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March 2018

TGIF

No matter what kind of week it is, I'm always happy to see Friday roll around!

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It's time for some TGIF!

T - Thinking About . . . gardening, of course.  It's still far, far too cold to do any work in the garden, and there certainly isn't much joy to be found in looking at it right now.  But you can be sure I'm doing a lot of thinking about it!  In fact, I'm really thinking about this . . . 

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(Which looks like this once things kick into gear. . . )

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I need to move the path.  Which means . . . moving plants and the small pond.  (We relocated Garden Buddha last fall.)  This portion of my garden has been in a holding pattern for a couple of years now -- while I've focused efforts on other areas.  In the meantime, the garden has overgrown the path, and it's causing lots of "flow" problems.  It's time for some changes -- but it's gonna be complicated!  (Tom is readying his digging tools already.)  I'm doing a lot of thinking. . . 

G - Grateful For . . . a change in plans.  A friend canceled our lunch date scheduled for today, and I am grateful for an unexpected break in my day.  (We'll catch up another day.)

I - Inspired By . . . signs of spring.  That crooked picture of the blue sky out my window at the top of this post?  Well, I took it yesterday as I was lying on my couch, waking up from a 20-minute refresher-nap.  (This time change has hit me hard.  I've been exhausted all week.)  I woke up, and there was that lovely blue sky!  And I've seen some barely-appearing buds on a few trees this week.  And my crocus are up - although not quite blooming yet.  (Because cold.  It is very cold here right now.)  Spring is coming - and I'm inspired.

F - Fun . . . Tom and I went to Bell's for dinner-and-a-beer the other night, and Tom ended up purchasing grain for another batch of beer.  As he was using the equipment there to grind the grain . . . 

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I was having fun reading the signs on the wall.  Here's my favorite. . . 

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TGIF, my friends!  Have a great weekend.


THAT Time of Year

When I open my laptop and see this logo on my menu bar . . . 

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I know it's THAT time of year.  (And I'm not talking about March Madness. . . )

Yep.

That little red check-mark Turbo Tax logo can mean only one thing . . .

Tax Time.

(This year, that Turbo Tax logo is appearing on my menu bar in March.)  
(Usually . . . it doesn't show up until April.)  
(Because apparently I live for deadlines.)  
(But that's fodder for another post.)

So.

How about . . . three tax-filing tips from a (former-and-now-non-practicing-except-on-herself) CPA?

  1. April 17.  Taxes are due on April 17 this year . . . so you actually have 2 extra days to file this year.  (Yippee.)
  2. Turbo Tax.  If you want to file on your own, Turbo Tax is the best tax software to help you get the job done.
  3. Just do it.  And, while you're at it, prepare for the changes that are coming next year.

Just for the record, my taxes are finished already this year. (Pretty much.)
Which might be a new record for me.  
(Is there a deduction for that????)  
(But don't worry about my living-for-the-deadline thing.)  (Because I still need to file for my Dad.)

How about YOU?  Are you an early filer?  Or do you drag your feet (like me)?

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Be sure to check out other Three on Thursday posts today over at Carole's.

 


No Actual Unraveling

Knitting has been slow, but somewhat steady.

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The base tier is taking shape.

It's nice, relaxing, mindful knitting.  Except for the flip side.

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Yeah.  Trying to deal with that mess every four squares or so.

No rush.  No hurry.  No stress.
And - best of all - no unraveling!

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How about you?  What'cha making?

And be sure to check out the links in the comments over at Kat's for more unraveled posts.


Downright Pavlovian

For the last two years, I have been making an intentional and focused effort on reducing the amount of . . . stuff . . . I own.  Call it KonMari-ing or Döstädning or simple de-cluttering . . . I've been On It.

I've cleaned out my closets (multiple times).  I've reduced my personal library (by 30 banker's boxes of books).  I've cleared out my yarn stash (and I'm not done yet).  I've given away bedroom sets and kitchen supplies and linens and holiday décor and bric-a-brac.  

And I've tried to reduce the . . . stuff . . . at the source -- by curtailing what I bring IN to my house.  I've cut down on gift-exchanges.  I've reduced my shopping.  I've gotten much better at telling myself NO.  I recycle catalogs and magazines before I even bring them through the door.

There is so much less . . . stuff . . . in my house now than there was a couple of years ago.  But I still have more work to do!

And then, last week, I had a bit of an epiphany.  About shopping.  (Yes.  It's another True Confessions moment.)

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Okay.  

So I've been a loyal Estée Lauder fan for pretty much my entire adult life.  (It's pricey -- but it works.  My skin is in great shape for a woman of my age-and-stage in life.  Just sayin.)  It all started back in the early 1980s.  When I was lured . . . by one of their free give-away deals.

