Thursday, March 24, 2016

Some Awesome Books, Links, and a Spring Recipe for you!

I am not a huge fan of being in front of a computer screen...which is kind of a negative for a writer, but nevertheless, it is true. I prefer real books to Kindles and generally only get on the computer when I am at work, writing or blogging. Still, I've discovered a website that I must explore a bit more, and I want to share it with you!

It's Little House Living, and in the blogger and author Merissa A. Alink's own words, "Here you can learn to save money and make the most with what you have. Whether that's learning how to cook from scratch, checking out creative ways to ave money, and learn how to live simply." All things that are very important to me right now, especially as a mother. If you are like me and prefer books to screens, you can check out the new book with the same title here!

In addition, I've just been told about a new book I'm interested in exploring called Simplicity Parenting. I became aware of this through a lovely blog I follow, Audrey Eclectic, and want to learn more.  No matter how often we purge, it seems there is always more that needs to go. And no matter how much I budget, I still end up feeling, at the end of the month, that it should not cost so much to live if we are living simply. So I am keen to learn more and look forward to exploring the Little House Living blog, book, and Simplicity Parenting.

With no bookstores nearby and a hesitancy to purchase without actually seeing, I've requested our local library order Little House Living. They are great about getting the books I request, which enables me to save money and check the books our as often as I like! (I just checked out Almost Amish again to enjoy over Spring Break!) And by checking books out instead of buying them, I save money and reduce clutter in our home! I just have to muster the patience to wait for that call saying, "The book you requested has arrived!"

I hope that the Easter Holiday is amazing for you and yours. I am on work holiday and get to play happy homemaker for the next week, and I couldn't be more excited! The events, the baking, the time at home, in springtime nature! We'll be starting some seedlings and doing all kinds of other fun things. I hope you will, too!

Recipe for these fun spring treats here!

Have a blessed Easter Season!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

On Big Magic...

Recently I read the book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was referred to this book my friend Cassie, whose opinion on things literary I generally respect, and who has written many wonderful books of her own. So I decided to read Big Magic and found myself enjoying it thoroughly.

Not because it inspired me to go out and tackle the world based solely on the belief of my own creative genius, but because it inspired me to do just the opposite. Had I read this in my twenties, it might have served as the permission I needed to stop striving to tackle the world based solely on the belief of my own creative genius and just enjoy living authentically, fully, and creatively. To just enjoy the Big Magic of being creative.

But what does that look like?

Twenty years ago, I thought it looked like me dressing dramatically, being rail thin with stunningly artistic hair, standing in front of my equally stunning paintings at gallery openings in some big city where I would have a fancy apartment above some chic coffee shop or cafe. I'd travel frequently to exotic places and do all kinds of fascinating things.

(If you know me personally, insert manic laughter here...right here...)

Twenty years later, that's so not my life. Nowadays I'm prone to simple clothing. Black and white stripes are about as dramatic as my wardrobe gets. Even though I am mostly vegan I'm still not rail thin (dammit!) and when it comes to hair, my stylist knows, I'm both too cheap and too lazy to maintain any kind of stunningly artistic look beyond whipping it up into a scrunchie. (The scrunchie might be stunningly artistic, though...)

And while I do love to see a good art exhibit, I rarely make appearances at gallery openings because I don't like small talk with large crowds. And instead of the studio, these days I'm likely to be found in the kitchen, trying to master the secret to creating a perfect homemade pie crust...

A long way to go....painting is so much easier...
Fancy chic apartments in metropolitan cities? Not so much, but I love our small home, on the edge of the woods with just enough space and a patio where I can enjoy morning coffee and birdsong. And though I do enjoy traveling, I don't do it frequently because I so love being at home, making things, writing, reading, planting, cooking. I'm still striving for my dreams, they just aren't centered around the same things anymore. What I strive for now is simple, sustainable living; eating real food; buying less and reusing/recycling more; slowing down and enjoying life; more time, because requiring less material items means I can work less and live more. A place a little further away from the city, where I can have a huge garden, maybe a few gentle animals to greet me when I step outside on the deck with my morning coffee. A mountain view won't hurt. A job I can work from home so I rarely need to venture away...

What I love about Big Magic is that it encourages me to keep striving towards the creativity that brings me joy while reminding me I am not obligated by the laws of nature to make my living from it. That it is okay to enjoy being creative and living a creative life on my own terms, without forcing my creativity to provide my bread and butter, because let's face it, creativity manifests itself in many, many ways, and not all of those way are going to result in a marketable product. The very notion that it would, or would need to, is what led to the burn-out that upended my life a couple of years back and has redefined how I view creative living now. I like that an author so prolific as Elizabeth Gilbert gets that even the biggest of magic doesn't have to result in the biggest of payoffs to be worth doing. It's worth doing not because it will bring one fame and fortune, but because it will bring happiness to one in those moments, as well as love, experiences, and joy to life.

In other words, I'm not wasting my creative talents if I'm not creating solely to generate income. I am wasting my creative talents, however, if I am not creating a life I enjoy. Striving towards fame and fortune, always burning the midnight oil, creating work for a target market, endless small talk with huge crowds...these are things I didn't enjoy. I am sure that is many people's cup of tea, but my big magic takes place elsewhere, and I'm perfectly okay with that.

This week's creative endeavors for our household will involve vending at SpringFest and turning these lovely eggs, gifted to us by a friend who has hens, into delicate Easter desserts and what I am hoping will be some pretty epic Easter eggs.

Here's hoping you will have a blessed week full of Big Magic! And if you are so inclined, give the book a look. I found it at our local library, but you can find it here or at your local bookstore!

