31 January 2014

Fresh Flowers

So often topics I write about really serve as reminders to me about doing the exact things this blog is supposed to focus on, living a simple, peaceful, stylish life. One of my goals with Now Is My Time 2014 has been to do something I haven't been doing often enough. In fact I can't remember the last time I made the very small effort to have fresh flowers in the house.

After having it on my goal list for a day short of two weeks, I knew I couldn't have another goal review day and not have taken care of that one simple thing. Late Wednesday night I sneaked outside and plucked three little blooms off the plants in front of our building. I brought them inside, found two of my favorite vases and placed these pink beauties near my bed and work space. Photographing them the next morning only reminded me how glorious flowers are and how much they can cheer up a space.

I once wrote this post about enjoying fresh flowers for less than $8 a week. I included fresh flowers as part of this post on 10 Things That Make Life Great. Then I wrote this post called Flowers Brighten Up Everything. So, it leads me to wonder why I have not been bringing flowers into my home and why I can't remember the last time I did. This is definitely one of those little things that fits into my Now Is My Time agenda.

Have I really not had time to get flowers or have I not made it a priority? I would say I haven't made it a priority and it's time to start making it a priority again, even if it means sneaking out in the middle of the night plucking a few sleeping hibiscus off a giant bush in front of our building. It's time to make time for flowers.

Do you regularly have flowers in your home? Do you remember the last time you treated yourself to a few fresh blooms? If not, maybe this is the weekend to take a few minutes for yourself and pick up a few and put them in bud vases around your home. It's amazing how special it can make you feel to see fresh flowers when you wake up in the morning or when you are working at your desk. Let me know how it goes.

images by kalanicut

30 January 2014

Create Momentum By Taking Small Steps

image via ny daily news

I had a great morning yesterday doing some work on week four of Awaken To Happiness, an eight-week online course by The Chopra Center. I've enjoyed every week of inspiration, meditation and movement but this week was especially impactful for me.

I wanted to share this particularly inspiring thought with you about building momentum. Sometimes we just have no gas in the tank to move forward. But a tiny thing like opening a closet can start everything.

Start by thinking of the smallest possible action you could take – and then take it. Then choose the next smallest action, and do that. The action can truly be as small as opening your closet drawer to see if your gym shoes are inside. Then the next day you can commit to putting on your shoes, and the day after that you can decide to walk to your mailbox. Although such small acts can seem trivial, over time they help you build momentum and experience transformation.

This kind of inspiration is just what I need when I have a messy kitchen to clean or a desk that has a few too many papers stacked on it. What is it about desks that makes them into absolutely aggravating paper piles. I can't take that. It seems like it only takes a day or two of "yeah, just put that on my desk" before the surface of the desk is no longer visible.

Last night I had to do a desk clean. There were a lot of receipts to organize, along with a small mountain of medical/insurance forms/bills and other papers. I found a letter that I had intended to mail about two weeks ago. (It has now been mailed - baby step!) It all came together pretty quickly and soon I was enjoying well organized papers and a clean desktop. But I did find a few things I need to take action on, so despite getting some work done, I have still more things on my to do list now.

My mantra this week has been "Don't talk about everything, just take action on something." It has been a good guide. I don't want to talk about anything that needs to be done, I just want to be doing things that get done. That means no complaining about things, over-thinking things - none of that. Just get some little, important thing done.

Among those little types of things has been making sure all our insurance/medical forms are correct and paying a couple of bills, getting needed appointments set up, trying to get one load of towels and sheets done, mailing out one thank you letter, sending a reply to an email from an old friend who reached out after a few years, getting a few little flower blooms into my bedroom. I even sat down for a few minutes and played the piano on the keyboard we acquired a few weeks ago. It was the first opportunity I've taken and it was really fun, therapeutic and surprisingly after several years of not touching a piano I did okay figuring out one simple song.

Taking small steps leads to big progress with a little time and continued effort. I have to keep reminding myself of this on long-range big goals when I'm dying for big progress. But the satisfaction of small steps is encouraging and inspiring. Some days just going to the closet to see if your sneakers are there is all the progress you need to get you on the road to success.

29 January 2014

How Can I Help My Family's Dreams Come True?

Hello, hello, hello. It's only the middle of the week and already it feels like it's been a full one. Today's schedule starts out with a busy bang, but I am hoping by afternoon things will quiet down a bit. Craving a little quiet and a chance to catch my breath after a busy couple of days. How is your week going?

It's almost February and since our New Year's Eve of saying goodbye to 2013 and writing down our wishes for 2014 I have been thinking about how I can best love and support my family this year. One of the best ways is to be my best self and make my goals and dreams come true. That requires that I make my well-being my number one priority. In that I don't mean that I get the best of all my attention and efforts all the time at the expense of home and family. I mean that I put my keeping myself healthy, strong and well as my first priority so that I can be more effective at all the other callings in my life.

Another of my big goals this year is to get to know each of my family member's dreams and hopes for the future. I want to help them find ways to see their dreams from cocoon stage to winged flight. In conversations with my family I have been trying to listen to them carefully when they talk about dreams. When I see them get excited about something I try to make note of it. Getting to know them better by learning more about their dreams for their lives gives me a lot to work with as I try to love and nurture them and be a positive support in their lives.

It's been fun to listen to The Man as he talks about an idea he has and adventures he wants to take. A business idea he had got me thinking about all the people I know who might be interesting for him to talk as he considers the idea going forward. I can help make those connections happen and I certainly am happy to help make more adventures happen too.

It cracked me up to hear The Bug say she really needed to get some gold this year. I was so intrigued about why. She said because she really likes it. So I'm thinking about what I can do this year to help her get some gold in 2014 along with other goals she has for this year. So cute!

They both have goals and dreams that I can be a part of and I look forward to continuing to support their dreams and goals. Listening has been the key and taking an interest in conversations about things they dream about has helped me get to know and love them better. Striving to make my own dreams come true is inspiration and motivation for the entire family too. It's exciting to think about any one of us making a dream come true and I know I will cheer just as hard for their success at making dreams come true as they will for mine.

It takes a lot of work to keep home and family going but when I think of my contributions as a part of making all our dreams come true, that takes it to a higher plane and gives each day greater focus and purpose.

27 January 2014

Now Is My Time #4: 10 Little Ways To Give Myself Love

Part of my Now Is My Time agenda is to take time to do little things for myself. Last week after a conversation with a wise person, I decided that when I reach those moments where I don't have anything immediate to do, but feel I should be accomplishing something, that my new goal is to ask myself "What can I do for myself?" instead of "What can I do for the house?" or "What can I do for the family?" That's a challenge. But I am taking it on. My needs are at least equal to things I can do for the home or family. So I'm totally changing the way I think of and process To Dos.

I've been trying to think about little pleasures that are important but sometimes get pushed aside for other priorities. All these things make me feel happier and healthier, so they are all valuable. I thought I'd share ten of them because I bet they are pretty enjoyable to a lot of kalanicut readers too. Tell me which are your favorites in the comments.

1) Mani-Pedi - I always feel better when I look down at my feet and hands and they look well groomed, especially my feet. I find that if I get a mani-pedi about every three weeks that works out pretty well for me. My toenails are usually just starting to chip at that point. Try buffing your nails instead of painting them to avoid chipped fingernails which seems to happen about the morning after a mani-pedi. I love having clean, buffed nails.

2) Bathing - Here's a link to a post I wrote on the benefits of bathing. After a little study, I was inspired by how truly therapeutic they can be.

