Delicious weekend

Delicious weekend

Delicious weekend

Can a weekend be delicious? If it can, I’d say this one was.

A few weeks ago I told you I needed more rain in my life. This weekend delivered.

It poured on Friday evening, cancelling my plans (bummed about that). My friend R. and I quickly rehashed a new plan and met up for dinner out. I never go out for dinner, at least not with friends. We stayed a good half hour past the restaurant’s closing time because we had no idea how much time had passed as we talked and laughed and ate.

Then we headed back to my place for hot tea and more conversation–real, soul-searching conversation–and, of course, more laughter. Oh, I miss R. when I don’t get to see her! The evening ended with an impromptu sleep-over because it was well past midnight by the time we were ready to turn in.

Saturday filled itself with a long to-do list and a series of errands. But it feels good to tick things off that to-do list–really, really good. It feels good to know that I am able to steward our blessings–our house and all the things that make it home. And in the midst of errands I was able to do a bit of feel-good shopping.

Thrift stores and sales are good for the soul.

It had been threatening to rain all day, and I could tell that there was little time before it began to downpour, so I headed for the barn for a quick ride.

Chappy

I honestly believe that the calm before the storm is the best time to ride. The wind had died down to a breeze, the air cooled off and the smell of a storm was in the air. I put Chappy through her paces as the clouds gathered and the sky darkened, enjoying being out-of-doors during such a beautiful time. We headed back to the barn just as the sky started spitting.

That evening Ginger and I watched Anne of Green Gables as I took the first steps in teaching myself how to knit. So, so much fun. And so, so relaxing.

Sunday morning dawned hazy and slow. We had the windows open overnight, which hasn’t happened since May. It felt good to snuggle deeper under the covers and smell the fresh air as morning woke me. Soon enough we were attending church on the beach, which is always a pleasure. Husband and I spent the afternoon doing a bit of shopping (check back later this week to hear about our favorite find!) and trading at the used bookstore.

We spent time at home, just being together–sitting on the couch with a few blankets, a movie and some snacks. And we even headed back to the beach for an evening walk with the puppy. We held hands and laughed and amused onlookers as we tried to get Ginger to play in the surf (she’s terrified of water).

At the beach with the puppy.

We got ice cream twice in the same day. That right there should tell you how delicious the weekend was.

But today is Monday, and it’s time to get back to work. Five more days until the next weekend, and I wonder, what will it bring?

At the beach.

Keeping up and slowing down

Keeping up and slowing down

I spent the past 7 days just trying to keep up.

Husband was away, house-sitting on the other side of the city. Which left me with the house, garden, and animals to care for on my own.

The fact is, Husband and I have created a wonderful life for ourselves, but it is a life meant to be lived and stewarded by two. It was hard to do it on my own. Some days felt like I was on a hamster wheel–one that never slows down and never stops.

The workdays all sort of ran together, and responsibilities outside of work were a jumbled mess–barn cleaning, picking tomatoes, picking up and delivering produce, making meals, feeding the animals, etc., etc., etc.

It seemed a lifetime as I slogged through the week, but eventually Friday evening rolled around and with it came time.

Time with Husband. Time with friends. Time to sit, relax, enjoy. We spent nearly five hours Friday night picking crabs, talking and laughing with dear friends. Some pretty heavy thunder storms raged around us, but since the house we were at is on stilts, we were dry and safe underneath. The night air was lit with a dozen citronella lamps, keeping the mosquitoes at bay and adding a special summer ambiance to the evening.

Citronella lamps set the ambiance. I would have more photos, but my camera battery promptly died after taking this one.

It was hours before anyone even thought to look at the time–which is exactly the kind of evening I needed.

It was past midnight by the time I got home, patted the puppy on the head and literally fell into bed.

Saturday morning dawned early, but I stayed where I was–curled up with the pup beside me. Oh how glorious it is to sleep in on Saturday!

