Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
Be BoldHeart.
Enjoy Your Life.

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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Week 3 The Seasonal Kitchen: 12 weeks to seasonal living





Week 3 of the HomeSpun Seasonal Living Workbook is all about the magic we make in the kitchen, and raises awareness for incorporating seasonal ingredients into our meals each week.  

Seasonal foods are local foods harvested in season. There are different definitions used to define the term “local,” and even the “seasonality” of foods can vary depending on where you live and how far from your home you are willing to source your food. 

Within 100 miles? Within the State? Within the Region?

This week I revisited my own definition of locally sourced. I generally consider regional sourcing to be sufficient, where the bulk of our meat, vegetables, and fruit come from in and around the greater Richmond area, as well as anything else produced within the state, and sometimes including neighboring states like DC, MD, and North Carolina. 

So what is in season in Virginia this time of year? After sifting through a range of different sources I found these state specific seasonal produce guides to be the most helpful. I was surprised by the variety considering Virginia has a pretty dormant Winter growing season. 

I reorganized the list by month so I could print out and easily reference what is in season when meal planning and shopping each week. 




Lately we've been shopping at Whole Foods, RelayFoods.com, and Elwood Thompson's, which specialize in doing the admittedly harder work of sourcing and labeling local seasonal foods for us. I based my shopping list last week off of the seasonal food list above, which simplified my options and streamlined my shopping experience.

I made a hearty vichyssoise soup of leeks, onions, and potatoes; roasted and caramelized sweet potatoes; spinach salad with boiled eggs, apples, and chicken; roasted butternut squash and mushrooms with pork tenderloin; another smokey potato soup with carrots and fennel; and roasted beets with olive oil and sea salt. Plus whole grains, pastured meats, pears, and lots of citrus—cara cara oranges, satsumas, grapefruit, meyer lemons and limes. 

(Oh wait, citrus isn't local to Virginia? I'll get back to that in a minute!)

Our food was simple, and delicious, and vegetable centric. It truly felt like Winter in my kitchen.

So what about citrus fruits that are technically at peak sweetness in Winter, and in season with the nation-wide harvest, but definitely not local to Virginia? I don't know. Right now we are devouring them. And what about eggs and chicken, and bacon? When we shopped at the Farmers Market almost exclusively we could not get eggs in the winter, or bacon whenever we wanted it, even chicken year round. There is a season for animals too and it has been largely lost or bypassed through technology and factory farming. These complicated issues make the challenges of eating seasonal fruits and vegetables seem easy in comparison.

A few good resources for sourcing and cooking seasonal foods:

At localharvest.org you can look up local CSA’s, farmer’s markets, and farms by zip code. 
Find local farms at PickYourOwn.org.

How did last week go, did journaling help connect you to the season? Share some of your captures of winter. I would love to go there with you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

We are featured in Home School Life Magazine's Winter Issue!

We are thrilled to be featured in Home School Life Magazine's Winter 2015 Issue!

Amy and Shelli created an issue sampler to share and included our spread in the sneak peek.




For all my homeschool friends who may be interested in learning more about the magazine and/or subscribing (digital subscriptions are available now but PRINT will be happening soon) you can check out their website at homeschoollifemag.com.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 2 Journaling as a Way to Connect with the Season: 12 Weeks to Seasonal Living


In Week 2 of The Homespun Seasonal Living Workbook Kathie suggests journaling as a way to connect with the seasons and the rhythms of our home. She challenges us to notice and record what nature is doing outside and what we are doing inside. 

When I am in nature I know that it feels really good but I don't usually stop to put it to words, or write it down. I have tried on occasion to capture a moment of the season as I remember it (Fall, Summer) but I haven’t before sat under nature's eve and taken notes in the moment. 

When I went to my favorite spot on the river to do this exercise I was excited to feel it all and try to capture it in my journal. 

A few excerpts:

The ground is saturated, soft and imprintable.

