3-fer Thursdays

3 Blooms on a Cold, Dreary Day

Last fall, I ordered 6 amaryllis bulbs from White Flower Farm.  Bulbs from WFF are stupidly expensive -- but worth every penny to me.  I consider it an Investment . . . in my health and well-being during the Dark Months.

Now, every amaryllis is a beautiful amaryllis -- don't get me wrong.  I have purchased many a box-store or grocery store bulb over the years, and I have enjoyed their blooms immensely.  But they tend to be rather short-lived, and in my experience, seldom get another bud after the first is spent.  That's why I started ordering my bulbs online.  (There are several other great online amaryllis sources out there.   I just settled on WFF.  It's where I order all my bulbs -- spring bulbs like daffodils and tulips and the amaryllis.)  When it comes to blooms -- color, variety, bloom-time -- you really do get what you pay for.

I like to have some sort of amaryllis blooming beginning in January and continuing right on through February.  They do an amazing job at brightening up my house -- and my spirits.  This year, my choices are doing the job splendidly.  One of the bulbs is just now opening for its first bloom, and two of them are in the process of blooming from their second set of buds.  

Here are the 3 blooms bringing light and hope to the dreary day outside right now:

One. . .


(This one is in its first bloom.  The blooms are smaller and more compact than the more "standard" amaryllis -- and the colors are very intense.)

Two . . . 


(This one is beginning to bloom from its second bud.  It takes a few days for this amaryllis to completely open because it's a "double" -- it has two layers of petals.   You can see the interior layers just beginning to unfold.)

Three . . . 


(This one is just beginning to burst open, also from its second bud.  The blooms are deep red and kind of shiny -- living up to its name "Ferrari.")

This year, I think my blooms may take me all the way into March.  

You see, I have two other plants that I thought were finished after their initial set of buds.  They started putting out their leaves, which is usually a sign of  "done-ness."  But the other day, as I was giving them a water, I noticed these . . . 


Each plant has a second bud coming.  

Bring it on!  
(Because these dreary days of winter will be hanging on for a while yet, I'm afraid.)


Be sure to hop on over to Carole's today to read more Three on Thursday posts!


A Focus on My Reading

I've been a Reader ever since I discovered I could read at age 5.  As a child and throughout my adolescence, I always had my nose in a book.  I checked out books by the stack from the library, and my favorite classes in school were always "reading" or "English" or "literature."  The college years were tough on me -- because while I had plenty to read, it wasn't of my own choosing.  I missed reading-for-pleasure -- and always looked forward to semester breaks when I could dive back into my piles of books.

And . . . this reading habit just continued as I became an adult.  I read books.  Lots and lots of books!


But one thing concerns me about my reading:  It seems like I don't have the retention that I used to.  I remember reading particular books, and I'll be able to recall key characters and plot points -- but I won't be able to go much further than that.

I know.  I know.  I'm getting older.  And my brain is getting full.  And my memory is not what it used to be.  And - after reading thousands of books in my lifetime (I estimated at one time that I've probably read over 3,500) - I guess it's not surprising that I can't remember all of them.  But still. . . I'd really like to remember more than I do.

So I've decided to . . . focus . .  on my reading this year.  Not reading more.  Not reading "harder."  Just reading more attentively. More mindfully.  With the intention of savoring - and, hopefully, remembering more details about the books I read.

I think it's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the books out there in the world -- especially when you're a Reader, and so many titles appeal.  (So many books, so little time . . . and all that.)  But I've decided to change three things about my reading habit this year to try to improve my retention and savor the books I read:

  1. Fewer books.  I know that it's "normal" in a goal-setting way to try to increase the number of books one reads in a year.  But I've decided to . . . just say no to quantity-based reading.  I'll still read a lot of books, sure.  (Because that's what I do.)  But I don't want to be driven by a number -- and I don't want to challenge myself to read MORE.  I want to choose fewer, high-quality books that really appeal to me this year.  And I'm not going to be concerned about hitting some arbitrary goal I set for myself.   (Disclaimer:  I still set a Goodreads Challenge for myself this year -- at 60 books.  Which is 15 books fewer than what I've typically read for the last few years.  I'll likely remove it altogether, though.  Eventually.)
  2. More time.  Rather than rushing through the books I read, I'm going to allow myself more relaxed time to read -- and build in occasional pauses for thinking-time.  Research (from one of my alma maters; Hook 'em Horns!) shows that hitting pause now and again while you're reading - actually allowing some time to rest and reflect on what you just read - can really help your brain connect the dots and synthesize the new information.  It turns out that giving yourself a mental rest and a little time to reflect on what you're reading really helps commit new material to memory.  (Here's a link to an article about the study.)
  3. Take notes.  I am not talking about outlining chapters here!  I'm just looking for a thoughtful way to ... pause and reflect while I'm reading.  Lately, I notice that I hurry to crack open my next book as soon as I finish my current book.  That can't be helpful in the retention department.  So I'm going to do a little writing to help my brain make sense of things.  I'm planning to write more thoughtful reviews on Goodreads, and I think I'll get back to "collecting" quotes and passages from books as I read.  I will probably even do a little journaling now and then as a way to think about and connect with the what I'm reading.

It's hard to pull back when there are so many books in the world waiting to be read.  But I'm going to give it a try!  Sometimes . . . less is more! 


To read more Three on Thursday posts today, hop on over to Carole's!


Snow for Days

So.  We're in the midst of one of those winter weeks where it . . . snows for days.


I'm not talking about a blizzard here.  Or even a major storm.  Nothing to shut down the schools or anything.  Just a near-constant, gentle snowfall . . . that adds up after a few days.  

It's just winter in Michigan.  
Typical for February.  
Nothing to get riled up about.  

