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December 2016

Bloomin Friday: About Those Amaryllis

As you may remember, a few weeks ago I planted four amaryllis bulbs I had ordered from White Flower Farm.  And then, I "rescued" a poor grocery store amaryllis . . . shivering in the cold at the front entrance of the store and subjected to the constant bell-ringing of the Salvation Army brigade.

I knew that none of my bulbs would be blooming by Christmas -- and I was totally fine with that.  My intention was not holiday-bloom . . . but blooming delight later in the season.  When those dark days of winter set in and there aren't so many bright spots.

Let's check in and see how those bulbs are progressing, shall we?

First, there's Mr. Grocery Store Rescue amaryllis.


Lovely . . . in that just basic white way.  I love the hints of neon green in the center and on the tips of the petals.  There are two blooms open now; two more on the way -- and an entire second stalk to go.

Two of my White Flower Farm bulbs are really on the move.  This one has two stalks that emerged together, and have been shooting up in a kind of neck-and-neck race.


While this one sent up one stalk right away -- and I can just see a new one emerging from the leaves.


What I'm loving about these White Flower Farm bulbs is how big and strong and healthy the stems and buds are.  There is a notable difference between Mr. Grocery Store Amaryllis and these bulbs from White Flower Farm.  I can't wait to see these bulbs explode into bloom.


Then there's this one.



No evidence of a bud at all.

(And, trust me, I check several times a day.)

The bulb looks very healthy; the leaves are strong.  But there has been no growth in days.  And no bud.  I'm afraid this one may be a disappointment.  (Although I'm still holding hope that maybe it's just . . . slow.)

And then, there is this one.  My favorite!  This was the biggest bulb of them all -- so big that it wouldn't fit in my chosen glass containers.  (I had to dig out a huge vase for this guy.)


This one was slow to bud, too.  But look at it!  Look at the colors in the bud!  I'm so excited.  I just know this one is going to be a stunner when it pops open.  (And see that bit of green at the bottom of the bulb?  This amaryllis is sending up an entire second "bulb" from the bottom.  It's super healthy and wants to grow.)

These bulbs are bringing me much hygge-enjoyment (except for that one I'm fretting over. . . but what else would gardening be without fretting).  I'm looking forward to sharing their blooms with you in 2017.

Happy New Year, everyone.  


Party Like It's . . . 1979!!!

We usually do . . . something . . . to celebrate New Year's Eve.  Sometimes parties.  Sometimes just staying home.  Usually going out for dinner.  (That's our recent MO:  a special dinner with friends at Food Dance - one of our favorite Kalamazoo restaurants.)  Whatever we do . . . we always watch the ball drop and count down to the new year together.  

Nice . . . in that kind of quiet and predictable way.

But.  It wasn't always like that!

Let's just send the clock back to . . . 1979 . . . shall we?  Back when this guy (looking a bit Luke Skywalker-ish) and this girl (with her Farrah-'do and oh-my-god-painter's pants) were A Thing.

Scan 8

Yep.  Tom and I were reunited for Christmas break (he was a senior at Boise State University; I was a junior at the University of Wyoming) -- and we were headed off to San Francisco for the New Year.

Because . . .  why not?  

A friend of ours - Steve - was headed to San Franciso for a medical school interview.  And he needed driving help.  (Isn't this how many adventures happen???)  Tom and I and another friend - Dave - were only too happy to oblige.  It became our most memorable New Year's Eve ever.  

We drove through the night, made a stop in Reno (where the boys all had fun gambling and I got kicked out of every casino we visited -- because they were all 21 - but I was not), and ended up in San Francisco.

While Steve interviewed, Tom and Dave and I took in the city. 

We visited Golden Gate Park (in the fog).

Scan 6

We climbed Coit Tower and enjoyed its exquisite views.

Scan 6

And this land-locked Illinois-to-Wyoming girl saw the ocean for the first time in her life.  

This is Seal Rock -- (where we actually did see seals).

