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!

29 October 2014

Round Up: Thanksgiving Decorating Inspirations

I'm not one to rush the holidays but when we have our biggest Halloween celebration the weekend before Halloween actually happens it's super easy for me to just cruise on by, thinking Halloween is over. I have been thinking that all week.

Every time I see some Halloween decoration or pin, or tweet, I think, isn't that over already? I have to remind myself that we haven't even actually hit Halloween yet.

So I'm already thinking about Thanksgiving, although I have no idea what we are doing for the holiday. But I thought I would do a little Thanksgiving decoration round up of some of my favorite, fresh ideas for decorating for everyone's favorite eating holiday. Also known as the day we remember those who made such great sacrifices to establish this country we enjoy living in.

I'm going to go non-traditional here and really try to inspire new ways of looking at Thanksgiving.

1. I love these painted pumpkins by Rachel Faucett at Handmade Charlotte. Wouldn't it be a fun way to turn your Thanksgiving table on its ear with very modern, brightly colored pumpkins. I can just envision such fun dishware, linens and candles to go along with these. Why stick with the traditional browns, yellows, reds and oranges. Let's broaden the holiday color palette!

2. Glitter paper is the secret to giving this Give Thanks banner, by Sugar Bee Crafts, it's sparkle in a fast and easy way. I was seriously thinking letters cut out from card stock, then a lot of glue and glitter mess, but hello glitter paper sounds fantastically better for this project...and maybe every glitter project ever.

3) The Lantern Pumpkins would be so gorgeous outside a home to welcome guests for a feast or to send them off into the night at the end of a beautiful day.

4) The Mayflower has long been a favorite pin on Pinterest for me. I backtracked this to two blogs which seem to not exist anymore: Desperately Seeking Gina and Maybe She Made It. So I'm glad at least it's living on in Pinterest-land. This is definitely on my DIY holiday project list for the future.

5) Looking Glass Pumpkins would make for a very lovely, formal statement. They would work in so many different formats but today I see them on a black and white tablescape.

6) Love these painted acorns by Beth at Home Stories A to Z. Possibilities here are endless. They would be great sprinkled down the center of the table, in jars or candle holders. Lots of options. I could just stare at these for a long time.

I'm liking this inspiration to toss it up a little this Thanksgiving and go with a rich and color-filled palette. Hope something here has you percolating new ideas too. Thanks to all these creative bloggers who shared their inspiration.

28 October 2014

Keeping It Simple When You Are Sick

This is where I spent my day yesterday for the most part. I got up and got The Man off for the work week, then went back to bed for a bit. A short while later it was time to get The Bug off to school. I woke her up later than normal and kept the morning simple - just get dressed, brush hair and teeth, read scriptures have prayer and head out. I made her lunch while she was getting dressed and we were out the door.

By the time I got home I was ready to lie down again. Whatever is going on feels like the flu or a cold but it doesn't and I don't think I'm contagious. I think it might be allergies and asthma.

I cozied up in my big chair for most of the morning, still sleepy and not feeling well. By noon I was in my bed where I slept off and off until about 7 pm. Interrupting that sleep was picking up The Bug, getting her going on homework, after school snack and lunch for me, and finding her something fun to watch when she was done.

I have to think that kids secretly like Mom's Sick days because it's a nice break for them too. The routine changes, they can relax more and have more unstructured time which I think they crave. They probably get some extra TV time too, which I know our kiddo doesn't get much of during the school week. Last night she watched Escape To Witch Mountain (1975), a fun slighly spooky Disney classic.

Because everyone had a good after school snack I waited until about 7pm to make dinner. Thankfully we just shopped over the weekend so I had a roasted chicken in the fridge. I microwaved some baking potatoes and chopped up some onions and grated some cheese, threw some broccoli into the steamer and cut up some chicken to heat up and dinner was ready in less than 10 minutes. It was a nice, warm, cozy dinner, just right for a fall evening and someone not feeling too hot.

Bed right on time was a cinch. The Bug was tired too after a big, big weekend of fun and activities. We kept it simple, had some cozy time and she was off to dreamland.

Today was Monday. The day I was going to jump up and take on the world and take care of a lot of projects. Instead of fighting it, I went with what my body was telling me and let myself be sick today. It's so easy to get stressed when things don't go as planned. But I've learned over the years that hanging onto schedules and to do lists is rarely necessary when one is feeling under the weather.

Things always get done later if they're important and the time for rest saves us from more sickness and being run down. It's okay to just keep things really simple and let things go a little more than normal.

I think we owe ourselves this grace. It kind of goes against everything our "busy, busy, busy" culture teaches us. But I think it's a plain and simple way to honor oneself, stay physically healthy and be mentally healthy too.

