The Heist

I have this made-up theory that detours me from housework–if you can’t do it all, don’t do any. Don’t cross stitch that on a pillow because it will get you no where in life. I think big a lot–sometimes too big. As in, any attempt to clean house must include full overload. I want to do it all in one day–every room, every cupboard, every floor, and if I don’t have one 8-hour block of time dedicated to extreme home makeover, I often think “why bother?” I also have this other theory about cleaning–if you’re not “feeling it,” go buy something new for your house. Don’t quote me on that one either because it’s just really bad psychology, and our economy doesn’t need that kind of thinking. And, for the record, I’m not talking a new fridge for inspiration. Something little–like a dish towel or a candle. It’s based on that whole “If you give a mouse a cookie” philosophy in that a sweet new toss pillow might just make you want to make your bed. And then pick up your clothes. And then rearrange your room, dust your dresser, frame new pictures. I once dusted every mini blind slat in my bathroom, spurred by the purchase of new guest soaps.

My point? I disproved both theories yesterday. Without clearing my schedule for a full day “blitz,” as my mother used to call it (drop-down, full-on, all-day house cleaning–we hated blitzes), I vowed to use a small cushion of space to take on one room, and to do it with no incentives. No new purchase to inspire me–not even a candle.

I rearranged furniture, dusted, vacuumed, cleaned out every drawer in my desk and finished the process by digging around in the garage for old treasures that might temporarily spruce up the wall above my desk (using Nella’s room as an office until we move her crib back in her room). I found a clip board and an empty frame.


And while I was so entirely satisfied with the clarity that came from cleaning one small space, I stopped myself from heading to another room to initiate a blitz on a grander scale. Baby steps. Small projects are good, easier to digest. Besides, there are other theories–good nursery rhyme truths about Jack avoiding the status of dull boy.

So, I traded more cleaning for play last night, a very generous trade considering play came in the form of a citrus grove sunset.




Lainey’s patchwork dress, The Measure

It was a last-minute idea, and you would have thought we were preparing for a heist. A lot went down–texts flying back and forth, picnic baskets madly prepared, a meeting place arranged and finally, a pregnant chick who pulls up in a minivan, yells for us to get in and takes off all screeching tires. We just wanted to get there because, as any of you who have ever planned a heist might know, there’s a prize at the end.




We were afraid on the way to the orange grove that we wouldn’t get a sunset as the sky was gray, flat and lacked any dimension whatsoever. We arrived, chose our picking buckets and set out with the kids to find the perfect row to set up camp. Regardless of what the sun decided to do, we’d have a good time.



But then, sweet mother of ripe oranges, it happened. Only five or so oranges made it to the bottom of our bucket before the clouds revealed the glistening jewels of the heist in one sudden unveiling moment. Golden sunlight. Lots of it, pouring into each grove row at different angles, streaming through branches, casting a blanket of warm light onto the neighboring field. We were all scattered in different places in the grove when it happened, and you could hear us hollering to each other “Light! Oh my God! Get over here and see this light!” as if our little corner of the grove was the only place it had revealed itself.


Turns out it was everywhere, accompanied by blue skies, feathery clouds and our unbounded enthusiasm.


This was a challenge. A “Hey Kelle, can you do that thing where you jump up and click your heels together?” challenge.



Photobucket My friend Rebecca and her husband, Ean


And while this all might seem your-life-is-so-dreamy picturesque, remember…heists take work. We did pack cars, drive 40 minutes, remind the kids to stop whining, and spray fire ant bites. But you tend not to remember these things when you focus on what’s right in front of you–gold, literally.




As I watched Lainey run off with her friends to find the cat and I handed Nella another orange to drop in the bucket last night, my friends and I gathered on the quilt and talked about how much more we appreciate nature now. How we notice it continually delivers these experiences of pure, simple happiness.



The older I get, the more I want to be outside. The beach, the country, the woods, the mountains, the frozen lakes, the busy streets of New York. And the cool thing is that, no matter where you live, it doesn’t take a heist to obtain it–sunshine’s free.




So drink it up.



Nella enjoyed unpacking our picking–she took out every orange she could reach.

Our evening ended with a complimentary swamp buggy ride up and down a dirt road, courtesy of a nice neighboring farmer. That’s a unicorn with big wheels, for those of you who don’t speak supernatural.