Scan 3

And we spent some time on Baker Beach.*  (The waves kind of freaked me out -- because it was cold and I didn't want my shoes to get wet.)

Scan 6

And then - best of all - we celebrated New Year's Eve with the crowds (throngs) on the streets of San Francisco.  

It was SO AWESOME -- and so adventurous -- to welcome 1980 this way.

Scan 6

I'll never forget . . . me and the boys . . . on the streets of San Francisco.  No other New Year's Eve party or gathering will really compare.


*How do I remember - after 37 years - exactly where we were in San Francisco on that trip?  Why . . . because I made sweet little notes on the back of each trip photo.

Scan 6


This post is part of Think-Write-Thursday.  Be sure to read other New Year's Eve stories here, and sign up for the weekly prompts here.


Throwing Rocks

During the cold months, Tom curls.


He plays in a couple of leagues each week, and travels to bonspiels with his curling buddies.

It's his thing . . . not my thing.  

I have never had any desire to curl -- despite encouragement from Tom and the other members (many of whom are couples) of the curling club.  There is no real reason why I wouldn't want to at least try it.  Except that it's never appealed to me.  And I have plenty of other things I already like to do.  And it's cold.

But a group of our friends decided they would like to try it.  And Tom offered to organize an outing.  And . . . I finally tried it.  On Monday, I went through . . . the curling entrance . . .


and went right out on the ice.


Tom was a great curling instructor.  He's passionate and patient -- and has a good sense of humor.  (I think it helped that this particular group of our friends . . . are all very athletic with a strong competitive spirit.)  (Okay.  Let's make that a VERY strong competitive spirit.)


It was actually . . . a blast!  

Curling is a game of finesse and technique -- and WAY harder than they make it look on TV.  It's also a bit scary.  Because ice.  But it's the kind of thing that - with a bit of solid instruction - you can actually DO (even if badly) right away.

I mean, it wasn't very pretty . . . but we learned the basics AND played 3 "ends" (kind of like an inning in baseball) in 2 hours.  (Of course, we were motivated.)  (And - did I mention - competitive?)

It was a lot of fun.  But also kind of . . . intimidating.  It's awkward to push off "the hack" on that slippery ice with a teflon-coated "slider" under your foot . . . to send a 42-pound "rock" down the ice.


And the first time Tom told me to RUN down the ice to sweep one of my teammate's rocks, I was like . . . are you freaking kidding me?????

But.  I got there!  It was challenging -- and a whole lot more fun that I imagined.


The best thing about curling, though, is that it's a really social game.  We all had a great time -- lots of laughing and banter.  And after the game?  Well . . . then there's something called "broom-stacking."  (According to the Glossary of Curling, this is "slang for socializing with teammates and opponents, often over a drink, after a game.")  We went out for beer and pizza!


Will I try it again?

Sure!  (Although the weekly league thing sounds like way too much commitment for me. . . so don't count on any regular curling posts here.)

And, the four people to the left side of the photo above?  WE WON!  (Just sayin.)





End-of-Year Clearance

The gifts . . . opened.  

The food . . . eaten.  

The snow . . . melted.  

So here we are, suddenly at the end of the year.  It's time to clear out some inventory with a little-of-this/little-of-that post:


First up:  Real inventory!

Have you seen this magazine?


It's a lovely little publication by Carrie Bostick Hoge - filled with knitting and hand-stitching patterns, recipes, coloring pages, and beautiful photography.  I got so excited when I saw the first issue back in the summer (there are four per year) that I subscribed. 

And then I forgot I subscribed.  And got so excited when I saw the new issue this fall, ordered it.  (Again.)

So now I have two copies!

I want to share my second copy . . . so if you'd like it, just let me know in the comments sometime this week and I'll draw a lucky winner over the weekend.