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Short Story of Burnout and a Free EGuide from

A few years ago, something happened to me that I never imagined. It took a while for me to put it into terms. I felt at times I was drifting away from myself, and my core identity was being rocked. At first I kept it to myself, but after a while, I had to talk about it because I needed to understand what was happening.

And finally, I did. After years of burning the midnight oil, working a full-time job while also passionately pursuing a second career, of pushing myself always to be doing more, I had hit that rock bottom affectionately known as burnout.

Whereas I once was involved in a flurry of projects and activities that thrilled me but took an immense amount of energy, suddenly, I was solely focused on raising my child and working and taking care of my home...and very little else. Weekends became a new vibe. Netflix became my best friend.

Here is the thing I've learned about burnout - it redirects you. You don't just get your mojo back suddenly and leap back into the foray. You burnout for a variety of reasons - you are careening at breakneck speed down a wrong path, you have expended beyond a normal amount of energy, or what you want and need from life simply changes cold turkey on you and you suddenly find yourself not knowing what to do with yourself anymore. The dreams you were driving yourself towards just seem to die a slow, painful death.

The death of a dream is akin to a relationship abruptly ending. All the attention you gave it, all the time you spent with it, how it factored into your long range plans...burnout takes that away and you have to start fresh. Going back to the dream is like going back to an ex over and over...the pieces usually just can't be picked back up.

This is where depression can settle in, because not knowing what to do with one's self can lead to a sense of idleness and lack of purpose. Of simply going through the motions without really feeling life. The dream gave a great deal of purpose and suddenly it isn't there anymore. When you've been passionately pursuing a dream for a long time, the regular motions of life can feel a bit to, well...regular.

So you think. A lot. And you start realizing that the dream, the quest, the ambitions that lead to your burnout actually took up a hell of a lot of your time. You hadn't noticed how much before, but now you were finding great joys in being out in nature, in knitting and creating functional items for your home and family, in trying new recipes, finding a perfect bouquet for the dinner table from your own garden. You find a great deal of joy in a long, long walk in nature, coffee with friends, and perfecting your homemade pie crust.

You are still the same creative person, the same ambitious soul, still driven and high energy to do many things....they just aren't the same things anymore. Your soul wants - and needs - something now that is no longer related to the dream. And you suddenly find a great deal of happiness coming from just being, and just being you.

My friend Mari of SaimaaLife worded it best when she said, "For a long time I pursued a life that I thought I wanted; success, a better salary etc. My burnout led me to question my life choices up to this point. In nature’s silence I realized that the things that I really wanted were elsewhere. I also realized that they had very little to do with fame and money."  In her new, free E-Guide From Stress to Relaxation: 10 Ways to Wellbeing With the Help of Nature, Mari address the similar experiences I had over the past few years and not only how to combat them, but when it's also wise to embrace them. To listen. To understand what your soul and body are telling you. What it's wise to hold on to, and what it's wise to release. A guide towards both a more authentic life and a more authentic you. You can download the free E-Guide here or by visiting

Please feel free to comment on the eGuide or share your own experiences with burnout! I'm going to dedicated a few posts in the coming weeks to both recognizing burnout and using it as a fuel to reboot your life! Until then, Happy Friday. We are 6 days away from a 12 day spring vacation over here, and can not wait!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

You Don't Have to Go Far to Find Magic!

I will admit, if I hadn't given up Netflix for Lent, it's entirely possible I'd have sent the boy to his grandparents and spent the entire weekend in a House of Cards Season 4 Marathon. As it's decidedly not kid-friendly, at the very least I'd have binge watched from 8pm or so until the wee hours, therefore being no good for much on these lovely, sunny, and warm pre-Spring weekend days.

Thank Goodness that can't happen now! Instead, we spent the day doing a bit of local road-tripping! South Carolina is fraught with off-the-beaten path towns and curiosities, and one of them is Wells Japanese Garden, located in historic Newberry. I'll let the photos speak for themselves!

We picnicked under the pagoda! 

I can't imagine how pretty this place is in the during the high point of spring! We'll definitely be going back to check it out. And Newberry is a quaint, delightful little village. We have passed through this town a bazillion times on the way to somewhere else and always said we'd come back one day and just hang out here. When a friend told me about the Japanese Gardens, I decided to make visiting Newberry a definite plan, because one doesn't have to go far and wide to have a worthwhile adventure!

The rare brick streets remind me of my own hometown...

Oh those wonderful blue skies! Spring is definitely in the air...but one still needs a hoodie!

A bit of antiquing is good for the soul. I love being in the presence of old things!

Coffee AND wine? Of course this place had to be checked out! 
While going far away can be very exciting and fun, I find travel to a new place to be rewarding and enriching even if it's close to home. I can be spontaneous, because a day trip requires less planning and scheduling. I'm making it a goal this year to be more spontaneous, because I do love planning and scheduling, probably way too much. In the past I tended to focus on big trips, which were wonderful but few and far between, and I also found I was tending to go to the same places over and over because I knew them, there was comfort in their familiarity, and it was just easier. Now I'm trying to get out more and see new things more often. I find keeping it closer to home (with a few far and away trips whenever possible) fulfills the gypsy in my spirit, educates my son about his home state and region, and keeps my budget happy, too.

So when you are needing a change of scenery, it's great for the well-being just to check out what's nearby, see something new to your eyes, get to know a place just down the road! It doesn't take too much, especially if you pack a picnic as we did. You can have an absolutely magical day and still be home in time for supper!

Happy travels!