Wednesday, November 26, 2008

write it down

Do you think I have time to whip some of these things up by Thursday, say four-ish? Sure, I could just buy them from Paper-Source {which I love, by the way} but I am really just wanting to find an old letterpress machine on Craigslist (with manual) read up on it for several minutes and go to town. Welcome to my fantasy world.

Ok - how about this. I go buy some nice, thick, cream-colored cards from Hobby Lobby and I jot down "I am thankful for:" with a pretty pen. Welcome to my reality.

I'm thankful for Squanto

Many of you may be quite familiar with this man and his story but I was not. Why is this story not told year after year and part of the fabric of our Thanksgiving traditions? For all the junk that is made into movies, i can't for the life of me understand why none makes this into a film? It is, after all, the real story of Thanksgiving. And without this man, none of us would probably be here today.

Without further adieu, I give you the story of Squanto. Perhaps you can share it at your Thanksgiving table this year.

Sailors poured onto the rocky beach as their small craft landed. Nearby cliffs echoed with a shout: "Grab that short one before he gets away!" The Indian boy felt a sailor's callused hands grasp his shoulders. Though he thrashed and jerked, Squanto (SKWAN- to) couldn't break free. As fibers from a coarse rope cut into his wrists he finally decided that struggle was useless. He was dragged into a longboat, then carried aboard a three-masted English ship anchored offshore.

Squanto had been fishing along the rugged coast when his friend had looked up and pointed, "Great boats with white wings." They had scrambled over the boulders to meet the strange white-faced intruders. Now Squanto was their captive.

Weeks later, a pale Squanto wobbled down the gangplank from that lurching deck onto firm land. He and other Indians were taken to the elaborate mansion of Sir Ferdinando Gorges who had financed many expeditions to the New World. For the next three years, the Indian youths were taught English. At first Squanto found the new tongue awkward, but eventually he surprised himself: "My name is Squanto. I have come from America."

His English host was eager for the Indians to master the language. One day Gorges called them to his quarters. "Young braves, you have studied hard. Now you will be sent as guides on new explorations of America. I will miss you."

"Another ship? How can I stand that constantly rolling deck?" Squanto thought. But in time he gained his sea legs. His knowledge of the rivers and natural harbors, of the tribes and chieftains of his homeland proved very helpful to the English explorers.

For years he had longed to see his beloved bay and village again. One day, as his ship sailed along the New England coast, he spotted it. Squanto ran to the captain. "May I go ashore, sir? That's my village. That's my home!"

"Yes, young man. You have served us well. Now you can return to your people."

As soon as he heard the pebbles crunch under the longboat's hull, Squanto jumped out and ran to embrace his parents. He was home!

But his homecoming didn't last long. Within weeks Squanto spotted new sails on the horizon. No longer afraid of English ships, he proudly led a band of young braves to greet the sailors. Armed seamen seized Squanto and nineteen other Patuxet (paw-TUX-et) Indians.

Once again he was imprisoned aboard a British merchant ship. Rats scampered across the damp hold where the Indians were chained. Scarce provisions, a stormy trip, and continual seasickness took their toll. Several Indians were buried at sea. By the time they reached the Spanish slave-port of Malaga (MA-la-ga), Squanto was very weak.

One by one the surviving braves were pushed up onto the auction block to be sold. Finally it was Squanto's turn. He could barely stand. "Senores (sen-YOR-es), what will you bid for this strong Indian?" the slave trader rasped. A brown-robed monk nodded and the auctioneer grinned. "Sold to the brothers of the monastery."

A heavy pouch of coins exchanged hands and the monk led Squanto home. At last his wrists were untied. A friar brought fresh water and plenty of food, though Squanto could only eat a little.

"Estas libre (es-TAS LEE-bray)! You are free." Squanto looked into the clear eyes of this man of God. Though he knew no Spanish, he understood. Over the next few weeks he pieced it together. Their love for Jesus had prompted these Christian brothers to buy Indian slaves and teach them the Christian faith. As the monks nursed him back to health, Squanto began to love this Jesus, too.

Yet he longed for home. The Indian used his command of English to find a fishing boat headed for London, where he rejoined his explorer friends. Again, Squanto became a guide for explorations of the New World. Years passed. The day finally came when he saw the familiar coastlands of home. Once more he was granted permission to go ashore.

