Previous month:
December 2014
Next month:
February 2015

January 2015

Friday Mailbag

 It's Friday.  Time, once again, for reaching into the Friday mailbag . . . for Friday letters à la Paula!



Dear Intense Spinning Woman,

Although you're not a "regular" to my Saturday morning spin class, I could tell right away . . . that you take your spinning very seriously.  The cycling shirt and matching cycling gloves were my first clue.  But when you placed TWO matching water bottles in the holders on your cycle, I knew you were Hard Core.  (That's a whole lot of hydration for a 45 minute class.  Y'know?)  And then, when class had started, and I glanced in the front mirror and saw those dual water bottles reflected there, I nearly fell off my bike.  Because those matching water bottles . . . with their bright pink lids and their black center nozzles . . . looked just like two comic boobs.  Right there.  On your bike.  For the entire 45 minutes.  (Really?  Just . . . really?)


Dear Groceries,

Each week, I anticipate your arrival by crafting a weekly meal plan.  I carefully put together my "grocery guest list" -- deciding which of you to invite into my home.  And, although time-consuming, I understand the value of good planning, and I don't despise those tasks.  Likewise, I don't mind wandering up and down the aisles of my neighborhood grocery store, seeking you out individually and packing you carefully into my cart.  I don't even mind picking up your tab.  But.  When you are gathered together as a group, neatly packed into my environmentally-friendly, re-usable grocery bags, the thrill is gone.  Because, you see, I HATE unloading you and putting you away in my pantry and my refrigerator.  With a passion.  (Sometimes the truth hurts.)


Dear Jared Flood,

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.
You bring sunshine . . . to a cloudy day.
Took my love, took it down; climbed a mountain and I turned around.
Thank you for your newest Look Book.  As always, it was cause for personal celebration and Just What I Needed on a cold, winter Tuesday.


Dear Water Pens,

How is it that I never met you before?  Where were you hiding . . . Aqua Splash, AquaDoodle, WaterBrush, AquaFlow . . . all of you?  Watercolor will never be the same.



And, speaking of LETTERS . . .

It's time to start thinking about the Month of Letters challenge!  In case you're not familiar with the Month of Letters, you can read all about it here.

I'm ready to begin!  I've printed out my planning calendar, and this year, I even ordered some special Month of Letters stamps.

Join the fun!  Pull out your stationery and get your best pens ready . . . it's time to get writing!



Right Now - January 2015

January?  I gotta tell ya . . .  you're just not one of my favorite months.  In fact, I won't even miss you when you're gone.

You're long.  You're a slog.  You're cold and dark and dreary.

But here we are . . . at the end.


What's happening for me . . . Right Now?

WATCHING . . . Movies!  Tom and I are on a tear to catch all the Oscar noms before the Academy Awards on February 22.  We've only got a couple left to see . . . this weekend:  Whiplash.

READING . . . Just finished Station Eleven (highly recommend that one) and An Unnecessary Woman (meh).  Now I'm reading Sleeping with Pancho Villa (delightful) and finally dipping into Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy, beginning with Oryx and Crake.  (Because apparently I'm craving a dystopian diet these days. . .)


KNITTING . . . I've gone off the Deep End with this stash-buster while I continue to ponder sweater options.  (I thought I'd decided on one, but then THIS. . .)

LISTENING TO . . . The most excellent new album from The Decemberists.


DREADING . . . My yoga instructor is heading to Mexico for 5 weeks beginning next week . . . and I don't like the sub . . . 

DRINKING . . . Lovely reds.

PLANNING . . . Which garden conferences I should attend this spring.  (There are several that look interesting.  Maybe I'll just go to ALL the garden conferences.)

HUMMING . . . (I have no idea where these things come from. . . ) (But there it is.)


WONDERING . . . Why The Theory of Everything hasn't come to a theater near me yet?  So strange . . . 

