the laws of harvest.

do you remember the first time you failed at something?

how about the first time you had to live with the consequences of that failure?

when I was kindergarten, I made a parachute out of craft paper & yarn to assist in the free-fall of my twin sister from our playhouse. thought out, to the best of my 6 year old knowledge, I was proud of my contributions to amateur flight and even more proud of my sister’s fearlessness for being the one to jump.

to the surprise of everyone reading, she hit the ground with a thud. our mom was probably mad. the parachute was torn. and my sister was a little banged up; the extent, I cannot recall. but, the potential danger and fear of failing again were scary enough that our first try was also our last. as a memory, the details are fuzzy, but that feeling is not. life often writes the lesson before we believe we are ready.

the contraption failed. we failed. I failed. nothing about humans will ever be as predictable as gravity. but fear of failure swells up in all of us.

the laws of harvest. you will reap what you have sewn. your choices accumulate and cause a ripple effect that can be absorbed by everyone you encounter. this is, obviously, good and bad concurrently as we walk our paths imperfectly. continual works in progress. it’s all about choices, right? choosing to avoid the possibility of failure is also a choice. it says that your faith, faith in all capacities, does not supersede your ego, comfort, or fear. these traits are inherited and shared and adopted. and most importantly, not without consequence.

let me direct this thought on a personal level.

the three littles are now in 7th, 6th, and 4th grade. both girls are in ap classes and the boy says that this year is “way tougher” than last. they have all entered a whole new responsibility tier when it comes to school. I watch my three very different children ride the wave of failure and cope in entirely different ways…

my son is an avoider. a bad test score snowballs into a missing homework assignment because he doesn’t want another bad grade. in his fear, he is unable to see the compacted issue. he uses the mask of indifference and shrinks into a smaller, less capable version of himself to avoid failing again. sigh, my sweet boy.

my middle daughter is the most type-A of the littles but has seemingly learned early on how to be cognoscente of her capabilities. she continues to try harder and is able to brush off a less than ideal grade because she knows in her heart that she did her best. this is equal parts perseverance and, dare I say, ego.

my littlest lady is a true empath. she fears that others failure is also hers, just as she praises their successes with the same passion as she celebrates her own. a feeling that is true but no less cumbersome. she is hard on herself and cautious about failure in a way that is entirely opposite of the rest of her personality.

through them I see my own failures. I see the ways I have chosen stay quiet or rise above or put others first. they are a reflection of the behaviors they see, as am I. so, when I say we are raising each other, I mean it whole-heartedly.

most of parenting has been a big, gigantic mirror in my face. sometimes it isn’t pretty but it is always real. I am trying to teach my littles that their fears are their own to hold on to but that it is a choice to do so. choice comes with responsibility and consequence and can also be shed at any time. even if we baby step into our fears, we are still going in the right direction.

I am also learning that we do not all reap in the same season. results are not immediate. our standards are not universal. someone else’s fear and failure can be manifested in an entirely different way. I can still admit to seeing others’ successes/failures and feeling some sort of way about them. do I always think beyond my expectations? nope.

I’d like to share this as an intention that I’ve set and recently stumbled on. as a reminder to be patient with people but take no shit. because there will continue to be droughts but there will also be harvests bigger than we believe we deserve. and I am no less responsible when I let my fear become habit.

love & light,

eliot.

ladyfest dayton 2018.

a very sweaty room full of people, most of them friends I love so much.

a little stumble in the beginning.

and a last minute decision to go on stage barefoot.

thanks to my sweet girl for always capturing my performances.

ladyfest was one for the books. here’s a video of my piece and of me looking like I sat in a sauna.

check in/check out.

I didn’t really have a specific topic to discuss this week. in fact, I almost skipped this week entirely because we have been so damn busy over here. I have an exciting poetry reading this Friday that is occupying most of my free/creative time when we aren’t going from afterschool activities straight to bedtime. but I made a commitment to myself that I would produce content and speak out on whatever was in my heart, at least once a week. so, forgive me if this is a bit disjointed…

about this poetry reading- I do not enjoy public speaking or performing, at all. the element of catharsis is missing for me. but here I am, gearing up for probably the biggest event I’ve spoken at. it’s a lady-centric festival downtown with a stellar lineup of bands, artists, and performers. I’m nervous. I literally wrote my piece this week; a patchwork poem built almost entirely of captions pulled from my instagram over the last year. it is also the first piece I’m attempting to memorize and not read from a notebook with my forehead to the crowd. really nervous. butterflies have been going strong since I started recording my read throughs, which I usually do for creating pauses and emphasis and timing (if you’re curious). anyway, it’s going to be fine. this is the year of big things.

