Five Things: Light + Quiet Edition

Lately, on Monday mornings, after drop-offs and before I head home to work in my cozy home office, I usually go for a trail run or walk at a nearby park. It’s a 1.5 mile loop and I usually do it twice. Sometimes I take George and we walk. George is not much of a runner. And some mornings, like this morning, I go by myself which means I run most of it. Last night we had a wind and rain storm and the trail this morning was crowded with branches and wet leaves. It was deserted and lightly raining and still not quite bright. It was a melancholy type of morning that felt just right for my mood and the time of year.
henderson inlet with the olympics in the distance
puget sound on saturday afternoon

taking the boat out of the water
Saturday was one of those absolutely packed days that could have been way too much but turned out just right. I opened the shop while Telfer did soccer duty. Several of my favorite and best customers came in and I was encouraged and inspired all over again by what we are doing. Then I met Telfer, Cate, Jane, Nana, Chris, Mendy and Eleanor at a restaurant downtown. Eleanor was visiting from New York and Nana is feeling better and no one was in a hurry and the girls were funny and sweet. Sherry and I fit in an around-the-lake-walk completely last minute on a most beautiful fall afternoon. And then I helped Telfer take the boat out of the water for the season while Eleanor stayed with the girls. Technically, I wasn’t that much help but it was fun to be out on the water together one last time this year. The light was so beautiful.

last tomatoes from our garden.

My favorite thing to do on Sunday afternoons is noodle around in the kitchen for a few hours. I listen to my music (yesterday: Lucinda Williams’ Sweet Old World album on repeat) and just do the food stuff that needs doing. I made the girls lunch, I made Telfer and I roasted cauliflower cheese toast, made a batch of granola, roasted a bunch of nuts for salads, made Cate and Jane and our friend Henny the season’s first madeleines, roasted the last bit of tomatoes from our garden for sauce later this winter, you know, just fiddled around. This time of year I usually make soup or slow cook a pot of cannellini beans (or other white beans) for the week but I didn’t quite have enough time which means I don’t have any actual meals made for the week but I had such a *good* time. Next week applesauce is most definitely on the agenda.

h is for hawk

I finally finished H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. I have been reading it since March, since I bought the book in New York and brought it home with me. This is not a book to be read quickly but perhaps not over the course of seven months. A couple of weeks ago I started over. Macdonald writes about the death of her father, her enormous grief and training a goshawk as a way of coping, of working through her grief as well as hawking in the scope of the work and life of T.H. Lawrence (Once and Future King). I overuse the word lovely but H is for Hawk is lovely. Side note: when Jane prays her prayers are peppered with the word “lovely”. As in, “thank you for this lovely day.” Her inflection on the word is so heartfelt and sweet.

I think that was only four things but they feel like five. Have a happy week friends. I won’t use the word I want but you know what I am thinking.

Five Things: Recent Favorites, Mostly the Little Stuff

First things first, isn’t this awesome? The girls went to the PJ party at our gym on Friday night and couldn’t believe their luck when I let them wear both slippers and the Disney headbands. Minds blown.

well hello brandi carlile!

Liz & I went to see Brandi Carlile at the Paramount theater in Seattle on Saturday night (as well as the Carlile Room beforehand). This was my sixth time seeing Brandi live and Liz and I’s third time seeing her together. She keeps getting better – her voice, her music, her presence. She becomes more and more herself. It is so exciting to watch. If you ever get the chance…

my hair is back to normal

Friends, as of this evening, my hair color is back to normal. In early September I went darker, way darker, and it just was not me at all. I tried to like it, I gave it a real try but I breathed such a sigh of relief when my stylist finished today. It’s basically my natural hair color with a little lightness. My face looks so much better and I feel like myself again. Adding that to the list of things that I never need to do again!

freaking best slippers ever.

