30 November 2011

Thankful November Day 30

Last day of November and the end of Thankful November. It flew by. This has been a great exercise for me to really think about my blessings. Hope you've had a month full of gratitude and love.

Today I am thankful for the holidays. I am thankful that they bring us together as family, friends and sometimes even strangers. I have so enjoyed making plans with family and friends and always enjoy having fun things to look forward to.

It's a great time of year to enjoy concerts, holiday plays, seasonal parades and lights and all the activities of the season. It seems in December you can have your pick of several wonderful events to choose from every night. We are planning a fun holiday calendar and looking forward to time with family and friends.

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Beautiful Winter Wear From Banana Republic

Banana Republic has put together a great holiday clothing collection and with each look they break down all the  elements to make it easy to create your own look. The BR website is looking really great this season - I am inspired.

Here are four of my favorite looks:

1. Long Tan Sweater - love the stripes, overdyed jeans and cozy long sweater. All great pieces that go with practically everything in one's closet.

2. Red Jacket with Sangria Scarf - love the warm, bold colors.

3. Double-breasted Pea Coat - So classic, so versatile. Looks so pulled together with such ease and simplicity.

4. Casual Cowl with Khaki Cords - So relaxed and ready for fun. Love the red bands of color peeking out.

For winter it's important to be warm, but that doesn't mean you can't look smashing at the same time. A little extra attention to your wardrobe choices can keep you from looking bundled and bulky and take you right to hot AND cozy.

images via Banana Republic

29 November 2011

Thankful November Day 29

Wow, it's the second to last day of Thankful November already. Can't believe that. Today I am thankful for dreams, the kind that inspire you to believe is all you can be and in the ideas that are bouncing around in your head. I love dreaming, I love working toward my dreams and seeing them come true. I really love watching other people work for and see their dreams come to fruition. That inspires me endlessly.

Hope you see your dreams coming to fruition today. It's the holiday season and a new year is coming. There's no better time to dream than at this magical time of year.

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28 November 2011

Etsy Roundup - Best of Christmas Wreaths

Thought I would share with you a roundup of favorite wreaths available this lovely holiday season from Etsy. I love the very simple and natural greenery, pine cones and fruit and also have a soft spot for the shiny, tinseled and modern. A well done wreath can be such a welcoming addition to a front entry. Hope these will inspire you to make your front door gorgeous and inviting this year. You can find all these wreaths handmade at Etsy.
1. Magnolia Wreath from Elegant Holidays (Shannon Harris)
2. Bird & Birdhouse Wreath from Noel Belles Deux (Mary Ellen)
3. Aqua Ice Wreath from J. Potter Blooms
4. Sugar Land Wreath from The Chickadee Shop (Melissa Clark)
5. Glittered Fruit & Greens Wreath from English Rose Designs
6. Teal Green Wreath from Pamela Joyce Design
7. Green Ribbon Wreath from My Garden Gate
8. Joy Wreath from Privileged Door

And a few more....

9. Mistletoe Wreath from Baby Bird Crafts
10. Square Boxwood Wreath from NH Woods Creations (Allison)
11. Square Berries & Pine Cones Wreath by Elegant Holidays (Shannon Harris)
12. Green and Gold Wreath from Decord Esprit

I'll be back later today with Thankful November Day 29. Hope you're having a beautiful Tuesday. As always, thank you so much for coming by. Sending you warmest wishes.

all images via Etsy

Thankful November Day 28

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After a very, very busy November today is MY day. No people, no noise, no obligations, deadlines or "must dos" today. I was up late last night but then slept until a ridiculously late hour today. Heaven, heaven, heaven. 

Knowing I don't have to do anything I don't feel like doing today is making me quite happy. Today I am thankful for R-E-S-T.  Taking time for rest during the holidays can have a serious impact on your health and well-being for the season and beyond. I am so glad I have some down time factored into this holiday season. Hope you have a very happy Monday.

27 November 2011

Thankful November Day 27

How can I not be thankful for gorgeous 85 degree weather on Thanksgiving weekend? While it's a little weird to think about decorating for Christmas in this kind of weather, I am not complaining while wearing a tee shirt, skirt and sandals.

Thankful November Day 26

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Today I'm thankful for weekends with no alarm clocks. Ah. Staying up late with people you love is much more fun that way.

