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February Practice and Process: “Balm”

(image is from a Chinese cloisonné painting factory we visited in China 2008)

In creating our new project, Bellwether (an art series and album due winter 2016) we’ve decided to share what we’re doing each month before it’s released.
We’re calling these posts “practice and process“.

They will detail the spiritual/life practice we’re doing,
give a look at our in-process art that we’re creating in response,
and then include a whole host of resources and activities! (like the new desktop wallpaper, book/music/movie lists, recipes, explorations for kids, etc. This is so as a entire family we can engage in this year’s exploration of “belief” we’re calling Bellwether. 

FEBRUARY Theme: BALM

February is in the heart of winter, close to the edge of a hope for spring. And with Valentine’s Day sitting in the month we’ve often treated February as a time to put into words the way we feel about the ones we deeply love. It’s a way to warm up the cold. We’ve chosen our theme of “balm” with some of these lines drawn.

Practice:

The very definition of balm is “something that has a comforting, soothing, or restorative effect.”

This month we are

  1. exploring what service looks like for our family. We want to start being restorative in an intentional way. For us that looks like partnering with a local charity called “Turn Around Bikes”. They restore donated bikes and give them to people in need. Honestly, since having children we’ve had a hard time being consistent and feeling effective when it comes to giving of ourselves in this kind of way. We’re open to getting better at service. Furthermore, it’s our hope to instill a great sense of compassion in our children. This is at least a first step.
  2. For our second spiritual/life practice we’re setting up a table altar like we did last month. This time before dinner we’ll be praying for people in need of “balm” or some extra love and care. Then on Mondays we’ll be writing and mailing postcards, sending that love out in words.

Here is a really cool free printable postcard designed by our friend Kyle Steed, if you’re needing a great design:

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Process:

Tim is working on recording a song called “There is a Balm in Gilead” this month while I’m gathering ideas and paper tidbits for the overall series.

Resources for “Balm”:

FEBRUARY Dates to Take Note of:

February 7th – Superbowl 50 (with the *ahem*, Denver Broncos! Bake these, I promise you won’t regret it.)
February 8th – Chinese New Year (year of the monkey!) – We love to celebrate by ordering Chinese takeout and reliving our China trip 🙂
February 9th – Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday – we love to listen to this sweet mix curated by Starbucks
February 10th – Ash Wednesday
February 14th – Valentine’s Day
February 15th – President’s Day
February 17th –  Random Acts of Kindness Day
February 28th – The Oscars

Local: Greeley, CO events:

February 5th (and up through the end of the month) – Soundscape a group art show at the Atlas Theater that pairs music and art (right up our alley don’t you think?)
Soundscape Art Poster
February 27th – Tim and Charla are opening for the lead singer of Everclear at the MOXI theater!
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Let me know if you have other fun Greeley events I should add to this calendar!

EXPLORATIONS:

Here in Greeley, CO we have had just buckets and buckets of snow. We haven’t seen the ground since December 1st. I don’t even remember what it looks like. During winters like this, I think the best possible plan of action is to find a warm tropical greenhouse to visit. Usually we make a trip to the Butterfly pavilion. This year, I am thinking we are going to visit the Orchid Showcase (Jan. 8-Feb 22) at the Denver Botanical Gardens.
Chihuly Glass at Denver Botanic Garden5

Participate in Turnaround bikes workshops this month and other service related activities.

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Make a visit to the Cranford Cove to get a new selection of looseleaf teas to enjoy this month.

Speaking of tea, the girls and I are planning a lovely Valentine’s tea party with lots of tiny delicacies, fancy china, and, of course, hats and dresses.
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ART:

Spend some time digging into Picasso’s works and share with the girls.
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Their are some really fun art activities in this book.
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Make all sorts of homemade valentines

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READING lists:

Here are some of the kid’s books I have on reserve at the library this month. I was looking for books that deal with Compassion. I would love to hear your recommendations if you have any.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, The Invisible Boy by Patrice Barton, The Lion and the Mouse,  and A Sick Day for Amos Mcgee

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I am also reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane out loud to Lucy. It is an absolute favorite of ours. The themes are nested in kindness and compassion and the journey of self-discovery. It’s a good one for adults too.
edward-tulane

Mary Oliver poetry books – these are ABSOLUTELY balm to my soul.
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As a little personal “balm” against the dreariness of February, I love to order my garden seeds. (my favorite is Baker Heirloom Seeds – just reading their catalog is therapeutic)
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LISTEN:

Oxygen by Willy Mason. The video is only ok, but the song is so good.

This Great Valentines Mix curated by Personal Practice

Moonwalk Cocktail

For Christmas, Tim (who knows me a little too well 🙂 got me an awesome new cookbook.
Saveur-New-Classics
I am only just getting around to trying some of the recipes (it is a pretty gigantic tome). One of the first we tried is a cocktail called “Moonwalk.” It is delicious! It is already a go-to cocktail for us. Here is story they have before the recipe –

In 1969, Joe Gilmore, head barman at Savoy Hotel’s American Bar in London, invented this citrusy champagne cocktail to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing. The drink—a lively combination of grapefruit juice, orange liqueur, and a hint of rose water, topped with bubbly—was the first thing astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin sipped upon returning to earth.

With a story like that, how could we not try it?! (That and I just happened to have some rose water that I really wanted to try using)

 Moonwalk

MAKES 1 COCKTAIL

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
    • 1 oz. orange liqueur, preferably Grand Marnier
    • 3 drops rose water
    • Champagne or sparkling wine, for topping

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine grapefruit juice, orange liqueur, and rose water in an ice-filled shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne flute; top with champagne.This recipe appears in the SAVEUR New Classics Cookbook.
moonwalk

Love & Arrows: Some Valentines Playlists

Love songs can be pithy, schmoltzy; full of sentiment and cliche’. We’ve tried to avoid all that with these playlists.

