taking stock | november’s end

making // turkey sandwiches for dinner…to finish up all the yummy leftover.
cooking // yup. we’ve been doing a ton of that.
drinking // green kombucha + coconut water + coffee + white chocolate peppermint rooibos.
reading // she reads truth devotionals + tabletalk advent readings + shel silverstein.
wanting // some aspen cabin time.
looking // at wrapping paper.
playing // peekaboo.
wasting // hot water.
sewing // FIIIIIIINALLY working on some things. january is gonna be good…
wishing // that i could live on pastries and cookies.
enjoying // our evening family playtime.
waiting // for the dryer to finish.
liking // my fuzzy slippers.
loving // my community group.
hoping // that ridley starts some official crawling. he’s getting so frustrated with himself.
marveling // at the great blessing of my savior.
needing // a deep stretching sesh.
smelling // evergreen.
wearing // a chignon + pale pink lip + herringbone pants + an embellished gray sweater + metallic flats.
noticing // elinor’s sense of humor developing.
knowing // that God is my portion.
thinking // so much that it hurts.
feeling // full.
bookmarking // master’s programs.
opening // the windows.
giggling // at my hubby’s silly jokes.

past post here

and now, for a lovely little bonus. a veritable feast for the eyes…a pile of pictures from our family thanksgiving. i started the day with a quick “turkey trot” and then got down to business with my man in the kitchen. we hosted our family and provided the bird and stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy and cranberry chutney. and all of the amazing sides and beverages and desserts were divvied up amongst everyone else. we sure do have some talented folks in the family. my oh my. the veggies and sweet potatoes and fresh punch and my mum’s coleslaw and pie. mmmmm, pie.

it was such an over-the-top day. the parade. the dog show. football. family. food. fancy heirloom table settings and such. laughter. stories. little ones running-toddling-rolling around. everything as it should be.

and please excuse the noticeable lack of ridley photos. he seemed to be napping whenever i remembered to snap some pics. but, we are pretty darn thankful for him. and pretty darn thankful that he napped so well and allowed us to keep things cookin’ in the kitchen. next year, we will make sure to get a legit family photo AND a few of our boy digging into a hearty plate of food. perhaps he will gnaw on a turkey leg like his uncle nathan (see below).

enjoy the pics! i hope you had a WONDERFUL holiday weekend!

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here we are. less than a month out from christmas. i know i sound like a broken christmas record but, seriously. crazy, right? slow down, holiday season. i want to do this right…

for those long-time readers, you have probably heard of our 12 Dates of Christmas tradition. we even have an entire category dedicated to it on the blog along with a fancy-schmancy hashtag for social media purposes: #12datesofchristmas2015

we started the season a tad early just to make sure there were lots of open days on the calendar for celebration AND i will remind you that the christmas season doesn’t officially end until epiphany so we should have plenty of time to make merry. here’s what we have been up to so far…

 ····· on the first date of christmas ·····

attending the GLORIA concert at church

····· on the second date of christmas ·····

a festive family dinner at the farm

····· on the third date of christmas ·····

 sipping eggnog lattes and spinning bing crosby while we deck the halls and ben bakes beautiful boules

····· on the fourth date of christmas ·····

family movie night with popcorn

····· on the fifth date of christmas ·····

savoring crispy cookies + singing christmas carols

see? lots of festivities thus far. a perfect mix of family outings and relaxing home time and legit date nights sans little ones. i like a nice mix. i am all for a date-night-out and some hustle-and-bustle but sometimes, it is even sweeter to simply curl up as a couple and share a pint of ice cream or a bowl of popcorn while watching our favorite movies or playing a game. we crave and cherish these “down” moments.

here’s what we have lined up for the remainder of the season, in case you are interested…

watching love actually with some seasonal ice cream

present wrapping party while nibbling and noshing

annual cheese night

double date night at citizen public house

burger and shakes date…perhaps with a real-deal-movie-in-a-theater added in

cocoa and christmas movies with family

annual holiday party with friends

we will be “live gramming” all this goodness with the #12datesofchristmas2015 hashtag over on instagram. buuuut, i will of course share the fun on the blog, after the fact.

“fahoo fores, dahoo dores, welcome christmas, come this way!”


