Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Halloween Poem

"Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand"
~Thriller lyrics

* * *

The pumpkins are set.

2013-10-31 09.52.53

The door stands ready.

2013-10-31 12.56.39

Got candy? You bet.

2013-10-31 12.57.57

Fireman, hold steady.


Halloween is here,
Let fun times abound.

2013-10-31 09.55.11

Watch for magic,
life is spellbound.

* * *

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wishing for Happy Surprises

Once again it's time to cast wishes with Jamie Ridler. This week she asks: What treats do you wish for?

I wish for simple, happy surprises. For smiles and hugs from loved ones. For fresh flowers to brighten my kitchen table. For quiet moments to write.

I wish for a "thank you" or "good job" or "atta girl." And I wish to give those (or "atta boys") as treats for others.

I wish for plenty of moments to giggle and laugh heartily. Lots of snuggles.

Love in the everyday is a treat. I wish for more of that.

How about you? What treats do you wish for?


Monday, October 28, 2013

I Stepped Off a Perfectly Good Platform to Glide through the Air on a Small Cable

"You are ZIP READY!"

BS! I call BS.

Let me backtrack. For Christmas last year, my husband got my stepson and me (and my husband) gift certificates to go ziplining at Hunter Mountain in New York.

Being procrastinators as we are, and with all the baseball we have between April and October, we finally got around to scheduling that trip for this weekend.

And because we procrastinated, only the Sunday morning 8:30 a.m. time slot was available. After this weekend, the ziplines are closed for a while until the chair lifts open for skiing (because they won't be able to drive a small bus up the ski slopes once they start making snow).

It's about a 3 hour drive, so we left Saturday night and stayed in a hotel near the mountain. Sunday morning, we only had to drive 5 minutes to get to the Zipline Adventures office.

It was a crisp 35 degrees, so we bundled up in layers upon layers. For me that meant long underwear under jeans, two long sleeve shirts, a fleece jacket, my ski coat, thick ski knee socks, hiking boots, hat, scarf, and gloves.


I felt a little like a kid stiff-walking in a snowsuit. I'm in there somewhere.

We met our guides (Doug, Cesar, and Puma) and they helped us into harnesses and helmets. They shuffled us onto a small bus which proceeded to drive up a blue (i.e. intermediate) ski slope. During the steep and bumpy ride, they gave us some rules: don't touch the carabiners (EVER!), and don't touch the cable.

At the top of the mountain (yes, I said top, as in 1,600 feet high), they gave us a brief lesson, reviewed the rules again, and gave us each a trolley (the piece that hangs from cable to which your harness and carabiners get attached).

They said, "Look at the view! There's your first zip."


See that curve of lines across the center of the picture that disappears somewhere far away? I looked, then I considered taking a nice solitary hike back down the mountain.

Not wanting to chicken out, I followed everyone else to the first platform and watched as two of the guides zipped across a 3,000 foot line, shrinking to barely visible dots on the next platform.

I stayed in the back as couple after couple was hooked to the pair of cables and given clearance to "zip away."


Finally, the only ones left were me, my husband, my stepson, and the guide. It was time to go.

I stepped up on the platform and watched intently as Doug looped my trolley over the cable, attached one carabiner, then another, tightened them securely and checked all straps, connections, and that my helmet was secure.

Then he attached my husband to the other cable. I tried to watch, but the cable I was attached to bounced and swayed as the person ahead of me was pulled in (she stopped a bit short of the platform) and released from the line.

My heart thudded double time.

Doug radioed to the guides across way, "We have two and they are ZIIIIIIIP READYYYY!"

No, we aren't. BS. I am not ready. Why would I ever be ready to step off a perfectly good platform to careen across the vast space between two mountains hanging by my hips from a one inch cable? What about that is a good idea?

Cesar radioed back from the other side, "ZIP AWAY!"

Doug unhooked the rope from the gate in front of me (because that little rope would have kept me from falling off the side of a mountain). Then, he unhooked the rope in front of my husband and said he would count us off, but it was okay to wait until we were ready.

