30 December 2014

Insanely Rich & Delicious Hot Cocoa

A couple of days before Christmas, The Man brought me a recipe he'd found for slow cooker hot chocolate. Based on the ingredients it sounded like there was no way it would not be delicious...heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, whole milk...I mean seriously had to be good, right?


Then the two days before Christmas were so warm there was no one anyone felt like hot cocoa. Christmas Eve it was so warm in the house while we were cooking that we had the air conditioner on, all the windows open and fans going. So despite the fact I'd purchased all the ingredients, it didn't look like we'd be wanting any hot chocolate.

Thankfully, at about two Christmas morning, a strong cold front blew in. That cooled things off quite quickly and by eight the next morning we were ready for cocoa while we opened gifts. It was beyond delicious and I think it even gave our coffee loving uncle a bit of relief from staying in a coffee-less house for the holidays. (Never fear, he found the bagel shop around the corner.)

There's lots of winter left to go in the northern hemisphere, so I wanted to share it with you. There's no going back to powdered cocoa mix after this. This recipe came in a flyer from Ralph's grocery stores.

I did not make this in a slow cooker. I just cooked it up in a few minutes in a stock pot on the stove. I'll give you all my tips and tricks in that regard at the end of the recipe.

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

Prep: 5 min
Cook: 2 hours
Serves: 12 - 1 cup servings

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
6 cups milk (we used whole milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 full bag Ghiradelli chips)

In slow cooker, stir together heavy cream, milk, vanilla and chocolate chips. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted.

Stir again before serving. Top with your favorite fixings and enjoy. Refrigerate any leftovers.

I just dumped everything in a stock pot on the stove, kept the heat very low and stirred occasionally. It was ready in just a few minutes. I used a wire whisk to whip it up a bit before serving. The chocolate needs a little encouragement to fully combine with all the dairy ingredients and giving it a whip was just the trick. The chocolate also tends to separate a bit if it's just sitting a while so I kept my whisk close and continued to stir it occasionally.

Everyone at my house went gaga for this cocoa. We ended up postponing our brunch because the cocoa was so delicious, rich and filling. And the second cup was as good as the first. We went simple and just topped it with a whipped cream which was perfect. This would be a wonderful treat for guests over the holidays or on any cold night. I know I am going to get requests for this again. Enjoy!

29 December 2014

Now Is My Time #57: Saying Goodbye To 2014

It's the official end of Now Is My Time 2014. Hard to imagine it's been an entire year already. That went by fast. If I am really going to honor the goals and progress I've made this year, it's critical that I take some time this week to look back and to evaluate how it all went.


Sharing this all with you here on the blog has really helped me to stay focused. I knew that each Monday I needed to evaluate where I was, where I needed to grow and make plans to accomplish those things.

I've had some great support along the way and I have been most grateful for that. The greatest lesson of this year has been that better self care means better life in every way - and it does not have to take time or attention away from other big priorities. When you take good care of yourself you are able to do things more efficiently and be happier and more energetic throughout the day.

I don't think Now Is My Time truly ever ends because it is my lifelong responsibility to keep myself healthy and strong of body, spirit and mind throughout my life. But I will always remember this year and it will inspire me going forward as I continue to grow and learn.

Being the best I can be is the foundation for my new theme for 2015 which I can't wait to introduce to you next Monday. In the past ten days some pretty amazing new opportunities have shaken things up around here and we are looking forward to some big, new adventures in the next few weeks and the coming year. I will look forward to telling you about those in the new year as well.

Hope you've had a wonderful holiday season and that the year to come will be a great one for you and yours!

22 December 2014

Now Is My Time #56: Final Christmas Preparations

Hi Friends. Hope this finds you well. I have been away for a week, which was not expected. There have been a few other unexpected things jammed into the past ten days along with a few big things that were already on the schedule. Today is my regrouping day. I have a lot of Christmas preparations that have been put on the back burner the past two weeks. So it's time to scramble and make sure all is happy and bright with our family Christmas celebrations this year -- and it's time to focus on how I spend my time with my family.


Even though I was sick, I had a great weekend with The Man, just the two of us here at home. It was quiet, easy and restful. I am enjoying a slow morning in a hoody and sweatpants, home alone for the day and night. This is indeed a very rare occurrence. The weather here is absolutely gorgeous today, full sunshine with windows and screen doors wide open.

Our first holiday family guest arrived at the airport about an hour ago. The Man is hosting a couple of days away so they won't appear here until Wednesday. That gives me today and tomorrow to get the house ready for guests and do at least a little baking.

It does feel like one must do a little baking over the holidays. My mom and grandmother both always had a table full of goodies to give to neighbors and friends and to snack on during the week of Christmas. I need to carry on that tradition in at least a small way.

When I think of doing things that enrich my life and make me happy, taking time to establish and carry on family holiday traditions that I enjoy is important. This is also fulfilling my Now Is My Time goals to be conscientious about how I spend my time and to do things that make me happy, relaxed and grateful for my life.

The Man was feeling very motivated this weekend and spent the entire weekend doing organization and deep cleaning projects around the house. He was unstoppable. While I would've like to see him rest a little more, I am so grateful for all the work he did. He has to be tired today. Thankfully Christmas week is generally not too demanding in the workplace. So that leaves me bathrooms and general light cleaning and straightening to do in the next couple of days.

Next week my family will be here and I believe there will be some Disneyland days sprinkled in there somewhere. So I will take some time off from here, perhaps with a visit or two sprinkled in. I send you wishes for a very happy holiday season wherever you may be.

15 December 2014

Now Is My Time #55: Let Go & Let God

In the fall of last year, I determined that 2014 would be the year of "Now Is My Time" after several years of being quite overdrawn in family commitments, deployment and health issues. It was time to make my number one priority my own health and well-being.



It has been quite a journey, filled to highs and lows, new realizations and old habits and mindsets to escape from and destroy. This is nothing new, it is life, but taking a more focused approach to living my best life has been a fantastic experience.

As I was thinking about how I wanted to wrap up this year, I began thinking about all the things that had changed for the better this year. Then I wondered what I do with the things that I can't force to change. There are things in life we have little control over, such as the actions of others, events that are forced upon us and things that just aren't bound to change just because we want them too.

We can let these things keep eating at us or we can find a way to distance ourselves from the stress, anxiety, frustration and sadness these things can bring at us. Once we have done whatever good we can do, we have to find a way to stop our suffering and live in peace with the things we cannot change.

I have always thought of these things as rocks we pick up by our own choice or experiences that come to us and they get put in our "life backpacks" and we carry them around with us every day. They weigh us down, tire our backs, discourage us and often we just keep carrying and carrying them with no relief.

