Category Archives: reflect

read stories I want to share just to share

Friday Check-In

Boy watching caterpillar

This week was the second week of school. It’s the week where we start to settle into the routine, start to see where we might have some problems and try to think of solutions. It’s also a week in which the weather finally turned and the sun has been shining. It feels absolutely glorious after the rainy cold end of August. Now, on to some questions!

1. How are you moving forward at work?

Without a doubt, the single most exciting thing that happened to me this week was seeing my Kokka Messenger Bag on the U-Handbook Facebook page. I was dancing around the house with glee. The lady who designed the pattern liked the bag I made from it! It’s like being back in school and having the teacher like your creative writing assignment (which never happened to me, by the way). Total satisfaction. The bonus was a lot of new website traffic (hi, all, hope you’re sticking around!) and I discovered some neat folks by checking who was commenting!

2. How did you improve your home?

This week I managed to keep the house neat. It was an improvement over last week when we were in “a bomb exploded in here” mode for most of the week. I also put together a slightly wonky tent-like drapery for over the kid’s new kitchen playing area. It’s starting to look really cozy.

3. How did you take care of yourself?

Just this afternoon, I took myself off to Arnhem for a visit to the Dutch quilting guild’s annual show. It was wonderful to take a break and to soak up some inspiration. I’m trying to take more, smaller, meaningful breaks for myself. This outing was a winner. I came home feeling refreshed and energized.

4. How are things going with the daily writing project?

This week was the first time I nearly forgot to write a couple times. The days got away from me and somehow, after writing about it for the first time last week, part of my brain must have been satisfied with how far we’d gotten. But the point is to keep on writing every day. It wasn’t always so easy this week, but then on the train this afternoon I found myself bursting with ideas again. I’ve got seventeen dots now. That’s only fourteen away from my first full month. I can do it!

5. Talk about the picture.

Last night after dinner, I checked on my kale and sprouting broccoli plants. The white moths have been busy laying eggs this week and the larvae are not invited to the garden buffet! During my search, I found a caterpillar. The kids spent a good long time watching him crawl on the table and up and along this stick. We even watched the caterpillar poop. Seriously, who ever gets to see a caterpillar poop?! It was neat to see Peanut especially so engaged in watching this little creature.

As I’ve gotten more serious about my writing and my work, I feel a need to be more accountable for maintaining balance in my life and for working on long-term projects. In order to do that, I’ve decided to transform my Friday Moment into a Friday Check-in. Here’s the plan. Every Friday, I’ll post a picture and answer five questions. They will be about my work, my home, myself, my project or goal, and the picture. We’ll try it for a season and see how things go!

Friday Check-In (on Saturday)

First Day of School 2014

First Day of Schoool 2014

I’ve been thinking about my Friday Moment posts. I love the picture and looking at all the other pictures people link to at Amanda Soule’s blog. As I’ve gotten more serious about my writing and my work, I feel a greater need o be accountable for maintaining balance in my life and for working on long-term projects. In order to do that, I’ve decided to transform my Friday Moment into a Friday Check-in. Here’s the plan. Every Friday, I’ll post a picture and answer five questions. They will be about my work, my home, myself, my project or goal, and the picture.

We’ll try it for a season and see how things go! No points for starting on a weekend, right? I had to marinate the idea well!

1. How are you moving forward at work?

The most important thing I did at work was to create a production plan. For the first time since I started Earth Apple Studio, this puts making things first. Having the list on my board makes it difficult to convince myself that working on my website is improving business, which it isn’t because my business for now is to make and sell things!

2. How did you improve your home?

Here I’m lucky to be writing a day late because this weekend we purged. I mowed through the pile of newspapers and magazines deciding what to keep and recycle. Magazines get a year in our house, after that I tear out the interesting stuff and the rest goes to recycling. There are a couple exceptions, but they might not last much longer. Not so much space around here!

3. How did you take care of yourself?

On Thursday morning, things were clearly going poorly for me. I had the morning to myself and instead of sitting down to work, I sat down to browse the internet for any kind of junk I could find. It was junk because it was an excuse to not work. Just moment before total despair set in, I closed the computer, put on my shoes and went for a walk. We live next to the forest. I walked through the woods, felt the sun shine, saw the gorgeous purple heather in bloom, and got lost in constructive thoughts. It was good.

4. How are things going with the daily writing project?

Fabulous, fabulous, so fabulous! Here’s what happened. In one of my internet trolling sessions (they are too frequent), I ran across an article by Jamie Todd Rubin, who wrote every day for 373 days. It turns out the internet is bursting with articles about the value of writing every day. All written, no doubt, by aspiring writers who’ve committed themselves to writing every day (and this feels a bit like a rabbit hole). This one touched me because he writes about writing amidst the kids and the mess. It sounded all too familiar and I decided to do it. I’m putting a little dot in my notebook calendar next to every day I write (5 minutes counts, but it has to be every day) and so far there are eleven dots. My first goal was seven. Now I’m going for 31! Anyone with me? What I’m noticing is that I have more ideas. The writing flows better, and I’m actually editing myself more often – because there’s something to edit. All good. All exciting.

