Blog a la Cart

Month: September, 2012

Mysteries, Yes

This coming Saturday morning we will be “Celebrating Courtland.” This is a ceremony that James and I crafted for Addison back when she was one. We were getting pressure from certain family members to hold a Christening for our first born, but given that neither James or myself are practicing Christians (in fact, I am an Atheist), we didn’t feel comfortable engaging in a ceremony that didn’t resonate for our family. Nor did we want to be disrespectful to those for whom that kind of ceremony holds great meaning.

People often gasp or react strongly when I drop the A word, as though that implies that I am some kind of soulless, meaningless, valueless jerk. It’s offensive. Just because I don’t believe in some kind of spiritual greater being does not mean that I don’t have faith. I have great faith in humanity. In the here and now. In the lived experience. In love. My faith is grounded in my time now, on this Earth. And I believe in making the most of this time. Love is an intangible that binds us all, and whether that takes the form of God is irrelevant. It’s about believing in something bigger than ourselves. And I do. Very much so.

*Whew. Explanatory rant over.*

In order to offer our second born a similar welcoming experience to our family and our world, we are gathering our parents, my sister, and Courtland’s fairy godparents together for another simple, personal ceremony at our home. Each person will offer words of welcome and celebration to Kaki, whether in the form of a prayer, a poem, a song, a book, or in their own words.

During Addison’s ceremony, I read “Someday” (and wept like a baby). If you are mother to a daughter, I challenge you to read this book and not get your ugly cry on. Also, I cannot recommend it enough. It’s an absolutely stunning portrait of parenthood.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to share with Courtland on Saturday and finally landed on a Mary Oliver poem, “Mysteries, Yes.”

It speaks to this notion of faith as something bigger, something more complex and mysterious, than ourselves. And it speaks to the kind of life and confidence I wish for my daughters.

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
”Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

The Home Ground // giveaway

I have been a long time fan of The Home Ground, a beautiful, sweet collection of jewelry from designer Brittany Noel Campbell. Kimmy and I posted about her work back in our Green Eyed Monster days, and I’ve kept up with her ever since. I’m thrilled to be able to offer you all a chance to win one of her pieces and scope out all these gorgeous images of her Coastal Collection. I adore how delicate and timeless each piece is, whether tossed over a tee with a pair of jeans or glammed up with a LBD. You can follow her chronicles of life as a jewelry maker residing in Michigan over at The Home Ground blog.

To enter to win a pair of earrings of your choosing from The Coastal Collection:

• visit The Home Ground and leave a warm and fuzzy comment for Brittany on her blog.

• then, come back here and leave a comment below telling me your favorite thing about the coast. I adore the peace and perspective that comes from gazing out at the seemingly endless horizon of ocean.

• for an extra chance to win…
‘like’ The Home Ground and Blog a la Cart on Facebook, then come back here and tell us you like us, you really like us! in the comments

 and one final chance to win…
subscribe to The Home Ground newsletter and Blog a la Cart, then come back here and let me know that you’re reading along in the comments.

Make sure you enter a valid email address in the email section of the comment box so I can contact you if you win! 
The winner will be chosen next Wednesday, September 26 at 12pm EST. Open worldwide. Total Value: Up to $60.


A Love Letter

Yesterday was a pretty neat day, as far as days go.

I started the morning in LA, at Fox Studios, watching a friend and fellow Eph dominate at life. I mean, seriously? 30 years old and writing, producing and running your own television show? That is boss.

We sat in director’s chairs, for real, and listened intently with headphones as take after take was shot of Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman acting the same 30 second scene. It was, in a word, CRAZY to see the behind the scenes. Jon’s show is 1600 Penn, coming out in January on NBC. It’s like West Wing meets Modern Family (in fact the director of the show is Jason Winer (the original Modern Family director) who was honestly so kind and genuinely enthusiastic and excited to be doing what he does. It was awesome to see that he defies all Hollywood stereotypes).

Jon left working for Obama as a speech writer exactly one year ago in the hopes of making it in Hollywood. It looks like he is on his way. It helps that he has plenty of insider knowledge from his time in the White House, and is stupidly smart and funny. Winning all around. I highly recommend that you tune in in January. And not just because I munched peanut M&M’s with Jenna Elfman in a faux Situation Room.

Also? Be sure that you’re following Jon on Twitter. Hysterical, especially in an election season.

Then I hoped on a plane and gazed at the Grand Canyon. I’d never seen her from the skies, and it was grand indeed.

