Five Favorites during Harvest Season

So, part of the deal with coming out to Montana was that Mark would get to farm.  The entire time that we were dating in Charleston he dreamed about combining wheat in the rolling hills of Eastern Montana.  And… he’s getting to do it!  And I’m thrilled for him.  I really am.  But I MISS him like crazy.  We’re talking leaving at 6:30 in the morning and getting back usually somewhere in between 10:30 pm and 1:30 in the morning.  Exhausted and ready to go to bed.  Six or seven days a week.


(Isn’t he so handsome?)  🙂  

So here’s my five favorites that keep me from going completely stir crazy:


Jillian Michaels 30-day shred

(I have the DVD ~~  If I had to wait for youtube to load this I could wash a load of laundry in between the pushups and arm flexes.  Or find an excuse to eat more cheese and crackers.)



Baking (does not mesh so well with No.1)


A really good jelly roll cake recipe out of my kitchenaid cookbook.  I think you could basically turn any jelly roll cake into this level of fantasticness through the one step:  “Before spreading jelly on cake, soak brush cake with brandy.”





I’m really not sure who this is for yet, and it’s not finished, but I’m already so in love.  I don’t think there’s anything cuter than a youngin’ in a baby corduroy sailor outfit.  (Pink stripe on collar, white stripe on sleeves, and bow on the front to come!  Will post when finished!)



This really cool 1970s video about cajuns that I found on Hulu.

Spend It All




Painting (Sorry, not brave enough to post actual paintings yet.)

But, I’m thinking about entering this contest:  

Magnolia Plantation Art Contest

I love the artist of the Charleston Renaissance, especially Alice Ravenel Huger Smith.  Her paintings just speak to my soul.  


And, if you are looking for some more inspired five favorites check out Hallie’s blog here!



On this Feast of the Assumption:

stella maris

I have always felt a close tie to the mothers I have known, Mary our Mother included.  I was incredibly close to my maternal grandmother (like a second mom), who passed away too soon.  I talked to her on the phone usually twice a day all the way through college.  It took me about six months to stop picking up the phone to call her.  And I am very close to my dear wonderful mother.  Whom I also can’t seem to talk to less than a couple of times a day.  (I know – lots of phone time – we’re on the family plan.)  I hope and pray that I can have a loving relationship like that with a daughter one day.  And, last but not least, out of all of the saints, Mary is the one I feel I can reach out to for real understanding — like a daughter, like a thoughtful listening girlfriend, like a neighbor with a casserole on a tough day, like a fellow follower of Christ.

I yearn for all of these women’s support.

With all of this talk about who reads what types of blogs and who enjoys reading them for what reasons:

I write for myself and hope that I write for others about things that will help me grow to be more like my own mothers — Audrey (my grandmother), Pixie (my mother), and Mary (my Mother).  I write to encourage myself to be better, to focus on the good things that I have worked through and accomplished, and to improve upon the things that I have failed at.  One day I hope to be a mother like them.  I want to be ready when the time comes if that is what happens.  Because I love LOVE.  I want to learn what I can from them and from others (why I am reading all these mom blogs before I am one!)   So to all mothers, my mothers, and most of all Mary our Mother, “we fly unto thee” because you are the protectors, helpers, and loving caretakers who help us to reach our full loving potential in Christ.  Thank you.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help
or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,
We fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
to thee do we come, before thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not our petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer them.


Seven Quick Takes #1

Here’s my first seven quick takes from my trip to the Bitterroot Valley! Check out Jen’s 7QT here.



So, these are my seven quick takes about my week at my sister-in-law’s! (My husband’s sister & her husband and their four adorable kids.) I went to their house in western Montana to help watch the kids for a week while she had a researcher from Duke come to see her work – she’s a crazy awesome botanist. She studies bees, and wildflowers, and butterflies and is incredibly smart – a gift she has definitely passed on to her kids. The week was chock full of lessons for me. For sure. They live in a beautiful log cabin built by her husband and live off-the-grid. Yep, no power. Yep, a well. They do have running water. My mother-in-law also came out for the week so I wasn’t totally on my own, but in all actuality I was really excited about it. It was going to be like luxurious camping. And, it was. But way better.

