31 December 2012

December 2012 Chronicle

We are about to say good-bye to 2012. I will be leaving the year feeling more blessed than ever. This year was intended to be intentional toward gratitude and I can honestly say I've grown significantly. I will forever be a lifelong student, however. This month is no exception on gratitude. With the holidays I feel it even stronger.

+ I gave myself a special treat this month and joined in Jennifer's Love Notes Project.  Since I love mail this was a lot of fun.  I sent out and received three different post cards this month, and I learned a great deal about Joette since I was the recipient of her handmade postcards.

+ Santa came to town on a fire truck. Literally, he came driving through our neighborhood with the lights blazing and horns screaming.  The children in our neighborhood were mesmerized with his presence and I loved feeling the magic.

+ Every year we host Salvation Army Angels and give money to our employees to go shopping. It is our way of sharing the love we have for children with others. Our special Angels this year were Patrick and Josephine, a brother sister pair. I thought about them on Christmas morning and hoped they felt warmness in their heart.

+ My nephew, Tucker boy, celebrated his birthday this month. I found him the cutest wooden train set.

+ We traveled back out to Wintergreen Farms and cut down our Christmas tree. We had a local Leyland Cypress this year.

+ Not being a fan of shopping during the holidays (crowds make me crabby) I did most of my shopping on-line. It was nice to see so many etsy artisans and small businesses earn our business. Though most times I wish we did not have the technology we do, I am thankful to have access to artists that do not live in my community.

+ I decorated my entire house for Christmas, including exterior illumination. I relished in doing it this year because I knew I would have family in my home this month that would enjoy it.

+ My paternal grandmother is taking a turn for the worse and my thoughts and prayers are with her. She spent most of the month in the hospital with broken vertebrae from a fall. She will be turning 90 in January. Can you imagine what you might see in your lifetime if you were 90?

+ My sister, Sarah, came for a visit mid month. It was a non-agenda weekend filled with Top Golf, shopping, and laughter.

+ Not happy with conventional daily planners, I decided to create my own. I am starting to experiment with book binding and my second project is my 2013 planner.

+ We gave **** the 12 days of Christmas gifts this year. Each day they received a note about the meaning of the day in relation to the birth of Jesus and a special gift. We kept it secret until the last day. They thought it was a neighbor friend so they were truly surprised when they discovered it was us.

+ Annie has had her share of downs lately but we received good news from the doctor when she went for her follow up visit. She had been on bed rest because of her hips. She was starting to act out from lack of exercise and she was full of pent up energy. She was cleared for moderate exercise and we are slowly getting her back. We are all a happier family when she can go outside and run around!

+ I had dinner with a good friend that I have not spent any time with in quite a while. We had a long dinner and good conversation.

+ cc's sister is about to have her first child and we helped host her baby shower.

+ I hosted the first annual baking extravaganza with my friend BR at my home. We made sugar cookies, Texas snowballs, chocolate covered peanuts, trail mix, puppy chow...

+ My neighbors received goodie packages because of our baking day.

+ I sent my first ever indigo 26 Christmas cards. I have had so many wonderful artists spotlighted this year on my blog and I wanted them to know I appreciate them.

+ Jonathan, my nephew, has officially been adopted by my sister and brother-in-law. Best Christmas present ever!

+ I participated in Besottment's Reverb 2012 this month. Her questions covered a broad range of topics.

+ My parents came down for Christmas. I had the best time preparing for their visit. We went to Top Golf, took a carriage ride to view Christmas lights, and ate way too much. I will never forget their visit and I am thankful they allowed me to spoil them this year.

+ I received many wonderful gifts this year. As I mentioned, I am unreasonably spoiled this year. I have to say that my favorite is probably the handmade quilt that came from my maternal grandmother's aunt Jenny. It is rich with history and I am looking forward to learning more about it.

+ Unexpectedly we had a white Christmas. I was anticipating rain, and it stormed all through the night of the 24th, but slowly during the 25th it started turning to snow. It was magical.

+ This change in weather meant we also had a fire roaring in the fireplace. I think that is when I feel the most secure, around a warm fire.

+ I am ending the month, and typing this to you now, from our fireworks stand. It is our seasonal business that cc started over 20 years ago. Every NYE we tromp out here in all manner of weather and sell a little joy to anyone wanting a little sparkle to ring in the new year.

Happy new year to you, friend.  Thank you for being a part of my world this year and leaving positive words of encouragement.  May you find lessons and love from your 2012 and walk into 2013 full of light. See you next year.

28 December 2012

12 in 12 Reverb

graffiti in Houston

At the beginning of 2012 I create a list of 12 goals I wanted to knock off before the year was over.  And then I put the list away and didn't think much about it after that.  Why is it we are so good at making resolutions but lack on follow through.

