30 April 2013

A Pin Test #12: Get Started Workout

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I thought I would share a different kind of Pin Test this week, a workout. I have to tell you I love this workout and saw changes very quickly. It it tough when you start out but you start getting up to speed within a week of so. By far the push ups were the hardest for me and I still have a lot of room for improvement on those but I love that I'm doing them. When I get to the point where I've done those 40 pushups near the end of the workout it's just pure celebration after that.

This is a great workout if you need to work up a sweat but don't have time to go to the gym or it's raining outside. You don't need any equipment either so it's great to take along when you are traveling. I have done this on the hard carpeted floors of a hotel room a time or two. You can also repeat it as you get better at it to give yourself a really good workout. I have a copy of this workout that I tucked into my travel carry on bag and I have one near my TV too so if I want to catch up on something on TiVo I can do this while I watch. So this is a successful Pin Test, I recommend it fully. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

29 April 2013

Home Reorganization Project: Week 10

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It's a big week coming up for the Home Reorganization Project. I'm taking on the worst project yet. Organizing The Man's files and paperwork. I already spent a day on this a few weeks ago but have one more day to go at least. I could do more, but I don't know how deep I'll start digging into things for my own sanity's sake.

I am going to tackle his workspace which admittedly has been a bit ignored by me as I have stacked mail and papers there in the daily rush of things. I bought supplies to pull it all together this week at the office supply store. I am going to choose some fun TV series to have on in the background as I go to town on that section of the house. Not excited about it but excited to have it done. My excitement for it to be over is really motivating me right now!

I still have a few papers on my desk that need to find a home. 

I have been enjoying the fruits of my labors these past ten weeks. Can't believe how fast that time has gone. There are still a few nooks and crannies that need to be gone through. Some of that will have to wait until after The Man gets back. There just isn't enough time and energy. I guess that is the big learning lesson of this week for me. When you try to take on a big project and you think about it and plan it out the best you can, it probably won't happen or turn out exactly as you expected but you'll sure get a lot closer to your goal than if you didn't start at all.

Over the summer I'll keep working on some of these lesser projects and maybe I'll even be able to just keep up this momentum to keep things well organized in general and with less need for major overhauls. I would love to think that will happen!

Another lesson I am learning that I remember from my youth is that when you get about 90% done with a reorganization project you do get down to some things that are still hard to find a home for and you do sometimes just have to find a place to shove those things because they don't have a logical home, things to group them with or a most practical place to put them. I am learning to be okay with that. Life is never going to be perfect but our efforts to maintain order sure make it a lot better.

This has been a great journey and despite the fact that I have been big in to organizing for a long time, going about it in this way has taught me some amazingly valuable lessons. I find it less annoying and unpleasant now that I've learned to take it one day at a time. I've also learned to let go of putting perfectionist pressure on myself. It doesn't have to be perfect it just has to work for me and my family. Instead of focusing on a perfect home I am focusing on a happy, healthy family. Now having an organized and tidy home plugs into that goal and how it helps us do that rather than being a higher priority. That's big!

26 April 2013

Looking Back At The Week Time

image via MLNW

I thought I would share a list of fun things that happened this week. It's good to look back, isn't it, and count our blessings and recognize moments of bliss that make life sweet.

1) Cuddle Time -- I've learned a lesson. More one-on-one time means more hugging and less time outs. This theory has made a big difference around here. I try to spend 30 minutes right after school to just play with The Bug. It's a sweet time.

2) Play Dates -- We had an awesome play date this week with our dear friends. It's so great when my friends' kids can be my kiddo's friends. Love creating those second generation friendships.

3) Park Time -- Getting out to the park is so good for the soul. It's fun to watch the kids run around chasing each other, giggling, squealing and playing. Good for the soul.

4) Writing Time -- I'm working on a new writing project every free moment I get. It's amazing how draining it is in a great way. Creating a world in your mind is a great adventure.

5) Driving Range Visits -- Sitting at the golf course driving range watching The Bug learn a new skill and then watching all the other golfers at varying stages of development and skill with an ocean breeze blowing is pure, fabulous therapy. Next week I take my clubs with me.

6) Nap Time -- I have been trying to sneak in naps when I can. I get up quite early and am up late working on projects. Taking naps has been a good thing and really has been a big help.