So I decided that at the end of this year I needed to come up with a way to let go of things I could not changed that continue to create pain and suffering in my life. I am ready to yank these rocks out of my life backpack and leave them on the side of the road for God to take care of.

These were things I could not just "goal set" away. As I take a look back, and account for what I tried to accomplish, what successes I had and what I've learned that I can carry forward with me, there is still a list of things I can't change.

The idea of Let Go and Let God came to me and I decided to create a small jar with a picture of Jesus on it...and perhaps even decorate it a bit with some gold "miraculous" glitter for good measure. Then in this jar on small strips of paper I will write each one of the rocks in my life backpack that I want to remove and then symbolically remove them and place it in the jar.

No more will it burden me, and I will have to have the faith to let God take that for me and heal me from the tiredness and frustration of carrying that rock around and suffering under weight I no longer need to suffer from.

I've been keeping a few notes and am looking forward to taking some time for myself during the holidays (yes, it's still my time and I still need to make time for me, haha) to end the year by giving to God what I don't need to carry anymore. I think this will give me a nice clean slate to work from going into the new year. I'm excited to start a new year and raise the banner on my new mantra for 2015.

Do you have a few rocks you'd like to remove from your life backpack as this year comes to a close? What would that look like for you? How would that change how you feel about your life?

12 December 2014

Perfectly Baked Infant & Toddler Apparel

Hi Friends, it's been a super busy week with some very unexpected surprises. December is usually a month where things slow down, but no, not here. I have been looking forward to a chance to tell you all about my friend Adeline's new project with her business partner Mikki, Perfectly Baked Apparel for infants and toddlers.


I thought I'd let them tell their story. Here it is.

Mikki Hanna and Adeline Bretoneche started their journey back in 2003 when they met at Miami International University of Art and Design, while studying fashion merchandising. They immediately connected and their talents complimented each other on their favorite projects, which included styling for photo shoots and producing fashion shows.


After graduating, both embarked on their own fashion/retail careers. Unbeknownst to each other, they had both moved to Los Angeles for their careers and began raising their families. It wasn’t until years later they reunited again and the idea of working together came naturally. Mikki and Adeline have over 30 years of retail experience combined and they realized it was time to branch out on their own while juggling motherhood.


And so the idea of Perfectly Baked was born. The name of their clothing business was inspired by an afternoon chat where they both agreed all “buns in the oven” were baked to perfection, hence the name. They quickly began to build an empire in their minds and worked hard to see it come to life.


Their inspirations for colors, materials, and designs are bright and fun due to their multicultural backgrounds, Mikki being Jamaican-Middle Eastern and raised in Miami while Adeline being Swedish-Peruvian and raised in Spain. With their own kids in mind, they aimed for patterns that would make kids smile as well as feel comfortable while doing what they do best: being kids. 


You can see Adeline and Mikki's entire line at their Perfectly Baked Apparel shop. It so fun to look at their catalog and see the sweet faces of quite a few little friends modeling. Here are a few more favorites from their line.


There are all sorts of fun robots, warm colors and the quality of the cotton is of the highest order. This is a line that is designed by moms to last rugged wear and tear and lots of washings, so they are a great investment too.


Love this little cutie. Seriously can't get enough of him. I love the care for quality in each design, you can almost feel it in the photos. The little details in contrasting seams and snaps are so clearly well thought out.


Please do check out their line for your little kiddos and for gifts for all your mom-to-be friends and all the babies and toddlers you know. I think you'll be very pleased. I have seen the heart and soul that has gone into this line and I am so excited to introduce it and Adeline and Mikki to you. Have some fun shopping.

I'm looking forward to what comes in 2015 from these talented gals. You can connect with Perfectly Baked Apparel on all the social media networks. Here are easy links for you.

Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest
Vimeo
Twitter

09 December 2014

The Gift Of Writing Your Personal History

A few weeks ago I was inspired to pull out my paternal grandmother's life history and began to read it with great interest. I have read it several times before but this time I can relate to it in a whole new way. I understand more clearly the reality of adulthood and can relate so much more to her life, work, joys and challenges.


I am so grateful that she wrote down her life story for us. I miss her a lot. She was one of the great examples and counselors of my life. How many times over the past 19 years have I wished I could have another talk with her. I have so many questions I would ask her at this age that I think she would have great wisdom in answering. When I think of the much deeper levels of conversation I could have with her now, I wish I'd been a bit of a deeper thinker when she was alive.

I appreciate so much more who she was, her talents, her courage, her fortitude and grit. She was a farmer's daughter and a farmer's wife. That had to be a challenging and busy life along with working outside the home often and caring for family and friends and serving in our church.

I am so happy to be able to go back and remember who she was and use her as a measuring stick to how I am doing. Could I be more grateful for all my blessings? Do I complain too much? Am I serving others enough? Am I taking care of myself as I should? Am I doing creative things that I enjoy. I see answers to all these questions in her example.

It was my grandmother that gave me my first journal at age eight and I have been a pretty faithful journal keeper since that age. I have many volumes of filled journals, particularly from the past ten to fifteen years. I have been thinking frequently over the past year that it is time for me to start working on writing my life story.

As I remember stories that I share with my husband or daughter that are meaningful to me, I am reminded that these things that come to mind should be written down in my history. For example earlier this week I was telling The Bug about when I played Red Riding Hood in a kindergarten play.

She asked who played the Big Bad Wolf. I have no idea, but I do know that the beautiful red wool hooded cape my mother so kindly sewed me is still at her house somewhere. I need to get that and preserve it. I need to write those things down. I wish I remembered who played the Big Bad Wolf.

I am getting excited to start that project. Maybe it will be part of my new year goals. I am also going back reading the history of my paternal grandfather's family since coming to America in the 1600s. Although I've read much of it, I had forgotten many details and some just weren't as meaningful to me in the past as they are now such as my ancestors who fought in the revolutionary war and left their extended families and migrated west.

It's amazing to see traits I have and that are important to me reflected in our family generations ago. It gives me a sense of connection and really tells me that there are virtues my family has long embraced that are just as important to me today as they were to my great-grandfather who was an Old West sheriff and my long-ago ancestor who fought with George Washington in the Revolutionary War.

As you think about gifts you can pass on to your family and generations to follow, consider writing your personal history. It is a priceless gift that no one can give but you. I could not be more grateful to have the treasure of my grandmother's personal history which she gave me as a young girl.

