3-fer Thursdays

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.

IMG_0415

My hellebores are waking up.

IMG_2823

And my larch tree is greening up again.

IMG_8123

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 . . . 

IMG_2452

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 . . . 

IMG_2453

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 . . . 

IMG_2455

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

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

IMG_2454

Thoughts?

==========

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.)

IMG_2365

Here are three cool things about the tropical butterfly exhibit:

1 - Feeding stations.

IMG_2366

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.

IMG_2367

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.

IMG_2370

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 . . .

IMG_2246

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:

IMG_8032

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

IMG_2243

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

IMG_2248

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!

 


Important Lessons

I've been taking watercolor classes for a few years now.   Watercolor is very challenging for me.  (Watercolor is challenging for most people, so that helps a little.)  I'm much more comfortable drawing.  (Because slower.  More controlled.)  (Also erasers.)  But watercolor?  It happens fast!  And beginners have very little control.  (And, well.  No erasers.)  

The only way I'm going to get better . . . is with practice.  Lots of practice.  I'm trying to paint or sketch at least a little bit every day.  And sometimes I combine my drawing with my painting.  (This is ink plus watercolor, for example.)

IMG_8904

I'm getting better.  I'm getting more confident.  But . . . it's going to take a lot more classes and a lot more practice before I'll be able to sit and paint the landscape around me!

Here are a few things (three, in fact!) I've learned that help me keep going with my watercolor painting:

1 - Materials make a big difference.  High quality paints, brushes, and paper really help to make painting more comfortable -- with better results.  (Just like knitting.  And sewing.  And gardening.)  It's also helpful to remember that . . . it's just paper, y'know?  (They make more every day.)

IMG_5805

2 - Look for improvement in each attempt.  I paint a lot of real clunkers, y'know?  Stuff I'd never post here -- and likely wouldn't even bring to show my (very supportive) classmates and instructor.  But I've learned to look for the good parts in any failed attempt.  At this stage, I have a tough time putting all the elements of a landscape (for example) together in one painting.  Usually, I'll like the clouds in one attempt, the reflections in another, the water in yet another.  Someday, if I keep working at it, maybe I'll like everything.  But for now . . . I look for something positive about each piece.  (In this one, I really liked the grasses. Even though the rest of it just . . . well . . . sucked.)

IMG_5681 2

3 - Maintain your sense of humor.  Last week, we were working on cows.  My quick watercolor sketch was going okay . . . until I (repeatedly) wrecked one of the eyes.  The poor thing looked blinded; totally dead in one eye.  So I took it to class like this . . . 

IMG_8069 2

We all had a good laugh.  But I'm ready to try again.  On better paper.  With a better drawing to begin with.  

IMG_6806 2

If it works out better this time, great!  And if not?  Well.  I'm sure I'll learn something from the process!

==========

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

 

 

 


By Request

Last week, I shared that Tom is the Poet Laureate for the Kalamazoo Curling Club.  And several of you called me out . . . for not including some of his (rather naughty) limericks.

So.  

Here you go.  
Three (because Thursday) of Tom's limericks.  
By request.

IMG_1880

Curling Limerick #1

I met a skip last November
Had a curling tattoo on his member
Most times it said “MEND”
But on cue would extend
To say “Hey, come check out my 8-ender”

Curling Limerick #2

There once was a curler named Ina
Who’d learned how to guard in Regina
Twixt her knees held a rock
And with that she did block
Any draw attempt to her . . . button

Curling Limerick #3

Twas a curler who got into some trouble
Drank too much and passed out in the rubble
He woke up sick and giddy
With only one kidney
And a tramp-stamp that said “missed the double”

And.  There you are.

==========

Be sure to visit Carole today for more Three on Thursday fun!

==========

I'm heading to Colorado this morning for an extended weekend visit.  There may or may not be a blog post tomorrow.   (Oh, the suspense. . . )

 


My Funny Valentine

Me and my Valentine (who really is funny, by the way) . . . don't do anything special to celebrate Valentine's Day.  

IMG_6252

But I thought it might be fun to acknowledge the day -- AND the fact that it falls on a Three on Thursday -- by sharing some things (three, in fact!) that you probably don't already know about my Valentine.

1 -- Tom grew up in Manhattan!

IMG_1831

Here he is back in 1969 (Tom's the skinny blonde kid on the left) in J. Hood Wright Park, which was across the street from his apartment building.  For those of you familiar with Manhattan, he lived at Ft. Washington Ave. and W. 173rd St, and attended PS 173.  It was quite a shock (as in culture shock!)  . . . when his parents moved the family to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he spent his adolescent years.  (And met me.)  (He can still bring back that NY accent when he wants to.)  

