Best Of . . . Thanksgiving Weekend

On a Monday at the end of the month, I've started showing you the "best of" my weekends (which are . . . pretty darn ordinary these days . . . ). Except this weekend was a little longer and a lot more exciting because of Thanksgiving.

Here's what made my "best of" list this weekend . . . 

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First, it was so wonderful to gather this year -- around my fireplace, around my table -- for Thanksgiving with people I love! Last year, Tom and I boxed up Thanksgiving dinner portions and delivered them to Brian and Lauren and to my dad . . . and then we all ate at our separate tables. It was really pretty sad. So it was a real gift to be able to be together again. In person. Sharing the day together. (Brian and Lauren put together a tasty charcuterie board for us to get things started last Thursday.)

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Second, if the pandemic has taught me anything, it has taught me to simplify! Although we made plenty of food for our Thanksgiving feast, we didn't over-fuss. I didn't stress about putting together a "fancy" table (although I did find those awesome solid-chocolate turkeys to dress things up). We kept everything relaxed and simple. And that felt . . . good and right.

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Third, it's always fun to share Thanksgiving with the dogs! This was Ferda's first experience as an official member of the Turkey Security Detail, and she rose to the challenge like a champ. JoJo - who, as you may remember had been suffering the effects of (ahem) "dietary indiscretion" last week - was feeling better, but rather put out as she was thwarted at her begging-for-meat-please attempts. (She is feeling better now, and has had her share of turkey bits that we saved for her.) (Jenny enjoyed the day, but evaded photo opportunities.)

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And, finally, Tom and Brian froze their asses off enjoyed a father/son bonding experience on Friday with a guided fishing trip. It was Very Cold, but the fishing was great. Here's Brian with a lovely steelhead, Tom looking on from the back of the boat.

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And you know what that meant?  That I had Friday . . . all to myself. I might have been super productive and used my time wisely. But I didn't. I was pretty much a lazy slob all day long. Food hangover I guess you could say? 

But some weekends are meant to be just like that.

(What was the best of your weekend?)


A Week of Gratitude: Friday

This week I bring you a . . . 

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I am generally a big fan of the Friday after Thanksgiving. (And NOT because of the shopping.) I like this day because it tends to be Very Low Key. There is zero pressure to get anything done. I already know what's for dinner (leftovers). And there is generally a feeling of contentment after the celebration of the day before.

And . . . it's also a great day to make stuff!

Today is Friday. I'm grateful for being able to move my hands in creative ways -- and for all those who inspire me.

My plans for the day include . . . a quick re-org/inventory of my refrigerator, a workout (because ohmygod yesterday was a blur of food and I need to work that out of my system a bit), and then, for the rest of the day, some . . . creative something-or-other.

If you're looking for inspiration, here's a quick round-up of 9 little ornament projects from one of my crafty-creative favorites, Ann Wood . . . 

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Celebrate your creativity!
Stitch up some gratitude.


A Week of Gratitude: Thursday

This week I bring you a . . . 

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I miss my mom most at Thanksgiving.

I thought of her this morning, as I was peeling potatoes. And I got a bit teary; a bit melancholy. (There was an . . . incident . . . involving potato peelings and a not-so-great garbage disposal and Trouble in a Small Kitchen that was very funny back in the mid-90s.) (And we never let her forget it.) You really never know when grief will rear its head.

Today is Thursday. I'm grateful for memories that bring comfort. Even when they also bring tears.

On days like today, I find poetry to be especially comforting. Here's one that suits my state of mind . . . from one of my favorite poets.

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What Came to Me
Jane Kenyon

I took the last
dusty piece of china
out of the barrel.
It was your gravy boat,
with a hard, brown 
drop of gravy still
on the porcelain lip.
I grieved for you then
as I never had before.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate.
And a special hug to all of you who may . . . need one today.

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Today's poem is from my copy of Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems, pulished in 2005 by Graywolf Press.


A Week of Gratitude: Wednesday

This week I bring you a . . . 

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I don't know about you, but I'm really in the thick of it now. It is my biggest "prep" day of the year! Pies and potatoes and guest room and tablecloth and hoping to avoid a last minute stop at the grocery store.

I secretly love the flurry of activity. 

Today is Wednesday. I'm grateful for my energy and a (reasonably) good attitude.

And I'm also grateful for a good, high-energy playlist to keep me moving. Like this one . . . 

Keep moving.
Celebrate gratitude!