So when the winter colds, flu or just plain yucky feeling days hit, I hope you'll gift yourself the down time.  You deserve it. Know it's the best decision all around and everything and everyone will be fine.

27 October 2014

Now Is My Time #41: To Find A Cleaning Routine

Well I have two major items left on my list of things I wanted to accomplish this year and I am working on those with diligence. Somehow in the midst of that and a very busy few weeks I found myself finding a house cleaning system that is working for me.

The fact that it works best for my family is really what has inspired it to happen. I started cleaning the house on Fridays and I absolutely love going into the weekend with a clean house.

Here's an even better perk! I have noticed that when the house looks really great Friday when everyone comes home and again Saturday morning when they wake up, everyone feels inspired to clean up after themselves more all weekend.

But wait, I can even top that fabulous benefit. I have been seeing people cleaning up their own areas that needed a little deep clean or reorganizing too. Every weekend I notice an area in family members' spaces that has been tidied up. Tidiness inspires more tidiness...and I didn't have to ask, beg or nag. It's just happening. Can I get a "Praise The Lord! Hallelujah! Amen!" on that?

 After doing it for a few weeks, I also learned that now that I'm in a routine and have a dedicated schedule, all the cleaning is much easier because it's getting done more frequently. Plus having created a system that works I can blow through tasks pretty quickly. So now it's just a quick clean instead of needing to deep clean anything that may have been ignored a little too long - like the wall length closet mirrors.

One of the things I have become really diligent about is deep vacuuming the carpets. This means I basically vacuum over every space three, or four or more times. The first time I did this The Man asked if I'd had the carpets cleaned when he came home that night.

We have a fantastic, very tiny little vacuum with a hepa filter. When I go over the main walkways repeatedly for a few minutes it really makes a big difference in how clean the carpet looks. It's scary how much junk I empty out of the filter that gets sucked up out of the floors that you can't even see or feel. I love how much happier I feel with the carpets.

The apartment also stays cleaner over the weekend because no one wants to mess up our pretty house. This is great during the time when we are most at home. During the week the days are busy and we are all coming and going. So we're not here that much to mess things up. Weekday cleaning is mostly just clutter things that get dropped somewhere when tired people come home and then there are dinner dishes that have to be taken care of.

Keeping the house cleaner on the weekends pours right into the week, as we start off with a nice, tidy place. Starting the week off on a strong note, instead of having a house that feels wrecked from the weekend's activities feels a lot better. Since it's already looking good, again we start out on a great footnote to keep it going.

Another thing that has revolutionized life here is trying to run the dishwasher at the end of the day. Then it's The Bug's job to empty it in the morning before school. It doesn't work out every day because we don't fill the dishwasher every day, but usually do. Having her take on that chore, with a very little help from me to put things away on high shelves has had a huge impact.

Now the dishwasher is ready to go first thing so any dirty dish gets put right in. The kitchen stays much, much cleaner this way. So the counters stay tidier and no dishes pile up during the day. Tidy kitchen all day.

Then after dinner we put the last few dishes in, wash any dirty pots and knives and we are done for the day and ready to turn the dishwasher on. This system is working so well for us and had made keeping the kitchen clean so much easier and less frustrating. Having help getting that dishwasher emptied first thing in the morning means it's one less chore on my task list. Hooray!

I am also really happy that we are in a good routine with The Bug making her bed every morning. That took a while, but over the weekend I noticed a dramatic improvement in how great the bed looked. I've kind of been settling for just getting the bed made rather than a lot of quality control. I'm glad I did, I think she has the hand of it now!

It's nice to walk into her room and see the bed made right from the start of the day. There's something so utterly depressing to me about an unmade bed when one walks into their bedroom. I know everyone has differing feelings on this one, but it's really hard for me to feel positive about life in a room with an unmade bed. I like to air the bed out for a few minutes and then get that baby made up real purdy right away.

When I was a little kid and had to clean a messy bedroom I learned quickly that if you make the bed first, because it's the major thing in the room, it makes the entire space look significantly cleaner immediately. Plus it give you a feeling of accomplishment that is very visible. Then there are just small, bite-sized areas to clean after that. Much more doable.

It's amazing how you can find ways to revolutionize your family life and get such amazing results that you never imagined even after you've been together for a while. I guess that's why they say life is a journey. Always great things to learn and discover that can make life better.

I'm loving living in a tidier house and seeing all the fringe benefits I didn't expect. I think my family loves it too and that is the best benefit of all. I'm happy that Now Is My Time to find a way to keep a cleaning routine that works for me. Now I have more time and energy to focus on my goals and the people in my life. That's a win!