ITCHING TO . . . Garden.  But I'm trying not to let myself Go There quite yet.  (But the catalogs. . . )

ORGANIZING . . . All The Things!  I've even gotten Tom inspired.  We are KonMari-ing everywhere (in our own way).

DELIGHTED BY . . . My new laptop.  (How silly I was ... to almost paralyze myself while trying to decide between "pro" and "air.") (So glad I went with "air.")

INSPIRED BY . . . Some clever and creative art pieces I've been seeing lately.

How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . RIGHT NOW?

Happily Ever After

Once upon a time. . .

Okay.  I'm not so much a fan of the fairytale.  (And this song/video is just wonderful!  Lots of fun.)

I think it's the whole . . . princess . . . thing.  I never really bought into the Prince-Charming-will-arrive-and-sweep-you-away part.  I always saw the weak spots in the story lines.

So just TELL him you're being abused at home and maybe he'll help you.

Figure out how to climb down your own hair and escape!

Resist the urge to spin!!!!

That said, I LOVE the fairytale theme of Kim's yarn club this year!  Each of the yarns have been just magical, and the pattern designs are, well . . . charming.


These mitts, knit from Kim's Frolic yarn, using Alicia Plummer's Featherdown pattern* (inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen tale of The Ugly Duckling), are perfect in every way!

There's definitely a happy ending to this story!  Me and my mitts will live . . . happily ever after!


Ravelry details here.

*  Available to non-club members in July (or thereabouts).

Walk a Mile in My Shoes. . .


 I am not really a "shoe person."  Oh, I have plenty of shoes, mind you.  But mostly because my shoes serve various purposes in my life or in my wardrobe -- not because I just "have to have them."  (It is very different thing with handbags and totes.  Those . . . I just "have to have.")

As we talk about Ten Kinds of Footwear We Own, this week, I'll share what I wear on my feet regularly -- during the winter months, that is!


1.  My Keen "faux Crocs" (same Croc concept, just a bit groovier. . .).  Yeah.  These are summer shoes.  But I keep them handy year-round for quick trips outside when the snow isn't too deep!

2.  My trusty snow boots (also Keens).  These are The Greatest snow boots ever!  I've had them for several years now, and they're warm, rugged, easy to wear, and look good.  (No.  I can't go that far.  Snow boots really never look good.  But they do get the job done!)

3.  My Liverpool Clarks.  When my sister and I were in Liverpool (back in 2009), I was wearing some stupid-uncomfortable shoes -- and we had a lot of walking to do.  When I was at The End of It, we stopped at a Clark's shop in the Liverpool shopping district, and I bought these boot/shoes.  Perfect!  They're great shoes -- and I'm reminded of our trip to London and Liverpool every time I lace them up!  (I tossed my stupid-uncomfortable shoes in the trash can right there on the streets of Liverpool.)


4.  My cardio-dance/kick-boxing shoes.  These are light-weight but provide sturdy support for side-to-side movement and jumping.  Best of all, they have this . . . 


a pivot point for spins and turns!

5.  My spinning shoes.  Sure, you can spin in regular athletic shoes, but I like this . . .


clipping-in for maximizing my workout!

6.  My running shoes.  I am very particular about my running shoes!  I am neither a pronator or a supinator -- so I need good, neutral running shoes.  My Saucony's fit the bill!  (I had a bad pair of shoes over the summer.  Although they were for neutral runners, and they felt good, they forced my toes down too much -- and I lost 6 toenails!  The right shoes are Very Important when you run.)


7.  My comfy, casual, slip-ons to wear with jeans.

8.  My badass ankle-zip boots to wear with everything else.

9.  My fun red shoes.  Because sometimes you just need to have something unexpected on your feet.

And . . . my favorite thing to wear on my feet?


10.  Why . . . nothing, of course!

How about YOU?  What does your footwear say about YOU?


 Join the fun!  Sign up to recieve Ten on Tuesday prompts here - or read other lists here



Pudgy Pup: Weight Loss Countdown

Last year, when I took JoJo to the vet for her annual check up with Dr. Barkow (Yeah.  I know.), she weighed 55 pounds.