3) Think Before You Get Dressed - I have found that I feel a big difference when I take a few minutes to put together a thought-out outfit rather than just throwing on clothes in the morning. When I add nice shoes or jewelry and put just a couple minutes more thought into getting dressed I feel much happier. It only takes a little thought to look a lot more pulled together, even if you are just running errands. There really is no reason for us to feel dumpy. My friend inspired me on this one. The Dress Up Revolution came about from a conversation with a San Diego wedding planner.

4) Curl Your Eyelashes - Curling your eyelashes just makes everything seem brighter and one looks a lot more awake. I like to add a little eye brightener around the insides of my eyes as well to give me a wide awake, enegerized smile.

5) Put lotion on before bedtime - I have visions in my mind of women putting on lotion before bed while talking to their husbands about the day from many TV shows and movies. I have a feeling maybe Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch used to do that. The luxury of going to bed with well-moisturized skin is a great one, which takes little time and gives your skin a chance to repair and keep more youthful looking while you sleep. Just be sure you are using a lotion without a lot of bad chemicals in it. That can be more destructive than helpful. As natural as possible is a great way to go.

6) Invest in good quality moisturizing products - Speaking of quality moisturizing products. It's worth it to invest and buy good quality products. Look for all-natural ingredients in all your beauty and body care products - and remember you only have one body and it deserves the best care you can give it!

7) Buff Your Skin - New, young skin grows when old dead skin leaves. Buffing or brushing the skin teaches the body to keep making beautiful, new cells and helps us maintain a more youthful appearance. The appearance of rough, dry skin adds years to the appearance.

8) Deep condition Your hair - This is one I've been working on lately. There are so many ways to do this from a small mix you can buy at the drugstore to homemade recipes on Pinterest. It takes a few minutes but makes such a difference in helping the hair to look soft, supple and again...youthful.

9) Phone A Friend - A good chat with a friend is pure therapy. I think we often avoid calling friends because we fear they might be busy and we'll feel dumb if they can't talk. But they often need it as much as we do. Talking with friends reminds us that we are all in the boat called life together. Some days it reminds us that we'd chose our problems over other people's problems or it just teaches us that our problems are not as big as we made them out to be. Sometimes it's just great to hear someone say, "Yeah, I've been there. You can do it. Everything will be okay." Even just laughing about some of life's absurdities is enough.

10) Floss, Brush and Rinse - A few minutes of great dental care can be so refreshing. I've loved using a tongue scraper too...crazy how much gunk it gets off the tongue some days. Disgusting. But a pretty, clean mouth is refreshing. I'd also add whitening here. Every once in a while it's a great thing to do. I did that last night. I used to be a total stickler for lovely white teeth and I've let that go just a little bit. Time for a little more pearly white action.

These are all just little loves we can give ourselves. Most of them take less than fifteen minutes and the most any would take is an hour. We can afford an hour to love ourselves each week. It's a small demand when you realize there are 168 of them each week. Surely we deserve one (or QUITE a few more) for ourselves.

I'd love to hear what your little self-loves are. How do you best fit them into your schedule?

image via mca

24 January 2014

Check Out Artist Laura Viapiano

Oh my goodness. I am so excited to share the work of one of my former coworkers and desk neighbors when I worked in the ever interesting world of the Hollywood entertainment industry. I worked with so many creative people who had all sorts of outside creative ventures going, but I had no idea about Laura Viapiano's until just a few days ago when I got a notice from her about her new online ventures.

This painting above is called Summer and based on the fact that it incorporates my very favorite color combinations of fuschia, orange and blue together...well it was just a given that I would love it. You can see and purchase Laura's original work at her Big Cartel shop. Other favorites of her paintings are Rust, Jungle and When Skies Are Blue.

What is really fun is that she also has a shop on Society Six where you can buy her art work made into throw pillows, tote bags, phone cases, stationery, canvases, framed art -- and even wall clocks and mugs. Such a cool way to personalize your home, your gear or the things you use to protect and transport your gear.

So while you are wandering around the internet this weekend, check out Laura's FB page and her online shops. I always love to support handmade creatives and artists. It's become so affordable to find really unique items. I am trying to decide what version of Summer I want to invest in. Part of me wants it on my wall and part of me wants to carry it around. I'll have to decide soon. Great work Laura! So excited for your new ventures and wishing you great success.

Also, check out former coworker and jewelry designer Maureen Tuohy of Pollen Jewelry. She was featured a while back here on kalanicut. I absolutely love the pieces I own from her collection. You can see her Etsy shop here. I'd love to make features about very talented former coworkers a regular feature here. I know there are some amazingly talented folks out there. Thanks so much for stopping by today.

23 January 2014

Inspiration: Pottery Barn Black & White Surf Prints

I had a few minutes to sit down and look through the latest Pottery Barn catalogs a few days ago and of course I loved PB Teen best. I don't know what that says about me, but I always see things there that really catch my eye. The entire ensembles are a little too much for me, but of course they are trying to fit in as many items as possible into one bedroom shot to sell products. I get that. But I would rarely want everything put together just as I see it in the catalog. That said there is so much in this room that I love: the metal bins, the shelving, framed art, light fixture, baskets, etc.

I seem to often gravitate more to the boys bedrooms than the pinky girl stuff, again not a big surprise. When I saw the photography in this room it got me thinking about the collection of really great photos I have from years of trips to Hawaii and living in Southern California. It gave me some good ideas for some DIY projects.


Here are close-ups of some of the black and white framed surf art available in the catalog. I love the simple chocolate brown frames with the black and white photos. I also started thinking about blowing up some of my photos to hang in the living room. While my brain is percolating, I thought I'd share this inspiration with  you.

One could do equally fun stuff with snow sport photos for a cabin or house in a more wintry climate. Black and white photos stay so classic that they can carry and keep their style for years. Photos really do become almost ageless in black and white. It's time for me to start playing with my photo collection and editing tools to see what I can come up with. I'd love to do something big with the two photos I used in this project.

I have so many fun beach photos I've taken over the years that I could probably come up with art to fill an entire house. I'd definitely love to update some of our walls with black and white photos from our favorite beaches. It would bring instant calm I think and play up the ocean breezes we get each afternoon.

Image 1 via PB Teen
Image 2 via PB Teen

22 January 2014

Now Is My Time #3: Make Time For Friends

Part of my goal for the year to make 2014 my time was to start spending more time in social gatherings, time with old friends and meeting new friends. I really believe that when you put a goal out into the world the world will conspire to help you get there. So with my new attitude to spend more time with friends and getting to know new people, I said yes when a neighbor asked if I wanted to go out for yogurt one evening. I went out to dinner with her last year and it was a delight and we chatted and chatted for hours. Really looking forward to yogurt and spending time with my dear friend again. She's one of those friends that appears on your doorstep and swoops in to save the day when you are falling apart and doesn't even need to be told what to do to rescue you. She somehow just knows and does. She's fantastic. How lucky am I to have her for a friend.

We have invited a couple over for pancakes a few times over the past couple of months. It's so much fun and we get a chance to experiment with toppings and eat lots of whipped cream. What could be bad about that? It's great fun to eat until we're stuffed and then sit in the living room and laugh and digest together.
We want to do more of this and we have other friends we've talked about doing pancakes with too. Can't ever have too many pancakes...or great friends. These same friends have kindly come to our aid on a couple of occasions for which we are grateful and we've been able to help them out too.

From that association, I received an invitation to get together with three ladies I really enjoy, admire and have wanted to get to know better. I am so looking forward to our monthly get-togethers to just drink something cozy and hang out for a while. It sounds so refreshing and not just the beverages.

