LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Food Trucks & Fireworks


July Fourth Scenes from Central Florida

July Fourth Scenes from Central Florida

July Fourth Scenes from Central Florida

11_Orlando_Korean_BBQ_Taco_Box

July Fourth Scenes from Central Florida

“I turned around and looked at Hankow. No one could say it was a pretty city but today, with spring in the air, it was at its best. I tried to memorize the Bund. The American flag flying over the consulate. The branches of the plane trees bumpy with buds. The clock on the Customs House, looking down, like a great-uncle, on us all.” Jean Fritz, Homesick

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POETRY & WORDS :: Five Months Ago, She Slipped Away


photo (16)

Five months ago, she was met with the loudest hallelujahs.

I didn’t hear any of them.

Five months ago, she slipped free from this realm.

I’m still earthbound.

These five months have been the longest, and the shortest.  It feels like I should be able to walk backwards, at any time, and fall right back into where I was when we were all a decade younger and a decade louder and only a decade away from the day when she’d fly home, right there, in front of all of us.

Oh, if we would have known then that those Friday nights were once-in-a-lifetime, if we would have known then that’s all we were given on this side of the sky. But we didn’t know, of course; we never knew and we still don’t know. Today we might very well be sitting inside the same kind of golden moment that will we’ll look back on from the next decade, the same golden moment that we will look back on through the fading edges of time. We’ll want to grab it; but we won’t be able to.

But we can hold on to this moment we’re sitting inside of now.

We can hold onto it now, and hold on to our people, and hold onto it all while we can, hold onto it with open arms and wild abandon and the kind of joy that’s poured out of heaven’s lap itself — we can hold onto it all until it’s time to let go. And then we’ll hold onto our God, and he’ll hold onto us, and he’ll hold us there in the storm so we won’t fold over when the winds grows fierce and the winds rip up the roots and the winds change it all.

And in the quietness and in the roar, through the tears and the laughter and the journeys that make up everyday living, I can sing –

– it is well

it is well

it is well with my soul.

 

MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Green, green, green (plants)


If you follow Oaxcaborn on Instagram, you know about our succulent planting adventures (see below photo) so it’s no surprise that this week’s Monday’s Pretty Things is all about greenery! This was inspired by a couple of things — one, the incredible Urban Jungle Bloggers project, and two, the fascinating conversation here about the challenge of spending time outdoors if you, like many people, are an apartment dweller. (Most people don’t actually live on a rambling ranch!)

Hopefully these Pretty Things — and the #UrbanJungleBloggers Pinterest board — will inspire you to create your own green oasis no matter where you live.

Inspired by #UrbanJungleBloggers

Hanging plants, plants in interior design - indoor/outdoor room via Atelier Solarshop - Monday's Pretty Things on Oaxacaborn
Hanging plants via Atelier Solarshop

succulent in urban window with textile coaster - Rennes on VSCO as seen on Oaxacaborn's Monday's Pretty Things
Urban window via Rennes on VSCO

Wit and Delight Floral Workshop
Floral workshop via Wit & Delight

Japanese home renovation with lots of plants via Spoon and Tomago
Japanese home via Spoon & Tamago

White interior with single green plant via ukkonooa
White interior via Ukkonooa

via Oaxacaborn on Instagram
Fika via Oaxacaborn on Instagram

SCANDINAVIAN SUMMER :: Midsommar, Noc Kupały, and Juhannus


midsommar midsommarafton via mokkasin
Image Credit: Midsommarafton [midsummer] via Mokkasin

One midsummer when I was probably eleven or so, I remember spending the weekend at my great-grandparents’ lakeside cabin in Upper Michigan. The scenery everywhere up there looks exactly like this, even though these photos are from Finland, and not Michigan. Fascinating, isn’t it, considering how many Nordic immigrants settled in the Upper Peninsula?

Brett Seward
Image Credit: Sweden in summer by Brett Seward

That weekend, in between carving my name in the paper-white bark of birch trees, eating sour wild strawberries and floating in the cold lake, I remember the Finnish-language program Suomi Kutsuu playing on the little living room TV, showing what seemed like endless footage of a bonfire slowly burning in the middle of the lake. I didn’t put two and two together then — I wasn’t what you’d call an observant child — but I was at my great-grandparents’ place over Juhannus!  Although you might not know Juhannus by name, you probably know Swedish midsommar, and you most certainly know summer solstice.