I don’t love performing, why do I do it? that’s been on my mind a lot lately. I think it’s simple- my desire to grow outweighs my fear 2:1 which I really enjoy about myself. maybe it’s a trait I haven’t admired about myself enough. and if I bomb, it was one moment and it’s over. a lesson that preparedness and passion get you to the edge and even if you never jump, the view is usually pretty decent.

along the lines of great views, we are sort of last minute planning a trip for fall break. leaf season in Asheville has been on my bucket list, directly behind blue firefly season in Asheville, for a while. we stopped through on our way to savannah last year and couldn’t wait any longer to go back. this trip is all about relaxing and navigating the forest so I won’t be creating any excel spreadsheets or making a budget. I’m going to see if I can actually enjoy vacation without micromanaging it. wish me luck. my only requests are a hot tub, the infamous Dolly Party mural, and some good food. open to suggestions on the last one so just drop your favorites in the comments.

i’ll wrap this week’s post up with a bit about my ongoing Pursuit of Joy Project. it’s been eye opening how much negative misses you when you open your eyes to finding the joy in other things. sometimes shit just sucks and you have to move past it. thankfully, there have been plenty of moments to jot down. but to be real, it hasn’t been without its trials either. a dear friend lost someone close to her and though it made for unexpected time with her, my heart was heavy with empathy/sympathy/understanding. I’ve also been wrestling a lot with letting go of things that don’t serve me but aren’t outwardly bad- friendships, habits, etc. it can be easier to walk away than to communicate the why’s and learn from them. I am grateful that I’ve grown into a person who can acknowledge the value of both, joy and trial, and I’ve learned how to use my voice effectively. so far September has been kind to me.

like I said in a previous post, this time of year is good for shedding. so I choose to let it and have faith that what is mine will stay.

as it is written, let it be done,

eliot.

part time parent. full time mom.

what do I mean when I say, a part time parent but a full time mom.

my littles are with me sunday evening through friday at 6:30 pm- unless there is no school on Friday. in which case,  they are home sunday evening through friday at 9:00am, per our agreement. it’s not ideal and would never be my preference but allowing them time their other parent comes with sacrifice. and now we are back in school, too. meaning that not only are they with their dad every single weekend but they are gone over 8 hours a day. our quality time is further divided into homework, dinner, bath time, and bed time.

this schedule and the perceived notion that I must have it easier because they aren’t with me everyday has me feelin’ some sort of way .

I know that there are many spaces to be grateful in our situation. they have loving parents who, mostly, agree on the when/what/where’s of their life. I work a flexible job that closes for holidays and gives me time off or at home when I need it. the littles get to do all sorts of fun things with their dad. and it allows for healthy balance in my life that most single parents are not afforded. we are lucky.

BUT, I want to do fun things with them too. sleep in and make pancakes on saturdays. go to festivals and birthday parties. the sorts of activities that can’t be crammed in to the 4 hours I am home between getting off work and sending them to bed.  I do make the most of my weekends but have guilt for doing activities that they could be joining in on.  I try to stay busy and work a second job because it’s too quiet at home when they are gone. every weekend I avoid the internet because I scroll through all the photographic reminders of  things I am missing out on with them. and I even text them an annoying amount to see what they are up to. they really are my best friends and it’s hard to feel as though I never get to actually relax and enjoy seeing how they function as people for a full day at a time.

from an outsider’s thumbnail view, I’m sure it seems as though I live it up while kid free. or that I choose to do things that don’t involve them. maybe it appears to be a rather carefree set up. maybe this blog post is a response to a recent “well-intended” acquaintance who’s kind words left me feeling more sad that anything. I have worked very hard to not care what other people’s opinions of my parenting are or how things look to those outsiders. and to rid myself of the guilt of it all. because it does grant me a lot of free time. and I am grateful for all the cool things I get to do that would otherwise be very difficult. being a single mama is hard work and I am fortunate to be able to balance it with work and friends and leisure. but that does not mean that I wouldn’t drop everything for the chance to have them 7 days a week.

