Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Treasures in a Trunk

I recently posted about a collection of books that I just purchased from an estate sale. We have unloaded the massive amount of books but much to my chagrin, there is no time right now to do the books justice. By that I mean that these books are meant to be perused curled up in a comfy chair, piles upon piles stacked to my side, as I go through them cover to cover to find all the treasures tucked in between their pages. No, I am not speaking of dollar bills but of mementos of the past, funeral cards, pressed flowers, newspaper clippings, letters, photos and the likes. These items give you a peek into the life of the books' owner. They obviously had enough meaning to be placed amongst the pages of the book to be saved for future perusal. Perhaps this winter there will be time to engage in such a pleasurable task when the pace is a little slower and I just might be able to loose myself for an afternoon or two.

For right now, sorting through the trunks that I acquired at the same sale will have to suffice! I can pick one out as time allows, sort through its contents gingerly, for some have been in an attic for close to a hundred years and then carefully clean the trunks and their contents. This afternoon, after working in the barn where I had been jump starting the Christmas season, I grabbed a trunk and began that process.    The trunk that I chose today was one that upon initially opening, I saw that it contained some Halloween goodies. The mice left me some perfectly intact decorations that really look quite frightening  but very much like the reproduction ones I have seen of today.

 The majority of the trunk was filled with several children's costumes. Most of the costumes need some TLC but they are nothing like the nylon ones of todays packaged numbers from the Halloween store. Constructed like they were made to be worn everyday, they obviously had been tucked away to be saved for another season. 

Tucked underneath the costumes with all of the contents spilled about was a board game copyrighted in 1898.    .
The players pieces are made out of wood and the die are the tiniest little things I have ever seen. There was the card game PIT which my kids still play today and a cardboard box entitled PLAY CLOTHES. Folded up inside was an army outfit or police officer costume that looked like it had never been worn.

The most fascinating bundle in the whole trunk though, was a paper wrapped parcel of torn out magazine pages from all the fashionable publications from the time period of the dated pages...1921.  Ladies Home Journal, Harper's Bazaar and of course Vogue. I am not aware of who the owner of this trunk is but I sure know much about her from the tear sheets she left in a trunk over the course of a year in 1921. I know that she must have been quite fashionable for there are pages of what look to be the latest fashions. I know that she loved photos and artistic renderings of all aspects of family life. She saved many a short story and poem that were printed upon the pages of the aforementioned magazines. She clipped advertisements on beauty products and home care items. She had many a selection on decor of the day and design of a "good home" as one article was entitled. 

She definitely was drawn to photos of women in peaceful and tranquil settings.

Children were also a common thread as well as Norman Rockwell scenes and Vogue illustrations.

ALL of it could have been applicable today...the themes of a woman's life...past and present...bound inextricably together through the years. Yes, the gentility and social graces that were apparent in these pages are mostly absent from today's publications which is a sad commentary but the subject matter is much the same. (Except for the one article on how the Chicago Public school system had just installed water closets in all schools so that the children could wash their hands at school and thus increase the children's learning.)  I certainly got lost in this activity and could have read these pages of the past for hours but pick ups and Target would not wait. In my fairly quick inventory, I was struck with the similarity of how my files look much like this mystery woman's "file" of images. I often get flack for my files and my torn out magazine pages. Yes, I am aware of a thing called Pin-terest that is all the rage these days and I even have an account but use it way to infrequently. I am such a kinesthetic visual that I cannot "tear" myself away from my old habits. Maybe someone will find my files almost one hundred years from now and wonder at the life that I lived... as I have today. 