Fall’s leaf litter is a blanket on the trails. Broken down by rain and foot traffic, cellulose frozen then unfrozen, disintegrating into slime and mud.

The banks are bare of leaves; skeleton trees rise up twisting and leaning into the path of the low sun, their trunks and bark a thin winter coat.

The water is slow, burdened by the cold but persisting downstream nonetheless.

Blue, gray, and white hues cast over the water, the chilled earth.

Birds. The only brave souls still singing, merry by instinct and making the most of lean times.

The people pull at their collars, wrap their sweaters a little tighter at the waist. They pull their hands into their sleeves like turtles in shells. The wind certainly finds a way inside anyway.

The untamed landscape gives me a sense of courage in the dead of Winter. An impulse to leave the coop—our dizzying shelter after short day after short days of light— and strip of clothes to run through the chilled air, so crisp and dry. It is almost irresistible because the outside is so lovely and bare at this time of year, but also for knowing it’s not possible now. That impossible cold. A Summer memory creeps into my mind and I recall the burning heat of sunshine, pink on my shoulders.
I enjoyed writing poetry verses with my nature observations but it can be more realistic when short on time to write only the adjectives that describe, without the narrative. It takes just a few minutes to make a list like this, which I think nicely illustrates a version of Winter in Virginia:



The listing of adjectives reminds me of a happy children's book that we read together regularly: The Cozy Book by Mary Ann Hoberman. It's a perfect book to read in the Wintertime.

Instagram can also serve as a nice way to keep track of seasonal moments too:

Keeping it warm inside with big socks and big hats, and big foamy lattes

After "harvesting" icicles the boys took their microscope into the backyard to investigate ice crystals and other nature finds. 


A few other goodies I documented this week:

The recipe for Vanilla Milk can be found here!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how life will be in our new house and curious about the different ways I will be able to connect with the river on a regular basis. After this week's exercise I'm convinced that journaling will be one easy and satisfying way to do it. 

If you are doing your own version of 12 Weeks to Seasonal Living, what did you take away from last week's lesson on seasonal intentions? Please share in the comments. Let's discuss!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Week 1 Setting Seasonal Intentions: 12 Weeks To Seasonal Living



Intentions are goals with a little heart thrown in. They focus on the present and help to guide our decision making in the moment. 

The first week of the Homespun Seasonal Living Workbook challenges us to think about what we desire right now around seasonal living.

While Kathie offers a few different creative ways to get in touch with our desires, mine were already at the forefront of my mind and it took only a few minutes to get them down on paper in the form of a good 'ol list.

What does seasonal living mean to me? 

Source Local Foods, Prepare Meals to Highlight Seasonal Availability, Tend a Year-Round Garden

We are mindful of how and where our food is grown and raised. We source as much as we can organic and local but I'll admit to buying strawberries in the dead of Winter and quitting root veggies when I get bored three weeks into Fall. Instead I would really like to limit the variety of foods that we buy to the in-season variety. I want the limitations of that intention to inspire my creativity in the kitchen and build anticipation for the nourishment that next season offers. I want to feel the seasonal fluctuations of having and not having. “Suffering” through late Winter’s turnips and carrots and potatoes while holding our breath for the bright green shoots of asparagus and the first blush of strawberries in March. The pain and pleasure of knowing both extremes and feeling okay with the coming and going.

Spend Time in Nature Often, with Appropriate Dress

We are big fans of the saying, "There is no bad weather, only bad clothes." We believe it and we try our best not to let the weather dissuade us from our outdoor pursuits. Over the years we have built up a pretty hardy collection of outdoor wear, particularly for the rain and colder weather although not so much for the snow (as we get only a few days of it a year). The kids keep growing and every year we need to update their stuff, and as they get older we're able to do more with them outdoors so our gear needs have changed some too. My intention here is to continue to be proactive in gathering gear and to not let my own uncertainty about getting outside in really cold weather—that's the hard one for me—hinder our family's outdoor adventures. 

