the habit of being_7.10.14

 
I’m not one to write sonnets, nor to read them (at least since I left academia behind). What I do love is that sonnet comes from the Italian sonetto, meaning a little sound or song. And that one up there in the photograph in the crazy outfit only a 2yo could love, it’s what she is. My wee lass, our Bootsie McFly, she is the song in our days.

I like my poetry half-rhymed, unrhymed, and even unmetrical. I like lyrical beauty and depth, the exaltation of everyday miracles. And that is what my little sonnetto brings to our days, a world full of beauty, love, and wonder. Thank you my wee Irish songbird.

PS: why write?

 
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Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by julu prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the write alm fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.

 

  • Your thoughts make me smile, and what a sweet sweet photograph.ReplyCancel

  • Such a sweet picture and words <3 these words you wrote could come from my soul too "I like lyrical beauty and depth, the exaulation of everyday miracles." Yes. This. Those are the types of poems that have been coming from my pen lately. I was starting to think it wasn't "real" poetry because I never rhyme. Silly brain!ReplyCancel

  • Manise

    So sweet… all of it!ReplyCancel

  • Oh, what a sweetheart! Love your words too Amanda.ReplyCancel

  • she is a sweetie and I can imagine those little ditties she is humming. That is what I miss most about having little ones in the house.ReplyCancel

  • Ellie

    A real cutie that’s for sure, she’s so delightful. I had a little curly haired one who, at this same age sang all day in her own made-up words. She was the song in our day in more ways than one – all grown up now she still is too :) ReplyCancel

  • such a sweet reflection and tribute to your wee lass…ReplyCancel

  • LOVE the chalkboard wall!!!
    We have few walls in this house…but you did it on the back of a door…AHA!
    XOReplyCancel

    • admin

      C– the back of a door counts as a flat surface and it’s a weird door we never use so win win!ReplyCancel

the habit of being_ blueberry cake

 

On my walk this morning I thought about today’s prompt, ambition. My thoughts on ambition and my ambitions too, have changed. The dissertation, once all I lived and breathed, has been quietly sitting in a box at the bottom of a pile of boxes in the darkest reaches of my closet. Twelve years ago I couldn’t imagine this as a possibility and today, I think of all the time I spent reading texts and literary criticism and marvel at the luxury of all that time spent either reading, writing, or meeting with my profs dissecting Old French lyric poetry and l’amour courtois.

I am ambitious. I am driven. It just looks different now and of course the fruits of that ambition and drive are a far cry from my pre-motherhood aspirations. And so when I get that question (How do you do it all?) I tend to look at the asker wide-eyed, amazed. What is the all of which you speak? Because I don’t do it all, I pick and choose, I fill my time with the people and activities I love. Invitations to meet for coffee, to contribute writing — declined. I pick and choose so that I may fill my days with the things and people I love, the things and people that make my soul sing (even on the bad days when little people are cranky or the work is not progressing as I may wish). Ambition now looks a lot like happiness, fulfillment, loving and being loved.

 
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Tracey spotted a photo I posted on the effbooks this morning and asked for my recipe. Here you go, Tracey:

Blueberry Lemon Kefir Cake

3 cups flour, set aside .5 cup
1 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp baking soda
.25 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1.5 cups sugar
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon (a couple of TBSP)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup plain kefir (you can use greek or plain yogurt or even buttermilk)
2.5 cups blueberries

Oven at 350.
Butter and flour a large Bundt pan.

Mix dry ingredients together: 2.5 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate (larger bowl): sugar and zest. I like to massage the zest into the sugar. Add butter, vanilla, lemon juice, vanilla extract, eggs. Mix well. Add kefir (yogurt or buttermilk).

Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet being careful to mix but not overly mix.

Carefully coat the berries with the .5 cup flour you set aside earlier so your berries don’t all sink. Gently fold the berries into the batter.

Spoon batter into Bundt pan. Bake for 55ish minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy.

Note: I’m lazy about getting the mixer out and make this by hand (so does the 12yo). Also, we have never glazed this cake because it’s quite flavorful but if you think it needs a glaze, have at it!

 
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Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by julu prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the write alm fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.

