Thoughts On: Beauty

Like all Mommies, I think my kids are beautiful. Of course we think our kids are beautiful. And really, they all are. Full of life, full of questions, full of jokes, full of attitude, small, beautiful humans. Since the first moment I walked outside the hospital with little Picky Princess, people have crossed the street to tell me what a beautiful child she is. And while I see what they do in her magical face, the things I find so beautiful about her are the things that come with 6 years of observation. I think the one freckle so perfectly placed under her right eye is so beautiful. I love that she is a wild mess most of the time, crazy haired and rainbow clad. I love how her pristine face stands out as a pocket of white paint on a graffiti’d canvas. I love the moments when she laughs for real. In those moments I find her too beautiful to look directly at. When she sleeps I can hardly tear my eyes away from her little face. It’s so white it glows.

It’s also interesting to me how a child, particularly a girl, processes all this attention. With a big wide world telling her she is so beautiful, she definitely has come to agree. She is quick to comment on being beautiful, yet doesn’t necessarily seem to place a lot of value on it. She will say, Of course I’m beautiful, with the same matter of fact tone of, Of course my socks are blue. She doesn’t seek to enhance it with tiaras and make up and princess dresses. At least not very often.

It’s important, how little girls wade through the beauty topic. It’s important what she sees in the women around her. For every comment I hear someone make to her about her beautiful blue eyes, I try to make my own to her about her incredible creativity, her kindness to her little sister, her willingness to help. The things that make her a Beautiful Soul, not just a Beautiful Face. I think my friends are some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. But even in how I talk about them to my girls, I try to comment on their beautiful character, that they are great listeners and generous friends.

I believe in a family culture of honor. When, God forbid, the meanness of the world creeps in and tells her anything other than that she’s beautiful, my hope is that a lifetime of being honored for the beauty of her soul, will resound louder and longer than the crack of the hurtful.

So tonight we have dinner in honor of our recent Kindergarten Graduate! She has requested sea bass(of course, most random request ever) and caramel cake. So we have fish tacos, salsa verde, watermelon and caramel cake on the menu. I made THIS caramel cake from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, and whipped up a twist on salsa verde, recipe below. Tonight our family who are friends and friends who are family will gather and honor the Beautiful: that her teacher said she was kind and inclusive, that she was a strong leader, that she is incredibly artistic, that she worked hard to learn how to read and speak spanish and sing harmonies. A little Beautiful Soul (with incredible beautiful blue eyes).

Salsa Verde:

10 small tomatillos

1/2 jalapeno, most of the seeds removed

juice of 2 limes

large handful of cilantro

1 mango

sea salt to taste

Directions: chop all ingredients very finely. Stir together. Best if left to sit overnight. Serve with tortilla chips or on fish tacos!

Thoughts On: Motherhood

face to the sun, baby.

It’s Mother’s Day. Sexy Husband spoiled me because he’s that kind of guy. Little Girls were sweet as pie because they’re those kind of girls. And Sundays at our house are busy busy days, church, lessons, rehearsals…but I didn’t want to miss a chance to reflect, even briefly on how much of an honor it is to be somebody’s Mommy. It is the greatest honor of my life.

The challenges of motherhood, of which there are many, are rewarded with the most important of lessons learned. As I hold my breath watching my 2 year old run faster than her little legs are ready for, I learn to let go and trust that small things can be strong things. As I listen to my 5 year old tell me about her elaborate plans for the future, I am reminded myself to dream, and that no dreams are unreasonable. In fact, when dreaming, reason means nothing. Mostly I have learned to trust. To trust that skinned knees heal. That hurt feelings disappear when you bake cookies. That the love of other people in a Village is essential to raise a child. That my gut instinct is almost always right.

That we can love so deeply is no small miracle.

So I am grateful. Grateful for a Beautiful Mom. Grateful for Beautiful Babies. Grateful that Motherhood can make a Beautiful Soul.

boots and tutu

Thoughts On: Dessert Tables

mini brunch table

Thanks to the likes of Amy Atlas, Goddess of Gorgeous, dessert tables have become a spectacular trend among party planners. The themes and ideas and colors and desserts are becoming ever more elaborate and amazing. I honestly am madly in love with dessert tables. There are zillions of great party and hostess blogs with incredible ideas. I have a couple of friends who do some really spectacular tables!

Foodie Baby is 2 years old today! We call her our Little Button, and she is about the sweetest, most delightful little package of pink. I love her soulful brown eyes, her cheeky smile, and her feisty ways. She makes having a 2 year old seem like the most perfect part of life.

I wanted to do something sweet to celebrate her today, but you know, she’s 2, so didn’t feel the need to do anything too enormous. So we put together a “mini” brunch table. It was simple and not time consuming but oh so sweet. All things mini for our Little Button: mini cupcakes(pink vanilla as she has chanted to me for a month), mini button cookies, mini chocolate milkshakes, mini marshmallows, mini olive scones, quiche and raspberries. I found a metal pillar candle holder that served as a mini cake platter, and a mini bud vase.

She chattered about how pretty it was all morning. Not knowing that all eyes were on her pretty little face, not the pretty cupcakes.

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Thoughts On: Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! To everyone in love: may it only grow, may it ever change to properly embody you, may the sacrifices it requires be worth it every time. To everyone who longs to love: may you and love find each other, may the light of hope never dim, may your time from now until then be filled with lessons and experiences that need to be held alone. To everyone happily single: may there be rich friendships in your life, may there be chocolate and red wine.