Midsommar crown
Image Credit: Crown by Mendocino Floral Design via Style Me Pretty

In the northern US states of Michigan or Minnesota, both around latitude 46° N, the summer solstice marks a magically late sunset – no wonder I didn’t get much sleep that weekend! Can you imagine midsummer’s eve in Stockholm or Helsinki, at 60° N? Incredible, the daylight must stretch on forever! [As a comparison, Orlando is at 28.4° N, and Oaxaca, where I was born, is even further down at 16.9° N)

Midsummer traditions vary among different Northern European countries, but my favorites are the lake bonfires, or kokko, of Finnish Juhannus, the floral crowns of Swedish Midsommar, and the glittering floating lanterns of Poland’s Noc Kupały.

Although a sky full of lanterns or a water’s edge bonfire might be a bit hard to pull off where you live, you can still celebrate midsommar. Do you have plans this weekend? Maybe you’ll celebrate with a maypole and a Swedish smörgåsbord (pickled herring and dill potatoes!), or maybe you’ll gather flowers and make a pretty floral crown.

Or, maybe, your nod to the summer solstice will simply be tossing and turning, wishing you’d purchased blackout drapes. ;)

However you celebrate, god midsommar!

POETRY & WORDS :: Patriotic Eagle Hawk-Birds who Invisibly yet Condescendingly Guard the Gate


Orlando, Florida, the South, Trader Joe's and Hipsters

Aveline is in swim class now. This means, for 30 minutes every other day, I sit on a plastic chair pool-side,  and sweat buckets of water. It still a mystery to me how a human body physically can produce beads of sweat when the air around said body is already 100% saturated with water. Given the excessive humidity, it’s something of a physiological miracle. I’m not to dangle any appendages in the pool, because I’m not a resident of Exclusive Subdivision, and therefore unclean. So, I sit, sweat, and squint in the sun’s general direction, trying to suppress my motherly instincts and my own fear of treading water while Aveline sinks like a rock and the teacher (bless her heart) patiently shows her again how to do All the Things You’re Supposed to do to Avoid Looking Like a Penguin Attempting to Dog Paddle.

I live in the same zip code as Exclusive Subdivision. Well, it’s not actually called Exclusive Subdivision. People around here call it Patriotic Eagle Hawk-Birds who Invisibly yet Condescendingly Guard the Gate. It’s about 2 blocks from Lakes of the Large Stoic Aquatic Bird, next to Excellence in Everything School, which is just across the boulevard from where I live, Grassy Plains of the Imaginary National Monument (press two for English).

Neighborhoods here are funny. Even at the public parks, the official man on the golf cart can kick you out if you don’t live nearby. No, wait. That statement might be confused with something that actually makes a modicum of sense. The official man on the golf cart can kick you out if you’re not carrying a paper card, issued by the community office, which duplicates the address already printed on your driver’s license. These fanc-eh paper cards have a clip-art image of a crested tropical bird, and are only available at the town hall and the grocery store, next to the cigarettes and the whooping cough vaccines.

This spring, when I tried to sign Aveline up for Pee-Wee-Super-Tiny-Bordering-on-Ridiculous Soccer  (the soccer balls used vary between the size of large spring peas and large tomatoes), the soccer organization told me they weren’t permitted to run a soccer team in my neighborhood. The neighborhood association was concerned, they said. Kids without clip-art cards might try to join.

I’ve managed to live here for a few years now without getting a biodegradable ID card, but I do kind of have to duck and run whenever the official man on the golf cart starts trawdling* in my direction. [*not actually a word.]

The ironic thing is, this community isn’t actually high-brow. (I say this with a smidge of authority, since I’ve lived in approximately 4,028 different neighborhoods in my three decades on earth.) In fact, the newspapers here have been buzzing about the latest terror sweeping the streets: Trader Joe’s is coming to town. Being a Californian and interested in such things, I tried reading the news stories about the impending Grand Opening this month. I only got as far as (and I quote), “it’s a hellscape of scarf-wrapped hipsters.”

Apparently nothing strikes fear into the hearts of Patriotic Eagle Hawk-Birds who Invisibly yet Condescendingly Guard the Gate residents like chocolate-covered almonds and seaweed snacks.