It didn’t last forever though, there were things to do, more to keep up with. The house was an utter disaster after the week I’d had and it was time to face it.

But first, I made a cup of tea and a pot of coffee and snuck over to the blueberry farm where Husband was pruning blackberry bushes. Some might say that 15 minutes of small talk isn’t worth the half hour drive each direction. And some days, I’m one of them. But after a week of hardly seeing Husband at all, those 15 minutes were well worth it.

Blackberries.

As I drove home, I mentally ticked off the things I had to do. And it was a long list.

I got started at once, finishing one chore after another–methodically working my way through the house and down the list. By early afternoon, I was beginning to wane.

But once again, the rain saved me.

It started slowly, just a few drops here and there as I trimmed the front bushes. Then the thunder rolled in and the lightening started. Before long, it was all out storming again.

The puppy and I opened the front door and let the fresh air in the house as the rain cooled off the muggy heat. We watched with fascination as the storm pounded down outside our porch. Then we sat down and it wasn’t long before I was fast asleep.

I woke up refreshed, but the world around me was still soggy and thunder continued to shake the house. I lit a candle just for the fun of it and spent the next few hours organizing the study and cataloging my library (while that may seem dreadfully boring to some, to me it was delightful bliss).

That evening, Ginger and I watched a 1969 version of David Copperfield and enjoyed the sound of rain on the roof.

Ginger and I watched a movie by candlelight as it rained.

It seems the rain is my link to slowing down. When it comes, I’m forced to forget all those things that “need” to be done, and instead focus on resting, slowing, being, living.

Maybe I need more rain in my life…

For my birthday

For my birthday

I know it’s a little late (my birthday was July 5th), but I thought I would share with you what all we did for my birthday, since I shared a lengthy post about Husband’s birthday earlier this year.

My birthday celebration wasn’t quite as grand in some ways as Husband’s, but it was enjoyable and it was me. Or rather, still is. It isn’t finished.

Let me explain.

Every year, my birthday kicks off with fireworks because I’m just that special. =)

Husband and I (and a good friend named Ivan from the Dominican Republic) took a picnic dinner of Subway to the Chesapeake City fireworks. A lot of our conversation revolved around American traditions vs. Dominican traditions (fireworks for New Years) and odd American sayings that Ivan sometimes has a hard time remembering.

Husband and I at the fireworks.

Then we all three promptly fell asleep waiting for the show. Thankfully, we woke up just as they began.

Fourth of July fireworks.

The next morning, I flew to Ohio to meet my new nephew. A portion of my plane ticket was my birthday present from my wonderful parents, making it affordable. I got to spend time with my little nieces, hold my new nephew for hours on end, and celebrate my birthday with my family.

Meeting my nephew for my birthday.

Birthday cake

My birthday flowers from Husband.When I returned home, Husband met me at the airport with these surprise flowers. They were absolutely beautiful!

Husband also gave me a brand new pair of hiking boots (can’t wait for fall camping!) and an apothecary cabinet for storing tea (which I would like to paint, I think… I might try my hand at milk paint. If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes!).

The next night Husband and I used one of those wonderful buy one/get one coupons you get for your birthday from the local ice cream shop (and we used the last couple dollars on a gift card for the first ice cream cone, so it hardly cost a thing!). And we managed to snap these blurry photos (I don’t think the camera in my phone was really meant for night-time photography.)

Ice cream with Husband.

And on Monday morning I returned to work to find that my coworkers had decorated my office with one of my favorite themes…

Winnie the pooh decorations for my birthday.

As wonderful as those birthday celebrations were, they aren’t over yet. My two requests for my birthday were these: Making homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream and trying stand-up paddle boarding.

We had plans to do both, but they sort of fell through. The unusually intense heat this summer has made attempting any sort of outdoor sport nearly impossible. However, we have it on the schedule for mid-August which I guess we’re hoping will be cooler because it can’t get much hotter than it has been.

