years, it just feels like too much work to “catch up”. It feels like we’ll need to communicate for countless hours just to get caught up to where we are now!

I understand that it’s just a phrase, and the intention behind it is good, but it causes me to sometimes not connect with friends if it’s been a while.

I propose that we drop this phrase and concept, and just realize that if we communicate with our friend, we’ll just naturally find out how they are, and what’s been going on with them.

I’m going to release myself from any pressure to “catch up,” and call those friends I’ve been avoiding and suggest that we just start from how we are now and go backwards from there if we want to.

Also, “catching up” implies that we have fallen behind somehow, and I don’t believe that time is that linear. It isn’t just about a progression of events along a certain timeline, but a multi-layered affair, with telepathic awarenesses thrown in.

What we or our friends have been doing in the time we didn’t communicate is less important than our being or essence, and that you can only discover through being present with a friend.

This leaves me with a 5th lesson, a final legacy from our girl that stands to resonate in my heart forever: never ever take time on this earth with your friends for granted. Oh, how I have. I never once assumed that a time would come when Lisa would not be there. I always thought we would have the luxury of each other’s friendship. Even though our contact was not as often as we would have liked, I knew that miles away I had a kindred spirit whose love and support never wavered. I take comfort in knowing that I still do, it’s just that instead of driving around “the city of brotherly love,” she is sailing above us all in heaven.

I know we all feel a deep sadness in knowing that we can no longer pick up the phone or plan a trip to connect with Lisa. We can’t have a tangible experience where we can hold her or hear her voice. But the beauty that laces the sweet bitterness of death is that we no longer have to do those things to feel Lisa’s presence. She has moved on, but she most certainly isn’t gone. As is evident here today, she truly is alive in us all, in the memories we share and in the stillness of our hearts.

Clinging as closely as I can to all the times Lisa and I shared, and the close friendship we nurtured over the years allows me to share my tears and to laugh as we celebrate our girl today. As we move forward from this space I am confident that the joy from knowing Lisa will resonate in our interactions with those who knew her and those who didn’t. Because she truly left her footprint on all of us and in some way shaped the people we are now. We are all better having known her, even for the short while she was graced time on this earth.

Lisa, my dear friend; I love you. I miss you like crazy already, but I hold you close in my heart, and promise to do so always. Know that I, and all of your friends here today, will honor your life and our experience of it, and share your spirit with your babe, Thomas. Fly in peace.

There is a long road ahead, but the healing has begun.

Until we meet again

Today I am putting the final touches on the program for my friend Lisa's memorial celebration on Sunday. Those of us in Kentucky who were unable to attend the family services needed a way to remember her and say goodbye. It has been a comfort in the healing process to feel like we are doing something productive to celebrate our dear friend in a way she would have loved.

Thank you for all of your kind words and prayers. I feel so supported and absolutely not alone. In times like these, that's really all you can ask for. Keep lifting up those intentions for Lisa, her family and most importantly, her son Thomas. Many thanks.

Clean up?

I took this picture the first time I tried cooking after Lena was born. It went well, despite the lovely mess in my kitchen. But truly, aren't messes sometimes necessary? Dinner never would have been made without this one.

This afternoon I walked out of Addie's room after getting her down for a nap to see these spots 'o mess in our living room. Part of me wants to jump right in and clean it all up so I can enjoy some quiet time in our house and know that all is nice and tidy.

But then I stop and think that while these may look like messes, they are really piles of life and prove that we had a darn good time this morning... cutting out pumpkins, talking about the color purple, putting on costume jewelry... And I decided to just leave it. When Addie wakes up, we will grab a bowl of popcorn and pick up right where we left off; until it's time to make dinner.

thinking of my sisters

It's been a while since I did a post on Sisters Away. If you haven't visited that space in a while, take a minute and catch up. Boy, do I miss those girls.


These sweet faces remind me that it's OK to laugh.


Doctor Marcia Fieldstone: What are you going to do?
Sam Baldwin: Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.
~Sleepless in Seattle~
That is one of my favorite movies of all time for so many reasons. Today, the reason is that this quote easily describes the way I am feeling each and every day. It is such an honest answer to how we all deal with grief. It's a perfect description for what happens when I wake up each morning and realize that my friend is gone.
Many times during the day, anyone could probably look at me and think that everything is just fine. I'm doing everything I normally do--nursing Lena, taking Addie to the potty, reading books, smiling at my girls when they do something that melts my heart, cleaning up after messes, stealing kisses from my hubs when I can. But then, if you look a little bit closer, you would see that there is a light missing from my eyes. Because for right now, I have to make myself do these things.
For right now, I have to force myself out of bed and go through my day with my family. That, I suppose, is the crux of motherhood. Even in the darkest times, when all I want to do is stay in bed and cry out all my sadness, I can't. It makes me go on with my life, although I don't feel ready. It makes me see that even though I am incredibly sad, I still have these little beacons of light and love right in front of me all the time. It reminds me that in the midst of my grief and loss, I am still so very blessed and my sorrow becomes laced with gratitude.
I know it is going to take a lot of time before our normal day to day routines feel just that: normal. For now, it is a struggle against the feeling that the world should stop and let me break down the way I want to. I have yet to determine if this makes my grieving process easier or more difficult. Only time will tell, and lots and lots of patience.

Some time

Sunday evening, I learned of the loss of a very dear friend. My heart is broken and I am finding that I need some time to process through this tragedy. I hope to be back here by the end of the week, as words can hold such a healing power. Until then, I am holding my babies just a little bit tighter, remembering to cherish each moment we have with the ones we love.