What I've discovered, however, is if even if you put your intentions out there and don't pay attention to the list, most, if not all, will manifest in full or some version of it.  Here is how I did on my list...

1| Attend brand camp with Hey, Sweet Pea
This did not happen because they did not actually host a brand camp so it wasn't even possible.  I did find other avenues and resources to start building a brand.

2| Squam in the Fall
After my first trip I wasn't sure if I would return.  This year it got scheduled, but when the time came it didn't feel right.  That is until I arrived and realized it was perfect timing.  The trip was exactly what I needed.

3| Take a homesteading class
The homesteading class is at the Ploughshare Institute near Waco and I attended the spring session.  I had a fun filled three days of wandering around a working homestead.  My favorite was the mill.  They grind their own flour, corn mill and other grains.

4| Take a trip to Lincoln for a non-agenda weekend with my sister
I actually took several trips to Lincoln this year to see my sister, and all of them were unplanned most of the time.  We worked on her salon, but we still had a lot of fun.

5| Return to yoga
This goal may stay on my list for 2013.  My point was to attend regularly.  I'm amazing at how much it clears the fuzz out of my brain and produces clarity.  This goal came and went without consistency this year, but I didn't give it up.

6| Write 5 lines of gratitude daily
As with yoga, this didn't happen on a regular basis, but it happened more so than I thought.  When I looked back through my journal and planner and added up all the gratitude lists, in addition to the gratitude party, and my gratitude notebook, I'd say I did pretty good.  I'm feeling blessed this year.  I find beauty in the really small things, because some days that is all that matters.

7| Get my garden going at the new house
It was built, it was planted, and then a hot summer hit and it flopped.  I traveled quite a bit and wasn't around to really take care of it.  If nothing else, the foundation is there.

8| Make a date with the specialist I've been putting off
This goal was really a priority.  I had been in pain for over a year and finally knew I needed to get it taken care of.  I knocked this out in the early part of the year and found it wasn't a big deal.  I could actually fix it with my diet, which was a huge blessing.  Lesson learned; do not put off your health.

9| Run the Tour de Fleurs 10K in the Fall
Road races usually try to get on the list to motivate me to keep running.  I like running.  When you are in a routine and pattern it just feels good.  There really is a runners high.  I did not run this race because it happened to fall the same weekend as Squam and I was not going to miss it.  I actually stopped running altogether this year.  For a while I felt really guilty about it.  But something about the long miles just turned me off.  I'm beginning to think that my body needed rest and healing and I'm looking forward to picking up running again in 2013.

10| Go on vacation
With all my trips I wasn't sure I was going to go on vacation this year.  You could consider Squam or Alaska a vacation, but my intention here was a vacation with cc.  She doesn't always get to pick up and leave because of our business.  Over Thanksgiving we went to Galveston and stayed in a beach house for the long weekend and enjoyed a very relaxing vacation.  

11| Work on my personal style
Always a work in progress, but I decided to stop trying so hard. I received personal styling service at Wholly Tara and I desperately wish they had a shop closer.  But, at the end of the day my favorite thing to wear will always be jeans, T-shirts, and sweaters.

12| Do one thing this year that scares me
This goal is scary.  I have to say it out loud, but it is about a process for me.  It is not about jumping out of an airplane, or any one-time event that is usually on bucket lists.  It is about shifting my thinking to believe in something better or new. I'll list two big things without going into detail.
             Attended an adoption seminar - considering adopting a child
             Working on the leg work to open an on-line paper goods shop.


My 2012 WOY is ACTION.  I chose this word because I came to the realization that I am very much a dreamer and planner, but a terrible doer.  I freeze in fear most of the time.  I don't want to fail or I don't want to disappoint anyone, or the unknowns are just to big for me.  I wanted to stop that behavior so I chose a big verb.

I have to say that I followed through fairly well.  The monthly chronicle lists, the ones you see and the ones listed in my journal, scream action.  I am slowly becoming a doer and learning how to push through the fear.  Each time a decision came to sit back or go for it action would pop into my head and I was able to move forward.  Living to the fullest is manifesting.

I have been thinking about my 2013 word for a while.  I have a few ideas and I hope to build off my action from this year.  Interesting things lurk around the corner.

Tell me about your goals?  Did you meet them or some version of them?  Any revelations?

27 December 2012

Christmas 2012

How was your Christmas?  I had a wonderful Christmas.  My parents drove down from Nebraska to celebrate with us.  This was the first time I have hosted my family in my home.  Usually we travel back to Nebraska, but this year my siblings were all spending the day with their in-laws so I was lucky enough to get my parents all to myself.  

We took a horse drawn carriage ride through Highland Park in Dallas to view all the lights.  Our driver mentioned that most of these lights start at $10,000 to install!  Wow!  They were beautiful, and it was a treat to see them up close.