Let the Temperature of Our Home Reflect the Season

My parents are Southern Californians at heart, and they love to bask in heat and humidity. Virginia Summers are sweltering and in mid-August, 90 degrees outside and with 100% humidity, the windows of our house were always wide open, kitchen air the same as the backyard. I hated that as a teenager but I kind of get it now. As the temperatures have dropped this Winter I have noted big and little people in bare feet, t-shirts, and not enough clothes complaining about how cold they are and running to turn up the thermostat. Well, I'm done with that. If it's cold enough for snow it feels a little more true to pull up some big socks, throw on a couple more layers, and snuggle up with a blanket. I like how we gravitate toward each other and the warm spots in the house seeking heat. 

Plan for Activities and Crafts Inspired by and Reflective of the Season

This point speaks to my personal intention to plan ahead: documenting our ideas in advance and gathering any supplies we may need so when we find ourselves with time I have everything on hand and our activities have a little more meaning, or tie-in, than just grabbing odds and ends from the art closet and inviting the kids to make something. I think there is room for both art and craft. This year we made snow flakes and I really liked how they turned out. They became a centerpiece decoration for our kitchen/dining room, and remind us everyday it’s Winter! More projects like that can help to bring the house into the season and connect us in some small way to the changes happening outside. I have a shared Winter Living Pinterest board as one small step toward this goal.

Let the Seasons Renew: Quarterly Cleaning and Organizing

A turn of the season is a natural impetus to change the decor, throw things away, get organized, clean and simplify our spaces. I want to continue that instinctive rhythm and improve on it in a way that I can look forward to and plan for. 

Use Light to Cue our Daily Rhythms

Using light to cue our daily rhythm makes sense and is instinctually calming. Early mornings and late afternoons are more peaceful with quiet music and turned down lights. Candle light cues the kids to quiet and wind down as bedtime nears. Friends of ours use light to herd their kids to the rooms in the house they want them to occupy by turning off the lights everywhere else. It's brilliant and it works for us too.


What does seasonal living look like for you right now? What intentions would you like to set for your family moving forward?


Editor's note: I added the final intention to Use Light to Cue our Daily Rhythms mid-way through completion of the 12 week series. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Twelve weeks to Homespun Seasonal Living



If I can recall any one thing that served to initially inspire my appreciation for seasonal living it was Barbara Kingsolver's audiobook Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

It was 2008 and I was late into my first pregnancy. In the evenings I walked a three mile loop through the black top of our barren housing development just savoring Barbara's soothing narration of a year of food life on a small farm in Southern Appalachia; a locavore year that came after her family's decision to move from Arizona to a place where they could be fed and sustained off the land by their own hands.

Her writing brilliantly illustrated the very intimate relationship they forged that year with the land and their food, the interdependence they shared with the earth, and the weather, and the crops, and the animals.  Her story became a strange juxtaposition to how disconnected we had become in our suburban existence.

I really loved what she wrote of butchering her chickens and the spiritual perspective she held acknowledging the respective roles they each filled at that time of the year. I wanted to feel a sense of purpose like that, a level of responsibility, an awareness for nature's timing and of the gifts and burdens that accompany it.

Her family's experience inspired me to more actively engage with my own food chain in a way I hadn't considered before.

With time it became our goal to more closely align the direction of our entire life with our true desires. Actively sourcing and preparing our food through farmers markets and CSAs and a garden was one important aspect, as was seeking out the (limited) natural landscapes that existed nearby, but there was much more.

Small steps over the last six years have brought us to a place where I do feel sufficiently in-tune with the seasons as we devotedly seek out the natural world to ground and inspire our every day life, but I crave more.

More than seasonal eating.

More than daily outings into nature.