Inspiration comes in many forms~

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

I know that I signed off in my last post as, until my canning experience, or something akin to that. Well, my canning is not looking so good, since I seem to be finding treasures left and right that I just cannot refuse but are causing me to stay out of the kitchen. I am so excited to bring those treasures to you at our next sale in November but for right now, it is all about dinner and the lack there of, if some thought is not put into it. I just made my go to recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup when Shane came home for his Fall break this past week. It is one of my family's favorites and so incredibly simple that I have to share it with you. I am fully aware that with the busy schedules of the kids after school with sports and activities paired with homework and showers ( for me that is... who finally might get one) dinner can often be problematic. Here is one recipe that if thrown in the crock pot in the am, it will delight in the pm. Unless you have a child who has sensory issues and asks, "What smells so bad in the kitchen?" Give him a clothespin for his nose and feed him rice.


1 pound shredded cooked chicken ( I boil the chicken in a pot of water first and then shred it or saute chicken breasts in a saute pan with a little olive oil and then cut up.)
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed or canned diced tomatoes
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cups water
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth (I use low sodium)
1 tsp each cumin, chili powder and salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
1 Tbls chopped cilantro

 *7 corn tortillas (optional)
   vegetable oil

Assorted toppings of choice such as cheddar cheese, salsa, avocados, sour cream and rice

I double all of the ingredients to make a large pot to feed a family of 7 and have a little for the next day.


Place all ingredients except for tortillas and oil in a slow cooker and stir. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. I sometimes leave it on for longer and the longer it cooks the better the flavors meld. It is even better the next day!

 * Before serving, Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10-15 mins. To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup and any toppings that you would like. I lay them all out in bowls and it is a help yourself affair.
If you have little time before serving or if you have a child who has sensory issues and cannot eat spicy things, cook up a batch of whole grain rice and serve a scoop of that in each bowl and a plain bowl of rice to the sensitive child.

This recipe makes a hearty meal for a chilly fall or cold winter night. Serve with a side salad and rice and it is quite filling!

Enjoy, and let me know what you think should you try it!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Summer's Last Vestige

It truly was a magnificent Fall day today. One could not help themselves to the call of the outside given by the crystal clear blue of the sky and the crispness of the air. With the forecast of a possible freeze warning tonight, I made way to the vegetable garden to gather some of the last of the harvest still clinging to their life giving vines.

I picked enough tomatoes to hopefully can some salsa this week and some peppers to make pepper jelly. If my goal is achieved, I will certainly pass on the recipes if they are a hit! I love to give homemade gifts from the kitchen at Christmastime. There have been years that my cup has runneth over in that department and years where I never found the time to fill that measuring cup! This year...

I picked lots of herbs and just found a recipe for herb oils that you freeze in order to preserve the taste of the freshly grown herb over the winter. Rosemary, thyme, dill, sage, oregano and mint, my hands wore the scent of all for the remainder of the day. I will be sure to post a blog about what I do with this harvest in the very near future.

There was one large patch of color left in the vegetable garden and that was of the nasturtiums. They are growing wild so I had to pick some of their autumn hued flowers to bring some fall indoors.

In other areas of the yard, as I walked back to the house with my load, pops of color beckoned me to them. Upon viewing them, if not for the crispness in the air, it certainly looked like the summer months. The flowers seemed to be screaming with their final display of color as if to say, breathe me in one last time before I fade into the grey and colorless landscape of winter. They were putting on a show almost as if they know their days are limited.

Sure the mums are still in bloom and the asters, the proverbial signs of fall but these are the species of the warm summer months.

Even the lavender was showing a few bursts of a last hurrah.

The garden will soon be put to bed for the winter months. The garden and patio sets will be housed in the barn for the cold months. Sure enough though, they will all be brought back after their winter slumber to give us great pleasure...yet again.

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting
and autumn a mosaic of them all. 
-   Stanley Horowitz

Until the canning projects have come to fruition~

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Zumba Under the Stars

I am sure that you are wondering what the heck is Zumba Under the Stars? Most of you who have come to our Preview Parties before are probably saying, "No way that any stars will be seen that night since there is usually a deluge on the night of the Life's Patina Preview Parties!" Tsk, tsk...such negativity...We have been kind to mother nature and we seem to have won her over since the last two events we have held at the barn have had delightful weather. We are ecstatic that the weather again looks promising for this Friday's Zumba Under the Stars with Dr. B., otherwise known as Bhavana Shymalan. She has garnered an impressive list of accolades in the Zumba world and rumor has it, she teaches an amazing class! She will be with us this Friday evening, October 17th to lead us through an energy filled Girls Night Out Under the Stars to benefit Philadelphia Public Schools. Bhavana and her husband M. Night, have been vocal advocates of reform in education. 