No one greeted Squanto at the beach. He ran to his village. The bark-covered round-houses were empty. Not even a dog barked. Graves outside the village told the story. Samoset (SAM-o-set), his friend from a neighboring tribe, could bring little comfort. "A whiteman's sickness struck your people. One week, all dead. Many villages lie silent like Patuxet."

Squanto's emptiness overwhelmed him. Parents, brothers, sisters, forever gone. He wandered the forests for weeks in his grief. Finally he went to live with his friend Samoset.

One cold December morning, six months after he returned, Squanto watched the white sails of a ship grow on the stormy horizon. This time he hid as the men came ashore. Their clothes looked different from those worn by sailors and the fancy English officers he had seen on other ships. Broad hats and great black capes shielded them from the biting wind. He could glimpse white caps and long dresses of women aboard the ship anchored in the bay. Often he saw children playing on deck. As green leaves came to clothe barren trees, the settlers began to build houses on the very place where his village had stood. Day after day Squanto watched intently, never seen.

Samoset urged him to meet these settlers. A cry went up as the Indians strode into the settlement. Men grabbed for their muskets.

The Indians lifted their hands in greeting. "My name is Squanto. This is Samoset. We come in peace." The settlers were astounded. An Indian who spoke clear English? The Pilgrims lowered their muskets and invited the Indians to share their meager food.

The sun had set by the time Samoset got up to leave, but Squanto hesitated. Many of the settlers had already died from disease and winter's bitter cold. There was little food. Yet they weren't giving up. He thought of his old village's battle with death. "You go," Squanto told his friend in their Indian tongue, "I'm staying. This is my home, my village. These will be my new people."

Squanto turned to the leaders. "May I stay with you? I can help you. I know where you can find foods in the forest."

The white men studied the Indian carefully. Could he be trusted? Still, the struggling colony was in no position to refuse help. "Yes. Please stay."

That spring and summer Squanto proved his worth many times over. He led them to brooks alive with herring beginning their spring migration upstream. He showed the settlers how to fish with traps. He taught them where to stalk game in the forest. The children learned what berries they could pick for their families. Twenty acres of corn grew tall after Squanto showed the Pilgrims how to plant fish with the native corn seeds from a local tribe.

Once, a hostile tribe captured Squanto. "If he is killed," shouted their chief, "the English have lost their tongue." A small Pilgrim force arrived just in time, firing their muskets in the air. The terrified chief released his captive and fled. Squanto repaid the Pilgrims' favor. His bargaining skills kept neighboring tribes from attacking the small Plymouth colony.

In the fall the Pilgrims planned a feast to celebrate God's merciful help. Squanto was sent to invite friendly Chief Massasoit (MASS-a-soit) and his braves.

They gathered around tables spread with venison, roast duck and goose, turkeys, shellfish, bread, and vegetables, with woodland fruits and berries for dessert. Before they ate, the Pilgrim men removed their wide-brimmed hats and Indians stood reverently as the governor led them in solemn prayer.

"Thank You, great God, for the bounty You have supplied to us. Thank You for protecting us in hardship and meeting all our needs. . . ." Towards the end of the long prayer, Squanto was startled to hear his own name. "And thank You for bringing to us the Indian Squanto, your own special instrument to save us from hunger and help us to establish our colony in this new land." Squanto stood proudly. It was a day to remember.

Two years passed. Squanto lay mortally ill, struck by a raging fever while scouting east of Plymouth. He turned over in his mind the events of his strange life. It almost seemed that a plan had led him. The first time he was captured he learned English. The second time, he was freed by gentle Christians who taught him to trust in Jesus. And though his own people had died of sickness, God had sent him to a new people who built their colony where his old village once stood.

Pilgrim leader William Bradford knelt at his bedside. "Pray for me, Governor," the Indian whispered, "that I might go to the Englishmen's God in heaven." Squanto breathed his last November 1622, gone from the New World, but entering a heavenly one.

This account is based on historical facts found in primary sources such as William Bradford's Journal, Capt. John Smith's The Generall Historie of New England, and Sir Ferdinando Gorges' Brief Narration, and numerous secondary sources.

{image from}

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

sweet potato casserole

We are spending Thanksgiving with my in-laws and though I have made several offers, I have only been assigned one item to make. The item. Nope, not the bird. The sweet potato casserole. This recipe is amazing. Like many a Thanksgiving vegetable side dish, I feel confident that it yields little nutritional content. The vegetable aspect is for show. It is dessert. But man, it kicks pumpkin pie's (butt, crust?) every time.

