An axe for the frozen sea


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Axe for the frozen sea

We’re getting away this weekend, to a cabin with no internet and spotty phone service. We’re planning to unplug and read books, play board games, and watch movies as a family.

Togetherness. We need it.

An axe for the frozen sea we have become by mid-winter.


We hope to return home opened up. And as full of hope and promise as the melting lake in spring.

What are your plans?




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Sprout Home Cover Page

Just as I had hoped, my Grandma Brown’s very powerful story is being shared with more readers! The blog post I wrote in January has been given a home in the newest issue of Sprout, an online magazine I’ve come to love.

If you enjoy discovering new artists, writers, poets and photographers, you will want to take a look at Sprout. It’s only $6 an issue and you can download it as a PDF to your computer to read at your leisure.

Each issue is held together by a theme, creatively curated by writer and artist Amanda Fall at Persistent Green.

Home Contributor

Sprout #4 is OUT! Cultivate a sense of home that nourishes, strengthens, and brings you joy. 60 colorful pages. 19 amazing guests. Art, poetry, essays, prompts, & more.

Click here to visit Persistent Green and get your copy today! You can even download a FREE preview first before making a purchase.

Thanks for your support, friends! xo


My little valentine


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Valentine at work

My little valentine at work on Sunday afternoon

Although I love to play with paper, scissors and glue, I tend to get overwhelmed when doing crafty projects with my kids. I wish this were not the case, but the mess generated and the somewhat limited time frame we always seem to have combine to make me a little stressed out.

The one exception seems to be the Valentine’s Day box project for school. I used to have so much fun with Jesse creating his box every year and now, with Dylan, it’s just as wonderful.

I don’t know if it’s because it’s such a cheerful motif and positive message–for heaven’s sake, don’t ask me to make anything for Hallowe’en!–but I feel happy from start to finish when working on valentines. Perhaps it’s because I enjoy Valentine’s day not just because of romantic love; I think this holiday should be celebrated for all kinds of love’s sake! Everyone deserves to be loved. Everyone deserves to hear, I love you.”

Yesterday we pushed ourselves even further creatively, designing our own Valentine’s Day cards and making our own envelopes. Dylan requested Justin Bieber themed cards—who am I to deny him?–so I designed three varieties. Dylan even thoughtfully asked for one featuring Selena Gomez especially for his classmate named Selena.

Valentines 2012

Our designs

I hope you’ll enjoy these photos of my Sunday afternoon with my little Valentine.

Dylan's box

Dylan's clever way of signing his box

pretty words

So many pretty words can be shared with others

hearts a plenty

All kinds of hearts = all kinds of love

On display

The bounty of his finished creations

Dylan final

My darling valentine

Little Bliss List, February 3rd


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Bliss List

I’m linking up with Liv Lane at Choosing Beauty to celebrate the bliss I’ve experienced this week…

1. A new friend named Pablo who is a high school exchange student staying with us for two weeks. Shared comedy and connection across the divide of geography and language is a beautiful thing. Plus, more testosterone in the house and one more boy to love for this girl.

2. A night out with girlfriends last night. These four truly fabulous women live right on my block. They are the mothers of the children my Dylan plays with…how can such rich friendships exist within such close proximity? I am incredibly blessed.

3. The gift of a massage from my friend Sima Shahriar, who is starting her new massage business at Healing Garage. Sima is lovely and gifted and today she blessed me for no reason at all!

4. More groundbreaking conversations with women small business owners this week at co-working on Wednesday (Magic Wand Collective) and elsewhere. True, this is something I experience every week, but I know that it is a unique blessing each time the alchemy of authentic connection takes place. Check out the amazing things they are doing and saying and accomplishing: Jennifer Vertanen of The Wholehearted Life, Beth DeZiel of Lasso, Sam Strong of Metamorphosis, and Clea Galhano of The Saint Paul Conservatory of Music.

4. Post 10-day cleanse, inspired by my friend Anna Dvorak, I am no longer drinking coffee or pop beyond one small cup of coffee in the morning. I am really enjoying the ritual and taste of herbal tea. And I absolutely love how my body feels.

5. Also post cleanse, the pure joy of a real croissant with real butter and homemade jam, while I sit on the banquette at Cafe Barbette.

So much bliss exists, don’t you see?

