Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Oh, You Sparkling New Year's Eve!

New Year's Eve always finds me feeling a bit down. I want to hold on to the old year, not let it go.

There was so much I still wanted to accomplish during 2014, and now it is slipping away with each ticking of the clock. It makes me a bit anxious, hyper, restless. Still, a coming brand-new year is something to celebrate! 2014 was full of so many blessings and opportunities.

I spent last New Year's Eve shooting fireworks with my son, but this morning's biting temperatures are a pretty good indicator that I'll not likely be spending the evening hours outdoors! No, rather we'll spend the afternoon dismantling all the Christmas decorations and getting our home back to a normal state; putting up new things, giving it all a good cleansing scrub, remembering the magic and joy of Christmas. And the best part is, it's what I WANT to do with my New Year's Eve! The coming 'blank slate' of a new year, while unsettling and a wee bit intimidating, makes me feel like cleaning, purging, letting go and unloading of all things I do not want to carry with me into 2015, including dust and the wee scraps of wrapping paper that seem to settle into every corner no matter how often I've cleaned!  

Tomorrow will be collards and black-eyed peas to ensure blessings and bounty in the New Year!

How about you? How will you welcome in 2015?

With love and wishes for a sparkling New Years,

Monday, December 29, 2014

Liberal Hunters, Flowing Art-to-Wear, and How We Change

I happened to run across one of the family members of an old friend I haven't seen in years over the holiday shopping season, and of course, I asked after him. I was surprised to learn that this gentleman, who was a pretty much a liberal, anti-gun kind of guy when we were well acquainted, is now a hunter who is slowly amassing quite an impressive collection of firearms for both himself and his children. My expression must have revealed my astonishment and curiosity as to what could have prompted such a complete change, because the family member laughed and explained simply that my friend had been in a relationship with a lady who came from a family of avid hunters. Nothing more needed to be said; nothing is capable of changing us so utterly and completely as love.

Still, the idea of how dramatically we can change stayed with me, and I ponder this now as one year fades into another. What about us, if anything, stays constant, and just how much is fluid, ever changing, at the mercy of relationships we enter into, places we live, careers we choose?

The streets of my town are so unbelievably amazing this time of year that it takes my breath away. On a night out with friends this weekend, visiting a new cafe here in town and enjoying some mild winter weather, we discussed change, what it means, and how it affects us all. Changes in us and changes in others, from fashion styles to deeper, more personal changes, and what might prompt them. I thought of changes in me over the past few years, ideas which I've touched on in previous posts, Personal Growth, Football Season and Blog Branding and Containing Multitudes.

Looking out from inside towards a downtown illuminated with 7,000 sparkling white lights, I thought about holiday gifts I'd received from a family member - flowing art-to-wear garments that I might have had a penchant for pairing with leggings and Nomadic State of Mind Sandals back in my late twenties/early thirties, but that I've not been partial to for almost a decade. This person doesn't see that, however; she sees the me that existed in a certain space and time, not who I am today. It's a wee bit maddening, but then... is impossible for me to imagine my strong-willed, set-in-his-ideas-and-ideals friend suddenly blazing through some crash course on Southern Outdoorsmanship in order to win favor with the family of his lady love. It would be easier to imagine him trying to convince them of the error of their ways than vice-versa, but here is where I underestimated my friend's ability to adapt and change when the time and proper motivation comes. Perhaps this was just the change he needed; perhaps the him I knew needed to fade, and fast, into this new, robust person. After all, is it required that we must remain the same, always?

I've always been somewhat mystified by people, even close friends, who proudly profess, "That's just how I am and always will be!" and the staunch unwillingness to change that statement (and similar statements) implies. Change is growth, just as adaptation is a survival skill. When I received my initial Reiki training, I was told to expect changes, but to also expect to lose a few people as a result of this, because not everyone we are close to can or is willing to grow with us. Also there is the idea that who we are in any given moment ebbs and flows in conjunction with the lessons we need in life; in other words, there is no core 'who we are' but rather, like a river, a constant flowing pool of growth and change as we adapt and react to situations both old and new. This kind of thought kindly disguises for us the reality that change and even growth can be volatile, especially when it is not desired.

And here, dear reader, is where I'd love to have your thoughts, to continue this dialogue on another day. Are you who you were last year, last week, yesterday? What has prompted your greatest growths and changes? A huge catalyst for me was becoming a mother, but of course, this metamorphosis happens to all of us who become parents. Still, even within this role, there must be room for growth and change, often quickly, because our children tend to become completely different people right around the time we think we we know so much about parenting them that we could write essays about it.

And that, I believe, is the gist of it - change and adaptation just at the precise moment we thought we had a good, strong grip on who and what we are.I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friends Near and Far

During the time of my birthday, a gift mailed to me by my friend Cassandra did not show up for several weeks. She was so concerned about this that she sent out another gift to replace the missing one. Of course, the new gift, which was monetary, arrived on the same day that the lost gift finally found it's way to my mailbox! When I messaged her to let her know both had arrived and I was happy to send back the second gift, she insisted I keep it, citing our friendship, which has spanned almost two decades, as being worth more than the price of any present.

