It seems that writing has escaped me almost entirely this past week and a half or so. Downton Abbey may or may not be partly to blame, I must confess. I had not seen any of Season 1, and I am now completely and utterly hooked on it.

My hands have kept busy with my cross stitching during other moments of leisure time. I put down a project around this time last year to make Bill his Valentine’s Day quilt. That quilt led to Katie’s quilt, which led to Eric’s quilt and to other sewing projects beyond. Yet in trying to live more simply and make the most of what I already have, I realized that I should probably finish current projects before embarking upon too many new ones. Working my “Do unto others” pattern again feels renewing and heart-calming. During high school and college breaks, I used to stay up until 2 AM cross stitching, often. On hold for now are those types of nights, but even slow and steady will do: there are a finite number of stitches, and a few here and there means the design is bound to get done someday.

In between child-rearing duties, I’ve also had some freelance work, including a new client, come my way. Editing is truly a hobby.

I’ve also been devouring Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. I feel as though the author, Susan Cain, is writing truly about me. And about my husband. Even though I know I am a classic introvert (enjoy people well enough, but recharge at home, work best in solitude, etc), and even though I know what those traits feel and look like, reading about them in this validating way has been a huge boost.

We also enjoyed time on Saturday with my cousin’s sister-in-law’s daughter Gracie for her 5th birthday. Yes, cousin’s sister-in-law’s daughter. That’s how we roll in our family. 😉 I love that marriage in our family means a true expansion. I feel as though the Booth line (Bethany, my cousin, married Marshall Booth) has always been a part of us. Katie and Gracie played so well together, along with another first grader and two older girls. Eric loved the piñata and the jumpy house, and he helped Rob, my cousin’s father-in-law, put dishes in the dishwasher. What do I love about my family? I love that I can hang out with my cousins and their in-laws and that it all just feels normal. I am so close with all of my cousins, and as we age and enter new phases of life together it is absolutely awesome that we enjoy being together even outside of the usual family holidays. My parents and their siblings gave us this amazing family legacy, and I cherish it more every year.

This past weekend I also had a bit of time to reorganize my recipe folder and to sort through clipped recipes that I have been saving for quite some time and wanting to try. I am excited and feeling newly inspired in the kitchen, and Katie spent time helping me plan a few menus. I love involving both of my kiddos in this. Eric is cooking more with us now, although he has always been on my hip (just like his sister) since he was a newborn. Yesterday we all made bibimbop (a Korean mixed rice, vegetable, and beef dish), miso soup, and sweet sesame baked wontons with raspberry sorbet. In honor of the upcoming Mardi Gras, Katie has also asked for jambalaya and beignets—which I think we’ll try this weekend.

Today we worked on Montessori activities in the morning, played monster, prepared a side dish for a luncheon with a friend for tomorrow, did some laundry, and took a walk to see my friend Lauren’s new house. She happened to move to a house that is now within walking distance of mine, and is, in fact, in a place that is right on one of our favorite routes. I absolutely adore her family’s new home, and we’re planning a lemon meringue pie baking session soon. She was extremely generous to take us on a tour even as she is still settling in, and we’re excited for the opportunities that being closer neighbors provides.

The kiddos and I attempted an art project this afternoon: using a pounding method to make prints of flowers on water color paper. We originally found this idea in one of our Family Fun magazines, and since they have never steered us wrong, I do have to question whether my help in pounding was good enough or if perhaps we need juicier flowers…. Suffice it to say, we are enjoying our work but it is no where near the vibrance of the model pictured with the directions. Or near the clarity… Some of our flowers seemed to pound into a mush-blob. Oh well. We can chalk it up as an experience. Possibly, too, I would save this activity for an older age—one strong enough to wield a hammer. I tried letting Kate use a kitchen pounder (and Eric his toy hammer) but I ended up having to use all my might, as well. I can say with certainty, though, that we did have a blast collecting our flower specimens.

Preparing to make our flower prints

Some of our final work. I think we’ll cut this sheet a bit smaller and glue it into our nature journal.

Whatever has been keeping you occupied lately, I hope it has been beautiful and full of joy.