7) Inspirational Reading -- I've been trying to take time each day to read inspirational passages from good books and blogs. It's amazing what you can learn that seems to speak exactly to your life in the moment.

8) Organizing Time -- Things are really coming together around the house and I am appreciating the hours I have put in over the past couple of months to rearrange or reorganize this home. It inspires me to keep things clean and organized and makes getting things done much more easily. I'm starting another big chore tomorrow.

9) Shopping Time -- I'm looking for a dress for a special occasion again and thinking about refreshing the summer wardrobe. There are some big sales going on this week. I'm putting some time into getting some good things at great prices.

10) Journaling Daily -- I've tried to go back to doing three pages every morning in a journal. It has definitely helped me clear my head, work through frustrations, count blessings and stay focused on what's most important. It is such a good habit to have and you end up with an amazing record of your life.

These are things that are guiding me this week. I'd love to hear what's guiding you this Spring. I learn and am so inspired by our online conversations.

25 April 2013

Looking Out For Others

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Last night I was talking with a friend about a mutual friend of ours who passed away a few years ago. Our friend had the uncanny ability to live such a busy life with two jobs, a husband, kids and grand kids and still be always on the lookout for the lonely and anyone who could use a helping hand. She was an amazing woman. The thing I loved best about her was that even though she and I talked several times I week, I never heard about any of her good deeds from her.

I always heard about them from the recipients of her service. I was always amazed at how she fit this all into her schedule. But I was more impressed that she took the time to stop, look and listen for other's needs. Then she went about filling them in simple and beautiful ways.

One night she brought some ice cream to my neighbor and then bathed and put her kids to bed for her and folded her laundry. Awesome ways to serve! I have been thinking a lot about friends and associates of mine who live alone as adults, who are not married and do not have family close by. My heart breaks for them sometimes to know that they can feel deeply lonely at times. I am thinking about what I can do to be of service to them. I can also be of service to friends with young children. They can often use lots of help.

There are so many ways to watch out for and serve others. I'm challenging myself and I offer you the same challenge to make the world a more beautiful and peaceful place by being more aware of the small and simple needs of those around us and doing what we can to lift their burdens and brighten their day. We undoubtedly gain great rewards in so many ways, most importantly a rise in our own gratitude and happiness when we can do these things for others.

24 April 2013

Reduce Your Stress: Evaluate How You Use Your Time

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On Monday I listened as I described to a friend what I wanted to get accomplished this week and in the end as I added and added to my list, I saw a red flashing light going off. The "Danger" sign. I quickly realized that I sounded like a lunatic with way more on my plate that was in any way reasonable or possible.

I hear other women doing this too, saying things like, "I'm going to school full time, work a full-time job, have three kids under the age of five, and we are renovating a house." Does that sound like a recipe for sanity? For success? For health and well-being?

I find more and more I am impressed with women who cut back and cut back again their activities and focus on their top one or two priorities, rather than trying to be all things to all people, or all things to themselves. This has been something I have been thinking about a lot lately, cutting back, simplifying and protecting my health and well-being. I've been watching others around me and how gracefully they handle this.

It's amazing how when you start looking for it, you can find many inspiring examples of women who are learning to be more by doing less. They are happier, more calm, more thoughtful about their life and their choices, better rested and have healthier relationships with others. I find as women it is very easy to tell ourselves that we will be happier if we do everything that we think we want to, when really that drives us in the exact opposite direction. We convince ourselves that we are being cheated by not having everything at one time.

A great way to evaluate whether you might be doing too much is to plan out your week hour by hour. Start by adding in the amount of sleep you want to get each day. Now schedule in ME time: time for meditation, reading, exercise, prayer, breathing exercises, showers, whatever you need to stay healthy and well of body and mind. Then Schedule in "together time" for you and your loved one, your family, your kids -- the important people you want to keep in your life. Then schedule in time for three meals: preparation, sitting for each meal and clean up. Then schedule in must-haves like work hours, weekly tasks, dropping off and picking up kids, grocery shopping, and things that absolutely must happen to keep you afloat. 

Now look at what you have left. This is the time you have available to do anything else. I dare say there really isn't much left. Choose wisely what you add to those spaces. The use of this time can make you or break you depending on what you choose to do with it. If you overburden yourself, it will break you down. If you choose the best activities to invigorate and inspire you it will be a building time.