Friday Photo Dump:


Friday Phone Dump photos are taken on the Instagram iPhone app (free) and dropped into a 12×12 collage using a photo editing software (Photoshop Elements works). I am @etst (enjoying the small things) on Instagram if you want to follow the feed.


Happy Weekend!


Locals, Map to Bob and Judy’s U-Pick Citrus HERE.


Leave a Comment
  1. Oh, I’m sure I cannot be the first to comment, but I am so pleased you have met my three best friends, Whimsy, Levity and Serendipity! They bring life into color! Have a nice weekend!

    Poppa Rik

  2. Happy weekend to you, too! Sounds like an amazing adventure and I am so glad that you got your sunset in the orange grove. Love the pic of Nella taking all the oranges out. All in all, super inspiring!

  3. Love the impulsive, last minute magic!
    So many great times are the unplanned trips where unexpected sunshine breaks through the clouds!

  4. Sounds like an awesome day! Pickin oranges seems like it would be a blast !

    Thanks for brightening my rainy day with such a sunshine-y post :)

    BTW, love the empty frame. cute.

  5. Love, love, love these photos!!!!!!
    In all the snow here – they’re just what the doctor ordered!
    Thank you!

  6. This sounds heavenly! We don’t have citrus groves but we can pick Strawberries and apples.

  7. The wind chill is negative 8 this morning in Chicago. Thanks for bringing me back to the photos for my brother’s wedding in an apple orchard in August where it was so hot we could barely breathe! I needed a warm memory! Brrrrrrr…….

  8. Love this post and promply put Bob&Judy’s on my nucket list. We have family in Ft. Myers so I know I will check that baby off.

    Lainy is just so sweet, that dress is beautiful and perfect on her.

    Nella makes my heart smile. Love the orange grove “oh” with that little pointer as if she was making sure you where seeing the magic she was. <3

    Heidi is just stunning and SCORE on the heel click. pretty sure I would break…everything if I tried it ;o)

    Happy weekend to you all.

  9. What I wouldn’t give for some fresh oranges right now! How fun. And I completely agree with you about nature as you get older. I could sit outside for hours & just watch it. It’s the one place that isn’t busy, isn’t in a hurry, isn’t judging…

  10. siiigghhh… i miss my florida home as i sit and stare at 2 degrees of miserable. but i guess the question goes to- can you appreciate the glorious without a healthy taste of the miserable? i choose no. :)

  11. Could my kids and I come spend a day with you? That would be a dream. :)

  12. WOW this is enough to make me want to make a trip to Florida. We have had a nice New England winter but what I wouldn’t do for a little sunshine and a warm day to stroll through an orange grove. My aunt (who has now passed) always used to do the heel click when ever we would visit. Thanks so much for the memory. Have a nice weekend.

  13. Kelly you have Ups!!! nice jump! lol

  14. Love your office space! My daughter and her roommate are home from college this weekend and guess what they want to do when they finally wake up? A Photo Shoot. I’m so excited to have models. Wish we had an orange grove too!

  15. As much as I love the sun I had to be fair to winter and do a post about how it can rock my world just as much! And love your outfit..

  16. Lovin the hippie look, Kelle! Showing my sweet CANADIAN 5 year old the pictures he said “Oh look, it’s an orange forest! that’s amazing!!” Lol! I guess I never told him oranges grew trees, but he does know how to pick the best, longest icicle!! happy weekend:)

  17. Love that… Sunshine’s free. :)

  18. “Sweet mother of ripe oranges.” That’s why I love you!

  19. I loved this post!! I am the same way with cleaning!! Go big or let it stay on the floor is what I say to myself!! Happy weekend.

  20. Happy citrus sunshine! What a perfect treat on this gray rainy morning. Lovin’ your top & heel clickin’ jump!

  21. Love the photos!

  22. Orange grove party!!!!!!!! Love it!!!! Congrats again on Nella’s 2 for 2 fund!!! It’s some inspiring stuff.

    Simply Shelley

  23. what a wonderful pictures!!! fruit, friends and smiles!!!

  24. Sunshine is free.

    Truer words have never been spoken :)

  25. The orange grove!! That is one thing I haven’t done since moving to Clearwater from Michigan this past fall… and the one thing I’ve been talking about taking my kids to since the first time I missed picking apples on a crisp fall day back in MI. So when I get back to our new home in Florida (I’m in Chicago now) I NEED to take them! I just have to find one a little closer than 3 hours away 😉 It’s something I’ve been working on. LOVE this post!

