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.

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}

17. half days at home that include finding a new bakery & farmers market hopping {09.21.2018}

18. watching babe DJ the biggest show of her career- also my first big EDM show {09.22.2018}

19. super quick snuggles with Freya & chats with my fav couple ( thegemcitymama.com ) at Oktoberfest {09.23.2018}

20. coffee deliveries & love notes {09.25.2018}

21. playing games with the littles {09.26.2018}

22. grey’s season premiere {09.27.2018}

23. watching kiwi conquer a tough skill at gymnastics {09.28.2018}

24. a full day of adventures with babe including making homemade ravioli and eating dessert on the couch {09.29.2018}

25. taking a selfie that made me feel pretty {09.30.2018}

26. this is us {10.02.2018}

27. getting a comment from a sweet Instagram friend on my blog post {10.03.2018}

28. first attempt at caramel apples with the littles and babe {10.04.2018}

29. meeting new friends while celebrating a new baby {10.06.2018}

30. lunch with my dad, a good hike, and s’mores! full day. {10.07.2018}

31. paid holiday off {10.08.2018}

32. Carillon Park adventure day for fall break {10.09.2018}

33. baking bread in my pajamas. soundtrack by Joni Mitchell {10.10.2018}

34. keeping up with traditions at Kleather’s Pumpkin Patch {10.11.2018}

35. pen pal letters {10.12.2018}

36. Fearfest with the twin & besties {10.13.2018}

37. a Sunday of rest {10.14.2018}

38. little human chats over ice cream sandwiches {10.15.2018}

39. the sunset & james brown {10.16.2018}

40. listening to my friend Tino on WYSO. so cool! {10.17.2018}

41. taking the boy human to his first basketball practice, even though he wouldn’t let me stay and watch. {10.18.2018}

 

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.

32 flavors of grace.

word of the year:

grace (noun).

  1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action:
  2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment:
  3. favor or goodwill.
  4. mercy; clemency; pardon:
  5. moral strength:

my year started in a flood of beginnings. not just your typical new year’s resolutions but a divorce, a new job, and a new(ish) relationship all at once. pile that on to my existing mama life schedule and my forever attempt to maintain balance. to say I was overwhelmed, would be a gigantic understatement. being on the precipice of change can be the most exciting but I believe it’s how you hold it together while these changes unfold that says the most about you.

I think winter may be the best time for such things, honestly. the harshness of the cold is a reminder that it takes work to thrive. we can sit in our times of dormancy and allow the growth to stir below the surface but we cannot forget to thaw and bloom. it is easy to allow the ground to hold a grudge against the sun for all those grey days. so, I chose GRACE as my word of the year, hoping that Spring would arrive in abundance and summer and I would have a good laugh about all that wind and rain. surely, with many definitions to choose from, Grace, would be fitting for all the seasons had to offer me.

without diving too far into any one of my big life changes, I will say I have learned a lot:

a lot about taking up space & taking my time.

about asking for what I need and being open to actually receiving those things.

about how I wish to curate my life.

as a mama, I have three sets of eyes on all choices I make. I had somehow convinced myself that it was better to be content with what I had than to fail at reaching for better, for demanding better. I had not allowed myself the grace in failing. moving through these new things in my life, I’ve had to start paying attention to my phraseology. self-talk can be a mortifying mirror with which our kids reflect back how we feel about ourselves. I made a conscious effort to speak to myself the way I speak to them- with trust, honesty, and a realistic expectation of our capabilities. I watched my kids talk gentler with me as I became more open with them about how our future would be playing out. it’s always humbling to watch them learn the lessons alongside me.

I have also tried my best to invest the same communication with my partner, my friends, and all the other grown humans I encounter. the sooner we are all on the same page, the sooner we can move forward with positive energy. but you cannot force it. adults…it’s gonna be a struggle. Grace is not a luxury we often grant ourselves which projects into something we are not able to grant others. and, at the end of the day, you can only do that for yourself. it’s up to everyone else to perceive and reciprocate. once it’s tossed into the universe, you have to let it play out. which has been another lesson for me this year. I am not always at fault for how things come back to me. there are far too many factors involved. this is the grace of movement, of allowing things to come and go. I know I do not always make this easy, for myself or for others. not everyone gets the same dose of grace. but it has been a new practice of mine to apologize to all of us, where I otherwise would have retreated.

as summer ends and fall arrives to lay down all the “stuff” of this year, I can honestly say it’s sorting itself out. the divorce is final and my brand new, chosen last name (see first blog post) is an actual legal thing. (screams internally) the job is a most perfect fit for our family even when the schedule and work drives me insane. and the relationship is pleasantly private and managing to survive the twists and turns even when it has done the most evolving. I have seen how these changes were meant for me to endure concurrently. it was less about the what of the chaos and more about remaining who I am despite it.

I am not without failure. the lessons are still pouring in. my story still holds a lot of forgiveness.

and this year was hard. real hard. but I think I’m ready for the harsher seasons and the promise of another year to grow, fuller and wilder.

gracefully,

Eliot.

roadtrips 2.0

three little humans.

one week of summer break.

and a single mama budget.