And I thought about how grateful I am, in the midst of snow for days . . . because:

  1. The snow is beautiful.  Our otherwise dreary winter landscape is much improved with a nice frosting of snow.  Everything looks fresh and bright and a bit magical.
  2. I have all the right apparel for managing snow and cold: a warm jacket, wool hats and scarves and mittens, snow boots.  I am toasty-warm.
  3. In my trusty, all-wheel drive Subaru Outback (fitted with new tires this year -- bonus!), I can navigate winter roads with ease -- and go anywhere I want.

C'mon, winter.  Show me what you got!  (Just be sure to wrap things up by the end of month.  M'kay?)


Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts.


Three on Thursday . . . Times Six

I am a regular listener of Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast -- and if you are too, you know that she and her sister, Liz, have been talking a lot about their "18 for 2018" lists lately.

Just in case you're not a regular listener (something I highly recommend, by the way; this is a great weekly podcast), "18 for 2018" is a list of 18 action items (or goals) you hope to accomplish during 2018.  

This is a fun exercise -- and perfect for the beginning of the new year.  Just think about 18 things you'd like to accomplish during the next 12 months. . . and make a list.

Here's mine (taken right out of my daily journal):


Now, we're talking goals (rather than intentions) here.  These are specific and tangible things I want to do or achieve in the future -- external achievements (action items) that I can cross off my list once I've accomplished them.  My list is a mix of . . .

relatively easy things,
things I can do now,
things I can't do until later in the year,
things that will take all year to accomplish,
and things that have been on my "action plans" for years and years (I'm talking about you, re-paint-the-dining-room!).

This list is not a place for my intentions or for any resolutions.  Nope.  We're talking pure goals here!

It's fun.  Give it a try.   What's on YOUR list . . . of 18 for 2018?


See more Three on Thursday posts over at Carole's!



Three Things on a Thursday

(Although I fully support Think Write Thursday, there are some weeks when the topic doesn't quite work for me.  Sometimes it's a challenging topic that I just don't have the time to thoughtfully consider, sometimes I lose steam, and sometimes I am just not in a creative mood.  For those weeks, I rely on my old stand-by: Three Things on a Thursday.  Please do check out today's Think Write Thursday posts here.)


Thing One:

Ugh.  That photo is my garden in March.  So bare.  So brown.  So quiet.  (But no snow this year, so that's a bonus!)  Yesterday, the winds just howled here all day long, whipping up the long grasses Tom cut down and neatly stacked a few weeks ago (waiting for our yard waste company to begin its pick-up service again next month).  Yesterday, in the wind, the grass clippings were just flying around the yard, and lots of them ended up on the patio.  What a mess.  (And they also kicked up my allergies - because I am allergic to grass.)

Thing Two:

I am now deep into Week Two With No Knitting.  Nothing on my needles.  No inspiration.  Not really missing it.  My knitting-mojo has definitely left the building!  I am working away on an Alabama Chanin stitching project, though.  And painting.  So it's not like my hands are still.  But . . . I don't think I've taken this long a break from knitting in . . . years!

Thing Three:

The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction long list was announced yesterday.  (You can find it here.)  I always look forward to this book list.  It serves as my reading inspiration for the rest of the year, as I challenge myself to read all the long list books.  (I've never completely succeeded, but I usually come close.)   This year, I've already read one of the books on the list (Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien) . . . so 15 to go!

Enjoy your Thursday!

Three Things on a Thursday at the Tail End of January

Join me in welcoming the Tail End of January (the month that seems to never end).


(My neighborhood - totally suburban - used to be a farm.  We still have a barn.  Right down the street from my house!)

Three things on this Thursday:

  1. It's time to sign up again for A Month of Letters.  Take the challenge!  Send something (letter, card, postcard) by regular mail every day during February.  This will be my third year.  Try it!  It's a fun way to make your way through the month.  (And sending Valentines makes it easy.)
  2. Join me February 2 (this Sunday) for a Silent Poetry Reading.  While I don't know if this is A Thing anymore, it will always be A Thing for me.
  3. My god!  January is a long month, isn't it?  (Just one terribly long slog. . .)

Enjoy your Thursday.  (It's almost Friday.  And February is right around the corner.)



This and That . . . Three Things on a Thursday

It's cold.  It's snowing.  It's Thursday.

Thing 1:  Claim to Fame


Erin gave me these socks in our Family Stocking Exchange this Christmas.  She purchased them for well under $5 at Rite-Aid.  If you look at the tag, you can see that these socks are "The Coziest Socks in the Universe."  (That's right!  The Universe.)  Who knew?

Thing 2:  Why I Was Late To Work on Tuesday


That's right.  Turkey Crossing Ahead.  This poor-quality phone photo only shows the last two (well, you can actually see four if you look carefully) of a string of six turkeys crossing the road.  S-l-o-w-l-y.  By the time I got my camera out and pointed at the turkeys, I almost missed 'em.

Thing 3:  Best Chocolate-Covered Almonds EVER


Tom brought home some YUM from Switzerland last week.  Oh. My.

Enjoy your Thursday!



Just Three

It's Thursday.  Time for a 3-fer!


1.  Having your adult kids at home for a visit is GREAT.  But, wow!  There never seem to be any clean glasses available. . .  And there are shoes and books and keys and empty snack bags EVERYwhere!  (Feels like old times.)

2.  Two weeks from today, I'll be in Sweden with my sister!  Between work and home and garden, I have a million things to wrap up before I leave.  (Biggest concern on my mind. . . what to pack???)

3.  I have my 6-month check-up appointment with my oncologist this afternoon.  The amazing thing. . . is that I FORGOT about the appointment until I got a reminder call from her office yesterday! (I never thought that would be the case.)

Have a great Thursday!