Then just last night I had a very chance encounter to spend a couple of hours with a friend from many years ago. I am continually amazed when I connect with old friends to see the amazing things they are doing with their lives and how beautifully they have grown in the time since I've last seen them. It was just a delightful blessing to spend time with her and feel of her goodness and inspiration.

Opportunities have popped up and I still have a few plans up my sleeve. Making time with friends a priority has really brightened up this year so far. I've had some great laughs, learned some lovely things and am enjoying making new associations and strengthening those I already have. I find I learn some of my best lessons from conversations with friends and I quite regularly have light bulb moments in these conversations that help me figure out things that have been rumbling around in my head.

I think this year will be quite fun if I keep up with getting together with friends, new and old. It will be interesting to look back at the year and see things that have come into my life because I started making time for me and my life. That's the name of the game for 2014: Now Is My Time. It's time to make our well-being and good health our number one priority.

21 January 2014

Boden Spring 2014 Dresses (I'm in love!)

It took me all of one second to go totally GAGA for this dress when I took a sneak peek at Boden Spring 2014. Hello perfection. It has all my must-haves: color (orange, hello my fav!), knee length, and sleeves. So gorgeous. Once I'd seen that much I had to keep looking, right?

Here is another classic beauty. I realize I am loving the styling on so many of their dresses this year. The longer length gives these dresses such a classic appeal. Well done Boden! If there's a color I like just after orange it has to be fuchsia. This is the Amelie Dress.

This is the Putney Dress and wow. Love the styling. The tied belt at the waist is so gorgeously feminine as is the pretty scooped neckline. Wouldn't you just love to slip into this dress after a day at the beach for a lovely wedding reception or dinner out with friends.

The shoes are as appealing as these dresses. Boden makes beautiful shoes too. This is the Chic Wool Dress and again the styling is ultimately feminine and charming with a retro feel. It comes in three beautiful colors too. If you are looking for a little black dress this could be a fun addition to the wardrobe.

You can take in the entire Spring 2014 line of Boden dresses here. We may need to take another little Boden tour soon. I'm dying to see what is happening with jackets and pants. Thanks Boden for a fun adventure.

all images via Boden

20 January 2014

Now Is My Time #2: I Have To Make Time For Me

image via Crate and Barrel

Last week I posted this on Facebook:
It amazes me how you can make things happen once you set your mind to it. Suddenly you find time you said you didn't have, you find energy you thought you couldn't muster, and you find that sense of accomplishment you have been craving. It's good to push oneself. This is one thing I like about New Year's Resolutions. It pushes you to be a little better. I am more motivated because I've already done it for 8 days, I don't want to let myself down and miss a day. Do I accomplish all my goals each year? No way. But I do accomplish some of them and that is how you do a little better each day and grow in your life.

I have been thinking a lot about how we have to make time for things that are important to us. That is one thing I've been working on as part of Now Is My Time. It is my time to make decisions about my time and make that time count. It is so easy to get to a place where we act like we have no control over our time and yet that is one of the things we have complete time over. Here's an example. If you really wanted to, despite consequences, you could quite your job, you could pull your kids our of all extra-curricular activities, you could do a lot of things that would be under your control as far as your time goes. There are few circumstances in life, other than jail or prison, where one would be absolutely forced to do things with our time. Even in jail, if one don't want to exercise, go out for sunshine or eat, they likely don't force you. (I wouldn't know exactly, thank goodness.)

But really you do have total control over your time. So when we say we have no time for things that we say are important to us, that's not really honest now, is it. We make all the decisions about how we use our time.

There are a million ways to waste our time doing dumb things. It's easy to get distracted or just let a day waste away if you want to. Now be clear I do not consider taking down time as a waste of time, just the opposite in fact. What I mean is not being conscious at all about how we are using our time and frittering it away -- we're not enjoying it or benefiting from it in any way.

What is even more challenging is that there are a million great things we can do with our time that can all feel important and valuable. It's easy to get caught up in trying to be so fabulous that we totally and completely lose ourselves and everything in our lives. We can all see examples of that around us. We can probably see examples of that within ourselves. We are not built or equipped to do ten things fabulously at once. In fact if we take on one or two projects a day to do well, we are probably in the right zone for accomplishing great things without overdoing it.

So frequently I see people running on overdrive, talking about their very busy full time job, their kids, their spouses, the marathon they are training for, the volunteer board they are serving on, the home renovation they are working on, and the book club they've started to read the great classics, and on and on. Then we hear about constant sickness and sometimes serious illness that follow. It's easy to shake our heads at this scenario, but we all get caught up in it somehow. It's easy to start bartering away our time for things we would like to do instead of focusing on things that are vital for us to do. There really is a time and season for everything and we don't have to try to do everything all at one time. Sadly as with most maladies it's easier to recognize downward pattern in others than we recognize it in ourselves.

I think I have most profoundly learned the lessons of priority and valuable use of my time from two periods of serious illness. In those times, at the beginning, I realized nothing was critical at all but resting and focusing on healing. I was unable to do anything else and depended on others for help. Anything that was not survival critical quickly fell to the side. And I realized nothing really fell apart. Things COULD wait. Unimportant things vanished all together. It was in these moments that I could really see priority at work in my life.

As I began to recover I was forced to make a lot of decisions about how I used the moments I had the energy to do things. Small quantities of time, small amounts of energy each time. Any attempt to overdo it came with serious payback later that night and in the following days. It was a quick and painful way to learn, quick because I did not want to suffer any more than I had to learn that lesson.

When I began to feel my normal self it was easy to start falling into old habits and running faster than I needed to, putting too many things on my to do list. But over the years, I have been learning and shockingly, I have greatly reduced my expectations. I've gone from daily To Do lists of 20+ items to lists of no more than 10 things with the expectation that if I do 5 of them well the day has been a great success. I have never been happier. Gone are the ridiculously unnecessary guilt & feelings of not doing well enough. They are replaced by peace, contentment, gratitude and greater well-being. Perhaps the greatest gift has been feeling like I have a more solid footing in my life. I know what is doable and I will do it. But I won't give up my stability to overdo it.

I have been making time for new things in my life this last month. Rather than new things, I should call them things I used to love to do that I stopped making a happy part of my life. It's amazing how once I set my mind to doing those things that my time patterns shifted and I quickly and easily found time to schedule in three hours of time each day to accomplish them. I will be honest, some things have had to go. The house is not always as clean as I would like it. I have to sleep more. My life is not as regimented to my standards as I was able to enjoy it back in my not-so-long-ago single days. It's a challenge to live in the same home I lived in as a tidy, super organized single girl, and see it too full of three people's stuff, and messes I did not make that I can't keep up with all the time.

Most importantly perhaps is that I am appreciating and allowing more help into my life. I am trying not to get sucked into projects I might get invited into where I am not really needed. Especially for my little family, it's easy for them to just come to me for help rather than try to do things on their own many times. My hyper-efficiency can be a blessing and a burden. When other's know I can get things done faster and easier than they can do them on their own, it's easy for them to forego learning to do it on their own and just come to me instead.  It's easy for me to jump in to help other people, but it's not always the right thing to do for me or for them. They need to have the sense of accomplishment of doing things for themselves and I need to make the time to work on my life before I give away my time to everyone and everything else.