    ~Tabitha Blue

  26. Sunshine is the spice of life! I hope that you will squeeze your littles extra hard for me today. Love them!!

  27. I just ran outside and got ice-d on! SOOOO very jealous of your beautiful weather.

    And lovin’ Nella’s shoes!

  28. My goodness, I am EXACTLY the same way when it comes to cleaning! It is my downfall. But this week, I also bit off the house work in small chunks. By the end of the day yesterday, I had a completely clean house :)

  29. Love that you mention the keptk’ behind the pituresque shot. … last week I blogged pics of my girls picnicing in the backyard and then the housework clothes I was wearing. My life isn’t S tepford but the jotand beauty is real.

    When is poppa rik gettng a blog?

  30. :) This was one of those “sit back and say awww and be slightly jealous” posts. :) I love all your delightful pictures, and the idea of going to an orange grove seems lovely right now. Not to mention your decorating (the frame/camera/pictures) is adorable, and I love your Bohemian-esque outfit and Lainey’s patchwork dress is to die for.

  31. So what’s the deal – no one else was in that grove last night? Looks like you all had it all to yourselves! Sweet! Now – whatcha gonna do w all those oranges?!?! Do tell.

  32. Sorry. .. that’s work behind the shot, joy and beauty.

  33. That’s a fun thing I’ve never done…add orange grove day to my bucket list. Love your clicking heels pic. You’re a goof ball.

  34. a wonderful way to start the weekend. and i think heidi (right?) might be the cutest pregnant mama ever, tell her that because i know no one ever feels like it, but she is.
    makes me wanna plan a heist for tonight…hmmm…

  35. Good for you taking baby steps with the cleaning! As a teen I always cleaned my room in “blitzes,” usually when I could no longer find any floor space to walk on! The Flylady website has really helped me break things down into chunks and not drive myself crazy!

  36. “If you can’t do it all, don’t do any” cross stitched on a pillow; yeah! There’s a hot-seller fo sho.

  37. I am always so encouraged by your posts! I’ll take time with people I love over cleaning any day, hands down. :)

  38. Your thoughts on cleaning made me smile. Oh, how many of us are the same way! Your Friday Photo Dump isn’t displaying. :(

  39. Here hee…your Friday Phito Dump is here now. :) not sure that was going on.

  40. I love this post because I am a serial procrastinator with the excuse that if I can’t do something completely, why bother starting? I call it being a perfectionist, and I stand by that. Sounds so much better than procrastinator.

    I also love your orange grove pics. I miss the days when there were plenty of them right here in town. Hooray for spontaneous picnics and free swamp buggy rides!

  41. so I’m not the only one with that house-cleaning philosophy! I’m trying so hard to break myself of it too! And, yeah, nature…totally the best cure for everything!

  42. As usual I love everything! I have that cleaning philosophy…which I’m trying to change!

    I love that you don’t make this blog a special needs blog. I love that you show us that…just because we have a special needs child, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have very normal looking lives!

    Although your life seems downright magical!

  43. I soaked up every word of this post :) So beautiful! I’m elizastclair on instagram – going to add you now :) xoxo, eliza

  44. I can’t tell you how much your blog blesses me! We don’t have children yet (crosses fingers!), but your blog has showed me so much about parenting and the love of a mother. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!

  45. How fun–looks like a great day picking oranges!!!

  46. Orange groves, while I have never had opportunity to visit one, make me so happy. Seeing your photos and hearing of your heist just makes me want to drive and drive until I get to one.

    You’ve re inspired me :) Thank you for that.

  47. You have so much fun. This was funny. Take the play over the cleaning any day. I always loved the pumpkin patch and the apple orchard but never had the oppurtunity for an orange grove.

  48. Lovely.

  49. I’ve been gone for a week and first thing I did when I came home? Open up :) As always, love your love of life. And btw, I am SOOOOOO happy you brought Halmark back!!

  50. Happy weekend! What gorgeous photos…. I love a ‘surprise’ sunset :)

    Ps- Nella’s hair is getting LONG– beautiful!

  51. And once again….you take the words right out of my mouth. I’ve realized that I avoid cleaning when there is something else hanging over my head. This time it was the Christmas letters turned New Year letters that I still hadn’t sent…..until LAST NIGHT!!! Yahoo….addressed & in the mai this morning! It was as if I couldn’t clean until they were checked off the list…….so now you know it’s been since before Christmas that I cleaned my bathroom…..or ANYTHING!