"Ready" is kind of interesting word, isn't it?

He counted us off: "1..." I thought about how nice that hike would be down the not-yet-snowy ski slope. "2..." It really wouldn't be much trouble to undo these carabiners. "3..." Oh God, he's at three already. "Zip away!" The longer I wait, the worse it will be.

I lifted my right foot, then my left, leaned back and tucked myself into a cannonball as best as I could.

Then I was moving.

Nothing to do, but go with it. I had left one mountain and the only option was to make it to the next.

The trolley glided along the metal cable sounding like a jet flying overhead. Zzzzzhhhhhooooooommmmm.

I watched the sky and noticed how blue it was. How puffy and white the few clouds were. How happy and calm it looked.

And at such a heart-pounding moment for me!

It was a long ride, but finally the other platform came into view. I was already slowing. There was no way I was going to make it all the way. I prayed that I would at least make it far enough that they could get me by tossing a rope and not having to actually attach themselves to the cable to hand-over-hand climb out and get me.

Puma threw the rope. I reached for it and missed. It swung back to him.

Nooooo, I thought.

He threw it again and I grabbed it, looped it around the handle of my trolley, and waited as he pulled me in.

I thanked him while he deftly unfastened my carabiners and handed me my trolley. I watched for our stepson to come across, which he did, followed lastly by Doug.

Then we moved to the next platform to begin the next zip. I think I was only slightly less nervous the second time.

So we did it all again. This time I could sort of mostly see the other platform and I watched woman after woman get pulled in on the other side. When it was my turn to go, I reviewed the tips for this run with Cesar, then I yet again stepped off a perfectly good platform.

I tucked in a cannonball, focused on relaxing into it, reminded myself to keep my back more horizontal for better aerodynamics. I noticed the blue sky and clouds again. I listened as my husband caught up beside, then surpassed me.

And something cool happened: I made it across. All the way across. My feet touched down on the other platform. I didn't have to be pulled in. No one had to throw me a rope.

"YES!" I said it loud. "I made it across!"

I saw reassuring smiles from the other women, one of whom said Puma had to come out and get her.

After that run, Cesar gave me the title of "Zip Mama." (Or maybe it was Doug. I'll be honest, I don't really remember.)

The last few runs were less nerve-wracking. I learned how to relax into the harness. I tried to take in the views.


Side note: Look at the picture above, toward the center, you'll see a black dot on a white cloud. That dot is not a speck on my lens or a bird (or a plane or Superman). It is a person ziplining across the first span, as seen from somewhere around zip #3.

We zipped a total of five lines that morning. (Is that how you say it? I don't even know.) I made it to the opposite platform on three out of the five. Not too shabby.

When we were safely back in the warmth of our car, my husband asked if I would do it again.

My first thought was that I felt like that box was checked. Done. No need to do it again.

But, I think I'd like to go again. Maybe just one more time, so that I can try to enjoy that long 3,000 foot run. Because that is a heck of a place to be hooked to a zipline for the very first time. I think I might like to try it again, now that I know how it works.

I feel like I should be having some profound revelation about conquering fear. I'm not.

I'm happy I survived. I'm happy I didn't chicken out. I'm happy I made it all the way across a few times.

I'm happy I dressed warm.

I'm happy I got to see what a ski place looks like when it's not ski season. When it's empty of people, the slopes are green, and the trees splash yellow across the mountainside.


I'm happy I got to spend time with my husband and stepson.

I'm happy that I have an experience that makes my heart beat faster when I think about it.

And that is good enough for me.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Flecks #3

As in flecks of reflection from the week: what I'm learning, celebrating, doing.

Things I learned this week:

  • If you don't start the dryer, the clothes inside stay wet. Also, if you leave the clothes (or sheets) there not drying long enough, you will have to rewash them. (This happened to me twice this week.)

  • If you think the world is magically projecting calming meditation bells at you, it might be coming from your phone. (The Intention Reminder app for iPhone is reminding me to pause, breathe, and reflect.)

  • Some big themes for me right now are compassion and loving surroundings. I am trying to find ways to make them more present in my own life and work.