Dr. Barkow said . . . that was a perfect weight for her.  But that he wouldn't want her to gain any more weight.


In the summer, it is easy to keep her in shape.


We're out in the yard so much when the weather is nice.  And she plays Ball.  And Stick.  And Chase the Squirrel.  And Bark at the Neighbors.

And it's easy to take long walks.

And she swims at the lake Up North.


But now?  Well, now it's winter.  

We're not out so much.  The balls are packed away for the winter.  The sticks are buried under the snow.  There is no swimming.  And  . . . it's treacherous to walk every day.

So JoJo has lost her waistline . . . and gained too much weight.

Time for the Pudgy Pup Weight Loss Countdown!  (Before we go visit Dr. Barkow in April.)

Now, it's two-miles-a-day!


No matter the weather!


It's time to get that Pudgy Pup back in shape!


Jenny is in perfect shape, weight-wise.  She is sleek and rather elegant.  But she can use the long walks to strengthen those bionic knees of hers!


Friday Letters

On Fridays, Paula does Friday Letters on her blog to sum up her week.  I love it -- and decided to copy the concept myself.  So, with a hat tip to Paula, here's my first crack at Friday letters. . . 


Dear VP of Programming for the Kalamazoo Master Gardener group,

Thank you so much for pulling my name out of the hat for a door prize at last Monday's meeting.  I never win anything, so I was shocked -- but then delighted when I realized I would be bringing home that little pink hyacinth.  It's blooming now, there on my windowsill, and bringing the promise of spring to this cold winter day.


Dear Tom,

I know it wreaks havoc with your work and all, but I am so happy your plans changed and you WON'T be making that trip to Mumbai next month after all.  I like having you around.  XO


Dear January People,

Yes.  You clog up the parking lot and fill up my classes and cause major headaches on the indoor track.  But, please.  Hang with it!  You've made a commitment and you've started coming to the gym to work out.  Don't give up yet!  (Just stay out of my way.)


Dear Terri,

Every Saturday morning when I wake up, I sing your praises and thank you for convincing me that Run Camp is a miserable, cold, spiteful experience in January and February (and sometimes even March) and that you would never, ever do it again.  I am so grateful that I can stay in my warm bed early on cold Saturday mornings and not be out running in a herd, no matter the weather.  Just for fun.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.
PS - I'm so sorry you got roped into it again, though.  That will teach you to make commitments at New Year's Eve parties.  Just sayin.


TGIF, y'all!


Wearing My Word

When it comes to my one little word, I've discovered that I like to have visual reminders of my word around me.  I usually try to find some inspiring piece of art featuring my word to display in my house, and I like to find "wearable" versions of my word.

This year, I ordered some MantraBand bracelets for my journey . . .


I love them!  They are slender and subtle and clink in a delightful way when I wear them all together.

The MantraBand company turns out to be pretty cool, too.  Their mission is simple -- they want to inspire and empower with positive messages.  (And they support a great cause, too.)

Even their packaging is thoughful and inspiring.


Wearing my word . . . is a great reminder.  
(And it looks cool, too.)

Never Break the Chain. . .

When I worked for the Symphony (please notice how easy it is now for me to use the past tense when it comes to my old job!), we always expected patrons using walkers at our concerts.  Each of our venues had plenty "walker parking" space available, and helpful ushers used to dealing with older patrons.

Somehow, I never expected this to be the case at rock concerts.

Until last night!

Tom and I went to see Fleetwood Mac in concert.


Three solid hours of every Fleetwood Mac song you remember oh-so-well.  It was awesome!  Just lots of fun all around.

(And, yeah.  Aging fans with walkers were in the house!)


And . . . a BIG BIRTHDAY SHOUT-OUT to my sister!  Happy birthday, Di!!!


Clap Along. . .


 Can't help myself. . .


(If the embedded video disppears today, click here.)

