Days Past & Dreams Not Followed

“We may place blame, give reasons, and even have excuses; but in the end, it is an act of cowardice to not follow your dreams.”

Steve Maraboli

The first full month of school has been so incredibly busy. Not stop-and-go. Just go. All go.

My daughter is, as previously mentioned, on Color Guard at her high school. Games, competitions, practices.. They all keep her so busy and I very rarely ever see her for anything other than meal time. Her school placed fifth out of fourteen schools at a competition last night and first in their category. I really could not be prouder of her or them. What an accomplishment!

With that said, life has been so much faster than I care for. For me at least, life is smoother and more manageable when lived slow. I can imagine spending my days sipping hot tea on the patio with a typewriter, writing some self-important novel, and watching my toddler run free through the garden and playing peek-a-boo in the fresh load of laundry hanging on the line as she so often does. That may be the best part of hanging the laundry to dry; watching her duck behind it only to come out giggling moments later.

Alas, I do not have a typewriter and, as much as I would like to, I cannot get myself to write a book. I want to, I have just never been able to get myself to go through it. As part of one big self-defeating cycle, I think about it, tell myself that no one would want to read anything I wrote, and then decide against it. How do you push past self-defeat, past all of the “what ifs”, and do something that you desperately want to do? Even if it never becomes a bestseller, even if no one wants to read it, I would still truly love to write a book. It is something that I have wanted to do since middle school.

I remember writing short stories as part of English class. They always, of course, provided a topic; however, what we wrote was up to us. I always got an A. One of my mom’s friends would read every single one of my stories when I brought them home. And they did not just read them. They read them with the same jubilance that I have displayed so many, many times throughout my life with myriad novels.

I had more confidence in my writing back then and my mom’s friend was the reason for that. To be eleven years old again, watching someone read my stories with all of the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. Life was simple back then and it was also grossly underappreciated.

Happy Sunday, loves! Wherever you are in the world, I hope with my whole heart that you are safe, happy, and well!

Finding My Own Personal Style

“Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.”

Vivienne Westwood

In just over a week, I will be 37 years old. And for over half of those 37 years, I have found myself experiencing with fashion, reinventing myself time and time again, looking for a feeling. A feeling that comes from being happy in whatever it is that I am wearing, a feeling that tells me that I am being my most authentic self. I’ve gone from trying to fit in with whatever the current trend is to experimentation with emo and goth fashion and even went through an Elle Woods phase. And, while each of those fashion ventures certainly provided a bit of fun, I never really felt at home or completely comfortable in them. In every possible way, it felt like I was trying too hard. Fast fashion makes it so simple to reinvent yourself over and over again before you finally really discover, or come to terms with, who you are. Not that I encourage fast fashion. I most certainly do not. Respectfully, I prefer sustainable brands that follow fair trade practices. While you may spend more on a sustainably sourced garment, you’ll be getting something that is superior in quality and lasts much longer.

Getting off of my soapbox, my purchases have become more deliberate. It is more about finding pieces and color palettes that I have hand-selected for myself these days. The pandemic gave me so much time to reflect on myself and really take stock of who I am. As an avid reader and lover of history, I have always held an affinity for Victorian and Edwardian fashions; so much so that I have had a Pinterest board dedicated to them for years. They are the loveliest things that have ever existed. While nearly floor-length walking skirts are rarely considered practical in modern times, they are always beautiful. And, while I may be on the receiving end of bewildered glances from strangers, I always feel so fabulous and content in historical fashion than I ever did in anything else.

Fascinatingly, had I taken into consideration long ago my passion for history and historical fashion, I would have pursued a degree in history. Something about the study of it feels much like traveling back in time. The stories, the photographs, the clothes are so enchanting; at least, they are to me.

One of my favorite things about historical women’s fashion is the focus on modesty. While I am certainly quite comfortable with my own body, I have never really felt the need to show it off to the world. On the contrary, I have a preference for high necklines, high waistlines, and low hemlines. The lovely lines and silhouettes of historical fashion for ladies highlight the body without being excessively revealing. And, as a bonus, historical clothing allows for layering that provides loads of warmth in colder months and the way these styles cover the body prevents my delicate, pale skin from burning. On a related note, I have found that I also love hats, because they mask what I consider to be an enormous forehead.