Top Golf was on the agenda.  Notice the weather.  It was a sunny 65 that day.  

Luna snuggled in for gifts on Christmas Eve.  

Santa had to come to our house through Thunderstorms.  Early Christmas morning we had thunder and lightning, hail and RAIN!  The moisture is such a gift.  Then the temperature started to drop and slowly the rain started turning to flurries.  

By the end of Christmas day we had a pristine blanket of snow on the ground.  It was magical.  I took Annie out to play in the snow and she loved it.  

We were all spoiled and very blessed this Christmas.  Even Annie got a little something in her stocking.  I am so thankful for parents that love me so much.  It was special for me to have them in my home for the holiday.

Unfortunately, they have to drive home on icy roads.  Texans are not accustomed to bad road conditions which has made the trip a rather treacherous.

My heart is full this year.

26 December 2012

DIY 2013 Planner

I love the smell of new year.  Well, really I mean the smell of a new planner full of blank pages waiting to be filled with plans that include road trips, date nights, and all the events that chronicle a life.  I think I will always carry a planner despite the advance of technology.  For me it's half diary, half calendar.  It is a record keeper and dreamer.  

I have been dabbling in book binding so I decided to make my own planner this year.  The inserts I purchased from droplet over at Etsy.  She sends you a file with three different ways to use the inserts.  They are perpetual so you can use them year after year.  I used her third option which is for binding. 

The cover is somewhat of a blank slate on purpose.  I end up carrying this with me everywhere and by the end of the year it will be filled with doodles, notes, stamps, stickers, and love letters.  I left for room for what is to come.

I used a coptic stitch to bring it all together.  It's easy for a beginner but my work is still a little sloppy.  I used this video for instruction. 

How do you keep track of your year?

21 December 2012

By the Season || Winter

Winter has arrived just in time for Christmas.  The weather may not indicate the change of season, but I can feel it.  It's time to hibernate.

The By the Season page has been updated.  Jump over and see what is happening this season.

19 December 2012

Squam Art Workshops

I have two special announcements today.  The first one being that if you are interested in attending Squam, the spring 2013 registration is now open! 

The second announcement is that I am honored that Elizabeth and her team have used a few of my photos on the new Squam website.  There is a slide show on the home page and my photos filter through the show.  In the grand scheme of things, it is not a big deal, butI feel honored because it's a testament to how much I've grown personally.  First and foremost to have even attended in 2009 was a big deal.  It's not like me to fly across the country by myself to participate in a creative camp that was so outside of my box.  This blog is a result of that trip. 

But life is about taking chances and making new discoveries about yourself.  This year was my second trip.  If I were to compare myself from then to now, I've grown immensely.  Not only in my abilities as a photographer, journaler, and artist but also emotionally.  I handle and carry myself differently.  So to see that woman end up with a few photos on a very public page is humbling.  It's a small affirmation that what I'm doing matters, who I am is important, and that my roots are spreading.  Everyone needs to feel that from time to time.

I do hope you get to go someday.  It will change you, I promise.

12 December 2012

Reverb 2012

I am participating in reverb 2012 hosted by Hope over at Besottment by Paper Relics.  It's not too late to catch up.  Hope creates beautiful journals to document her reverberations, and her questions are thought provoking.

Are you participating in a reverb of any kind this month?  Let me know.

10 December 2012

Roasted Pork & Apples with Cream Gravy

I missed the traditional turkey dinner this Thanksgiving.  Since cc and I went to Galveston it didn't make sense to cook a large meal for the two of us.  So I opted for a seasonal option and roasted a pork which was a great alternative.  I found the recipe in one of my favorite books, The Farm to Table Cookbook.  It was surprisingly easy and oh so delicious.

The gravy calls for a hard cider but apple cider can be substituted.  I used regular apple cider but I was worried about it being too sweet since it is drastically different than hard cider so I split the it with chicken broth for a more savory gravy and I was pleased with the results.  You will see my substitution noted in the ingredients.

Roasted Pork & Apples with Cream Gravy*


3-4 pound pork loin roast (healthy free-range organic pork is best)
kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 small (4 ounces) shallots, peeled and whole
Two 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 sweet-tart baking apples such as Braeburn or Granny Smith, halved and cored
1/2 cup hard apple cider** or 1/4 cup of apple cider + 1/4 cup of chicken stock
1 pint cream

**hard cider is fermented apple cider; it can be found in bottles wherever beer is sold.  You can substitute apple cider which is what I did.


1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Season the roast on all sides with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or ovenproof pan over high heat.  Sear the pork on all sides until it is deep brown, carefully turning with tongs.  Transfer to a plate.  Arrange the shallots, rosemary, and bay leaf in the Dutch oven and place the pork on top.  Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

2.  Remove the foil, nestle the apples around the pork, and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast reads 145 degrees, 20 to 40 minutes depending on the size of your roast (the pork should have a blush of pink juice when sliced).  Remove from the oven, place the pork on a cutting board, and cover it loosely with the foil.