 

  • Amanda, thank you so much for taking the time to post this for me, I can’t wait to try it.
    I can’t believe I am still picking blueberries in July, but I am. Now if the figs would just ripen. :) ReplyCancel

    • admin

      tracey, we pick at a friend’s where he has two acres of blueberries and yes, the bushes are still loaded.ReplyCancel

      • This cake is a big hit in my home Amanda, thank you for sharing. Alex especially loved it and I think he ate 1/4 of the cake in one sitting. Oh to have the metabolism of a teenage boy!ReplyCancel

        • admin

          Tracey, I feel your pain. It seems the boy appetite has hit in our home and my 11yo can easily put down 1/4 of the cake then ask what’s for lunch at 11a.m. Oy.ReplyCancel

  • Ambition is quite the word and quite the prompt and I’ve been staring at a blinker cursor for hours, wondering if I truly have any at all! ;-) Enjoy your cake, kids, and love. Treasures.ReplyCancel

  • YES!!! It is all about choices, isn’t it? I am so with you on this, making the choice clear about how and with who I want to spend my time. I have much less time now, as a homeschooling mom, and so those precious bits of time I have to share, I share with the people and experiences that make me happy and feed my soul. I feel the same way as you about how ambition looks to me now…happiness, contentment fulfillment,love and being loved , which is much different than it looked pre motherhood.ReplyCancel

  • I love that photo, the gentleness of the colours, the mood it creates.ReplyCancel

  • Love your post. It really is about choice – it has taken me so loooong to learn that! That recipe looks delicious, thank you for sharing it.ReplyCancel

  • keep submitting Amanda, I have great faith in you. I agree that we pick and choose where we want to focus our attentions, talents and time. Whatever we choose to focus on there are sacrifices. We just need to make sure that the sacrifices are what we can live with. I wouldn’t change my past or present life for the world.ReplyCancel

  • I can relate to this so much. I’m learning to say yes only to the things that bring me happiness. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • I think you have got it going on in the best way possible! You do what feels right and what feeds your heart/soul. That’s admirable.
    And that cake?!!!! Must try!!ReplyCancel

  • I really did love reading this today Amanda. Well timed for me, as I contemplate a job offer…ReplyCancel

    • admin

      oooh! that is really big, erin. follow your heart :) ReplyCancel

  • “Ambition now looks a lot like happiness, fulfillment, loving and being loved”

    this. exactly. I get the same question often, and I am so glad that I am at a point in my life where I have the wisdom to choose.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      HUZZAH! and heather, lawdy, what i wouldn’t have given for some of that wisdom in my younger years!ReplyCancel

  • What a wonderful post this is, and such a great way to consider ambition.
    Happy day to you!ReplyCancel

  • Reflecting on all that has changed over the years in my life can feel overwhelming. It’s like I’ve acted as different characters in a variety of movies. So much has happened, so many years have passed. It often feels like it is all moving far too fast. You seem very grounded at present. It must feel good. I fluctuate. Some days I am more grounded than others. Cheers to making good choices and leading rewarding lives.ReplyCancel

  • Cheri

    “What is the all of which you speak? Because I don’t do it all, I pick and choose, I fill my time with the people and activities I love. Invitations to meet for coffee, to contribute writing — declined. I pick and choose so that I may fill my days with the things and people I love, the things and people that make my soul sing (even on the bad days when little people are cranky or the work is not progressing as I may wish). Ambition now looks a lot like happiness, fulfillment, loving and being loved. ”

    Beautifully written. Thank you, Amanda!ReplyCancel

  • As you know from reading my recent post, I am working on that which you speak. I don’t have a problem saying “no” to things but I do tend to work too much and sometimes in a not totally streamlined efficient way.
    It’s good to know there is someone out there who has it down pat. ; )
    xoReplyCancel

the habit of being_6.12

 
It’s been a busy last few days leading up to this much needed, much welcomed three day weekend (poor Mister has been tasked with cleaning out the storage area to find the stash of cloth diapers — I bet you can feel his excitement from where you sit).

My days have been full of shuttling children around, meal prep, laundry, and all the while I’ve had the day’s prompt at the back of my mind, turning, turning. By the end of the day this mama has wanted nothing more than some quiet, feet up, hand on belly, watching this, and knitting a few rows.