Fashion inspiration can be found anywhere. It really just depends on what you are into. For me, it has always been movie adaptations of Jane Austen novels and Anne Shirley during her career as the only schoolteacher in Avonlea. The costumes are always so absolutely dreamy and, in my opinion, Anne will always be my favorite fashion icon.

Finding your own personal style is so important, because it is one of the easiest ways to express one’s self to the rest of the world. Enduring confused glances from strangers becomes easier. And, sometimes, you’ll find that people are drawn to converse with you just based on your clothing alone. It is something that I absolutely encourage. Experiment, reinvent yourself, and do it again until you find the feeling that you are searching for from your wardrobe. Since figuring it out for myself, I have found that I am spending significantly less on clothing. I no longer feel the need to make purchase after purchase in a desire to fit in. Instead, I buy very deliberately and seldomly. The color palette that I have chosen for myself consists of reds, browns, greens (darker or more muted shades), and yellows (again, darker shades, like mustard) as they so beautifully accent my naturally blonde hair.

To that end, I am also learning to sew in the interest of being able to make certain pieces for myself. Edwardian walking skirts, capes, Victorian coats, petticoats to wear under my garments during the winter months… I intend on learning to do all of it, once I stop allowing myself to be so intimidated by my sewing machine.

With the sincerest hope that you have found your most authentic self, I bid you an absolutely enchanting day.

Romanticize Your Own Life

So many people glorify and romanticize ‘busy’.

I do not. I value purpose. I believe in resting in reason and moving in passion. If you’re always busy, you will miss important details. I like the mountain. Still, but when it moves, lands shift and earth quakes.

Joseph Cook

In a world where everyone seems to be so completely focused on staying busy, hustling, and making power moves that ultimately lead to financial wealth, I have found that doing quite the opposite is one of the most grounding experiences.

Recently, I have taken to romanticizing my own little life. Taking joy in the mundane, like household chores or preparing meals. Enjoying each cup of tea with passion and vigor, as though each cup were the best cup of tea that I have ever had. Sitting on the back porch, listening to the pitter-patter of rain on the leaves of the vines that ensconce that porch, the chirping of the happy birds in nearby trees, the melodic singing of the crickets that hide in the flower garden..

The primary reasoning for this is learning to slow down, to be still and just appreciate moments as they come. They are fleeting enough as is and, if you don’t slow down, you are going to miss them. Time is a precious resource that will never be on your side, so why waste it?

When I wake, I am in no rush to turn on any of the myriad devices in my home. Instead, I take my time preparing for the day ahead. This is a relatively new practice but a vital one all the same. We, as a society, spend so much of our time connected to the world around us. Turn on a bit of quiet music instead. Sit for a cup of coffee or tea and conversate with your loved ones over breakfast. Read something. Just be present.

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

The entire idea is celebrating each and every single moment; celebrating your own life. There’s a quote somewhere about being the main character in your story and it is one of my favorites. For so long, I put myself on the back burner and let so many others take center stage in my own life. The spotlight was on them and I was hiding in the shadows, somewhere just beyond the curtains. At some point, I realized that it was a practice that I could no longer participate in. I couldn’t continue putting all of my energy into everyone else and resigning myself to just existing.

It was absolutely no way to live. When I learned to view myself as the main character, I found true joy in my own life. I stopped wishing to be someone else, assuming that those people always had a better life than me. I found beauty in my own reflection without first covering myself in makeup. I stopped focusing on being thinner and found enjoyment in the foods that I eat.

Romanticize your own life. Notice the magic in every sunrise, the peaceful glow of the moon, the lullabies of nature, the beauty in yourself. Be the main character in your story. And learn to just be still from time to time, learn to slow down and appreciate every moment in life and the lessons that come along the way. This existence will never be perfect, but it will always be worth it.

With hope that your day is as enchanting as the mountains on a misty, quiet morning..

Quinn

August’s End

“August slipped away like a moment in time..”

Taylor Swift

Here we are in the last days of August. For just a couple of weeks longer, the Summer will make its last stand before Autumn arrives to paint the trees myriad shades of gold, orange, red, and brown. The weather becomes milder and the days grow shorter. I welcome all of it with all of the enthusiasm and excitement of a child waiting to open gifts on Christmas morning.

I love Autumn. It is easily my favorite of all of the seasons. Something about it feels cozy and reminds me of the home that I left behind eleven years ago. The warm fragrances of the season are as nostalgic as those in the care packages that my mom lovingly sends from her home every so often. Most recently, her care package contained beautiful dresses and photos of me as a child. I was afraid to wash those dresses, because they smelled of her. I love my mom to the moon and to Saturn.