Another thing you can do is write down how you spend your day in 15 minute increments for a week. This will give you a great view of how well you are using your time, who is getting it, when and why. Compare the two and be prepared, if necessary to make serious changes to improve your well-being, your life and your family. You hold the key to your happiness, health and well-being. Take charge, know where you are, where you want to be and do all you can to move closer to that ideal every day. You'll thank yourself as the years pass.

23 April 2013

Dooney & Bourke's Florentine Domed Buckle Satchel

image via Zappos

I realized that it's been over a year since I started on a new quest to find a pretty new handbag. The investment piece handbag, in gorgeous leather, something you can carry with you anywhere and feel pulled together.

The one challenge I have with leather is that it tends to be so heavy. I've actually been using a messenger bag for most of the past year, which has actually worked out well with the cross-shoulder handbag trend that has been going. But it's not a fashion statement that sings by any means.

A few weeks ago I ran into this beauty. Gorgeous, gorgeous leather, perfect shoulder strap length, tassels & cool stitching on the straps. The Dooney and Bourke Florentine Domed Buckle Satchel is exactly what I was looking for and it comes in 20 different colors. Shockingly fabulous. The yellow, pink, light blue and purple are fabulous. I am a fan of the classic chesnut and natural leather, but the black is really gorgeous as well.

Another feature it has that I look for are sturdy metal zippers that close the entire opening of the handbag. It also has great organizational pockets inside: for cell phones, wallet, keys. I love a well organized, beautiful leather handbag.

This one has everything I like. I am adding it to my birthday gift list. That's the list of ideas for what I'll buy myself for my birthday. This might be a winner. Actually I know there would be no disappointment with this classic, statement piece.

22 April 2013

30-Day Home Reorganization Project: Week 9

My great accomplishment this week in the 30-day Home Reorganization Project (that has now become the 90-day project) was to get my bedroom in top shape. It is so fantastic to have so much open space in the room. Feels like more breathing space and more room to just be, rather than having too much to look at and too much around. It's more peaceful.

I think it can still be simplified even more but it works for now and heaven's knows I still have lots more pressing projects. Over the past few weeks I have removed a second dresser, my sewing table and other things that were taking up space. It is heavenly to have less in the room.

It's nice to see things coming together on a grander scale with more visible, larger projects now done. The kitchen is looking great except for two cupboards. It will be in great shape soon. We also did a big clean up in The Bug's room last week. So I think we are coming close to wrapping up our projects, which makes me really happy. I will be very happy to have things pulled together. Still trying to solve the storage unit issue. Fingers crossed that something opens up.

Every time I walk into my room I'm happy. It's so lovely to have it feel simple and pulled together. Looking forward to wrapping up this little (BIG) project soon. Sending you best wishes for a wonderful day. Remember you decide how it will go.

19 April 2013

Something For My Birthday List: Ray-Ban Aviators

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I think you may have already gotten the hint this week that I have Friday Night Lights on the brain. Yes, I am a little obsessed with Tami and Eric Taylor, their gorgeousness, their amazing marriage, their wit, sass, and fortitude. Another thing I can't get out of my head is Tami Taylor in her gold Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses with that amazing hair of hers.

The Man actually has a pair of these and boy howdy wouldn't I love to steal them. But I know he is very protective of them and in fact I think he has them with him now. So I think I'm going to need to acquire a pair of my own. I thought they would make a great first item to add to my little birthday gift list. Maybe they will be my gift to myself.

I lost an amazing and very expensive pair of prescription sunglasses last Christmas. I'm still totally heartbroken about the loss and still hoping that someone I visited over the holidays will find them in their house or car. I know it's a pretty big longshot at this point, but you never know.

So I'm definitely ready to get a new pair of favorite, go-to sunglasses. The only problem with these is that when you have long hair and put them up on your forehead your hair gets caught in the nose piece and you end up losing a lot of hairs that get yanked out that way. So I am going to have to consider that.

But Tami Taylor, with that fabulous hair and sass sure makes Ray-Ban Aviators look hot.