5. Talk about the picture.

The kids started back to school this week, pre-school and the first grade. They both had a great time and were completely exhausted at the end of the week. What’s crazy is we started school on August 25th and those kids are wearing fleece! I love how the first picture so accurately shows my thoughtful first grader and my eager pre-schooler. I love how the second picture shows how much fun they love to have and how much she adores him. That’s his favorite pose and she does it right along with him, every time.

In My Kitchen: Rooted

Chioggia Beets

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Chioggia Beets

Let me know how things are going in your kitchen, then click that link and go see more kitchens at Beauty that Moves.

Yesterday I picked our four beets from the garden. They’re beautiful things, Chioggia beets that I grew from seed. They’ve got red and white rings on the inside, but I was too busy putting them straight into the oven for roasting to cut them open and look. We’ve been loving the Roasted Beetroot with Walnuts and Yoghurt Dressing from River Cottage Veg – a brilliant cookbook if there ever was one. I’ve never picked a beet before and it was a mini-adventure in my backyard. Selecting, pulling, rubbing off soil, and washing all put me in a meditative mode. Beets. Beetroot. Roots.

I’ve never felt rooted. I’m the kind of girl who doesn’t like to answer questions about where she’s from. Rattling off a list of locations and dates is somewhere between boring and obnoxious. I am genuinely curious about a life in which people grow up and live in one place, or at least have family that stays in one place, a place they return to year after year after year. I went to elementary school in South Dakota. We lived in Germany before and Saudi Arabia after. I went to a boarding school and never stayed anywhere more than two years in a row for maybe fifteen years. Then we moved to Haarlem. We had shifted by then from my fmaily to me and my partner, now husband. We spent a long time in Haarlem, six years. They were busy years, but not building years. We knew we weren’t staying. A lot of people knew they weren’t staying. No one was rooted or putting down roots.

All of which is to paint a picture. I don’t really know what it is to feel rooted and may not even know how to do it. It’s an action, right? Rooting? It has to do with people and places and connections, building and digging deep. In my life, those things have been fleeting. So many of the people and places that have been important to me are no longer present in my (daily) life. Lately I’ve started to miss them, sometimes a lot. Things are slowing down a little bit. We aren’t moving or planning on moving. Lately, I’m starting to feel like I’m a part of a community here in Nijmegen. It is like a little magic every day.

The past 48 hours have been full of little extraordinarily mundane moments, but each of them has been special to me. A friend called just to chat. I can laugh at myself over finding this special, but in all honestly, it almost never happens. Most of my close friends live in different countries and time zones. The last time someone called to chat, I asked the babysitter to stay an extra hour! While we were biking to school, we ran into my husband’s colleague who lives in the neighborhood. We did the Dutch version of a quick catch-up, biking together and chatting until our routes diverged. After dropping of Peanut at school, a mom invited a couple of us over for coffee. In the afternoon, Pumpkin and I ran into more people we know in town. And when we finally all got home, the kids took off to our retired neighbors’ house for a good 45 minutes of spoiling.

When did this all happen to me? This life in which I see people all over town? This life in which I’m not anonymous? I am not always sure what to do with all this, but oh my am I grateful. Grateful that all these people make space for me and my family in their lives. Grateful that we have such a wonderful group of people around us. Grateful that my littles are surrounded by caring adults and fun kids. Grateful that the stars aligned and brought us to this place in the world where it feels like we can settle in and put down some roots. All of which will certainly involve planting more beets, many more beets!

Inspiration: Patchwork Style and Peanut

The design

Adding a strip

Getting ready to quilt

There’s something very special about making a pillowcase designed by your 5-year-old son. He chose the log cabin style out of a few sketches and played with different color combinations until he found this one. Once he’d chosen his favorite, he took it into my work room and found fabrics in almost exactly the same colors that he used in the design. The look of total satisfaction and expectation on his face when he came back with his stack of solids was priceless. Now I just have to make it!

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WIP Report

Made myself a shirt!

Little Yellow T-shirt

I’ve been sewing like crazy, but not taking much time to record or photograph. It has to do with finding a balance between the sewing I do for myself and the sewing I do for work as well as trying to figure out what’s going to be a good balance here. The responsible part of me feels quite strongly that all the sewing I do should be “work” sewing. The other part has its own ideas and keeps tapping me on the shoulder. It speaks sweetly about my passion for sewing, my interests in learning to sew clothes, the joy I find in sewing for my family, the pleasure I get out of sewing things we can use every day. It’s an on-going task to find a balance, but I’m getting there! As for what I’ve been making, let me share!

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New Horizons

Bibs in a row

Key fobs

Last Monday, I put tags on a few bibs and key fobs to drop off at Studio Zipp. Studio Zipp is Wilma van Beek’s shop that she’s recently moved into a gorgeous location in downtown Nijmegen, Priemstraat 1. She fills it with unusual and beautiful creations, both hers and others’. I first met her when we needed to get our dining room chairs reupholstered. We spoke to a couple different people, but Wilma was the one with a modern vision and great skills to go with it. I was so flattered when we ran into each other as fellow stall holders at the Linden Market in March and she admired my work! One thing led to another and on Monday afternoon, I dropped of a few pieces for her shop. But there’s more.

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