Friday, September 30, 2011

A New Place To Visit

I started this blog for a number of reasons, an important one being that I planned to use it as a way to explore my recently emptied nest. To figure out how, after years of very purposefully raising three children, I would reposition myself. To find what life had waiting and where it would lead. To invite anyone who was interested to come along, because traveling with good company is always better.

When my youngest left for college a year ago, I faced into a new era that seemed to have many more hours in a day.  Although I wasn't exactly sure what to do with them, I had some ideas, got brave, took some chances. it happened, as each boy took the next step toward becoming an independent and self-sufficient adult, it came as somewhat of a surprise. A little bit of a shock because the years did seem to fly by so fast. Each time I watch them leave it is with a combination of love, pride and hope for their future. There is also tinge of loss on my part. I know I'm not unique. I will miss them. Every parent must feel this way.

This week one of our sons accepted his first post-college job. Next Tuesday he will move to a city in the Midwest and then live, at least for awhile, far away from where he grew up. So different from the past few years of college, when he lived four and a half hours away and in the same university town that I did for a few years. When I could count on him coming home for long weekends or summer and holiday breaks.

After so many years, it is simply habit to imagine the daily lives and routines of all of my boys; what they might be doing, thinking, feeling. What they pass in the daily to and fro. The view outside their window. It's a bit disorienting, then, to enter this phase that I'm not so familiar with. It is exciting......normal......the natural next step......necessary......OK......but for me, disorienting.

Although I will miss having him close and having our visits predictable, this is and should be, only about him. He is looking forward and that alone makes me feel very happy. And I am looking forward, too.

And...... we will have a new place to visit.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More Fall Color

I love that I can get in the car, head east for a few minutes and find myself driving on two lane roads through small towns and past farms and farm stands. Today I went in search of pumpkins still in their fields, but when I found them there wasn't a place to pull over that wouldn't put me in a ditch and so I wasn't able to get out to take pictures. The fields were just as I had imagined, however, with dozens of pumpkinheads resting atop deep brown soil or peeking out from behind tangles of fading vines. I drove past rows of nodding sunflowers, heavy with seed and colorful dahlia and zinnias. Cows and tractors moved slowly behind see-through fences and blue peaks partially shrouded with clouds stood in the background. It was the perfect way for me to spend an hour today. Just what I needed.

On the way home I stopped in at a market I had passed earlier. Fruits and vegetables were piled into boxes and baskets outside, each with a handmade sign telling where they came from and other such information. I discovered a couple varieties of apples that I haven't yet heard of and because of their description, brought home ten of each. There were several notices interspersed amongst the fruit reminding customers that 'Bees like fruit too".  I think I've mentioned in the past how, although I appreciate them ever so much...... I am slightly terrified of bees, so after imagining a couple of pies or an apple crisp, I tried hard to ignore the buzzing and counted the apples quickly into my bags. Looking out at the rain this afternoon, I'm thinking the risk was worth it.....a warm bite of something baked with apples is definitely in my future.

Hope you enjoy your week!

Warmly, Margaret

PS. I am playing around with my blogs format. I kind of like this one because I think it shows the photos a little better. I also appreciate that if you click on the down arrow next to the word 'Classic' and choose 'Magazine' on the home page you will be able to read a short preview of the rest of each post, then simply click on the title and the entire post will come up. You can utilize the forward or back arrows on the upper left, or the X on the upper right to close it and return to the home page. If you would like to subscribe, use the button on the far upper right on the home page. I still haven't completely decided whether to use this format or the old one so feel free to let me know what you think!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lovely, Colorful Autmn

It's the first day of fall, sunny and 80 degrees and I've been knitting. I know the cooler days will be here soon enough and just the thought of them puts me in the mood to work on a  project. I knit a hat for a friend earlier in the week, finished the baby sweater I started this summer and got started on a baby's hat today. I should mention that I started it three times. The first time I lost count of the rows and the second, when I was nearly finished, noticed a mistake.  It's knit with a snowflake pattern in blue and white, and when I was nearly through I noticed that one of the white stitches was where a blue one should be and vice versa. It is a fun project......and small and quick. I don't mind trying to get it right.  

