Small Joys: Christmas Snow

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We had a dump of snow on Wednesday night — almost 10 inches. It was the first true snow, leaving branches with little white hats and threatening to fall into the tops of boots.

We just had to go out and trudge into it yesterday evening. We couldn't stop ourselves. There's magic in being the first to walk across a freshly laid blanket of snow. I highly recommend it. 

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Anne came dancing home in the purple winter twilight across the snowy places.
— L.M. Montgomery

Small Joys: Summer

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As I pack up to leave on a couple different vacations for 3.5 weeks, I can't help but feel like my blissful summer at home is coming to an end. I know when I get back I'll still have a couple weeks of summer, but the golden days we've been enjoying will be past. I'm not one to wish away summer on the first day of September, but I'll be starting a new job and we'll be fitting last minute adventures into the weekends before things wrap up for colder seasons.

It's been a summer for the books. Despite things like wayward cats, the biggest issue I've had with this season is how quickly it's flown by. I feel like we pay our dues during the long Michigan winter and then summer comes and goes in a snap. We spend the days feeling energized and happy from the warmth of the sun, so that even our work seems easier. The evenings are full of grilled dinners, golden light and fireflies. Every five days we get a weekend filled with adventures and friends. I would be hard pressed to imagine a better way of life.

I'll remember this as the summer I finally felt like this place became home. 

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Gathering up things that brought joy this week and taking a moment to be grateful.

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We finally made it up to the lake last weekend and it was just as dreamy as it always is. Clear turquoise water, boat rides, long chats and good food are things that just can't dissappoint.

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We finally got a rug for our living room. We've had it for a while, but I think it deserves a call out of its own. I've been eyeing it for months and it finally went on sale enough to grab it. When it arrived I was so surprised by just how comfy and soft it is. A+ in my book.

(close up in the picture below)

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Two weekends ago my foot got smashed between two jetskis while we were out on Lake Michigan. It wasn't anyone's fault, but a situation that turned sketchy pretty quick. I don't think I've ever been more sure that I'd broken a bone. Miraculously, it ended up being a severe bruise but nothing else. I've had a rainbow foot for a couple weeks and spent a couple days icing it, but I'm back to walking normally. Because I'm so grateful that it's not broken, I haven't even felt like the bruising is a bid deal!

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Been spending lots of time with this crazy. Since she's been back, we've cuddled lots. Right now she's sleeping next to me and just twitched in that goofy way that animals do when they're dreaming.

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Finally, I've recently started reading again. As a child I devoured books by the stack, but after college I took a couple years off of pleasure reading. I'm getting back into it and I love it. I'd love any good suggestions you might have!

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year — the days when summer is changing into autumn — the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.
— E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

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Ellie's Grand Adventure

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Well, it was a crazy weekend. If you followed along on social media you know that on Thursday night things got rough around here when Ellie disappeared from our yard in less than 15 minutes. Up until now the cats have had supervised free range of our yard, but we're super careful not to let them go far. Well, somehow Ellie managed to bolt so far that we couldn't find her despite searching for hours. What I wouldn't give to know what startled her!

(sidenote: Just last week I told Dave that I was truly content and happy with our life. There wasn't anything significant I'd change if I could. As you'll see, that was probably not a smart move. ;) )

The thing that made all this even more tricky was that we had a planned vacation starting the next morning. We were supposed to take off at 4:30am for Maine as a late anniversary trip and to go to a friend's wedding.

We went to bed hoping Ellie would show up during the night. Of course that was the night that we had a severe thunderstorm complete with hail and torrential downpour. To say Dave and I slept that night would be an over statement. Between the two of us we might have had 4 hours of fitful sleep.

We did end up leaving for the airport with aching hearts because we thought for sure Ellie would show up in the morning when Dave's parents stopped by to look around for her. By the time we landed in Boston and heard from them that she hadn't shown up, we realized she was probably lost for real and began to feel like we'd made a terrible mistake. We started posting her picture online so that people could keep an eye out for her and organizing friends to stop by the house and check for her.