I crave a more intentional embrace with nature and I want for seasonal change to cue our rhythms and routines throughout the year. To let daylight and weather and temperature and the natural cycle of life and death as we circle the sun every 365 days guide the goings-on in our little household in a more fluid and organic way.

Last year a friend and I discussed seasonal planning as one way to better organize our homes and family lives, to alleviate a tendency for overwhelm when thinking too far ahead, and to simplify our intentions thereby making them more effective. It feels natural to approach time in this way, whether for a season of life or a season of year.

Recently, I found Kathie's HomeSpun Seasonal Living Workbook:
In the Homespun Seasonal Living Workbook, I’ve created 12 weekly lessons to help make seasonal living a priority.  The lessons are short and designed to help you get in touch with the season as it presents itself to you in your part of the world and help you achieve your own homespun seasonal living goals.  The lessons can be used and repeated in each and every season.
Each lesson is geared to help you achieve your goals and live a seasonal life in your home and with your local community. The workbook is perfect for the novice and experienced alike as it is designed to help you seek new inspiration and resources while building each and every week on what you’ve already learned and accomplished. 
I'll be completing the workbook over the next 12 weeks and intend to report back here on my progress and what I'm learning.

If you are interested in joining me, or just curious, you can check out the Homespun Seasonal Living Workbook here.

I'll be posting the first week's lesson later this week.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Meeting with the Architect: Massing Plans for our Modern Nature Home

Yesterday morning we huddled with our architect over the four concepts that he and his team have developed for our modern nature house. In the corner of a crowded coffee shop we pored over the designs, discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each in detail.

We liked one especially, as well as elements of a second, and roughly merged the two concepts on paper, in red over the original draft.

Massing refers to the general size and shape of a building. 
Afterward we walked the lot and tried to envision the size and shape of the various elements on the site: where the driveway will come through, on to where the master bedroom will look out, how our home might interact with the yet-to-be-built structure that will live next door to us. (The land adjoining ours recently went to settlement). We considered the views and vantage points, discussed which trees will need to be removed, which ones will stay, and a plan to bring an arborist to the lot at some point in the Spring to confirm.

This photo is toward the top of the lot looking down the hill.
A meeting with the City early this week will clarify the environmental restrictions mandated by the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, required because of the lands proximity to the river's watershed.

Revisions will be made to reflect today's discussion and in the coming weeks we'll meet again on the lot to stake out the actual footprint.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Updating our Family Mission Statement

You may remember the Mission StatementFamily Rules, and Family Needs documents that I developed leading in to 2012. I had two babies under two years old so you can imagine where we were as parents and people trying to find balance and a sense of organization! These exercises were a great starting place and that mission statement has become a working definition for us that I continue to refine.

A copy of the latest version of our Family Mission, now renamed our Sears Family Purpose, hangs on our dining room wall and has been updated many times since it was first drafted:




Saturday, January 3, 2015

Defining Success and Looking Ahead to the New Year 2015




There are many "New Years" for me throughout the calendar year.

Like a blank piece of paper new beginnings are delightful, and I thrive where I have space to dream up all the possibilities. Any place in time where I can envision the next 365 days unfurled at my feet like an unworn path is a promising point to begin.

I can rely on the turn of the seasons, my birthday, the boys birthdates, and of course January first to stir up an invitation for reflection, but any time is a good time if I'm in need of a fresh start.

I chip along at making what's good better, and righting our little family ship back on course in what feels like almost constant iteration, and so the official start of a new year and its accompanying goal setting rituals feels a little ordinary but no less fulfilling.

Last year's transition from Working Mama to Not Working Mama (and a homeschooling one at that), left me feeling a sense of loss for my professional self and a nagging lack of purpose. Despite feeling more relaxed and more present than ever before.

I was so content and yet, I wasn't.

I needed to find my focus so I enrolled in a workshop created by Jen Gresham at Every Day Bright and dug deep for a couple months to articulate what meaningful success looks like for me at this point in my life. Ambitious, educated, desiring adventure and connection and, most of all, striving to be a good mother to my two boys, a good friend and partner to my husband.