25 November 2011

Thankful November Day 25

The weekend celebrations continue. Day Two of Thanksgiving, the leftovers. Almost better than the actual meal on Thanksgiving Day. Today I'm thankful for the people who really matter. Immediate family. Extended family. And now a new second family. What is more important in life? I'll drop everything and run, any time, any day, any place for these people.

24 November 2011

Thankful November Day 24

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Happy Thanksgiving U.S. readers! Hope it's a lovely day for you wherever you are! As I write this post I am hearing Tevya from Fiddler On The Roof singing, "TRAH-DI-SHUN, TRADITION!" That's what I am thankful for today -- Tradition. Can you imagine doing something one day to celebrate life with a small group of neighbors that would be carried on as a tradition for centuries to come? Don't you think the Pilgrims are a little surprised that we are still celebrating Thanksgiving here in the United States and possibly sad that it's become a day of remembrance that is often overshadowed by commercialism and football games.

Traditions are great, they are important and they make life rich. They set expectations, encourage thoughtfulness and cause us to pause from our busy lives in recognition. We have been entrusted to carry on many traditions within our families, towns, religious groups and homelands. Today I am thinking about the traditions I value and keep. I'm asking myself if I do them justice and give them their due respect.

It's so easy to become lazy about honoring tradition. What is my responsibility to pass on those traditions in an honorable and noble way? Thinking about that and what changes I can make in my life to live with more respect and honor for  the traditions I value.

23 November 2011

Thankful November Day 23

Today I am thankful for the printed word, to be able to read and for all the people who make such pretty publications. There is nothing that inspires me much more than a magazine full of pretty pictures and smart words. I'll be taking time to lounge and look at many magazines this weekend. Yum.

22 November 2011

Thankful November Day 22

Today I am thankful for creative arts and how they make life more enjoyable. There's little that clears my head and calms my soul like a little creative project. I have found in recent months that I just crave the opportunity to make something.

Sometimes being able to express oneself by making something unlocks one's ability to find a voice in other areas of life. I love that you can give the same ingredients to 20 different people and in the end come up with 20 unique creations. It's amazing to see the creative eye at work. I am thankful for the opportunity to make things I see in my head come to life and for them to beautiful my surroundings.

Etsy Roundup - 10 Great Christmas Stockings

image via Etsy

It's time for a consolidated effort for holiday stockings at my house. So far the collection is hodgepodge and I know that one disappeared somewhere in a storage box the year before last. This is the year to get new stockings that we can really cherish. I know I like a good, big round toe stocking - no pointy toes or mini-stockings for me. Here's a little roundup of some favorite holiday stockings from Etsy designers.

Buckland from Toronto, Canada makes this charming stocking (above) and a variety of others that can be personalized. I love the silver moon best of all the creatures. The polar bear is definitely a close second. I like the lovely, simple, woodsy shapes. These stockings are made from suede and clearly built to last for generations.

My more elegant side likes the beading on this Silver Tree and Snowflakes stocking by The Golden Turtle.

image via Etsy

I love the contrasts in these two stockings and I like so many of the stockings made by Bebe Snickelfritz. I love the blue gray with the red and the textures together.

image via Etsy

I love felted wool and simple silhouette shapes so this stocking of course totally grabs my eye. I love the earthy materials and subject. This totally appeals to my simplest design nature. Made by EcoShop in Northern California, this Woodland Reindeer stocking is a favorite for sure.

image via Etsy

These applique birds are so beautiful. In a Scandinavian style these stockings in blue and white and red and green are hand embroidered and made in England by Modern and Vintage.

iamge via Etsy

My bold, modern side goes a little gaga for these bright, geometric patterns. How can I say no to orange and green, two colors that I am very wrapped up in right now. These stockings by Studio Tree are so much fun. Studio Tree also makes some great pillows, iPad cases and more.

image via Etsy

And to round out the collection for today I couldn't pass up on this simple and so chic stocking by the well known Paloma's Nest. Love the grommet detail and the gorgeous wood tile and ribbon personalized nameplate on the front. A good eye and great craftsmanship can take such simple materials and make them so off the charts gorgeous.

image via Etsy

So that's the big Etsy Christmas Stocking Roundup for today. I hope you found some inspiration for your mantle. Many of these sellers are offering free shipping or other special offers if purchased by Dec 1. If you're looking for smart looking new stockings for your mantle that represent your family style and personality, check out the wonderful Etsy designers for great prices and creativity.

I know many of you are traveling this week. I want to take this opportunity to wish you safe travels. Hope your time on the road or in the air is peaceful, enjoyable and trouble free. Thinking of you and sending you warm wishes for the holiday week in the US and for a wonderful week wherever you may be.

21 November 2011

Thankful November Day 21

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Today I am thankful for technology that allows us to stay in touch across the world. Living far away in the 1800s meant you got perhaps a yearly letter delivered when the weather was clear enough for mail to be transported. If you moved away from your family you were pretty much disconnected for life.

How lucky we are that we can talk on the phone, send a letter or package within a day or two, email, Skype, text message and Facebook. Yes there are annoyance and social decay that technology can be blamed for -- to some extent how it's made us a bit stupider, worse spellers and idiots who walk into walls and other people while staring into phone screens. But what an amazing blessing it is when put to good use to keep us close to the people we love. For that I am grateful.

Spruce Up Your Favorite Spots

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Can you believe its already the week of Thanksgiving for us here in the states. Should be a fun week. Here's a little something I've committed to, hoping to make the world a better place in a small way. When we go to our favorite beach I always take an extra plastic bag or two and do a beach cleanup while we're there. I have filled bags and bags of trash from this beach and it is a pretty clean beach. But things wash ashore, blow across the parking lots and fields. Sometimes after a big storm the beach of covered with boards, small boat parts, pieces of rope, plastic wrappers and bags and lots of plastic water bottles.

Last summer we were at a very busy beach near our home and from a distance I saw a family that I have known for a few years. I got a huge smile in my face when I saw the mother with a plastic grocery bag picking up and throwing away bags full of trash. I was so inspired to find a kindred spirit and so impressed with her efforts among dozens of other people lazily lounged on the beach. I hope other people saw her and were inspired too.

Think of what we could accomplish if we all took ten to fifteen minutes in our favorite outdoor locations to do a quick pick up. It's great to involve kids and families - great life lessons in responsibility to our world, work and service. And think how it could change the appearances of our parks, beaches and hiking trails.

So I challenge you to put a few spare garbage or grocery bags in your car and any time you head to one of your favorite outdoor locations. Then take a few minutes to do a quick clean up. Not only will you do a great service to your community but with any luck you'll inspire others who see you to do the same. Let's start a tidy little revolution, shall we?

20 November 2011

Thankful November Day 20

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Today I am thankful for my suitcases. I have two that have carried me for years. They are both about to be retired because they are seriously on their last legs and quickly disintegrating. But they have carried me around the world, across oceans, and up and down many highways. These two bags have carried me to family, friends, conventions, vacations, road trips, holidays and on and on.

I have also learned to pack them very quickly and be out the door with only a few minutes preparation. It's been a great ride, thanks green duffle bag I bought in Scotland in 2000 and thanks gray rolling case I got for $25 years and years ago. You will be hard to replace. Thank you for your service.

19 November 2011

Thankful November Day 19

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Today I am grateful for my feet. They carried me miles and miles today. Whew. Beautiful day to be outside and cover some territory. Having two legs and being able to walk is something easy to take for granted, but what a gift and blessing it is. Bodies are amazing.I'm so grateful for mine.

18 November 2011

Thankful November Day 18

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Today I am thankful for people with upbeat attitudes who can look at the world with a positive disposition and spread sunshine. It is so easy to be snarky, to spread ugliness, meanness and selfishness. It takes work and sometimes painful effort to see the good in the world, to be a source of light and to have faith in all the good in life. Thank you to all of you who believe in the good and stand for light and love. Your efforts are priceless!

Holiday 2011 Party Dresses

Lots of us have obligations to attend at least one festive and fancy holiday party in the coming weeks. While these parties in fantasy are like the holiday parties in the movies - romantic, exciting and magical, often in reality they are nerve-wracking, especially getting yourself pulled together beforehand.

So I thought I would pull together a collection of ideas to get you started on your holiday party preparations. Once you have the outfit, accessories and warm cover up of some sort you can relax and make the most of the celebrations.