  • When I make collages, I prefer the images to be torn from the magazine rather than cleanly sliced with scissors. I like the rawness of it.

Things I'm celebrating this week:

  • A great Pearl Diving session with Jamie wherein I identified those big themes mentioned above. I have a lot to think about.

  • Allegiant came out! It's the third book in the Divergent series. I loved the first two and I'm so excited to see how this story wraps up. I'm a little ways in and enjoying it so far. (Okay, one chapter felt awkward and the switching points of view are throwing me off because Tris's and Tobias's voices aren't different enough. I keep forgetting who's talking.)

Things I'm still learning:

In other words, these can be tough things. Things I need to keep learning and keep practicing.

That sometimes I'm not nice. And I can't expect others to be nice if I'm not doing it.

Writing is important to my well being. When I don't write, my attitude goes down the tubes.

How to talk to children and teens. They are people with minds and thoughts and opinions, yet how often do we really talk with them.

In fact, I had a great philosophical conversation with my 16-year-old stepson earlier this week. Also, I learned he finds some of history quite interesting (particularly the history of wars.)

Then I found some posts that got me thinking more about how we talk to kids...

So yeah, it's been a big week. What are you learning?

Thursday, October 24, 2013


2013-10-09 18.39.44

I'm still feeling a little angry and overwhelmed by things that creep up and infringe on my time. It seems no matter how much I try to plan, something will pop up that takes over.

On top of that, communication at home is stressful right now. Somehow we're misunderstanding each other, saying the wrong words, or maybe hearing the wrong words.

So, I'm practicing patience. I'm practicing not overreacting. I'm practicing clarifying the message.

I'm still struggling at times. But I'll keep practicing.

This too shall pass, and I don't want to miss beauty while reaping stress. Instead, I must harvest beauty, harmony, and serenity.

It takes practice.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Claiming My Own Contentment

Photo Aug 13, 2 59 44 PM (2)

Once again it's time to cast wishes with Jamie Ridler. This week she asks: What Do You Wish to Claim?

I wish to claim my own inner peace and sanity. I wish to claim the time, space, and energy required to maintain my own contentment.

This may require setting boundaries. It will definitely mean making time to write because I feel better when I write. Writing helps me make sense of my thoughts.

It might mean saying yes or saying no. It will require the courage to speak up and say, "this is what I need right now."

As a people pleaser (and a mom and wife), it's hard to claim what I need. But there's this old saying that if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, so I guess it's kind of important to keep myself happy first.

How about you? What do you wish to claim?


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Attitude Adjustment

I've been kind of a bitch lately. Overstimulated, overtired, cranky. Overwhelmed by bad news in the world, which I have been hypersensitive to ever since my two-and-a-half-year-old was born.

What a crazy, messed-up place our world can be. So many people are hurting. And I mean that in two ways: hurting = feeling physical or emotional pain, but also hurting = causing physical or emotional pain.

I want to expect better of people. I expect people to be kinder and more helpful. I expect people to do the right thing and to speak from love. But we don't.

And yes, I said "we" because I'm failing at it, too. If I don't come from a place of love and respect, how can I expect that from others? What right do I have to teach that message here?

It's not that I'm expecting myself (or others, for that matter) to be perfect. But in the day-to-day, I need to be kinder. I need to come from a place of love.

I need to stop rushing from one task to the next and snapping replies at my family when they speak. I need to pause and listen to their words and, more importantly, to the intention of their words.

I can be quick to take offense and I'm thinking there probably isn't as much offense intended in what they say as I come away with. Why am I turning things into attacks? Why am I hurting (both feeling and causing)?

In Happier at Home (her second happiness project), Gretchen Rubin sets a rule for herself to respond to the spirit of the gift. She realized she had a tendency to nitpick over gifts and that the point wasn't the gift itself, but the spirit with which it was given. (I'm paraphrasing.)

That's what has me thinking about responding to the intention of a message. I don't know why I take things as attacks on my character or even attacks on my time, but I seriously doubt anyone is saying, "Oh, I know how to add more work to her day!" or "This ought to make her feel like crap." (And if there is anyone thinking that about me or anyone else, shame on you!)