In the midst of life and all the turning over of prompts, I was struck by the way the prompts from the last few days work together. How becoming a mother conferred on me the ability to explore my history and stories in a new light. When I ponder my past I see motherhood as the pivotal moment, the breaking open of my heart, the loosening of the chains I had allowed to confine me to thinking of me, my pain, my struggles. I can see the many failures of the adults that should have done and known better, the ways in which I was set adrift. And yet, it is those very things, those very people that played a role in who I am today as a woman, a wife, a mother. It’s odd to consider that years of hurt and pain led me to this place, this wholly good place, where I am fully present, loved and loving, and enjoying an obscene amount of laughter with my tribe but damn, it’s been worth it.

 
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Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by julu prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the write alm fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.

 

  • Our past forms us but never defines us. You sound like you are in a good place and I hope you enjoy the three day weekend! My house is full and I’m in the midst of meal prep, company coming cleaning (toilet swilling). Oh I do love the busy!ReplyCancel

  • I think about that a lot, the past, its pain and who I am today. Maybe because of my past the way I process most things in my life is by eliminating what I don’t want, and that is much of how I was raised/the foundations that were set and the choices I was given when I didn’t have a say.

    And I think those things that have occurred have given me a very strong foothold on what I do want, which makes this life, my life, so beautiful.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      agreed kristen! i’ve become quite good at setting boundaries and letting people go — i know what i want and i am thankful i’m *finally* able to go after it, no apologies.ReplyCancel

  • Last month was our 21st anniversary, and marked the point at which I have been married for exactly half of my life. And the latter half is without question even better than the first.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      i love hearing this, lisa! my married years have definitely been the best.ReplyCancel

  • This is beautiful Amanda and it is so wonderful to hear that you are in such a good place…you actually made me cry (with joy). Have a great weekend with the ones you love xReplyCancel

  • amanda, it’s always such a pleasure to read your words about motherhood, family, and the journey that life carries us through. thank you!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      thank you nichole!

      on a side note, since i’ve seen your name pop up here, i just wanted to check and make sure you rec’d the invite to the dropbox folder we set up for you. if not, let us know :) ReplyCancel

      • i haven’t received it yet. thanks for checking!ReplyCancel

        • admin

          Really? We sent it the day we received your submission. Will go ahead and resend it — you might check your spam folder. It will be coming from submissions AT kindredmag DOT org :) ReplyCancel

  • I’m so sorry for the pain of your youth Amanda, but I smile now when I think of you with your loving family, you deserve nothing but happiness.
    Have a beautiful weekend and I hope the Mister is okay.ReplyCancel

  • Sometimes I’ll choose one moment in my life (mostly a not-so-good one) and think about it and wonder if that moment didn’t happen how it would have changed my life. Often I end up deciding that I’d keep the moment (as if I really have a choice in the matter!) in favour of all the good things that came of it in the end (crappy past included). Becoming a mother for me most definitely had a profound effect on my ability to begin my journey in healing the past. In fact, I was only able to reach out and connect with my own father (after 20 years of estrangement) after my first was born. And my past – it’s given me many ideas of how I want to change things for my own children.
    Hoping your Mister finds his way through the storage area. If it were our house that would be a mission of extreme (possibly life-threatening) danger. I’m not sure what all lives in our storage room.ReplyCancel

  • Such a lovely, contemplative post. Really enjoyed it. :) ReplyCancel

  • Yes,my husband calls it “breaking the chain.” Not carrying forward the things that didn’t serve us as children.

    this made me laugh:
    (poor Mister has been tasked with cleaning out the storage area to find the stash of cloth diapers — I bet you can feel his excitement from where you sit).ReplyCancel

the habit of being_the fever

 

I received a copy of The Fever for review and it came the same day I’d read this listing it as a contender for book of the summer 2014.

The Fever is the story of a close-knit family living in an idyllic suburban community. Loosely inspired by the mass hysteria story reported in LeRoy, NY, The Fever tells the story of Deenie and her friends, Lise and Gabby. Lise is overtaken by a strange fit in class and subsequently hospitalized. Her medical crisis becomes a point of speculation by those in the community as more girls begin to succumb to the epidemic. The not-knowing is what drives the story forward; more and more girls succumb, while Deenie lives in fear of succumbing herself. Meanwhile the boys treat it like a joke:

“You’re all going down.” The other boy laughed, beats thrumming through the open mouths of his headphones. “One by one.”

While the school attempts to keep the concerns of parents and students in check, both medical and police officials get involved to ascertain exactly what has happened at Dryden High. As the girls around Deenie fall victim to the mysterious disease, Deenie becomes a source of gossip and people begin to question why.

