Just Life

On the Board

The bulletin board, that is. 
True confession: I cannot imagine life without bulletin boards! 


If there is a "theme" in my home organization "system," it is . . . the bulletin board . . . which I apparently embrace as a way to inspire, remind, and capture all the "random" bits and bobs of my life.

I first started thinking about how I utilize the humble bulletin board back in March, when I was writing my Spring Cleaning posts and shared the Clutterbug information about organizing styles. I realized that my Clutterbug-style - a visual, macro organized "butterfly" - would, naturally, gravitate to the bulletin board as a strategy. Of course! I want/I need things right out in front for me . . . where I can see them.

So yesterday I counted up exactly how many bulletin boards I have scattered through my house.
I have eleven bulletin boards in active use in my house.

There's the one above, on the side of the "wall" that houses my refrigerator. It is a catch-all for silly things that make us laugh, mostly. And directly across from that bulletin board . . . is another one. 


Which appears to be where business cards, "important" phone numbers, and the detritus of our pockets end up.

I have bulletin boards in my laundry room (two of them, actually). They collect random buttons and care instructions and postcards and photos. I have a giant bulletin board in my back hallway for a calendar and schedules and important pieces of mail. My sewing area has two (mostly for useful stuff: needles, swatches, threads, unused pompoms, instruction sheets, conversion information, etc.)

My "art room" has two more. They're much more  . . . colorful.


There's another one over my desk . . . 


Clearly, I am big on visual inspiration!

Tom (who is also a "butterfly" when it comes to organizing styles) embraces the bulletin-board-as-organization-and-inspiration-tool, as well. Here's the bulletin board over his desk. . .

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Very neat. Very inspired. Very visual. I love to read all of his notes and quotes (even when I can't make heads or tails out of many of them).

How about you?
Are you a visual person who makes use of the bulletin board for organization and inspiration?
Or does all this make your eyes twitch?


Have a great weekend, everyone. Here's to organization with plenty of inspiration for us all!


Magical . . . and Totally Over the Top

It's been a couple of weeks since my birthday now, but it's not too late to share the gift I got from my sister. Because it was awesome. And totally . . . over the top.

First, I'll just say that my sister was . . . kinda cagey . . . about this particular gift. She warned me that I'd have to "do something with it" when it arrived, and she mentioned the words "right away" more than once. So I was pretty curious from the get-go. Once she knew the delivery date, she checked in with me about my schedule (which - of course - is wide open these days. . . ). And once she had confirmation that it had been delivered, she texted me right away. "Open it now," she said. 

Curiouser and curiouser. . . 


As I opened the box (which was quite large, I'm gonna say), I unpacked flowers. 

Lots of flowers.
Live flowers.
Really gorgeous BIG flowers.


Also bunches of evergreen and herbs and snapdragons and roses!


By the time I got everything unpacked and stuck in water . . . it looked (and smelled!) like my kitchen had been transformed into a floral shop.


What my sister had sent me . . . was a "posy kit" from floral expert and slow-flower artist Teresa Sabankaya!

After consulting Teresa's book (which came with the kit) and then after watching her excellent instructional video (I got a link as part of the kit), I was ready to try and create my own posy!

I set up "shop" in my dining room, and followed Teresa's instructions. You build the arrangement while you hold the flowers, bouquet-style, rather than arranging them in a vase. It would have been helpful to have a third (or fourth, even) hand. But I think with practice, it would get a lot smoother to do with only two.


Here's my finished posy. . . 


I even had plenty of flowers left over to make a second.


It was an absolutely magical birthday gift. Lovely flowers -- AND I learned a new skill. You can bet that I'll be creating more posies from the flowers I cut from my garden this summer -- and even from the bouquets I pick up in the future from the grocery store or Trader Joe's.

Over the top.
But just right!


Here's to a great weekend for all of us.
See you on Monday.


NOTE about the posy kits. If you get inspired to send someone a posy kit, it's important that you do just what my sister did: Make sure the recipient is home when the kit is delivered, and available to open and "release" those flowers right away. This is a very time-sensitive gift, and the recipient is going to need to dig in right away.