O My God,
You fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
My heart admires, adores, loves You,
For my little vessel is as full as it can be,
And I would pour out all that fullness before You in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with You
Ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
Ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
Ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
Crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless You for the soul You have created,
For adorning it, for sanctifying it,
Though it is fixed in barren soil;
For the body You have given me,
For preserving its strength and vigor,
For providing senses to enjoy delights,
For the ease and freedom of limbs,
For hands, eyes, ears that do Your bidding;
For Your royal bounty providing my daily support,
For a full table and overflowing cup,
For appetite, taste, sweetness,
For social joys of relatives and friends,
For ability to serve others,
For a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
For a mind to care for my fellow-men,
For opportunities of spreading happiness around,
For loved ones in the joys of heaven,
For my own expectation of seeing You clearly.
I love You above the powers of language to express,
For what You are to Your creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the peoples, proclaim that His name is exalted.

Isaiah 12:3b

during this year’s season of thanks, i have been trying to let my heart be guided by that verse.

taking time to remember the experiences of the past year, paying attention to what God’s providence has brought into my life. going month by month, and watching as God’s narrative unfolds.

taking special note of the watershed moments and the smaller formative times where emotional memory is stored.

taking time to trace these remembrances to the purposes of God. everything—the remarkable and mundane—has meaning. everything—the joyous and the difficult—has purpose.

and taking time to share God’s goodness with others. sharing experiences. sharing lessons learned. seeing the Lord’s provision and mighty hand moving, ordaining, shifting, arranging.

give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

and in that spirit…a walk down memory lane.

thanksgiving 2014

thanksgiving 2013

thanksgiving 2012

squares of life

left / morning essentials. one of my favorite daily reads + almond milk latte with clouds of foam.

right / when your man dances to christmas music and your boy falls to sleep in his arms.

left / she is exhausting but she is the very best. witty and wild and funny and sweet. and ridiculously smart. and beautiful. being her mama is a daily challenge and honor and delight.

right / chilly and overcast days have me craving some rich yumminess. sprouted whole grain fettuccine smothered in a hearty sauce of puréed roasted pumpkin + sweet potato + kabocha squash with lots of sage and warming spices. topped with chopped pepitas.

left / sharing elinor’s beloved “snuggles” during morning playtime. watching these two together brings such joy to my day.

right / mama & daughter ensembles.

left / all this seasonal running has been so good for my brain and spirit. my pace has been improving with every day and it finally got back to where i was before ridley. so, that gives me more time to get more miles in. and then, some quick yoga to make my hips feel happy plus some hamstring rolling because they are all kinds of tight. hurts so good.

right / reminders of God’s overflowing goodness and refreshment have been plentiful. amidst the storm clouds and tumult of this life, He rains down grace and mercy. He shows us signs for good – the kindness of strangers, the beauty of the arts, the laughter of a child, the generosity of friends, the love of family. life’s precious rainbows, His tender promises to us.

left / ending a delightfully restorative day with a family movie night. with prodigious bowls of popcorn.

right / coordinating our clothes. striped pants and pops of green. also, topknots. two for her and one for me.

left / reading time before ridley’s afternoon nap.

right / more soup for supper. and i couldn’t be more pleased about it. mirepoix + roasted tomatoes + sweet potatoes + chipotles all wazzed up then stirred together with a trio of white beans. finished with a drizzle of evoo and a dollop of cultured cream.

left / matchy-matchy chaussures.

right / blank pages just waiting for lists and checkboxes and schedules and plans. it’s getting serious, over here.

for even more squares of our life, make sure to follow @madameswanky and @monsieurdapper over in instagramland.



if you have some @freshlypicked on your christmas list then you will be pleased as festive punch to know that they are having a “black tuesday” sale TODAY and select styles will be 25% OFF with even bigger discounts on apparel!!!

if you want a preview of the styles that are included in the sale, head over here: http://freshlypicked.com/collections/black-tuesday-preview

so, make your list and check it twice.

set your alarm for 10am and grab your wallet…the sale of the year kicks off in just a few hours!


random thoughts with rachel


hello and welcome to random thoughts with rachel. a post that is all about a smattering of pictures and brainwaves and concepts and stories and such which neither relate to each other nor form a cohesive post…other than the fact that they are all from my life.

i guess you can say there is a lot happening around here. and there are too many activities and thoughts and images for me to share in a “one-post-per” manner (unless you want me to schedule out posts into 2016 which might be a bit too anachronistic).

you’ve been warned. buckle up, folks. get ready for some bunny trails and bouncing around.