So time...not only is it part of the title of my life plan for 2014 but it is a critical element in the progress I hope to make. This week I have three small goals for my Now Is My Time plan. I am going to:

1) meditate three times (hopefully more than that because I love it!)
2) create more of a haven in my room, including get fresh flowers. (Hey how did I forget fresh flowers for so long, after this post and this post that I am so passionate about. We all need repeated reminders about little things that make life better, don't we!) and
3) live more honestly. This doesn't mean I have a lying problem I need to deal with. What I mean by this is that I am going to be more honest about how I feel about situations in my life and be more honest about how I'm taking care of myself, using my time and the choices I am making.

I will not feed myself crumbs and tell myself it's a feast. I've been guilty of that as most of us are at times in our lives. Gonna stop that. It's the emotional equivalent of eating fast food every night and saying we're eating healthily. Our bodies can register the vitality and goodness of the energy we put into it and it will speak back to us no matter how we want to pretend or justify our actions.

The idea of crumbs and feasts is something I heard Dr. Robin Smith say on Super Soul Sunday this past week. So often we are nibbling at crumbs and believing we are feasting on life when really we're starving for the things that we most need in our lives. If you are interested in learning more about our innate hunger to find our authentic selves and find and live our happiness you might be interested in Dr. Robin Smith's episode of Super Soul Sunday on Own. It was very inspiring! There are some great ideas to grasp onto and incorporate.

Have you been thinking about this as your time? Any topics you would like me to write about in the Now Is My Time series? I'd love to hear what you think. Sending you very best wishes for your day and week to come.

17 January 2014

10 Ways To Stay Positive About Goals & Resolutions

I like many other people have set some goals or New Year's Resolutions for 2014. I have been working really hard on a few of them, knowing that if I really want to achieve them, they will take dedicated effort and a lot of time. These are the goals that will take six to twelve months to accomplish, maybe even longer.

And like many people, a few weeks into some of my goals, that I've been working really hard on, I feel like I'm suffering for my goals. I'm pushing myself as hard as I can - in a good way - I don't mean overdoing it, I just mean not letting myself quit at the first sign of it not being fun. I see tiny increments of change, but when I'm dead tired at the end of the day and I look at all I have ahead of me, it sure can feel a little hopeless.

I have definitely been feeling a little bit of the New Year's Resolution Blues this week. I would assume that is pretty normal for most resolution setters by mid-January. For me it's been a week of highs and lows. I have been very dedicated the past two weeks. I like the routine I've gotten into, I like how it's feeling and what I'm getting done. I have kicked arse. Some parts of the day I am feeling energized, super excited and am cheering myself on like a crazy woman. But when I get tired, stop working for the day or am about to get into bed I just start feeling a little bummed out about it all and as if things will never come together. Aching muscles mock me. Tiredness makes me a little impatient and quicker to be grumpy.

I decided I need to take stock in these emotions and explore them so I can understand myself better, keep myself motivated and continue to move forward. Last night I let myself really sit with my blues and be okay with them in any way that I could. At the same time I held fast to my convictions that I'm not going to quit on my goals, that I'm not going to stop. I've already done too many hard things for too many hours to stop and have to start over now. Never going back to the beginning. Just can't do that.

I realized that part of my blues are acknowledging things I haven't done in the past (that I wish I had done) that would've put me closer to these goals. Moments when I lacked boldness. I'm also mourning actions that I chose that took me farther away from my goals instead of closer. Moments of utter stupidity. I'm mourning time lost, efforts wasted by lack of commitment and walls I didn't break down sooner. When I step back and look at the big picture I can see that this is all part of my life lessons and learning but when they are sometimes painful lessons you really have to kick yourself for having made it MORE painful. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

So maybe this is the blessing of the blues. An opportunity to sit and see things are they have been, as they are and as you hope them to be. I guess there is part of me that needs to offer myself an apology and also to forgive myself for mistakes of the past. After all they have been most damaging to me, not to anyone else. I've also learned this year that I am my best cheerleader. No one knows me and wants me to succeed more than me. I know how to talk to myself and what encourages me. So I have that going for me.

While I processed my blues I started thinking about what I could do to keep myself afloat and paddling forward towards my goals, dreams, resolutions...whatever you want to call them. I guess the real direction is to the authentic me. Here are ten ideas I came up with to keep myself positive about my goals and resolutions.

1) Set a variety of resolutions, some short-term and some long-term. Then you can feel a sense of accomplishment on the easier resolutions to fuel you to keep going on the more challenging ones.

2) Build an arsenal of support. If you feel comfortable with it, share your goal with a friend and check in with them regularly. They will provide understanding and be great cheerleaders as you keep on working towards your goals. I do this, a barnstorm/brainstorm on a near weekly basis with a good friend. We try to check in every Monday morning, review the week, share successes and frustrations and then leave each other with a good bit of encouragement at the end. It's a fantastic gift to my life which I really treasure! You can also join a workout, writers, artists, readers or parents club to create a supportive community around you.

3) Grab a journal and write about your experience. Be sure to write about all the high points of your journey and use the journal as a tool to explore your frustrations and low points too. It's a great way to keep a record of how it went that you can refer back to in the future when working on other goals. It will also help you remember that things can get frustrating but if you keep working at it you will see great progress and reach your goals. This is my favorite journal style because I can easily rip out pages which I find necessary at times.

4) Find sources of personal inspiration. This might be motivational sayings on Pinterest. It could be magazine articles about people who've been successful at what you are aiming for. A vision board might be just what you need to give you visual inspiration to see yoru way each day. I love Louise L. Hay's Power Thought Cards.There are some great books out there about making time for your life and your dreams like Cheryl Richardson's Take Time For Your Life. You can also find lots of good online meditations about making dreams come true. Whatever works best for you is just what you need.

5) Set up small rewards for yourself as you reach incremental steps. Take yourself to lunch when you finish the first draft of that book. When you lose your first 10 pounds buy yourself a new workout top. Plan something fabulous for yourself for the day you reach your ultimate goal. I have used redeeming a gift card, a trip to a favorite inspiring store or museum, and a phone call with a friend as treats for myself after accomplishing incremental goals.

6)  Write a letter or record a mantra to yourself for discouraging days. Remind yourself why this goal is so important to you and what you imagine will bring you joy during the process and at the end of the road. Cheer yourself on, comfort yourself for those days you want to quit.  Speak words of strength and encouragement to your heart. Your words will embolden you very powerfully as you hear a very familiar voice buoy you up. I wrote about how to create an easy meditation for yourself here. See yourself in your heart and mind at the finish line.

7) Pace yourself and find a way to take a break if needed. This doesn't mean stop working on your goal, but know when you need to step away so that you can refresh yourself. This may mean taking a 10 minute break every hour that you work, or scheduling work on your goal for three days a week instead of six. Without giving up on your goal, find a way for it to be less oppressive to you. Some days that may mean powering through a particularly frustrating part of your path, other times it may mean stepping away with a clear plan about when and how you will return.

8) Keep moving forward. One of the major forms of resolution discouragement is lack of attention to our resolutions. If you're not working on them you won't get any sense of accomplishment, right? Make a plan, stick with it and alter it as necessary to allow you to keep working and keep progressing. Even in tiny bites it's still possible to eat an elephant.

9) Revisit past successes. Looking back at big things we've accomplished in the past gives us the faith that we can continue to do things that challenge us. I recently took stock in things I had accomplished that allowed me to be where I am today and gave me the skills to thrive now. This gave me a lot of positive reinforcement that I am ready for this time of my life and have all the abilities necessary for me to happily grow in my life.

10) Document Your Success. Take photos of your progress. Create a spot in your work space where you can see these images every day. Write yourself a "way to go" note on days when you are particularly on fire and post it where you can see it. Realizing how far you've come will make the road ahead seem less daunting and help you to see that there is indeed road behind you that you have already effectively traversed.