It's January.  It's bleak.  (It's even snowing here right now.)  But.  There is much to be happy about!  Here are Ten Things I'm Happy About today . . . 

  1. I feel GOOD again!  Finally kicked that bug  . . . and can leave the house without a box of Kleenex and the worry about a coughing fit.
  2. Ice melt!  We had a bit of a January Thaw over the weekend, so streets are fairly ice-free.  Driving is easier, and it's even possible to walk the dogs again.  (This may be temporary.  Because snow.)
  3. Vacation plans!  Tom and I are finalizing plans on a trip to a much warmer place in March.  South.  Far south.
  4. Space!  Although I have a long way to go with Operation Create Space, I am inspired by the empty spaces I have already cleared.
  5. My gym!  Even though it is swarming with the usual influx of January People, my gym offers a great environment for working out.  (In the winter, I am especially happy about the indoor track.  Because I hate running on a treadmill.)
  6. Garden conferences!  The registration brochures are beginning to arrive in my mailbox.  I love thinking about gardening during the winter.
  7. More daylight!  Although it's barely noticeable . . . the gradual return of extended daylight makes me very happy.
  8. Having options!  I like deciding . . . how I'm going to spend my time, what I want to do next, what project I want to tackle, what I want to make for dinner.  Choice . . . is good.
  9. Simple pleasures!  I have a few things that just make me happy when I use them . . . a wine glass painted with birds, the orange leather cover on my planner, a pen that writes nicely.  
  10. Electricity, utilities, pharmaceuticals, and public services!  Yep.  Just read Station Eleven, and I am most appreciative of the world we live in.


What about YOU?  What are you happy about today?


 Join the fun!  Sign up to recieve Ten on Tuesday prompts here - or read other lists here



How Much . . . is Enough?

As I've already mentioned this month, I am in interested in creating space and simplifying my life.  

Last year, when I was exploring possibility, I came to realize that I needed to create space for myself first.  I started with my closet.  I whittled my wardrobe down to just those items that I really love (plus a few just-in-cases).  It feels so good to look in my closet now.  And, in nearly a year, I haven't missed a thing that I discarded!  (Not one item.)

I am a fairly neat and organized person.  I am not a packrat or hoarder.  I don't have trouble tossing things out.  For most of my adult life, though, I've been constantly organizing closets, drawers, my desk, the countertops.  I purchase organizational bins and baskets and tools all the time.  Yet I still feel cluttered and unorganized . . . and always in need of more organizing!

What is up with that???

What I've realized is that . . . I just have too much stuff.

I don't need to organize.  I need to minimize.

So this year, I'm taking simplification to a a whole new level.  I'm going to really explore . . . how much do I need?  How much . . . is enough?

This weekend, I KonMari'd my office space and began my purging in earnest.  It was shocking to see that, in my top desk drawer alone, I had . . .

  • enough binder clips to last me longer than forever;
  • all of the index cards I will ever need; 
  • standard staples to last any future generations of my family through their lifetimes;
  • and a clear understanding that most of my favorite basic Bic pens will dry up before I ever need to use them.

(Really.  It's shocking how many post-it notes I had in my desk.)

I've been spending quite a bit of time on Josh Becker's Becoming Minimalist website -- a great place to begin if you're interested in minimizing.  One of his suggestions for finding out how little you actually need . . . is to remove items -- and see if you miss them.

So I took a challenge, and quickly removed over 30 items in my kitchen utensil drawer.


I'm pretty sure I won't even miss these items. . . because I either don't use them, or I have duplicates or triplicates . . . or even more-plicates.

(And you should see my utensil drawers now!  Neat.  Orderly.  And I didn't even need to organize it.  I just put the things I DO need back.  Less = neater.)

That gave me the strength to go through one little under-cupboard. . . where I got rid of these items. . .


 And so it begins.

What I learned this weekend is that I'm pretty certain I can live with a LOT less than I have!  And 2015 is going to be the year I explore . . . just how much . . . is enough!