Big news!

I was able to contribute a guest post on design*sponge all about my favorite spring flowers this afternoon.  So if you love me (and please say you do), nothing in the whole wide world would make me happier than if you went to read it. Lots more photos, tips and general amy blather can be found on the post right here.

The best thing about winter

I have finally reached that itchy, antsy stage of January. Stage three terminal January. I fled to the brooklyn botanic garden for the afternoon as I am wont to do when the going gets tough and stumbled upon spring, centrally located in one unassuming bonsai.

Just looking at the little pink plum blossoms I could feel my whole body sigh. Thank god. Remember how I recently said all of the charming things I liked about winter? Rosy cheeks the color of spring's first plum blossom and all that?

Well, I have just remembered my absolute favorite part about winter.  It ends.

To know her is to love her.

This past Wednesday was my mom's birthday. She turned somewhere between 55 and divine perfection. I drove the 4 hours home to Maryland to surprise her and we had a nice, quiet few days. There was a fancy dinner, some sofa snuggling, ice cream and an incident with her birthday candle being blown out in an untimely manner. She got a do-over.

Mama Merrick is really the heart of our family. She smiles at strangers and pats puppies. She's honest, reflective and aware. She's compassion personified. She hugs with reckless abandon. I dug up this old photo of her riding bareback with my sister and I think it really says it all.

New Hampshire

There are things that I love about winter. Hard to remember them when you're shivering with misery and cold while cursing the day you were born, but yes, they're there even still.

Most lovely of all are bare trees. Branches that are normally laden with leaves become completely visible and I'm always struck by their skeletons. Better still is the ability to locate every bird's nest in the tree. Snow is nice, too, as are woolly hats and frosty windows. Pink cheeks are universally flattering and even pink noses turn cute in the cold. A little whiskey works wonders.

To remind ourselves of these universal truths, we went to New Hampshire where winter is a religion. Live, freeze or die. We bunked, fancy style, at the local inn and tromped around in the snow until we lost track of where we had left our fingers and toes. We visited our family's summer house which was very much living up to it's name. Not a lick of insulation and proper heat made it colder inside than out. We cozied up in the car, cranking first the heat and second the volume. Off went the wet clothes. On went the slippers. And then our cheeks tingled as we drove back down south again.


Three facts are deeply ingrained in my conscience right now. #1. Today is January 16th. #2. January 16th is squarely planted in winter, not spring. #3. Spring is decidedly less snowy and bitingly cold.

But by some miracle of science and nature, my body has been fooled into thinking otherwise by the intoxicatingly sweet smell of paperwhites. Earlier in the week, I bought some spring flowers at the market to give to a dear friend and the leftovers have made me loose all sense of time and place.

I took lots of photos of the multitude of miniature arrangements we made, but even more beautiful was the wild mess we were left with when it was all said and done. There is something totally decadent about doing a photo shoot in your house. A sense of urgency. Wilted flowers find their way to the floor with stems and leaves and bits of fabric. When will the light change? What little thing would be perfect to sit next to the vase? Quick, heat up the iron to get out that distracting wrinkle in the fabric. Ahh! Where did I put my clippers in this flower squalor?

As the sun sets, the urgency reaches fever pitch. The shutter clicks continuously, hoping for one last shot and then poof! No more. You sit on the bed and offload, overwhelmed. Then you look up at scene of the crime and remember to snap one more because the mess is just about as pretty as a picture.

Chocolate cake

Yesterday was a snow day. A celebratory snow day, even if our Big New York Blizzard petered out into only delicious swirls the night before night and a bright, sunny morning. No work was done. No emails were sent. No worrying happened except over which way to best avoid responsibility. We went the flourless chocolate cake route.

The cause for celebration was two-fold. First, Micha arrived safe and soundly after a harrowing 8 hour trip in the swirls at 3am. Second, an article I wrote was, for a brief shimmering moment in time, on the Yahoo homepage complete with a big photo. Above a news piece about Sarah Palin. True fact.

We talked and sipped and schemed. We had our cake and yes, we ate it too. I was really happy that the article I had originally written for my friends at Bundle was picked up first by CNNmoney and then by Yahoo. Wow. Just wow. My inbox is in a state of shock and so am I. You guys are the best.

My biggest hope for this next year is pretty small. Nothing radical, just to feel the beautiful or sad or exhilarating a bit more clearly. It's easy to sweep past, on the the next, up and at 'em and moving right along through both the good and bad. I practiced yesterday and let me tell you, cake has never tasted so sweet.

*Side note- Tired of checking back frequently only to find I haven't posted? I've added an email subscription form to the sidebar so you can sign up to receive updates in your mailbox whenever I get my act together enough to write something for you.

Happy New Year

I'm not sure if I can describe how happy I am to say goodbye to 2010. Not because it was awful, on the contrary. I am a sucker for a fresh start, clean slate and new beginnings. It was a busy year and I think I did okay for myself.

I almost burned down my house. I didn't tame my cats. I made my first bridal bouquet. I saw flowers in my sleep.

parent's wedding

I worked on 40 different weddings. I dated a nice boy for a while. I relished living alone. My heart fluttered once or twice.

I was really hurt by someone I respected. I drowned my sorrows in quilts. I moved on and came out all the wiser.

I tried to take the high road. I talked to my sister late at night. I woke up early and had coffee with my mom. I memorized my favorite pie dough recipe.

I learned the hard way. I forgot to close my windows during thunderstorms. I got burned out and I had breakdowns.

I screamed and stamped and sobbed in anger. I wore out my favorite jeans. I kissed kittens to make everything better.

I wore floral dresses. I focused on my own thing. I made some really great friends. I fell hard for lily of the valley.

me and micha

I rubbed rose petals on my face. I didn't get a sunburn. I stopped hiding from the camera. I daydreamed about Elmwood.

I listened to Leonard Cohen on repeat. I switched him out for Neil Young.

I traveled Europe with my sister. I ate more cheese than is reasonable. I felt small, but in a good way.

I killed my fair share of plants. I got a fly fishing lesson from my father. I saw a pair of foxes on the beach. I received surprise acts of kindness from people I admire.

I was inspired. I took classes. I took day trips. I sat in bed for days and felt miserable. I felt miserable for feeling miserable about myself.

grandpa's jag

I missed my grandfather. I went on hikes alone. I had a stellar Moroccan dinner. I wore mens shirts and highwaisted shorts. I channeled Annie Hall and Ali MacGraw as best I could.

I splurged. I saved. I bought things I didn't need. I got rid of a lot of stuff. I never kept my house as clean as I would have liked. I dumped the extra stuff in my closet when people came over.

I didn't make my bed. I took naps in the sun. I was humbled. I got really excited thinking about the things that are in store for this coming year.

Most of all, I woke day after day and was grateful to have my family, my friends and you by my side.