Well, I know what I’m noshing on during Aveline’s next swim class.

I’ll leave the scarf at home, though.

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: June is always full of hope


Tropical Blooms, Sidewalks of June Tropical Blooms, Sidewalks of JuneTropical Blooms, Sidewalks of June Tropical Blooms, Sidewalks of June Tropical Blooms, Sidewalks of JuneTropical Blooms, Sidewalks of June Tropical Blooms, Sidewalks of June

More so than January, June always seems poetic, young, full of promise. Even in the tropics, where there is no line of demarcation between winter and spring, between brown and green, between cold and warm — even here, June is full of hope. I turn the calendar page, and I hear it sing.

“Did it grow flowers yet? Did it grow flowers?” she asks of crumbling earth and tiny seeds and an old clay pot.

“No”, I tell her. “Not yet.”

But maybe this will be the year.

POETRY & WORDS :: Writing Every Morning


An Exercise in Writing Daily“It is by sitting down every morning to write that one becomes a writer,” says Gerald Brenan. “Those who do not do this, remain amateurs.”

I do not want to remain an amateur.

And so, this ordinary morning, with my bowl of ordinary cereal, with the sounds of an ordinary washing machine swish-swishing in the background, I sit down to write.

I do not have hours to type, I do not have hours to think. I do not have a quiet room and an empty day holding nothing but blank pages and shifting letters. Instead, I have the luxury of a room bursting with life, bursting with shouts and squeals and sliding-off-the-couch thumps. I have a morning with coffee and a three-year-old, the latter holding more energy than the former promises.

And so, I write.

And I walk out into the heat, into the sweltering summer, toward my wild-child’s first swimming class, and into this new habit of daily writing.

We can both try something new.

LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label ‘Flawless’ is not just for kids


I love the kids’ clothing brands popping up all over Poland lately! I’m especially taken with the emphasis on knits and jersey (aka “sweatshirt” material) as effortlessly stylish wear. The trend has hit the US in a big way now, but European brands have been using this material for a while now — and, of course, always have managed to do so in a way that doesn’t come across as sloppy.

Polish brand Flawless‘ summer line — which landed in my email this morning — is a great example of this look.  And they’ve adapted the styles for all sizes, from mini to mama and papa!
LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label 'Flawless' is not just for kids
LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label 'Flawless' is not just for kids
LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label 'Flawless' is not just for kids
LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label 'Flawless' is not just for kids
LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label 'Flawless' is not just for kids
LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label 'Flawless' is not just for kids
LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label 'Flawless' is not just for kids
LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label 'Flawless' is not just for kids
LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label 'Flawless' is not just for kids
LITTLE STYLE :: Polish label 'Flawless' is not just for kids

I can definitely see myself wearing everything from this collection. What’s your take on the comfy chic trend?

LITTLE STYLE :: Pale Pastel Girls’ Room Inspiration from Serena & Lily


Serena and Lily Coral Grey and Navy Girls Room

This isn’t a sponsored post — it’s just my imaginary wallet and I talking a walk through the summer 2014 Serena & Lily catalogue. ;)

1. Fox sheets
2. Houses print
3. Ceramic elephant side table
4. Today pillow
5. Sun print
6. Polar bear
7. Pouf
8. Inlay mirror
9. California pillow
10. Blanket
11. Sea gull print
12. Basket
14. Rug

See anything here you’d love to snatch up for your own home?

MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Plants to Brighten the House


Monday's Pretty Things - Inspiration from Oaxacaborn
Plant display inside the Loose Leaf shop, via photographer Sean Fennessy for The Design Files

Greenery and sprouted things - Monday's Pretty Things - Inspiration from Oaxacaborn
Plants in pretty vases, via stylist Lotta Agaton and photographer Kristoffer Johnsson for Residence Magazine

Swedish wildflowers - Monday's Pretty Things - Inspiration from Oaxacaborn
Swedish wildflowers via Hilda’s Hem

Midsommar wreath of flowersMidsommar wreath of flowers via Bo Mimi

Spider Plant in bathroom shower_Web
Spider plant hanging from shower (my home).

sukha-amsterdam
Paper cranes hanging in the Suhka Amsterdam shop window

Oak tree growing in a jar of water - An-Magritt - Oaxacaborn
Oak growing in a jar of water via An-Magritt

See even more pretty things

POETRY & WORDS :: Sojourning is not a rhythm


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The words get lost in the days, lost in the shuffle between high tide and low tide — the choreographed swap of sand and sea — lost in the couch cushions, like copper coins, lost in the fray, lost in the routine between breakfast and sunset.