05 December 2014

Update: A Look At My 25 Days of Christ Ornaments

I mentioned on Facebook a couple of weeks ago that I was working on making the ornaments for my 25 Days Of Christ kit. I wrote that I had decided to go with something I wasn't sure about, using weathered wood stain on all the ornaments instead of painting them.


Here's is a long shot of my little tree. We have it on the bar counter between our kitchen and dining space. It's quite a perfect place for it because we walk by it many times each day on our way in and out of the kitchen. It's twinkling beckons us to  stop and look, a regular reminder throughout the day of the real meaning of Christmas.

My wonderful friend Katie came up with the fantastic idea for 25 Days Of Christ and then sourced all the supplies and resources needed. I have been so excited to be able to enjoy with my family now, all the work she has put into creating such an inspired kit. Being a creative sort myself, I marvel at her creativity and the amount of work it must take to create each individual kit.


I really had some reservations about my decision just after I'd stained everything. Looking at all the little pieces looking boring blue-ish gray, just sitting there in a lifeless pile, I wasn't very encouraged and in fact thought perhaps that I had made a rather fatal craft project mistake.

So I packed them all up in the box they came in and put them aside for a few days, unsure of what to do. Eventually I decided to open the box up and just see if I could make them work. Several of them needed additional work, gluing small pieces together, drawing faces on heads, etc.


In the end I was pretty happy with how they all turned out and I felt that they in fact had the look and feel I had hoped for when I got the idea to keep them simple and neutral. This look might not be for everyone but I knew it was a look that would fit in with my holiday design aesthetic.

With lots of color on our regular tree and many decorations this year everywhere in the house, I liked that this tree looks a bit more simple and understated.

I promised I would share photos after I got a few requests on FB for a peek at how they turned out. Hope you enjoy these. It has been really lovely to gather each evening to open an ornament and talk for a few minutes about the real meaning of Christmas. Our kiddo is the first to remind us that "we need to do 25 Days" every evening.

I realized on Day Two that my challenge is going to be making sure I get the right ornament in the bag each day. When we opened Day Two: Shepherds, I realized that I had put Wise Men in the bag and not the Shepherd. Oops....

You can still get your own 25 Days of Christ and enjoy it throughout December right here. They are a great gift for family and friends too. Buy one now and save it for next year if you don't have time to whip your ornaments up this month.


Hope your holiday season is enjoyable so far. Did you notice it's a short season this year because Thanksgiving was so late in November? As fast as the days are passing I fear it will all be over far too soon. But we have visits from both sides of our family to look forward over this holiday so that is lots to look forward to.

It is probably also a once in a lifetime occurrence so I want to enjoy it to the max and have lots of time and energy to love them up, make them feel very at home and show them a very good SoCal time. Hopefully that will encourage them all to come back more often.


Tonight we are headed to our first scheduled holiday concert, the annual bell choir concert and community gathering. Should be a lot of fun. Looking forward to it. Sending you happy and warm holiday wishes.

04 December 2014

Rainy Winter Forecast For Fashionable Rainboots

The rain continues in Los Angeles and since late summer I've been begging the weather gods for a real winter because my brain is fried from the heat of the 2014 heatwave that seemed never ending, I'm drinking in every bit of the "wintery" weather we're having. I also bit the bullet and finally bought myself a pair of real rainboots.
image via Zappos

After doing a good bit of research Tuesday, I woke up yesterday morning wanting to look once more at the black version of these boots just in case I wanted to change my mind and go with those instead.  These are the Gabriella Rocha Mariene Rain Boots available at Zappos. I love the adjustable calf buckle, contrasting red zipper, the olive color and harness detailing.

To my horror (slight, but only slight exaggeration) I could not find the black version online anymore. Sold out?! Oh no. So I ran to get my Visa card and quickly purchased these in fear that they too would no longer be available in my hard-to-find size.

Purchase has been made and they should arrive, shipped for free in the next 24 hours. After several days of wet shoes, I am looking forward to trying these out. According to the long-range weather reports I will have lots of opportunities to wear these. 

The decision making process was really complicated by the frustrating act of reading online reviews. It seemed that for every pair on the internet, at least one person's boots had leaked, fallen apart or something like a buckle had broken not long after purchase. Not encouraging when you're making a purchase to wear in the rain.

Most of the positive reviews were more about how the boots fit or whether or not the buyer liked the color. So it was really hard to get a feel for the quality and waterproof reliability of each pair. Even the well known name brands had complaints about leaking and falling apart.

So in the end it was a bit of a risky proposition but I decided to just go with these because I really like the look and a designer will get me every time with a contrasting zipper. Olive and green, is definitely a favorite color combination plus they were available in my hard-to-find size. So I jumped at them after what seems like years of contemplating this decision. Last year I had absolutely no need for rain boots - or even closed toed shoes for that matter. But this winter I think I will get my fair share of wear. Let's just hope they work.

Since I purchased them at Zappos, I can easily return them if they don't work. But I really hope they will. Much to my surprised, when I went to check out at Zappos the most recent shipping address was the house I lived in in 2006-2007. Bizarre. I cannot fathom that I have not ordered anything from Zappos in nearly a decade.

image via Amazon

I also searched out a pair for The Bug. Again had a very frustrating time with the reviews and finding the right pair was compounded by a suddenly very picky little kiddo. She decided to go with all black which just feels completely boring to me for a rain boot -- a place where you have all sorts of options to really show off your personality and do something colorful and quirky. But these will go with everything, so there's that...and reviews were good and the price was right, just $29. These are the Kamik Raindrop Rain Boots available at Amazon.

Now we are ready for our silly little version of winter. I'll take it! Despite how very much we love and appreciate our generally fantastic weather we are loving the chance to experience a good SoCal winter with what we hope is lots of drought-busting rain. (Not too much at one time, please, dear weather gods. We do not want one of those nasty SoCal winters filled with flooding and mudslides. Yikes.)

So how do you feel about reading online reviews? Are they as frustrating to you as they are to me? While I do appreciate helpful reviews, the negative reviews generally just discourage me from ever purchasing anything. I never quite feel good about a purchase after reading negative reviews.

The reviews that drive me most crazy are the ones that say, "I've haven't actually used/worn these yet..." So why would a person write a review when they haven't done anything they can yet review. I just don't get that. Sometimes all the benefits of the internet, like online product reviews, just start to become a negative instead of a help.

Anyway, looking forward to putting these rain boots to use. Keep warm and dry folks!

03 December 2014

Family Holiday Gift Ideas

Well we are fully into the holiday season, aren't we. Hooray for that. It's amazing how much cheerier everything seems with a few decorations and a little more neighborly holiday spirit around. Today I thought I'd share some gift ideas for the family.