3  Put the shallots and apples in a small serving bowl and keep warm.  Over high heat degalze the Dutch oven with cider (or cider and broth), scrapping any browned bits on the bottom and sides of the pan; reduce the liquid by half.  Add the cream and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

4  Carve the roast and serve with the shallots, apples, and cream gravy.

For my side dishes I served warm homemade bread, braised brussel sprouts with bacon, and roasted, rosemary potatoes.

*This recipe, with the exception of the gravy substitution, is copied directly from the book.

05 December 2012

DIY Gift Organizer Notebook

I am not a techy.  I prefer pen and paper to apps.  So it should come as no surprise that I decided to throw together a notebook for all my gift plans for Christmas.  Instead of writing down ideas or gifts I've already purchased in multiple places, now I can house them all in this notebook.  No apps that crash.

I used an old Christmas card for the cover.  On the inside I used ledger paper I found at an estate sale to tally up my spending. 

I also created two pockets in the center to hold coupons and receipts.  Then I bound it all together using this method.  This notebook can easily be thrown in my bag or tucked into my daily planner, but most importantly all the information is in one place.  It's a little rough around the edges, but it gets the job done.

How you do organize your gift giving?

04 December 2012

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

We're kicking off our fun old fashion family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols.

Name that movie?*  Oh the holiday tradition of picking out the tree.  It is much more fun than actually decorating the tree, which is why you won't see any photos of my tree with twinkle lights and ornaments.  We headed off to Wintergreen farm again this year to pick out our Christmas symbol.  The experience is vastly different from last year.  The only exception being the title of the post!  This year I could have been wearing my bathing suit it was so hot.  As compared to last year when we needed a parka.

Something is not quite right when one wears flip flops to saw down their tree. Seriously. It was surreal and the "frosty majesty of the winter landscape" just wasn't happening.

BUT, we did actually get to cut down a tree, which means we are celebrating our Christmas locavore style.  Last year the farm was new, the trees too small, and several inches of mud lay in the fields.  

We choose a lovely Leyland Cyprus and commenced to sawing. 

Note the t-shirt and the sunshine!  Sorry for the blown out photo.  cc took the shot and I forgot to change the settings for her.  

There was only one injury during our expedition to the field.  cc nearly cut my hand off as we were walking.  The saw was swinging like a guillotine in her hand and she bumped up next to me.  It was a bloody mess.   You can see it if you look really close. 

Now comes the not so fun part.  The lights are up, but other than that it is still bare.  I'll be busy this week getting the finally touches on because my sister comes this weekend!  Christmas is here.

What is your tree tradition? 

03 December 2012

December 4(for) Green Acres Challenge

These monthly challenges are your opportunity to cultivate your own acres. They are designed to challenge your creativity, test your will power, and pull your awareness to the footstep you are leaving behind.

By participating in these challenges and sharing them with others you are spreading the message. Over time, those around us will be making better choices as well. The goal is not to change how you live your life, but rather think about the implications of those choices and tweek them for the best outcome.


This monthly challenge has come full circle.  It was this month last year that I had the idea to start posting monthly challenges that would encourage others to live a more conscientious life.  The December challenge was to not purchase any wrapping of any type.  It was intended to recycle and get creative with what you already had on had.  The December 2011 archives are full of ideas on how to achieve this if you want to go for it again this year.  I intend to. 

I am sad to report that this will be the final monthly 4(for) green acres challenge post.  I will post a challenge from time to time, but not a consistent basis.  As my blog took on several identities this year, I have been weaving through the threads searching for one that suits me best.  While it is still evolving, you'll start to see that the things that don't suit are going to slowly disappear or pop up elsewhere.  

So without further delay... the final challenge.

This year the word community has been jumping out at me around every corner.  Searching for mine, wondering where I fit in, and finally learning the vast lesson about my ignorance in believing that I could possibly live this life alone.  With that being said I want to dedicate this last challenge to community, whomever that may be for you.  

It goes without saying that we are all too plugged in sometimes. Your challenge is to unplug, slow down, and dedicate some creative time to making a gift for someone in your community.  And by community it can be someone in your family, your best friend, your CSA farmer.  The person is of your choosing.  The medium is your choosing as well.  It can be a baked good, a piece of art, or something hand sewn.  

By making a gift for someone in your circle it represents what living a 4(for) green acres life is all about.  Your investment into another person is building progress.  Others almost always pay it forward in some way.  

Happy crafting, baking, sewing...  Leave me a comment and let me know what you plan to make.  I love hearing your ideas.