24 October 2014

Inspiration: Posts That Are Making Me Think

It's been a busy week. In the past week the after school activities have picked up so we have a few more weekly obligations on the calendar now. It's good but it keeps me on a tight schedule.

I also just went through my annual ladies check ups the past two weeks. I walked in the house Monday afternoon wondering why I felt like I'd been punched just below my under arm.

Then I remembered I'd been to my annual Mammogram that morning. Ouch. Yes, please get the best visual possible and if that requires that kind of crushing, well then I guess we'll go with it.

I have had a few blog posts I've read that have really felt like they might be a little life changing for me. They express thoughts that stick with me, create visions of hopefulness, make me change my behavior, start inspiring my choices, and help me to feel more connected to the life I really want.

One that I read a few weeks ago was a Living With Kids at Design Mom highlighting the home of Solly Baby founder Elle Rowley. Elle had some fantastic things to say about living in a tiny home with three kids, raising children, being a mom and small business owner. I printed out the interview with her from Living With Kids and I will tuck it away in a journal to remind me how she inspired me as a mom and entrepreneur.

This article from Mother's Niche on Sugar Addiction caught my attention. I think I have a problem with sugar. I want to address it. These tips feel concrete, realistic and helpful.

I've been thinking about how to fund some little ventures I have in mind and this post from Rain On A Tin Roof, How To Find Money gave me some good ideas. It was a great reminder that there is money all around us if we know where to find it and how to make it.

I started looking around and realized that despite my efforts to keep things minimalist and streamlined, we still have stuff we don't need anymore. For example, we have multiple car booster seats. We don't use them anymore, but we could keep one for visitors as needed...but we don't need three.

We could pass all this stuff onto to others who could use it and would probably love to buy it at less than new prices. Then we can use that money for things we do need or are dreaming of. I'm going to start posting stuff for sale on Monday.

I have more to share, but that's probably good for today. I hope you find something that inspires you here. Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

image definition via Merriam-Webster

22 October 2014

8 Tips To Prepare Your Family to Serve Others

Last week I wrote about ways we can help the poor and needy. Today I wanted to share some of what I've learned about successfully volunteering with kids.

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance take The Bug to serve at the food pantry. I checked the first time, when I went by myself, to see if families could volunteer, what ages were appropriate and how their schedule worked.

Here are a few ideas for preparing the family for a positive experience volunteering.

1) Learn everything you need to know in advance. Do your research, talk to the staff at the location and go and serve once yourself so you can see how it will work for your family.

2) Talk to the kids in advance. Tell them what to expect. What they will be doing. Let them know how long you will be there. Will they be wearing a hairnet or apron? Will they need to be quiet in certain areas? Will there be a break? Snacks?

3) Teach the kids about appropriate safety behavior. Let them know about any physical dangers and where they will and won't be allowed. Give them any details you can about the situation they can expect there. At the food pantry children must stay with an adult and need to be very careful in the warehouse area.

4) Role play how to act in social situations they may be unfamiliar with. There may be situations that require some social graces and sensitivity when dealing with the elderly, poor or needy. Role play with the kids how they can best interact graciously. then they won't be nervous or embarrass those they are serving, you or themselves.

5) Teach them about the blessings of service. Find and share some success stories about people who have been helped at the charity you will visit. On most charity websites they have history and statistical information you could share. You can also share your own experiences if you have already visited.

6) As you serve highlight positive moments and good feelings you see your kids experience. Praise them for their good work and share with them how it is appreciated and helping the organization succeed.

7) Have a post mortem meeting. When you complete your service let family members share their experiences, build on the positives and talk about negatives. What did members enjoy, what could you do differently next time to increase the positive aspects of the experience.

8) Plan your next service opportunity. During the post mortem, while the experience if fresh in everyone's minds, schedule the time for your next service opportunity. You may choose to try a different activity or revisit the same organization again.

Teaching kids generosity and service are opportunities for some amazing life lessons.  These are experiences and lessons they will carry with them throughout life. Here's a link to another helpful article full of ideas for how you can do service with your family - 10 Ways To Teach Your Kids To Serve Others.

How have you helped your family learn through service? Any tips you can share?

Image via Deseret News

21 October 2014

Cozy Winter Wear For Women By Hanna Andersson

I made the mistake of following a link to Hanna Andersson baby wear. Good grief, my ovaries were screaming for babies in seconds looking at all the beautiful and brightly colored and patterned little sweaters, tights, dresses and skirts.

Just in the knick of time I found the link to the women's wear and escaped before any serious damage could happen. I had forgotten what lovely things Hanna Andersson creates in the always delicious Scandinavian style. What's not to love here, chunky knits, leather, suede, clogs...ORANGE things!