    *I’m so doing the picture frame with clothes pins thing—CUTE!
    *Heidi and her children are just GORGEOUS!
    *You are so adorable! Love your tunic and your orange grove pics.
    *Nora is TOTALLY into taking things out of containers, baskets, purses, drawers, etc……and THROWING them…hahaha…I probably shouldn’t laugh, though :)

    Love to you all ~

    Two of the greatest blessings.
    Wonderful photos.

  53. love all these pictures!!!

    what a wonderful day you “growns” & the “littles” had.

    question: where did you get that fabu tunic? triple love it!!!

    thanks & keep the blog & pix coming; they are both yummy:)

  54. Those earrings are divine!!! I love them.

    Happy weekend!


  55. Oh, how I adore a lovely pregnant belly, and your friend looks just stunning in the orange grove!!! Do tell her I said so 😉

  56. I LOVE that shirt! Great find!

  57. I love how whimsical you are … and I am glad you added the 40 minute drive and the bug bites… and the packing of the car… cause… we all do the mundane.. to get to the gold….

  58. Love your $4 tunic find, love that wine was involved, love that Nella still does the “ooh” lips, love Heidi’s glow and love that your kids are going to grow up with kick-ass, sweet memories! Have an awesome weekend Kelle! P.S. Your new work space rocks! We move house in a couple of weeks, and I’ll have my own built-in little nook for writing & crafting & working….yahooo!! It’s gotta be more inspiring than the couch with the laptop on my knees….but we’ll see :)

  59. LOVE the oranges, children {as always} and REALLY LOVE the tunic!

  60. It was fun to follow your photos on instagram last night and anticipate a post about your road trip {heist}.
    What a way to spend a Friday night!

  61. It sounds like a perfect ending to the week : ) Love it.

  62. love that top dress. great weekend to you too :)

  63. Crackin’ up about how new soap could end up making you clean your blinds…that is so me. And your other philosophy about doing it all at once is me to. It’s amazing how you capture every day life in words I never would have thought up.
    I want to get outside more and more too…I do hope it doesn’t mean I’m getting older though. You are so right about sunshine being free. (Although today a quick blizzard moved in and we watched the temp drop 10 degrees in 10 minutes. Very cool.)
    Happy Weekend to you!

  64. That was a seriously good heist. The light. The smell of orange blossom. Juicy oranges to enjoy later. Friends. Littles playing. Babies measuring out the stash. Wine. You guys really do live life.

  65. Last picture is my favorite! Love the sunshine gift :-) And I want your shirt.

  66. It’s posts like this one that make me want to pack up the kids and hubby and move somewhere where it’s sunny much more often. Dreary old Seattle isn’t doin’ for me at the moment. Yes, I can and do find the “bright side” here, but man the sunshine looks good right about now! :)
    Love your little “nook” space and am inspired to make one of my own. Great job!

  67. Yayyyy spontaneous adventures! Love love love it.

  68. your office is so inspirational. i want my scrap room to one day look just like your office. thanks for the inspiration once again!

  69. Kelle, if you ever do decide to go for a new fridge, I can attest to the inspirational properties of the Big Chill fridge (see Rachael Ray’s TV kitchen for the blue one). We got the orange one (in lieu of demolishing the entire damn kitchen and starting from scratch), and by golly, it makes me smile everytime I enter my otherwise drab 70s era kitchen. It’s also a huge hit on playdates.

  70. Aww! The photos of Lainey doing ballet poses! As someone who LOVES ballet (danced myself), those really put a smile on my face. I hope she continues to enjoy dancing as she grows up; it’s the best. :)

  71. I’ve been inside all day today — sick. I could have used some sunshine and fresh air. Great post. You’re inspiring!

  72. Such a beautiful moment! oh, and your outfit ROCKS!

  73. Love your initial view on housework! ANd this post – what FUN! I also love the clothes you are wearing. Love from your Blog Mama~

  74. Love babies falling asleep on a shoulder, and I am always asking my husband to snap that moment in time.
    I grew up outside & wouldn’t trade it for the world – there is magic out there.
    CUTE last pic of you and Nella.
    PS – I’d love a lesson in how not to clean the whole house in one day…as my husband reminds me, Rome was not built in a day 😉

  75. I love the pictures Kelle! It looks like fun was had by all! I happened to stop by and pick oranges at a grove for the first time last month and it was so refreshing! We got there around sundown and I was able to snap a few good pictures –

  76. I think that’s my problem too but you got in down in words far more succint than I can! I had a mother too who blitzed, housework meant washing every wretched knickknack and teacup in the house, I think that’s why I tune out. :)

  77. So nice to “catch up” with you!

    xoxo, Bug & Ruby’s Gram

    ps….invest in a house cleaner, you are so worth it!