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so last week, we took a trip to the farm at agritopia for some food truck goodness and sweater-scarf-jacket-wearing. the weather was cool. there were strands of twinkle lights. the sunset was like cotton candy. and uprooted kitchen was serving a vegan thanksgiving cheese crisp that i want to eat forever. oh, and trail mix cookies too! it was a perfect evening.


there has been major eggnog latte consumption going on over here. and open windows with piles of fuzzy blankets. and our #12DatesofChristmas tradition is in full swing. but, more on that later…


we have been doing a few things in the backyard and i keep thinking about the necessary pain of pruning. it seems like haphazard hacking, at times. but pruning is purposeful and good. sometimes it is removing lifeless branches to make room for new life. and sometimes, it is about the act cutting back healthy sections to promote increased growth. it isn’t always pretty, but pollarded trees yield more green and fruit.

hebrews 12:11 | no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

oh, and in a random conversation in the car moment last week (as we were talking about life stuff and stress and decisions and other such nonsense), i told ben, “okay, there’s grit. there’s pressure. now, where’s the pearl?” and ben has decided that if i ever write a bible study or motivational/inspirational/psychological book, the title must be: where’s the pearl?


ben has been making soup and bread for us on the weekend and it is my very favorite. i love that he loves to do that for us.

also, we are currently “aging” a boule of said bread for the thanksgiving stuffing. anyone else kind of freaking out that thanksgiving is THIS WEEK?

and in other news…i have been batting around the idea of pursuing my masters. at some point. maybe. i don’t know when or how. but, i have been thinking about it for quite some time. not sure of the field of study just yet or when everything will line up for it to happen…but, it is in my mind. i know it will be tough to do on top of everything else, but i also know that it will be so rewarding. i loved school. i loved college. i just love education. and i miss that stuff. it would be incredible to challenge myself in that way again. to expand my understanding and widen my knowledge base and add to my skill set. i dunno.

and perhaps, in another life, in a parallel universe where i have piles of time and cash lying around, i will then pursue my doctorate. we need another doctor in the family.


we have a family advent book (that i made back when i was a newlywed and all kinds of artsy-craftsy) that i put out every year and this year, i placed it on the side table next to our gilded skull. i think it looks nice there but ben seems to think it is a tad jarring to have a pretty festive christmas book next to a human skull. he asked if i meant to put it there or just didn’t notice the juxtaposition. i riposted that it serves as a nice reminder that the holy infant came to die. i think it’s a valid point, actually. but ben remains unconvinced that it is an appropriate vignette.

we had the most ridiculous series of unfortunate events / comedy of errors day on saturday. just one mess after another. i really think i might need to expand upon a recent theory of mine that “the devil’s in the dumb stuff”. he was really hitting us with all kinds of silly stuff on saturday. and by about the fourth thing, i just broke down in helpless laughter. and i think i actually uttered the words: get behind me, satan.

all i wanted to do was have a nice day. with lots of festive things and holly-jolly-ness as we put up the tree. but man, somebody (i am talking about you, satan) did not want that tree to go up. no joke. it was a full-blown spiritual battle.

i really wanted to complain. but really, they were the most absurd microcomplaints. petty, petulant kvetches about the quotidian. you know, spilled milk. (no seriously, that was one of the things). but these everyday vexations were not going to get the better of me. oh how i wanted to moan publicly about my trifling personal ordeals. but again, these are first-world problems. non problems, really. irritations that i did not want to allow to become the straw that broke this camel’s back nor prompt extemporaneous belly-aching.

so, in the end, i chose joy. and i am so glad that i did because we were rewarded with the sweetest evening together as a family. singing and dancing and gazing at the tree and playing with elinor’s nativity scene toy (and teaching ridley not to nibble on baby jesus…)

so, choose joy. it is worth it.