You've probably noticed......I love color. So you can imagine what it's like for me to walk into a store that sells yarn: I practically get dizzy. I couldn't stop admiring this sweater I photographed. (The view is from the back.) I have a few too many things I want to finish first but then I think I need to go back and find the pattern and the yarn. It was soft and bulky and I especially love that mustard color and those big stitches. It would look great with jeans and I can think of a million reasons I'd wear it. OK.....I think I'm convinced.

 The piece I wrote for Make It Missoula this week was about my visit to Loopy Knit/Crochet, a lovely yarn store there.....and about fall and knitting. I've provided the link here and hope you'll take a look!

Hope you enjoy a wonderful fall weekend!

Warmly, Margaret

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Date Night

I went on a date Saturday night. I mean...... a real date. 5 PM found me dressed in a swingy black get-up paired with jewelry and make-up applied with care. My hair was fresh out of hot-rollers. I wore heels and carried my good purse.

We were seated for dinner, table reserved. Ordered cocktails and wine, three courses and coffee. Our meal finished up with just enough time to walk the couple blocks to Benaroya Hall and find our seats, but we were left with precious little time for people watching. Indulgent, but a favorite part of any event.

This concert was my birthday present: Tickets for the opening night of the Seattle Symphony season and the inaugural concert of its new music director. The program, my date, the event......was fun, funny, inspiring, energetic, dreamy and thought provoking. Marc somehow knew that I was starved for this very evening. This very experience.

We don't attend the symphony often enough and don't always spring for box seats ......but on this night, he did. For me. For my gift. We got settled, listened to the musicians tune their instruments and looked forward to this maestro's interpretation of the program. We watched gleaming brass and angled bows. Anticipated the pulse and movement of the percussion section. It was mesmerizing. The next couple of hours would surely transport me to another space; to that meditative place of being immersed in the moment and far away from the necessary but niggling tasks of the day to day.

He made an effort, my perfect date......the one who gave me a perfect view surrounded by perfect acoustics for my birthday. After years together....he knows me well. Which is why its possible that he only pretended not to hear me when I leaned over and whispered, " Not sure why, but I just thought about the Muppets." 

A quizzical look. A furrowed brow.

"The Muppet's," I whispered louder behind my hand. "You know...the puppets?"

I motioned. I chuckled and smiled.

"The two that sit up in their theater box and heckle?"

He shook his head, motioned a shush with his index finger, then refused to look at me. He knows. It's happened before: an unfortunate case of giggles in an inappropriate situation, most likely inherited from my mom. One look and it could be all over.

Do you remember, Statler and Waldorf, the elderly gentlemen that appeared in nearly every episode of The Muppet Show? The tuxedo clad, grey and balding chaps who were chock full of themselves and their opinions? They thoroughly enjoyed the sport of berating each performer and cracking each other up with their pomposity and put downs. I have no idea why they crossed my mind. There was no one I saw that looked like either of them......almost no one.  Not one person I noticed that appeared stuffy or uppity or critical. In fact the atmosphere in the house was relaxed and energetic and lively. Seattle is especially known for it's casual and notably un-stuffy demeanor and attitude, so this was no reflection on the feel inside the performance hall. It's just that, I have a certain sense of humor and this is what I thought of at this particular moment.

I willed it not to happen and it didn't. By the time the program began the potential to giggle had passed. I was in a good place seated next to the one I love. Experiencing music and its power to tell a story; to record history and emotion. Thankful to be in the presence of talent, creativity and excellence. Of years of hard work, dedication, passion and love for one's craft.

The new music director was the master of the evening and of the audience. He radiated charm and individuality and a liveliness that some may not consider when they think about the symphony. But it was there.....accessible and fun. And I was there. In my seat, smiling and lost for a couple of dreamy hours.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Friday, September 16, 2011


My birthday was this past week. Maybe that's why crisp fall days and I get along so well. The air smells different. Leaves turn color and crunch. Cooler weather is around the corner. I know I'll talk to the people I care about most in the world. The day reminds me to savor the past year and look forward to the next one. 