I'm sharing my definition of success here because it provides context for my intentions in the upcoming year, but also because it was a transformative exercise that gave the immediate payoff of feeling more peaceful about the decisions we've made for my career and the boys' education and our overall lifestyle. It also helped me to see very specifically how my writing can serve me in a professional capacity, even on a small scale, and without aspiration—or caveat—for getting paid.

I know I am not alone in having to work at finding a sense of purpose in the midst of the huge responsibility and joy and satisfaction that comes with mothering while also desiring to integrate the esteem that professional work can offer, maybe my words will resonate with something that you want for yourself:
Success is a comfortable and low stress lifestyle that allows me first to take care of myself, and then to be the kind of mother my kids deserve and need. To enjoy my mothering experience day-to-day is critical to my perception of short term success and a much-needed affirmation of my personal investment to our collective home-life. To nurture my marriage, familial relationships, and core friendships with intention and care, as well as with grace and generosity. To embody the BoldHeart life** in my decision making, and through our investments of time and money. My writing will complement and extend my desire to live life, and forge meaningful connection. My writing will develop and extend my voice and perspective in a way that penetrates the world outside my home. My writing will connect me to the experiences of others and vice versa. My published writing will provide the personal esteem that I crave and a professional platform for self expression and recognition.

**To be inspired; ask questions; take risks; pay attention to and nurture what I really care about; accept challenge; be a relentless learner: inquisitive, curious, and open to possibility; embrace imperfection; ground myself in nature; rely on creative and resourceful problem solving; seek personal truth and authenticity; stay engaged; listen and act on my own intuition.
________________

Now I'm really showing my crazy side for self awareness and personal growth but lets take a quick step back...

In 2008 I began reading Style Statement: live by your own design, but the workbook was lengthy and Roscoe was born shortly after, so discovering my style statement at that point in time just wasn't compelling.  Eventually though I made my way back to the book and in 2012 I coined the term BoldHeart and began to apply it in my every day life.  

Then, in late 2013—after reading another book by Danielle LaPorte called The Desire Map, a guide to creating goals with soul—I identified a handful of core desires that I wanted fulfilled on a daily basis: 

Nurtured.
Inspired.
Connected.
Peaceful.
Purposeful.

I refer to them often as overarching themes to guide my priorities.

________________


OK back to 2015! Before I share a few of my goals for the upcoming year, I'll tell you a little about what is working for us right now:
  • After nearly 6 years I've finally learned how to take care of my mother self; I know what I need, I know how to ask for it, and how to prioritize self care. 
  • I have a deep sense of purpose in my marriage and in my relationship with the boys. 
  • Date nights have become a regular thing around here, and our collaborative investment in our individual and shared projects is at an all time high. We're keyed into and contributing to what matters to the other, and it hasn't always been that way. 
  • Our family priorities and our investments of time and money are well aligned, and our routines are working pretty well for us. 
  • We look forward to designing and building our house this year (if all timing works out!), to celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary, and to squeezing in some so-far-unplanned family travel where we can. 
For the next season of life, be it the first few months of 2015, or until I get the urge to reflect and revise again, here are my opportunities to improve: 


Nurtured: In 2015 I will continue my slow trek back to my pre-Merritt weight (oy!), and we will to continue to reduce our consumption of plastic as well as find greener alternatives to our favorite cosmetic and sundry brands. I look forward to applying a more significant and tangible approach to seasonal living. (I'm one week into the HomeSpun Seasonal Living workbook, if anyone else is interested.)

Inspired: I plan to take a few local cooking and writing classes this year, and to attend the James River Writers Conference in October, and the VAHomeschoolers conference in March. I will also continue to improve my PBH mentoring skills and approach my role with even greater intention so that I can help the boys to make their ideas happen, achieve their personal goals, and develop as learners.