18 April 2013

Losing My Creative Project Mojo

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I realized that it's been quite a while since I have done a creative project. I start yearning for creative time when I go too long. Usually I have a list of several creative projects I am dying to do and just itching to get time to do one or all of them.

When I recognized that I was feeling that yearning to be creative I started thinking about what I would like to do. And then something a little scary happened. Nothing came to mind. Nothing, nada, blank screen. So I tried not to panic and gave myself some time to think about it. Still nothing. Days later, still nothing. What is going on?! This is a bit traumatic!

I guess maybe I've been putting all my creative energies into reorganizing the house. But that is not very fun. I did put a bit of creativity into birthday boxes for The Man. But I haven't done anything that just pure and simply feeds my soul, that is completely and only for my enjoyment and nothing more. Maybe I'm too busy and tired, knowing that I am trying to build up a reserve of energy for The Man's return and all that will come with that.

Maybe necessity really is the mother of invention and maybe I don't need anything. My home is finely furnished for now. I don't need any art for the walls, pillows for chairs or beds, no more storage solutions at the moment. Maybe there is no need that is fueling my need for creativity right now. When I was younger and desperate for affordable home furnishings it was great to make my own or remake thrift store furniture of all kinds.

So here I am itching to do something creative and yet I have absolutely no interest in doing anything I can think of yet. I'm not sure where this is going to go. But stayed tuned, you'll be the first to know if I come up with something. I think my first step needs to be taking time for a little inspiration. I head over the Pinterest, maybe a museum, my inspiration books, and maybe the craft store. Hopefully I'll find some inspiration to get my juices flowing.

17 April 2013

A Few Things From These Parts

This post is for my aunt who worries when I don't post according to my regular schedule. haha. Thought I would share a few fun things from the past few days.
  • Sunday was my dad's 70th birthday. His three siblings surprised him with a visit here in California. It was so fun to get to spend the day with them all on Saturday. We went to the Reagan Library and then sat out at the pool at their hotel all afternoon which was so fun and relaxing. I also got to see one of my mom's sisters and her son too. Great family day for a girl who never has any family near where she lives
  • I've been watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix. I had heard so much talk about how great it was and for years I've been thinking about getting into it. A few weeks ago I finally started that first episode and late at night when things quite down and I have a few minutes to myself I've been watching episodes. I pretty much just want to be Tami Taylor, married to Coach Eric Taylor at this point. I swear I'm just going to break out with their accent at any moment. Tami's hair is just too fantastic and good grief Coach Taylor, he's just one awesome, kick arse, handsome man. Here's a link to an LA Times Article saluting the marriage of Eric and Tami Taylor. If you haven't watched Friday Night Lights there are some amazing characters developed in that show.
  • I finished a part of a portion of a big journey for our little family on Monday. I realize a huge weight is off my shoulders suddenly. It's rather shocking because I didn't anticipate things would happen as they did. I am really excited to move forward. Looking ahead to doing a bunch of writing and maybe even a creative project. I haven't done one in a while. Always good for the soul.
  • I've been loving spending time outside lately in small bits and pieces throughout the week. Swings at the park under big blue skies, dipping feet in a swimming pool, walking on the beach, staring up at the stars or a full moon. I always remember that if I spent time outdoors in the Spring and early Summer I always enjoy the entire Summer more. Some years I don't get that tradition going until well into the Summer season and then I am always so sad when it feels cut short a few weeks later. I am determined to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible this summer.
How about you? What special things have you been enjoying lately?

16 April 2013

30-Day Home Reorganization Project: Week 8

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This will be a short update today because I just updated a few days ago. I am working hard on my room to get rid of the last couple of stacks of paper that need to find a home or be recycled. It's amazing how many brochures, handouts, instructions. magazines, notebooks and catalogs can quickly pile up. I try to keep those things under control but they can still pile up quickly.

Examples of frustrating things I don't know what to do with include articles I have torn out of magazines, travel brochures and instructions for projects that I have sketched out and one lone skirt pattern. There aren't enough of them to make a binder or a place to keep them and putting them in files seems to just be equal to putting them in a black hole. So I feel a little frustrated with those little annoying organizational issues.