I arrived back to the farm at 3 o’clock in the morning, exhausted, hungry, and itching to curl up in my own bed next to my sweet baby James. Upon walking in the door, I noticed a glow from one of the lights in the kitchen illuminating this:

I don’t know what is more endearing, the handpicked flowers from the garden, James’ crayon illustrated card or the ribbon wrapped spoon. God I love this man.

In the card, James informed me that the freezer was stocked with Ben and Jerry’s and the fridge had a bowl of pre-shredded cheese for nachos. Does he know me or what? I then opened the fridge to discover this:

And I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more in love with the person I’ve called my partner for over nine years than in that moment, over a silly bowl of cheese and smiley faces.

It’s good to be home.

Currently Gawking

Life with dogs courtesy of The Oatmeal. So accurate. So funny. So touching.

What is this moisture in my eyes? I swear a comic didn’t make me weep. Full post here.


It’s been a crazy trip and I am so grateful to be on my way back east. I’ve missed the girls like crazy. And James. And Ursa. And Hanna. And yes, even the chickens.

Los Angeles was limited to classes by day and dinners by night (I didn’t even get to take a peek at my beloved Pacifico! The shame!). I connected with some amazing west coast Ephs. And learned some kick ass photoshop and video skills thanks to Angela and Bri. Now I don’t have to spend so much of my budget hiring others to do what I learned in a crash course four days. Obviously, anything advanced I’ll leave to the pros, but at least I don’t need to use them for every single project or idea.

Besides being stupidly helpful and packed with many many skills, the classes were fun and tasty and beautiful. Winning all around. And I even made a new bloggy buddy, Marisa, over at New Dress a Day. She’s got big things going on over on her niche of the Interwebs. I highly recommend you take a gander. And she’s just too adorable, no?

Overall, two thumbs up! Fine holiday fun!

1. The most adorable teachers I’ll ever have, Angela and Bri
2. Where things went down. Warehouse style.
3. Ready to learn
4. Bri dropping some knowledge
5. Crazy tights. Madd video skillz.
6. Polka Dot Nation
7.  One ridiculously cool photo backdrop
8. Joy signing books. Saying HI.
9. My new jazz hands partner in crime, Marisa.

Around the Farm // 6

I’m posting from 30,000 feet, a’thank you Southwest Airlines. I’ll be on the west coast until next Tuesday, so James is holding down the fort at the farm, which I can only imagine with be a furry, feathered, flatulent-filled five days.

Also? This post brought to you by the letter “F” and my obsession with alliteration. (Courtland “Kaki” Cart, anyone?)

The highlight of this week came on Sunday, post-apple picking, during a fall shoe shopping mission for the preschooler. Addison is growing like a weed, and due to the drop in temperature, sending her to school in her summer sandals and water shoes was met with disapproving looks from fellow parents and teachers. Thus, the trip to Target, also known as “People Watching At Its Best” (or Worst, depends on how you approach the wave of humanity, spandex, cigarettes, teen parents, and kids hopped up on Coca Cola Classic that is the essence of our local Target).

I wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible, to avoid the feminist-induced rage and nervous tick that happens every time I pass the toy aisle, watch a parent flick his cigarette butt in his child’s direction, or observe a toddler consuming a bag of Cheetos the size of her person with sugary soda in hand…

And time out. Here is where I acknowledge that yes, I judge! I’m Judgey McJudgerton. One of many reasons I relish our isolated existence in rural Vermont and rarely venture out into public space (says she who has a Masters in, essentially, Public Sphere Theory, sigh). And also one of the many MANY reasons why it is so important to keep leaders like our current President in office, because lord only knows how bad it will get if Mitt’s at the helm. Do you think that there will even be an attempt to help educate and improve the lifestyle of the rural poor if that guy’s leading the “free world”? THINK AGAIN, FOLKS! Yes, it may not be perfect now, but it could be so so much worse. Think double or triple or quadruple or quintuple the number of families, teen families, with poor nutrition, poor health care, and limited access to the education and resources they need to have a fighting chance at turning things around for themselves and the next generation.

Whew. Wow. That is not at all what I intended to write about, and yet, it’s that time, my friends. I doubt it will be the last political outburst as November rapidly approaches.

On to the highlight of the week!

There we are, in the shoe aisle of Target, one pink converse kick on Sunny’s right foot and one black chuck on the left, and James and I decide to give her full agency. We’re going to let the kid choose her choice, and what does she choose? She chooses the black kicks over the pink.