So, quick take #1 — tree houses provide an inordinate amount of opportunity for the imagination to grow. There were about twenty different identities that the treehouse took on while I was there and it was awesome to see what those kids could come up with. Spaceship, real ship, cave, monkey’s house, tree house, osprey’s nest, butterfly study station. It was beautiful.

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Coolest tree house ever.


Numero Dos — When there’s not a grocery store nearby (like within 30 miles with part of that being a dirt road) you really can’t follow a recipe very well.  (That being said – my sister-in-law has a VERY well stocked pantry and cool cellar.) BUT – you can cook some pretty amazing things by figuring out what needs to be eaten and what you have readily available. We had pancakes every other morning that I was there, mainly because the kids just loved them and who’s going to say no when you have four adorable children saying that they love your cooking?? (Being the good aunt that I am we put blueberries AND chocolate chips in them.) But what do you do when you run out of those little goodies? Their genious and so-awesome-it-made-me-want-to-cry idea was to go pick huckleberries to put in the next days pancakes. So, what does the oldest one (10 yrs I think) promptly do while I wash the dishes? He went out to his dad’s shop with 5 washed small yogurt containers, finds wire, punches holes in the sides of the cups with a nail punch, and then makes handles for 5 perfect-sized huckleberry patch picking buckets!!

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Not that great a picture, but you get the point. Yummy, yummy pancakes are the point. 🙂


My third quick take is very much related to the last one. If you have four kids and there’s no grocery store nearby, they get really good at eating WHATEVER is placed in front of them and smile all the way through it. I know as a kid I wouldn’t have been too interested in eating a vegetable lasagna. I had to make dinner one night and we had everything for lasagna the way that I normally make it, but no meat. But we had LOTS of vegetables – carrots, onions, spinach, peppers, broccoli. And I put every last bit of them in that lasagna. (Did I mention that there actually were six kids and five adults? Mark’s other incredible sister came out from Colorado halfway through the week with her two awesome kids – so we had a full house!!)

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And bless their hearts, those kids loved every last bit of that lasagna. (It was pretty tasty though.)


Number four is that sleeping in the fresh air is amazing.  I slept in the loft while I was there and, during the summer at least, this was the most enjoyable experience.  They have a routine (just like everybody had before A/C ruined modern building construction techniques – don’t get me started) to open and close the windows at certain times of the day.  The kids of course knew exactly what to do —  I was clueless at first.  The windows all stay open in the evenings, night, and mornings to let cool air into the house.  There’s two windows in each of the bedrooms to allow for through ventilation and larger windows in the living areas.  Then around ten-thirty or eleven in the morning before it gets too hot, all of the windows are closed to keep the cool air inside.  It worked like a charm and kept the house so comfortable!  (I know, I know, it’s Montana but it actually got into the nineties that week!)  Anyway, I slept like a baby.  Cool air breezing through my loft window.  No mosquitos.  No noise.  (Having no mosquitos was amazing – Charleston, SC – you need to get on the bandwagon with this one!)

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View out of my diamond shaped loft window – yes, there’s chicken wire (helps to deter bats) yep, bats – but I never saw any – so I guess it works!


The fifth thing that I learned is that when a kid yells – you really don’t ALWAYS need to come running.  Most of the time they can work their squabbles out on their own — if they don’t think that getting a parent to come and help them is the only way to solve things.  This is going to be a serious struggle for me one day, I know.  But, I’m inspired.  I will not be a helicopter mom. I will not be a helicopter mom. I will not be…..


Kids are just pure pure love.  I’m the new aunt.  All six of these adorable kids have only really met me once before, which was at Mark and I’s wedding.  And that was a pretty hectic affair.  But when I got there, it was just hugs and smiles and joy all around because their new Aunt Amelia was coming to stay with them.  It was so humbling and wonderful.  I can’t wait to have some of my own.


There’s a true strength and beauty to the way of life that my sister-in-law and her husband and their family are living.  They have to filter all their water, and they wear headlamps around the house in the evenings (they do have two solar panels to power two small lights and their computer chargers – they aren’t completely out of contact with the rest of the world!), and I really don’t have any idea what their lives are like during the winter.  But, they are giving their family a gift that not many children know today.  Their kids play with no fence around their yard to keep them from wandering off – their backyard is the woods around them.  They have to learn to keep themselves nearby the house.  They have immense imaginations, they are appreciative of everything that they have, they are SO well-behaved, and they just love nature and the world around them is experienced.  It was just a true joy to spend that time with them and I’m so thankful for it.   I think that while their way of life might not be for everybody, I had a lot to learn and I hope it sticks!