A recipe and a change

Before I dive into the food, I wanted to share that it looks like our Sweetie is doing much better. She will hopefully be out of the hospital any day (or hour) now, so prayers are doing their thing for sure! Thank you all for your sweet intentions. We are still on standby for travel plans, but feeling grateful that those plans are hinged on her coming home.

The potential travel, along with three nearly sleepless nights in a row, has pushed this mama quite beyond the point of exhaustion. In spite of it all, I somehow managed to make such a fantastic meal last night that I had to release for all the world to see. Sure, that sounds a little dramatic, but seriously... wait for it...

What is one of my most favorite things? Pasta dude pasta.

Combine that with another favorite, found just perfectly this time of year--butternut squash--and you have a winner.

I roasted the cubed butternut squash, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. While that was working, I sauteed half an onion (diced) in some olive oil, a smidge of butter and some minced garlic. Once it became translucent, I added half a pound of sage sausage and cooked until browned. Towards the end, I added about a teaspoon each of thyme and oregano. When that was done, I threw my fresh pasta in some salted boiling water. Two minutes later, the pasta was perfect, the squash was roasted and my dish was ready.

Once everything was combined, I topped it all off with freshly grated parmesan cheese. It tasted just like Fall. I mean, heaven.

Addie loves this pasta as well, and the icing on the cake was that some of the small pieces of squash broke down just enough to coat the noodles. She was eating tons of veg and didn't even know it! Just check out her plate.

This is by far the best meal I have ever made in twenty minutes or less. Give it a try. Yummy in the tummy!

On another note, I feel like the What Keeps Me Going Fridays has run its course. Lately when I write them it feels forced, and it seems that one of four staples made a regular appearance: faith, friends, family and food. I'm working on a different idea that will incorporate one of these four F's in a much more meaningful way, at least that is my hope. So enjoy your fall weekend, see you on Monday, and don't forget to come back next Friday for a new and fresh wrap up of the week!


Today I'm keeping it short while I work on preparing for a potential last minute trip to Indy. My grandma, who is otherwise a healthy lady, was admitted to the hospital last night for observation due to low sodium levels. As we often must do when it comes to family, we are on standby to drive up and help out should we become needed.

Thus, I am doing laundry and working on some household things, just in case we aren't around over the weekend. If it turns out we are, bonus! Built-in time to nap and relax. And the worst case scenario is we get to spend some hours taking care of our family's matriarch. I say we win either way.

Oh, and if you have a second, say a quick prayer for my Sweetie. We've got to make sure she keeps on tickin' for many years to come.

Skinny jeans

A few weeks ago I bought my first pair of skinny jeans. I think it was me trying to play a mind game with myself... if my postpartum body can fit into a pair of skinny jeans, then I must be skinny, right? Sure. As long as I have on my Bridget Jones stomach-holding-in-panties. Shhhh--don't tell!

Then there came the dilemma of what to wear with these trendy little numbers. It's taking a while, but I think I'm sort of getting the hang of it.

On the bottom of every one--Old Navy skinny jeans
Top--Old Navy knit tunic

Top--Old Navy nursing top with a tank hidden underneath
Shoes--Off Broadway = off brand
Accessories--none again. I've got to get better at this...

Top--Target nursing tank
Cardigan--Banana Republic
Shoes--Target flats again
Necklace--Lisa Leonard Designs (one thing at a time)

I am so proud to report that I made it out of my yoga pants uniform four days last week. So far, that's a personal best. Try and hold your applause. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go clean my full length mirror!

If you like seeing what other people wear as much as I do, hop on over to The Pleated Poppy to check out some cute and fabulous fashions.

Lena's room

Before Addie was born, we worked for months on her nursery. We painted, picked out bedding and curtains, searched for furniture, the whole shebang. Of course with baby #2, we were a bit more laid back. We decided Lena would have the same furniture and I eventually gave into using the same bedding as well. After a lot of "discussion" we determined that we wouldn't paint her room and just leave it a neutral color. I have all the materials to make some curtains, but that project is still on the to-do list. (The plan is for the girls to eventually share a room, so this is just Lena's temporary home until she shacks up with her big sister.)

Is Lena getting the short end of the stick? At first you might say, yes. However, I have yet to reveal the piece de resistance. My sister purchased the most gorgeous prints from Sarah Jane Studios to grace the wall above Lena's crib. To say I love them would be an understatement.

So cute and simple and perfect. Just like our girl.

I think when the day comes for Addie and Lena to bunk up together, we might need to add this to the collection.

Point and shoot: another step toward balance

The past few months, I decided to put my official steps toward balance aside. Our family had some pretty obvious adjustments to make and putting official labels on what those should be seemed counter intuitive. August and September were spent preparing our hearts and then wrapping them around our newest girl. I'd say we definitely succeeded.

As we settle into life together, I'm finding that one of my biggest challenges as a new mama is making sure these days are documented. Everyone says you don't take as many photos of baby #2 and so on. Of course I said that wouldn't happen to me... Well, it already is.

It became apparent to me in the past few days that with my arms full of Lena, the camera was noticably absent. Then I realized that we were approaching the six week mark and we absolutely do not have enough photos of our growing babe. This is just not acceptable.

Enter goal for October and beyond: take more pictures! I'm not going to set a measurable goal, but I am going to make sure that the camera is out, close at hand and ready to go every day. My Canon will be there when a moment presents itself so I can sieze it, capture it, treasure it.

I've already gotten started and here's what I have to show off so far... It's going to be a good month!

Want to see what others are doing to find balance? Check out Nicola's list on Which Name.