We at Life's Patina are honored to be hosting this event. The spearhead behind it all is Bonnie Koss, a dynamic women herself, who likes to impart change in the FUNdraising events that she has put together and led in the past few years. She is a dynamo of good will and her energy and her positive spin on life are apparent when you meet her. She has put this event together as a successor to last year's that we held in the barn where two van loads of school supplies were collected and then donated to Philadelphia Public Schools. 

All you have to do to attend is to clear your schedule, show up at the barn at Life's Patina at Willowbrook Farm at 6:00 pm with school supplies, $15 to cover dinner,  and your dancing shoes (in this case make them gym shoes) so that you can join in on a fabulous night of camaraderie and fun to make a difference! If you would like, it is a BYOB event so feel free to bring the bevy of your choice. Water and non alcoholic beverages will be provided. Of course, being that it is at Life's Patina, shopping will be involved if you so desire. It will be your last chance to peruse our Fall displays and decor before we break down to get ready for the Holiday season and as always, we will be donating a portion of our proceeds to Philadelphia Public Schools and the purchase of desperately needed basic school supplies and books.

On a side note, I think it should be called Zumba in Front of a Mirror. I love to go the gym when time allows, for while I am physically active with a lot of heavy lifting, sanding and the likes, there is nothing like being in a room full of women working out together...except if it is a Zumba class. If you are an avid Zumba goer, you go girl for you will rock it! If you are not, please do not let that deter you. I have taken only one Zumba class in my life, probably because I was not in one led by Dr. B, and I came out of that class with a huge smile on my face. Not knowing the moves, I certainly felt like I had two left feet. Considering that it was done whilst looking at myself in a mirror, I could do nothing but laugh as the image in front of me was going in the wrong direction of the other images and my hips were certainly not moving in the direction that they should have been. If you are taking yourself wayyyy to seriously and are a novice, come out and break that habit!

For more information and to let the organizer know you are coming for an accurate count click on the following link -

Zumba Under the Stars - Facebook Event Page!

See you on Friday night the 17th!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gathering on a Beautiful Fall Day

I am crazy about themes! 
We just completed our second event of the Fall season that celebrated the theme that is prevalent in all of our happenings here in the barn this Fall. For each Barn Sale and Preview party that we hold, we benefit a local charity or charitable organization. We try to pick the organization so that it fits into the theme of a sale or sometimes we are inspired by an organization and chose the theme based on it. This season is no different and our theme is Education. In this area of Pennsylvania that we live in, we are so very fortunate to have the services of wonderfully staffed and supported public school systems. We also have the choice of some of the top private schools in the country in our back yard as well as a variety of schools that cater to a wide variety of denominations and beliefs. "The world is your oyster," so to speak, as far as education goes. Yet, for many children in our area their school experiences are vastly different.  Our Fall season launched with a fabulous preview party that benefited Chester County Futures which is a poverty prevention program that provides academic, mentoring and scholarship support for motivated, disadvantaged Chester County youth. Their goal is to provide their students with college readiness and life skills needed to be self sufficient and to prosper. We enjoyed learning more about the organization and its successes at the preview party and our attendees had first dibs on some of our one of kind pieces that seem to be the most coveted.

We attached the base of two corbels to an old copper trough. Wouldn't this make a cool beverage holder for wine bottles? It now will for a lucky lady who took it home.

We hosted our second event having to do with education here in the barn today on the loveliest of days. This was a private event given by the Cristo Rey High School in Philadelphia and a group of women who are spearheading an "angel" campaign to supply the students at this school with all of the "extras" that we so take for granted every day...a hot breakfast, tutors, school uniforms, books, etc. I wonder if the angels had anything to do with the beautiful weather?