Abbott deftly writes about community, secrets, and the helplessness of a town in crisis. The story is about the dark and secret interiors of a teen girl’s psyche and conveys the minefield that is the politics of high school girls.

 

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Thanks to the good folks that sent me a copy for review, I’m giving away one copy of The Fever. Giveaway is open to US residents only. For a chance to win the giveaway copy, leave a comment. Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted by email Tuesday, July 8th.

ETA: my random number generator (also known as the wee lass drawing a name from a hat) has selected Shari as the lucky recipient of The Fever. Congrats Shari!

 

  • I was just looking at this book at the store. I was very interested in it, but did not pick it up at the time. I hope you enjoyed it.ReplyCancel

  • this is totally up my alley.

    PS. hope you are well!ReplyCancel

  • I would love to have my name added for a chance to receive The Fever. It looks like I will be here alone for a lot of July so there will be plenty of time for reading.ReplyCancel

  • Sounds interesting!ReplyCancel

  • Shari

    I’d love a chance to win. Have heard great things about this one.ReplyCancel

  • Your description here has a Virgin Suicides vibe to it. So interesting!ReplyCancel

  • I took the kiddos this week to a new local bookstore near us. It was such fun, although it is not easy on the wallet! Thank you for all your book recommendations.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      i know, heather! i wish it was a more affordable habit ;-) ReplyCancel

  • Annette

    I’m always on the lookout for a good read!ReplyCancel

  • Jen

    Sounds gripping!
    It made me think of the Lyme, Connecticut area and how things may have spiraled out of hand there in 1975 if things had been handled differently.ReplyCancel

  • Wow, that book sounds fantastic! Definitely going on my to-read list. Thanks for the recommendation! xoReplyCancel

  • Brigid

    I appreciate your recommendations and this sounds like another one that I would enjoy. Thank you!ReplyCancel

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

 

July, I am so glad you’re here. May and June were rough. R-O-U-G-H. As I crack the cover on this new Moleskine and turn the page on the calendar*, I pray you will be kind July.

No more talk of the nasty ‘C’ word for a while in this house, no more spots needing to be removed, ok? I’m tired of needles. And car problems, lordy, can we just get a break on the car stuff? And special prayers and graces are needed for the friends’ baby born at 23 weeks and still in the NICU, for my sweet friend who underwent two major surgeries in two weeks to rid her body of cancer.

Go gently July, pretty please.

 
PS: Are you ready to quit thinking about writing and actually write? If so, registration is now open for Write Now | Summer 2014. Are you an under-employed creative needing to pay in installments or in need of a sliding scale? Get in touch!

* Each time I post a photo of the month’s calendar page, I get inquiries about it’s source. I bought it from here.

 
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Weaving words along with everyone else inspired by julu prompt-a-day. join us and link up over here, on the write alm fb page, or on twitter or instagram using the hashtag #writealm.

 

  • Stephanie Bonin

    Yes July, can we please be calm? We need a restorative span of time.
    Much love to you Amanda…ReplyCancel

  • I hope July is a more amiable month for you Amanda and your two friends too…such tough things to go through. Life can throw some real curveballs, can’t it? Take care.ReplyCancel

  • Joining you in prayer for your intentions. I have a dear uncle who is going through a lot health wise and the ripples that extend from him to those who love him are felt deeply. Prayer is the gift my mother left me and I treasure the calmness it brings.ReplyCancel

  • Yes, please, may July be bette for everyone, especially you and Stephanie, and that little NICU one and the mama. <3ReplyCancel

  • Oh, love. I wish you so much ease this month.
    xoReplyCancel

  • Gentle July – feels fitting. I pray you will find peace this month.ReplyCancel

  • wishing you peace and joy and good news for all the months ahead.ReplyCancel

  • I pray that July is a gentle month for us all.ReplyCancel

  • Amen to that! I’m with you, it’s been a rough couple of months. Keeping fingers crossed for July to be a lovely one. Jumping over to the July prompts. Hope your have smooth sailing the rest of the year.ReplyCancel

  • Wow, yes. Praying July is as peaceful as the lovely photo above. Gentle joys to you.ReplyCancel

  • Keeping you in my prayers Amanda and wishing you a gentle, peaceful, un-eventful July with no curveballs! XOReplyCancel