It may become a staple on your Thanksgiving table, too.

Sweet Potato Casserole

mix all of this together and put it in a buttered casserole dish:

40 oz. of sweet potatoes (I used canned yams)
1/2 cup of softened butter
1/2 cup of sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. of vanilla

soft boil below ingredients until it reaches soft ball stage:

(for those who are saying "huh?" you can use a candy thermometer which will tell you when it reaches this stage or you can blend it longer then you ever thought possible and then eventually you can take a little piece of the carmel like mixture and form it into a 'soft ball'. Drop the ball in a cup of cool water and it will remain a ball if it is ready.)

1/3 cup of milk
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 cup of light brown sugar
1/3 cup of melted butter

pour topping over sweet potato mixture. sprinkle with pecans. bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

you may want to double this recipe, it's that good.

{image from Jess}

Friday, November 21, 2008

Montessori: apples & chickens & goats -O my!

So...I think we are about to take the plunge. Right now my oldest child "E", she's 4.5 - is in a nice private Christian school. Nice parents, nice kids, nice curriculum - it's all very nice. So why am I itching to get her out of there? Something about it all just has not been sitting well with me. I started researching (did you know that I L-O-V-E to research?...just an aside) some other schooling options. The Montessori concept really caught my attention and the more that I learn about it the more I:

a.) wish that I had attended a Montessori as a child and  b.) want my children to attend Montessori schools while they are young.

I love the idea of children learning the concepts and skills they need to know by doing everyday tasks. Rather then sitting in a chair learning a concept they are actually doing the task at hand. There is a part of me that wishes that I could homeschool, but I am just not that mom. I feel like with Montessori, I am paying someone to have the patience to do the things with my child that I just don't have the patience to do. I know that that sounds awful. But I don't mean it that way at all. There are just certain things that my kids won't experience because I am unwilling to go there. I am grateful for a classroom that is set up to encourage kids to go there. Poring water out of a small scale glass pitcher into small glasses. A dish washing station. Shoe & silver polishing. My kids would rather do this stuff any day over playing with silly old toys. Now sweet E is gonna have her chance.

The school that we are most excited about has chickens & goats for the kids to help care for. There are fruit trees that the kids gather the fruit from and a garden that they plant and tend. Um...can I go too?

I just started to read this book to learn how to incorporate more Montessori concepts at home with my little one.

This catalog is a fascinating look at the different items that fill a Montessori classroom. There are some great finds for home too, as everything is made kid size. These are real tools, not toys, they are just made to fit in little hands. What a concept!

{image found at socializr}

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I just picked up a book at the library entitled "the Superfood Rx." Superfood had become quite the buzz word as of late and I have been interested in seeing if there is any merit to it. I have read some stuff on both sides but today this is where I am at. This is a list of foods that are undoubtedly healthy. Far more healthy then the average American (my) diet. I like almost everything on this list and it is all available at any grocery store. Are they super - meaning, are they better than other whole foods available? Maybe. Maybe not. But making these items staples in my home seem like a win-win situation. At the most, we may reap a wealth of benefits. At the least, our tummies will be full of fresh, yummy food.


Tea (green or black)

Secondary 'Superfoods'

Dark Chocolate
Allium – onions, garlic, chives, leeks, shallots
Hulled Barley
Green Foods – barley grass, wheat grass, blue-green algae
Hot peppers
Nuts & Seeds

Mary Jane's Farm

A couple of years ago I became familiar with a farm girl named Mary Jane through the various outlets of her empire. Mary Jane Butters is the face and founder of Mary Jane's Farm and it's subsequent magazine, website, products, forum and even this super cool "tent and breakfast". There are a lot of things that I love about this woman but the two things that are sticking out right now are:

1. She preaches that you don't have to live on a farm to be a farm girl at heart. Cultivate the life you crave wherever you are right now.


2. Doing laundry is a near religion to her. She finds deep satisfaction in the small moments that make up an average day.

I bought the back issues of her magazine/catalog and found something in nearly each one that really moved me.

You can check her out here.

Monday, November 17, 2008


In my previous post I showed some images from the flooring company LV Wood Floors, perhaps my new favorite flooring company. As I was scrolling through their products, I came across these babies. Have you ever seen anything like this? They are solid plank white oak floors stained in all these crazy colors. This would be a super fun option in the right spot.

bleached oak - floor love

You know when you see a photograph and your heart fills up with admiration and says "yes! yes! yes!"? OK, it may just be me - but that was my response to these floors. I love them.