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Five Favorites No. 1! The best moments from our wedding in Charleston!

These are my five favorite memories from Mark and I’s wedding:


With a last minute change of priests (which ironically also happened at my parents’ wedding), a broken air conditioner in the church (which people were nice enough to say they didn’t notice), and an overly tight bodice under my dress, I ended up getting a little bit of nerves before and during the Mass.  I’ve been known to get a little light headed and faint and it happened once just the week before the wedding so I was a little scared of passing out or getting nauseous — especially when all of those things came into play.  But, without a doubt, after making it up the aisle with my wonderful dad, the best memory I have of our wedding was when Mark and I were able to kneel in front of the altar, grasp each other hands and know that we were making the best decision of our lives.  (And, if either of us passed out the other one would be there!)  The service was actually perfect.  The priest did an amazing job, the flowers were gorgeous, and the LOVE was there.  What a blessed day it was.  🙂



My mom and I had contacted the church about having the bells rung at the church for our wedding only about a week before the service!  We never heard back from anyone so we figure it might be too late.  (Our church has change ringing bells that usually take at least six people, but normally eight!)  So what JOY and surprise it was when we came down the aisle and the bells started to ring!!!!!!  All eight had come to ring for us!


Driving from the church to the reception.  Mark insisted on driving us from the church to the reception in his pickup.  Best decision ever.  It was a truly wonderful moment that I’m glad he had the foresight to see that we needed that time together.



Our reception was incredible.  Mainly it was just so much FUN!  I mean, we danced, we sang, we ate good food.  We ate cake!!  One of my favorite memories from the reception was from the cake cutting.  We cut the cake, ate cake, and drank champagne!  But my favorite part…  There’s an old New Orleans tradition called the charm pull where under the bottom layer of the cake there are little silver charms attached to ribbons that come out the sides.  All of the single girls come and pull one of the ribbons and the charm says something about their future – like a Ring means “there’s an engagement in your future”  or a music note means “you will live life with a song in your heart.”  We had so many people at the wedding that we couldn’t have enough charms for all of the single girls, so it was a first-come, first-serve for the first fourteen charms.  I was a little nervous that the young ones wouldn’t be able to get in and find a ribbon when at first it was all older girls.  Honestly everything was going so fast I couldn’t remember who pulled what ribbons, but I knew somehow all of the little girls had made their way to the front.

I couldn’t have felt more blessed with wonderful friends when a few of my grad school classmates came and asked me what their charms meant.  I hadn’t seen them up by the cake, so I was surprised.  They then explained that they were the charms that “their little kids” had pulled!  They had switched places with them and let them pull and keep the charms!  Thank you, thank you, thank you for being such wonderful, kind friends.




The dancing!  Everyone, my parents, Mark’s parents, everyone danced!!  There was a great moment when Mark was dancing like crazy and my mom was dancing and she said “Did you know he could do that??”  and I said “I do now!” and it was the best moment.


There were SO many wonderful memories from our wedding.  I need a Fifty-five Favorites post!  The best part, though, were all the incredible friends that came so far and went to so much trouble to be there for our special day.  And, also all of those friends who could not be there but sent their love and prayers.  We love you.


Now for all of those who are looking for other Five Favorites please check out Moxie Wife — apparently another lovely lady from Charleston!

Checklist for the future.

Is it normal to plan out your (future) children’s lives before they’re even conceived?  Of course it is.  Good in fact.  And necessary.  Or at least that’s what I hope. Mark and I have discussed having children and we’re on the same page for a lot of things…

1.  Our children need to spend A LOT of time outdoors.

Mark was an ACTIVE kid, with way too many things to get his engineering little kid hands into.  (From what I hear!)  Not that it was all bad.  The times he remembers being really happy were taking apart vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers for the fun of it.  (He’s really good at it too – My mom gave him two broken mowers from our house to take to the dump for her — He fixed them both and made $200!!)  But, he’s also had issues with attention deficit order since childhood.  (I for some reason seemed to have been super focused as a kid and now as an adult can’t keep it together — i.e. I’ve now started to write this blogpost with a pie in the oven, freshly made cookie dough in the fridge, and dishes in the sink.  Hmmm… maybe it’s the sugar… )  Anyway, we’ve agreed that time outside helps both of us focus and stay happy and it’ seems there’s a bit of actual scientific research to back that up.  If you haven’t read the book “Last Child in the Woods”, it is a true favorite of mine.  It is definitely an absolutely fascinating read about what all of this extra technological stimulation is doing to kids.