2 -- Tom used to be blonde!

Scan0079

Yep, there we are.  1980.  Tom's college graduation.  Blonde.  He was blonde as a baby, blonde as a kid, blonde when I met him.  Somewhere along the way, though, his hair turned dark brown.  His hair hasn't been blonde in decades -- but I still think of him as having blonde hair.  (Erin's hair was exactly the same -- blonde until she got out of college, when it turned dark brown.)  (And that photo?  That's my natural hair color.  Until it turned gray, of course.)

3 -- Tom is a "Poet Laureate". . . 

Tom curling

of the Kalamazoo Curling Club, that is!  Tom loves to play with words -- rhymes, funny turns of phrase, puns (and especially BAD puns, I might add).  He's also very good at telling jokes, and has quite a repertoire of memorized stories.  These skills have landed him a gig as the First Curling Poet Laureate.  He has written - and presented - many curling-themed poems and (rather naughty) limericks at curling events all around the region.

And now you know a little bit more about my funny Valentine!
Happy Valentine's Day to all of you.
XO

==========

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


Three to Go

I'm in the midst of one of those very full weeks.  (Actually, I'm now on the downhill side of the very full week.  So yay.)  Running around too much to blog.  Mind too preoccupied for creative thought.  Just . . . one of those weeks.

So.

How about an Oscars update?  

IMG_1761

If you look closely down at the lower right corner, you can see my "still to see" list.  Three to go!  (See how I did that there?  With the three?  For Thursdays?)

What's left?

1 - At Eternity's Gate (Willem Dafoe is up for Best Actor in this one).  We'll be checking this off our list tonight, though, as it's here in town and we've already made reservations.

2 - Can You Ever Forgive Me (Melissa McCarthy is up for Best Actress and Richard E. Grant for Best Supporting Actor).  I've been waiting and waiting to see this one -- but it just hasn't come to town yet.  It just came out on DVD, so maybe I'll have to break down and purchase it if it doesn't show up in the theater here before February 24.

3 - Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski is up for Best Director for this movie).  This one might be the real bug-a-boo for us this year.  Our local theater showed the previews for Cold War months and months ago, but either it hasn't been here yet -- or it wasn't on my radar when it showed up.  Either way . . . there is no sign of it locally.  And it's not yet available on DVD.  (Keep your fingers crossed for me, okay?)

We have seen all the movies up for Best Picture -- and, really, neither Tom nor I have a real favorite this year.  They're all good -- and very different.  (Forced to choose, I would probably pick The Favourite or BlacKkKlansman.)  (My real favorite?  Glenn Close in The Wife.  If you have a chance to watch it, do!  It's an excellent movie -- and she is fabulous.)

How about you?  Any favorites this year?

==========

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


Making Room

Over the weekend, I started cleaning up/clearing out my "sewing room" . . . which is technically not a room, but a designated corner in our basement (albeit a room-sized corner.)  Technically, it's not a "sewing room" either, because it houses much more than just my sewing stuff (like . . . all my yarn and stitching stuff is in there, too.)  

Anyway.  I'm lucky to have chosen this particular corner for my "sewing room" . . . because it has a built-in storage space along one wall with a small closet, several drawers, and a cupboard.  I should be able to keep my stuff neat-and-tidy with all that built-in storage space, non?  Ha!  Of course not.  Because that storage space is storing stuff that is (mostly) not sewing or knitting or stitching related.

And therein lies the problem.  In order to properly clean up/clear out my "sewing room," I first need to tackle that built-in storage space with a little Kon-Mari action.  

And therein lies the other problem.  Most of the stuff in the closet . . . is sentimental stuff.  The flotsam and jetsam of my kids' childhoods.  Old school papers and mementoes and art projects.  Stuff I've been dreading sorting through for years and years now (and especially since I took an initial pass through much of that stuff in preparation for their high school graduations; I'd seen the enemy . . . ).

Last Saturday afternoon, though, in the midst of a snowstorm, I plunged in!  It turned out to be quite a nice trip down memory lane, actually.  I culled the best and most representative samples of my kids' school papers and artwork and programs and awards to curate a little pile of memories for each of them -- and I recycled the rest.  Along the way, I photographed several things to share with them immediately, and together we decided on some items that were on-the-bubble.  It ended up being . . . not so bad.  And - BONUS - I have freed up a huge amount of storage space in that closet area.