Sometimes Mondays

. . . are quiet. (And that's nice.)


I need a little break. No big deal, and I'll be back by Thursday to blast you with more poetry. But I need a to . . . step away . . . for a couple of days to recover from an episode of diverticulitis. And I'm getting my second vaccine tomorrow, so who knows how I'll feel after that (but clearing the decks, all the same). It's time for a short break.

Here's to the start of a good week for all of us!

"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."
            -- Anne Lamott


Progress: A Visual Representation

I talk a lot about the "stuff" I'm working on.
Projects, mostly.
Chores, sometimes.
I thought it might be fun . . . to create some sort of visual representation to show you how I'm progressing. Y'know . . . in kind of an Old School way.

Like . . . this.

Here's the sweater I've been working on for a while now.

IMG_3335 4

It's almost finished, as you can see by my "progress bar." (Maybe also because it's just missing a cuff.)

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It was so much fun (well, "fun" may be a stretch here) - let's say . . . satisfying . . . to color in that progress bar that I decided to try it with more projects!

Like . . . my spring garden bed clean up.


My garden is . . . a lot. (I've identified - and named - 17 "zones" in my garden.) (Maybe I'll blog about that someday.)  Anyway, I am thrilled to be able to start cleaning up my beds so early in the spring this year. It doesn't usually happen this way. (Often, at the end of March there is still snow covering my garden beds.) So. Even though my "progress bar" indicates I've barely gotten started, the fact that I HAVE already started is huge progress. (And now, even if it does snow again, at least I've begun.)

I also made a "progress bar" for my green overalls project.


This was really heartening for me, because it feels like I've been sewing and sewing and not getting very far. But . . . the "progress bar" shows that I'm almost to the half-way point. (There are 47 steps in the pattern. Each "square" in my "progress bar" represents roughly 3 steps.) So far, I've spent a lot of time on pockets (there are 5 of them), and they are rather particular. I suspect smoother sailing from now on. (Although the way the straps join in a VERY particular way in the back could slow me down a bit. . . )

And then . . . there's my last "progress bar."


I'm chipping away! I (almost) finished a major chunk of the work yesterday (closing the books for Tom's consulting business), so I should make quicker progress now. (And, yeah. I know the filing deadline was extended. But we still have a meeting with our financial folks next week, so . . . not extended for me.) Expect that "progress bar" to be completely filled in by the weekend, though.


You'll perhaps notice that I don't have a "progress bar" for my spring cleaning.
(Hmmmmmmm. . .)


How about you? What projects (and chores) are you working on?



MORE Birthdays, Always

"My life is better with every year of living it!"
    --- Rachel Maddow

Kym first birthday

Today . . . is my birthday.


(And that photo? It's my dad singing to me on my first birthday.)

I'm pretty sure I say this every year, but I sure am happy to be HAVING another birthday! About 6 or 7 weeks after I finished with my chemo in 2009, I celebrated my 50th birthday. Before my cancer diagnosis and chemo treatment, I had been dreading that "big 5-0." Why? I can't really remember, but it seemed daunting and watershed-y and . . . old. 

After chemo, though? All I wanted was MORE BIRTHDAYS! I wanted ALL my birthdays!

Because birthdays?
Not something to dread!
They are something to embrace.
And I try to do just that every year.

Yeah. Aging isn't all that appealing (my skin . . . my NECK . . . the creakiness . . . my invisibility and irrelevance . . . ), but I will take it ANY day . . . over. Well. The Alternative. I am so happy to be here, celebrating another birthday, another "trip around the sun," another year!

This morning, as I sat looking at the full moon and sipping my coffee, I came up with this list of goals . . . on my birthday, for my future:

  • to continue growing, learning, and developing
  • to contribute to the world however I can
  • challenge myself every day
  • to "clean up" after myself, and not BE a burden or LEAVE a burden to my kids
  • to keep moving
  • to find and share joy and delight
  • to recognize contentment
  • to live my best life . . . for the rest of my life

I hope you'll celebrate with me today . . . as we all age as gracefully as we can!