Watercolor by Artist Cheryl Decker Sauder
The attendees enjoyed a deliciously prepared luncheon,

With the school's color of blue punched throughout the decor

and of course...books!

The weather could not have been any more beautiful and it allowed the luncheon to be held out in the barn courtyard.

I picked everything that was appealing in the garden to assemble the flower arrangements to reflect Fall and to coordinate with the blue.

Nasturtium, purple sage, dill fronds, lemon basil, mint, yarrow and hydrangeas all worked very well together to make sweet little groupings in my blue and white tea cups.

Cabbages in an open vintage suitcase, which happened to have a blue liner, made wonderful decor for  the buffet table.

Loriane, our favorite caterer treated us to her delicious Rosemary Shortbread Cookies which are heavenly and addictive. She sells them by the box at our sales and will have plenty of them for Holiday treats at our next sale.

All in all, it was a beautiful day with a beautiful outcome of supporting another group of people making a difference in the education of our youth.

Our third and final event for our Fall season will be
Zumba Under the Stars 
with Dr. B who is a dynamic Zumba instructor who happens to be M. Night Shyamalan's wife. It too will benefit education and a cause near and dear to Dr. B, Philadelphia Public Schools. This event will be held in the barn courtyard (all of the tables have already been moved out to make room) on October 17th beginning at 6 pm. More information can be found on our Facebook page and website as of tomorrow. No rest for the weary and we are on a roll! Come join us for a last glance at the barn in all of its Fall splendor before we roll in the Holiday season with our Holiday Sale in November. 

                                                                                     Nelson Mandela
Each and every little step we take adds up to a world of difference~

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Brave Girls Camp ~ Part 2

I left off stating in my last post that I wanted to share my journey home with all of you. That I do, so here goes. I might make some references that are from my first post so if you have not read it yet, you might want to or you can just continue to think that I am not making much sense. Our last night as a brave girl was a bit somber. I think that all of us were sad to leave our new found friends and such an indulgent authentic environment. As with anything we are fully enjoying, who ever wants to leave? This ran a little deeper in that we were going back to many of the challenges that we talked about, in the morning light. How would we fare with our new brave girl status? We hugged as if we were leaving family members and we said heartfelt thank yous to Melody, Kathy and their staff. Let me tell you, they have the best job ever and they do it effortlessly and beautifully...even though we know how much effort is put into the depth and beauty of the week's events. I had a 5 am wake up call of which I dreaded the entire night. I am not a morning person...shocker. Night time is when my brain is on fire and that night was no different so having very little sleep, I hopped a cab, a little bleary eyed and reluctant to physically end my "walk" in Idaho.

I told you about my not so friendly seat mate on my way here in my earlier post. Well I was a little worried that this flight was going in the same direction when I got on the plane, glanced at my ticket and found my seat, as well as another young man sitting in the aisle seat. Looks like I would have to climb over his lap too! Should I say hello this time? Before I could, he jumped the gun and said, "Hi! I would politely stand up and let you in but I am paralyzed from the waist down." This greeting caused an in depth conversation for the remainder of the flight. This was a young man who was very open with sharing his tragic car accident at 18 years of age that caused his injury. That was three years ago. He told me of how he is trying to go back to college this fall, of the pleasure he takes in writing poetry, the struggles living alone in his apartment and his dream of being an inspirational speaker. Talk about being BRAVE...I told him that he should always shoot for his dreams and that his poetry was a gift...it is. I said to him that he should give it all he had and being that I have children his age, I revealed that 
I  was overwhelmed with emotion when he announced that he was paralyzed and how it happened. As we parted, I leaving first to catch my connecting flight, while he waited for assistance as the plane emptied to get him into his wheelchair, I left him with a parting thought, "I am so proud of all that you have accomplished Bryon Walker." (remember that name) He left me with a knife in the chest, "I wish my mom would tell me that she is proud of me." No this is not the latest installment of a reality TV show but a huge affirmation of a lesson we had learned this past week.