I am also working on organizing my closet a little bit better. I found some organizing bins that will work great to wrangle my workout clothes and pajamas on the shelves. They at an out of the way store, so I haven't made that trek yet but I know that it will make things much easier with the stacking and sorting on those shelves. There is a lot of space in the closet now that I have taken out all the wedding decorations that I was storing in half of it.

My room is looking so much bigger now that there is significantly less furniture in it. I am soaking my white bed quilt in the tub overnight in OxyClean to whiten it up before I throw it in the wash tomorrow. I try to do that at least once a year to keep it looking sharp.

I am wishing I could get a big new bed. The bed I have now is past it's prime for sure. I'll have to work on that. That's the organization update for this week. Hoping the room will be all pulled together by tomorrow and then on to the other bedroom. I have a lot of filing to do in there again. Doesn't sound very fun, does it. I will have to celebrate how wonderful my room looks for a bit before I jump into that next project.

11 April 2013

30-day Home Reorganization Project: Week 7

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I missed my Monday update on the 30-day Home Reorganization project. So here goes. I have been emptying closets, packing things that can go into a storage unit. It's not much and hopefully won't be in storage for too long, but will definitely make life easier for three people full time in this small apartment. Sigh.

I had part of my closet filled with things I purchased for that wedding celebration we started planning 18 months ago. Lanterns, cake stand, napkins, small frames, trays and glass candleholders. I took all that out and that is definitely going to storage. Then the few boxes of my life stuff, things I'm keeping from my past. Plus there are a few boxes of clothes that no longer fit the little one that are in good shape to be handed down.

All this created a decent amount of open space in the apartment except for the fact that all these boxes are now stacked in the dining room and were ready to be taken to storage. Then I hit a snag. I called the facility where I had planned to get a storage unit, where we can get a phenomenal discount, and there is now a waiting list and it may take possibly two months to get a unit. Sigh....

Last time I talked to the woman there, a few weeks ago, she had units available and it didn't seem like any problem to stop in any day and get a unit. Now I'm a bit up a creek without a paddle and trying to figure out what my options are from here. There are a couple of other similar facilities I can go to, it just changes everything I had all worked out. I don't want these boxes stacked here when The Man gets home.

Currently the place feels very pulled apart and not quite put back together yet. But it's a few minutes here and there to get it all done. I'm going to keep chugging along like the Little Engine That Could. I think I can, I think I can.

10 April 2013

Your First Priority: You And Yours

I have been learning lots and lots from the young military girlfriends and spouses I have gotten to know this past year. Some of what I have learned is great and some of it not so great. One of the things that sorrows me is to see them give away themselves for so little. So many of them complain of giving so much to others and getting nothing in return. In bits and pieces I am trying to quietly inspire them to put themselves first, get themselves healthy and then grow their lives and relationships.

I can relate, because like many people it took me a long time and some painful lessons to learn and commit to this principle. I was thinking today of the external pressures on our little family right now. Despite all the voices chattering around us calling for our attention, attempting to unnerve us and demanding their own wants, I have committed more than ever to taking care of myself first and then my family. Growing up, I would do anything not to have anyone upset with me...well not anything immoral, illegal, dishonest, but you get what I'm saying. I'm sure it was very environmental and partly who I am too, but it caused me a lot of unrest and exhaustion in my own life.

Perhaps this is my life lesson for 2013 because it certainly has come into play a lot. I have had plenty of opportunities to say, "You are welcome to feel what you want, but I am allowed to make my own choices regarding what I think is right for me and mine. You'll have to just deal with that." I never mean this is a snide or snotty way, it's just a plain fact. I am going to protect me and my family and focus on what is needful and best for us, despite what influence you want to invoke on the matter. How you feel about that is your task to work out.

Generally this comes into play when people are pushy or attempting to exert their wishes over my actions. This has come into play in family, church and business relationships this year. There are times when I can absolutely give you what you're asking for, times when we can negotiate something that will work for both of us and times when I will have to say "I'm sorry that is not an option." This is quite out of the realm of where I've spent most of my life, an oldest child people pleaser. That's not to say I've been a pushover, because that's not the case, but this leap, it's a biggie.

I went through this process most profoundly yesterday afternoon dealing with some frustrating business matters. I was just about to take a few minutes with The Bug to take a walk on our favorite beach. I could feel the anxiety start to mount threatening to ruin our sweet few minutes together in one of our favorite places. Clearly in my heart I felt, "You people will have to wait. I have made my plans for today." I was able to forget about things for a few minutes and then longer and longer until I was able to make peace with it all and let it go until tomorrow.