Here’s the book link!

I’m not against computers or the internet — I’m on it all the time and it has so many wonderful purposes!  BUT, it will be a game changer if the school I am considering wants to give every child in 3rd through 8th grade an iPad or laptop.  I WILL NOT do it.  We are betting on having some rambunctious kids and we want to be prepared to deal with days spent outside in this beautiful country actually EXPERIENCING it.

2. We want to have a home base for the sake of our children.  We just currently have no idea where that’s going to be.  We go back and forth between Charleston and someplace out west.  Charleston has both of our parents and many wonderful friends, but the west (Bozeman, MT for example) has the lifestyle that we want for our children – AND for us.  But we love the south too and saltwater and beaches and boat time…  But, we really want our children to grow up knowing how to ski and hike.  Back and forth, Back and forth.  —–  This MAY all be decided after one winter in Montana.  I’ll get back to everyone on that one.  Mark and I just both grew up moving around a TON (me the military and him divorced parents) and want to stay a little bit more settled and travel to and from one place.

3.  We want to raise our children Catholic.  This one seems like a no brainer, but no matter how much of an easy decision it is, it’s a commitment that we have to make to ourselves and to our children to follow through with.  And, with the craziness that I’m sure comes along in having a child(ren), it’s something that we will have to consciously work at.  Both Mark and I went to Catholic school from grade school through high school (where we met) and have both gone through different levels of commitment to our faith.  (To be completely honest, we’re definitely working to make our faith more of a priority in our lives.  The process of our engagement and our pre-marital counseling was a huge kick in the butt that we both greatly appreciated and were thankful for.)  Anyway, back to the raising our kids Catholic thing – we’re looking at the possibility that in Charleston or out west, we may end up homeschooling our kids which seems to me like a HUGE undertaking.  So That is something that I will definitely be doing more research in.

4.  Lastly, we hope and pray that we are able to raise our children without all of this CRAZY materialistic junk that’s in the media and world today.  This is one of my BIGGEST fears.  And my main fear comes from: I’m so susceptible to it!!  I LOVE shopping.  I’m not really into the newest and greatest handbag or pair of shoes, but I like to keep in style.  I love new kitchen gagdets and if I had a weakness, that would DEFinitely be it.  And I love new camping gear.  I can TOTALLY get sucked in!!!  Just thinking about it now is daunting.

The sad part about just reading that and hearing that come out of my brain is that I own those things.  I may have bought them on sale while working for an outdoor shop, but I spent the majority of my paycheck on them and other cool camping things.  And Mark and I received so many WONDERFUL camping gifts as wedding presents that we’ve already started to use!  A new table!  A new tent that Mark and I can BOTH fit in!  A camping pot set!  They’re incredible and we’ll use them and love them!

I guess what I’m trying to get at is LONGEVITY!  I want my children to know that QUALITY things made waaaay back when they’re great grandparents, grandparents, and parents were alive, were JUST as good if not BETTER than the new things they can have tomorrow.  I just need to start living my life in that area so that I can be a better example by the time little… hmmm…  Audrey and Hazel? are running around tormenting each other.  (Definitely hoping for at least one girl.. but I’ll be thrilled with any!)

Anyway, that was more of a “Let Amelia Talk Cause she needs to talk” Post But isn’t blogging supposed to be cathartic?  Now Mark and I just need to figure out how to afford these little people we hope for!  That’s another topic for another post…  (Budgeting to have a kid!  AAAaaaahhhhh!  I’m going to need some serious help! We are having trouble budgeting for ourselves — Yet my heart and my ovaries are screaming “Please give me some little lovey, rambunctious, spitting-up, getting into stuff, unconditional loving, joyous ginger-headed kids!”)

And if you’ve made it to the bottom of this post here’s my strawberry rhubarb custard pie: