3-fer Thursdays

Mackinac Magic . . . And About That Dress Code

Last week, my sister and I spent a few days on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan.  Mackinac is truly a Michigan treasure.  (I have never met another Michigander who doesn't sigh and nod when you tell them you're headed to Mackinac . . . and then say, "I love that place.")  (And - just so you know - it's pronounced Mack-i-NAW.  You just ignore that "c." )  (Trust me.)

There really is something magical about the place.  Maybe it's the bridge . . . 


The island offers clear views of the 5-mile Mackinac Bridge joining Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas.  (You can reach the island by ferry from either peninsula.)

Maybe it's the lack of cars . . . 


Motor vehicles are prohibited on the island.  (No cars.  No trucks.  Period.)  You walk or ride a bike -- or take a horse-drawn carriage.  Even deliveries are handled by horse drawn freight carriage.  It's very quiet, except for the clopping of horses.  (But you do have to watch where you step.)

Maybe it's the fudge . . . 


Mackinac Island is America's "fudge capital," and there are fudge shops up and down Main Street.  So. Many. Fudge. Shops.  (Seriously, you can't walk 10 steps without finding ANOTHER fudge shop.)  It's good.  It's tradition.  You visit Mackinac Island, you come home with fudge.

Maybe it's the island itself . . . 


There's just something fascinating about being on an island.  And especially an island you can walk or bike around in a manageable 8.2 miles.  (My sister and I opted to walk.)

Or maybe it's the magic of the Grand Hotel . . . 


Totally living up to it's name, the historic Grand Hotel is, well. . . pretty darn grand!  We splurged by staying at the Grand Hotel for our time on Mackinac.  Here's a little peek inside:

The lobby . . . 


The Cupola Bar . . . 


Our room . . . 


(We squealed when we saw the canopy beds.  We always wanted canopy beds when we were little girls . . . )

All VERY . . . Grand!  So in the spirit of Three on Thursday, here are Three Things About the Grand Hotel:

1 - The Porch


The porch of the Grand Hotel is truly fabulous.  Guests of the hotel can sit in the rockers and sip a drink while enjoying some of  the most spectacular views on the island.  It is such a treat.  (Folks who aren't staying at the Grand Hotel can enjoy the porch, too.  But they have to pay to enter the hotel.)  Personally, the porch at the Grand Hotel is my favorite thing about Mackinac Island.

2 -- The Geraniums


The red geranium is the official flower of the Grand Hotel -- and you find it everywhere . . . in planters, in flower boxes, on the carpets, in each room, on stationery, in the lotion and shampoo in the bathrooms.  Everywhere!  (Maybe next week I'll do a post on all the geranium carpets I found in the hotel.)

3 -- The Dress Code


Yep.  There it is.  You must "dress" for the evening at the Grand Hotel.  Or . . . you can't eat dinner there or hang around in the main areas of the hotel after 6pm.  (You really do kind of feel like you've stepped back in time . . . with the clopping of horses and the dressing for dinner.)  It's pretentious and off-putting . . . and pretty lame.  (Because, trust me, just because you slap on a tie and wear a jacket . . . or put on a dress . . . doesn't mean you're more presentable than my sister and I in our "slacks.")  Anyway, we got around it by not eating dinner at the Grand Hotel, and then we just hung around in the Cupola Bar (which is not included in the dress code) or our room after eating dinner elsewhere on the island.  It's weird.  But I will trade the dress code nonsense for the porch any day.

So.  What do you think?  Have I sold you on the magic of Mackinac?


Be sure to head over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts today!



Sticking With It

I used to be addicted to my snooze bar when it came to waking up.  Like . . . I used to purposefully set my alarm for an hour or more before I actually needed to wake up . . . just so I could hit the snooze - repeatedly - before finally dragging my sorry a$$ out of bed in the morning.

It was getting ridiculous.  (Especially because I got out of the habit of paying attention to my alarm, and sometimes didn't even "notice" it anymore.)

So I decided to break myself of the habit.  I got a new alarm clock with a new and highly annoying alarm.  I moved it across the room so I would have to actually get out of bed when it went off.  And I made a commitment to myself to keep moving once I got up and shut off the alarm.

It's been 18 months now.  And it's working!


It was hard for those first couple of weeks.  I SO wanted to just hit the snooze bar and head back to my bed.  But I didn't!  I have trained myself to be an early riser (I am not, by nature, an early riser), and I'm finding that I actually like it.  I've discovered a few benefits to consistently getting up early (three, in fact!):

First, I've developed a nice, quiet routine for myself in the morning.  I let the dogs out and feed them, grab a cup of coffee, knit a few rows.  Once I feel awake, I usually meditate -- which all helps me start the day relaxed and centered.

Next, I'm more ready (as in alert and aware) to get started with my day.  Allowing myself the time to wake up gradually and mindfully means I'm not feeling stressed and rushed when it is time to get going . . . with whatever I've got going.

Finally, after 18 months of getting up early (and without a snooze bar fest), I've gotten to the point where I barely need an alarm clock anymore.  I just naturally. . . wake up . . . at the same time every morning.  I'm also sleeping better at night.  

There are still mornings where I'm tempted to crawl back in bed.  But I don't.  And once I'm up . . . I'm up.  This is one of those habits I'm really happy to be sticking with!

How about you?  Are you an early riser . . . or not so much?  What habits are you trying to stick with?


Be sure to check out more Three on Thursday posts over at Carole's!

Reading Along

It's Three on Thursday, and I'm in the midst of a busy and emotional day.  So let's talk about something easy . . . 



Here are three things I'm reading today:

  1. Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker -- one of the books on the short list for the Women's Prize for Fiction this year.  This award is one I always pay attention to because the books tend to match up very well with my taste in reading.  While my goal is always to read all the books on (at least) the short list before the award is announced, I usually can't because of differing publication dates between the US and the UK.  But this year?  When I finish Silence of the Girls, I'll have read all the books on the short list!  The winner will be announced on June 5 this year.  (My favorites?  Either Circe or Milkman. I loved them both.)
  2. This essay from The Atlantic about Mary Oliver and the distractions of technology.   Really worth a read.  (I'm not actually reading Upstream today.  But I needed a placeholder in my photo . . .  and it works.)  (But now that I've got it out . . . well. . . I might read a few pages.)
  3. A travel book about Coastal Alaska.  Because Tom and I are headed there in July!  After finalizing all the details for our trip yesterday, it's time for the educational part.  (Our trip is part of our 60-for-6o celebration.  You know . . . we're turning 60, Alaska is turning 60.  Of course we'll head there!)

How about YOU?  Reading anything interesting today?


Speaking of books . . . Mary is hosting Summer Book Bingo again this year!  Click here for the scoop.


Don't forget to check out this month's Stash Giveaway.  Comment by Friday at 5pm EST if you're interested!

Turn it Around


I got back from my trip to Wyoming and Colorado on Monday night.  And then . . . immediately fell into a funk.  Partly "re-entry" from my trip.  Partly the exhaustion of travel.  Partly just some unpleasant stuff to deal with.  Partly . . . weeds.  (So many damn weeds.)

I'm in a funk.  Feeling cranky.  Slogging through my days.  Definitely . . . out of balance.

It's time to turn it around, my friends.  So I'm reaching for those things that help me feel balanced:

  1. Meditation.
  2. Movement.
  3. Creativity.

You know what else I'm going to do today?


I'm going to focus on the flowers . . . 
instead of the weeds!






It's May!

New month, new "bucket" list . . . 


3 highlights from my list:

  1. Paint Bathroom.  The wallpaper is mostly gone.  I know what color I want to paint.  Tom is willing.  
  2. Something Boulder-y.  We're headed to Boulder for Lauren's graduation from law school next week.  It will be our last trip to Boulder (for maybe . . . ever) because (drum roll) Brian and Lauren are moving back to Michigan this summer.  (I'm over the moon, I'm telling you.)
  3. New Mattress.  Because ours is at least a decade past time-ro-replace.  (Any tips for mattress shopping out there?)

How about YOU?  What's on your list for May?


Be sure to hop over to Carole's for more 3-on-Thursday posts.)


And be sure to come back tomorrow . . . for my first ever Asking Questions post -- occassional interviews with interesting people doing interesting things.  Join me tomorrow to hear from my first guest:  Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops fame -- knitwear designer, mystery-maker, and overall big thinker!

All It Takes

. . . is a bit of sunshine and a couple of warmer days to get things popping in my garden!  