I think the best gifts my little family can get are gifts that involve activities we can all do together. So in that spirit, here are some family gift ideas that may or may not be on our list this year. (Have to keep a little suspense until Dec. 25!)


(image via WestMarine)

Bodyboards : The kiddo is a total fish at the beach. She is fearless and this is a great way to get her out in the water with us. Now if I could just keep up with her. With boards in sizes for the entire family this is a great investment towards family time if you live near the ocean. I think as a mom it's easy to get stuck at the one on the shore with the little kids or taking care of all the belongings. I'm trying to break out of that and be right there with them in the water.


image via Xootr

Scooters: Another fun and active activity the whole family can participate in. They make some really cool scooters for grown ups these days. Here's a post I wrote on a favorite, Xootr.

image via REI

Bikes: Leave no family member behind, there is a bike seat, trailer or cycle for every member of the family. If you want some inspiration on biking as a family read about this mom of six who gave up her car to cycle Portland with her kids in tow. I imagine she has amazing calves! On a one-speed cruiser bike I have pedaled with (and completely for) our kiddo all over our busy urban city. It's doable, saves gas, and again builds muscle.

image via REI

Kayaks: This is getting into the more expensive, lifetime investment category but kids of any age would love to float on lakes and gentle rivers and oceans with their parents. So much to see and what kid doesn't love water. Backpacks, tents and hydration packs would also make great gifts for the family that encourage family time together outside.

 It has been pouring rain here in Los Angeles. I always say it either comes as mist or buckets full and it's been both in the past couple of days. But how festive it was to go out and see everyone bundled in rain gear and umbrellas. It made singing Christmas carols in the car feel a little more authentic than when it's sunny and 80 degrees.

I'm finally buying myself a pair of real rainboots this week. I've talked about it too much and not done it. After reading the winter weather report for Los Angeles it looks like it's going to be a rainy one and I don't want to ruin any more shoes. More details to come. They deserve a post of their own...I'm not buying any of the pairs I've talked about here before, but I'm hoping this pair I did find will do the trick.

Of course it's still warm enough to have all the windows open but hey, we'll take any variation in the weather we can get after the scorcher of a year we've had here...and heavens knows we need to moisture.

One of the reasons we do love it here is because we have year-round opportunities to be outside in gorgeous weather. I'm excited that we've put a really fun family gift on our Santa's list this year. Can't wait to see what appears in our stockings on Christmas morning.

01 December 2014

Now Is My Time #44: Cultivating Grit

Good morning friends. I hope those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving last week had a wonderful celebration with family and friends. We had a lovely weekend with some much needed downtime and even a couple of good naps. We hadn't planned on it, but we made a good dent on our holiday shopping too - of course nothing we bought was on sale...sigh.

Today I want to talk about Grit - unyielding courage. I absolutely love that word. It reminds me of my grandparents. They had it, they lived it, they were the perfect example of it. I imagine based on the lives their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents lived it was a requirement for survival in those days.


Although it's not talked about much and doesn't exist quite in the John Wayne sense of the Old West it is often connected with, grit is just as much a survival need today as it has ever been. Our challenges are just different.

I decided to do a study about grit this weekend, what it really means, how it helps us survive and how to cultivate it. In my study I first found several definitions and many fantastically descriptive synonyms for grit. Some of my favorites are pluck, mettle, hardiness and fortitude.

Something I found very interesting is a lack of grit is a big concern for educators right now. There is a big push to break students out of a Fixed Mindset into a Growth Mindset. In a nutshell, a Fixed Mindset is a "I can't do it, this is too hard" attitude and a Growth Mindset is a "If I use my skills and some perseverance, I can learn how to do this" attitude. I like this article by Andrew Miller about finding joy in grit in the classroom.

I have been thinking that grit might make a great family theme for 2015. While we are pretty good at fortitude overall, I think we might be missing some of the celebration and joy associated with grit. Maybe we are not appreciating the meaning, value and benefits of grit.

I feel like we should recognize the need and use of it more and celebrate the existence of it in our lives. I think there is a little bit of a "kick butt" attitude to grit and we're lacking that confident enthusiasm for our ability to kick whatever stands in our way. Our grit needs a little more sass to it. Sass, there's another great "old school" word I love.

I found four articles from Forbes about Grit from just the past couple of years. Each talks about how important grit is to success in life and business. Here are links if you are interested.

Got Grit? The Secret Sauce For Success
True Grit: What It Takes To Succeed As An Entrepreneur
625,000 Reasons To See Grit As Key To Success
Five Characteristics Of Grit: How Many Do You Have?

Now is my time to really value the grit I was blessed with and more importantly appreciate it's application in my life. Grit to me means "kicking butt with a smile." I've done a lot of grit over the past few years but I want to incorporate back into it, more powerfully, that confident "I can do this" smile. I think sometimes I have had more of a "I hate this, just put your head down and get through it" attitude.

As I look at wrapping up my year of Now Is My Time: 2014, the idea of putting more swagger back in my step seems like a perfect way to encapsulate what I've learned about life and about myself. And it plays perfectly into my plans for 2015. I can't wait to share with you my theme for 2015.

I've been working on it for a couple of months now, just gathering thoughts and sketching out plans. It's going to be a really fun one to kick off come January. Can't wait to start writing more about it in a few short weeks.

So what do you think about grit? How do you cultivate it in your life? How has it changed your life and who you are?

24 November 2014

Holiday Happenings & Thanksgiving Buffet Date Night

Monday is here. Last week sped by. I had quite a few appointments last week and a couple of very unexpected situations to manage. I'm looking forward to a nice, long Thanksgiving break. The holiday season is here!


Our Christmas tree is up. We had a very nice time decorating it. I am learning this year that 8-year-olds are at an age where they are ready to get fully involved in all the decorating, trimming and creating for the holidays. The Bug has been blissful working together with me to make our home holiday beautiful.

Last year we didn't get many of our best holiday decorations from storage, so we had to make do on a lighter scale. This year, everything is here and I am inclined to use every bit of it and decorate every inch of our home. Tops of bookcases and dressers, window sills, any nice open space I can find. I decided we will decorate our front entry lemon tree this year. Twinkle lights could be quite beautiful on it.

We've also watched a couple of really awful holiday romantic movies from Netflix this week. These make the cheesy but lovable movies on Lifetime seem like Academy Award nominees. But it cracks me up to sit and watch with The Bug and look at each other like "This is completely insane. Are you seeing this cheesiness?!!?!?"

There are many more to chose from and hopefully our quality is going to raise up to Hallmark standards rather than twenty steps below that where we are right now. Hard to believe that people would even make some of these movies without complete embarrassment.

Our Thanksgiving celebration hasn't really taken off this year. It will be just me and The Man this holiday. We still haven't decided where we're even going to be, let along what we're doing for the meal. I suppose we'll make a decision sometime. Haha. Not forcing a plan at this point feels pretty good. I'd still love to cook a meal but if we're not home, that's not an option.

Update: today I did some research on some pretty fabulous places on the water where The Man and I can get very reasonable reservations for two for the Thanksgiving dinner buffet. It's starting to sound pretty lovely - Thanksgiving buffet date night - I'm liking the sound of it. Now I just need to coordinate with him on options.

I always loved that even if we didn't have Thanksgiving at our house, my mom still got a turkey and cooked it up along with some stuffing and pies so we had some "leftovers" to enjoy. I might do that next week...or not. We'll see how that goes.

Hope your holiday is already off to a peaceful and relaxing start. Hard to believe that by the end of this week we'll be fully into the Christmas season. Where did 2014 go?

20 November 2014

Dear Pinterest: Two New Features I Would Love


Dear Pinterest,

First, thank you for the life-changing amount of inspiration and learning you have brought to my life. I could go on and on about what a great friend you've been when I need a recipe, ideas about what to wear or a quick self-help check up. Thank you. The reason I am writing you today is that there are two features I would really love to see you add to the site that would make managing my boards a little easier.


I'm sending these out to the world as a little Christmas wish list. Maybe somehow you will see this letter and put a couple of surprises under my Christmas tree. I can hope, right?

1. On my personal page, where I can see and manage all my boards and covers, I would love to be able to see how many followers I have on each board. Maybe just a little number down in a corner somewhere. As it stands now, to see how many followers I have on each board, I have to open up each one individually.

2. I would love to be able to be able to move large quantities of pins to another board easily. For instance, at some point it makes a lot of sense to divide up a board that has gotten really big into two or more smaller, more narrowly defined boards. I'd love to break up my comfort food board into main dishes, side dishes and desserts.

But the idea of taking the time to do that one pin at a time in torturous. If I could go down the board and quickly click which ones I wanted to move and then just click "move to" then highlight a different board I would be ever so happy. Plus I would have simplified, more organized, follower-friendly boards.

I've been wishing for these two features for a while and I hope that someday soon they will find their way into the Pinterest software. Until then, thanks for all the fun you've brought into the world.

-K

Dear kalanicut readers, do you have any other Pinterest features you'd love to see added. Is there something you have wished you could do for a while now? Leave a note in the comments and maybe we can make something happen.

19 November 2014

Stop, Think And Heal Thyself

I was reminded again last night that so often the solutions to our discomforts and ailments are already within us. If we take the time to sit down and process what we're feeling and what we need we will remember things we have already learned and done that can help calm us down, get us to sleep, help us eat healthy and manage all other aspects of taking care of our precious bodies.


Here are a few that I've said lately:

1) Oh my head hurts. Okay, I haven't had much water today.
2) My hands feel rough, I need some lotion.
3) I'm rushing and not chewing my food well. Twenty chews per bite.
4) I'm not breathing properly. Need to slow down and get more air.
5) Gee, I guess I never ate lunch. I'll start with an apple.
6) I feel scattered. I need to meditate.
7) I need to relax. I have essential oils that would help.
8) I feel cooped up. Hey I should take a walk & sit in the sun.

Do any of these sound familiar to you. Such simple things and yet we still need reminders. It always takes me a little bit of time, but if I slow down and figure out what I'm experiencing that is causing me distress I usually already know several things I could to to improve the situation.

The trick is taking the time to slow down and read the symptoms and think about solutions. Even when I talk to my doctors, my first thought lately has become, what I can do for myself before we talk about medical measures? What common sense things am I not doing that would improve the situation? Suggestions here might be eating better, getting more sleep or more exercise, etc.

Physically and spiritually I am big on always going back to the basics when things don't feel quite right. It is quite stunning really how every often, in fact most of the time, the solution is one of those things I already know. Even better, the remedial action, can be taken right away and relief can be had quickly.

It's amazing how intuitive we really are. We should check in with ourselves before we run to friends, moms or professionals to diagnose what's amiss in us. We are our own best healers for body and soul and the more we know and understand ourselves, the healthier we can stay and the more quickly we can resolve troublesome issues. Then if we still do need to get professional help, we are already in tune with what is happening so that we can better explain the situation to someone skilled to help us.

Last night I put some lovely stress reducer essential oils on my temples and wrists and made myself a favorite drink. I put new sheets on my bed and by the time I was ready to hit the sack I was quite mellowed out.

So instead of running to webmd or to google "what's wrong with me" it's a great opportunity to take a few moments to just sit, feel and think about what we already know that will help us get to a lovely, calm, healthy place. As simple as this is, based on how often I have to remind myself of these things, I figure I can't be the only one. Anyone else know what I'm talking about and experience similar lightbulb moments? I think I see some hands out there.

18 November 2014

Danish Christmas Inspiration

I got myself  deep into some crazy Scandinavia holiday dreaminess today when I started looking for Danish Christmas inspiration on Pinterest. Oh, it made me "homesick" for that place. Denmark does Christmas in the most heavenly, beautiful ways. The traditional Danish foods are so delicious. The holiday traditions and Danish crafts and decorations are a delight.

Copenhagen Yule

Today I pulled out the Christmas decorations. I have found that it's most ideal if I decorate the week leading into Thanksgiving. I haven't done anything decorating-wise for fall, Halloween or Thanksgiving this year because it has been so blasted hot until just a week or so ago that it just seemed like it was completely still July.

Dannebrog and a 'Pølsevogn' in the background

Finally, finally, finally we have had a few days that actually feel like fall in Southern California and I could not be happier. My feet are actually cold right this minute, as in I need to put socks on in the house now. That didn't happen all last winter I don't think.

Christmas candle centerpiece.. Glaedelig Jul is Merry Christmas in Danish.

Sweaters are now needed in the mornings and at night. This is generally a year-round thing when you live here, but we have been without sweaters mostly for the better part of a year now at least. Highly unusual.

The down comforter is back on the bed which makes me happy except for the fact that we desperately need new bedding, including comforter cover. It is getting faded and shabby. I keep waiting for us to move and get that king size bed and it's just not happening yet. Sigh. (I've said this a few hundred times by now haven't I??)

Pork roast. The traditional Danish christmas dinner served with white and sugar browned potatoes, brown gravy and warm, pickled red cabbage.
image via Vi Skal Spise

So today I took a little detour while doing a quick morning Pinterest update to do a search for Denmark and Danish Christmas. Oh did I slip into a world of beautiful deliciousness. Beautiful decorations, delicious foods, snowy photos of people cycling in Copenhagen. Heavenly. And it got me all revved up to get back there again. I have gone back twice since living there in during college years but it's been a long time now, too long. So I'm itching for a return.

Copenhagen at Christmas

I can't decide which would be better, a few weeks there in the summer (which is never guaranteed to actually be warm) or to go in the deep of winter and take in all the holiday gorgeousness. Tough decision! Best option in B-O-T-H right?!

jurianne matter: free downloadable prints for danish paper stars!

Today I thought I would just share a few images of the holidays Danish style. Makes my heart sing. Hope you enjoy. Here is a link to an entire Pinterest search of Danish Christmas inspiration.

17 November 2014

Now Is My Time #43: Time For Gratitude

Today I just wanted to share two thoughts on gratitude. First I've been thinking a lot about gratitude and lack of it. I'm sure you've heard the saying that goes something like this: someone else is happy with less than what you have. There is another that says something like someone is praying for the things you take for granted.


It's amazing how much we humans can complain and take things for granted that we previously wanted. Take having a baby for example. When women who can't have children hear a woman complain about a new baby it just doesn't fly, right?

Or when people complain about how hard it is to raise children in front of someone who has lost a child...or how hard marriage is in front of a widow or widower. Even things like complaining about the cost of gas to someone who desperately just needs a car can be offensive. To someone who is dying, complaining about simply daily hardships seems preposterous.

Our lack of gratitude is one of the greatest opportunities we have to put a foot in our mouths. I don't think we mean to sound ungrateful and when it happens now and then it is easily overlooked or forgiven. But when people complain every day about how hard their life is on Facebook or Twitter for example, it turns to crowd-sourced annoyance very quickly.

No matter one's life circumstance, there is something to be grateful for in every day. The amount of time we spend focused on the good things or the bad things has a huge impact on our life energy and how other people feel around us.

So I'm thinking about how to be more grateful and spend less time being annoyed by little things that don't matter all that much really. The second thing I've been focused on it making a record of all the wonderful things that have come into my life in 2014. That is my Now Is My Time project for this week.

It's sort of like a reverse vision board. So far my list includes cool activities I've been given the chance to take part in like going sport fishing and to be given free tickets to sit on row 10 at an NFL game recently. Such fun. I've added great new connections I've made with people this year, a fantastic trip we've taken, a pair of skinny jeans that I don't hate (miracle), Disneyland trips, sweet presents that have appeared in our mailbox, and of course our new trash can.

As an update to the trash can post, every time I see that can I am thrilled that we made such a good purchase. It really is amazing how perfectly it works in a small corner of our kitchen and how much tidier the entire space looks with that tall, gleaming trash can in the place of a very messy, small looking can. Such an improvement. I highly recommend the investment!

I am keeping my list of "Good, good, good things that have come into my life" hanging near my computer so that I can continue to add to it in the days to come. It is a given that more gratitude brings more blessings -- and I would love more blessings so I am trying to be thankful for everything I have...and to complain less about the many and wonderful blessings I already have.

How do you keep yourself in the gratitude zone and as far as possible from bratty complaining? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks!

14 November 2014

Tourist In Your Own Town

Yesterday I was talking on the phone to a dear friend who told me last week he just took off for a day and drove to Solvang. He just needed to get away for the day. That got us talking about how we both wanted to take more opportunities to see all the cities and towns within easy driving distance from where we live. Call it a getaway day, staycation or what you will, but there are always fun things to see and do where you live.


I was so jealous that he went to Solvang. One of my favorite places and somewhere I've been craving to go lately. A couple of weeks ago we had business in Oceanside, CA so we took the opportunity to stop and look around a city we've driven through on the highway more times than I could count.


It was fun to see the pier and ocean front walk. It was a stunningly beautiful day for stopping and staring at the beautiful skies and pretty streets. After doing a little research we also found some fun things to do next time.


I would venture to say that in almost any town or city you can find something interesting, quirky and fun to do. We have visited quite a few cities around Southern California over the past year and we always take some time to visit something cool while we are there if we have the time. There are great little antique districts, old historic main streets, museums of all kinds and historical sites.

On Veteran's Day we went to a parade in an area we had never been to before. It was probably an area we wouldn't have gone to otherwise and likely won't go back to again, but it was fun to see something different.

We've done pretty well this year making first time visits to Knott's Berry Farm, Peterson Car Museum and the Chino airplane museums. We spent a day in Newport Beach and Balboa Island and also went sport fishing in San Diego. So I realize that we are getting out there and doing this, which makes me happy!

I'm putting it on my radar again to keep getting out and venturing around fun new towns and places to see. After a strong recommendation from a friend, Lake Arrowhead and Oak Glen are on our list. I also want to schedule in some camping trips nearby. I'm hoping sometime we can do a family trip to Carpenteria.

I would also love to check out the Newport or San Diego Christmas Lights Boat parades this year. Life is so full of frequent reminders and I am so glad this conversation with my friend reminded me to keep being a tourist in my own town.

images by kalanicut

13 November 2014

A Major Purchase For Our Family

My header might lead you to believe we've purchased something big like a car or a house, but no we didn't. What we did buy was a trash can. Not just any trash can, but a serious trash can - a simplehuman trash can.

It was never my intention to spend the kind of money you pay for a simplehuman metal trash can to replace the one we had. But when we looked at all our options and a sizable discount on the retail price it started making sense.

We realized that if we picked the right can and invested that kind of money that this would be a trash can we would have for a very long time to come. Rather than buying several $30 trash cans that would fall apart or would become annoying to us when they didn't meet our needs over the next 10-15 years we have one great, stylish can that should last us at least that long.

We have been using a trash can in the kitchen that I actually inherited from a former home. Not super effective, not the right size, more like an office trash can. It got to the point that it really wasn't working for us at all.

We wanted a trash can with a lid and about twice the size of the can we had. Things came to a head this past weekend for a couple of important reasons and we knew we needed to get something new.

We debated trying to scrimp and find something at a discount retailer but we knew it would be hit or miss and might just prolong the misery of trying to find something that would work. The kitchen trash can is something we use every day.

In the kitchen and especially when making meals I spend a lot of time dumping stuff into the kitchen trash can. I felt like it was something that both The Man and I needed to agree on because it's such a vital part of our daily existence. We decided in the end to head over to Bed, Bath and Beyond to see a full line of options.