You know how it works.  You spend $XX on a regular product, and they send you home with a bag of generously-sized sample products and a free-with-purchase make-up bag.  And, in Estée Lauder-land, they do this 4 times each year.  Because the products really do last a long time (a little dab'll do ya!), even a poor grad student's wife (back in the 80s) could indulge in special make-up and skin care products now and then.

The years unfolded.  I continued using the products.  I built relationships with the women at the Estée Lauder counter.  I got moved up to "preferred" status.  Now they even give me a call to let me know it's almost "free gift" time -- and I receive special passes to come in and get my "free gift" a few days before the promotion actually begins.

In other words . . . they treat me like I'm Special.

You know why?

Because I tend to buy at these promotions!  Even if I don't need anything immediately, I will pick something up to have on hand. . . and get the "free gift with purchase."  By this point, my make-up and skin care inventory is full-to-bursting.  I will use the . . . stuff . . . eventually.  But, for now, I definitely have an inventory on hand.

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Yesterday I pulled out my entire inventory of EL products. This is stuff that I have on hand, but I'm not currently using. As you can see . . . plenty.

So when this quarter's promotional brochure (and "valuable coupon") showed up in my mailbox last week, I decided to skip it.
To just sit this one out.  
To simply not show up.
I'd just pop the brochure in the recycling bin on the way into the house.  
Because I don't need any products right now.

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This is my current inventory of Advanced Night Repair. A great product, sure. But this amount will last me for years.

But you know what happened?

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I didn't put it in the recycling bin.

I took it into the house.
And opened it.
And wrote the promotion dates on my calendar.
And pulled out the coupon-card to put in my wallet.
And started thinking about what I would buy.

And then I yelled at myself.
YOU DON'T NEED ANYTHING!
And put it in the recycle bin.

And pulled it again out the very next day.

And then it hit me. I have been completely conditioned (in the Pavlovian "classical conditioning" kind of way) to respond to "free gift" time by . . . buying.  Even when I don't need anything.  Even when I know that I don't need anything.

This is NUTS.
This has to STOP.

I finally did recycle the promotional brochure.  And the accompanying coupon.  And I erased the dates from my calendar.  (Because I do not NEED any Estée Lauder products right now.)  (I repeat:  I do not NEED any Estée Lauder products right now.)

This all made me realize how conditioned I am to buy . . . when I've been "trained" to buy.
At "free gift" time.
With "birthday bonuses."
Because they sent a generous coupon.
At the change of seasons.
For the holidays.
Before a vacation.
At fiber festivals.

But now I know.  I'm getting it in a whole new way.  (Thanks, Estée Lauder.)  
It's time.  
I'm going to break free of my shopping Pavolvian response!  

(Please tell me this happens to some of you, too.  When do you buy because you've been conditioned to buy?  And . . . how have you taken charge of your response?)


The Friday Fish Wrap

So many minor news items crossed my desk this week that I decided to round 'em up and . . . wrap them all together for you.  Yep.  It's time for another Friday Fish Wrap!

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First, just a Public Service Announcement.  Don't forget to turn your clocks forward an hour on Saturday.  Generally, I don't like giving up an hour.  Ever.  But, somehow, I always seem to adjust to the spring-forward time change quicker and easier than I do the fall-back time change.  I'm not sure why that is, exactly, but it probably has something to do with my own personal bio-rhythms.  (Maybe?)

Anyway.  I dislike this time change.  But I will definitely appreciate that extra hour of daylight at the end of the day.  (I'm trying to focus my attention there.  And not on the fact that it will be darker and colder when I wake up in the morning.)

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Last week, I mentioned that A Wrinkle in Time was my favorite book as a child.  I re-read it (again) this week, and found it to be as delightful as I remember it to be.

The movie-version opens today, and I've been reading some reviews to help me decide whether I want to see it (and risk bursting my childhood Wrinkle-in-Time-bubble) or not.

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Reese Witherspoon and Storm Reid in “A Wrinkle in Time.” Credit Atsushi Nishijima/Disney

I'm leaning toward . . . going to see it, I think.  It sounds like the movie follows the book for the most part . . . with a few rather significant changes.   Change isn't always bad, though.  And some things about the story need to be updated for the audiences of 2018.  (The book was written in 1962, and while some things have stayed the same, many things have not.)

Besides, I think I want to embrace and support the first big-budget, blockbuster movie directed by an African-American woman (Ava DuVernay)!  I think I'll wait a bit, though.  Until some of the hub-bub settles and the crowds thin. 

(Besides, this weekend we're off to see Black Panther.)

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I've always intrigued by color . . . and the way we perceive color.  When I was a kid, I used to wonder if everyone else saw "blue" (for example) the same way I saw "blue."  I mean, it was apparent we all identified "blue" as "blue" when we saw it -- but I was curious about the perception.  Was "blue" the same "blue" for me . . . and for my sister?  Or my friends?