It is ACTION Tuesday . . . and although I've been a bit lazy and not taking any action myself these last couple of weeks (I blame it on the cookies), it is my intention to continue posting action-ideas in the new year.  In the meantime, here are are couple of organizations who are putting together more immediate, concrete action-items and information you may want to check out:

Wall of Us - sign up for their email alert and you'll receive four concrete acts of resistance delivered to your inbox each week.

Download the Indivisible Guide, a practical guide to resisting the DJT agenda.  You can also sign up for updates.


With the new year comes a new . . . one little word.  I've already got my word for 2017 picked out (it started screaming at me last August, and hasn't stopped yet) . . . how about you?  Are you picking a word for yourself for the coming year?

If you want to join Ali Edwards' official One Little Word program for 2017 (and receive monthly prompts and inspiration to stay connected with your word all year long), the sign-ups are open -- with a discount for registering before January 1.  

You can also order all kinds of neat "stuff" to create a scrapbook-ish journal of your word - to follow along with Ali.  I don't do this part (I keep my own journal in my own way; although I do like to stay inspired with her monthly prompts), but it's an option.


I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to a whole lot more hygge here as winter takes hold!  And now, I really should have a little more time to sit and knit.  

I also need a new hat.  (The ribbing always stretches out on my handknit hats.  Does this happen to anyone else?  Do you have a solution?)

So I'm going to cast on next week along with Kat and Juliann in their unofficial Rob Roy KAL.


And that's it for today!

Enjoy the downtime this week.  

(Isn't it great to be able to just kick back a little bit -- and breathe?)

(And don't forget -- let me know if you'd like my extra copy of Making, Vol. 2.)





More Than Just a Storage Solution - It's a Way of Life

When I read the prompt for this week's Think Write Thursday post, it made me chuckle.  How I stay positive when it feels like everything is going wrong.  Because ... well.  This has been my daily struggle for a while now.  Y'know?

So much going wrong.

So many attempts to stay positive.

So many ways this blog post could go.

Like . . . I could write about meditation and mindfulness practice.  (Because that helps.  A lot.)  Or I could write about journaling.  (Because that is essential for my well-being.)  Or I could write about the power of a good workout.  (Because pushing your body is powerful and sweat is GOOD.)  Or I could write about knitting or weeding or drawing.  (Because those activities are grounding and help me find my center.)

But, instead . . . I'm going to write about Ziploc bags.


Yep.  Ziplocs.

You see, somewhere back in time - probably college; maybe earlier - when I first started dealing with time management issues and that feeling-like-everything-is-going-wrong thing - I came up with a sort of Scarlet O'Hara tomorrow-is-another-day approach to dealing with things.

Stick it in a Ziploc.

Yep.  Just stick that thing/idea/future to-do item/problem in a Ziploc bag.  Seal it up nice and tight.  And store it in your brain.

The trick?  Keep. It. Sealed.  Do NOT let it out.

And, just like real Ziploc bags of real stuff in your real life, that thing/idea/future to-do item/problem will just sit there in your brain.  

Safely stored.  
Gathering dust.  
Or rotting.  

And you can open that Ziploc bag whenever you are ready.  Or when it is time.  (Or somewhere between 2:30 and 4:00 am, when the seals, sadly, tend to be at their weakest.)

I'm not talking about denial here.  I'm just talking about compartmentalizing.  When things/ideas/ future to-do items/problems are overwhelming and when it feels like they're all closing in on you and you just can't manage . . . that's when it's time to do a little sorting-and-storing.  

Fill up your Ziploc bags with things that you really can deal with/think about/do LATER -- so you can deal with the more immediate issues NOW.

It works for me!


This post is part of Think Write Thursday.  Read more posts on this topic here - and sign up to receive the weekly prompts here.








"This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year's threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath . . ."
                                                                                                    ---Margaret Atwood


Welcome the light!

Roll With It, Baby

Today is a special day . . . because this guy?


Birthday Boy!

And because every birthday needs a soundtrack, here's my song for Tom . . . on his 58th birthday.