I guess what I’m getting at with all this is that it’s easy to think you see all of what others are doing or that you can ever be in a place to judge the way they do it. I notice the friends and moms who only like the few photos I post of my littles but pay no mind to the other beautiful and creative ways I choose to express myself, as if they are rewarding me for finally showing up. I see you and it’s alright, trust me. even when I do photograph my kids, I choose to put the photos on a more private platform, or omit their real name, because the things I cherish most I elect to do more privately. we tend to make it harder on others as a reflection of our own feelings so I won’t pretend to know why someone gets to decide if I parent enough to be a good mom. but I will say that the time we spend together is not wasted, I just wish there were more of it. I also wish that the mom community were a safer space for those who don’t fit the “happy family” mold. and I know there are lots of other single parents out there who will understand as we navigate the tricky waters of co-parenting. even yet, there are parents who do it completely alone and have no idea what this free time is that I speak of. we are all just trying to get by (my motto, seemingly) and raise good, kind humans. even if we do it part time.

peace & progress,

Eliot.

100 joyful moments.

they say that bad things come in threes. that when it rains it pours. or that you will never be given more than you can handle, even when it feels like you’re drowning. I get frustrated and distracted and even detached. sometimes I feel like it’s 11pm before I get to sit down and everything out of my mouth is negative and covered in thorns. my littles have had to make their own Pb & J for dinner while I take a grown up time out, to salvage what small amount of my sanity still exists. my friends and partner know that I sometimes shut down completely regardless of how good things are around me. and there are more than a few memories that aren’t so sweet.

but, at the end of the day, I hope that I am still able to hold on to at least one moment where love won out over everything else. I’ve decided to share, over the next six months or so, at least 100 of those moments of joy. the simple, the adventurous, the completely silly. inspired by the pursuit of joy project. to hold myself accountable for my own happiness and to cultivate as much of it as possible by calling it when I feel it…

  1. unexpected evenings off, dodging rain, and patio weather {09.01.2018}

2. fireworks {09.02.2018}

3. a full day spent with different groups of friends {09.03.2018}

4. sleeping in on a work day… thanks little humans {09.05.2018}

5. diy spa night with Kiwi & Cookie {09.06.2018}

6. a rainy night in {09.07.2018}

7. surprise lunch & coffee with babe {09.08.2018}

8. all our friends & family together for cookie’s birthday party {09.09.2018}

9. froyo with the littles {09.11.2018}

10. flexing my skills on a new task at work {09.12.2018}

11. a room full of sweet friends supporting my art. {09.14.2018}

12. spending time with a friend who was in town from Chicago {09.15.2018}

13. sunflower fields {09.17.2018}

14. warm brownies. compliments of Chef Kiwi. {09.18.2018}

15. starting a new book {09.19.2018}

16. being in pajamas by 6pm {09.20.2018}

vive l’avocat.

as if I needed another reason to love avocados.

here’s a bare minimum, crash course on the botanical/plant dyeing trend…

now, I firmly believe that crafting is equal parts perseverance & blind luck. so, despite the fact that every tutorial I read was thick with fancy jargon like molecular structure and ph balance, and had a laundry list of supplies, I embarked on this journey equipped with only six things: avocado skins & pits, filtered water, white vinegar, a (enamel coated) stock pot, my trusty wooden spoon, and some white clothing items I couldn’t bare to toss out.

I have been saving up the pits and any salvageable skins, making sure to scrub each clean. then left them in the windowsill to dry until I had 8 pits and a fair amount of skins. it is said that you should freeze them but I did not.

it is also said that pure, organic materials dye best. which is probably true. but I used what I had, which was a 55% linen- 45% rayon blend tunic that had many a coffee stain on it and a cheap cotton tank I got on clearance at target. since this blog is about personal experience and is, by no means, an education on plant dyeing, I’m gonna go ahead and recommend that you try it with whatever you got and hope for the best. there are also plenty of legit spots on the internet that will recommend pre-treating the fabric and testing the dye with ph strips, but you came here, and I found it to be unnecessary. to each their own.

the quantity of items you are dyeing and how many avocados you have accessible are going to change the variables quite a bit from here, but again, I’ll throw at you what I did and let y’all run with it.

I filled my stock pot about a third of the way up with filtered water and tossed in the avocado scraps. this needs to come to a boil and simmer for at least an hour with the lid on. you will be able to see the color turn from a latte/tan to pink fairly quickly. the intensity of the color will deepen if you’re lucky to a beet pink/purple. that will get you to the bright blush color that I achieved. if you want a lighter tone, shorten the soaking time or use less pits. darker colors can be reached with an overnight soak and/or super saturated dye. trial and error, of course. at this point, you can add in your fabrics of choice, making sure they are covered by enough liquid. I added in two more cups of water as some had evaporated out. stir it around every 30 minutes for the next two hours on a low simmer. the linen fabric was thicker and partially synthetic- in hindsight, I would have let this item marinate a bit longer bc the color took really well but washed out a bit more in the rinse step.