Do you hear me, Universe? A three year old girl chose black instead of pink when given the option. Why? Because little girls interest in the color pink has ZERO to do with genetics and everything to do with social programming and cultural conditioning.


And here are pretty pictures from around the farm to cap off an unexpectedly firey post.

1. Still obsessed with our new lights in the kitchen. And oh those roses!
2.  Sisters at play
3. Flecks of color around the farm
4. Sunny has mastered hill rolling. An essential skill for one of her age.
5. Enjoying bouquets from the garden for as long as we can
6. Courtland, in her element. Perched precariously atop a piece of furniture, with the dog bowls by her side.
7. Sunny and her new Converse kicks. In black.

Style a la Cart // 3

For our apple picking escapades, I donned an oversized flannel shirt/dress that, as always, embraces my love of all things hobo. The perfect cozy hybrid garment that captures my style succinctly in one item. And, as is at the heart of any fall wardrobe, I layered the heck out of the look. It was a tad warmer than my overeager autumn ensemble suggested, so by the time we hit the orchard, I was down merely to leggings and this rocking scarf/necklace/shawl awesomeness. An item that the designer, SAAKO, refers to as the GOLA.

I need to break this bad boy in, properly stretch it out, in order to optimize its styling potential. But the season is still young… (and you’re so beautiful (because you can win one of these delights (or any item from SAAKO’s autumn/winter collection), too!)).  Details below.

Here’s how you can win an item of choice from SAAKO’s Autumn/Winter Collection. That’s right ANY item you choose:

• Check out SAAKO’s Autumn/Winter Collection

• leave a comment below telling me what your favorite design is from the collection

• for an extra chance to win…
‘like’ SAAKO and Blog a la Cart on Facebook, then come back here and tell us you like us, you really like us! in the comments

 and one final chance to win…
subscribe to SAAKO’s newsletter and Blog a la Cart‘s RSS feed, then come back here and let me know that you’re reading along in the comments.

Make sure you enter a valid email address in the email section of the comment box so I can contact you if you win! The winner will be chosen next Thursday, September 20 at 12pm EST. Open worldwide. Total Value: Up to $140.


**For more SAAKO styles visit

Apple Picking // 2012

It’s always bittersweet to bid adieu to summer. The fading light. The cooler air. The pangs of nostalgia. All signs that the hot, sticky days are behind us, and it’s time to pull out the flannel and wool.

The upside, of course, is that no one does autumn better than New England. It’s the season of seasons in Vermont, and positively my favorite time to live where we do. I feel giddy opening my trunk of sweaters, dusting off my array of boots, and surveying my pile of scarves and hats. This weekend, we retired our summer cotton and swaddled our mattresses in German flannel and colors of gold and orange and muted blue. We spent Sunday evening wrapped in the security of down, with falling temperatures on our breath.

I delight in the simple pleasure of spending my lunch break sitting in the sun, soaking up that golden light, without a drop of sweat on my brow, the cool breeze mediated by wool or cashmere. And don’t get me started on the gallons of fresh cider stocked in the grocery store and the sickeningly sweet comfort that comes from a warmed mug, spiced and steaming.

We took our yearly trip to our favorite apple orchard, and overzealously filled a half bushel with that crispy, sweet fruit. We’ve already consumed two apple pies, made vats of fresh apple sauce, and even tested a Bacon Apple Stuffing that, just, yes. Here’s to September!

Hello. I’m Ash.

On Thursday I’m headed to California for a number of work meetings and then a video and photoshop class. While most of my time will be focused on my 9-5 employment, I am getting a chance to do a little networking for ye ol’blog, too. I have Tessa of Saint John Street Press (and fellow Eph) to thank for giving me a simple, professional edge when I do!

Thanks, Tessa!

I purchased these blank business cards in a variety of colors and will share my rainbow spread of stamped cards in the coming weeks.

Also? How great would it be to create a custom return address stamp? I’m thinking that Cartwheel Farm needs one, pronto. More of Tessa’s beautiful work here.

A day you can never forget.

The man who officiated our wedding wrote these words eleven years ago. I went back into the archives of our college newspaper this morning and re-read them. And I was grateful for the peace and wisdom that they still provide. Just as I am forever grateful that I was here, at Williams, on that terrible Tuesday morning eleven years ago today.

Full piece here.