He obviously was...with a smack dab in the face set back and a sense of humor that made you laugh...a belly laugh.

Wow...I booked it to my connecting flight for we landed late and it truly was a sprint to get to the next plane. I boarded it and low and behold, another young man was to be my seat mate...again on the aisle. Were there no women traveling between Idaho and Philadelphia that liked aisle seats? I guess they were all on a plane to Iowa. 

I flopped into my seat and fervently wished that THIS young man would not want to speak. Was I capable of instituting a "don't talk to me bubble space?" Fatigue was starting to set in and after the weeks events and my emotional encounter, sleep was looking like a welcome friend. We both acknowledged each other and after some small talk, I promptly fell asleep against the window and thankfully not on his shoulder.

I woke up with my my face smashed up against the window, to this stunning view. I must have made quite an impression on Mr. young man.  I continued to drift in and out of wakefulness with thoughts of my past week fluctuating between taking in the changing landscape as we flew over it. As I slowly became more grounded in the present as I slowly woke up, I was amazed at the land that we were flying over and the changing terrain. From the arid deserts, to mountains of great height, fields of dry dusty brown and then verdant green. Rivers snaked through the vista and lakes sat still as if no motion was happening in them and they reflected the sun like glass. It struck me that the journey I was taking physically over the changing landscape was very synonymous with the journey of our lives. 
Sometimes the visibility of our path is fairly clear, there are few cloudy areas and everything is visible and out in the open.

Sometimes we cannot see anything, our path is unknown and we trust in others to show us the way.

Sometimes the path is twisted and there seems to be no straight or easy way to our goals.

Sometimes it seems like all we ever do is go in circles...ever have a day like that...or a week or two?

Sometimes life is set out like an orderly grid, everything makes sense...

sometimes it does not.

Sometimes life is verdant and green full of many blessings...

sometimes it is dry and barren, inhospitable in fact to living peacefully...especially for one's soul.

We will experience new unchartered territory as well as the everyday routine.

It is not always smooth sailing but...

even if the blessings are hidden and they are not always obvious. Keep plowing through, keep being inspired by the beauty and the little things and...

Do not settle for anything less...there are is only one chance at this great big existence so seize it, look at the positives, count your blessings, even the little ones, and 

So, as I silently took my snap shoots out of the plane's window periodically, I could feel the young man's eyes at my back. He at one point said, "First time on a plane?" I replied, "No, first time really seeing it from a different perspective." 
Thank you again Brave Girls Club.
As we launched into a conversation that lasted the rest of the flight based on the vision comment, a woman's voice came on the speaker announcing our location, the weather and all of those little details the "man" pilot usually gives you. She signed off with,  'over and out... Susan." How apropos that my flight home was captained by a woman pilot and my seat mates were open and sharing in their thoughts and lives. Funny how that was not the case on my trip out to the Brave Girl River Ranch...

What I did not realize upon signing up for this camp was that the fire would not only be reignited in my creativity...but in my soul. 

All artwork in both posts except for my journal entry and "Fabric of My Life" page were created by the uber talented Melody Ross of the Brave Girls Club.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Brave Girls Camp Part I

Thanks for the image Sheila!

What do these two words mean to you?
I started off this summer trying to figure this out, surrounded by art,

a beautifully peaceful vista,

 and a group of women with various backgrounds and different reasons for attending the Brave Girls Art Camp. 

Autumne Horan's photo.

I have ended this summer thankful that I pulled the plug and jumped over hurdles to make this adventure work into my life, for I have utilized much of what I took from my four day experience to be brave during a summer filled with transitions. I would like to share it with you in the hopes that you might be able to utilize some of what I learned.
For those of you who have not been in ear shot of me when I have launched into heralding the virtues of the Brave Girls Club, here is your quick Brave Girls Club 101 lesson. It is an uplifting online, inspirational and motivational "worldwide community of women, of every age, who want to live the best, happiest, most productive and fabulously brave life that they can possibly live...and that means something different to each and every one of us."