Connected: I will continue to build relationships and community for myself around homeschooling and writing. Andy and I both want to invest a little more into our couples friendships, so we hope to add into our regular date night rotation some double- and family-dates with a few folks that we really want to get to know better. DIS-connecting from aspects of social media and simplifying the ways that I access information.

Peaceful: I will continue to work on modeling healthy ways to manage negative emotion and resolve conflict, as well as facilitate and support Roscoe and Merritt's sibling relationship.

Purposeful: I'm going to write more! And work on making those latter aspects of my success definition fall into place. My first 5.5 years as a mother have been a whirlwind, but I have high hopes that 2015 will be the year that I really settle into and enjoy where we are in life and the choices that we’ve made to get here.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Little Luxuries Bring Comfort and Joy: Winter Edition

I'm enjoying some of my christmas gifts so much that I thought I would share here in case you are in the mood to get yourself a little something to ring in the New Year. These are the little luxuries in life that bring comfort and joy to every day.


I followed Baron Fig's Kickstarter campaign last year and really could not wait for their Confidant journal to come to fruition. Baron Fig makes sketchbooks & notebooks designed with an underlying philosophy of simplicity, usefulness & community. I love the dimensions, the fact that it lays flat so you can dig into every page without a margin getting in the way, and options for blank, dot grid, or ruled pages. I also got a pack of the apprentice pocket notebooks so I can record all my little fly away thoughts before I forget them. I journal daily and I'm looking forward to filling up this pretty one with new ideas and memories in 2015.




Good travel writing is a fantastic way to get lost somewhere far away when you have only a few consecutive minutes to spare at any given time. Better than Fiction offers the unique twist of short nonfiction travel stories written by great fiction writers. I'm just a few stories in but look forward to being captivated by a new travel adventure each night before bed.  




My all time favorite Capri Blue's Volcano scent IN A SOAP! What a happy surprise under the tree. Volcano is the scent of tropical fruits, sugared oranges, lemons, and limes, redolent with lightly exotic mountain greens. What more is there to say? Well, it makes the whole bathroom (and nearby bedrooms) smell delicious, and it has a luscious lather. 




One of the big decisions I happily make each year is to choose an agenda. I am serious about my calendars and I heavily rely on them to stay organized. I enjoyed the Day Designer last year but decided on Emily Ley's Simplified Planner for 2015. It's full of color and downright cheerful, and it has all the space I need to keep track of my most important stuff: our daily routine, to-dos, and what's for dinner.  (She's sold out right now of all her planners, but I hear she has three new additions coming out in May and September.) 





This magazine makes me happy to tears when I read it. The writing is excellent, the photos are breathtaking, and every issue simultaneously stirs up and satisfies a mean case of wanderlust. The stories and highlights give an intimate perspective on some of the world's better known destinations but it really caters to the more obscure parts of the planet that I never knew I should consider visiting. When I want to be inspired for future family travel or just escape into dreamland the treasures inside make the vast world seem a whole lot smaller and accessible. 





Our personal philosophy and beliefs about food have been highly influenced by Sally Fallon and her book Nourishing Traditions. However, that text can feel a little overwhelming and without modern appeal. The Nourished Kitchen by Jenny McGruther bridges the gap for me with photography that invites and entices, and seasonally inspired traditional foods recipes that I want to cook and eat right now. This will likely become my next cook-through cookbook!





I recently switched all my makeup over to Alima Pure and I have never had this much fun, or felt as comfortable and confident in what I put on my skin every day. The colors. The brand. The products. Oh they are amazing, and these brushes make applying my makeup every morning effortless and even more merry. 





All year I have been documenting and displaying Roscoe's ideas, play, and process on our walls throughout the house as a way to reflect and share his learning.  I've found, however, that photos just aren't quite as illustrative in black and white. Nope. They are not. In times like these a laser color printer is pure joy! 
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