I’ll let you know when we wrap up the celebrations!

What weekends are for…

What weekends are for…

I was reminded over the past few days what weekends are really for. And a part of me was surprised to discover, yet again, that they’re not for running errands or catching up on life or knocking out that to-do list.

They’re for being. Living. Thriving.

They’re for relationship. Conversation. Laughter.

First thing Saturday morning I headed out to the local blueberry farm where Husband works on weekends. When I arrived it was overcast and in the mid-70s–perfect berry picking weather (did you know there was such a thing?). When my bucket was about half full the sun burned through the clouds and blazed down on me as I worked. Another 20 minutes and my bucket was full of delicious, fresh blueberries.

Fresh picked blueberries.

I’d forgotten to sample some as I picked, so I popped a few in my mouth as I headed back to the front of the farm–perfection, seriously. Fresh blueberries are sweet and tasty, just the way summer should be.

The afternoon consisted of a mix–cleaning the house, folding clean fresh laundry, attending a bridal shower for my soon-to-be-sister-in-law, and running to the mall to use a coupon to get some free goodies for myself (and a new pair of jeans for $10–seriously, I love new jeans…a lot.).

The best part of the day came after the thunder and soaking rain had waned and just before the sun went down. My dear friend R. and I had our monthly “date”…we packed a bag with fresh fruit, cheese, crackers and water bottles along with a picnic blanket and headed for the beach. We walked along the mostly deserted coastline as we talked about the deepest part of ourselves–the pruning, the changing, the evolving.

Beaching it with a friend.

We settled in just before the sun went down for a little picnic dinner and the conversation continued. As dusk began to settle we packed up our things and trekked back up the beach, never a moment of silence as we entered each others’ lives for the briefest of moments on our monthly date. At times, it feels that once a month isn’t nearly often enough, but distance and busyness make getting together difficult.

The beach is lovely and deserted in the evening.

By bedtime, I was thoroughly exhausted, but wonderfully satisfied and content.

Sunday afternoon we invited friends over to make grilled pizza and do nothing more than talk. We enjoyed ice cream with blueberries as their little one played in the grass under the shade trees in the front yard. There’s just something about fellowship and community and makes a Sunday afternoon so sweet.

Homemade grilled pizza.

Husband and I got our hands on a canoe this weekend and took it out in the bay for a paddle just before dusk Sunday evening. The heat had subsided and even the humidity seemed a little less intense as we journeyed out among the old dilapidated docks in Back Bay.

Canoeing with Husband.

Dilapidated docks in Back Bay.

Someday we hope to own one of these lovely little boats…maybe even this one. And someday we dream of living near the bay so we can take in an evening paddle whenever the fancy strikes us.

Canoeing.

Sunset from the canoe.

Slowing. Being. Loving. Living. I think that’s what weekends are for.

Fireworks

Fireworks

Fourth of July is my second favorite holiday of the entire year (behind Christmas, of course, I am a little Christmas crazy after all).

I guess it’s kind of a strange holiday to call your favorite–most people like Thanksgiving, or Memorial Day or even Valentine’s Day, Easter, or Halloween. Not me. Fourth of July is where it’s at!

fireworks

I think there are a few reasons for my undying love of the Fourth. The fact that my birthday conveniently falls on the fifth is probably not the least of them. And, of course, the Fourth usually brings a good dose of family time, and you know I love my family. It’s usually sunny and bright (and hot) and the best day of the year to spend outside, searching for four-leaf clovers in the backyard, catching butterflies, or jumping through the sprinkler. It’s even a good excuse for bringing out the slip-n-slide (or at least it was when I was a kid).

And then there are the fireworks. Oh, the fireworks. Really, I can’t begin to express how much I love those magical, wonderful sparkles in the sky.

My memories of the Fourth are a dazzling array of vivid pictures best summed up in a single word–magical. They are memories of picnics and sparklers and brothers and just plain wonderment.

