Go Within And Enjoy New Beginnings!

I have “Commitment” issues.  I have “Schedule” issues.  I have “Discipline” issues.  All those goals I set for myself, to do this at this certain time every day, each Monday, each Friday, every fiber of my being rebels against those most basic rules I try to establish for myself.  WHY?!  I figure it is probably a sign of lingering immaturity and nothing can be done to “fix” it.  Life and living gets in the way of work and I get distracted.  Distracted like the four-month old kittens we are fostering at the moment, who couldn’t stay on a straight path unless it was a B-line to a crinkling potato chip bag or the smell of chicken cooking in the kitchen.  Distracted like a kids jumping on a trampoline.  Distracted like a 38-year-old Mom of three who works from home.  Yeah, that is totally Me!  I try to set timers for myself, to diffuse “focus” oils to help me stay on track, I take my vitamins, get exercise, and drink plenty of water, get    plenty of sleep, but nothing seems to help.  I will inevitably find myself wandering through the house looking for a stray sock, just so I can put it in its proper place and it makes me feel crazy!  Like C.R.A.Z.Y.!  Too much to do to worry about socks, but somehow, I can’t make myself focus.  Two weekends ago we were a part of a Native American Cultural Festival and I had SO much time to think and reflect and I think I got a lot of answers I have been looking for my dilemma.  They were subtle and quiet and whispered ever so faintly to me while the drums pounded and the voices rose up and the people mingled in a gentle and cohesive fellowship.  The answers that came told me told me to learn from the mistakes I’ve made, in seasons of life where I not only burned the candle from both ends, but from every direction like the arrows of a compass…All converging to one central point in my mind, heart, and soul to burn me up.  The breath and the oxygen that it requires to keep burning is no small thing!  It is easy to forget the importance of this, but it can’t be ignored for long, and it seems that only by slowing down (just a little!) and knowing when to go inward and recharge can mean the difference between sustaining that crazy pace that life demands of us sometimes and completely burning ourselves out.  JUST like the spring plants in fall, who stop growing in order to come back bigger and better the next season, I too need to go inward to recharge.  The contradictory part of that is that Fall is the big retail season, so it is really hard to find time to slow down and recharge amidst all of the jobs that being a business owner entails…Not just the retail season (which I must admit, I do find wildly exciting!) but also the family holiday season that comes with its own special kind of charged excitement.  After my 6th year working for myself, i can safely say that it is inevitable that I will hit this wall, where not one more project can be started, and not one more stitch thrown into anything, before I take adequate time to recharge, go within, and ask myself the most basic and meaningful questions.  Am I still on the right path?  Am I still doing what I love and living a life of meaning and passion?  Do I still “like” and feel proud of what I putting out to the world?  So until then Friends, I wish you a Happy New Year!  Be safe and keep asking yourself the hard questions.  Take time to truly listen to yourself and find the answers.  If we don’t do this, we will burn ourselves out before our time.  Imagine if a tree didn’t lose its dying, colored leaves in the fall!  Imagine if it held on, no matter what to all those things trying to cast off  to make room for new growth.  We are like that too, when we don’t honor the need for rest and restoration.  I think it is less about the “Lingering Immaturity” as I mused early, and more about the need for this rest and restoration.

Thanksgiving Rock, A Goodwin Tradition

This very well may be my MOST favorite post I’ve ever composed.  Work is work right now, it is that season for me where I push through because I have to, but I long for a break from it with the kids home from school, hiking in the crunchy fall leaves, and making long trips to visit farmer friends and pet the piggies just because.  So instead of focusing on work today on the blog, I am going to share something of a much more personal nature.  We started this Thanksgiving tradition years ago in 2009.  I had three kids who, when confined in closed spaces, tended to draw on every single element of chaos available to them.  My Grandmother, their Great-grandmother, at the time, would make a big, BIG day out of Thanksgiving, inviting all of the extended family to her house for the day.  There could be upwards of 40 people in her intimate house at once.  My kids, who spent a great deal of time at their Great-grandmother’s house on a very regular basis, because she has always helped to babysit and raise my kids, were VERY overwhelmed with all these people in their familiar environment.  So one year we decided to opt out of the big family gathering and instead go to Pine Mountain for a hike.  I think we tried to take a “Thanksgiving picnic” the first year, but that was so much trouble that it didn’t survive the first year to become part of the tradition. The hiking did, however, as did taking family pictures on this ONE particular rock, which we have named Thanksgiving Rock.  The first year, it was just a happy coincidence because we had stopped at this beautiful overlook point and the kids, all tiny at the time, all crawled on top of this rock.  They played king of the rock for a while, and eventually just came to all sit on top of it together.  We have been back there each year since that time to hike and take pictures on Thanksgiving Rock.  Here is a compilation through the years.  Enjoy!

