Previous month:
December 2012
Next month:
February 2013

January 2013

In the Contrast

There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.  --- Charles Dickens

Yesterday, as I was rushing around the house preparing to leave for work, I walked into the kitchen and saw this. . .


The sun was breaking over my back fence, lighting my morning and taking my breath away for a minute.

And then. . .

I noticed this. . .


Light . . . stronger in the contrast.


Create light . . . create shadow.


Working on . . . my Fitness

Staying in shape is easy for me; it's part of my routine; it's my lifestyle.  But I know it isn't easy for everyone.  Fitness is a hard habit to adopt!  It takes a lot of dedication and commitment to stick with a fitness regimen when it's NOT something you love; when it's not something you're comfortable with.   I know . . .I see the January People sign up at my gym every year.  I see them crowd the cardio equipment and disrupt the running track and cause jams in the pool.  And then, sadly, I see most of them disappear before the end of the month!


Today, Carole has us thinking about Ten Tips for Sticking With Your Fitness Routine -- a great topic (especially if you need a little push to keep going with your January fitness goals!).  I've been a cheerleader for many of my fitness-seeking friends over the years -- and here's what I usually tell them:

  1. Find a fitness activity that suits YOU.  If you can find an activity that you can actually LIKE doing, you'll be much more apt to do it - and to find joy in it.  When I was a kid, I loved dancing -- so it makes sense that I still find joy in dancing.  If this is true for you, find an aerobic dance class -- or try Zumba or step aerobics or something where you can move your body to music.  If you liked playing in the water, try a water exercise class or swim laps.  If you liked racing your bike around the neighborhood, try a spin class.  And if you like curling up in ball to watch tv or read books, try yoga!  Just think back to things you liked to do as a kid -- and find a way to translate that activity to a fitness routine.  Because that kid is still there -- waiting to move again!
  2. Work out in a convenient location.  If you have to drive out of your way to get to your gym, it will be easy to opt out of going.  Check out the gym options close to either where you live or where you work; it's all about convenience.  Make it EASY to get yourself to the gym!
  3. Listen to your body.  Know that there will be pain involved in getting yourself in shape.  Learn to tell the difference between muscle aches and stiffness -- and injury.  You don't want injuries to sideline you --- but you also don't want normal aches and stiffness to stop you from moving forward either.  There are ways to modify most exercises and fitness activities to accomodate all types of injuries and disabilities.  Yeah, none of us are as young as we used to be -- that's for sure!  But we can still get moving -- at the level and pace that's right each of us.
  4. Figure out the way you like to exercise.  Do you like social aspects of exercise?  Try a class.  Do you need structure  . . . and a kick in the butt?  Hire a personal trainer.  Do you need peer pressure to keep you moving?  Find a workout buddy.  If you match the setting/surroundings to your preferred way of working out, you'll be much happier and more likely to keep at it!
  5. Make working out a priority.  I schedule my workout times on my calendar as if I were scheduling an appointment or meeting.  And then, I schedule other things AROUND my workouts. 
  6. Give new things a chance.  If you haven't worked out regularly for awhile, my guess is that you're not going to love it right away.  Lots of people quit before they even start to feel the benefits of their hard work.  So, accept that you won't like it right away . . . but that you might with enough time.  A couple of years ago, I wanted to add something different to my fitness routine -- to kind of shake things up again.  I decided to try spinning -- which looked just stupid and pointless to me at the time.  I figured I'd hate it, but I made a deal with myself:  I told myself I had to try it 6 times before I could decide whether I really hated it.  By my third spinning class, I was turning the corner, and by the sixth, I was sold.  I've been spinning 2 or 3 times a week ever since.  Give new things a chance - try them enough times to get over the initial discomfort.
  7. Wear the right clothes.  I'm not talking about fashion here -- I'm talking about function!  Invest in a good, supportive pair of shoes -- appropriate for your chosen sport -- and keep them available ONLY for working out.  A supportive, comfortable sports bra (that fits!) is a must.  And shirts, shorts, and socks made of wicking materials will keep you comfortable during your workout.  (Nothing feels worse than cotton t-shirts and sweatpants that sop up the sweat and weigh you down.)
  8. Set your own pace -- but put push yourself.  Set goals.  Use a journal.  Or an app.  Chart your progress.  Reward yourself.  Don't compare yourself to other people -- this is your individual journey.  
  9. Find some cheerleaders.  It's easier to keep going, even when you really don't want to, when you've got some friends cheering you on.  Find the support you need -- people who will follow your progress, encourage you, and kick you in the butt when you need it.  (And avoid those who want to pull you down . . . to sit on the couch with them. . . and just, well, not go. . .)
  10. Use music. When I work out, I like classes with good music that makes me keep moving even when I don't want to.  And I like it LOUD!  When I'm not in a class, I have my iPod workout playlist handy.  Songs can inspire.  Remember Rocky?  Yeah.  Music.
  11. (Sorry.  Can't help myself)  Don't be afraid to sweat!  Work hard.  Push yourself.  SWEAT!