 That is the caveat...being brave means something different to the woman you are sitting next to on the train, to the one you are class mom with, to the one you share office space with, to the one you are in line next to at the grocery store, to the one you are cheering with at your child's sports game, to the one you are kneeling next to in church.  Each of us has a different path that has taken us to this stage in life...where our life is right now. We have our own set of individualized triumphs and trials that have influenced us and continue to do so on our path of where we would like to take this beautiful life whose beauty is often disguised by both these triumphs and trials.  What is not different about us, is that we are all beautiful souls who have often forgotten about what life was like for us when we were 8 years old...the fun, the joy of life, the dreams, the idea that we could do anything, be anything...we were unstoppable! Then life happens.
  Melody Ross and her sister Kathy Wilkins cofounded the Brave Girls Club  in 2009 and that is one of their messages that they like to make you think about. All of their messages are so true but they are said with such depth and eloquence that I do not feel that I can do them justice. I would like to speak to how they have affected my life but to find out more, do yourself a favor and check out their site www.bravegirlsclub.com
 Read the ABOUT part first, EACH and EVERY section of it and you will understand!

My obsession with Brave Girls Club started a few years back when I saw on my Face book feed one of their Daily Truth emails which felt was written just for me. It immediately made me look them up to find out more. Once I did, I was hooked. I signed up for their Daily Truth emails, entitled "A Little Bird Told Me" and you can too, once on their site. I sent these messages to women in my life who I felt needed them and shared them on my FB page. I went on their site and found out about their Brave Girls Camp. Almost four days of immersing myself in creative pursuits and art all based on feeding my soul???
SOLD! Well almost...I clicked on that link probably one hundred times over a three year period and the timing was never right. I had done that for another creative function that I had wanted to attend years back and it never happened and now, they no longer hold the event I had so badly wanted to attend. This time I pulled the trigger. Do you believe in things that sometime happen that look like a neon sign telling you that this was meant to be? 
I do.
That neon sign blinked at me in the form of my request to be put on the waiting list for the June 10th date only (my kids would have just ended school), being answered that they were adding two more spots. (It was sold out for the rest of 2014 and will start to fill up for 2015 shortly) I was desperately in need of "living" some of their messages and of restoring my "brave girl face!" I had to answer quickly before the spots were released to their almost 100,000 FB followers and to their who knows how many web followers. 
I booked it, credit card and all without even consulting my husband and family. To be embarrassingly honest with you, I apparently had the location of Idaho (the Brave Girls Club local) and Iowa confused, for after impulsively hitting Send on my registration, I looked at possible flights and was shocked to see flight times of seven and half to fourteen hours. Another small detail overlooked before I pulled the trigger. Another lesson I learned while there, backed up my impulsive decision. WE WILL ALWAYS FIND AN EXCUSE NOT TO... 

Now that I had ignored my excuses "not to," I made my way to the Brave River Ranch in Idaho, solo,  having no idea what I would find at the other end of my journey. Looking back on my travels, I found it so apropos that my seat companion on the plane ride there was a young man, who looked to be a recent college graduate currently employed and heading somewhere on a business trip. That fact, in and of itself is not earth shattering. What is, is that we spoke not a word to each other on the four hour flight, except when I asked him if I could please sneak past him to use the restroom. To which he mumbled, "sure."Now let me give you a little background on why this was earth shattering. I am constantly teased by my family in that I always seem to get a person's life story whilst sitting next to them on a plane, or at the grocery store, or wherever we may be. They have been known to stand at the end of an exit ramp of a plane waiting patiently for me as I bring up the rear of the plane talking to my new found friend. They used to ask, "What took you so long?" Now they ask, "Where is he/ she from? What is their story?" as they shake their heads at me. With this young gentleman, there was a definite air and unapproachable bubble around him that said, "Do not speak, " when I said hello and then climbed over his lap to get to my seat  So I didn't, as I sweated profusely hoping against hope that I did not fall asleep and me being the bobble head, wake up sleeping on his shoulder. That might have really freaked him out. I will apologize now for having to read Part #2 to find out why that is so apropos. 