This, of course, is exactly when I should be writing. Words are spun from the gossamer threads which wrap around our days. I can see them, glinting, drenched from the downpour, drenched from the puddles, drenched from the spray.

“You write while you are alive”, Anaïs Nin said. “You do not preserve them [living moments] in alcohol until the moment you are ready to write about them.”

And so, alive, I write.

We stick pins in a map and wonder which one will hold. We squint at the horizon and see mountains through the mirage, and yet, the pillar stands still. The life of a sojourner is not a rhythm of motion and stillness, like the poets would have you believe. Sometimes, there is no rhythm. Sometimes it is abrupt, sometimes it is whiplash, sometimes it is an awkward slow dance, a holding pattern at best. Sometimes, you fold up your belongings into a square, and load the truck, and don’t look back when every inch of you longs to cling to the roots you tried to push into the broken ground. But most of the time, you stand.

You stand even when your feet so dearly ache to run.

SCANDINAVIAN SUMMER :: Call for Midsummer-themed contributions!


MIDSUMMER BLOG PARTY! Let's celebrate Swedish tradition. Want to contribute? Email Oaxacaborn!

I’m running a little behind on this, but what do you think? Can we pull off a Midsummer [blog] party in time? I’m thinking something in the spirit of the Scandinavian Christmas series — but all Midsummer! If you have photos, blog posts from past summers, traditions, crafts, resources or anything else Midsummer-related to share, email me oaxacaborn @gmail.com. I can’t wait!

Image credit: Jason Florio for The New York Times

POETRY & WORDS :: I was a stranger & you invited me in


Image Credit: LifeSong for Orphans - Zambia Children's Choir / Celebrate Life Concert Tour

Image Credit: LifeSong for Orphans – Zambia Children’s Choir / Celebrate Life Concert Tour

Last night, I sat in a church and listened to Zambian children sing. And I heard something I’ve never heard before. No, not the sound of a drum sans drumsticks, not the sound of the soaring notes. 

Actually, it wasn’t a song at all.

Each of the kids — students at the Lifesong for Orphans school in Zambia — shared their favorite school subjects, dreams, and favorite passages of Scripture. It was an endearingly real moment — stuttering, laughter, forgetting words. One girl recited Psalm 23 from beginning to end, another quoted Romans.

But then it was the smallest boy’s turn to speak. And he leaned into to the microphone and looked into the crowd. “My favorite verse is Matthew 35 verse 25″, he said in halting English. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

Oh, my heart!

It’s one of those verses we’ve read a hundred times, isn’t it? But honestly? When was the last time you heard a friend say it was their favorite verse? It’s a passage we’re familiar with, but not a passage we’re accustomed to seeing highlighted and memorized and repeated and claimed as a personal promise and emblazoned on t-shirts and bookmarks and greeting cards.

But this is Jesus. This is real. He’s among us — feeding, loving, caring, doing.

Sometimes, I think we lose that connection between Jesus-the-Ethereal-Being and Jesus-the-Man. I think we lose the connection between hypothetical love and practical, get-your-hands-dirty, work-hard love. We over-spiritualize it. We complicate it and organize it and delegate it and analyze it and create ministries for it and philosophize about it and invent words about it.

But it was a real, I’m-right-there-with-you, here-is-a-meal, here-is-a-bed  kind of love that spoke to this boy’s heart.

It’s what Jesus’ love,
made human
and tangible
and touchable
and present, looks like.

And I never want to forget it.

“Sometimes the best way to bring good news to the poor is to bring actual good news to the poor. It appears a good way to bring relief to the oppressed is to bring real relief to the oppressed. It’s almost like Jesus meant what He said. When you’re desperate, usually the best news you can receive is food, water, shelter. These provisions communicate God’s presence infinitely more than a tract or Christian performance in the local park. They convey, ‘God loves you so dearly, He sent people to your rescue.’” -Jen Hatmaker