{all images from LV Wood Floors}

is it all subjective?

My husband just sent me this quote knowing it would resonate with me. It may just make it's way over to my sidebar.

"The notion of good taste - having an educated and perhaps unique sense of style - is different from a narrow view of what's proper or not. There's a certain kind of predicable good taste; everything matches all too precisely and the impact is usually pleasant and boring. This isn't only found in traditional interiors where the sofa fabric has some of the colours of the carpet, the sofa pillows match the curtains, and so on, but in contemporary settings, too. You can be equally banal with rooms of nothing but Mies and Corb.

One shouldn't complain too much about this approach. It's better than being thoughtless about how you live. However, it is a ghetto of safeness. Good taste needs a sense of risks having been successfully taken, not merely rules have been followed diligently. Good taste should feel new even if its underpinnings are classic."

This quote is an excerpts from an article entitled "Bad Taste Does Exist" by Kelvin Browne.

What are your thoughts on this sometimes tricky subject?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I called my sister in a panic yesterday. I needed to ask her the ever important "What do you get a six-year old boy for his birthday?" question. She was just sitting down to dinner, she'll have to call me back. Basically, I was own my own. All I really know about Caleb, the six-year old in question, was that he likes bugs. rather, he LOVES bugs. I arrive at Toys R' Us. This maybe my second time as an adult in the store but I figured the would have the largest selection of bug paraphernalia. I look at a saleswoman blankly and say "bugs?" She points me in the right direction. There I find, two, count them two choices. My first was a super-sized, fuzzy, remote control operated tarantula. The second was an ant farm. Need I say that it was a no-brainer. I actually have a warm nostalgia like feeling concerning ant farms. Had I been given fifty options I still probably would have left with the an farm. Granted, it's not the simple ant farm that I recall from my childhood. This one came with neon colored gel to nourish the ants. Can something a color not found in nature actually provide nourishment? I think that's another post all together.

In summary: Is it okay to bring insects into an unsuspecting persons home and call it a gift?

{image by Miss History}

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

metal roofs

metal roofs: I went from not being so sure about metal roofs a few years back to really starting to dig them. My in-laws built this beautiful barn in New Mexico and they put a copper colored roof on it. It's fantastic. When people all over that town meet us they say "Oh! You're the folks in the copper-top." We're basically famous.

Metal roofs range from sheets of corrugated galvanized metal to a true cooper roof. I am focusing here on the corrugated sheet metal. I love that this material is inexpensive, long lasting, rugged and simple to install. It definitely has a specific look that would not work with a lot of projects but somehow fits into my ideal of simple, classic, modern and organic. And it's perfect for a barn. And there are so many colors to choose from that any structure can be unique to your personality. Like I said, it's really grown on me.

ceramic tile roofs

ceramic tile: These are the roofs that I see everyday, everywhere I go. The roof of the desert. True ceramic tile roofs are very expensive as they are quite labor intensive...but that roof will last you a good 60 to 80 years. As with slate, you may a premium upfront but perhaps it is more cost effective in the long run.

{images from: Rancho San MiguelJohn Amato}

slate and fake slate

slate shingles: The top two pictures are of actual slate. The bottom two are images of synthetic slate. Would you be able to tell the difference? Perhaps only your support beams and wallet would know, and have a sign of relief with the latter. True slate is really beautiful, lasts much longer then you will and is very expensive. Synthetic slate, made from things like recycled rubber and plastic, is much lighter and much less expensive. And from street level, it may just be beautiful enough.

fake shake

shake-like options: The roof in the first image is made from clay tiles made to look like shake shingles. Clay tiles provide durability and fire protection that you just can get with authentic shake shingles.

The second roof is made of architectural fiberglass shingles. These cost only a bit more then the standard three-tab variety but offer a more dramatic look and still come with up to a 20 year guarantee.

pine shingles

pine shingles: There is a newer pressure-treated shingle made from Southern Yellow Pine, which grays out in a few years to resemble cedar and is said to require no maintenance at all.

{images found at OldHouseWeb}

cedar shake shingles

cedar shake shingles: say that ten times fast. OK, so I've already stated that this is my favorite. I love how the grey over time.
I love the rugged natural look. There isn't much other then perhaps the price and that I fear they might quickly ignite in the desert sun. I may have to hold off until I spend my latter days on the New England Coast (Let a girl dream).