Last week, I celebrated the final week of August with a pumpkin Angel Food cake. Unable to find a recipe on the internet that didn’t begin with a box of cake mix, I was left to my own devices. I’ve made Angel Food cake before, so it wasn’t difficult. I just started with the standard recipe and added one cup of pumpkin puree and two teaspoons each of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It was absolutely delightful! The cake was light and fluffy with the warm, spicy flavor that you’d find in pumpkin bread.

Over the weekend, my daughter had a friend stay with us. I absolutely adore her. We are both Taylor Swift fans, we both love reading, and she’s the type of girl who doesn’t mind hanging out with me while my kids sleep until noon. And she understands my Anne of Green Gables references, like telling my daughter to spell “chrysanthemum” when she was pretending to participate in a spelling bee.

She was up quite early on Saturday. We listened to Folklore on the record player while I baked. I adore baking and I hadn’t made a Blueberry Lavender Angel Food cake since late Spring, so I got to work. It is one of my very favorites because of the aroma of the lavender fills the house while it bakes. And it looks so beautiful when it is done and put together. I found the recipe for it over at The Kitchen McCabe and it is one that I love preparing in celebration of Ostara. While theirs is garnished with beautiful fresh lilacs, mine is garnished with dried roses, marigolds, lavender, and cornflower, along with fresh blueberries.

Sunday began with the most perfect little heart-shaped chocolate chip waffles. As I lovingly prepared them for all of the kids, I listened to The Oh Hellos, Nati Dreddd, The Crane Wives, and The Lumineers, among many others. It is a lovingly crafted playlist of whimsical songs that take my mind to another place in time.

For a bit of time, when the house is otherwise quiet, that playlist, a good book, and a cup of tea comforts me in a way that nothing else does. My favorite tea, the one I love more than any other, is the Cinnamon Vanilla variety made by Stash. It is aromatic, spicy, warm, and slightly sweet; perfect for colder days, but I enjoy it just as much on warm days.

I ended the day with a closet cleanout, dropping off the items that I no longer wore or wanted at the Domestic Crisis Center of Northwest Oklahoma. By the time I was done, it almost looked like I owned nothing at all. But there were so many styles that I had outgrown, so many things that no longer fit. I somehow even had maternity clothes still hanging in there and it has been nearly three years since I had my daughter. Cleaning everything out and learning to let things go was both therapeutic and long overdue. You will never catch me doing that with my books, though.

And with that, I bid you a wonderful week and an enchanting beginning to the month of September!

Toiling Away

“Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.”

Saint Francis de Sales

Last week was overwhelming as is always the case with the first week of school. This year, however, has seemed especially so. Each of my children met their teachers on a different night. I enjoy meeting their teachers. Teachers are some of my favorite people. Their jobs are exceptionally undervalued. With that being said, the large crowds experienced at orientation are exhausting. You are resigned to weaving your way through a see of parents and little ones who, like you, have no idea where they are going. Our town may be small, but the middle and high school are enormous and, to be honest, I need a map.

I spent much of the week reminding myself that I needed to write. Writing is cathartic. In writing, I am able to express myself and get my thoughts out of my head where I would otherwise overanalyze them. Unfortunately, I did not find the time.

My oldest began high school and I immediately felt my own aging intensify. This happens often when I hear teenagers use brand new slang terms that they have invented. Frequently, I find myself using Urban Dictionary to decipher what they are saying. She is on Color Guard. That means lots of early mornings and long days. Friday was the Boomer Band Annual Picnic. Needing to prepare a side dish, I had forgotten about it entirely until around three in the afternoon. My daughter insisted that the side dish must be homemade, so I was a bit bewildered to arrive and discover that all of the other parents purchased premade sides from Walmart. Having such a short amount of time to pull something together, I opted for loaded German potato salad. Tangy and full of flavor, it was one of the best dishes on the table at the park.

While we were there, my husband chased after the baby and the kids played with all of the band kids, leaving me to fend for myself. Knowing absolutely none of the adults made for an awkward and lonely experience. Luckily, Ava’s boyfriend’s mom was sitting across the park by herself as well and for entirely the same reason. After a few moments of trying to decide where to sit, I decided to introduce myself. How funny that I’ve met her son many times, but she had never met my daughter. Even more amusing, my daughter gave a look of both shock and immense embarrassment when she realized I was sitting with her. His mom is delightful and it was truly wonderful to finally meet her. It was one of those days, however, when there was so much going on that, by the end of it, I felt the need to disappear to my room for an hour or so just to have a moment of peace.