The few days spent at the Brave River Ranch were some of the deepest days that I have had in my lifetime. Spent with women from all walks and stages of life...mothers, widowers, company owners, art teachers, army sergeants (majors?), daughters, nannies and teachers;

 all looking to live life a little more deeply,

The truth whispers and never gives up

 a little more meaningful, 

Our art journals

a little more creatively

The fabulous ART BARN

 and just a tad bit braver for I think we already are pretty darn brave! 
We knew not what to expect but had been lured here by the promise of relishing in the creative genius of Melody, Kathy and her crew whilst immersing ourselves in art as they gently handled our souls as to help us expand our horizons as we came to the conclusion that:


We were pampered with scrumptious home cooked meals that we delightfully shared with each other around tables that were beautifully and personally decorated. (Seriously, was that not the best lemon ice cream and sugar cookie bowl ever?)

We were over the moon being surrounded by art supplies and the thrill of uninterrupted creativity for three days.

The scene as we arrived...

My "area" a little later!

We laughed, we cried, we shared, we twirled, we created, we talked late into the night with our new roomies, we walked, we talked some more, we sang, we drank Cool Aide, we got in touch with our eight year old selves and listened to what they had to say to our 80 year old selves, we were still and listened to what we had to say to ourselves, we were brutally honest...and we did this all with strangers...who at the end of the four days... became a band of sisters who will carry the Brave Girl message on with them that I think is the most important one...
We are all traveling through this thing called life together, let's try and make the road a little easier for each other.

So...as I finally write this after pages and pages of crossed out and edited text that I have written beginning on my airplane ride home, I realize why it took me so long to summarize my experience out West, not in the midwest as I had originally thought. There was so much that I took away from my time in Idaho, how was I to encapsulate it without writing a book? (My posts are already too long!) What kicked me in the butt to get this finished was the fact that it was my oldest son's twenty third Birthday today, and he is not here. He left last weekend to participate in a nine month wilderness, find out what makes you tick and run with it to find your future, executive function planning, independent living skills program for young men with ADHD and learning differences. He will be out in Wyoming for nine months and I already miss him dearly. He is my biggest challenge in life and my greatest reward at the same time. He is my right arm here at our little farm and my left arm when it comes to setting up for our barn sales. Yet, again, and all to close together, another one in our nest has flown off to find their path and the transition of life as it continues on without them, is an adjustment. One in which many of us have thought we yearned for... a quite house, peace in the bathroom...alone, at times in their rambunctious younger years. Then the thought, in their teenage years of, will we survive this? all thrown to the wayside when they are gone.  
Those strings are still attached on our end with worry being the thread. The Brave Girls Camp experience made me stronger in facing my fears for my children, helping me to let go of my control over everything, to let the chips fall where they may.  Things happen, life goes on, it is beautiful, it is grand, it is meant to be lived with ALL of our heart and soul.  

From the bottom of my heart, a sincere thank you to the brave girls who helped me to get to this place. You know who you are and your brave souls have been imprinted onto my heart as well as your stories. To the quiet guidance of Melody, Kathy, Patrice, D'wana and the rest of the Brave Girls staff, you are all amazing in bringing your gifts to the table to be shared by others. 
My apologies to those that are reading this that there is a part two to come tomorrow night...late. My flight home was a revelation in and of itself and that little neon light blinking, "this was meant to happen" was working overtime and I have to share. I cannot continue on now, for our youngest (one of our two left at home) came down with a fever and a bad cold today and it is time to tuck him in. 

As always, thank you for reading my musings about life. Writing is very cathartic for me and I am thankful to have a place to do so. I promise that after the next installment, I will get to lighter material for we are neck deep in preparation for the Fall Barn Sale and writing will have to be put on hold for a bit!