A couple of years ago, I planted a big bag of "mixed daffodils," not really sure what I'd end up with when spring came around.  Now, I love the variety -- and I also love that they bloom in waves.  (Some are early-bloomers, some are late-bloomers.)  Here are three different types that are blooming in my garden today:


I just love them!  And I love their glorious steadfastness, too -- standing straight and tall through heavy rains and roller-coaster temperatures.  (Those spring bulbs are tough!)

What's blooming in your garden today?


Greeting Spring In My Garden

"I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose, I would always greet it in a garden."
                    --- Ruth Stout

Spring is fickle, to be sure. 

But it's also. . .  here.  (Finally.)  
And Ruth Stout is right: I will always choose to greet it in my garden.  
Which is definitely coming back to life!

Sweet crocus are blooming.


My hellebores are waking up.


And my larch tree is greening up again.


My garden is the perfect place to greet the spring!
(Even though it's cold and windy today.)  (But, hey.  No snow.)


Head over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday.

Wearing Inspiration

I love finding little labels-of-inspiration in things I'm wearing or using. 

Every time I put on this shirt, it reminds me that . . . 


getting myself outside every day . . . is actually one of the five daily "things" that bring balance to my life.

And I smile whenever I put on this cap . . . 


knowing that these wise words are right there -- pushing into my brain while I wear it.

And I love to open my wallet to find . . . 


(Plus - "vexes" is one of my all time favorite words.  So seeing it every time I use my wallet just brings me extra joy.)

I can't quite figure out how these words on the waistband of one of Tom's favorite pairs of pants inspire. . . 




Today's post sort of qualifies for Three on Thursday (let's just say . . . it's three inspiring labels with an extra bonus goofy label and call it close enough). Be sure to hop on over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday posts!




Birthday Butterflies

As part of my birthday-week celebration (60 on Saturday!!!), Tom took me to the Butterflies are Blooming exhibit at the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids the other day.  

The exhibit is the largest temporary, tropical butterfly exhibit in the country -- and it comes every spring to Meijer Gardens.  Watching these exotic butterflies flutter all around you . . . in a truly beautiful tropical conservatory . . . is just magical!

But first, there was a Monarch butterfly exhibit.  As you know, I'm a huge fan of the Monarch, so I loved finding all the caterpillars munching away on various milkweed plants, and seeing the caterpillars actively forming their chrysalis.  This one was close to emerging.  (You can see the distinct Monarch colors/pattern through the chyrsalis.)


Here are three cool things about the tropical butterfly exhibit:

1 - Feeding stations.


The butterflies were just flocking around various feeding stations set up throughout the exhibit.  The butterflies in this photo are Postman and Pink Cattleheart, all from Central and South America.  (We were there in the morning, and these are all "morning" butterflies -- they like the bright morning sunlight.)

2 -- Beautiful butterflies we don't see locally.


This blue butterfly is the Common Morpho (also from Central and South America), and I'll tell you . . . it didn't seem "common" at all!  It's big -- much bigger than a Monarch; kind of . . . bat sized.  It was just amazing to see them floating around.  The blue was much more brilliant and iridescent that my photo shows.

3 -- Hatching station.


The exhibit featured a hatching station where we could see all the types of chrysalis for the butterflies included in the exhibit.  It was fascinating to watch the butterflies in various stages of "hatching."  I loved watching them emerge.  

It was a fabulous way to spend a morning!


Be sure to visit Carole today for more Three on Thursday posts.


Instead Of . . .

It happens every. single. year.

Tax time approaches.  I am a CPA (or. . . I was when I worked).  Our taxes are not very complicated.  And yet . . .


I put off doing them.  
But I WILL do them.  
I ALWAYS do them.  
(I've given myself a "soft" deadline of - gulp - this Sunday.)
(Like I said. . . "soft.")

Yes, people.  We have some major procrastination here!

What am I doing . . . instead of doing our taxes?  Well.  Pretty much anything.  But mostly:


Procrasti-painting.  (But my new cow is much better than eye-patch-cow, non?)


Procrasti-cleaning.  (My kitchen needs a good scrub-down after Tom's beer making yesterday!)


Procrasti-knitting.  (Pleaseohpleasehelpme . . . I've got another binge going.)

How about you?  Are you a procrastinator?   If so, how do your procrasti-activities manifest themselves?  
(And please don't rub it in that you-filed-in-January-and-already-spent-your-refund.)


Jump over to Carole's today, for more Three on Thursday fun.


Don't forget to check out this month's Stash Giveaway.  Comment by Friday if you're interested!