The point is I'm tired of hurting (both ways). I may not be able to change the world, but I can change myself. I can expect better behavior from myself, so that is what I will practice today, then tomorrow, then the next day... because I think it will require daily practice.

If I'm going to practice something every day, coming from a place of love and understanding feels important.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Things You Can Do with Your Teenage Kid or Grandkid

And no, I don't mean metaphorically ringing their necks, nor grounding them until their 30. We're talking activities and togetherness.

That article is on Grandmother Hen (written by yours truly). I hope you'll pop over and have a look.

And remember, you're making a difference in the lives of your teenagers whether you think so or not.


Flecks #2

Flecks, as in flecks of reflection from the week. Here we go.

Things I learned this week:

  • Time with friends can be restorative. (This is one of those things I've known, but was reminded of this week.)

  • That I am capable of a lot, and I can serve myself better by not procrastinating.

Things I'm celebrating this week:

  • Being finished! I turned in a massive editing project consisting of 1,700 pages of coding and 650 pages of copyediting. It was, by far, the biggest editing project I've taken on and, honestly, it was exhausting.

  • My stepson cleaned his room. All by himself. Of his own volition. He threw stuff out. He folded his clothes and put them in his dresser. He vacuumed. (I know. I'm baffled, too.)

  • My parents are visiting tomorrow. Yay!

Things I'm still learning:

To listen. "Listen" is my word of the year. It seems like it should be easy, but it's surprisingly tricky to truly listen- without thinking of what you'll say next, without multitasking, without getting distracted by some other task. I've been practicing.

Then Jen Louden said this in a post this week: "We sure do need people to listen, really listen and see us." It's a short post and definitely worth reading. She reminds us that, instead of imposing solutions on others, we should recognize their needs.

What I'm focusing on today:

After a grueling week hunched over my computer, my theme today is Order and Focus.

I'm restoring order to my home as best I can. Right now, I have a bunch of windows open letting the cool wind blow through my house to air it out. Hopefully it's taking with it any stressful, negative energy and sweeping in peace and possibility.

The second load of laundry for the morning is whirring away in the machines, with lots of loads lined up behind it.

I spent a little time last night reorganizing my desk and deciding on systems for my various notes (one notebook for journaling, one for clients, a notepad for my to do list, ...). I'd like to finish up that process today.

Getting my notebooks in order will also help me re-center. I'm feeling a need to refocus my attentions- remind myself of my priorities and get back on track.

And as a special activity with my toddler, we are going to meet with other moms and kids to tie-dye t-shirts.

Order and focus. It's returning. I can feel it.

What are you learning this week?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Woman at Work


The blog will be a bit light this week as I keep my head down to work on a big editing project.

So, in lieu of polished words or crazy life stories, I offer you a picture from this weekend of me in a super-stylish plastic construction hat.

Woman at work.

I'm not great at fashion, but I think this baby will go with anything- dress up or dress down.

Now, please excuse me while I get back to it. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Flecks #1

Alright. I'm trying something a little different with these Friday posts. I'm calling it Flecks for now. As in little flecks of reflection from the week. Let's see how it goes.

2013-10-09 10.57.56

Things I learned this week:

  • how to make apple butter and apple pear chutney

  • that I am not good at making apple crisp (Some of the apples burned. Some of the top didn't cook at all. The brown sugar is lumpy. Yikes!)

  • a peacock's call sounds a lot like a cat's yowl (also, I now have a fantasy of adding a peacock to our little homestead)

  • that I am a procrastinator extraordinaire (okay, I knew this already, but sometimes I am reminded of it again)

This week's celebrations:

  • I spoke my work desires. I took ownership of what I am looking for.

  • I ate eggs laid by my ducks (and lived to tell about it).

  • A harvest! Two tomatoes (from a surprise tomato plant that sprung up all on its own), two of the smallest green bell peppers I have ever seen, and seven serrano peppers.