I made several laps of excitement around the kitchen and shouted several proclamations of magic while these colors developed.

nature is pretty cool.

remove the pot from the stove and let it cool down just a bit. a half hour maybe, before adding in the vinegar. I did a 4:1 water to vinegar combo. this will help set the color just like when dyeing easter eggs. give it another good stir and then leave it be. it was a sunny day that allowed for an additional two hours of soaking time on my deck. you can also just set the pot aside anywhere convenient and allow it to cool and soak for as long as you’d like. trial and error, of course. my rule of thumb would be to let it do its thing until the fabric is a few shades darker than what you want the final outcome to be.

for extra fun… while it all rested outside, I grabbed a few mason jars that I had saved from our easter egg plant dye experiment in the spring. just to see what we could make happen. I didn’t put these on the stove at all, sun bath only. and the results were mixed. I’d say the heat is a must going forward. anyway, here are some other good options for dyeing that I’ve tried and tested myself …

  • turmeric and curry- bright yellow
  • coffee and cayenne- rust orange to brown
  • onion skins- range from yellow to brown to orange
  • dried chamomile flowers- a very pale green/grey
  • red/purple cabbage leaves- bright blue
  • cocoa powder- a mauve brown
  • spinach leaves- pale yellow
  • hibiscus petals- bright pink

now, here are some untested ingredients that the fancy bloggers say will work: beets, black beans, almost any berry, cosmos flowers, goldenrod, dandelion roots, or onion skins.

Godspeed, but you’re on your own with these for now.

the last steps are to rinse with cool (not cold OR lukewarm) water until the excess runs clear and most of the vinegar smell is gone. I’d suggest air drying at least part of the way. I put mine on the drying rack outside in the shade but you can toss it in the dryer if you must.

after care tips- hand wash gently in cold water. air dry or toss on low heat.

see, that was pretty simple. I did this whole process while taking small breaks on a work from home day. it could have been even less hands on if I weren’t so fascinated by the whole thing. it has opened up a whole new world of dyeing possibilities, especially with spill-prone little humans. (and spill-prone adult humans too, for that matter)

I may never look at white fabric the same again!

 

À plus,

Eliot.

too broke to go green.

balancing an ethical budget…

listen, we live in a society that tokenizes good deeds & healthy habits only to toss them aside a year later for the next big trend, sometimes with a rather villainous exit. consumerism and social media are mostly to blame but we can’t be let off the hook either, with our short attention spans and seemingly good intentions. depending on where you get your info it can be a whirlwind of conflicting misinformation.

soy or no soy? what if recycling is just another big business scheme? is it too late to save the great barrier reef? how do I compost in my space?

I don’t have the answers. what I do have is a responsibility to do what I can within the capabilities of our family. resources are limited around here from time to time but I get asked a lot about how we choose to live a simpler life on a budget. truth be told, it’s an expensive habit in our economic climate. not only do most one-income households not make enough to invest in all eco-friendly products, it can be difficult to know what is worth the investment when you’re ready to make it. nothing bums me out more than being recommended an “affordable” ethical brand only to see that they charge $65 for a hemp/cotton kids tee. or following an instagram influencer who only uses $80 dollar face cream & eats all organic from their local boutique grocer. quality and time do have immense value but it just isn’t practical for me and I know I’m not alone.

recently, I took to the ‘gram for a fun little poll: cost vs. organic/ethical when choosing brands for your family? the results were slightly in favor of organic/ethical. not surprised. I often feel guilty for choosing the less expensive option or fall victim to social media competition or I go without the product entirely if I can’t make a good choice. not ashamed to admit that there’s a lot of pressure to keep up. what do you do when you just can’t spend the extra now to save it later. a lot of the mamas I know have made those investments in their family and my friends come from all kinds of financial backgrounds. I love watching them craft a life that works for them. for me- I grow/make my own, use coupons, and shop smart/second hand. to each their own.

but, I’ve got some tips. in list fashion. as I would. because this mama is on a budget…