A valuable quest


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40 and laughing

At my 40th birthday party a few years ago, some really creative friends hosted a “Rachel Jeopardy” game. The hilarity that this crowd pleaser generated was the setting for the photo at left.

How could I not laugh at myself when they so clearly articulated who I am and what makes me tick? It’s an incredible gift to have friends who know and love you so well, even if it’s a little humiliating at times.

One of the most memorable questions was:

What is the first thing Rachel will tell you about anything she is wearing or using?

The answer: The price. She will always tell you how much of a deal she got on it.

Getting value without sacrificing quality and beauty has indeed become one of my most playful and valuable quests in life. When I was a mere 7 years old, standing in line to enter the gymnasium at school, I proudly told my classmates that my fabulous two-piece tan (trimmed with floral ribbon) polyester pant suit was found at a garage sale for the incredible price of 25 cents. Some people might think that was NOT something to share. And why would a child that age even care? But my mom–who is the queen of value shopping, thank you very much– taught me that a good deal is something to shout from the rooftops.

Being fashionable and looking good on a budget is a priority for me, but I don’t like to march the malls. I only shop in person through “targeted strikes” intended to purchase a particular item. I don’t like to wander and try things on. I tire so quickly…the bright lights and loud music and crowds overwhelm me.

So finding bargains online–rock bottom clearance prices–has saved me tons of time and money over the past few years. I generally understand my most flattering colors and styles and which sizes typically fit me in certain brands. When I stick to those general guidelines, I usually make a successful purchase online and am thrilled with what’s in the box when it arrives on my doorstep.

Today’s version of shouting from the rooftops is posting my favorite deals on my blog and on Pinterest. Talbots is having a MASSIVE sale right now (up to 80% off original prices), and I just had to pick up a few things. Plus, I got free shipping through Talbots’ Facebook page. For today only, coupon code LIKE saved me $8. And Talbots purchases are always a good investment for me.

Have I mentioned that I just got some really great deals on some fabulous items?


Shayla Flower Bouquet Espadrilles, reg. $109, my price $20.51


Capelet, reg. $179, my price $33.99

Crinkled silk ruffle shirt

Crinkled Ruffle Silk Shirt reg. $99, my price $18.61

Puffed Sleeve Tee

Puff-Sleeve Tee in crimson reg. $42.50, my price $13.67

Fly-Away Cardi

Front-Drape Cardi reg. $99, my price $18.61

Cameo Rose

Cameo Rose Two-Handled Satchel reg. $199, my price $30.01

Bliss list


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Bliss List

I’m linking up with Liv Lane at Choosing Beauty to celebrate the bliss I’ve experienced this week…

1. I traveled to Portland Oregon to launch the second chapter of The Magic Wand Collective–not only was it a bliss-full experience to speak to 75 women small business owners eager to welcome the magic wand to their community–I was also blessed by two rain-free days, warm temps, a fetching new hat and time with friends celebrating the power of women!

Friends with hats

An afternoon at Welcome Home Girlfriend in Oregon City, with Jamie Teasdale, Mel McCarthy and Jennifer Vickerman

2. We’re getting close to finishing up the redesign of our master bedroom, and this beautiful pendant light is the bliss-full piece de resistance of the room…isn’t it exquisite?

Capiz Pendant Light

Capiz Pendant Light, Pottery Barn

3. One of my sons (the 7 year old Dylan) wants to avoid danger and find a lost city in 2012. I’m down with that.

Dylan's 2012

4. My older son (the 14 year old Jesse) loves the younger one and did this drawing as evidence: “I love this kid to death.” Makes a mom happy!

Dylan drawing

5. Thanks to a goal-setting exercise led by Magic Wand Collective member Amy Egenberger (Spirit Out!) at our January large group gathering, my buddy Heide Lidstrom-Olson and I committed to finding ways to be more focused and efficient with our work hours. One of my big realizations? I’ve been experiencing “schedule creep” and I need more alone time for the aspects of my work that require more concentration. The bliss-full outcome? I’m ensuring that I have one office day a week moving forward–a day with no phone or in-person meetings–to create, write and replenish.

Sounds like bliss to me!

6. I reached my two-year Blogiversary! Don’t forget to weigh in on my Blogiversary Giveaway! I’m giving away $50!

What’s your little bliss list from this week?