If you set resolutions and are feeling the blues, I hope there is something here that might inspire you to stay motivated about your goals. I am going to try a few of these myself. I am already journaling. I'll let you know how it goes and share more about my path to resolution accomplishment as the year goes on.

 Do you set resolutions? Do you find it hard to stay motivated? What have you done to keep your energies up to keep working towards your goals?

16 January 2014

Rusk Deep Shine Oil Shampoo & Conditioner

I have been experimenting with a variety of shampoos lately after being a total devotee of one all-natural, rather expensive brand for many, many years. To say my hair has suffered would be an understatement. So I recently decided to try some new options.

I found these Rusk DeepShine Oil shampoo and conditioner, with argon oil, at a large discount department store recently and decided to give them a try. I was impressed. My hair is very long right now so it easy for it to get snarly and dried out without appropriate care. In my dreams I would be doing coconut oil deep hair treatments at night in my free time. Sounds lovely but that perfect time rarely comes and by mid-evening I am wiped out a lot lately.

So I was really thrilled to find a shampoo and conditioner that gave me totally soft, silky hair after one use. My hair color is more vibrant and my hair is silky soft. Plus these products have no sulfates in them. Love that! Here's a little info on why you might want to skip sulfates in your shampoo.

After my first shampoo and conditioner, I was actually looking forward to my next chance to wash my hair. Believe me, this never happens because I know that a good 45 minutes of product and styling come after that - Tiring. But seeing my hair looking so great and feeling so soft made me happy and I wanted it to stay that way. On the second day after my first wash my hair was still soft as all get out and looking healthy and shiny. Impressive. Often on Day 2 hair can be looking limp and greasy or limp and dry.

These two products are a thumbs up for me. It's not easy to find a product that brightens your color and makes your hair feel like silk. If you try them, let me know. I'd love to hear your experiences with them.

Images via Rusk

15 January 2014

Budget Fashion Accessorizing: Gap Scarf & Flats

Today's post is all about quick and easy accessorizing or in other words pulling a cute outfit together fast. It's easy to throw on the same old-same old things or get into a rut of wearing blah outfits that don't have any pop to them. I think it's a constant struggle not to slip into a really boring wardrobe routine. Here are two easy purchases I recently made, both a great deal that brings together one fun, energetic outfit with just a few simple additions.

I love this Floral Stripe Scarf from Gap. It's in stores now. The Man and I looked at it and both loved it, about ten days ago. When we popped into Gap again a few days later it was on sale 30% off and I knew it was time to buy. Great deal. I love the color combinations, pink and orange are my all-time favorite together. This scarf just says "Zest for life!" to me. That is definitely an attitude I want to exude. Besides the color/pattern combo the other favorite thing I love about this scarf is that it's nice and long. I can wrap it around twice and still have lots to play with, to knot, or just let hang down in front.

On the same shopping trip I found these Gap Leather Ballet Flats, in my size in store, which never happens -- hello 11s. I tried them on, hemmed and hawed for a few moments and then looked at the price tag. Fifty percent off the marked price. Score!!!! Now I am fairly certain these are from the Gap Spring 2013 collection, but seriously ballet flats never change that much and have been on trend for ages and continue to be in style. I'm not afraid to wear "last year's collection" and hold my head high.

When I see these two great accessories together I imagine myself wearing them with a pair of jeans and a white button-down with a jacket or cardigan. Very cool, simple classic -- with a big pop of color for a twist. Super simple basics styled up with fun details and colors. Outfit made. And of course these could be worn separately, they are in their own right nice statement pieces and would match up with lots of other things in the wardrobe too. I keep imagining them with navy blue, my other favorite color to wear with pink or orange. Both the scarf and shoes would go with skirts, work attire, etc. So they were great purchases that will go with just about anything.

I can see myself heading out to all sorts of events in these pretty girls: church events, lunch with friends, shopping or date night and afternoon school pick ups. Looking good for school pick up always makes me happy. I hate those days when I feel like hiding behind a bush near the front gate because I just came back from the gym or was sick in bed all day. Standing among 100 or so fellow parents is one of those moments where it's easy to feel judged, not in a mean way, but you know they see you and are making some sort of assessments about who you are based on how you look. It's nice to feel good while you stand there and stand there waiting for your kiddo to be one of the last out of the school.

I'm so excited to work these new goodies into with my classic basics. I'll enjoy wearing these a lot, especially for a grand total of twenty-three dollars! Adding a pop of color and some new, vibrant energy doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Brightening up how you feel when you are out and about is priceless!

Image 1 via Gap
Image 2 via eBay

14 January 2014

A Pin Test #20: No-bake Peanut Butter Bars

image via Pinterest

I have wanted a recipe for Peanut Butter Bars since I was in grade school. These were hands down one of the favorite items on our school lunch room's menu. So I'm not sure why it's taken me a few decades to actually get on this, get a recipe and try making these for the first time. But I finally did it. Another childhood dream brought to fruition! Would it surprise you to hear that I don't really like peanut butter, unless it's with jam or jelly on a sandwich or with chocolate or as a peanut butter cookie. I would never eat a spoonful of peanut butter...ick.

So I had to Pin Test this no-bake recipe on Christmas Day. Luckily we took half the pan with us to dinner with friends - and there was nothing left on the tray when we left. That's a good sign.

I made a little mistake on these. It calls for one cup peanut butter for the base mixture and then four tablespoons peanut butter to mix with the chocolate for the frosting. I was not paying attention and added the four tablespoons into the base mixture. No one could tell the difference but I noticed in the end it made the base mixture a little too soft and sticky, although they totally kept their shape and did firm up after refrigeration. I just think it would've been a little bit better without that extra four tablespoons of peanut butter. I prefer my bars a little bit drier and crunchy.

Also I used milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips for the top layer. I have never liked semi-sweet or dark chocolate. The milk chocolate was absolutely perfect for my tastes and was certainly chocolate-y enough.  Several of the recipes use a chocolate frosting instead of melted chocolate. I am sure our grade school version was frosted. I think I lean towards the melted chocolate option instead of chocolate frosting, but either way they would be delicious.

Overall, these were quick and easy and most importantly, fantastically delicious. I think next I want to try a baked version with oatmeal, to see which I ultimately like better. I'd like to pull one good peanut butter bar recipe into my regular "quick and easy treats up my sleeve" repertoire. They are a great treat to take to a party, school or church function. If you try these, let me know how you like them...and remember that extra four tablespoons of peanut butter goes into the melted chocolate for the "frosting".

13 January 2014

Now Is My Time #1: Restoring Focus Where It Should Be

This will be a pretty personal post. But I think sometimes it's very appropriate to share personal things with the hope that it will help someone else along on their journey. I grow and learn from the experiences others share with me and I treasure their words and their generosity of spirit to offer up words of comfort that will guide and inspire me in my own journey.

Today I am going to share with you why I chose as my theme for 2014: NOW IS MY TIME. (Yes, I am shouting it in all caps.) I've learned something the hard way over the past few years and even knowing what I know now, I am not so sure I could have done things much differently given the circumstances, but I might have saved myself some suffering.

We have had five really tough years. Beyond stressful. Here are just a few things I have been through with my little clan in the past five years: military deployment, lots of time apart, potentially fatal infection, hearing loss and long recovery, concerns about The Bug's safety, loss of a cherished mentor, and oh so many more. When I list them I realize how much I've forgotten (thankfully) and how amazing it is that we're still standing.

A few months ago I was thinking about goals and how I define my life and everything ended with the idea that I needed to be strong so I do things for other people. For instance I need to be strong, happy and well so that I can be a better mom and wife. I need to be better so I can be a better neighbor, friend, daughter, volunteer, etc. I caught myself in that moment, there was something very wrong with my picture of my life.

But that image is not what this post is about, this is a happy, excited post, so let me tie that worrisome image together with my plans for 2014. The reason that I am so happy and excited is because I feel inspired. After all I've given to our little clan during the past few years, all the stress, sleepless nights and heart-breaking, soul-testing days, things are calming down. This is my year to really spread my wings and spend some time on myself -- my own growth and my own happiness.

Not so I can be a better wife, mother, friend, employee, church lady, neighbor...none of that. But so I can be my best self, give that gift to myself and be happy! That is the way I become a better wife, mother, friend, employee, church lady, neighbor, etc.

So with that in mind, 2014 is the NOW IS MY TIME year. On New Year's Eve I wrote down in my jar what I hope for in this year. A few days later I talked with a woman who I think will be a calming guide for this year and help me see my goals and remove roadblocks more clearly. I started exercising fiercely last month. I am trying to have high hopes and lots of faith even for things that seem impossible. Because really, I don't think anything is impossible. Miracles abound.

So I hope you might be interested in joining me on my journey this year. With that hope, I am starting a new weekly column, every Monday, called...wait for it...NOW IS MY TIME. Each week I'll highlight one thing, one gift or care we can give to ourselves. I want to abolish that list of things it seems most of us have, our WHEN THINGS ARE DIFFERENT list. You know the one. When the kids are older I'll be able to exercise, or If we had more money I would do _______, or When I have more time I will ________, or When I lose 20 pounds I'll buy myself some nicer clothes, or I'll talk nicer to my family when they do _____, I'll get more sleep when _____ happens and so on and so on. This list basically puts our happiness and well-being in limbo until some unknown, future date. No good, right?!

I set a goal to try to get through as many of the hard things that I needed to clear of my plate by the end of December 2013. I made things a little harder on myself that I might've liked at times and there were a few surprised that put me on the sidelines more than once in 2013. But I cleared the slate of everything that felt like a wall that would keep me from the life I wanted to live in 2014 -- at least the ones I had any control over. Obviously I can't change outside circumstances just by wanting them to be different. But if there was anything I could do to put me in the starting gates for 2014 positioned to THRIVE I did everything in my power to move those walls.

So I arrived in 2014 healthy, ready to go for it -- and pretty happy too. We have had a very blessed holiday and beginning to the new year so far. Our holiday school break is finally over as of today. It was awesome but about a week tooooooooooo long. Of course there have been challenging moments in 2014 already, but overall I am thankful for so much good stuff in my life and wanting to be open for more. Good stuff can't come to people who refuse it. Blessings can't be seen and appreciated when we reject them because we don't like how they look or they aren't what we wanted or expected. I just want to be open to anything that can bless my life without being too caught up in how I want things or how I want everything to be. I'm going to let God guide that and be grateful.

I hope you'll join me on my journey of doing less and being more, of making my life a happy, healthy one. I'd love to hear from you about it. I would love to share stories from other women about their struggle or conquest of putting themselves first in their lives and how it's helped them grow. If you have a story to share, message me on the kalanicut FB page and let's arrange it!

10 January 2014

Fashion Accessories Inspiration From Calypso St. Barth

images via Calypso St. Barth

I thought Fridays might be a fun day to share some fashion inspirations this year. I wrote this piece a few years ago about the style and grace of a well accessorized woman. Good accessories really do make the difference between looking like you threw some clothes on and being well dressed.

Why I was perusing Calypso St. Barth online last week I found lots of great accessories to go along with their great clothing. I had way too much for one post so I divided it all up by clothing and accessories. Today it's all about accessories: great shoes, handbags, bracelets, earrings and necklaces. This would be a fun collection to mix and match. I am missing my 

I love the boots, the bags and the jewelry and I get a lot of inspiration for my wardrobe from these pieces.There are some things I could make for myself here and of course others I could invest in. I've really been itching to make myself a gorgeous leather bag and I haven't done it yet. But I can feel the motivation and interest in doing it really coming on. I keep seeing bags I could easily make in stores for upwards of $200. So watch out, one of these days I might just surprise you.

Do you have a favorite shop for accessories? I'd love to hear about it. I'll look forward to sharing more of my 2014 fashion inspirations in coming weeks.

09 January 2014

It's Time To Update The Undergarments

image via Lula Lu

It's a great time to update the undergarments. It's amazing how the bras will start to sag, the elastic on the undies will start to go, the colors will start to fade or pretty whites will become dingy. It's easy to let things slip without noticing. So every few months I do an inventory of all my undergarments and invest in a few pieces I desperately need. I also throw out the old, worn things.

New year, new undergarments. Bras, bras, bras. I am headed to a bra fitting again soon. I am also going through all my undergarments, all sorts, shapes and purposes, and weeding out what needs to go and making a list of what new items I need.

I have tossed out a few items lately and am seeing a few other pieces that have faded and are past their former glory days. The new year is a great time to revamp, rethink and renew the lingerie drawer. I often ask myself, when it comes to lingerie/undergarments, it this something you would want handsome firefighters to see if you were in an accident and they had to cut off your clothes???? Yikes!

Here are links to some helpful posts and inspiration about owning great undergarments.

Wrangling "The Girls"
An Honest Undergarment Chat
Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Undergarments
Getting A Professional Bra Fitting

Take care of your girls, keep them high and tight. Wearing a properly fitted bra can make you look pounds thinner and younger too. Invest in good undergarments. They'll keep you looking young and spry no matter your age.

08 January 2014

10 Things The New Year Has Reminded Me To Do

Oh the new year. It is so lovely and fresh. I get so inspired and I really do feel a sense of refreshment and vigor to do better and be better. I am also inspired to let go of things that have accumulated to my life like barnacles on the bottom of a sea vessel. There are also things to chip away and remove.

Here are 10 things I've been inspired to do in this new year:

1) Surrender. I've been revisiting The Surrendered Wife and The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands the past few days. So inspiring not just in relationship to husbands but to all of life -- don't try so darn hard to control EVERYTHING, but allow life & your people to cherish and love you back. Let the people who are supposed to control some areas of life around you do their jobs. Trying to control everything doesn't make anyone feel more secure, in fact it does just the opposite, it creates more anxiety and a greater sense of lack of control. Plus it makes you highly unlikable to everyone around you...and to yourself. It's always good to catch those little ways I try to control things, whether iy be in the way I try to accomplish things or things I say, and stop myself.

2) Look for happiness in every day. I have learned over the past couple of challenging years that there really is sweetness and joy found in every single day. Even on your very worst days there is a hug or a kind word or a smile that welcomes all the world's love into your heart and soul. But there is a secret about this, you MUST be looking for it and take stock of it in every day to find it. I am so happy to know this little secret and to remember to be conscious about it every day.

3) Hug, kiss and compliment more, criticize less. So often I want to remind people in a less than lovely voice that I do not appreciate how the counter top gets covered in sticky lemon juice every time they make tea, or how much I don't appreciate it when they dump their coat and shoes in the middle of the living room floor. Sometimes I hear my voice after such comments and it makes me feel awful. I can't imagine how much worse it is to have to hear that for other people. So I'm working hard to remember that people need more love and less correction. Affection goes a long way to build relationships, create people who want to be helpful and considerate, and to keep peace in the home. Last Friday I had a very successful day at this when I consciously bit my tongue several times and was able to ask for help with the sticky counter without sounding awful.