As challenging as this is for me, I have to say it feels good and I know it's necessary. If I stay true to my instincts and do my best as much as possible I will feel as good as I can hope for about my life.  It will continue to take some work, but I know I'm starting to master it because I feel more and more sure of my resolve and I am able to act with more confidence and less anxiety, with passion actually, when it comes to doing what I feel is best for me and for us.

08 April 2013

My Favorite Summer 2013 Wedges From Nordstrom

images via Nordstrom

Thoughts of summer are starting to sneak into the head and with it, fanciful ideas about fun fashions for the wonderfully warm days to come. I thought I would share with you four pairs of sandals that make my heart sing -- all now available from Nordstrom. I have one complaint about the current shoe scene, the heels are TOO high. I'm 5'10" tall, I do not need 7-8 inch high shoes. Seriously. It's ridiculous. So many cute designs that are way, way too high for any sane purposes. C'mon designers. They look pretty but they're ridiculous.

1. Kork-Ease 'Ava' Wedge Sandal (Nordstrom Exclusive) - love that orange of course. These remind me so much of my favorite sandals when I was a kid. Classic throwbacks, super comfortable & good for fun days in the sun in pants, dress, skirt or shorts.

2. 'Salt and Pepper' Wedge by BC Footwear - These babies have summer written all over them. Love a good stripe! Would be so cute with so many colors. Really darling with a floral dress.

3. Criss Cross Sandal by Nelly Venturi - I want these to be a real wood sole but couldn't verify it in the description. Love these. So simple in their perfection. Love the contrast of leather to wood.

4. 'Caicos' Sandal by Børn - These are just pure fun. I love Fushsia with a tan. Can just see these with lotioned up, pretty, tan feet.

Did you find something that inspired you here? There are a bunch more gorgeous styles from Nordstrom here. These babies make we want to run out and buy a bunch of darling summer skirts and dresses, buy tanning lotion and plan a day at the beach. Here's hoping this if a fantastic summer for great clothes and good fun!

05 April 2013

A Powerful Lesson In Simple Gratitude

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I had a sweet and powerful lesson in gratitude yesterday as we walked home from an activity at the school. We walked and visited with one of The Bug's classmates. The two of them were so cute walking shoulder to shoulder, chattering away, weaving back and forth across the sidewalk. I wanted to snap a picture of them from the back, but I was too slow.

A block south of our apartment building, as we crossed one of the alleys that run down the middle of the blocks, we heard a little girl yell out The Bug's name. We stopped and walked back a few steps when The Bug called back to one of the girls from her class. We walked over to say hello and then our little neighbor invited us in. It was dinner time and I wasn't sure her mother's take on things after looking for some reassurance. There was no response from her mother. The classmate continued to ask us to come in and then her mother said, "I don't speak English."

Oh, well that would explain why I wasn't getting any feedback from her. Her daughter said something in Spanish to her and then she said, "Yes, come." They were so sweet. so we went in for a few minutes. Their apartment building was old and run down. The door to their apartment was in a small corner where three front doors all met in a space about shoulder width wide. It was clear that there was not a lot of privacy or space.

When we stepped inside we walked into a medium size room. At the far end was a very small kitchen, and empty dining space, and a fridge. Pushed up against the back of the kitchen counter was a double or queen size bed with a sheet and blanket on top. There was a small vanity, two cupboards and two wood chairs in the rest of the room. The center was all open space.

Right when we entered The Bug immediately said, "Oh, I love the bright green paint on your walls!" I was so impressed she immediately found something gracious to say. There was bedroom space in the back of the apartment but other tenants lived in that space what from I could gather.

I was so impressed at the cheerful, happy feeling in this simple little home. There was no feeling of lack. It reminded me that despite hard times, I live a very luxurious life compared to most. Sitting in this green-walled home, unable to communicate in the same language, this all felt familiar. It reminded me of my time visiting with refugees in camps in Denmark years ago.