I’m neither particularly jaded, nor particularly commercial about the whole thing. Each year, we take it as we come. Some years, Vday is a big deal, others, not so much. I am so blessed to ┬ábe married to someone who is thoughtful and romantic every day. Sexy Husband and I were away for work this weekend, the Girlies stayed with Grandma. So we ate some delicious food, saw some fabulous friends, and it was fun.

Valentine’s Day is, however, such a fun thing to celebrate with our little girls. We never turn down an opportunity to do things pink and lovey. We started the day with toast, cut into gingerbread men shapes and hearts. Always a hit. Then Picky Princess had her preschool Valentine’s Day party. Then we came home for a treasure hunt that involved following a pink Smartie trail around the house to find a treasure! Finally, we made some cookies(pink Smarties to use up!).

following a Smartie trail

the treasure: hand knit hearts with their names embroidered. These were made by Delilah & Co. They have the sweetest stuff, check them out at http://facebook.com/delilahtoys

If you would like to make these Oatmeal Smartie Heart Cookies, here’s how:

cookie dough

1. Make the dough from the Chewy Oatmeal Cookie recipe. Omit chocolate chips/pecans/coconut. Add Smarties.

2. Roll into a log in wax paper, about 3 inches in diameter. Freeze for at least 30 mins.

cookie dough log

3. Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut dough into 1 inch rounds. Squish into the shape of hearts. Bake for about 10 mins.

squished into hearts

For some reason my camera doesn’t seem to be working. So you get a photo tour of our day courtesy of Hipstamatic on my iPhone!

my little Valentines

Thoughts On: Kindness

I don’t really consider myself a “New Years Resolution” type of girl. Generally I think that if something needs to be changed, or I want to try something, I just do it. Right then. Even though I say this every year, somehow some kind of New Years Inspiration always seems to find me. I don’t go out looking for it. I don’t usually deeply ponder what the next year of my life should be like(I do this early in Dec when my birthday seems like a crisis every year!). But when it comes to inspiriation, when I am looking the least, I am finding the most.

I have a number of friends who search for or choose a word to identify with for the year. Kind of like it’s “their” word to live out for the year. Such a nice idea. Usually my inspiration for the year doesn’t come in a word, but this year it did seem to find me in a quote. I don’t know where it came from. My mom said it to me and doesn’t know where she heard it originally. So if the quote belongs to someone who is still alive and who stumbles upon Fig&Fennel, my deepest apologies for not crediting you properly.

Here is what has struck me as deeply important for 2011.

“Kindness is greater proof of love than the most passionate of vows.”

I just love this. I am prone to grand declarations of how deeply important something is to me. I am prone to grand gestures in general: big dreams, the chasing of mystery, the world brushing my fingertips.

Much greater, much deeper, much more loving; to be prone to kindness.

In 2011, I will take hold of the tiny opportunities for kindness to show my love. I will value the simplicity of this: if you need love, and I need love, and kindness is the bridge, then let’s sit there a while.

I know that I’ve been made to love and embrace the extravagant. And truly I have no desire or intention of abandoning this Truth. But on days when I can’t go out and save the world. There will be kindness. Probably in the form of muffins.

Thoughts On: Merry Christmas

Hello Friends!

Just wanted to take a minute to wish you all a very merry Christmas. The next few days are busy for us and and everyone else! I don’t anticipate a lot of blogging time. I hope that you all find peace and joy this time of year. I hope you have ample quality time with the people you love. I hope you eat delicious and healthy food. I hope you find a minute or two to reflect with gratitude on how the blessings in our life give us momentum, and how the hard times help us focus.

I am making a few cheesecakes for Christmas Eve and hope to post them tomorrow. Otherwise, I’ll be back in a few days!

Merry Christmas!

Thoughts On: Breakfast for Dinner

We had breakfast for supper. It’s just my favorite. Not brunch, which can be fancy and classy. Full on breakfast: hashbrowns, apple cinnamon pancakes, scrambled eggs with leeks, tomatillos and cauliflower. I think what I love most about breakfast for supper is that you can feed an absolute army with very little work. It just so happens, whenever we do make breakfast for supper, that someone calls me, while I’m just whipping things up, musing about what they should make, or reflecting on their exhausting day, perfectly thrilled to last minute drop all and come by for pancakes. Today’s call came from my sister, whom you all know that I love and adore and don’t see enough. So IronSister and IronStomach(haha just kidding Craig) came by. We laughed at my silly kids, ate pancakes, and let the dishes sit for much longer than normal. I just feel very grateful today. Grateful for family, grateful for friends, grateful for pancakes.

I’ve seen a lot of brokenness this week. Lots of people I love with broken hearts, broken lives, broken dreams. They won’t be broken forever. We reach out, and are surrounded. We hold hands, and are supported. We join each other at the table, share a meal, share our brokenness. And suddenly it doesn’t seem quite so hopeless, quite so lonely. And we heal.

I write about these things because I know that in the midst of the bills and busyness and lunches to make and rush hour traffic, we sometimes forget: that if we are broken, and of course we all are, that our table might just be the one that someone else needs to sit at. Today you sit at mine. Tomorrow I’ll sit at yours. Sometimes….we just need pancakes.

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