A Week of Gratitude: Tuesday

This week, I bring you a . . . 

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It's a busy week for me. I'm hosting a Thanksgiving meal for my family on Thursday, and I'm trying to get prepared for . . . all that. On top of all my usual stuff. And now it seems I have a sick dog to deal with, too. (JoJo, in case you're wondering.)

It's always something, y'know?

Today is Tuesday. And I'm grateful for my centering meditation practice.

I like to sit myself down on my meditation cushion every morning, to start the day with silence or sounds or mantra or music. It helps me feel grounded in the midst of hectic days and a crazy world.  Today I'm sharing a short gratitude practice from Saqib, one of my favorite "guides" from Insight Timer. It's a lovely way to begin or end your day. Click here for the 8 minute practice.

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Find your center.
Celebrate gratitude!

 

 


A Week of Gratitude: Monday

It's Thanksgiving week here in the US . . . a week traditionally spent cooking, gathering with friends and family, and reflecting on our many blessings. I know this can be a complicated time. Maybe you're missing people around your table this season. Maybe gathering with your family is not so fun. Maybe you struggle with the origin story of Thanksgiving. Maybe you're alone. Maybe you'd like to be. Maybe it's just been a crappy year.  And I get that. Not everyone is celebrating.

But I'll bet . . . a dose of gratitude will help.
(Because it usually does.)

Join me for . . . 

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Today is Monday. And I'm thinking about . . . moving my body . . . and how grateful I am that I can!

I mean, my body is old and pretty creaky. It's been through a lot. It doesn't always do what I want it to do anymore. But . . . my goodness. It still works! And that is a wondrous thing.

Today, I'm going to practice gratitude . . . with a gratitude practice. And you can, too. My favorite online yoga teacher, Adriene, put together a lovely yoga practice for gratitude. It's slow and stretchy, perfect for beginners. There is time built into the practice to reflect on things you're grateful for. And it's great way to make a mind-body connection and bringing you into balance for (what might be) a busy week.

Celebrate moving your body.
Practice gratitude!

 

 

 


Finding Hope . . . In a Book

It's Friday, and once again, I've been . . . 

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I like it best when hope finds ME, actually. When I'm not really looking for it, y'know?
And that's how it happened this week. 

It all started when I was at the library. I was picking up a book I'd had on hold, and once I had it in my hands, I decided to just peruse the "new releases" shelf to see what else was available.

And this lovely cover caught my eye from the "hot picks" shelf . . . 

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I grabbed it and read the inside flap. Hmmm. Might be kinda interesting? But the schmaltz-factor also felt like it kinda might tilt toward "high"? So I got my phone out and opened the Goodreads app to check out some reviews. Lo and behold . . . Margene had just finished reading it --- and she gave it 5 stars!!! I immediately added it to my book pile and headed over to check them out (because Margene and I have very similar taste in books, and I trust her recommendations above all others).

I started reading it as soon as I got home, and was immediately bathed . . .  in the goodness of people; the goodness of life. The kindness. The respect. The love. (You know that feeling you get when you watch Ted Lasso? It's like that. Only in book form.) 

Still Life is a wonder! It’s engaging and fresh and a little bit magical. The characters are delightful - and almost without exception, they feel like . . . friends, like the best kind of family. It's a talk-y book, and the dialog is clever, snappy, sometimes funny and sometimes deep. And it's mainly set in picture-perfect Florence, which provides a stunning backdrop. There is art and poetry, love and loyalty, kindness and hope -- with just enough introspection to make you sigh now and then.

It's a book that makes you feel like you've got a spot at the table . . . with people you love most.
It's a book that made me feel good about everything.
It's a book filled with the best things about people . . . and that gives me hope.

"Book are a uniquely portable magic."
            -- Stephen King

 

 


Get Strong: It's Time for Another Fitness Challenge

Last month I introduced my monthly fitness challenge, explaining my "inspiration" and why I think it's so important to do strength work ESPECIALLY as we age. (You can read all about that here.)

So.
How did you do?

I hope you've made a habit of doing simple body weight squats all day long, and that by now you're sitting and standing - hands free - with ease! (And if your answer is Not Yet . . . well. I encourage you to start today!)
Keep doing it!
Every day.

Get Strong

And add this . . . 

Challenge #2: Stretch your hamstrings, activate those glutes . . . and spare your back just by changing the way you bend over.