Marc doesn't do a lot of our baking, although he's definitely capable and good at it when he does.  Possibly this is because baking is one way I enjoy spending my time...... and you know what they say about having too much of a good thing. 

The one day I know for sure he will be standing in front of the mixer creaming butter and sugar together, adding eggs one at a time and mixing in dry ingredients alternately with some kind of liquid, is my birthday. Each year one of his gifts to me is a cake. He asks well ahead of time "What kind will it be this year"......and is a good sport about whatever I choose. Its always from scratch. Always eaten after dinner. Always served with candles and a song. I'm not ashamed to tell you that every year the remains of those frosted layers end up as my breakfast until they're gone.

I have my favorite flavors and so therefore am pretty predictable, although this year I through him off a bit and asked for Chocolate with Chocolate Frosting. Since this is the cake I make most often for other members of the family, I rarely request it for myself. Usually its  Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting. I love this one. How the scent while its in the oven kind of ushers in a new season. Pumpkin puree, buttermilk, vanilla, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg baked into three layers, then slathered with a cream-cheesy mixture laced with more pumpkin and orange zest. Now why didn't I ask for it this year?

Hope you had a good one!

Warmly, Margaret

A Couple Favorites

A few things have gone on this past month and I wrote about a couple of them for the website Make It Missoula.

First, we moved Joey back to Missoula for his second year at the University of Montana. I love that place. The school is such a good fit for him and he's happy there. As a parent, I couldn't ask for more and am so thankful. Hard not to think about This Time Last Year when we moved him in for the first time. Always a little hard to let go.....

I also wrote about a favorite place we've been visiting for years, Big Dipper Ice Cream. Super tasty scoops, homemade in small batches......and the flavors range from the traditional to the very nontraditional. Always fun to check in with them when we're in town and see what they've come up with! A couple of my favorites: Tangerine Sorbet and Chocolate Espresso Chip. Thank goodness we walk a lot while we're there!

Hope you'll take a quick read! I've provided the links.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


It's not a huge surprise that my camera and I sought out peaceful images two days ago. The news has been surrounding us for days, reminding us of the horrible events of ten years past. Broadcasts a decade old have been replayed in horrid detail. We've seen photographs and listened to personal accounts. I don't know of a person who doesn't remember how they found out or where they were. Who they were with and who they called. We have been left, still, trying to make sense of it all. Attempting the impossible feat of explaining massive and purposeful destruction to ourselves, our families, our friends and our children.

Ten years ago, on the day immediately after, I took a long walk. One of the things I noticed on that image that has remained with me......was the cobalt blue September sky. The silence. I was reeling from the bad....but thank goodness was able to find a few moments of peace and beauty. Something I have personally learned is that those moments are abundantly available if you need them......if you look.

I don't know what your experience was, but I hope that you have been able to find some moments like this as well.

Hope you have a wonderful week.

Warmly, Margaret

Friday, September 9, 2011


I love to be outside almost any time of the year. Although it's quite a bit more challenging during some months and seasons than others......right now where I's pretty close to perfect. We typically have long, sunny stretches of days during late summer and early fall. Evening rolls around a little earlier and the sun comes up a bit later. Comfortable nights are followed by cool mornings. Early cups of coffee in the back yard often involve a blanket. Neighborhood kids take advantage of every last minute. Dinner is set on the patio for the last few balmy evenings. Our daily walk is finished near dark.

The crown jewels of this season are wild, late summer blackberries. Right now they are ripe and beautiful and sweet, and I'm not sure I can get enough. I always feel a bit anxious when I know the berries have turned their darkest if they might be gone before I can get to them. And some years they are.

This morning a friend and I met up for a walk on a lake trail carrying bowls and a pitcher to see what we could gather. We came back with enough for a pie or a cobbler, and possibly both. Some to snack on or to top off oatmeal, yogurt or granola for breakfast. I might have to collect a few more in order make the ice cream or sorbet I'm thinking sounds pretty good. 