For a simple black dress the Mimi Dress from Boden is a lovely start. It also looks lovely with a belted cardigan. Boden offers great accessory suggestions on their site.

image via Banana Republic

Banana Republic coupled up a beautiful taupe skirt and gray blouse to great effect. I like how feminine this look is and so practical to go from work to evening out. You can get all the details here.

I love this gorgeous gold dress also from Boden. It would accessorize so beautifully with a black wrap, sweater or little jacket. Shoe color options would be practically endless. The detailing along the collar and front are so girly and sweet.

Anthropologie has no shortage of beautiful dresses this season. I love the detail on the collar and bodice of the Celestial Dream dress paired with a longer, light frilly skirt. So feminine and grown up in a nice way.

image via Anthropologie

This is another gorgeous dress by Anthropologie. The Vintage Watercolor dress could be beautifully paired with a white faux fur wrap, deep purple pashmina, pretty silver sweater. This would definitely stand out in a crowd of little black dresses.

image via JCrew

I love the Bonnie dress in toile jacquard by JCrew. It would be stunning paired with silver metallic heels and layered with a glittery, sequined silver jacket or sweater. It's a dress you could definitely dress up or down. this is a dress that could just as easily appear at a summer garden party paired with flat sandals.

I hope these inspirations will kick start your search for the perfect holiday dress for this year. There are so many beautiful options in solids and colors to fit your mood for the 2011 holiday season and beyond. Here's wishing you great success with holiday fashions and socializing with peace and joy this year.

17 November 2011

Thankful November Day 17

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This week I have been very grateful to be part of a religious community. Being part of this community blesses my life in amazing ways. I find there is just no group of people who will come to your aid in an pinch the way brothers and sisters of a religious community to. There is an inherent duty and desire to stand up and watch out for each other. I love that and have truly been blessed to tears many times to see this in action, especially for those I love.

Being part of a religious community also provides me opportunities to serve and love my brothers and sisters within the community and beyond. Last night I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup for a family of friends where the father has been having serious health issues. It's nice to feel useful and to care for others. I truly believe opportunities to serve bring us blessings beyond what we even know.

If you're not part of a religious community, let me plant this little seed in your heart that it might be a blessing to you. It definitely is to me and my family and everyone in my religious community.

Martha Stewart Holiday Inspirations

Every year I excitedly look forward to the December issue of Martha Stewart Living. It is always packed with inspiration to make your home merry and bright for the holidays. I love this gathering of small wreaths in a big window. I love the simplicity, delicacy and how easy this would be to do.

Love this simple card tree. Such a simple, clean, stylish way to display a year's worth of lovely mailings from friends and family. All you need is some twine and a few push pins or thumb tacks.

You know how I feel about glitter. Love this two-layer glitter star. It is so elegant and a great statement piece. Look how simple that wall looks. One glitter star, two candles and two ornaments. Done. It's all about filling the space with a simple shapes in proportionate sizes. I am definitely thinking glitter for the 2011 holiday season.

My copy of the magazine is filled with pink tab strips for new DIYs and recipes. Here's a peek at a project I did last year from the holiday Martha issue. An afternoon or evening spent with Martha Stewart Living's holiday issue is a great way to kick off the holidays and is filled with charming ideas to set your holiday decor and festivities apart from the crowd. Thanks Martha people, you are a creative wonderland!

images by kalanicut

16 November 2011

Thankful November Day 16

Today I am grateful to have a lovely home. Yes it's easy to get impatient with all the imperfections of the situation, setting, size and design of our homes. But how grateful we are to have somewhere to come home to, a place that is uniquely ours. It is a sanctuary that is comfortable and welcoming, that protects us from the elements and all kinds of outside influences. I am thankful for home and all it represents.

image by kalanicut

It's Winter, My Sunglasses Need a Sweater

Look what I had waiting for me in the mail when I got home yesterday. A sweater for my sunglasses by the very talented Jane Hoffman, artist and shopkeeper behind Janery and also the founder of the fantastic blog The Borrowed Abode. I won this little beauty and I am so excited to use it. It is so well made and such a charming color combo.

Jane makes these in so many fantastic colors. You can check out all her beautiful goods at her Etsy shop including wonderful pillows, eyeglass cases, bags, tea towels and more. I visited there yesterday and I was gaga for many things!

On her blog, The Borrowed Abode, Jane shares all sorts of great inspiration for home interiors and projects for the rented home. This week she is doing an awesome giveaway for printed produce and grocery totes that closes TONIGHT. You can see all the details  and enter here. Hurry on over there and get in on the goods!

Jane and I met with the lovely EverKelly last August for dinner and we had both gotten engaged within the past 10 days. It's been great fun to read about her unfolding wedding plans on her blog and via email. Looking forward to seeing it all come together from across the country.

Thank you Jane for the wonderful surprise in the mail today. My sunglasses and I are so excited. My purse is quite excited too, since this case matches the orange leather on my purse so perfectly. Thank you for the great home decor inspiration and a wonderful Etsy store we all get to enjoy.

Now, speaking of our friend EverKelly, I really loved her Quilt Market recaps this past couple of weeks. If you want to see what geniuses can do mixing and matching fabrics check out Kelly's posts here. The link will take you to her most recent show post and if you keep scrolling down there are lots more you'll enjoy. She also did some great interviews with many of the talented fabric designers there.

Kelly is super talented and up to some amazing things, she is definitely another gal to watch. And I have to mention, I met both of these gals in the Blogging Your Way class by  Holly Becker (Decor8 blog and Decorate book) and Leslie Shewring founder of  A Creative Mint. Still paying off more than a year later.

Hope you friends are all well. Sending you warmest wishes. Have a great day!

14 November 2011

Thankful November Day 15

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Today I'm very thankful for people who offer to help when you need it. People you barely know, people you know and love. We were so lucky to have some amazing help to get my sister moved. We were beyond grateful for the help.

I'm thankful for another thing too. Down time. It was so great to be able to stop for a few minutes yesterday afternoon and eat a big salad in solitude after the whirlwind moving help left and we left the house. We took a few hours off which felt so good. Down time is important. As is sleep, which I am also very grateful during these exhausted days.

Thankful November Day 14

Today I am thankful for little people who ask "When are you coming home? I miss you. I want to see you. I want you to come home now." And ask over and over and over. Can't wait for more hugs and kisses soon. So grateful to be loved.

Getting Out & Doing New Things

This weekend I went to an air show. Wasn't planning on it. Enjoyed it. It's so easy to get into ruts about what we do and what we aren't that interested in. It's always nice to get out of your comfort zone and do things you wouldn't normally do or that might not be your cup o' tea. And it's nice to spend time with other people  and their interests. And you usually find you enjoy yourself way more than you'd think. Take the Thunderbirds performance for instance, that was pretty amazing.

So next time you are looking for something interesting to do on the weekend, look up at the big blue sky and choose to do something you might normally not do. It might turn out to be quite exciting and adventurous -- and you might want to do it again. Miramar Air Show October 2012, here I come. While I'm at it, I am definitely going to start expanding my horizons about new and interesting things to try that are outside my usual routine.

13 November 2011

Thankful November Day 13

Today I'm grateful for these two girls. These two are serious pros. They have been to a lot of weddings. They have been in a lot of weddings. They know weddings. These two were kind enough to talk weddings with me for a few middle of the night hours this weekend and impart their wisdom.

In minutes they saved me a few thousand dollars from my budget with their insights. We talked all things wedding and they shared their best loved wedding moments and their most hated wedding moments. It was a great chat, I threw out some ideas and refined a lot of others. It was invaluable. Thank you girls!

image by kalanicut

12 November 2011

Thankful November Day 12

Today I am thankful for amazing opportunities I have had in the past four months to meet and learn more about many different and interesting people. It's been a really fun social season with people I have met through blogging.  It's so cool how many great people I have met as a result of starting this blog and the opportunities that have come to me. I am blessed and grateful for these associations and experiences. It's fun to talk with kindred spirits in Australia, Europe, Asia and across the United States and to learn from all they have to teach and share.

It's been great to be exposed to so many different kinds of people and hear their thoughts, learn how they became who they are and what they are dreaming of and working towards today. The generosity within the blogging community is quite tremendous and I am so appreciative of all the people who have met me with generosity, grace and friendship.

11 November 2011

Online Wedding References Come To My Rescue

After a lot of wedding researching in a booming wedding industry it is so easy to get totally lost in the thousands of little doodads, flowers, ribbons, cakes and bakers, photographers, planners, videographers, event sites, dresses, shoes -- it never ends. You could just shop yourself to death and still feel like you might be missing something.

I am at the point now that I am throwing out ideas and trying to narrow all this information gathering down. One of the things that has been so challenging for me is trying to decide which of the many wonderful vendors to choose. How do you know which one is going to be right for you ? It feels impossible.

One of my guiding lights has been to get to know vendors through social media - check out their blogs, see what their personalities are like on Twitter. That has been very helpful to try to determine who would work well with us personality-wise. I've been getting a good vibe about some vendors and definitely had them on our shortlist to make vendor visits to.

Last night I invested some time in a resource that really helped solidify what I was feeling about the vendors I was liking. I went to Martha Stewart Weddings and did a search for affiliated local vendors. It was so fantastic to read amazing recommendations about one of the planners on my list, my first choice for the cake bakery and a photographer we are very interested in. I am going to do this with the other major wedding sites as well. Sure people will have a few good testimonials on their web site, but it's nice to go to other sources for more reviews.

I am so grateful I did this because it really gave me a sense of confidence in my instincts about these vendors, that it will be possible to narrow down the choices and most importantly that I can find people who will be just right for us. With all the details large and small that need to come together for this special day I am so excited to think that I can have phenomenal professionals who will take our vision, remove all the worry and make sure our day is pure magic for us and all our guests -- And make it happen on a doable budget. Can't wait to set the darn date and start the tastings and vendor visits and see everything I've been putting together in my head come together in real life.

Images 1-3 by kalanicut, image 4 via Cute Tape

Thankful November Day 11 Thank You Veterans

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Easy choice for my Thankful November post today. To my immediate military family and the tight knit military family at large I say thank you for your service. I know you have made great sacrifices, many that will affect you lifelong. You have offered yourselves despite loss of life, life-long health challenges, the emotional wear of battle, the instability of constantly moving life and home, and many other ways. I appreciate that you made these sacrifices for the greater good, for something bigger than yourselves.

I pray the country, the government and our people will continue to recognize your sacrifices, have an increasing humility for your challenges and support your well-being in every way possible.

Sending my love to The Lieutenant Commander, The Colonel and up in heaven to The General (wish so much you were here with us, you left too soon.) Thank you so much for teaching me the noble and generous attitude of a warrior. Best regards to all our veterans on this special day.

Packing Up & Moving On

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It's Friday again already. And it's Veteran's Day. I'll post a little tribute later this morning. Amazing how fast the weeks fly by. This has been a big week for us. There have been some things to absolutely hate about this week and some things to really love about this week. In the end we have a new peace and freedom by which to move forward in our lives, so much so that it's going to take  some time to get used to. Saying goodbye to some old sorrows and hello to new opportunities. Big sigh, smile.

I have some other really big decisions and events coming up that I was not expecting, so there's just never a dull day. I guess there's a reason I have always felt connection with adventure. I had no idea how adventurous and constantly changing life could be. Right now I seriously never know where I am going to be three or four days from now. In the midst of this, we're trying to plan a wedding. No problem, right?!

As far as wedding planning goes, I am so grateful to have an amazing cast of friends and family who are so creative and have been so helpful. I'll have a quick post later this morning sharing some things that have made wedding planning much easier for me.

Today I am helping a beloved sister say goodbye to her charming, much loved home and prepare for a new move and a whole new life. It's a sad day and a super happy day. We're attempting to pack and empty a 2-bedroom house in about 12 hours. It's going to be a great adventure in quick thinking, hard work and organizational genius. I am so happy to be able to help her, especially when the rest of our family is lounging on a tropical beach far away. Those rats! Just kidding, love you guys, just massively jealous.

I'm so happy to give my sweet sister my time and my heart this weekend. I know it will be great for me too. We'll have some great talks, I'll get her input on all things wedding, we'll talk about our dreams for 2012, share a few good meals, laughter and the ease and comfort that only come with being with family. So grateful for my family. Sending you, my blog family, my warmest wishes for your lives and happiness this weekend and beyond. Thank you for being here and sharing all that you do.

10 November 2011

Thankful November Day 10

Today I am thankful for written correspondence. It is definitely a dying art. Heavens, I just read an article a few weeks ago that kids aren't even being taught handwriting or cursive anymore because the teachers don't have time and need to focus on teaching keyboarding. So sad.

But I am always thankful to go to the mailbox and find a hand-penned envelope with a lovely card inside. I am lucky that I get these on a somewhat regularly basis. I have always been a letter writer. My cousin and I wrote letters back and forth when we were in grade school and through college. From the age of two through high school graduation I lived near my paternal grandmother and she had a huge influence on my growing up years. In the three months before she very suddenly died she and I exchanged unusually frequent letters that I now treasure. Getting love letters isn't bad either. I wrote about it here.

Teaching The Bug to write letters has been a joy. You can read about her hilarious letters here and here. And lastly here is a post on teaching kids to write letters. I love to send away notecards & letters and try to still do this as often as possible. I have a note on my desk ready to send tomorrow and a couple more I should write. I hope that letter writing will live on for many more centuries to come.

image by kalanicut

True to You Thursday

image via Polynesian Style

After I decided it was an immediate must to renew my passport, I started wondering what other things I am or am not doing in my life that are not loyal to my true self. Not having a passport was definitely one of them. Not getting together with friends as much as I would like was another. Not focusing enough on my physical well-being was another. Not getting regular haircuts, facials and massages was another (I'm talking on a conservative basis).

I am sure there are deeper ones too if I think about them and list them out for myself. You don't need to hear all those. But it got me wondering about me and about all you lovely readers. What would we all be doing differently if we were confronted by our true selves about who we really are, what we are really capable of and what we really want?

Have you given up your athletic past, a musical instrument or other talent? Do you have a musical instrument in your home that you bought with a dream to learn to play it, yet it sits covered in dust in a corner? Is there a trip you've been talking about taking for decades that you have not made plans to see to fruition? Is there a class offered in your city that you have repeatedly almost taken? What about a career that you would rather be doing or you always saw yourself doing while you work at something you hate that diminishes you? Is your life growing stronger and stronger as the years go by or is it getting smaller, more narrow and less adventurous?

If you had a conversation with your true self today what would she/he tell you? Would she/he call you on the carpet about your forgotten dreams? Would they pat you on the back for having the courage to follow them? What would that conversation be like?

I hope you feel a little inspired to visit with your true self and see what you can learn. I'm digging in, having that potentially painful conversation and looking forward to being more streamlined with my goals, dreams and actions. And now I am getting out my gorgeous ukelele and my "learn to play" book for a while. Might as well get things off on the right foot with my true self.

image by kalanicut

09 November 2011

Quick Little Household Cleanups

I have been practicing doing quick little ten minute clean up jobs around the house in an effort to keep things more organized regularly rather than depending at times on infrequent, time-consuming deep cleaning sessions.
Here's a quick list of fast jobs you can do around the house in about ten minutes.

  • Underneath the sink: Pull things out, dust and wipe out. Sort through items, tossing junk, moving items in the wrong place and put everything back in.
  • Clean off vanity: Put away any items sitting on counter top unnecessarily. Move any decor or storage items to the side. Quickly spray and wipe down countertop, dust off decor and storage. Wash down the sink and fixtures. Spray and clean the mirror.
  • Medicine Cabinet: Remove everything. Sort out items that are empty, junk or outdated. Wipe down, replace items.
  • Wipe down microwave and vents with grease-cutting cleaner.
  • Pick a cupboard or shelf and quickly rearrange.
  • Wipe down outside of fridge.
  • Sweep and mop the floor
  • Tidy up sock drawers. Add an organizer to keep pairs separated and easy to see.
  • Straighten up jewelry so that earrings, bracelets, pins and necklaces are organized in groups and easy to find.
  • Straighten the shoes in your closet.
  • Organize scarves, belts and handbags together to save space.
  • Straighten the top of your dresser. Store unneeded items, and create a pleasant "dresser-scape" for yourself.
Work, Living and Organization Space
  • At the end of every day take 10 minutes and do a quick round up. Put away things out of their place like shoes, TV remotes, magazines, blankets, pillows, bags. etc.
  • Tidy up your junk drawer regularly. Throw out outdated pieces of paper, properly store "keeper" items, use a system to separate pens and pencils, matches, paper clips, scissors, etc.
  • Clean off the top of your desk. It's awful and depressing when covered in junk. Separate things in piles then put away or throw away as required.
  • Clean up front entry area. Have a specific place to keep keys, another for mail and get rid of junk that has accumulated there, and straighten decor. Make it a welcoming place to come home to.
If you get these chores down to a science you can keep the general workload down and your home looking pretty good most of the time. If you get everyone in your household in the habit of doing a quick clean up/round up before bedtime it will make home a much happier place to wake up to in the morning.

Thankful November Day 9

image via

Today I'm thankful for laughter. Laughing is probably my favorite thing to do in life. I love that my family loves to laugh. Since we were kids, being with my extended family has meant laughter. From dress ups and plays the grandkids did, to the best white elephant gifts I have ever seen, being with my extended family is fun and funny. I always look forward to the holidays because it means lots of laughing. That may be the best gift we could share at the holiday season.

Laughing takes the edge off any bad experience. It breaks tension. It builds relationships, brings strangers together in a common cause. One of the best quotes I have read of late is "A woman laughing is a woman conquered." Humorously if you look for a source on the internet you get the following sources: Napoleon Bonaparte, Diane Sawyer, and a variety of movie, book and video sources. Whoever said it was right. Laughter gets me every time and I hate that sometimes. It's hard to stand your ground and remain firm when someone puts you on the floor with laughter.

Laughing is so good for the soul. I challenge you to laugh as much as possible today. Go to an online joke website and read jokes until your ribs hurt. Spend time with a little kid, they are the masters of the art of laughter and have not yet forgotten how to laugh. Laugh more, life just feels richer, better!

Hope you have lots to laugh about today. I'll be back later today with a post all about quick pickup and cleaning jobs you can accomplish in just 10 minutes. It's surprising how much you can accomplish.

Passport to Adventure

When I got my first passport as a young girl, I promised myself I would never be without a valid passport in my life. That along with many other things I swore I would or would not do has now been undone. I have been without a valid passport for almost three years, which in my mind is somewhat disastrous to my sense and definition of self. I am a traveler, an adventurer -- without a passport that theory is devastatingly damaged. Haahaa.

Earlier this week I was stewing about what I would do if my entire life suddenly fell apart, collapsed, vanished. This was a completely useless expenditure of my time as my life is totally NOT falling apart. LOL. But you women totally know what I mean, right, we have to figure out what we'd do in all the worst case scenarios just in case. Guys, I know it sounds crazy, but we are a little crazy. It's just how we are built.

So I decided that my plan would be to immediately sell or put everything in storage and then work through a couple of contacts at cruise lines and immediately set out to take employment for six months on a cruise ship where I would mourn the disaster my life had become AND be allowed to mourn and regroup in private -- all the while doing menial tasks, working with an adventurous international staff of very interesting if not slightly wacky characters, and caring for the needs of passengers of all shapes and sizes.

I figured if I wanted to I could extend for another six month tour if I didn't have my entire life worked out by the end of the first commitment period. Pitifully, conjuring up this plan gave me peace that I had a plan in the very worst, worst, worst case scenario.

In order to be prepared for this potential necessity, haa-haa, I felt it was immediately necessary for me to renew my passport. Within an hour I was on my way to get new photos, which sadly look significantly older than my previous two passports. Funny and pretty depressing how that happens.

Now I am printing paperwork and filling it out. I know I already have one form totally filled out that I've had on file for at least two years, waiting for me to get photos taken. But of course I don't want to spend an hour searching for that when I can just reprint the document. I realized that once I am married I will have to get another new passport in just a few months. But The Man says he'll treat me to the new one, but to get it now anyway. And I have to keep in mind that just in case everything in my life collapses, I will need it ASAP! Laugh, laugh.

Looking through my last passport inspired me. I have some pretty amazing stamps in there: Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, England (Scotland and Wales on that trip too), France, Thailand and Tahiti. But there are still lots of unused pages in there too. I'm inspired and hopeful for what will fill the pages of this new passport. And I believe I'm making an effort to be more true to who I am. "I am a traveler and an adventurer and always have a valid passport ready to go."

I can't wait to get it. Do you keep a passport? Have a favorite stamp or one you're still dreaming of getting?
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