You see, this year . . . well.  It hasn't been an easy one.  In fact, this year ranks right up there with some of the crappiest years of our 37 years together.  In fact, I'd place this year in the #1 spot of our Top Five Most Challenging Years Ever list.

There was 1993.  That was a frustrating year.

And 1999.  Lots of growing pains.

2003 was particularly nasty.  But only for a few very intense months.

2008.  Yeah.  That one was bad, too.  

But 2016?  Total shit storm.

But we're getting through it.  Because that's what we do!  We hold each other up.  We light each other's path.  We shoulder on.  We head up north.  We go to the gym.  Basically, we . . . 

Roll with it, baby.
Hang on and roll with it, baby.


Get on through it, roll with it, baby
Luck'll come and then slip away,
you've gotta move,
bring it back to stay

You just roll with it, baby,
come on and just roll with it, baby
You and me, roll with it, baby,
hang on and just roll with it, baby


So, happy birthday, dear Tom!  

No matter what life brings us in the coming year, I know we'll roll with it.  

Because that's what we do.



When I was a little girl, my mom took a ceramics class.  I was thrilled when she made this for me:


A snowman mug . . . with a candy cane handle.

Oh, man.  I remember that milk tasted so much BETTER out of this mug!  (And hot chocolate with marshmallows?  Oh, yeah.  The BEST.)

Of course, my mom made one for my sister, too.  And, being a wise, thinking-ahead kind of mother, she painted our initials in the candy cane handle, so we could make sure which mug belonged to which sister.


This year, I dug my mug out of the back of my cupboard.  I stuck a bunch of candy canes in it -- and I put it on my desk.  Right there - where I can see it every day.  It reminds me of the excitement and magic I felt as a child at Christmastime.

We're in the countdown week now; the Big Day is almost here.  I hope you all have a chance to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember the special-ness of the season.  Cheers!

Hygge . . . at the Gym

When it looks like this outside . . . 


I'm always happy to hit the gym for a good workout inside.

In fact, I've discovered that the gym is a perfect place to put hygge to work.

I can sort of see your eyeballs rolling already.  Because . . . working out?  Hygge?  Yeah.  I know.  Just hear me out.

Hygge is all about creating a comfortable environment wherever we go, right?  It's enjoying the things that get us through the dark, cold days of winter.  It's taking care of ourselves and maybe even indulging in some pampering now and again.  Hygge . . . is a mindset.  It helps us see the "happy and bright" even when we don't feel that way.

For me, a trip to the gym IS hygge!  Working out gets me to be "in the moment" better than almost anything.  It gets me moving and sweating -- and, best of all, gets those endorphins flowing.  And really, it's quite wonderful to stop at the end of the pool during a long swim . . . and see the snow falling outside through the wall of windows bordering the length of the pool.

And then . . . there's the after-workout pampering.  (Tom laughs at my gym bag, loaded down with shampoo and lotions and potions.  He wonders where I put my shoes.)  (Ahem.  They fit.)


Usually, when I finish up with my workout, I'm in a rush to get on with the rest of my day.  I hit the shower, get ready, and Get Out.  I always walk right past the whirlpool . . . and the steam room . . . and the sauna . . . to get on with whatever is next -- in a hurry.

Lately, though, I've decided that - in the spirit of hygge -  I will enjoy at least ONE of the "relaxation" stations every time I finish with a workout.  Most times, it is the whirlpool that calls to me after a swim.  But the last few days?  It's been the sauna!  Relaxing after a hard workout is pretty wonderful.  

Pure hygge.

I also discovered this little treat . . . 


In 60 seconds, I can have a quick facial right in the shower.  It's so simple -- I pop in the shower and, right away, put some of this stuff on my face and neck.  Then I do the rest of my shower-stuff.  By the time I'm done with all of that, it's been at least 60 seconds -- and I can just rinse it off.  Perfect!  Without much extra time and effort, I'm treating myself to some hygge-goodness . . . 

Right there at the gym!