I bought these slippers at the end of the summer and I love them so much. It’s like wearing a sweater on your feet. Seriously the best slippers ever.

youth dew

Evening baths are a staple in the Fall for me and I recently bought the very classic Youth Dew bath oil from Estee Lauder. It feels so luxurious and honestly, I smell a little like Nana (87) at bedtime which makes me love it even more.

rock paper scissors

Cate & Jane play the old game, rock, paper, scissors very frequently – for fun, to resolve disputes, to get the larger half of dessert, on and on. Telfer and I bought this great print for outside their room. Telfer hung it and Jane immediately said “Why is there rock paper scissors outside my room?” like we were crazy. We, of course, think she is brilliant.

my favorite spot in the house

Telfer was on call much of this weekend which forces me to scale back (in such a very good way). I had a bit of time to sit around, read, and enjoy the view in my little office. Especially this time of year, this is my favorite place in the world to spend an hour. Or two.

big magic by elizabeth gilbert

A couple of weeks ago I went to Portland to hear Liz Gilbert speak about her new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I read the book slowly and finished yesterday right before I took an epic Sunday afternoon nap. Aside: I haven’t taken a Sunday nap since my babies were small and basically, they are fabulous. Anyway, I highly recommend Big Magic even if you think it sounds a little woo-woo. Gilbert argues, “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.” I am totally guilty of saying the opposite: I am just not creative, I am not an artist, I deal with facts and research, I could go on.
Also, it probably doesn’t surprise you that I struggle with perfectionism. Which Gilbert also addresses:
“It starts by forgetting about perfect. We don’t have time for perfect. In any event, perfection is unachievable: it’s a myth and a trap and a hamster wheel that will run you to death. The writer Rebecca Solnit puts it well: ‘So many of us believe in perfection, which ruins everything else, because the perfect is not only the enemy of the good; it’s also the enemy of the realistic, the possible, and the fun.’
You should read the book. It’s definitely given me a lighter, playful, more possible, more real definition of creativity and living a creative life. It’s a book I will reread every year.

Five Things: All the Things

whew. october.

October is a most beautiful month in Olympia. The weather alternates between clear, bright blue skies and moody, dark clouds and the leaves are falling and the colors are gorgeous. Today has been a good day. Mondays are my catch-up days. I have the shop staffed most of the time and I am free to work from my little home office and just get the things done that are hard to do from the shop. So much paper and mail and bills. And also keep the laundry going. And exercise. And take the girls to eye appointments and do all the errands. And apparently, clean out my closet. When I have a few quiet hours, I still use the Pomodoro Technique (25 minute blocks of time) but the ticking of the little tomato timer drives me nuts so I usually use my (silent) phone timer instead.

rainforest cafe for cate's 7th birthday

Cate turned seven (!) last Tuesday. We celebrated by going to lunch at Rainforest Cafe in Seattle on our way to the airport. We took the girls out of school and spent most of the week in Nampa — Telfer participated in his first stint on the Board of Trustees at the college we attended. We stayed at Anna’s house and were able to spend good time with so many of our dear ones – Anna of course and Amanda, Melissa and family, Kori & Andy, Bekah and Keira, Claire and Piper and Nolan and Kathy. Such a good time.

funny girls on the nnu campus

waiting for the airport shuttle

nampa girls

the reference librarian

cate jane and piper

boise airport is amazing


The girls are so much easier to travel with now at five and seven, but after a few days away from home and off schedule and out of our beds… We were ready to go home.

This is Nana at Cate’s soccer game. That’s all. It’s just such a wonderful photograph. Our Nana.

The week before last was nuts. Telfer and I again helped first and second graders (and a few other parents) make fifty pumpkin pies – we roasted the pumpkins that the kids had grown in the Lincoln garden, pureed the roasted pumpkin, put together pastry, made pie filling and then baked the pies to serve at Lincoln’s Harvest Festival. And it was the weekend of Arts Walk – such a busy, big weekend for the shop. I didn’t have a true day off for about three weeks. I was able to sneak away to Portland for a night by myself between Arts Walk and our trip. I went to see Elizabeth Gilbert speak about Big Magic and went to brunch with RaChelle. It was just what I needed.cate's beautiful mud pie at the harvest festival

We are selling these little pretties at the shop. Hand-painted bookmarks in small and large sizes by an Oregon Coast artist. I saw her work at the Cannon Beach Book Company in August and knew I had to have some for Browsers too. Aren’t they pretty?

pretty little hand painted bookmarks for sale at the shop

Last night I started reading the new illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and proceeded to stay up way past my bedtime. Of course I now have visions of reading the entire series before Christmas. Rereading is comfort reading.

oh, this is quite lovely btw

I finished Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family yesterday as well. Very memorable, lovely, difficult novel about a woman who loses everything – her boyfriend, daughter, her daughter’s fiancé and ex-husband all die in a horrific fire on the eve of her daughter’s wedding. The novel is structured in a way that makes sense for the story – several different characters narrate the chapters and small, sideways moments of grace and connection take place.  Will definitely be ordering for the shop.

did you ever have a family. loved.