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YEAR ONE – 2009

YEAR TWO - 2010

YEAR TWO – 2010

YEAR THREE - 2011

YEAR THREE – 2011

YEAR THREE - 2011

YEAR FOUR – 2012

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YEAR FIVE – 2013

YEAR FIVE - 2013

YEAR SIX – 2014

YEAR SIX - 2015

YEAR SEVEN – 2015

YEAR SEVEN - 2016

YEAR EIGHT – 2016

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Is there anybody home?…

Hey everyone!!  I woke up one day from this weeks-long whirlwind of last-minute trips IMG_9414to the beach, hurried runs to the splash pad, dive tricks off the diving board, to wake up and realize that I haven’t checked in on the website for WAY too long.  Apologies!  The kids are back to school, though, so trips to the pool are fewer and farther between now, and impromptu trips to the splash pad, practically over.  At least until we can function as a family with the basics covered…Basics as in going to sleep before midnight, and waking up before the first bell rings.  We LOVE and CHERISH our freedom and lack of schedule in the summer and take every opportunity to break free of the molds whenever we can.  We are a pretty united group in our belief and practice in that philosophy.  But yes. I am here, back at home, and so excited to reconnect.  I don’t even really know where to start, so I thought I would just share IMG_9205some pictures from the last couple weeks of our summer…Especially since that is where my Mind still seems to be lodged, stubborn as ever, death gripping the wooden beach pier supports, saying “NOOOO!!!!  I am not going anywhere!”  Maybe by sharing it, I will see it finally as a thing of the past and be able to move on and accept that school has in fact begun, and it’s time to level up!  Keep in mind that everywhere I go, I take a million pictures, so just sharing a few is going to be a real challenge for me, and I have already decided that this is going to be more like an end of summer “album” that I am sharing.  As I look through all the pictures, I am reminded of how I felt at the beach, the skate rink, drawing, and a hundred times over the summerIMG_9130 with the kids.  Doing things together as a family, having those yearly traditions…or however often they occur, serve as a point of reference for just how much we have all changed and grown.  The kids are changing at warp speed these days.  This summer felt like a summer of growth for all of them.  Not so much inches on the wall, but emotional growth.  My youngest son actually did something silly a few weeks ago, and even though it was just the two of us, he said that he  IMG_0349felt so embarrassed to be acting silly.  THAT was just a crazy moment.  If you knew my youngest son, you would realize what an out-of-character thing for him to say, and yet it happens to us all a little bit over time…Until the day comes when you can decide to not care if you are being silly and embarrassing, but you are in the moment and having fun and that is so much more important.  I hope it doesn’t take my children as long to learn as it took me.  So thank you for allowing me to relive a little bit of our summer magic and to put it in its beautiful place and move on with a fresh start for this school year.  And for those of you who could care less about the last couple weeks of our summer and are only here for the crafty stuff, fear not!! These adventures with my family work as fuel to my fire and have definitely provided some much-needed fresh inspiration, so keep an eye out for some new crafty blog posts to come soon.  Much love!

Pool time!! We have been going every day after school for a cool down / pick me up. (Thank goodness for pools that stay open through September in Georgia!)

Pool time!! We have been going every day after school for a cool down / pick me up. (Thank goodness for pools that stay open through September in Georgia!)

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Meeting friends at the coffee shop for some games and a mid-day pick me up after school registration. Two games at once…Very talented indeed.

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Need I say more? Naked toes in the grass and cut-off shorts on a tree swing? It’s like we fell out of an old book.

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How the little ones chose to spend their last breakfast of summer…Watching cartoons in the playroom and eating banana nut muffins in their pajamas. It’s such a sweet contrast to our busy, hectic school mornings rushing through a routine…That was why I wanted to get a picture I guess…

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One last hurrah of summer with a day spent on the lake. Nothing like great friends, tube rides, and splashing in the lake to refresh your perspective and remind you of how much there is to be grateful for.

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Did I say splashing? I meant floating.

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Remember the part about perspective and being grateful? Well this was what I was talking about.

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We read The Little Prince before going to see it at the Springer Theater Opera House this summer. That was probably our fanciest family outing this summer and always a wise investment.

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Bonding with bismuth at Moonstone Wellness. The kids were treated to a trip to the shop so they could pick out a new stone or two for their collection.

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I like to treat myself to new sandals once in a blue moon. Lucky for me, we had a Blue Moon in June!!

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See! Look! It’s the Blue Moon. We went outside with our telescopes (we have one Orion scope and a small travel scope that is more kid-safe and user friendly) and were able to snap this picture with the phone. I wish I had thought to grab my pro camera, but I just wasn’t thinking about it at the time.

