A Rose is a Rose

One day, when I have my own house, I’d like to have a cutting garden.
A cutting garden is a garden grown for the purpose of cutting flowers (or herbs, or ornamental vegetables) for indoor use.


In the meantime, I buy myself flowers.
These beauties came from the clearance bin at the grocery store, so this is not a huge extravagance, by any means.


If you don’t have anyone who buys you flowers, you should buy them for yourself. It is a very happy-making thing.

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A Little Backstory

Dear friend,

Have you ever tried to choose a blog name? If you have, you know how difficult it is to find one that hasn’t been taken. I went through many good and not-so-good (actually, really bad) ideas before I came up with My Name is Allison, and now I’d like to tell you a little bit about the name that stuck.

My inspiration was a book written by the lovely David Almond. I met Mr. Almond last summer while I was in England. His books are magical and inspiring, and I was so pleased to find that Mr. Almond matches his work in kindness and in generosity (one thing I learned this summer, while meeting a fair number of writers, was that this is not always the case!).


Here is Mr. Almond with me and my beautiful traveling companions from this summer.

The book is My Name is Mina, a recently published prequel to Mr. Almond’s first young adult novel, Skellig. Both books are completely wonderful, and you should read them (but read Skellig first!).



The beautiful books!

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of My Name is Mina:

My name is Mina and I love the night. Anything seems possible at night when the rest of the world has gone to sleep. It’s dark and silent in the house, but if I listen close, I hear the beat beat beat of my heart. I hear the creak and crack of the house. I hear my mum breathing gently in her sleep in the room next door.

I slip out of bed and sit at the table by the window. I tug the curtain open. There’s a full moon in the middle of the sky. It bathes the world in its silvery light. It shines on Falconer Road and on the houses and the streets beyond, and on the city roofs and spires and on the distant mountains and moors. It shines into the room and on to me.

….

There’s an empty notebook lying on the table in the moonlight. It’s been there for an age. I keep on saying that I’ll write a journal. So I’ll start right here, right now. I open the book and write the very first words:

MY NAME IS MINA
AND I LOVE THE NIGHT.

Then what shall I write? I can’t just write that this happened then this happened then this happened to boring infinitum. I’ll let my journal grow just like the mind does, just like a tree or a beast does, just like life does. Why should a book tell a tale in a dull straight line?

(I can still hear Mr. Almond’s voice in my head, reading this passage to us.)

I hope that Mr. Almond wouldn’t mind my use of his title; I hope that my blog will live up to its inspiration. For me, this means sharing the light and love in the world. It means finding beauty and wonder, and it sometimes also means letting in the night. It means making the little details that turn ordinary life into something special.

Mina says, “BE BRAVE!” so this blog is my first tiny brave step towards these things which may seem intangible and idealistic, but which to me are very solid and real. These things are my promise to you, dear reader. I hope you will be inspired.

With love and light,

Allison

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Merry Christmas!

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Paper Packages Tied Up With Strings

I love a beautifully wrapped gift.


Target and Michaels had “mini-rolls” of wrapping paper for $1 each; I bought a bunch so I could mix and match prints.


Thanks to Pinterest, I had plenty of wrapping inspiration. The woven ribbons were one of my favorite ideas.


I made my own bows out of paper scraps and ribbon.
They are very easy to make: start with a loop of your desired size made from ribbon or a strip of paper. Pinch it in the middle (you can staple it, if you want), and wrap it with another bit of ribbon or paper. Secure on the back with tape.
For a double (or triple!) layered bow, stack loops of slightly different sizes.


Happy Christmas Eve!

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Death, Thou Shalt Die

For Elliana Rose Freeman,
October 22, 2011-December 13, 2011

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

– John Donne

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Accomplished Goals

You haven’t seen or heard the last of my beach inspiration.
For now, an update on my vacation-time accomplishments. I achieved all of my Happy Life Goals!

The toy shop:


I found the perfect Secret Santa gift there!

The kites:


My papa had an awesome, huge kite, but there wasn’t enough wind to fly it.
My aunt made the kite my brother is flying! It makes me want to try my hand at kite-building.

The lighthouse:


It’s named Barnegat; its friends call it Barney.

No taffy photo, but I did get some. The shop had a whole wall where you could pick out your own flavors! Very exciting.
Coming soon: a sneaky peak at a beachy project.

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The Secret to a Happy Life

I always say that the secret to a happy life is achievable goals. Here are my goals for this week on the island:

  1. Eat a crabcake. (Done and done!)
  2. Visit the local toy shop. (Check!)
  3. Fly a kite.
  4. Visit the lighthouse.
  5. Get some saltwater taffy.

Totally doable.

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Beach Curiosities

I am on Long Beach Island, NJ for Thanksgiving.
Here are the results of today’s beach-wandering session.

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A Blanket for Elli

My friends Sarah and Colt recently had a baby girl, named Elliana Rose, who was diagnosed at 26 weeks with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
For them, these days since her birth have been filled with anxiety and fear, but also with joy and thankfulness for Elli’s life. I am honored to call these amazing, strong people my friends, and I can’t wait to meet little Elli.
In the meantime, I sent them this blanket, for warmth in hearts and limbs.


I made Elli’s blanket with the softest acrylic I could find, so that it would be cuddle-able but also durable and easy to care for.
The pattern for it came from here. It was just challenging enough to not be boring, and the result is lovely.

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Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

The wonderful Russanna is having a tiny baby boy. He is destined to be a Cubs fan and to be extraordinarily pop culture-savvy.
For the baby shower, Beth, Pinterest, and I got together to make the decorations. Baseball themed, naturally!


I didn’t make the cupcakes, but I think they’re very clever. The stitches are made of red hots!
Everything is made of affordable, easy materials: felt, paper, yarn. I love the way a bit of tissue paper can become an object of beauty, when folded and teased in just the right way. Like a small sort of everyday magic.

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