And that my friends, is all I have tonight. I am looking forward to this week and a slower pace, to reading at night, to baking cookies (pumpkin snickerdoodles!) with the girls, roasting applesauce for the freezer, and enjoying the season, all while wearing a sweater.

Eleven Favorite Soups

And just like that, soup season is upon us. On Sunday I got home from the shop and we had plenty of leftovers sitting around but really, I just felt like soup. So I whipped up some Carrot-Coconut soup with some of the stock I made last week. So satisfying. And so, here are the eleven soup recipes I keep returning to again and again. Jane loves all of these. Cate, none of these.

  1. Carrot-Coconut Soup [from BA]
    Double this one and use any hot stuff you have on hand – I usually use sriracha.
  2. Curried Lentil Soup [from Molly Wizenberg]
  3. French Onion Soup [from The Week]
  4. Leek Potato Soup [from Dorie Greenspan]
    Use more potato than listed; truffle oil is a necessity.
  5. New England Clam Chowder [from Epicurious]
  6. Orzo Soup with Greens & Turkey Meatballs [from Epicurious]
    The girls help me with the meatballs and any green is good from spinach to kale.
  7. Parsnip & Pear Soup [Alexandra’s Kitchen]
  8. Slow Cooker Winter Squash Soup with Curry & Coconut Milk [from Coffee in the Woodshed]
    Always add lentils and there’s no reason this *has* to be done in a slow cooker.
  9. Squash Soup [from Molly Wizenberg]
  10. Vegetable & Pearl Barley Soup [from Molly Wizenberg]
  11. White Bean & Chicken Chili [from BA]

Friday Five. Evening Edition.

The girls are in bed after a badly needed pizza and movie night. We snuggled on the sofa and watched the new Cinderella. So good! The girls had seen before but not me. Jane prepared me for the scary bits.

This was a good week but it passed so very quickly. At the shop, I (a bit frantically I am afraid) found and added online books to the new system. I would look at the clock and realize three hours passed in what felt like maybe 30 minutes. I had been feeling fairly positive all week but today had a low moment. There’s still so much junk around. There are whole sections of the shop that are not working at all. I hate little pamphlet-y types of books and really all books on collecting various things – depression glass, stamps, weird vases. So pointless.

Moving on! The tomatoes! This summer I have eaten so many BLTs. So many. And last Sunday I picked a whole bunch of tomatoes to roast and freeze for later this season. Tomatoes are so beautiful. Especially ones you grow yourself.

cutest girls ever
matching dresses :)

Alyssa and her girls came as a bit of a surprise for the girls’ birthday party last weekend. So fun to have them. We decided we wish we could see them once a month. Maybe twice. Cate and Neva are such good friends and fall back into it in just a matter of minutes. I love that my girls have cousins their age.

all the fairy houses
cate's fairy house
sherry & gresh's fairy house
cutting the cake

2. Mom & Dad & Liz & Chris & Mendy came for the party too and we had a great time on Saturday with friends from school and church. We had the bouncy house again this year which is always popular and a good way to get kids tired. We also made fairy houses and the kids were all so into it. It was really great to see the creativity and care that went into these little houses. I had bowls of pretty rocks and beans and glitter and glue and feathers and moss and leaves and various other little doodads for the kids to work with. Just in case: I bought these houses and they were great.

soccer girl!
Cate and Gresham are on the same soccer team this Fall. First game tomorrow morning! owls. our most charming bird This is the cutest little owl book you ever did see. Pretty watercolor portraits of the various owl species. Also, I am finishing up Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (maybe even tonight if I can stay awake long enough!). The novel is about a marriage with one half of the book from the husband’s point of view (Fates) and then the second half from the wife’s POV (Furies). Whew, it’s good. I haven’t quite decided what I am going to read next. I am listening to 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare and slowing making my way through Edith Wharton’s New York Stories. Too many things to read. Such a good problem to have.

Is that five things? I think so. Have a lovely one friends.