On Shout Outs and Virtual High Fives

Today is a Big Day for someone I love.

Yep. Sometime this morning, my good friend Carole (who started as a blog friend but became a real friend) is going to climb on her Peloton bike . . . and spin through her 100th ride!


That 100th ride is a Very Big Deal. In Peloton-land, it's called your Century Ride. And the Peloton folks celebrate it in a big way. You get a (virtual) medal. You become a member of the Century Club. They even send you a special t-shirt! (A nice one, too.) 

Why do they celebrate the 100th ride with such fanfare? Well. Because it's a Big Deal.

It means you've overcome the inertia of comfort and put on your spinning shoes and clipped into the pedals of your bike . . . 100 times.
It means you've selected a ride that will likely kick your butt . . . 100 times.
It means you've ridden intervals and hills and done speed-work and sweated and fought the voices in your head that tell you that you can't . . . 100 times.

And maybe . . . it means you've battled the demons that live deep in your soul . . . 100 times.

And if you do 100 rides? Well, what's to keep you from 200? 500? 1500 rides?

That's what.
Once you hit 100 rides, you know you can do more!

If you've read Carole's Peloton story (and if you haven't, now would be a good time to read it), you know that climbing on that Peloton (100 times now) has been life-altering for her. I'm so excited and proud to be part of her story, and I'm so excited and proud to welcome her to the Century Club today!

In Peloton-land, when you do a "milestone ride" in a "live" class, the instructor will give you a shout out, acknowledging your accomplishment publicly. We can't always do a "live" class, though*, and I happen to know that Carole won't be doing a "live" class today. Since she won't be hearing her instructor do a personal shout out, I thought I'd just do it myself, right here in blog-land. 


You know what else happens in Peloton-land? You can give each other virtual high-fives. We do that in blog-land, too. So why don't you head on over to Carole's today . . . and give her a virtual high-five! (Tell her Kym sent you.)


Have a great weekend, everyone!
See you Monday.


*Thankfully, there are always thousands of "on demand" classes in Peloton-land, so you can always ride when you want to.

Sometimes Mondays

. . . are so MONDAY it's ridiculous.

I woke up this morning and it was cold.
I mean, sure. It's winter. It's cold out. No surprise. 

But I'm talking  . . . COLD . . . inside my house. 
As in . . . the-furnace-wasn't-kicking-on kind of COLD.

AND I had an 8:00 am dentist appointment. Just a 6-month check up and cleaning. But still not my favorite way to begin the day. AND, besides, that 8:00 am appointment would throw my whole fragile-as-it-is Monday schedule off.

AND I had a little sinus headache, too.

Oh, this was very clearly shaping up to be a Very Monday kind of Monday before the sun was even up! 

Yep. I was teeing up a real Alexander-and-the-Horrible-Terrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day kind of Monday for myself. (That book was one of Erin's very favorites as a kiddo.)


It has taken some work. But I am doing my best here to make it NOT be That Kind of Monday. 

First, I reminded myself that my furnace is not working and it is COLD in my house, yes . . . but it is not a "Texas-situation" here. I may not have heat, but I have electricity. Which means I can plug in my little space heaters if I need. And I have hot water. And I have a gas fireplace. And I have plenty of warm, wool layers to put on. And . . . I can call a furnace repair person to come over and take a look.

Second, I reminded myself that it is a privilege to be able to have my teeth checked and cleaned. I am fortunate, indeed, to be able to take care of myself by maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Besides, I like my dentist. He's a good guy. And he's gone the extra mile to make sure his staff and patients are safe in these pandemic times.

Third, I reminded myself that my schedule is fragile -- but it is also extremely flexible. And how lucky I am to be able to go with the flow!

The headache? Not much to do about that. Except hope it goes away eventually.


So. Here I am. Wrapped in a wool shawl. In front of the fireplace. With a little bit of sunshine (not a lot, but enough) coming in through the window behind me. And my favorite furnace guy down in the basement checking out my furnace already. And really clean teeth (with no cavities, I might add).