Fourth of July as a child.
Fourth of July picnic when I was a child.

Of course, over time things change. A few years back I began taking my nieces to the fireworks. I loved sharing the awe and inspiration with them, even if they were small enough to be afraid of the noise–I just covered their ears with my hands and held them close in my lap.

Holding my niece.

Now that I’m in Virginia, Husband and I joined his family (or maybe they joined us?) at a local park for fireworks. We brought chairs and picnic blankets and spread out on the grass. Husband fell asleep as we listened to a live band play patriotic music before the big show.

You see, magical isn’t something you have to grow out of. It’s just something that evolves with you.

This year we’re going again, for the sights, sounds, and smells of summer. We’re going to drink in the being part of summer and let go of the doing part. We’re going to spread out a blanket and lay on our backs and just enjoy the moment.

And it’s going to be magical.

fireworks

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday,
Thank you for providing chamomile tea this morning…I have a feeling I’m going to need it today.

Orange flower.Dear June,
Only a few days of this month remaining…I’m sorry to say that I am glad. June has been a long, hard month for us. I truly want to enjoy summer–embrace it–but I need the time to do that.

Dear July,
Please be kinder than June.

Dear Truck (BTW, I think you need a name),
Well, we’re off and running–hit 60,000 miles. Can’t wait to see what you bring into my life during your next 60,000…

My odometer

Dear Husband,
Thank you for everything you are and do. And for time spent together. It means more than you can know. And thanks for the belated Christmas present…(details to come!)

Dear Projects,
We’re having fun! Just wait, there are more in store over the next few months…

One of my latest projects...

Dear Peter Jr.,
I sincerely cannot wait to meet you! Stay small for another two weeks, okay?

My new nephew, Peter.

Sincerely,
Holly

P.S. New skill to be acquired this summer:
My canning books arrived!


Linking up with Happy Day.

Carpe Diem: My summer mantra

Carpe Diem: My summer mantra

It’s decided. My summer mantra will be simply “Carpe Diem.”

Cliche, perhaps. But very, very necessary right now.

It’s amazing how we go in and out of seasons. We change, evolve, grow. As our environment changes, we change to fit it. And sometimes amid that change, we lose things.

Things like carpe diem. Things like last minute adventures.

It probably has a myriad of causes–a new marriage, a new city without established relationships, a new house far out in the country, growing responsibilities… The list could go on and on. But I’m less concerned with the causes and more concerned with the outcome.

I’m becoming a little too secluded. A little too set in my plans. A little too, well, boring.

Sure, I have responsibilities many of which are completely inflexible (note: horses must be cared for at 6:00pm T-TH; puppy must be fed at or near 5:30pm or she will starve to death…or so she claims). But the rest of the time? I think I’ve just gotten lazy.

Carpe diemI don’t always WANT to leave my cozy home, or drive 45 minutes to meet up with friends, or spend money when we don’t have much to begin with. But sometimes, that’s just what I need.

I need an evening eating appetizers on a boat with amazing friends to make me come alive. I need a relaxing evening spent in a friend’s home theater. I need a bite to eat after church with a mentor. I need a jaunt down to the oceanfront to watch an air show. I need to do and be and relate to truly live.

So this summer, I am dedicated to seizing the moment, going with the flow, being flexible, and putting forth the extra effort. I want to truly do and be–experience all the adventure I possibly can this summer.

It might mean a quick ride on Chappy just before dark. Or catching lightning bugs in the backyard. Or braving the tourists for a morning walk on the beach. Or a last-minute weekend camping trip…

It might mean dropping plans for the evening and heading out to meet friends. It might mean hosting friends and overnight guests and doing hospitality right. It might mean sand and sun kissed cheeks. Or flip-flops and picnic lunches. It might be rounds of laughter with friends or a quiet moment with Husband. But whatever it looks like, I want to claim it, own it, live it.

Carpe diem!