4) Accept help even when it doesn't go like I would like it to. I was raised in a family that clearly very highly esteems efficiency. Get the work done and fast. Get to your destination in the most efficient, time-saving, short-cut taking route possible. Make the most of every square millimeter of space in the dishwasher. Put dishes right into the dishwasher. This makes me a little picky about how things get done. Generally I don't make a fuss or let it get to me, but at home, it's very hard for me to let someone help clean the kitchen when at the end of their efforts the kitchen is only half clean. So instead of being annoyed that there is still half a kitchen for me to clean even though someone else thinks the kitchen is clean, I decided to just remember that I only had to do half of it instead of all of it. I keep reminding myself that some help is far better than no help at all. And sometimes I am able to just look the other way when I know I could double the amount of dishes that are in the dishwasher when it gets turned on. Last week I just hand washed them while the dishwasher was going so that when it was done, all the dishes were clean and could be put away.

5) Encourage more help by making a big fuss of thanks for every little bit of help. While I was hand washing the dishes last week that didn't fit into the dishwasher, I reminded myself and told every family member I was really glad for all the help they gave that day. Granted the house was still a mess, but everyone chipped it and that is what needs to be applauded and encouraged. Someday maybe we'll all get on the same page about what clean means.

6) Speak words of gratitude and positive vibrations. I have been very sensitive lately to conversations that are filled with negativity. Whether that be complaints about personal problems, people caught up in a sense of economic or political doom and gloom, or constant whining about one's health. I've probably been guilty of all of these quite recently myself, but I have noticed that when I am around people who are totally devoid of hope for the future or the ability to see anything good about life, it feels very dark and very unhealthy. I have been trying to speak health, goodness, happiness and hope for good things to come. In every generation of time there have been those who spend all their time trying to run down anything good, lovely or sweet and use all their energy to try to bring others down. I want to do just the opposite. I want to encourage not only by my words but by my personal example and the way I live my life.

7) To exude sunshine. This goes hand in hand with the last one, but I want to give out sunshine. I want people to be attracted to a light of goodness that comes from me. That can be shared through something as simple as a smile, a twinkly wink of the eye, a pat on the back, a joke, a compliment, a hug, a note of encouragement. Many times recently I have been in a grocery store or doctor's office and the person helping me has complimented me on my cheery personality and smile. I wasn't making any special effort on any of these occasions but it got me wondering how little these people ever see anyone smile?! There are many ways to share light,  and light when shared multiplies and can cover the whole face of the earth. It's important to consider whether we are light or we are a dark, damp cloud that douses bright flames.

8) Create opportunities to be around happy, inspiring people. We have had the opportunity to do a lot of things with friends the past two weeks and it's just reminded me how important it is to spend time with friends who encourage and cheer you on. Whether it's grabbing a quick burrito and ice cream, or a long afternoon wandering a park with kids, or doing an airport drop off, being around good friends is so good for the soul. It also helps you see who you are as they reflect that back to you. Comments and kindnesses from friends are one of the best ways I see how I am doing as a woman, wife and mother and how we are doing as a family. I am often surprised at how well friends see and define who we are in ways that I haven't even realized yet. What a blessing!

9) To anticipate good things to come. I have mentioned more than enough times that we have had a lot of hardships the past few years. I know that we are not the only ones who have seen big challenges come their way, whether it be death, illness, financial stresses, job loss, emotional instability, and other upheavals. A friend recently gave me a copy of an inspiring article about keeping hope and knowing that there are still good things to come. While sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office, I sat and teared up as I read it's hopeful message and thought, I really need to believe this. This can be for us too!  I have been carrying that article around in my purse. Just seeing it is a powerful reminder to believe there are good things to come instead of worrying about what the next disheartening tragedy will be or when it will raise its ugly head. There is more good than bad in life, but it's easy to forget the good stuff and get dragged down by the challenging stuff. It helps to believe in the good stuff and celebrate every bit of it!

10) To take stock of how I've grown and know that I am more able than I have ever been in my life. As I was thinking about what my life's mission is meant to be this past week, I came more clearly to the realization that everything I have ever experienced has prepared me for the life I am living right now. That thought strengthened my confidence and it was like a booster shot in the arm. Suddenly I felt more empowered, more up to the task - I recognized that I was prepared and able and I could continue to step up to the tasks that stand before me. That was a great moment. I can do this. You can do this. We can do this.

What thoughts have inspired you as you've entered this new year? What will you do differently? What will you do more of?

PS: In conjunction with this post and to celebrate my theme for the year "It's My Time" I have decided to start a new weekly column all about ways we can make 2014 our time by nurturing and taking care of ourselves. That means no more boring, beat up wardrobe, no more neglected highlights, haircuts or manicures, no more lack of sleep, quiet time and skipped cups of tea. Each week I'll highlight one way we can nurture ourselves this year. I hope it will keep me on task with my goal and maybe it will bless you too! I have a long list of ideas already. Can't wait to kick it off next week.

07 January 2014

A Pin Test #19: Roasted Garlic Mushrooms

image via Pinterest

It's time for another Pin Test and this week I'm sharing a recipe I tried for the first time on Christmas Eve. We love mushrooms with steak and since I was making two beautiful filet mignons as the centerpiece for our dinner I knew we had to have some mushrooms too. The Man loves garlic and he loves lemons so when I saw this recipe it had his name written all over it.

The recipe for Roasted Garlic Mushrooms was quite easy. The trickiest part was dealing with the breadcrumbs and garlic butter. That gets pretty messy. I used a small bowl for my breadcrumbs and by the time I was done there was quite a breadcrumbs mess all over my counter top. Had I used a bigger bowl it might've been less messy on the kitchen but I was still washing my hands after every few mushrooms because they had so much butter and breadcrumbs on them.

I put on a lot of breadcrumbs so that they were totally coated. That gave us a nice crispy coating all over them mushrooms and we were happy with that. The one thing I forgot to do was add the salt and pepper to the mix. I used salted butter because that was all I had so I held back on adding additional salt in the beginning. But I just totally forgot to put the pepper in.

So when we tried out first mushroom it didn't have too much flavor to it. But when we added the pepper and a little salt these babies popped with deliciousness and you could taste all the different seasoning flavors. These were such a success that The Man was stealing them off of my plate at the table even though there were many more on the pan at the stove. I was glad I made plenty. This was one successful Pin Test. If you try this recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments section below. 

06 January 2014

Great Workout Wear Inspires Happy Workouts

A few years ago I picked up a subscription to Women's Health as some ridiculously great price. I have really enjoyed reading it over the years with inspiring weight loss stories, great workouts in every issue, recipes and relationship articles.

Last week I was perusing an old issue and ran across an interview with a successful personal trainer who shared a fantastic tip to keeping one excited and motivated about working out. Of course I went back and tried to find it to link to in this post and I can't find it anywhere. Ergh. Anyway, her excellent advice was to buy fun, colorful workout clothes that make you happy. Having something great to wear to the gym class or out on a run creates a more positive attitude about working out. She also suggested buying something new every once in a while as a reward for your good efforts and to keep you excited and feeling good in how you look.

Last month I started going to the gym with The Man. We've tried to do this before but it's never quite worked out -- worked out....good gym humor even though I didn't mean to make the pun. But now we've got a rhythm and it's been really fun to take some classes with him. The one thing I noticed while looking in ALL the mirrors in the workout studio was that no matter the size, the ladies were wearing cute workout wear. That inspired me too.