I won't go into details, but lets just say our emotional state was not the best. Ellie is our first pet together and is a really special part of our love story, not to mention she's a huge part of what makes our house a home. We really battled against a lot of terrible feelings Thursday through Sunday, the biggest being guilt for having left home in the first place. I don't know if I've ever seen Dave that discouraged in our five years together.

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Somehow we got through Friday and Saturday and made it to the wedding Saturday evening. It was so good to be at the wedding and be able to celebrate our dear friend's marriage. That was by far the best part of the trip.

So that night, we were lying in bed complaining that our flight home wasn't until Sunday evening, when Dave started looking at flights that would get us home earlier. He found one that was relatively affordable and would get us home at least 12 hours earlier. We booked the tickets, threw our stuff in our bags, slept for 4 hours and then drove back to Boston through the sunrise. It felt so good to be headed home, where we could DO something to try and find Ellie. Things fell together really well for us, from the car rental place being open at 7am, to catching the bus to the airport and even getting seats together on the flight.

We got home around 1pm and a friend met us at home to help with the search. I got to work making huge "Lost Cat" signs and Dave did a preliminary search of the neighborhood. We even changed into fresh clothes so that they would smell the most like home and leave the scent wherever we went. 

After putting up the signs all over the neighborhood and checking at the local humane society, we started going door to door all up and down our road with flyers. When someone who usually hates talking on the phone and meeting strangers gets over their introversion and does all that, you know things are extreme. It felt so good to do something, but every false lead made our hearts sink. It was hard to keep our spirits up.

By six, we were so exhausted and discouraged. Thankfully we had friends who had come over to make us dinner. I don't know what we would have done if they hadn't been there with a hot meal and hugs. We hadn't had a real meal since Saturday morning and things looked better after refueling. We were going to head out and do a thorough search of the whole area that evening, thinking Ellie would probably be moving when it was cooler and darker.

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As I got up from our table and looked out our screen door, who did I see but Ellie! She slunk onto the front porch and sniffed the things we'd left out there to help guide her back. She almost looked like a different cat, she was so skinny and skittish. But I knew it was her right away. I was so scared she'd run away again as I unlocked the door and hurried outside to grab her.

Once she was inside we realized how tired, thirsty and hungry she was. It had been almost 3 days exactly to when she ran off and we don't think she found much to eat, drink or rest during that time. She looked unsteady on her feet and emptied her food and water bowls multiple times that night. We on the other hand smothered her with kisses and hugs.

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To say we were happy would be an understatement. We just couldn't believe the ordeal was over. And to think that if we hadn't taken that earlier flight, we wouldn't have been around when she showed up! It made it all worth it!  

We've been on cloud nine ever since. It may be hard to understand if you've never had a pet go missing, but it's a special sort of torture to know your fur baby is out there and you can't help it. She could probably get away with murder right now and we'd just let her. The one thing we won't be allowing anytime soon is outdoor time.

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Small Joys: Gardening

My mom and grandparents have always been the green thumbs of the family. As a kid, I saw the garden and its associated chores more as a punishment then a pleasure. But the just like my blue eyes and shorter stature, there are certain passions that inevitably pop up and take root in my heart that I can only blame my parents for passing on. This year, that gardening gene, 25 years dormant, flared up. Unable to resist my DNA, I had to dig in the dirt and grow little plant. 

I've made some mistakes, learned much and enjoyed every minute of it. Compared to my mother's half acre gardens, I've started small with just three 4'x8' beds and a couple flower beds around the house.

At our old house, I never planted anything I cared about and had no interest in landscaping. I think deep down I felt it was best not to invest too much into a place we might not stay for a long time. This new home has been the opposite. I've put effort and work into long term investments. I haven't hesitated to let my heart fall in love and let my dreams fill this place. This is home. I can feel my own roots digging deep into this place just as much as my little plant's are.

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Gathering up things that brought joy this week and taking a moment to be grateful.

These lilies surprised me. They were a bonus that came with the house and I didn't know about until recently. As they grew and put out buds I could barely contain my excitement to see what color they would be. They did not disappoint. I don't think I've ever seen this color lily and I just love it.

