Crunchy Cons and (Anti?-)Consumerist Posturing

Ok, so here’s a sincere question: If we spend more time acquiring goods locally and ethically, doesn’t this mean we are becoming more materialistic, not less? We are definitely thinking more about stuff and probably spending more money, to boot. This is a question that’s been bothering me on and off since AP Environmental Science in twelfth grade, and most especially since a Dorothy Day-inspired private lecture on distributism got me thinking about consumer ethics again in a special way.

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Commonplace Book, 50

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

We celebrated Pippin’s feast day with the Feast of St Peregrine this week. He chose breaded fish, barbecue chips, cherry tomatoes, homemade ciabatta and cinnamon rolls he helped me make. He was over the moon. Kids are so easy sometimes.

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A Literary Love of Flowers

photo via

So, I think one of the perks, if not one of the outright goals, of educating little kids yourself at home is that you get to choose what to stuff into their little brains. Maybe that sounds nefarious, but aren’t the early years mostly just about learning how to learn, and learning to love learning? That’s why I used a saint-based curriculum this year for Police Preschool and it’s why as the school year winds down we are focusing on nature and birds and most of all, flowers.

Because maybe someday Pippin will be a police officer and Scout will be something totally depressing, like a dentist, but they’ll keep these memories of the difference between a dandelion and a daffodil and the way robins dance beside the turned-up garden soil and how grape hyacinth smells like Concord grapes (and maybe a fact or two about St Thérèse, too).

And on our quest, there are plenty of books to light this love of flowers.

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Commonplace Book, 49

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

In the garden, our arugula is getting started under an old window screen to keep out the [REDACTED] neighborhood cats who like to poop in the container garden. I’m counting down the days till our inherited peony blooms and the kids and I have put in marigolds, petunias, more peonies — and some gladiolus and dahlia bulbs that are almost certainly dead. (I got them last year for Mother’s Day but was too morning sick to get ’em in the ground.)

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Dear College Student

A few years ago, I was walking on a New England college campus in spring and came upon a cherry tree in blossom which, upon closer examination, was decked out in tiny paper cranes. It was striking for its senselessness and beauty, two characteristics closely associated, in my mind at least, with college.

Now, as I drive through a college campus on a cold Tuesday morning in spring, I’m confronted by students who seem hardly present, just going through the motions. These students slump along, eyes on their phones, carelessly decked out in workout wear, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings.

And let me tell you: college is for many things, but most of all, college is for caring. Read More »

Guest Rooms

It’s been another too-long stretch since we headed back to our panhandle origins and I’m feeling the ache this April as the snow just keep seeping in whenever we think we are solidly into springtime.

While I was grateful to avoid the arduous trip down to Florida while pregnant or with a newborn, life doesn’t stop for morning sickness and aching backs, and I’ve got a whole crop of new babies to meet when we head down in a few weeks.

This will be our first time not staying at our childhood homes when we travel back, but I think with the birth of Elizabeth we’ve finally outgrown our parents’ houses. It’s a bittersweet point: we will have more privacy and better sleep when we aren’t sardined into the houses that saw our teenage years, but it’s tempting to feel a little exiled.Read More »

Breaking Up with Facebook

I got my Facebook account in 2005. What this means is I have never been a grownup without Facebook, save the occasional stretch of a couple weeks at a time at Lent or in Uganda with limited internet access. Some good things have come out of it: renewing and deepening friendships when geography or life stage brings us into proximity, selling my kids’ old stuff to only semi-strangers, having a rich and mildly embarrassing collection of internet-hosted photos from the last 13 years at my fingertips at all times.

But mostly I waste a lot of time.

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Embracing Limitations in Home Decor

It’s easy, with Instagram and Pinterest and the rest, to see your home (and basically everything else) as a blank canvas. Who are you? How can you make your home express the best possible you?

These are not stupid questions, to a point. While I think there are more pressing areas to direct most of our time and effort, beauty is important, and cultivating coziness takes deliberate effort. The problem with the questions, I think, is their premise that your home is a blank canvas reflective of you.

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Commonplace Book, 48

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

grocery score / messy floor
  • Hit me with your favorite egg dishes, please. We’ve been lucky enough to be getting local eggs delivered to our house each Friday by a family at church, but this Easter week I supplemented with this incredible deal at our local closeout grocery and now we have eggs out our ears. It’s obvious if you think about it that around Easter there would be a slump in the sales of brown eggs, and I was pleased to get high quality eggs so affordably.

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Consumerist Shortcuts

Haven’t we all been there? We decide to get fit and get bogged down somewhere along the line, choosing a fitness plan, reading Amazon reviews of medicine balls, finding space in the spare room for the stationary bike, and we never really get started. Or this is going to be the year we are going to grow a real vegetable garden, so we get all the catalogs and three books from the library, or even order a dozen seed packets, but nothing ever really gets off the ground, much less in the ground.Read More »