Mostly, remember that it takes a long time to develop good habits.  At least 21 days, they say -- but, when it comes to a commitment like fitness, it tends to take longer. 

Just do it!

(And if you want a virtual cheerleader, let me know.)


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.

Just a Riff


  • It's Monday.
  • I'm sick of being sick.
  • Tom is in a charming village in Switzerland.  And I am not.
  • I am here in Michigan.  Where we used to have winter, but now have spring even in January. 
  • Sure.  It snows a bit now and again.  But it's too warm to stay on the ground. 
  • My garden is being overtaken by weeds.  In January.  A friend planted bulbs the other day.  Bulbs.  In January.
  • We had temperatures in the 60s (F) over the weekend.  The weather people called it "The January Thaw."  Can it be a "thaw" if there was nothing to thaw?  I wonder about these weather people.  Not all weather is an "event."  Get over yourselves.
  • Can you tell I'm . . . out of sorts?
  • It's because I've still got The Crud.  I'm functional, sure.  It's not totally wiping me out.  It's just. . . Still Here.  And it's settled in my eyes.  I can't wear my contacts.  I can't wear mascara.  (Not sure which of those bothers me more.)
  • I watched the Golden Globes last night.  Just to see what people were wearing.  (I'm Like That.)  I hate the Golden Globes, generally, and last night was no exception.  But I did see some pretty dresses.  And that was the point.  (More Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would have been nice, too.  After all. . . they were the HOSTS.)
  • I switched over to Downton Abbey, of course, and took a break from the Golden Globes.  Was anyone else just shocked (shocked, I tell you!) when Matthew Saved Downton???  Yeah.  Me neither.
  • I love that show.  But it is rather predictable.  (Except this plot line with Bates.  Let's wrap it up and move on, I say.)
  • Tom and I went to see Zero Dark Thirty over the weekend.  It was good, but not My Kind of Movie.  At all.  (Would a little character development be such a bad thing?)
  • It's time to get to work now.  It's snowing a little.  Maybe I'll pretend I'm in Switzerland, too.



Fight Germs! Be Prepared!

It's germ-y out there right now.  Everywhere I go, people are coughing and hacking and sniffling.  (Of course, right now I'm a contributor.  Unfortunately.)  It's flu season alright.

Best be prepared.

Keep some hand sanitizer with you at all times. 

Use it frequently.

And be ready to hear the person looking over your shoulder GASP when you pull THIS one out of your handbag. . .


Yep, thanks to Tom (and his Christmas shopping spree on this website), I can now fight germs AND shock those around me.

Great, isn't it?

Happy weekend!

Off the Grid

I love to cook.  I love perusing cookbooks . . . thumbing through food magazines . . . even watching cooking tv programs (usually if I'm stuck on a treadmill at the gym).  I love trying new recipes and I like to be fairly adventurous with my cooking.


One thing I rarely do . . . is go off the grid. . . and just . . . cook freestyle.  Without a recipe.

But I really want to!

Tom and Brian had no end of fun-at-my-expense when I brought this cookbook home last summer.


I know. 

I bought a book. . . to learn to cook without a book.

I know.