We pulled down a lot of different trash cans and demo-ed them, talking about how we would use them, how they would fit in our space, what we liked and disliked about each one. It was a really valuable conversation because both The Man and I had a lot of opinions and ideas. The Man especially, was on point with bringing up a lot of features, downfalls and benefits of each can. I was impressed.


I wanted a step-on lid can and picked this one out as my favorite. It's the 40-liter Semi-round Step-on can.


In the end we chose the Rectangular Brushed Stainless Steel Fingerprint-proof 40-liter Touch Bar Trash Can. Here is what persuaded us. The profile is much simpler and flatter for this can. The Semi-round can has a big hinge on the back of the door so it can not fit flat against the wall behind it. Knowing my family, who often miss the trash can, that meant space behind the can for garbage to fall. Plus that's just wasted space for us, we can't really give up inches of wasted space.

The hinge on the rectangular can is on the inside, so it can stand flat against the wall. I didn't love the touch bar. I would've preferred the step-on lid can but the  semi-round can also stuck out into the room more than the rectangle can. One thing I didn't like is that the rectangle can is not self-closing. You can tap the bar to open the can but you have to push the lid down until it locks.

After some thoughtful debate we agreed that the rectangle can was the right one for us. It was like Christmas day to bring it home. Everyone was gathered around as we unpacked it and set it up on our kitchen. We were even thrilled to find that simplehuman had included a bag of trash bags as well.

The new can fit perfectly in the space we wanted it to. In fact it's amazing how much it really classed up the space and the fit is very slim and streamlined. I'm a little stunned by how pretty it is every time I walk by.

The new can actually takes up less floor space than the old junker metal can we had and yet gives us more than double the space for trash. We quickly realized that the semi-round can would have taken up even more floor space we didn't want to give up.

So successes I count from this experience are that we worked together to find the best can that would work for us. There was give and take and thoughtfulness and in the end we found something that everyone likes. Secondly, we found something that meets our needs: a lid, enough room in the can, a slim fit, etc.

Third, I feel good about the investment. We bought the can during the Veteran's Day Sale so we got a significant markdown. This is a can that is built to last. I am glad I was able to see the value of just making the investment once and getting a can that works. It's easy to try to save money and then in the end actually spend more money when you give up things to save a few or a lot of bucks on the initial investment.

I am glad I've had the chance to evaluate why this was such a success for us and hopefully carry that knowledge through as we continue to make purchases that impact our home and family on a daily basis. I'm enjoying the new trash so much already. It's interesting how little changes can make such a big difference in our everyday existence.

Have you made any purchases for the family recently that required a lot of thought and investment? How did you work through it? Did you end up with any regrets or did things work out better than expected? Do you have a favorite trash can brand?

images from Bed, Bath & Beyond

11 November 2014

Veterans Day 2014: Thank Yous

It's Veterans Day here in the U.S. and a day we take great pride in as a family. Just last night we were talking about one of my relatives who fought with George Washington in the Revolutionary War. The Man's dad was career Air Force and his step dad Army. We're Navy, former Army.


We also have a lot of dear friends who are veterans or currently serving. So we have a lot of veterans covered here and we try to spend this day being mindful of the many who have sacrificed so much to serve and protect our country.

We are planning to attend the local Veteran's Day parade and hope to set a tone for this day as one of remembrance and gratitude. Military service and time in a war zone teach humility, great gratitude, patriotism, unselfishness and discipline.But the pain and suffering many veteran's experience is lifelong. Physical injuries get worse with age whether they are received during training or on the battlefield. The emotional toll of training for and experiencing war wears out bodies and souls.

Today I want to thank all those organizations who watch out for and protect our service members. There are so many wonderful people out there who have done such kind things for our family and so many others. We thank you and recognize you today too! Thank you for your service to those who serve.

Thank you veterans. Know that you and your sacrifices are not forgotten!

10 November 2014

Now Is My Time #42: Fruits of Our Labors

I wanted to share with you one of our patio garden plants today and share a little inspiration that it has taught me. Last Easter, the Bunny brought The Bug some small garden kits to plant seeds for daisies, poppies, strawberries and basil.


We planted the seeds with great hopes and rested them in the nicely sunny, but not too hot kitchen window. Within a few days tiny shoots began to break through the miniature soil beds. They were so fragile with stems less than a millimeter in diameter.

We carefully watered them and each day they would look a little bigger. But they were very slow in growing. For many weeks we tended them and it seemed that they would never be strong enough to be planted outside. One day the strawberry plant was knocked off the window ledge and spilled soil everywhere. Despite our best repotting efforts we could not save it.

A few days later the tender shoots of the poppy plant began to wither and soon died. In a pot only 1 1/2 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches tall with such tiny shoots there was little we could do to care for these plants other than water them and watch how much or how little sun they were getting.

At the end of June we had to go out of town for a week. By that time I was not sure any of these plants were going to amount to much. Knowing we would be gone for a week, I didn't have much faith that either of the two left would survive. The tender shoots were still much smaller than I would've expected and I could not imagine that they would survive a transplant or move outdoors.

I cut a small slits in the bottom of both tiny pots and placed them in the sink with a small amount of water hoping this would keep them alive until our return. After what turned out to be 10 days away, we returned to the basil plant as our soul survivor.

Weeks later the basil plant had not grown. It was still four very petite, long skinny seedlings. It was if it had produced all it would. Finally out of desperation and tired of looking at these stagnant stems over four months in the window sill above the sink, I decided that we had nothing to lose to try to plant them outside. If they were going to die they were going to die. But at least if we tried to put them outside we could know for sure if anything was going to come of these four, tiny, spindly shoots.

I planted them in a large pot. I watered them a bit, and put the planter in a partially sunny spot on the patio. Having a very hot summer, I was sure that in full sun they would be baked in a day. I checked on them later and they looked more sickly and hopeless. But at least I felt I'd done all I could do for them. What they became now was entirely up to them as long as I continued to give them TLC.

I continued my death watch. At one point I was sure we were just a day away from completely wilt and collapse. To my great surprise, after a couple of days in their new luxurious quarters with the ocean breeze blowing on them, they began to grow. Every time I looked out the window the plant were visibly taller. We watched in awe as the little basil shoots grew inches every day, stronger, thicker and heartier.

That was about eight weeks ago and now this large basil bush on our patio has to be trimmed back every couple of days. It is easily two feet high and two feet wide. My contribution to this massive growth has been only watering and a little fertilizer offered a couple of times - and regular trimming back to keep it full, healthy and free of flowering.