2013-10-08 16.35.56

Things I'm still learning from this week (i.e., things I need to learn):

A system for keeping my desk clear because it keeps gathering piles. I like the ideas Leo Babauta wrote in this (old) post: 3 Steps to a Permanently Clear Desk.

I definitely need to try his top-down in-basket method and create an action folder. I've gotten as far as clearing the piles, dividing the contents into either an in-basket or a notebook bin. I haven't yet tackled the contents of the in-basket, however.

"You can't let the good go to your head and you can't let the bad go to your heart." The host of Charlotte Today said this during her interview of Glennon Doyle Melton (who I love!).

It's a line I want to carry with me always. I feel like I need that reminder in my everyday. A reminder that it isn't personal. It isn't about me.

In that interview, Glennon said, "If you're going to ask to see the beauty in humanity, you're also going to get some of the brutality."

It's the truth. It kind of sucks, but when you want to see the good, your eyes will be open. And when your eyes are open, you will see it all: the good, the bad, the ugly.

So, that's what I'm learning, celebrating, and working on this week. How about you?


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Live Wonderstruck is Now on Bloglovin

Some of the blogs I read are now on Bloglovin, an online blog aggregator of sorts where you can create an account and set up all your favorites to read in one place.

I'm giving it a try myself, particularly because I like that there is an app for my phone. There was just one small problem. My blog wasn't on it.

Well, now it is. So, if you would like to follow Live Wonderstruck on Bloglovin, click this link:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

And no matter where you read this blog, I thank you. Thank you for spending a few minutes here with me. Thank you for showing up. I appreciate you.

Holy Crap... I Just Took the Risk

Once again it's time to cast wishes with Jamie Ridler. This week she asks a bold question that scares the hell out of me: What Risk Do You Wish to Take?

Ugh. I hate risk. I like safe. I like secure. I like comfortable.

And yet, I want to grow and stretch and try. Things that are really tough to do from the same old comfortable mindsets.

The risk that I wish to take has to do with my work. For five years now, I have freelanced. (Oddly enough, a huge risk that I took when the stability of a day job turned into the closing of a company and losing said job.)

I thought I'd try it for a while because, after more than a decade, the security of the work world had turned upside-down on me. My beliefs about what is stable began to change. So, I stepped out on my own.

And it worked.

People I had known and worked with previously began hiring me- some web project management, some technical writing. The work opportunities flowed steadily enough that I was able to maintain a "freelance career."

Then I had a baby and loved the flexibility of taking small jobs when and where they fit in my schedule- mostly web projects and copyediting (most of the editing being for higher education textbooks).

Now I'm yearning for a change. I still want to freelance. I still want to edit. I still want to write. But instead of all of the technical jobs that I have been doing, I want a new focus.

I want to work with inspirational writers, life coaches, and fiction writers who love magic as much as I do.

I want to write about everyday wonder. I want to write about bringing some basic old-fashioned skills into this high-tech life.

I want to read and support authors and coaches who write about how to live life better. Not bigger, faster, richer; rather stronger, connected, more meaningful. (If you write these types of things, I would love to help you polish your words and get your message out there.)

I want to put myself out there for the same type of work I've always done (writing, editing, usability) but in a different space. No more dry, technical work.

I'm looking for the Jamie Ridlers and Susannah Conways and Danielle LaPortes and Jennifer Loudens of the world. The Gretchen Rubins, Shauna Niequists, and Ann Voskamps. I'm looking for Wendy Masses (13 Gifts, Every Soul a Star), Kimberly Frosts (Southern Witch Series), and Paulo Coelhos (The Witch of Portobello).

(And no, I don't care if you've made a name for yourself already or not.)

I'm looking for people who believe in magic. People who have magic to share.

That's the kind of work I want to do. And I am terrified to say all of that and put myself out there and take the risk of owning it.

But I guess I just did.

There it is.

In coming months this website will reflect that more. In the meantime, if you want to work with me, send me an email at smhutchinswriter at gmail dot com.

How about you? What risk do you wish to take?