Okay. It turns out that most people in the US bend over in a way that is not "friendly" to our backs. (It's apparently a cultural thing.) Try this: Drop something on the floor. Now bend over to pick it up. 

Did you look down at the object . . . and then bend over at your waist to pick it up? That's how most people in the US move when they need to bend over and do . . . whatever. Pick something up off the floor. Pull a weed in the garden. Tie their shoe. Etc. But. . . bending over at the waist like that is not good for our lower backs! Bending at the waist puts our bodies into a "C" position (curving like the letter C), which puts stress on our spines.

There's a better - and more back-friendly - way to bend over. It's called a "table bend" - or a hip hinge. When we hinge at the hips (instead of at our waist), our backs can stay straight in a neutral position, which takes the pressue off our spines. The "work" in a table bend comes from our hip joints (which are designed for this kind of motion), and it gives our hamstrings and glutes a nice little workout besides.

Here is an interesting article from NPR explaining the "C" bend vs. the "table" bend -- with a great little video demo-ing the correct way to hinge at the hip when you pick something up off the floor.

As a regular practicer of yoga for many years, I have develped a very flexible spine. I'm able to bend forward at the waist comfortably, and my back is strong and supple. But when I started working with a personal trainer a few years ago, he had me switch to the hip hinge right away - for just everyday bending over and as a strong base for weight training. I've been doing it ever since. There's nothing wrong with the spinal flexion moves in yoga (in fact, they provide excellent benefits), but when it comes to everyday bending over, the hip hinge is the best option.

A strong, healthy back is key to easy (easier?) movement as we age. Besides sparing our backs, hip hinges help strengthen our core -- which helps reduce back pain, improves our balance, and allows us better flexion, extension, and rotation of our bodies. And . . . it just feels better.

So my challenge to you this month is . . . to watch the very quick video demo of the hip hinge (or "table" bend) that I linked above. And then . . . practice it every time you need to bend over. Like last month, you don't need to set aside a special workout time for this. You just need to . . . pick something up off the floor!

It won't take long for you to develop this new, bending over habit.
It feels good -- and it's easy.

Just think how much stronger your core and leg muscles are getting -- now that you're doing body weight squats every day (because you are, aren't you?) AND stretching your hamstrings and working your glutes . . . all while saving your back!

(Future You is feeling better every day.)

 


From the Sewing Department

I did a little sewing over the weekend. Nothing fancy or special. Just a plain, long sleeve, v-neck t-shirt.

THAT I LOVE.

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(And, yes. The lighting in my closet is . . . not great.) (Tom was away this weekend, so you'll see that all of the photos from today's post are rather . . . lacking.) (Oh well. You'll get the gist of it.)

This is the Tabor V-Neck from one of my favorite indie sewing pattern companies, Sew House Seven. I really love their patterns. (I've made several different designs from their portfolio - some multiple times.) They always have clear directions and plenty of helpful tips. This shirt, for example, includes a little trick for lining up a perfect v-neck. I'm thrilled! (This old dog is always up for learning new tricks.)

Anyway, this shirt is a wardrobe basic that I'll wear over and over. The fit is great, it's super comfortable to wear, and it didn't take long to put together either. I'm already plotting my next version(s).

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I know a lot of people avoid working with knits . . . either because they think it'll be "too hard" to work with them, or because they don't have a serger. I'm here to tell you  . . . you don't need a serger to sew knits! I don't have one. (In fact, I've never even used one!) And unless they're "slippery" knits, they aren't hard to work with either. You just need to pay attention to what you're doing, and be careful not to stretch things out while you stitch. 

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I love finding basic patterns that are easy to sew and easy to wear. 
(And, my. Sewing is so much faster than knitting, y'know?)

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How about you? What are you making this week?

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If you're looking to sew up a quick and useful holiday gift (or maybe even 4 of them?), Helen's Closet (another of my favorite indie pattern designers) just released the Sam Apron. It's even a freebie! All you have to do is sign up for the Helen's Closet newsletter. I'm planning to give this pattern a try . . . really soon!


This or That

It was fun last month . . . when I posted a little This or That "exercise." So I decided . . . let's do it again!

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Just copy the following, paste it into the comment field, and indicate your answers. (I've tried it myself and it works.) (Yes. It's kind of awkward? But maybe fun anyway?)

Bonfire or Fireplace
Sweaters or Sweatpants
Hot Cocoa or Apple Cider
Candles or Essential Oils
Hot Baths or Hot Showers
Reading or Netflix

As for me . . . 

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