  1. use what you have or get rid of it, without guilt. odds are you don’t have a sentimental attachment to every antique find or little human outfit that is three seasons outgrown. pass it on to someone else. trade it for something you do need. sell it to a stranger. minimizing serves a multitude of functions in our lives both mentally and practically.via My New Neighbor on Pinterest

2. do your freakin’ research. I’m sure my little humans get tired of me holding up traffic in the grocery while I google an ingredient or brand before tossing something in the buggy. but they’ll get over it. this also applies when embarking on any home upgrades or making fashion purchases. you have to remember that going green has become a softly regulated labeling and sales device. resulting in qualifications that might not meet your personal standards. marketing has a way of jazzing things up and watering them down at the same time.  I’d love to go in to some of my favorite brands but there are too many and everyone has differing opinions on what means the most to them when shopping. but there are a lot of sites that do the research for you. below are a random assortment of product/food/clothing shops that I use…

  • ThredUp is the coolest site I’ve found in a while because second hand is best but not everyone has time/energy to spend hours thrifting. it’s organized, has a wide variety of price/size/style options for little humans and adults, AND gives you a place to send your unwanted items.
  • Grove Collaborative covers all the bases from cleaning supplies to skincare and even supplements. they offer deliveries through a handy subscription or you shop as you please. under each product you will find a clear list of which “grove values” are met. super helpful!
  • Brandless has a motto of “better stuff, fewer dollars” which is probably the best motto if you want to sell me anything. all items are $3 or less. they ship direct to lower lost resources between buyer and consumer. the food products are labeled to accommodate vegan, gluten free, non-gmo, etc. bonus: they partner with Feeding America to donate a meal every time you check out.
  • Aldi’s if you don’t know, find out. that’s all I have to say. and don’t forget your quarter for the buggy.

3. start small. replace things one at a time. it is worse to waste something like a plastic container than it is to make use of it. note- I don’t apply this rule to food containers, throw that shit out. you might feel it appropriate to rid your closet of every synthetic fabric or cheaply made dress from Forever 21 to make way for small batch, conscious clothing but in reality it’s gonna end up somewhere, regardless. if you wear/use/eat it, keep it. if not, see #1. check out a few of the blogs where I find good info…

  • Mama Eco the patron saint of eco-friendliness. super grateful to have found Shannon Kenny on instagram. she has the best tips and even has a shopping guide on Amazon to help you out.
  • Sammie Kolk is the go-to for clean beauty, hands down. she also highlights a lot of great food items. while not all of the products she features are in my price range, I always check her blog for recommendations and promo codes when shopping
  • eartheasy aims at sharing the way to a more sustainable living through guides and tutorials, that the site founder says are mostly from first hand experience. gardening, composting, green home- the wealth of info here is limitless. you can even shop or chat live with customer service to ask questions.
  • The Raw Alignment Movement was recommended by a friend and it’s a really great, all-inclusive-type service where you can get a monthly health/wellness membership that’s customizable to your needs. some of the videos are also up on YouTube for free. they cover all kinds of topics and the vibe is overall positivity and spreading the love. it is geared toward a vegan crowd but has plenty to offer everyone.
  • MOTHER is the holy grail. run, don’t walk. thank me later.

4. make it. grow it. put a bird on it. (Portlandia, anyone?!) go ahead, risk that Pinterest fail. I know that not everyone can sew or has the space for a garden or compost, which is totally fine. you can find diy guides to making your own make up or cleaning supplies, for building up your outdoor space, and cooking just about anything you can think of. evaluate your skills and resources and make the most of them. personally, I have a garden & enjoy cooking. I rarely shop for clothes but when I do, it’s a one item in/two items out policy in which we donate or pass down items. and I keep gift giving to a practical minimum- meaning, very few tangible gifts are ever purchased by me for the little humans. (sounds dramatic but my kids have never got them so they aren’t missing out) those things help my dollar stretch further so that we can travel and do fun stuff. I think the time you invest in doing so will always pay off. you can even include the little humans in some projects which is a double win! it’s also another good opportunity to trade things with other people or come up with original gifts to give.

5. shop small. shop local. support your friends’ businesses. SHOP WITH INTENTION.

ultimately, do what’s right for your family. there’s nothing shameful about living a mostly simple life. eat the doritos. buy the marc jacobs. throw out your food scraps. know when you are willing to compromise in order to get a good value and when quality should win out. we are all just trying to get by over here with minimal impact and living a life we enjoy. hopefully, some of these tips have helped if you’re rockin’ the green life on a budget. and if you have any great recommendations send them my way.

humbly,

Eliot.