Our little window gardening experience and our now large basil plant have reminded me of a few great life lessons that are always worth revisiting. First, weak things can become strong things. Continued effort can make things that seem impossible very possible and in fact our strongest abilities. Second, sometimes all that is needed for growth is a new, seemingly too large and challenging environment. This can be scary in life, but it's amazing how we grow to fill our capacity when we have the opportunity or are pushed as may at times be the case.

Third, change can be good, even when it seems like it will be too much for us to survive. I've found too much truth at times in the quote from Nietzsche that says, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." But I think we all learn in life that what we think might kill us rarely does. Rather we learn that things we need do we are able to do if we know we must.

Fourth, it may be that at times we have to take steps that do not seem like they will matter much in order to see small things flourish and become all they can be. In some situations what seems like the end is really only the beginning of great things to come.

Fifth, we often have no idea what it is that will take off in our lives and become something big and glorious. We may have handfuls of sprout-worthy opportunities but it may surprise us which become the great and sturdy successes and which just fall away.

It astounds me every time I look out the window at this basil plant that something we planted and tended and later had no hope for has become something so large and bountiful. I am continually reminded that we never know what will come of the little seeds we plant throughout our lives.

When I see our basil plant each day, I am reminded that the fruits of my labors may not be evident immediately and at times I may lose hope but it's impossible to know what great things there are to come from our small and continued daily efforts towards our goals, dreams and what challenges life may bring us.

So now is my time to continue making daily efforts towards my goals with faith that good things are coming, that my determination and hard work will pay off and that there are always happy surprises in life. As I look over the past 11 months of Now Is My Time, I am excited to imagine that my diligence and determination will continue over time to pay great rewards.

06 November 2014

My Fall Trip To Ikea

Hi. I'm back after a few days away and I have missed being here with you. Last week I was attending a military spouse event and had the very rare occasion of a couple of hours beforehand to just wander around in that neighborhood. So I decided it was the perfect time to visit Ikea and check out the holiday decorations and new fall products.

It was a lesson in changing tastes. I found myself drawn to the lighter woods again. My days of loving dark woods may be limited. I really liked this table, mostly for the shape of the legs. I love that they are different and have a little more visual interest to them.

The size of this table is nice with the large, attached fold-down although I don't like that the legs would not be centered at the table's full length. That would just bug my eyes a little bit. I really liked the bench a lot. I'm thinking for our next dining table I'd like beautiful chairs on the ends and benches on both sides. We'll see what happens. I still dream of the day we get rid of the table that we've got right now. That will be a historically happy day for me!


I like the look of these pendant lamps. I think they would look so great in multiples over a kitchen island or dining table. They would go well paired with natural wood tones too.


This was another fun lighting fixture that caught my eye. I have draperies with the same pattern on them, so I definitely see that it's one that works for me. It would be fun over a side table or in a corner sitting area...or if the ceilings were tall enough, over a kitchen island.

Because we're living in a small space and already have quite a few holiday decorations I didn't get anything in the holiday department. But you can get a good look at all the fun holiday decor at Poppytalk where they did a preview of all the holiday goods.

It was lovely to get in my quarterly trip to IKEA. Always something new to inspire the design mind.

31 October 2014

Blogiversary:Thank You For Five Amazing Years

I have been looking forward to this day for a couple of months now. Not because it was going to be a big day, but that it was a moment to look back, evaluate and be grateful for the journey. Five years ago to day I posted my first post here on this blog. It's my fifth blogiversary.


I find it rather strange that I posted my first time on Halloween day. It seems like that would've been a bit of a busy day to start up a "life project." Funny. This blog was set up for a few months before I actually stepped out from the shadows and did something with it on Halloween Day 2009.

I feel like this blog was with me long before I met The Man, but today I realized I'd already been with The Man for nearly 18 months by the time I started blogging here. That is mind-boggling. I cannot even fathom that. Of course if you count the days The Man and I have been apart geographically in that amount of time, I've spent way, way, WAY more time with this blog in the past five years. Sigh.

When I look back at the humble beginnings I cringe at the photography and the minuscule size of the photos. I still feel the growing pains when I see experimental use of text sizes and other "inspirations" gleaned from articles read by "blogging experts." I have to thank Leslie Shewring, the genius behind A Creative Mint, for being the one person who has taught me more about photography than any other. Her lessons in Holly Becker's BYW classes were life and blog changing.

As I've been looking back I have lots to be grateful for since the birth of kalanicut. I've had a place to write and publish whenever I want to. As a life-long writer, that is am amazing gift and something that was not available to writers even a few decades ago.

Because of kalanicut I have renewed old friendships and stayed in closer contact with friends and family. I've also made some amazing friends who have had such a positive impact on my life, including many from BYW classes, like Kelly, Jenn, Glenda and Jane.

There are so many others who I've crossed paths with online over the past few years who have added amazing new things to my world and I am so grateful. Many I've had the chance to meet in person. It's also been sad to see a lot of people I really admired walk away from blogging in the past 18 months or so.

As a blogger I have some idea of the pressures and time it takes to put something together every day or even once a week. But I miss them and I've definitely been impacted by the quickly changing nature of blogging in the past two years.

Everything I was reading about declining readerships over the past year got me quite discouraged and for a good long time I anticipated the demise of kalanicut and how I wanted that to happen and how soon. Readership dipped, everyone was talking death upon blogging and it seemed like a natural progression that would be unavoidable in the near future.

But then one day last summer I came to the realization that all the reasons I had for beginning this blog, all the motivations and joys were still intact. That I wanted to keep this place alive if for no other reason than for me to have a place to write and share ideas.

So I went back to basics and started studying up again on all the ways to fuel a great blog and then I started employing them. And guess what, within about eight weeks my blog readership had doubled and was on it's way to tripling. Then my kalanicut Facebook page numbers started growing, and so did my Pinterest following.

Twitter has also grown although a little more slowly. But based on what I've seen and read about Twitter, things are changing there now with slower growth. I've also noticed that there seems to be less organic conversation and more pure promotion on Twitter than in the old days. I think everyone finds that a little less interesting than connecting with people in real conversations.

So blogging is not dead, this blog is not dead and I am excited to continue to write, grow and enjoy the journey. The biggest thanks of all has to go to you supportive readers. I will bump into one of you now and again or hear from you online and as silly as it is, when you tell me you read every day or that you liked a particular post it sort of strikes me with surprise. People are totally up to date on what goes on here and with my life? Really? I should know better, I see the numbers but it still catches me off guard and I feel a little sheepish.

Thank you, dear supportive readers... FRIENDS for being here these five years. I hope to continue the journey with you for many more. Thanks for sharing this amazing time with me. Now I am going to go and find some fun way to celebrate the day. Happy Halloween!

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