Here are two  “mixtapes” full of earnest, beautiful, and creative songs that strike to the core of love in such a way that we can believe it.

The first playlist “Love & Arrows” is on Betony Coons’ spotify and available for listen below.

The second playlist is from just throwing the question out there on Facebook, “What song would you/ did you play at your wedding?” The answers were really beautiful to hear! The long playlist called “Our Song” and is below as well!

 

“Distance”

A love poem for my wife, Betony.

“Distance”

My Love, there is a distance between us

The same found between all of us
Space, void from one to the next

And you know,
You and I have chosen to close the distance

To draw near each other
to know and to be known
lessening the gap between
two such people

It’s within the distance
there is fertile ground
to struggle, dig, anticipate
bare fruit

This space pushes, pulls, quakes
grows, prunes, and grows again

And You and I
have given ourselves over to this endeavor
to let it drive
and nurture us

the rest of our days.

Without it there would be
You and I
without
the birth of us
without the birth of

Love,
distance’s gift

And I am thankful,
for You and I

my Love

I’m thankful for us

Valentine’s Day Playlists

Love songs can be pithy, schmoltzy; full of sentiment and cliche’. We’ve tried to avoid all that with these playlists.

Here are two  playlists full of earnest, beautiful, and creative songs that strike to the core of love in such a way that we can believe it.

The first playlist, “Modern/Soul”, is on Betony Coons’ spotify. We’ll post it on her Facebook.

The second playlist is from just throwing the question out there on Facebook, “What song would you/ did you play at your wedding?” The answers were really beautiful to hear! The long playlist called “Our Song” is on spotify too!

Valentine’s Day Playlist “Modern/ Soul”:

Retrograde • James Blake
This Magic Moment • Lou Reed
Suzanne • Leonard Cohen
Here Comes Your Man • Pixies
Daydream Believer • The Monkeys
These Arms of Mine • Otis Redding
Son of a Preacher Man • Dusty Springfield
Falling Slowly • Swell Season
I Want to Hold Your Hand • Across the Universe Soundtrack
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face • Roberta Flack
Unforgettable • Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole
When a Man Loves a Woman • Percy Sledge
Skinny Love • Bon Iver
I’ve Been Loving you too Long • Otis Redding
Lay, Lady, Lay • Bob Dylan
Anyone Else but you • Moldy Peaches
Someone to Watch Over me • Ella Fitzgerald
Don’t Cry • Edith Piaf

Valentine’s Day Playlist “Our Song” (Curated by Crowd-Sourcing!):

So are You to Me- Eastmountainsouth
Every Day- Jill Phillips
All My Life- David Wilcox
Stay with You- John Legend
These arms of Mine- Otis Redding
Cheek to Cheek- Fred Astaire
At Last- Etta James
Walking After You- Foo Fighters
Come What May- Moulin Rouge
You Belong to Me- Carla Bruni
What a Wonderful World- Louis Armstrong
You Go to My Head- Louis Armstrong
Signed, Sealed, Delivered- Stevie Wonder
Rainbow Connection- Kermit the Frog
The Luckiest- Ben Folds
The Story- Brandi Carlisle
When You Love Someone- Bryan Adams
Home to Me- Josh Kelley
Just the Way You Look Tonight- Fred Astaire
When You Say Nothing at All- Allison Krauss
Northern Sky – NIck Drake
You are the Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
You Have Me- Gungor
Ten Thousand Angels- Caedmon’s Call
Shower the People- James Taylor
Love Song- The Cure
She Lit a Fire- Lord Huron
Harvest Moon- Neil Young
Pistol- Dustin Kensrue
Out of the Woods- Nickel Creek
I Can’t Wait- Runner, Runner
Secret Message- Rasputina
God Only Knows- Beach Boys
I Wanna Love You at Ours- Bob Marley
Dream a Little Dream- Momma’s and the Papa’s
Canon in D- Pachebel
First Day of My Life- Bright Eyes
La, la, la, Love You- the PIxies
All I Want is You- U2
Me and You- Kenny Chesney
Both of Us Feel the Blast- Waterdeep
Can’t Help Falling in Love- Ingrid Michelson
Children of Our Time- Jason Upton
Heat Wave- Martha Reeves & the Vandellas
A Thousand Years
Our Love in Christ- Kelly Willard
I Will Always Love You- Whitney Houston
All I Want is You- Tristan Prettyman
Forever- Ben Harper
Look After You- The Fray
Dig Down Dip- Marc Cohn
I’ll Be Your Love Too- Van Morrison
Love of My Life- Jim Brickman
Lean on Me- Bill Withers
I’ll Back You Up – DMB
Somebody- Depeche Mode
We Danced to Blue Sky- Allman Brothers
Sunday Kind of Love- Etta James
Fall in Love at a Coffee Shop- Landon Pigg
Marry Me- Train
No Other Place- 77’s
Blue Skies- Ella Fitzgerald
Turning Page- Sleeping at Last
I Remember – Whitly
Between the Raindrops- Lifehouse
Stolen- Dashboard Confessional
Somewhere Over the Rainbow- Iz
To Make You Feel My Love- Bob Dylan
La Vie En Rose- Louis Armstrong
Gymnopodie- Eric Satie
Fields of Gold- Sting
Come to Me- Goo Goo Dolls
We’ve Only Just Begun- Carpenters