Best Of

Not really a "weekending" post here, but . . . not exactly a "random" post either . . . 
It's more . . .  a look at some highlights of my really typical, pretty ordinary, low-key and not terribly blog-worthy kind of weekend.

Here's what made my "Best Of" list this weekend:

First, we had Brian and Lauren's dog, Ferda, with us this weekend while they celebrated their 7th 6th anniversary in style. (I know. Can you believe it's been 7 6 years???) (Edited to add: Oops. I got a year ahead of myself. Although that makes me feel slightly better about the speed of time, I'm still floored it's already been SIX years.) Anyway. Ferda is a sweet pup. Very high energy. Very curious. And so much fun! Usually, she spends her time with us trying to get JoJo to play - and JoJo does play, but JoJo is 8 and she tires quickly. Ferda mostly ignores Jenny because Jenny (who certainly ignores Ferda) is old and crotchety and, well, not much fun anymore. But sometimes . . . Jenny allows Ferda to be near her. And that's always a highlight.


And . . . Saturday was a glorious day for gardening, so I spent some time repotting a few of my indoor plants. And bringing in all my little garden "tchotchkes" for the season. And doing a bit of fall garden clean-up. And . . . weeding, of course. (No bulb-planting yet, though.) (Maybe soon. ) (Or maybe I'll just force the bulbs inside???) Anyway, it's always a highlight when I can get in a good gardening session this late in October!


And . . .  I got to do some "virtual shopping" with Erin. She took me along (via her phone) as she chose shoes to go with her dress for the Halloween wedding she'll be in this weekend. It's always good fun to shop with Erin, even if not in person. (We shopped for the pattern and fabric for her dress the same way.) The wedding is in Ohio (she'll be so close, but the timing just doesn't work for us to get together), where she'll be a bridesmaid for her college roommate -- who has always adored Halloween. Costumes are required, although Erin and Keith have decided to limit their costume to "fancy masks" because it's too hard to travel with more elaborate costumes. I think it'll be a VERY fun wedding. And . . . seeing the dress on Erin - and seeing that it fit! - was a definite highlight. (Sorry. No shoes in this shot, although they were procured.)


And . . . I discovered a new favorite taco recipe. (I'll link here, although I'm not sure it will work for you. If it does? You're in for a treat.) I have discovered that the New York Times Cooking app is my favorite recipe source these days. The app works great for organizing and keeping track of all the recipes I've "Saved to Recipe Box" from the NYT. Great recipes, helpful advice, and often there are video tips for the tricky bits. Anyway. This particular recipe is for Slow Cooker Chipotle-Honey Chicken Tacos and it is a WINNER (and no tricky bits). Especially served with pickled onions -- which are a new favorite condiment. (And I love condiments.) Great new recipe? Always a highlight!


And there you have it: dog sitting, garden chores, virtual shoe shopping, and pickled onions.
The best of my weekend!

(How was yours?)


Get Strong: A Little Fitness Challenge

Back in the days before the pandemic, I used to blog quite a bit about fitness. Trying to make it . . . palatable for you. Hoping to entice you to . . . work at it. Not because we need to look a certain way (we don't) or fit into a smaller size of pants (unnecessary), but because, ultimately, I want us all to be strong, rather bad-assy old people.

I think we all should want this. If we think about it.

Five years before my mom passed away, she broke her ankle quite badly . . . and I was her caretaker. It was an eye-opening experience for me -- and it changed my entire approach to fitness. My mom was 75 when she fell off the counter stool in my kitchen and broke her ankle. She was active and in fairly good shape (or so I thought) at the time. She took care of her health and watched her diet. She went to Zumba Gold classes and swam laps at her local Senior Center a couple of times a week. She was active, enjoyed walking, and had little trouble keeping up with me when we were out and about. But that fall? It exposed the "cracks" in her "foundation!"

For a month after her surgery, she was not able to bear any weight on her injured ankle. None. Which meant . . . hopping (with or without a walker), crutches, or a wheelchair. Sadly, the wheelchair was her only option. Because she wasn't able to hop at all (her feet just . . . couldn't seem to leave the ground). She didn't have the arm strength to maneuver the walker. Or the crutches. She didn't have the core strength get into or out of a chair, the couch, her bed, or to use the bathroom by herself. It was shocking to me (and to her). How could this be??? How could my seemingly able mom . . . turn into a feeble old lady overnight???

What happened?
I'll tell you, my friends. It was . . . use it or lose it . . . in action!
And it's happening to each of us.

There are all kinds of studies out there explaining that our muscles melt away as we age. You know the drill . . . Our muscles begin to deteriorate in our 30s.  When we hit 40, we lose an average of 8% of our muscle mass every decade -- and this continues to accelerate even faster after age 60.  Loss of muscle limits mobility, speeds the onset of some diseases, and is linked to premature death. As we age, we need to focus on building and maintaining our strength. If we don't? Well . . . just think about what happened to my mom.


Here I am . . . trying to cajole you into caring about your strength.