So my schedule is off.
And my headache is still there.

But it's okay.
I'm fine.
Some days don't go according to plan.
As Alexander learns, some days are like that.
(Even in Australia.)


How about you? How's your week starting off?


Don't forget -- Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 2, is our Read With Us book discussion day for Leave the World Behind. Look for discussion questions on our blogs tomorrow, and let me know (if you haven't already) that you'd like to join our Zoom meet-up tomorrow at 7:00 pm Eastern time. I'll be sending Zoom invitations later today, along with some background material, so if you DID sign up but haven't received an email by 5:00 this afternoon, please let me know.


Old Dogs, New Tricks

A couple of months ago, Vicki told us all about this very fun online cooking class she and her sister took together. And that got me thinking! My sister's birthday was coming up (at the time; it's a month passed now) . . . and maybe I could give her an online cooking class that we could take together! Wouldn't that be fun?

So I got more information from Vicki . . . and started digging around. Now, New Orleans style cooking (the class Vicki and her sister did) probably wouldn't appeal much to my sister. While she likes to cook, that's not really in her wheelhouse. I needed to cast my net a little further. . . and then I found that Sur La Table has a huge selection of online cooking and baking classes.


My sister loves to bake -- so I signed us both up for a 2-session croissant baking class. My thinking was that neither of us would attempt croissants on our own. They're technically difficult and the recipes/directions are totally intimidating . . . so it seemed a class setting might be the best way to learn how to make them. Plus . . . croissants immediately remind us of our travels together (and our shared love for Louise Penny's "Three Pines" book series).

We had our class this past weekend.


It was really fun! The advance materials were good, and we were able to get ourselves prepped and ready to go before the class started. (Reading too far ahead, though, was still totally intimidating! Laminated dough is not for the weak of heart . . . ) The pacing was good, so we were able to keep up with the steps along with the online instruction.


The tips and tricks were invaluable. And for me, the professional tips on rolling out dough . . . worth the price of admission right there!


And by the end of Day 1, we had laminated croissant dough proofing in the refrigerator . . . 


. . . all ready for Day 2. Which was all rolling, cutting, and shaping our croissants. More proofing . . . 


And finally . . . baking!


And, in the end, we each had a delicious batch of croissants!


They were seriously GOOD.


And I feel confident enough to make them again . . . on my own!

My sister had great success with her batch of croissants, too. It was a lot of fun to take the class with my sister. Although we couldn't see each other during the class (neither of us turned our cameras on), we texted and shared photos with each other throughout both sessions. Maybe I'll be able to talk her into another baking class soon . . . French Apple Tarte Tartin, maybe? Or Raspberry Macarons?

You really can teach old dogs new tricks!


Sometimes Mondays Are for Questions

This year, I came up with a few things I wanted to "explore." And by that I mean . . . Consider. Learn about. Chew on. Maybe even fold into my life in some way.

And one of those things is . . . ritual.


(Does "ritual" have anything to do with that photo? No. It does not.)

(And does "ritual" have anything to do with my one-little-word for the year? Not on the surface. Although I'll probably find some connection. Because that's what tends to happen.)


I've decided to explore . . . ritual. And, so far, here at the beginning of my exploration, I'm asking a lot of questions. Yesterday, I decided it might be interesting - and maybe even fun - to throw a few questions out into the universe and see what YOU think.

So here are a few basic questions I'm asking myself right now, as I get started down this "ritual" path. I'd really like to know what you think, so I'm hoping you'll share your thoughts in the comments.

When you hear the word "ritual," what do you think?
How is a "ritual" different from a "habit?"
Or is it???

And there you have it.
A few questions . . . on a (cold and snowy) Monday morning.

A Cheery Bit

Well . . . winter has finally arrived here in Michigan
(I figured it would show up eventually).
And we got the "package deal" . . .  

Plenty of snow.
Ice underneath.
Howling wind.
Temperatures in the single digits.

But I'm warm inside, and I've got these to bring me cheer . . . 



Wherever you are - and whatever your weather - I hope your weekend brings YOU something cheery!

See you next week.