So last weekend we had time to do a little shopping and there were major sales everywhere. I was able to pick up some great new pieces. Brightly colored, high impact sports bras for $9-14 were a crazy steal when so often finding a decent high impact sports bras will run $50-70 each. I also grabbed a six pack of new ankle socks for $10 - again white with bright, fun colored trim.

I got three of these tie at the hip, bubble tanks at Old Navy for $4-6. The reviews for these online were super positive and I was about to order some last week. Then we had a chance to get to an Old Navy Outlet and I picked up three for a total of $15. These need a sports bra with them for workouts, but as reported in the reviews, you could wear these tanks out for regular day wear too. I'd wear a little jacket or sweater with mine, but they are cute for layering too. I think layered you could even easily get away with one of these for business wear. They just look like a really cute blouse. I also picked up a couple of great, basic but brightly colored dri-fit tee shirts for a song.

I usually just pick up basic black workout capris but I'm going to branch out and get some with some side detail or maybe different cuts. I still think black is best for hiding the sweat. The absolute worst color is light gray...hello sweat marks in all the places you don't want to attract other's eyes. I have these great pairs from The Gap that I love, but I'm looking forward to trying some new options too.

A cute jacket is a great way to round out a fun workout look and there are just so many great options out there right now. I am on the lookout for some fun cotton headbands too. I have three that I like but they are starting to fall apart. I have learned that unless I want tiny wispy hairs in my eyes and face for the entire class, a headband is a must. Plus is catches a ton of sweat that would otherwise pour down into my face. (That's a pretty image, isn't it...sorry...haha.)

I'm on the prowl for a great new pair of running shoes. I don't need them just yet, but it was fun to spend some time looking. Once I give my current pair a good run for it's money, I'll pick up a new pair, but I'd like to know what I'm getting in advance and then just run out and pick them up. I already have a pair of cross-trainers (are we still calling them that?) to alternate with.

After doing a little workout wear shopping, I can attest to the fact that I was really excited to get back to the gym Monday morning. The idea of throwing out the less than lovely shirts I've been using was very exciting for me. Since I'm supposed to be staring at myself in the studio mirrors checking my posture and focus during class, I couldn't wait to see myself in all those mirrors looking a little more with it.  I couldn't wait to have a reason to rips the tags off everything and put new things on. I think my entire workout investment was just about $95 and I basically got an entirely new workout wardrobe.

When it comes to working out, I believe what ever it takes to keep you motivated is probably worth it. I hope to wear out all these workout clothes as fast as possible, so that I can see fantastic results most importantly, but also because that means I get to do more workout wear shopping. I can't wait.

Do you have any special treats you give yourself to keep you motivated to work out? Do you have a favorite brand of workout wear? Please share. I'd love to incorporate some variety into my workouts.

As I wrap up this post, my thighs are exhausted from all the squats and lunges, my arms are more tired than usual just straightened out to type. But I am really happy just to feel great while I'm enjoying (aka suffering at times) all the new adventures in workouts. I am exhausted by evening and I am sleeping very deeply. I look forward to seeing more good results.

The Bug in her totally childlike sweetness asked me last week loudly in the lobby of the gym if I thought I had lost any weight. I replied back in a whisper voice that I didn't know, hoping she would recognize that this was not a conversation to have in big voice in public to avoid my utter embarrassment. But in her always supportive and loving way she exuberantly said, "I think you have because your pants don't look as tight on you as they used to." And then I died and crawled behind the "return towel" bin, haha.

It's been a lot of fun to change things up with workouts and I really appreciate all The Man's time and encouragement to work out together. He was super about encouraging me so strongly to invest in a few fun things to wear to the gym. That superstar trainer was right, a fun workout wardrobe definitely inspires a fun attitude towards staying (getting) fit.

Old Navy Mesh Bubble Tank
Nike Running Shoe
Athleta Silverwood Hoodie

03 January 2014

Calypso St. Barth Fashion Inspiration for 2014

I decided this was the year that I am very methodical about how I buy clothes. I'm making a plan and looking at investing in the high end items that I really want for my wardrobe. Then I can work on filling in the blanks around that. I'd rather have fewer, more outstanding clothes, than a closet full of ragtag mediocre things that don't inspire or excite me.

So I made a list of items I want to invest in. This includes a few pairs of boots and shoes that I really love and that I know will carry me through a few seasons or longer. Next I want to invest in a few great jackets and sweaters. Then beautiful tops are in order. It's easy to load up on cheap, low quality tops and they wear out after a few washings. I would like to have a nice selection of tops that lasts a while and keep their shape and stay looking nice. I am pretty sure that when you compare the dollars spent on a few high-quality tops versus tons of low quality tops the investment probably balances out about the same.

I thought I would choose a few of my favorite stores and start looking for inspiration and pieces I'd like to invest in. Wednesday when I was headed to the movies with the family we walked past Calypso St. Barth and I thought fondly on how often I have seen things there I liked. So I decided to make that my first inspiration spot and took a good wander through the online store later in the day. I love all the bold colors, comfortable tops and pretty pairings and thought I would share them with you.

What jumps out at you here? Are there pieces you'd love to add to your closet? Doesn't it just make you want to take a cruise or rent a beach house on a tropical island?

02 January 2014

Ceremonial Saying Goodbye To 2013 & Hello To 2014

The past year was one that I was very happy to say goodbye to on so many levels: deployment, illness, accident and on and on. While I hold the joyful moments of last year close to me there was a lot to want to shove right off a cliff about last year. So I decided our family would do it up right through a farewell to the old and hello to hopes for the future ceremony.

I got on a real terror to clean early in the evening of New Year's Eve. I put on a meditation music station on Pandora and swiftly went about tidying up our bedroom from top to bottom. Boy did that feel good! Then after they finished watching a movie, The Man and The Bug joined me on our bed for our celebration.

I had cut up many, many strips of paper and gave each of us a good stack with a pen. The first assignment was to write down everything you wanted to say goodbye to about 2013. With the meditation music humming along, we each sat quietly and scribbled away on our little strips all the things we wanted outta here. It was fun to see each person, deep in thought, contemplative and working away filing a little jar with their goodbyes.

Then we turned things around and the next assignment was to write down something you wanted to see happen, do or have come to your life in 2014. Again each person quietly and with intent pondered and wrote, creating another small mountain of folded paper strips. When we were all done it was about 11:30. We then took our goodbyes to the balcony, put them in a large pot and lit them on fire.

The fire was a little more intense and smoky than I expected but we did have a pitcher of water nearby. It would have been a brilliant idea to have shut the sliding glass door to the apartment before all the smoke went inside, haha. But a few minutes with the fan, hood vent and air purifier took care of that quickly and no smoke alarms went off in the process. Once all our goodbyes were left to ashes we went inside, made a big baking sheet full of nachos and prepared for the countdown to midnight.

We put each of our 2014 wishes into a jar, along with more strips for adding more dreams as the year progresses. At midnight we toasted with Jones blue raspberry lemonade after noshing on nachos while we waited. I cracked up when The Bug didn't seem that enthusiastic about the countdown. Then a couple of minutes after it was over, after we'd been watching everything happening in Time Square for a bit, she said, "So, is it 2014 now?" Apparently that whole countdown was missed on her, she had no idea what we were doing.

We gave our signature family triple kiss and while holding each other sent up good wishes for a fantastic '14. Then we all curled up in the living room and fell asleep watching Star Wars. Not a bad way to start the new year. Here's hoping all those good wishes come our way. Hope your hopes and dreams shower your life with joy this year too! Let's make it a good one.
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