What followed was a sudden texting flurry of  'I'm so glad we're friends' gushing that lasted for at least a half-hour and warmed my heart. The kicker here, however, is that I've never actually met Cassandra in person. In almost twenty years, our friendship has been maintained solely by hand-written correspondence and occasional text messaging.

During this busy holiday time, I'm very grateful for friends like her, both near and far. At the post office Wednesday to mail holiday packages, I felt a rush of excitement knowing all of our gifts would soon be on their way to so many friends far away. This morning, I packaged up small handmade gifts to exchange when my knitting group has our annual holiday gathering later this week. It will be a Tasha Tudor themed gathering, with gifts and treats all handmade/homemade, and it was so much fun to wrap the items up and began making treats to share,

It's so much fun to have my friends here, in my home, celebrating the holidays with us! Just as it is fun to anticipate Christmas packages from friends I don't see often enough, or maybe, like Cassandra,  have never seen at all! 

Friends bring such an added blessing to our lives, and this is never more evident than during the holidays! While our families provide our roots and our support system as we're growing and learning to make our way in the world, I feel it is our friends who give us the wings we need to fly out and explore. Our friends are often the ones who encourage us to get out there and live our one and only wild and precious lives, to not be afraid of change, to keep our minds and hearts open...

It takes much effort in the course of our busy lives to connect with others, but it is so essential and vital to our happiness and well-being. It's easy to get so caught up with our work, families and home that we forget the importance of friendships, which do take time and energy to maintain, but the time and energy is so worth it! 

If there is a friend you've been meaning to write, talk with, or visit, the holiday season is the perfect time! Send a card, call to say hello, or bake a batch of Christmas cookies and drop them by!

 'Tis the season, after all!

I've chosen to illustrate this post with pictures from a birthday gathering held for me by my friend Virginia at her lovely home this past October. 

~ Amy

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Simple Season + New Issue of The Mother Magazine + More

Join me in life and on Instagram (@panpanstudios) in celebrating a simple, stress-free, homemade and handmade holiday season!

Learn more about this and The Living Home at!

And join me in celebrating the newest edition of The Mother Magazine, featuring my article, The Wisdom of Waldorf, and an exclusive interview with actress Alicia Silverstone!

I'm also participating in Instagram's Global Advent Calendar, which you can learn more about here, and enjoying Drops Design Christmas Calendar by Garn Studios!

What you enjoying this holiday season? I hope it's simple homemade, handmade happiness in a cozy loving, living home!

Happy Thursday!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Oh Happy Days...Holidays and Birthdays

It was a big week, with the Thanksgiving Holiday festivities! Seeing family and friends, and cooking the turkey for only the second time ever!

I delighted in serving it on this vintage platter, a treasured gift from a friend. It had been in his family for decades, and I love that it's now a part of our celebrations and traditions as well!

But this weekend also had another very special day - my son's tenth birthday party! We spent 'Black Friday' not out shopping with the masses (most of our gifts are either already wrapped and under the tree or handmade items in various stages of completion!) but getting the house ready for a party! Just like we're committed to keeping the holidays a simple, stress free time, we wanted to keep the birthday party low-key and stress free as well. Still, there was much preparation to be done, including leaf-print banners...

Remember that little house on the right...
...and making my son's favorite hummingbird cake...

The little train cake topper has been with us about six years now!
A bit of glitter makes anything festive, even newsprint and the brown paper insert from a wrapping paper roll! Yaay simple, fun, handmade decor!

We were thrilled that our little Tomten, Ingrid, arrived from Audrey Eclectic just in time for the party!

And shortly after lunch, we welcomed family and a few friends as well! Our cozy little home was bursting at the seams, but it was wonderful!

My sweet niece and her beau make a cute couple, don't they?
Singing birthday songs!

Opening gifts!


There's that little house from earlier picture!
My son painted it for my parents as an early Christmas gift! 

Friends who are like family are so special!
776 pieces of fun, heh heh!!
It was such a happy day, following the happiness and celebration of gratitude that is Thanksgiving, and then followed by the first Sunday of Advent, which heralds in the magic and wonder of the coming winter holidays!

This year's Advent calendar, a gift from afar!
 I can't image that ten years have passed so quickly since the day of my son's birth...or who I was before I became a mother. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I can honestly say I am so grateful for this journey, this life, friends, family and the work that I have now.

Holidays and birthdays are times to be filled with loved ones being together, good nourishing food, traditions, memories being made...such important moments in our lives! It has been a wonderful holiday break here in South Carolina! Going back to work after five happiness-filled days of holiday break has me ready for the next few weeks! I'll be back soon with a new installment on my Setting Reasonable Goals series and also sharing a favorite Southern pumpkin pie recipe for your holiday feasting!

Happy Monday!