Anyway, this book is GREAT.  It provides "formulas" for really tasty recipes that you can cook up using what's just . . . around.  It includes step-by-steps . . . kind of like "training wheels" . . . to get you used to thinking about cooking without a typical recipe.

What it's done for me . . . is given me the confidence to just . . . step away from the edge . . . and cook!

Last Sunday, Tom and I were exhausted.  Holidays.  Sickness.  Brian.  Our cupboards were rather bare.  We didn't feel like going out.  But we were hungry.  I checked through the pantry, and I found this  . . .


A couple of onions.  A jar of Kalamata olives.  Leftover ham.  A package of sun-dried tomatoes.  A can of artichoke hearts.  Pasta.  A tiny little bottle of white wine.

And what did I do?



Off the grid -- with great results!  (Who's laughing now?)


Hello 2013!

I don't really DO "New Year's Resolutions."  Or, at least, not in the traditional sense.  I usually do resolve to live a certain way -- usually with a list of verbs -- but I don't make resolutions like "get in shape" or "eat better."

This week, though, Carole has suggested we list our Goals for 2013.  I might not make "resolutions," but I ALWAYS have "goals!" 


Here are my goals for 2013:

  1. SAVE more!  Tom and I realized that we only have two more tuition payments to make!!!  In a year, we'll be free of college tuition!  It's time to get back in a savings frame of mind.
  2. KNIT FROM STASH!  (I know.)  I'm not going to get all hung up on this, but I am going to use up some of the Very Nice Yarn . . . that I already happen to own.
  3. ORGANIZE my space!  Last year, I tackled some really big organizational projects in my house - with great success.  It feels really good to have those projects completed -- but there is MORE to do.  This year, I want to continue organizing my space . . . one drawer/container/box at a time.
  4. LEARN new things!  I'm not talking about a university degree here . . . I'm talking garden conferences, new knitting techniques, PhotoShop tricks, and work webinars.  Gotta keep that brain busy!
  5. READ as many books as possible!  I expect I'll keep my main reading time focused on contemporary fiction -- but I want to explore more poetry and short stories this year, with some Dickens and Thomas Hardy thrown in for classics relief.
  6. PAINT bathrooms!  (Now, there's an exciting goal.)  I'm so pleased with my painting success from 2012 that I'm ready to press on.  This year:  the upstairs bathroom at home (which means . . . I need to strip wallpaper first; wallpaper that was apparently applied with SuperGlue. . .) and the bathroom at the cottage.
  7. MAKE STUFF!  I have so many ideas.  It's time to make cool things happen.
  8. Keep on MOVING!  My fitness routine is a good one; it works well for me and I'm happy with it.  But.  It's good to throw new things into the fitness "mix" now and then.  I'm not sure what I'll add this year -- but it's going to be something! 
  9. GET OUT!  Vacation.  Go to movies.  See a play.  Go on road trips.  Visit new places.  Taste new foods.  Experience . . . life . . . outside my front door.
  10. Be OPEN . . . to SURPRISES!  Because. . . they're everywhere.

How about YOU?  What are YOUR goals for 2013?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.

Struck Down

The Crud finally hits.

Although I think it's a different - and more mild - Crud than the one that visited Tom and Brian over the holidays.


This is my day today.


Pass the Kleenex. . .

Just a Little Knitting

Now that Christmas has come and gone. . . I can show you my gift-knitting.  Just a few little things this year.

A pair of manly handwarmers.


(This pair is for Erin's boyfriend, but Brian didn't really want to give them up after modeling them for my photos.  Tom wanted them, too.)

A pair of Ragtops.


(Ragtops are my go-to mitten-ish pattern; quick, fun, and perfect in every way!  This pair is for Erin.)

A slouchy hat.


(This is the new Hipster pattern from tin can knits.  It is deliciously slouchy, and Brian likes it so much he ordered ANOTHER.  He has worn it often during his break -- which warms this knitter-mom's heart.)

And a honey cowl.


(I love this pattern!  So quick, fun to knit, and a great way to show off pretty yarn.  This is for my pal, Sandie . . . her favorite color is orange.)

Just a little knitting!  (And that trend continues . . . into the new year.  Stay tuned.)

(Click the links above for all the details on Ravelry.)