I know how hard a sell this is. I know most of you just think I'm a pain in the ass. So this time, I'm going to make it a little more practical, more doable. I'm going to offer you a simple strength fitness challenge once a month. Something basic - but important - that you can do to (on the regular) (like every day) to build your strength. At home. Without a gym. Using no equipment. And without needing to schedule time for a "workout."


Let's begin!

Challenge #1: Strengthen Your Lower Body by Doing Body Weight Squats . . . All Day Long


Okay. So that's just a shocking headline to get your attention. But it is the intent of this challenge. And . . . it's actually surprisingly simple to DO body weight squats . . . all day long! Just take a seat (on the couch, in your chair, using the toilet) without using your hands to support you. Every time you sit. And then, rise from your seat (on the couch, in your chair, using the toilet) without using your hands to support you. 

If you do this, you're essentially doing body weight squats every time you sit and stand -- and it is a great strengthening exercise. Squats strengthen the muscles in our core and lower body -- our glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. It takes some core strength to sit yourself down and stand yourself up. And, trust me, you're going to need that core strength as you age. You're going to want those lower body muscles to continue to support you -- and especially as you get older. (These muscles also help us with our balance, but we'll talk more about that in a future challenge.)

So give it a try. Whenever it's time to sit or stand today, cross your arms over your chest and force yourself to get up or down without pushing or pulling on anything to do it. When you sit, don't allow yourself to "fall back" onto the chair . . . really think about controlling your body as you sit. Then plant your feet and rise up back up to a standing position. (I mean . . . you've got to get up or down, so why not turn it into an opportunity to build your strength?) If you can't do it, don't give up. Keep practicing! With repetition, you'll develop the strength to be able to do it. And if it's easy for you, that's great! Keep doing it!

Squats all day.
Every day.
(Who knew?)
(Future-You will be so grateful.)


What's Up: A Making Update

Flexibility . . . is good. I write to you today NOT from our cabin in the woods up north, but from home. Sometimes plans change, even when you're on the verge of packing up to head out. We still need to go. It's just not gonna be this week.


How about a quick update on what I'm making and how things are going instead?

First, I finished the dress I was sewing for Erin to wear in a Halloween wedding. You'll have to be satisfied with a back-view shot of me doing a try-on of the dress OVER my sweatpants. Because that's what I've got . . . 


It turned out to be One Of Those Projects that took a lot longer than I expected/wanted it to take. Fussy fabric. Fully lined. Circle skirt. (Actually TWO circle skirts. Because fully lined.) Invisible zipper. And I was working from measurements, but didn't have the actual wear-er (that would be Erin) around for fittings. The dress turned out nicely, in the end. And it arrived safely in California yesterday.  (So check that one off my list.)

Next, I'm nearing the end on my test knit for this sweater . . .


Just a bit more to knit on the back. And then the "sleeve" edgings. It won't take me long. (The pattern release is scheduled for November 5. I've got plenty of time.) It's a very nice little sweater, and I'm eager to have it in my clothing-rotation for the cooler months. I'm also eager to have it finished, so I can move on to something else. What? I haven't decided yet. But probably this. (Although I'm also smitten with this.) (And I want to knit this, too.) (So . . . who knows.)

Finally, remember my adorable pumpkin kit? I stuck it back in it's drawer yesterday . . . 

IMG_6515 2

Giving up for another year. BUT. I am following a comment-suggestion from Valerie, and I've set up a reminder on my phone to dig it out next July and start working on it earlier. (Brilliant, non?)

How about YOU?
What are you making this week?




Looking for Fall

We're heading up north for a few days.


I joke that I'm looking for fall (not finding much of it here at home yet) . . . But, really, we're just prepping to shut everything down for the season. Sorting. Storing. Breaking down "camp." It's a bittersweet time, always. 

I may blog from up there, but I probably will end up just taking a few days off.
(We'll see how it goes!)

Stay tuned.


"Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonize."
            --- George Eliot


Sometimes Mondays

. . . feel kinda weird.


According to the calendar, fall has arrived. But it hasn't really felt much like . . . fall . . . in my corner of the world. Not yet. Oh, sure. There have been a few days where there's been a little nip in the air. And the sun is certainly rising later/setting earlier than it was a month or two ago. 

But the leaves are still not turning.
And there hasn't been even the lightest hint of a frost.

And that's really weird.

In fact, we are on track here . . . for the latest "first frost" ever. The weather-folk are pushing that date for my area into early-mid November. (Usually it would have happened by now.) And we're having the latest "peak color" in decades (maybe ever) throughout the state.

I guess that explains why . . . I'm still wearing shorts and flip-flops (sometimes with sweatshirts, but still). And I haven't brought out my warm clothes yet. And I only just this weekend pulled out my pumpkin collection to decorate inside my house. I'm still working in my garden and watering containers that would normally be in the compost heap by now.

Very weird.
But I guess I still have plenty of time to plant my fall bulbs!

(How about you? Has fall arrived in your neck of the woods?)

Another Week of Questions: Friday

This week, I'm asking you questions.


Today's question is . .  just for fun.

It's a fall "this is or that." If you have an Instagram account, you've no doubt seen these sort of things pop up in your feed. Someone posts a "this or that" list. You're encouraged to take a screen shot of the list, edit to choose your responses, and then repost on Instagram with a tag. I always think they look fun, but I never take the time to do them. 