They were so grateful for what they had and it was usually just a room, with a bed or two, a hot plate and tiny refrigerator for a small family. These rooms were often in abandoned prison, hospital/rest home or mental asylum buildings. Not the cheeriest of places. But they were grateful for what they had, even if their entire future was in peril. At least they were away from the danger they had been living in.

You may be surprised to hear that in the refugee camps in Denmark there were asylum seeking Spanish speaking people from South America, along with people from all over Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. My time with our sweet neighbors and the reminders of the refugee camps in Denmark gave me sweet remembrance of my blessings and to not give too much power to my worries and fears for the future. Life can be beautifully enjoyed with very little. It really is all about being with people you love and having a cheery disposition where ever you may land.

On our walk home, The Bug and I talked about what a lovely girl her classmate was and how happy she was even with so little and how we could be more grateful for all we have. It was a good talk and a good teaching moment. As we rounded the block towards out home, we heard The Bug's name hollered again across the block. There was our little friend sitting in the kitchen window of her upper floor apartment waving to us again. We waved and waved until we were out of site. I think I will remember today for a long time.

03 April 2013

Jumbleberry Pie

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This past weekend I saw Jumbleberry Pie at the grocery store. There isn't any dessert I enjoy more than hot berry pie with vanilla ice cream. So I picked one up along with a carton of high grade vanilla ice cream. It was heavenly.

Jumbleberry pie is a mix of a variety of berries so you get lots of different flavors and textures. I heat up a slice for about a minute in the microwave, then scoop some ice cream on top and let it sit for a couple of minutes. The pie cools, the ice cream melts a a little and it is pure heaven on a spoon.

I have never made Jumbleberry pie. Pie making was kind of my thing when I was a teenager, but now that I think about it, I'm not sure I've actually made a real pie since high school. That's a little sad. Maybe pie making needs to be my thing again. Maybe I need to start making Jumbleberry pies. It's a thought. Maybe it could be my go-to dessert. It would be a good combo with my steaks, or mac and cheese, or other go to dinner party foods.

Here is a link to the highest rated Jumbleberry pie recipe I could find. It's called Double Crust Jumble Berry Pie from finecooking.com. Maybe I'll try this sometime soon. If you decide to try it, let me know.

02 April 2013

Tell Me How It Changed You

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I have been exploring around some blog link up parties, visiting new blogs and reading new stories. Reading a variety of new blogs has taught me something about what I love about the blogs I have continued to follow for years now.

After reading a few different blogs, I really wanted to feel invested, I wanted to keep reading them like books. Then the more I read the more I didn't feel that loving feeling. I really wanted to, but it just wasn't happening. I was learning nice details, seeing lots of photos but something was missing.

It made me start to really think about why I read the blogs I do. Why I have stayed with bloggers like Design Mom, EverKelly, Stephmodo,  and others I've mentioned here before. I figured out what it was. These and other favorite bloggers of mine tell us what they've been up to, what they've created, where they've traveled and share beautiful visuals of their life journeys. Then they take it a step farther. They share how their days have changed them, what their life experiences have made them ponder, how they've failed and humiliated themselves, how daily life with their families has pushed them to be better and how they feel about all these life adventures.

That sharing of vulnerability is what pulls me in and keeps me reading. It's what helps me connect with them on a human level. While I love pretty photos and fun stories it is the sharing of commonalities with them and learning from them that bonds me to them. Blogging friend Britt Reints, of In Pursuit of Happiness, recently wrote a fantastic article about vulnerability.

She mentioned in her article someone else who came to mind as I thought about my desire for connection with other bloggers. Dr. Brene Brown gave a Ted Talk on Vulnerability that has been viewed almost 10 million times.

Dr, Brown also appeared on two episodes of Super Soul Sunday on OWN recently where she talked about shame, vulnerability, courage, and bravery. She has so many amazing things to say about the need for vulnerability if we are to have fulfilling relationships, be brave and live our lives as we are meant to.

As I began to think of my closest, most trusted friends and I realized the ones I am most bonded to are the ones who never have a facade, will laugh at themselves, admit things are crap on some days and who I genuinely connect with. Vulnerability. I realized that is why some blogs stick to my radar and other don't. I'm so grateful for the blogging revolution and how it has brought new inspiration and connections to my life.

What is it that draws you into new blogs and keeps you there?