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Turning 20 lbs of Apples Into Yummy Canned Goods

Well, I finally started using all those apples I picked last week with my toddler. (20 lbs worth which were still sitting on my kitchen counter in the bag I brought them home in.)

I started with the easy part: picking out some apples to put in the refrigerator as cool, healthy snacks.

Then it was on to cooking and canning. I learned how to can last year (tomatoes and tomato sauce) and tried it again early in the summer (strawberry syrup and blueberry butter), so I decided to keep learning.

First up: apple butter. I followed a recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook (also online: Apple Butter Recipe, although I didn't use allspice or cloves in mine).

2013-10-07 15.00.29

It is smooth and sweet and oh-so-yummy. One recipe gave me seven small jars plus a little leftover to use now.

2013-10-07 18.45.39

While the apple butter went through it's final processing in the water bath (look at me using canning terminology!), I got to work on Apple Pear Chutney. (Some of those 20 lbs of apples were actually pears which I picked at the same time.)

Of course, projects in any kind of work can be messy. (Progress takes space, people!) About this time, my kitchen looked something like this...

2013-10-07 15.30.10

There wasn't an empty countertop in sight.

Anyhow, back to the Apple Pear Chutney. This recipe came from a cookbook I bought from the author herself during her tomato canning class last summer. The book is called Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round by Marisa McClellan and it is awesome. (She also has a blog by the same name.)

What I like most about Marisa's book is that each recipe tells you when to start boiling your jars for sanitizing, how many jars and of what size you will need, and how long to boil them again after filling them (for sealing).

As a beginner canner, this is extremely valuable. It also means I don't have to keep flipping to find that information elsewhere. Plus, the book itself is simply beautiful. I highly recommend it if you want to get into canning.

2013-10-07 15.30.22

About 20 minutes of chopping various ingredients, and two hours of stovetop cooking (during which I only had to stir every so often), the chutney was finished.

And yes, it's delicious. I'm thinking it will work as a snack on crackers or bread and will also likely make a good topping for chicken breasts.

2013-10-07 18.53.43


That leaves me with about a third of the apples (and some pears) still to go. I plan on making apple crisp. (Apple pear crisp? Mmm, yes, I think so.)

Disclaimer: I am not being compensated in any way for mentioning the books in this post. These are books I own and use. I have provided affiliate links to those books, so if you happen to purchase them from that link, Amazon may throw a few cents my way which will either go into maintenance costs for this blog or my children's college funds. :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Ate Duck Eggs (and lived to tell the story)

I did it. I finally tried the duck eggs.

Buttons started laying eggs early in September and I've been too scared to try them. Part of it was worry over whether I'm collecting/cleaning/storing them properly. Part of it was the gross factor.

I'm a little weirded out by eggs as a concept ever since Buttons started laying them. It just seems more ewwwwww now.

On top of that, I am NOT an adventurous eater and I'm not even a big egg person (I have to be in the mood for eggs) so being adventurous with eggs is frightening.

Nonetheless, I decided that it was time to try them. (I've been collecting them for a month.)

So, this weekend I made scrambled eggs for breakfast. I pulled out two pans and made store-bought chicken eggs in one and home-plucked duck eggs in the other.

I wasn't sure my husband and stepson would be keen on trying them, particularly before their morning baseball game, so I made enough chicken eggs to feed them and enough duck eggs to feed me, plus some extra in case anyone else wanted to try them.

(Hint: They didn't. In fact, my husband freaked out more than I expected, so I spent the rest of the weekend teasing him about how I was stepping up as the tough one in our family.)

Because I've heard that duck eggs have a stronger flavor than chicken eggs, I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison. I prepared both kinds the same way- scrambled with a little cheese melted on top and halved cherry tomatoes for the last minute of cooking. (I like the tomatoes to still hold their shape and be a pop of refreshing amidst the cooked eggs.)

Then I put a spoonful of duck eggs on my plate and one fork-full of chicken eggs for comparison.

I ate a bite of duck eggs first. It was pretty good. By that I mean that it tasted like scrambled eggs.