The kids with their scopes, and me, as ever, ruining their night vision.

The kids with their scopes, and me, as ever, ruining their night vision.

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We also recharged our stones under the light of the Blue Moon!

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Shenanigans at the skating rink…Not really sure what is going on here, but it looks like they were enjoying it!

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(In my best Southern voice…) Ain’t no summer complete without red velvet cake!! This was actually a part of our Blue Moon gazing party as well. This was THE ugliest cake I’ve ever made. I had to piece the layers together because they all fell apart. OH WELL! It still tasted good. BTW, I never use red in my red velvet cake, so it’s more like brown velvet cake. Even better!

While we are on food, I'm just going to leave this here. Garden fresh silver queen!

While we are on food, I’m just going to leave this here. Garden fresh silver queen!

And I'll leave this here too, while I'm on a roll. Because I didn't can enough this summer and who doesn't love peach jam???

And I’ll leave this here too, while I’m on a roll. Because I didn’t can enough this summer and who doesn’t love peach jam???

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Beach combing with my Mom and the kids….Ahh. Sigh no more, and farewell to a wonderful, peaceful, soulful summer.

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Three generations of Carmack ladies. Tybee Island, 2015.

So yeah…That was pretty much the last couple weeks of our summer.  It was a dizzying whirlwind but it was wonderful and I will cherish every moment.  Now lets get back to the now, and this beautiful stack of blankets that are waiting for my attention today, and hoping that the kids are having a great day in school.  See you again soon!

Summer in the Kitchen

I feel like I am living in the kitchen these days!!  The veggies are coming in, and between preserving the excess and cooking meals, it is a big investment of time.  IMG_7851_2I have been hitting the local farmer’s markets of Jenny Jack Sun Farms pretty heavily and my parents have lots to share with us as well.  Our own garden is lagging behind a little (ok, a lot!) but it has been producing a ton of bell and cayenne peppers, a few squash, and the corn has started to tassel!  We made pickles the other day with all of the cucumbers, bruschetta IMG_7814_2salad with fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic, fried the heck out of some okra (I had it leftover cold for breakfast this morning and it was like a guilty pleasure!), and finally got the tomatoes canned today.  This is just the first wave of tomatoes that have come in, but I wanted to go ahead and get a head start on the canning since I use tomatoes for practically everything from soup to chili to pizza sauce.  I have also made two batches of fresh pesto and frozen the excess to use later.  I can’t get enough basil this time of year.  So yeah, it’s like a different kind of crafting, this summer time harvest thing.  Fresh meals, planned around what was recently collected, in such a way that the kids eat it all up too can be a challenge, but an awesome and rewarding one.  I am lucky to have friends and family who kindly share recipes and tips on what to do with it all!  Here is my Bruschetta Salad recipe for those of you that are interested!

 

BRUSCHETTA SALAD

1 pound of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 big bunch of fresh basil (I like a lot of basil in mine, so you might want to cut back if you don’t)

1 large clove garlic, chopped fine

2 T extra virgin olive oil (or less if you want…I like mine a little heavy on the oil)

salt and pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients gently, then before serving, add 2 T of crumbled goat cheese and stir gently to mix.  Fresh and delicious, and a great use for all those cherry tomatoes!  Enjoy!

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A Simple Rhino Tale

It started as a simple craft done at the kitchen table.  The kids had been given this gingerbread man cutout that was laminated so they could bring it home and trace it, play with it, make more gingerbread men…You get the idea.  But this made them want to make other shapes that they then traced and colored, like the gingerbread man.  There came from this simple day of play, a collection of rhinos.  Large and small, bright and bold, with fierce horns, and bowed heads.  Some even had two heads…one on each side!  (Just to represent the monstrous side of things!!)  They were so precious.  The kids cut them out, colored them, and turned them into puppets with popsicle sticks.  Like many things born in this way, they were all too soon forgotten, having fallen under the table, or stuck behind a chair, and they were no longer interested in playing with them.  That is when my inspiration struck!  IMG_5970

You see, I had been experimenting with fabric design, and playing around with my own doodles for a couple of weeks, trying to get the hang of the graphic nature of online fabric design.  In a moment of brilliance, I saw these sweet, disregarded rhinos for what they were…Complete and total inspiration!   My kids might have been finished with them, but I was only getting started.  I deconstructed the popsicle stick version, and layed them out on a white surface to photograph, and the rest is history.  I now have a collection of ten or so fabric designs, all featuring the rhino stick puppet cut outs.  I love them.  When I look at them, I am instantly happy, rejuvenated, and transported back to that magical day.  I know it was a magical day because I have tried over and over to recreate the experience with no luck whatsoever.  They can tell I am onto them now, and like the tap-dancing, singing frog, they just sit there and ribbit at me when I suggest in my most cheerful voice, “Who wants to make some stick puppets with a new animal today!?”  I IMG_3911know it will come back around one day, but for now, I am utterly smitten and happy with our little rhino collection.
Each time an item sells with the fabric they helped design, I tell them about it, and give them a little cash for their piggy banks.  It has become a source of pride and joy for them to see their drawings made into something lasting and tangible.