  78. or read the book- makes cleaning so. much. easier. :)
    Being from the mitten state, we are without orange trees but will have to remember while vacationing. Happy weekend!!

  79. Get a housekeeper.

  80. I am sure someone has commented this, but I am too lazy to read 😉

    a good site for getting a cleaning schedule … etc…

    also, your pictures as of late could be in a clothes catalog… they are beautiful and perfect at capturing the moment

  81. You live in paradise!!! Do you live on an acreage?

  82. Love the picture frame!!
    BTW to get ride of fire ant bites mix baking soda and water together just enough to make a paste and slather it over the bites. takes the sting and itch right out:):0

  83. Great pictures! This looks so fun! I’m jealous of those orange groves. I’ve never seen one before.

  84. Oh, so often I have the SAME struggle with housework… or ANY project really. I don’t even want to begin it if I’m not going to have the time to do it the RIGHT WAY (the way I want to do it, whether that’s actually right or not). I do find that I feel better even if I can just get one small thing done, but I can be so reluctant to begin.

  85. That must be the coolest thing ever!
    I have never, never seen an orchard, much less a citrus orchard! I need to see oranges, lemons, whatever growing on the trees!!! And by the way, your angels are adorable!!

  86. Ahhh! Your daughters are so cute! (: + I love your shirt!

  87. kelle- can you share if you made your photoshop template for instagram photos or if you got it from somewhere? addicted to instagram and looking to make templates to then put into a book at the end of the year. would love to know how you do it. thanks!!

    beautiful post, as always. and i am with you on the cleaning all out or none at all, but little cleaning/organizing tasks that can get checked off your list do motivate indeed.

  88. Reading this made me wish we had sunshine…another gray west michigan day.

  89. Hey your friend Heidi I think (lovely preggers lady) is just gorgeous. She has the ‘otherworldly’ absentminded pregnant lady look in one of the pics. Just gorgeously captured. Mmmmm, I think I’ve kept my absentminded pregnancy state of mind…baby brain never goes away?! Greetings from sunny Melbourne, Australia.

  90. beyond beautiful photos. i especially love the one of your pregnant friend and her boy. SO BEAUTIFUL. Some women just glow when they’re pregnant. She is STUNNING.

  91. I love that you admitted this perfect heist did take work, but that it was totally worth it as evidenced by the beautiful pictures!

  92. love your shirt, kelli.

    happy week of hearts!!

  93. Boring Women Have Clean Houses! 😉 Cheers!!

  94. Finally, someone else is afflicted with the do it all or do nothing motto in cleaning!
    The office nook looks fantastic- be proud.
    Friday phone dump has a photo of Lainey in front of strawberries; she looks so much like you. Don’t you love your genes poking through and saying hiya? Nella is helping so much with the harvest too. She’s purely adorable ( said with French accent just cuz)
    Have a wonderful week.

  95. I don’t mind the sun but when you add alot of sun to 95 degree weather or hotter then it is NOT a good thing. I don’t do well when it gets too hot. I get bad headaches and well, being out in the sun was not such a good idea after all and definitely not worth it to me. However I totally dig what you’re saying if it’s a comfortable 70 degree day.

  96. Enjoying some sunshine myself right now- it’s so deceiving, as i look out the window and i KNOW it’s cold out, but, it is very tempting to just go out and bathe myself in all its glory. And, free is good. Free is the best.

    Love Nella pulling out all of the oranges that you picked- i think that’s my favorite. :)

  97. You really are the COOLEST girl I know!!! Or, should I say…would LOVE to know!!!

  98. Just found you blog and wanted to follow: full of inspiration and stunning photography. Rx

  99. Saw this today and thought of your sweet girls! Hope the link works!

  100. I am new to your blog and I have been crying for about 30 minutes and smiling for about 1 hour (while reading). Our little girls are only a couple of months apart!! I am really going to enjoy watching Nella grow, Thank you so much for sharing your life! What a blessing YOU and your family are!

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