A shake roof can last from 30 to 50 years if it is properly installed and maintained. Be sure to use high quality stainless steel nails or the shingles may outlast the nails.

{images from: Interlock}

asphalt shingle roofs

asphalt shingles: Economical, durable and therefore the most common roofing option in America today. The first image shows a close-up of standard asphalt shingles. The second image shows a house clad in a premium grade. I was surprised that such an attractive option was available in asphalt.

{images from Hunt Constructionher home}


There is a property that we are eyeing right now {not pictured above}, but the little house that we would live in would need a new roof. We live in the Southwest, oh let's just say it - we live in the desert. I grew up in Illinois and Pennsylvania. When I think of roofing materials, it doesn't really go beyond cedar shake shingles. I love them. If it was an option, I would buy a house covered in them. I don't see too many cedar shingled roofs out here in the desert so I'm off to investigate some viable options.

I was really surprised by the above photo. They chose a red metal roof for such a traditional architectural style and it works. It look quaint and tidy and I really love the pop of color. Now metal, I know would work here.

What are your favorite roofing materials?

Has anyone ever asked you that question before?

Let me be the first.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

we're gonna need a barn

My aesthetic lies somewhere in the realm of simple/classic/modern /organic. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? Most of the design blogs that I have visited, and there have been many, lend themselves heavily to one of these categories. There must be more people out there besides me that just like a little bit of each of these, too much and it is no longer appealing. I am carving out a niche for any others out there that are saying 'amen' right now. The 4 of us can have a nice time here visiting.

But I digress.

When I think wide open space, I think farmhouse.  There are a lot that I have seen that have a certain appeal. Some lie in each of the categories listed above and some exist in a perfect blended state. I'd love to see what you have found. Here's what I've got:

{all images but last first seen at Farmhouse Modern and are from Walker|WarnerJackson Meadow, Fornesto Despues, Backen GillamCCY Architects, Martha Stewart}

caroline ingalls

I'm not quite sure when it happened. It was definitely later rather then earlier in life. My father grew up on a farm and with every visit we made there I have no recollection of anything stirring within me. Nope, the closest I can come to identifying a time and place was while we were living in Morocco watching Little House on the Prairie. For a year and a half of our lives our family had the amazing experience of living in North Africa. My second baby was born there, but I don't really want to remember that part. The part that I really remembering loving, was how much more our lives were simplified there. I loved going to the little market nearly every day. I loved learning how to cook from scratch. I loved walking more then driving. I loved not watching TV.

When entertainment called, it usually took the form of an imported season of Little House. And with each episode my heart was stirred. I wanted to simplify more. I wanted to learn all those 'inconveniences' that have so conveniently been replaces with 'modern convinces'. I want to grow our food. I want to cook our meals. I want to know how to knit and sew and many other things that I do not know how to do. In short, I would like to be Caroline Ingalls. But Caroline learned those things from her mother and my mother could not teach me them if she tried. She considered it a blessing to not have to know. I consider it a curse. And I'd like to be able to teach my daughter just in case she would like to know, too.

{image found at Laura Ingalls Wilder}

what's in a name?

If you don't already know, I chose the blog title from a Dixie Chicks song. The starting lines of the chorus have resonated with me for years: Wide open spaces. Room to make the big mistakes. I don't live on a large piece of land with lots of wide open space. Rather I am far closer to my neighbors then I am comfortable with. Though we are hoping to be in 'a more spacious place' sooner rather than later, to me, wide open space is a mindset more then a reality.

There is a certain appeal to living in the country as well as there are things about a big city that I crave. No matter the spot I am making my way back to that wide open space within me. I am de-cluttering: mind, soul & body. I am making room for the stuff I love and losing the stuff I've only picked up along the way.

wide open spaces

This photo was taken a few years back by my friend Eric Looney. It's at a spot called White Sands, New Mexico and I cannot think of a place that better depicts my blog title.

Day 1, always the hardest day of a blog. Where do you begin and why do I feel the need to begin. Like many others blogging has become a great creative outlet. It's like scrap-booking for people who loathe even the idea of scrap-booking. There is also something wonderful about finding like minded people to inspire and be inspired by. Those are the reasons for this blog. Should you be a person looking for some wide open spaces -welcome. Maybe we can carve out a nook on this earth, yet.