Friday, August 31

august break wrap-up and belated blogiversary

Today is the last day of August, and so the last day of the August Break. I did not know at the beginning of the month how much I needed to do this. But as my family traveled to Dallas for a wedding early in the month, spent two weeks with my family in Montreal, then returned home for the start of the school year, it was great to not have the pressure to blog. My iPhone filled up with images as I explored new places, or looked afresh at some familiar spaces, and I was free to share them, and just them, on the fly (using this app, which I love) and call it good. It's been refreshing.

I wrote earlier this week about the challenges of returning home after a trip. But I've found that, once the place was cleaned up, I was able to train these new eyes on our life at home, and I am very excited about what I see. Something about returning home at the start of the schoolyear gives our routines a sense of freshness and possibility. Silas is returning to daycare, and he's turned a corner while we were away: he sleeps later, and is much less clingy and needy, and it feels like a whole new world is opening up to us. It's thrilling.

All of this makes me very happy to be back to hanging out in this space more regularly. I have great plans for this blog that I hope to roll out in the next few weeks, and I just can't wait to get to work. I am so grateful for this space, for your readership, for the container it provides for my thoughts, words, plans and images. Earlier this month this blog's anniversary came and went, and while I didn't say anything about it then, it feels right to say a few words today.

I was in such a different place last year, when I started this blog, also during the August Break. I must confess that I'm a bit of a serial blogger (my husband and I actually got to know each other through our blogs back in 2004, the blogging equivalent of the Jurassic era.) I've started and abandoned more blogs than I care to admit to. But the fact that, over this past year, no doubt the absolute hardest and richest of my life, I've been able to remain faithful to this space, and to grow as a writer and photographer as I grow as a mother, feels like a tremendous achievement, and a real cause for celebration. I'm such a happier, more grounded, more well-rested person than I was a year ago.

I am glad to have this record of my struggles. Some of you have reached out to me, and let me know how much it meant to you that I shared my hardships here. I want you to know how much those comments have meant to me, how they have encouraged me and kept me going. It's been a privilege to have you along as I figure out and articulate the kind of mama I want to be, the kind of life I want to live. And to know that you are looking for some of the same things, and that some of my words have helped you find what you are seeking, is a tremendous source of meaning and joy for me. Thank you.

There have been no streamers and balloons for this blogiversary, but I did treat myself to something very special: my own domain name, Because this mama is so grateful to be here, firmly planted in this most wondrous now. And is here for good.

In parting, a few favorite posts you may have missed:

easing up

what I think I need

be the empty cup

Wednesday, August 29

returning home (with a recipe)

Returning home after a few weeks away is always a bit of a tricky proposition. Vacations are wonderful, in that they give you a chance to break away from your everyday scenery and enjoy a new perspective on daily routines and living spaces, but this can make walking back into your same-old space a bit of a disappointment.  (It is especially so if you come home to discover that your pantry has been overtaken by crawly white worms and moths, and are forced to forgo unpacking and do a pantry deep-clean on four hours of sleep. At least now I have a really spiffy-looking pantry.)

One thing I always look forward to after a trip is returning to the kitchen. On vacation, we tend to let loose a little (or a lot.) When I go home to Montreal, even if I give myself a pep talk ahead of time, I always end up overdoing it on baguettes, croissants and macarons. Which is lovely for a while, but by the end of the stay I start to long for quinoa and kale.

With a clean pantry, a restocked fridge, yesterday I was ready to cook. On the phone with my husband, listing for him our dinner options, he chose one of our signature dishes: "Cabbage and rice."

The tradition began years ago, after a Christmas visit to Abilene, Texas, with my husband's family. Located in West Texas, it is a drab, depressing place, with food options to match. We always return feeling bloated and gross. Inspired by a recipe found in a copy of Yoga Journal I'd brought along, on the way back we stopped at the store, picked up a cabbage, and came home to discover our new favorite meal.

This dish is much greater than the sum of its parts--although its parts are pretty awesome. We are huge fans of cabbage in this house, and who doesn't love rice and Indian spices? But there are even more reasons why this is the perfect coming-home dish: we almost always have the components of this meal in our house; it comes together very quickly and easily, which makes it ideal for the road-weary cook (both my husband and I can make it from memory); it is a simple, clean dish, a perfect counterbalance to the excesses of a trip. It also costs mere pennies to make, in case you overspent on pastries and come home with an empty wallet. But mostly, for us, it has become a tradition: it's the first thing we want to make and eat when we return from a trip, and its taste tells us that we are home again.

Cabbage  & Rice 
(from Yoga Journal, Feb 2008; recipe not found online)

In a large lidded pot or Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use canola) until hot and almost smoking. Add 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds, close lid, reduce heat, and wait for the seeds to finish popping. Add half a green cabbage, sliced thinly, 1 tsp salt1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, and 1/2 tsp turmeric. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage has cooked down and is caramelized to your liking. Serve over basmati rice. Home sweet home. Serves 2 generously, maybe with leftovers, depending on the size of your cabbage and of your appetite.

Sunday, August 26


Our trip to Québec is winding down. Flying back to Texas tomorrow. These two weeks have been good to us.

for the August Break

Wednesday, August 15

august 15

As the mama of a busy boy, I think that what I crave and relish the most is time uninterrupted; singularity of focus. To be immersed in one thing. To go deep. I hope you get to go there too today.

(Fuschia lipstick helps, too.)

for the August Break

Tuesday, August 14

Sunday, August 12

august 12

Packing up the snacks, gathering the gadgets and chargers, choosing the scarves and poetry books. Flying home to Montréal tomorrow with my boy for two weeks of lounging in the grass and drinking pastis poolside. Bon voyage!

Friday, August 10

Tuesday, August 7

august 7

read:: The Ten-Year Nap, by Meg Wolitzer
taste:: double-broccoli quinoa; blueberries
see :: about a hundred swallows perched along the powerline
touch :: squirmy toddler climbing me like a jungle gym
hear :: Avett Brothers station on Pandora
think :: it's time to shake up my daily workout routine
feel :: tired but happy at the end of a good day

senses shared

Thursday, August 2

august 2

"Fear is a natural reaction of moving closer to the truth." -Pema Chödrön

Wednesday, August 1

the august break

It's August, and like last year, I'll be playing along with Susannah. The August Break is a chance to take a break from regular blogging, and share a picture every day on our blogs--or more, or less, there are no rules! This comes at a great time for me since there will be lots of travel for my family this month: we're headed to Dallas for a wedding this weekend, and in a few weeks are headed home to Montreal for two weeks, to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday, and to enjoy time with my crazy French Canadian family and eat lots and lots of corn on the cob. I'm looking forward to a big, deep exhale this month, to keeping things light and bright and fresh, and to meeting new folks doing the same all over the globe. So check back here for some summer revelry, or on Instagram--truly my favorite place to hang out--with the hashtag #augustbreak. Let's do this!