On Thursday, the first day of school, I made these lovely little pumpkin rolls. They’re lightly sweet and filled with cream cheese, making the perfect to enjoy with supper or as a dessert afterward. I really do enjoy baking. It’s something that I try to do often.

Sunday night was family dinner, something that I had tried to turn into a tradition. I made the most delightful homemade biscuits, fried chicken, potatoes with gravy, and green beans. The chicken was perfectly tender and full of flavor. The biscuits were warm and buttery (and even better when dipped in the potatoes and gravy). As for the green beans, they had that delicious bacon-y flavor that you’ll only find in the south.

Today, I will spend a bit of time getting my home back in order, baking, catching up on laundry, and reading Pride & Prejudice. I do not mind the busyness, but I prefer a much slower way of life. It has been a good couple of years since I last felt the desire to always be in a hurry. Life is better when it is lived slower, when moments big or small are enjoyed while you are experiencing them, when your time is spent doing what you love.

Slow down and enjoy today. You cannot retrieve it once it is gone.

-Quinn

Memories

“If we’d never met, I think I would have known that my life wasn’t complete. And I would have wandered the world in search of you, even if I didn’t know who I was looking for.”

Nicholas Sparks, The Longest Ride

There are so many different loves that we experience in life. From the love for a parent to the first love that we experience in our adolescent years to the various loves that we find before we find the one.

At 36 years old, I can say with complete confidence that I have experienced each one. The one that teaches you a great deal about yourself. The one that helps you realize what you are really looking for. And, of course, the one that makes you wonder why you ever thought you were in love all of the times before.

Tonight is another of many sleepless nights. They are a frequent occurrence for me, for I find myself quite often kept awake by the various thoughts that make their way through my mind in the middle of the night.

A few years ago, I took Tristin home with me, to North Carolina, for the first time. It seemed like it was right for him to meet my family and, to be honest, I did not want to spend two weeks without him. So, we loaded up our suitcases, got in the car, and drove. That was when our tradition of kissing at state lines began.

On one particular day during our visit, my mom wanted to spend the day with the children, so we took advantage of it and snuck off for a date. Our dates have always been the kind that nourish my soul and give us both more to remember than just a meal. Museums, lakes, long walks…

That day, we got in the car and made our way to the mountains. We drove up to the Linn Cove Viaduct in the Blue Ridge mountains. There’s a parking lot just off of the highway there, allowing you to safely get out to take in the view. It is a very popular spot, particularly in Autumn, when the leaves are changing colors. The landscape, during this time, is painted with the most beautiful golds, reds, oranges, with a bit of green mixed in.

After parking our vehicle, we decided to hike down one of the trails leading down from the Visitor’s Center. As we hiked down the mountain, weaving through the trees, we talked. I can no longer recall what the conversation was about, but the content isn’t really of consequence. A cool mist lightly peppered us as a rainstorm approached the mountain.

Just before it started to really pour, we found a dry spot beneath the bridge above to seek refuge until it passed.

How long we sat there I do not remember. We talked, we gazed out at the incredible view before us, and we talked some more. At one point, I looked over at him. He was smiling just slightly, focusing on something off in the distance. As I watched his quietly amused expression in awe, I remember thinking to myself, “This is what the rest of my life looks like. Wow.”

In a world so often driven by extraordinary moments and things, this moment was, by all considerations, ordinary. It was ordinary and, yet, I was wonderstruck. By the picturesque landscape of the mountains before us. By the light in his eyes as he surveyed it. By the curve of his lips as we spoke.

That moment under a bridge in the rain took place four years ago. As ordinary as it may seem, it was, to me, a moment of astonishment that still resonates within me as strongly today as it did that day. It feels like it just happened yesterday.

I have so many memories from a myriad of moments that have taken place during the 36 years that I have existed and that one will always be one of my favorites.

He is the love that taught me what real love is. He is the love that makes me wonder why I ever wasted my time on anyone else. He is the love that readers of Jane Austen hold out for. A Wentworth. A Mr. Darcy. A once in a lifetime kind of love.

Personal though it may be, this memory felt very much worth sharing with you tonight.

With hope that the day ahead of you is full of beautiful moments,

Quinn

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