As my second bite, I ate the chicken eggs. They tasted exactly the same (which seemed both impossible and improbable to me). The third bite (and all subsequent bites) were duck eggs, and they all tasted the same to me.

The point is I tried them. I survived. I didn't even turn into a duck.

The other point is my husband is a wuss. (A cute wuss, but a wuss all the same.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Inspiration for the Weekend #3 (the editing edition)

I am in editor mode this week. With a huge copyediting project going on for the next few weeks, I'm spending a lot of time on my computer.

And because I've been reading a manuscript, I haven't read many blogs this week. However, there are two posts I read that spoke to me. Coincidentally, they are both about editing.

One is about editing your life and the other about editing your writing. These are both things I'm working on right now, so I thought I'd share them with you.

Clear & Claim
by Jamie Ridler Studios

In this post, Jamie talks about editing your life. Claiming what works and clearing what doesn't.
We all know the value of decluttering, how good it feels to clear out what no longer serves, whether that’s shoes that hurt our feet or relationships that hurt our hearts. It is a powerful practice to clear our homes, our schedules, our hearts and our lives.

On Editing, Heavy Lifting & Great Writing
by Shauna Niequist

Shauna talks about the "invisible work" of heavy editing. The work that makes the difference between good writing and great writing.
This is what makes a great writer: not the first draft, but all the subsequent drafts.

So, these are the things on my mind. Editing words and editing life.

Are you editing anything in your life right now?


Thursday, October 3, 2013

What is Your Favorite Apple Recipe?

2013-09-30 11.14.55

It's one of those days where I have a lot of things to do and don't know if I have anything in particular to write about.

What I do know is I have apples. Lots of them.

I took Jonas apple picking earlier this week and all 20-some pounds of apples (and some pears) are still sitting in the bag I brought them home in.

Last year when I picked apples, I made applesauce. It was a really efficient way to turn a whole bunch of apples into one jar of applesauce. It was good applesauce, but highly disappointing when I spent an entire day making it and it only filled one jar.

I'm not a big apple pie person, so aside from eating a few of them as they are, I'm thinking apple butter. (Blueberry butter earlier this year was successful.) Maybe throw a few slices to float on some apple cider sangria.

Do you have any other ideas? What apple recipes do you love?

It's probably important to note, that I don't know a lot of fancy cooking terms, and I like things that are simple. Please don't send me a 42-step apple tartar flambé. (Or anything else with equally ridiculous words in it.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Clearing Out

I adore the Wishcasting Wednesday prompts posed by Jamie Ridler. She has a way of getting me to think in a way that cuts right to the heart of things. This week she asks, "What do you wish to clear?"

Short answer: so much.

I'm feeling cramped. Overwhelmed by too much stuff and too long of a to do list. If you read my Wide Open Spaces post on Monday, you already know I'm craving room to grow, stretch, and move freely.

Maybe the season has something to do with it. Now that we're in Autumn, I may be preparing the Hutchins cave for winter. And the thought of being crowded in the cave all winter makes Mama Bear grumbly.

So here are some of the things I wish to clear:

  • Unloved toys

  • Unnecessary paperwork

  • Unused kitchen tools

  • My email inbox (both of them)

  • Excess furniture

  • My teenager's too-small clothes and my husband's old clothes (I've recently done this for myself and the toddler)

  • My old computer (which is still tucked away 6 years later because I need to remove pictures from it- a sloooooooow process)

  • Some of the knick-knacks (because we have too many)

  • Negative energy

This is a big list and it will take some time, but these are the things I wish to clear.

How about you? What do you wish to clear?


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Target and Toddlers... A Wicked Combination

I am Suzanne. (I'm not, really. Suzanne is not my name. This will make a lot more sense if you read Glennon's post at Momastery.)

But that's what I said to myself in the Target parking lot. Then I giggled. (Okay, I know you're busy, so if you didn't read Glennon's post - and you still should - the short version is that she spent all summer saying, "I am so zen," and her daughter spent all summer thinking her mom was saying, "I am Suzanne.")

So yes, it was a rough Target day.