So here's today's "question" . . . 

IMG_6422 3

Instead of screenshotting or uploading . . . just copy the following, paste it into the comment field, and indicate your answers. (I've tried it myself and it seems to work.) (Yes. It's kind of awkward? But maybe fun anyway?)

Candles or Fairy Lights
Tea or Spiced Cider
Caramel Apple or Pumpkin Pie
Sweaters or Flannel
Leggings or Sweat Pants
Boots or Uggs
Scary Movie or Haunted House
Pumpkin Patch or Apple Orchard
PSL or Chai
Scarves or Cozy Socks

As for me . . . 

IMG_6422 2

This. Or That.
I can't wait to see what YOU choose.


Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions this week! I've loved reading the stories and thoughts and memories you've shared.
Happy Friday -- and enjoy your weekend.

Another Week of Questions: Thursday

This week, I'm asking you questions!


Today's question is about . . . your Halloween memories.

When you were a kid, what do you remember most about Halloween? What kind of costumes did you wear for Halloween? How is Halloween different now . . . than it was when you were a kid?

Halloween 1961

As for me . . . Halloween was an exciting day for me, as a kid. But it was much different than it is now! Much more low-key . . . Our costumes were thrown together at the last moment from whatever we happened to have lying around the house. We did have school Halloween parties, but costumes weren't part of it at my school. And Halloween decorations were more likely to be of the cardboard variety. (We did have a big, jointed, cardboard skeleton I particularly enjoyed "posing" to tape into our living room window.) The photo above (I'm the bunny, by the way, age 2 1/2 and already bossing my younger cousins around . . .) is the ONLY photo of me in a Halloween costume in my collection of family photos! Halloween wasn't such a big deal, and my costumes were nothing to write home about. Times, they do change . . . 

How about YOU?
I'm curious about your Halloween memories!

Another Week of Questions: Wednesday

This week, I'm asking you questions!


Today's question is about . . . arts and crafts.

If you were unconcerned about resources (time, money, equipment, geography) and skill (perceived or otherwise), what arts or crafts activity would you be interested in learning or undertaking?

As for me? Oh, there are so many! (Dyeing. Weaving. Jewelry making. Art quilting. Pattern design.) But the one I'd really like to try?


How about YOU?
What would you like to try?

Another Week of Questions: Tuesday

This week, I'm asking you questions!


Today's question . . . is about dreams.

Do you wake up remembering your dreams? Are they vivid - or do they fade away? And . . . do you have any recurring dreams?

As for me . . . I'm afraid I'm not much of a dreamer. Or, maybe it's that I am not much of a rememberer when it comes to my dreams. I'm rarely aware of dreaming, and if I do have a glimmer of something, it generally fades before I've even grabbed my first cup of coffee. There are times, though, when my dreaming wakes me up . . . and it always seems to be the a dream with the same sort of theme: Frustration. In these dreams, it seems I'm always trying to get ready to go somewhere or do something with a specific time element (a job, a trip, some sort of engagement, on my way to pick someone up, etc.), but situations keep unfolding that prevent me from making any forward progress. No matter what I do, in my dream I can't make any headway! My clothes won't fit and then I get lost in my own house or I lose my keys and forget my passport and can't find a gas station . . . just endless annoyances. And it goes on and on and on and I get more and more frustrated in my dream . . . until I wake up. And then I'm always flooded with relief that it wasn't a real situation and I really DO know where my passport is!

How about YOU?
I'm curious to hear about your dreams!

Another Week of Questions: Monday

Last July, I tried something different . . . and it turned out to be pretty fun . . . so I'm going to do it again! 

Every day this week, I'm going to ask YOU a question.
(You can answer in the comments.)


Today's question . . . is about keeping track of yourself.

Do you track anything . . . habits, intentions, or the like? And if you do, what kind of system do you use?

I track . . . all kinds of things. Mostly, I just jot things down in my daily planner (which is very loosely based on a bullet journal, but not nearly that "system-y"). I track fitness plans and dinner menus, blog post ideas and moon cycles, medications, that kind of thing.

But I also track . . . whether I'm on track.

You see, several years ago, when my one-little-word for the year was balance, I figured out that there are five things I need every day to maintain my personal equilibrium. These five things are: Meditation, movement, time to reflect (journaling), time outside (weather be damned), and some sort of creative activity. Ever since I figured out my "five things," I've tracked them in my planner. 


This basic and simple tracker . . . works for me. I know there are a million different ways to track personal habits and intentions of this nature -- from more formal bullet journaling to downloadable checklists to highly specialized apps. As for me, I just prefer a good old-fashioned paper-and-pencil checklist. I just like being able to "see" that I'm doing okay . . . or that I'm headed for trouble - balance-wise - with a quick glance at my "tracker." If there are too many blank spots or inconsistencies, I can course-correct. Or batten down the hatches.

(Besides, I really like filling in those little grid squares!)

How about YOU?
Do you keep track of yourself?
And what system do you use to keep track of it?

I can't wait to hear your stories!


Be sure to check back tomorrow . . . for a new question.