Then one day a few months ago, I receive this letter through Etsy:

“Hey there,
I am a Zookeeper with the Toronto Zoo and I am organizing a fundraiser through our AAZK committee to help raise money for Rhino Conservation! Last year we were able to raise over $17,000!
We are currently looking for any Rhino related items that companies/ organizations would be willing to donate as auction items for our event! All funds go directly towards the facilities that support Rhino Conservation!
If you would consider donating a Rhino blanket I also have an official letter I could send you along with more information need be!
We REALLY appreciate every little donation and will definitely advertise what companies donated items for our auction in hopes that it would also help you get more business!
I hope to hear from you soon and am happy to answer any questions you may have!
Thank you!”IMG_9886

I thought that was so awesome.  Awesome in so many ways…the conservation of rhinos?  CHECK!  The pleasure of meaningful donations? CHECK!  Getting our family business all the way out to Toronto? CHECK!  And my favorite one of all…Talking to my daughter about the significance of this project?  Check.  I let her read the letter and asked her what she thought.  She does have a sense of ownership over these blankets and quilts with her drawings on them, and if I was to give one away, I wanted to know how she felt about that.  It meant I wouldn’t get paid for it, which would mean she wouldn’t get any dollars for her piggy bank either.  Did she even hesitate for one, single second?!  Of course she didn’t.  She thought it was amazing and awesome too.  We looked into the organization together and IMG_1513did some rhino research, and we became even more aware of the issue than we already were.  When I shipped the blanket off to Toronto, I made sure she knew it was on the way, and we celebrated the moment together.

I guess the moral of the story here is this…You never know where an idea will take you.  You never know what small thing will one day become a very big and important thing.  You never know when a laminated gingerbread man made from blue construction paper and sent home in your child’s school folder will change the way you do business.  You just never know, and isn’t that amazing!  Now I see rhinos everywhere.  Mostly they are sad stories about poaching, or declining populations, but I hear them.  I am aware of them, and I donate to the cause as I am able because it feels like the right thing to do…and the kids think so too!

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Just WOW…

Let me start by saying WOW!!  Thank you to everyone who has signed up to be a part of our site and get blog updates!  I feel totally humbled and grateful, (and to be honest, totally impressed with myself for making a website that anyone would sign up for!!) so thank you for helping to make this effort worth it.  I wanted to build a site that would engage folks and let them see a little more about  our family business, but I am finding that “I” need a place to share things too.  IMG_6648I guess that is really the heart of this blogging world…folks wanting a place to share things.  Every time I turn around,  I feel like we have gone through so many little milestones, and I’m excited to broaden my “sharing circle”!  Just this week, we’ve made it through one summer camp and started another, got a learner’s license for my son, took him driving for the first time, volunteered on a local co-op farm, and I’ve been working like crazy getting ready for my QuiltCon 2016 submissions!  I am just dying to share it all!  It does take a little more time to get to the blog than it does just to throw a FB update out there, but I find that I have never been good at the little blips…I tend to say nothing at all or everything in my head.  I am also a bit of a rambler, as you may have riddled out…So just WOW!!  Thanks for signing up!!  I guess to say thanks, I will share some beautiful pictures I took of a hike I went on after the first day I dropped my daughter off at Horsey Camp.  It was a very reflective day for me because it has become so crystal clear that she is growing up fast…There were a lot of things to think about that day and a hike was just what I needed.

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A tiny little violet. Almost looks like a flowering weed, but then you get up close and realize that there is so much beauty there. Then she said to me, in her very tiny Alice voice: “I am NOT a weed!”

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Aptly named Buzzards Roost. I startled one out of a tree and almost fell over some rocks! #smooth

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Look at all those tiny little hairs!! Nature is crazy and amazing.

I saw the cones before I saw the tree...The telltale sign of a long leaf pine in the area. Then I looked up...

I saw the cones before I saw the tree…The telltale sign of a long leaf pine in the area. Then I looked up…

And sure enough! There she was! Longleaf pines are native to this area and make the best cones!

And sure enough! There she was! Longleaf pines are native to this area and make the best cones!

Now, if you were starting to think that maybe you are in the wrong place because you wanted to see lots of cool crafting stuff, and this isn’t what you thought it would be, there will be lots of crafting stuff too!  I’m just getting warmed up, and part of this family business is making sure we get lots of family play in there too!