Want to see a few things I found in the closet?  (3 things maybe . . . since it's Thursday?)

1 - I found lots of wonderful school papers and drawings, mostly from the elementary years.  Eventually I came to understand the folly of my ways in keeping all the stuff, and by middle school and high school, I was much more particular about what I saved.  But those early papers brought back so many wonderful memories -- and the kids loved seeing how they wrote and drew as young children.  One that brought laughs to all 3 of us is this gem from Brian.  He made an alphabet Mother's Day book for me in second grade.  Here is his entry for the letter R:

IMG_1545

Yep.  I am the proud mother of a kid that doesn't reek.  (And that alphabet book made it into Brian's pile of papers to save.)

2 - I had several boxes filled with art projects from the elementary years.  Some were from school; some (especially from Erin) were projects they made at home.  (I will just say, in retrospect, it is amazing how many things kids can make from construction paper, cotton balls, glue, and glitter.)  Here is a wooden nutcracker that Erin made with my Dad in his workshop one winter:

IMG_1546

Sadly, this one didn't make the cut!  Erin and I decided it was time for this guy to go.  (Along with a pottery "tray" she made that weighed about 30 pounds, and a matching "mug" with a handle heavy enough to deliver an upper body workout with every lift.)

3 - I also had stashed and saved boxes of memorabilia from various special events over my kids' school years.  Concert programs, academic awards, newspaper clippings, announcements, party invitations -- the kind of stuff that you think you're going to want to save forever, but really . . . not so much.  I kept the best and most meaningful of the bunch and recycled the rest.  I also found about 20 copies of the newspaper with this article:

IMG_1544

Twenty years ago, Erin (along with her special "Fluffy French Toast" recipe) was featured in the monthly Grand Rapids Press Cooking with Kids segment.  It was a Big Deal . . . and I had (almost) forgotten about it.  I saved a copy for Erin, and the rest went in recycling.  (20 years . . . and Tom is still motified by the highlight of his quote.  "Did I really say that?" he asked when he saw it.  Yep.  He did.)

I'm glad I finally just got in there are tackled those boxes of kid-stuff.  It was quicker, easier, and way more fun than I expected -- and now I have all that room in my closet.

How about you?  Have you sorted through the sentimental memorabilia in your closets?  Or are you better at culling through that stuff from the get-go?

==========

Be sure to hop on over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday fun.

==========

And . . . if you are interested in Erin's recipe for French toast, let me know.  I saved that, too.



  


Every Damn Day

I have an Every Damn Day list . . . a list of things I do, well, every damn day.  

What's on my list?  Just little things.  But important things.  Things that begin and end my day with a good feeling.  Flossing my teeth.  Applying moisturizer.  Making my bed.  Stitching . Sun salutations.  Meditation.

Doing these things . . . every damn day . . . make me feel like I accomplished something, even when my plans go off the rails.  (As they do.)

I didn't always do these things every damn day.  But at some point, I decided these things needed to become good habits that I could hang my hat on.  (Some of them - the bed-making and the flossing, for example - have been daily habits for over 30 years now.  But others - the sun salutations and the meditation, for example - have been more recent additions.)

Here, at the beginning of the new year, I've decided it's time to add three new daily habits to my Every Damn Day list.

IMG_1399 2

1 - Drink more water.  And by that I mean enough water.  According to my calculations, I need to drink close to 90 ounces of water each day, based on my weight.  More on the days I work out strenuously.  That means filling up my favorite water bottle 6 times each day.  I have tried to establish this habit many, many times over the years.  It never sticks.  This year, I want it to stick.

2 - Make time to stretch.  Like . . . really stretch. . . after my workouts.  Current fitness science (yeah, there is such a thing) stresses the importance of proper stretching after working out.  In fact, they say that stretching should be part of any balanced workout -- as important as strength and cardiovascular training.  I've got the strength  and cardiovascular training parts down pretty well, but I'm quite lax when it comes to stretching.  This year, I'm wanting to up my stretching game.

3 - Daily sketching.  Like everything else in life, you get better at the things you practice.  I want to get better at doing quick sketches, which means I need to practice.  (That perfection thing gets in the way every time.)  My plan?  Set a timer for 5 minutes and just . . . sketch.  When the time goes off . . . done.  Just for me.  Just for practice.

There you have it.  Three things I want to add to my Every Damn Day list:  Sketch. Stretch. Water.

How about YOU?  Do you have an Every Damn Day list?  And what's on it?

==========

(In the time it took me to write this blog post, I drank the all the water in my water bottle.)  (Just sayin.)

==========

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