So it was kind of . . . interesting . . . that I married someone who is color blind.  Tom has trouble with reds and greens (which, as far as I can tell, he sees as what I would describe as colors along the grey-scale).  Now, Tom identifies "red" as "red" -- but it's definitely not the same "red" I see!  (Because, like . . . he has trouble picking out a male cardinal at our bird feeder.  And he needs to get pretty close up to tell that a poinsettia is "red.")

All that is a preamble to this story I found this week from The Atlantic about the color of tennis balls.

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Because . . . yellow, right? 

Apparently not to everyone!  (This kind of links back to that viral thing about what-color-is-this-dress back in 2015.)  (We were all so innocent then, non?)  (Just sayin.)

Anyway.  Interesting.
(And, for the record . . . I see yellow tennis balls, and think the dress is gold and white.  Tom sees yellow tennis balls, too.  But he thinks the dress is blue-ish and brown-ish sort of.)

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Fun things I found this week that you don't want to miss:

The Women's Prize for Fiction longlist was announced yesterday.  (They always announce the longlist on March 8 -  International Women's Day.)  (This award used to be called the Orange Prize.  I still call it the Orange Prize.)

The #the100dayproject begins April 3.  I did this last year, but don't plan to play along this year.  Check it out and see if it's right for you.   (I can say no and still be a good person.  I can say no and still be a good person.  I can say no and still be a good person.)  

Knitters, don't miss out on March Mayhem over at Mason Dixon Knitting!  The "superfancy bracket" is a true Thing of Beauty.  (Also an incredible rabbit hole of pattern-dreaming delight.)  (A most excellent diversion if you're procrastinating doing your taxes.)  (Ahem.)  Voting begins next Thursday, March 15.

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Back in the days before I had kids, I used to think Mister Rogers was . . . silly.  I mean, really.  How could "modern-day" kids find any entertainment in a slow-talking, kindly gentleman in a cardigan? 

And then I had kids.

And we welcomed the calm and loving presence of Mister Rogers into our home every afternoon.  Just when we needed him most.  When we were frazzled and tired and over-stimulated.  Mister Rogers became my hero!

So.  I will be heading to my post office later this month to pick up my own supply of Mister Rogers postage stamps!

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Yep.  Mister Rogers (along with - admit it, now - kind of creepy King Friday) is getting his own postage stamp

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And . . . that's a wrap!  A Friday Fish Wrap!

Have a great weekend, y'all.


Push for Progress

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."
 ---Mother Teresa

Today - March 8 - is International Women's Day.

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Here are three simple things you can do right now to celebrate and acknowledge this special day:

Say thank you.  Get in touch with women who have made a difference in your life and acknowledge their influence.  Let them know!  Write a note, make a call, send an email.

Read a book.  Be intentional about the next book you pick up to read.  Choose a biography about a woman you'd like to learn more about.  Or choose a book by a woman author.  Better yet, pick up a book by a woman author from another culture.  (If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.)

Put your money where you mouth is.  Make a donation to an organization that improves the lives of women in your community, your country, or the world.  Support women who are running for office -- they need every penny they can raise.  (Maybe start by supporting my friend, Carole Julius, who is launching her political career with a run for Selectman of her community in Massachusetts.)

Be sure to check out the International Women's Day website for more information, additional ideas, and other links.
Push for progress, my friends.  Demand it.

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Read other Three on Thursday posts over at Carole's.  (And, yeah.  That's the same Carole who is running for Selectman of East Bridgewater, MA!)

 

 

 

 


A Post-Unraveled Project

So.  What does a knitter do after unraveling a disastrous project?

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Well.  This knitter picked up her Alabama Chanin stitching and made spitty-raspberries at all things knitting for a few days.  

But then, I decided to let it go; that maybe a project like this would take the edge off a bit.  

This project is fun to knit, leaves plenty room for creativity and color-play, and - best of all - feels kind of fast.  (It's also a great way to use up all those single skeins of Koigu I've been hoarding with absolutely no plan in mind.)

How about you?  What are you making today?

 

 


Shaking It Up

I'm taking another drawing class this semester.  This time, it's a colored pencil technique class, and the whole point is to stretch our drawing in new directions.

Here is a little something I did in class last week.  It's a Lake Michigan sunset using wax-based colored pencils on sandpaper.  

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Yep.  Sandpaper.

Sometimes it's good to just shake things up a bit and try something completely unexpected.  
In art and in life!


Sometimes Mondays

. . . are bleary.  

Especially if you watched the Oscars until the bitter end!  (It is so brutal when you're watching in the Eastern time zone, y'know?)

Thank goodness there is coffee!

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I hope your Monday is off to a great start.

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This week, Michelle is offering a 5-day self-portrait challenge.  Check it out!  Her challenges are always thoughtful -- and fun, besides.  You can also follow along on Instagram at #turnthelensonself.