The same happened with a couple rose bushes I found hiding in our flower beds. They're done now, but I loved visiting them every day they were blooming and seeing their pink blossoms swarming with bees.

My vegetable garden has been doing so well, even though I'm the silly goose who planted enough broccoli and cabbage seeds to fill 10 beds with only those two plants. My mom is an expert lettuce grower and I'm working on my own skills in that category. So far so good, but not quite big enough for a salad yet.

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My peppers have baby peppers! I'm so excited to make some salsa this summer and can barely wait for it.

Along our garage someone planted three lavender plants along with strawberries. I'd never heard of this combo. My best guess is that the lavender is meant to keep pests away from the berries? This past week the lavender was ready for picking. So far I've harvested 4 bunches and have them hung to dry in our bedroom. I can't get over how amazing fresh lavender smells compared to all the scented products that claim to be lavender. The real thing is infinitely better.

Nothing has made me feel more like a real gardener than when I said "I need rubber boots." I haven't had a pair since I moved away from my parent's farm. They are completely linked to garden and farm work in my mind. I found L.L.Bean wellies that are easy to pull on and will hopefully last a long time. Now my feet don't get wet when I'm working outside. 

Love of red geraniums are another trait I inherited from my mom and this plant I bought last year fulfills every dream of deep red flowers I've ever had. Somehow I kept it alive on my dryer all winter and now it's putting our the most beautiful red petals. I've propagated a couple from this plant and I'm hoping its babies have the same color blooms.

Finally, I'm so grateful for sunsets at home. I've been spending the last hour or so of every day our in the yard tending to my plants. It's cool enough for transplanting and watering. A bonus is that it's also the most beautiful time of day. We allowed the back half of our yard to grow out instead of mowing it. Every evening I catch my breath when the wind and sunset play across the long grass. 

I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people KNOW more... though I know that IS the noblest ambition... but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me... to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.
— L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

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Small Joys: XIII

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There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.
— G.K.Chesterton

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At the end of April I turned in my computer and keys and left my graphic design job. It was my first full time, adult job and I would have celebrated four years with the company this summer. It was an amazing first job. I learned more than any college class could ever teach. The guy who started the company still walked by my desk every day and genuinely cared for us as people. My coworkers had become friends. But once we moved and I started working remotely, it just wasn't the same anymore. So after four months, it was time to move on. 

Since then, I've kept busy. I'm not actively searching for a new job yet. Dave and I decided that I should take the summer to help my sister get married, work on finishing our house projects and decorating, visit my grandparents, and generally enjoy summertime. 

To say that the past few week have been fun would be an understatement. I feel like a kid on summer vacation, except I've learned what it's like to go to work every day during the summer, so I appreciate these blissful days all the more. I walk around filled with so much gratitude for life and all the little joys that fill my days.

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Gathering up things that brought joy this week and taking a moment to be grateful.

I got to go strawberry picking this week. It was so fun to fill the box and bring them home. We've been popping them in our mouths at every opportunity. There's nothing quite like fruit when it's in season.

My mom taught me her sourdough recipe and we've been enjoying real bread almost every week. I love the rhythm of feeding the starter, letting the bread rise and then forming the loaves. It feels therapeutic in a way. There is so much beauty in simple things. 

We finally bought a couch. It took us years of secondhand, craigslist finds with sheets to cover nasty upholstery to bite the bullet and go to a store and bring home a couch we love. It's been so much fun to have a comfy living room. I also have to admit, our house all of a sudden feels like a place two adults live.

When we moved to the new house, I found a flower bed that had 3 lavender plants in it. This week the blooms were finally perfect for harvesting, so I have the cutest bundle of lavender hanging to dry now. The best part is that the plants have way more still waiting to be picked.

And finally, I've always dreamed of having enough flowers in my garden that I can pick some and bring them inside whenever I want. This year we're still planting and investing in the flower beds, but we've had enough that I can keep this little bud vase full. It's the best.

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Wishing each one of you the sweetest weekend and a moment or two to soak in all the pretty things that this wonderful season has to offer. Happy Summer!

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