Mom Nature knows how to make us appreciate what is free for the taking. You don't have to travel far (blackberries grow aggressively in most areas of the Pacific Northwest) but these wild bushes are full of sharp thorns and the fattest, juiciest berries are usually too high and out of reach. You need to be well covered with the right clothing and often be tough and creative. We stuck our arms through a scratchy mess in order to get to many of the low ones, and wished that we had brought along a stick to pull down packed upper branches. My fingers are stained, I have red marks on my hands.......but the result is pure deep-purple bliss.

Wishing you a wonderful late summer weekend!

Warmly, Margaret

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sweet Basil

I simply love Basil. I'm thinking that it's about time to use up what's growing in the pots next to my's September and the leaves won't last all that much longer. I would sure hate for them to go to waste, especially since it is one of the few things I decided to grow this year. This morning I did a little planning in order to make the most of the last two or three weeks of this beautiful and fragrant herb.

We've been using basil all summer long in a variety of salads, including the very simple but so very satisfying caprese, which is especially wonderful when the heirloom tomatoes are meaty and ripe at the Farmer's Market. It has also made its way into dips, pasta, sauces and the occasional fritatta or scrambled egg. I keep meaning to track down a recipe for Basil-Lime Sorbet. I was served this a few years ago at a dinner party and am still thinking about it! 

This morning I picked three cups and made a double recipe of pesto which is sitting covered in my fridge until this evening, when I'll use it to make Penne With Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans. If the remainder doesn't get used up within the next couple of days, I'll freeze it to use in a few weeks. Last year we discovered a favorite sandwich to make with holiday leftover's: Turkey, cranberry sauce, provolone and pesto on sourdough, grilled in a panini maker. Did I really just mention the holidays?! Yikes!

My plan for tomorrow is to harvest another cup or so to make up a double batch of Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, a recipe from Ina Garten's cookbook, How Easy Is That? Love this recipe (the cookbook, too), mostly because it's not difficult to make up or clean up, is relatively healthy and will last in the fridge for a week or so. In case you're interested: I usually make it thicker than called for to use it as a veggie dip, then thin it out a bit for dressing a salad.

I linked the two recipes I mentioned to this post. Let me know if you try them out!

Have a wonderful week!

Warmly, Margaret

Friday, September 2, 2011

Proud, Happy

At this moment I am a weepy-proud mess. A big sap, tearing up and not getting anything at all accomplished. I am proud and happy. I just think some days are like this.

Change and moving on has been the subject of many conversations this week. The content of a lot of reading. Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends that I know, they're all watching the yearly tide of young people moving away from them. It's on to the first day of preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, high school or college. The current flows toward new friends, new experiences, new jobs, new ideas, new challenges. Whether in baby steps or giant steps, they walk, run, ride, drive, fly and dream their way toward what their future holds. And hopefully the rest of us will remember just how important this process is. How important it is to be there for them......not to choose the dream, but to support it.

Yesterday a friend's facebook status mentioned that her oldest was moving to a different city in a different state to begin a new job. College and graduate school are finished and her child is taking the logical, and in this economy, sought after next step for any graduate. In somewhere around 140 characters she expressed the weight and multitude of her conflicting emotions: love, pride, happiness, sadness, confidence, trust and surely, relief.

So all of this......this is what turned me into that weepy-proud mess I just mentioned. My kids have dreams. And as much as I would love to just make them all work's neither my job nor my place. But standing behind them in support as they take the necessary steps......that is.

I guess I've become very aware of all the work they've done so far. They've plodded along and it's led them places, some of which I can attach names to and some that only they know. I am just so very proud.

And you know what else? Becoming aware of what they have done/are doing/will do has encouraged me to take renewed notice of my own dreams and where I'm going. I've plodded along and have taken necessary steps as well, both baby and giant ones. And they've led me to some places I can attach names to and to some that only something larger than myself knows for sure. I am just so very happy.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend,

**Peter is in London for the next month with the very talented musician David Boone as he works to produce his next album. I hope you'll click on this link to find out more about this songwriter/musician and what's happening in London!

***Ahhhh......I couldn't help coming back to add this link I just came across. It's about Finding Time.....bits and chunks of it that you can use to make some of your dreams, thoughts and passions a reality. It's also by Anne of my very favorite writers. Love her real, always tell it like it is style.
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