I am probably insane. but this year we tackled our second east coast road trip as a family. I researched a lot of destinations and finally set my eyes on Cape Cod. New England has always been on my short list of dream spots but it isn’t notoriously budget friendly and I was not sure if there would be many points of interest to the littles other than the beach. I like a good challenge though, so this is how I made it happen…

PLANNING.

lots and lots of planning and mapping out and list making goes in to how I prepare for a vacation whether it’s a solo adventure or with the family. maybe everyone doesn’t get as jazzed about excel spreadsheets and drafting lists as I do but there are so many great resources if you have/take the time to look.

here are a few of my go-to resources-

Pinterest- use key phrases like family friendly, budget, must see, and definitely must eat!

Instagram- follow local and travel hashtags for the area

ask around- the absolute best way to find out what to do is to ask someone who’s done it. find other moms and friends who have travelled to the area. put your feelers out for what touristy things are worth it and which ones to pass up. I always refer to my trips as the PostCard Tour of *location* because I want to find half tried and true vacation spots and half hidden gems

google maps- sounds tedious, but once you’ve selected some itinerary items you can build on them efficiently by researching what is nearby. that way mapping out for routes for that day can maximize what you’re able to fit in.

the most important factor in choosing our adventures is that each of my littles feels included in the process. I ask them simple questions before making concrete decisions- what is one thing you want to see and one thing you want to eat? from here, I choose our accommodations to be as centrally located and cost effective as I can for what we plan to do during our stay. summer in cape cod was slim picking but we were able to stay close by in Fairhaven, Mass. now, I begin putting it all on paper.

I always lay out a weekly itinerary. figure out which days will be best to leave and return as well as how many full days we will have to explore once our driving route is planned. we have never flown as a family because I like the option of stopping whenever we want but laying out this itinerary is also good to see if certain days are cheaper for flights. this helps for several other reasons too: some places will be closed on certain days or have limited hours and you never want to end up somewhere great only to find out it is closed, you cannot predict the weather but you can surely prepare for it, and you can break up your days based on areas of town or nearby cities you want to visit to get the most out of your time. example: for us, we knew the beach was a must but that Boston was a short hour drive away. onto our itinerary it went.

next, I window shop the area for points of interest, restaurants, roadside attractions, museums, etc. this can get out of control quickly when there’s a lot to see! it’s also one of my favorite parts of planning. I write them all down and make note of any important details about the locations like hours, admission, recommended menu items, and parking tips. this trip I got really fancy, grouping them together on the list by purpose that way I didn’t end up with 35 coffee shops I had to get a latte from but no good place to get fresh seafood. balancing the itinerary is super important. little humans wear out easily and the budget stretches further when I have an idea of where my money will be spent before I get there.

I throw all my favorite places onto a map. from there I can start to get an idea of where to spend our time. since our AirBnb was within an hour of a ton of cool places so this step was tough. I have a bad habit of over packing our days because I want to see everything! I usually group itinerary items together by proximity and deciding what will be worth the visit and what just isn’t practical. most larger cities have designated neighborhoods you can use as a guide. example: the squares in Savannah, boroughs of Cape Cod, or districts of Boston. I’ve told myself it is okay to over plan as long as I don’t stress too much about missing out on things once we get there. everything is gonna take longer than what I’ve plan for, but spontaneity and being present with my family is something I won’t regret. it’s a lesson I’m learning the more we travel.

laying out my routes to and from our main destination comes after mostly because I want to spend the bulk of our budget on our full days but try to plan one big pit stop, no more than 3-4 hours long, on each leg of the drive. depending on the kids ages, more stops could mean more opportunities to find roadside attractions. we chose Hershey Chocolate World, in Hershey part for the way there. it was exactly halfway through the trip and we loved it! for the way home, I was a little more ambitious and drove into NYC. it made for a long drive home, through the night, but the littles slept and it was more than worth it. pinterest is my favorite place to find hidden gems along the way. search a city on the map and see what other travelers have found there. street art, kitschy restaurants, world’s largest lumberjack. odds are, there’s something beautiful or interesting I don’t want to miss out on that gives the kids a break from sitting in the car.  google maps will be your best friend for this because you can plug in multiple stops along your route.

lastly, I make a budget. not everyone needs to do this and that’s great, but if you do just realize you will go over budget. it’s another situation that can cause stress if you let it. eating with children comes with a multitude of challenges and pop up expenses. my littles aren’t super picky but they are very opinionated. luckily, they are also very accommodating to what each of them want and will go along with most anything. food definitely took up the majority of our budget because we love trying new things and wanted to make the most of being Oceanside. we also have certain, cheaper, souvenirs that I have made it a habit to cherish and seek out with them. we collect Christmas ornaments and magnets. that way they are invested in choosing those items and are less likely to ask for the tourist trap souvenirs. parking was the area of the budget that I thought I prepared for adequately and definitely didn’t. most places will have a yelp review posted with tips if you’re lucky but it never hurts to call and ask if parking info isn’t listed on the website. for beaches, there should be city/state/park websites with details. money is the least fun thing to talk about when trying to explore and enjoy. planning is the best way for me to make it as simple as possible.

there you have it! an overview of the process gives plenty of room for customization but this is how I go about it, for the most part. next week, I will post our itinerary and some recommendations on the travel page (go to the menu to find) as well as my favorite photos from our trip. ❤ travelling with my little humans has been the most beautiful way to see the world through six more eyes and I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything!!

safe travels,

Eliot & the Wilder Ones