We were running out of household things like toilet paper and shampoo and, on top of that, we had a birthday party for our friend's two-year-old for which we needed a gift and a card.

No problem. A quick trip to Target can solve all of that in one fell swoop.

Unless you have a two-and-a-half-year-old, whose new favorite word is "mind!" (He means "mine," but whatever.)

It started simply enough. Down the pet aisle for cat food and litter.

Toddler: "We need dog food."

Me: "No, we don't, sweetie. We don't have a dog."

Nearby Stranger: (laughs)

Toddler: "We need cat soap."

Me: "No, we don't need cat soap. I don't even know what that means. Is that a thing?"

I hereby acknowledge that I never bathe my cat. He seems to clean himself just fine. Anyhow, we moved on to birthday cards.

Toddler: "Let ME have that truck card."

Me: "No, this card is for Cole. It's Cole's birthday."

Toddler: "Let's get Jonas a birthday card." (Jonas being my toddler's name.)

Moving on...

Our next stop was for razor blades. Now, let me just say that I'm fairly certain the razor people are mocking me. Here's why.

Since 1990-something until about two years ago, I had a Gillette Sensor. Or Sensor Excel. Or something like that. The handle was wide and flat and the blades had two... um... blades. You know, a two-bladed razor blade.

Anyhow, I loved that razor. About two years ago I began having a really hard time finding blade refills. Since then I've tried a lot of different razors and haven't found one I've liked as much, aside from which now they all seem to have 5 blades and that just seems like overkill to me. (I mean, really. That's more than double the blades I used for 25 years and I never had any problems.)

I was out of blades for my razor as of my last Target visit (a little over a month ago). At that time, I wandered the aisle looking at all of the razors and grabbing the Gillette Venus refills because they looked right.

When I got home, however, it turned out I had a Bic Soleil. Target is kind of a long drive from where I live so I hadn't gotten around to returning the Venus blades and I long since lost the receipt. Before leaving for Target this time, I relegated the Venus blades refill to my future donation pile.

Once again I was in the razor aisle looking for Bic Soleil refills. There weren't any. But up in the very top corner, hung one lonely little box of Sensor Excel blades. Mocking me. Because they don't sell that razor anymore and I threw mine out two years ago when I couldn't find blades.

Now they don't have the razor I like, but they have refills. They don't have refills for the razor I have. And I have a box of refills at home that don't match my current razor.

I huffed at the razor gods before grabbing a Venus razor to go with the blades I then had to remove from the donation pile.

Well played, Gillette.

From there the toddler took over the cart declaring "mind!" He refused to let me touch it, let alone steer it, so we moved at toddler speed narrowly dodging shelves until we reached the back of the store where toys are.

Of course, my toddler picked this moment to be very toddler-ish and started grabbing every Planes toy he could find and putting them in the cart. I'd pull one out, he'd put another in.

By the time I finally got him to the aisle we needed for his friend's birthday present, I was worn out and my son was on the verge of a meltdown.

I stood in the aisle unable to think of what Cole would like or need that he didn't already have. Jonas left the aisle twice. I chased him twice. Brought him back twice.

In that moment, I realized that I was probably overthinking the whole gift-for-a-two-year-old thing. (Sorry, Cole's mom. I adore you and him. You know that. I'm also hoping you understand desperation in the moment.) So I grabbed a toy school bus because Jonas liked it, so maybe Cole would, too.

When we finally made it up to the register, I unloaded the cart to find a stowaway Little Mermaid sippy cup. It's funny how things magically end up in your cart without you seeing.

So, I asked the cashier to set it aside, paid, and got the heck out (all to the remarkably repeated tune of "I want cookies now!").

And that, my friends, is why I sat in the parking lot saying, "I am Suzanne." Then laughing.

Thank you, Glennon Doyle Melton (and Amma), for this phrase which turned my whole day around.

By the way, when I got home I realized I had forgotten to buy wrapping paper or a gift bag, so I used what I had: Christmas paper. For a birthday in September.

Hello, mom-of-the-year award. Aren't you shiny.