01 April 2013

30-Day Home Reorganization Project: Week 6

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Okay we've crossed over into the realm where the title of the project and the number of weeks I've been doing updates no longer makes sense. It's been way past 30 days now. But it's too late to change the title of the project now. And I don't feel bad about it.

As you know a couple of weeks ago I tweaked my approach to the project by focusing on one room at a time instead of my random list. I have been focusing on my bedroom. I have been frustrated by paper. Even as I am going through papers, shredding them and throwing them away I continue to be bombarded by paper coming in the house through the mail, school backpack and my printer. It seems never ending.

The other thing that has been really frustrating lately is the dust. It's overwhelming. I could literally dust every day. Living with windows open does not help in the least but living with all the windows closed, with no warmth or ocean breeze from outside would be awful. But it certainly does take a toll on one's sense of accomplishment when it looks like you need to dust every day.

I have sorted through a lot of  paper, dusted a lot, found new homes for things and put organization to a few piles of paper that do actually need to be saved and tidily stored away. I have also taken care of quite a few tasks on my desk that needed attention, such as the parent survey from the school, the overdue letter that needed to be sent to a friend, the thank you cards I received from Afghanistan that needed to be passed on to church care package participants. It wasn't on my To Do project list but I also cleaned the bathroom from top to bottom, which took some time but is fabulous to enjoy again.

I thought I would get a lot done during Spring Break but I realize now that my body is telling me what I really needed was indeed a Spring Break. With The Bug away this week, my body said, "You're tired and you need to rest" continually instead of the "Okay what can we do next!" anthem I was hoping it would be singing at the top of it's lungs all week. The biggest lesson I am learning in 2013 is the need to slow down and that life is not meant to be a rush up a mountain of accomplishments. Stillness, thoughtfulness and simplicity do far more for the psyche and the soul. So as hard as that lesson is for a speed-demon Gemini, I am accepting it as a needed lesson.

Because of all the lessons I am learning I am glad this project has extended on beyond the original 30-day plan. It's been a great way to get things done and learn about myself, how I live my life and how I want to live my life. Have you learned any interesting lessons about yourself from Spring Cleaning? Things you've wanted to change or you didn't realize about how you live?

Birthday Care Package

I thought I would share with you the beginnings of what is probably the last deployment care package we will send to The Man as we get closer to the end of our big year. This idea was inspired by something I saw online, but of course I didn't bookmark it so I would have it for later to credit this idea to. Ergh.

I realized when you're working with a 12" by 12" box and scrapbook paper is 12" by 12" it's pretty easy to just trim just a little bit off the edges to get it to fit nicely. I used plain old school glue to attach it to the box. The letters are from a scrapbooking alphabet punch-out book. So it was easy to just pop out the letters I needed. The box didn't take me nearly as much time as I expected and adds a fun touch.

Since The Man will be back a few weeks after he gets the package I didn't want to send anything substantial that he will have to send home or that he'll have to deal with before he leaves. That cut out a lot of options for gifts. One gift we are sending him that he will bring home is a tee shirt from The Bug's elementary school. We decided that would be a great gift for him to celebrate her attending this school she's wanted to go for so long and living at our house.

So I had to get creative on what else I could fill the box with and found a few things he could share with his office mates and friends. Here's what I've found:
  • dried fruit & raw nuts
  • packaged cookies
  • chocolate
  • chips & crackers
  • gourmet jelly beans
  • microwave popcorn
  • nutrition bars
  • cards
  • confetti
I know guys pretend like their birthdays are no big deal, but I really do think they like all the attention when they're getting it. So I decided to wrap up every little item so he has lots to look forward to and lots to unwrap. He always appreciates it when I wrap gifts with a little personality and has commented many times that he hates to unwrap my gifts because they are so pretty. I hope that seeing wrapped gifts will touch his heart a little bit and connect him to me in that special way.

Obviously I still need to put ribbon on all the gifts and spruce them up a little bit with a pretty handmade tag too. There is a pretty big stack of wrapped packages on the table so I stuck post-it notes on each item temporarily so that I can remember what each one is.

I hope this will give him a nice break from the routine and monotony of the day to take some time to celebrate his birthday. We're going to put this in the mail early this week for a mid-April delivery. I'll be back later this morning with a 30-day Home Reorganization Project Week 6 update.
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