You can find all these lovely things in the womens department at Hanna Andersson online. Now that it has finally cooled down a little bit and there is some hope to a break in our 2014 heatwave, perhaps there is the hope of a cold day here in SoCal in the not so distant future. I would love that.

I am seriously campaigning with the weather gods every day for a very rainy, cold winter. I'll hate myself for it later, but it just sounds so good after 10 months of constant warm to excessively hot weather.

These Hanna Andersson separates and some of the fantastic tights they make would be lovely. Let's hear it for layering! Bring it on Mother Nature.

all images via Hanna Andersson

17 October 2014

Now Is My Time #40: Difficult Conversations

The week before last must have been a record setting week in my life for having difficult conversations. I had several. It was a week for facing things I don't want to talk about and things I don't want to hear. But I will say that overall I walked away in reasonably good spirits and feeling pretty fine about things.

Ugh. So here are a few things I learned from experience.

1. It's good to make a fluid plan when you know are have a hard conversation ahead of you. Give yourself some options and flexibility because it won't unwind exactly as you imagine it in your head.

2. Be prepared to hear you are wrong. They may just believe you are wrong but chances are you may have been wrong about something along the way too. Despite your greatest hopes, that thing you hoped was going to work out in your favor may not. You will have some disappointment in some way during such conversations.

3. Listen. Listening to the other half of the conversation can be really difficult. It may not make sense to you, it may hurt you, it may crush your dreams. But by listening you will learn the most about how to move forward.

4. When listening, make sure to ask for clarity. Repeat back what you believe you've heard to make sure you both understand things the same way.

5. Accept that some people just won't be able to have a balanced, open, honest conversation with you. In those cases, cut your losses as soon as you see it going nowhere, but no sooner. There is usually something big to be learned in the process. Running away too soon may leave you without vital, helpful information to go forward with.

6. Be prepared to disagree.  I still disagree with a diagnosis to a situation that I received from a trained professional - nothing serious btw. I think the conclusions that were offered were over-simplified a bit and may not captured the entire range of God's possibilities. I'm not sure how I feel about this one quite yet. Still processing. The diagnosis can only be A or B, there's no gray area, so to disagree puts me quite squarely at odds with said trained professional.

7. When hearing hard truths, it's okay to cry. I got a nice hug when I got a little teary-eyed during one of these conversations. This was a very friendly but still difficult to discuss conversation that involved sad outcomes. It was tough, but I pulled through it and had a nice cry a while later.

8. Anticipate you may get worse news. In the conversation mentioned in #7 we got an unpleasant surprise that no one had anticipated. It may be an issue in the future or it may not. We don't know yet. But I wasn't expecting that and it was a real blow.

9. Lean on people you can trust. Before one of these tough conversations I touched bases with a pro who could advise me. While it was tough to get into all the details, it was very helpful to have a calm voice of reason for a sounding board. She helped me see a broad range of options and not rush myself into any decisions. This was VERY helpful.

10. Anticipate that one conversation will not always be the resolution to a tough situation. Oftentimes it may be several or even many conversations.

11. Remember that you are stronger than you know. We are much more able to do hard things that we believe we are. It's the challenges that build and make us stronger -- although sometimes we just wish we didn't get those challenging opportunities.

So of my hard conversations, one is ongoing. It will be a process. One requires more follow up before we know what we will do. But now that I've had a few days to process things, I still feel like I was able to get through these hard conversations without a lot of pain or suffering. I have to admit I'm a little bit proud of myself. I didn't know how I would do. I think it all went pretty well and I gained some new confidence about how to handle sticky situations in the future.

What are your favorite tips for getting through tough conversations? I'd love to hear what you've found helpful!

16 October 2014

Caring For The Poor & Needy

I have heard two inspiring talks recently about helping the poor and needy. It's actually been on my mind for a few months now. I've been wanting to find practical ways that my family can help the poor and needy.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when one tries to consider how they can affect the tide of poverty in the world. What can one person do in the face of millions suffering?

That has been on my mind quite a bit. Our last name is not Gates or Zuckerberg. We don't have $25 mil to give to our favorite charities. But we can do something. Here are a few things we can do or are doing.

1) Donate the costs of one day's meals each month to our church to feed others.
2) Pay tithing. Donate 1/10 of our income to our church for charitable purposes.
3) Help out at the food pantry. Go & work there for a few hours each month.
4) Donate used goods to true charity thrift stores. 
5) Make things to donate to charity. (winter hats, toiletries kits, etc.)
6) Gather items for the needy from friends & family. A great holiday activity.
7) Keep a coin jar that gets donated when it's full.
8) Recycle soda cans and plastic bottles then donate the refund.
9) Volunteer during the holiday season to provide gifts for a needy family.
10) Have a yard sale and donate the proceeds to charity.

These are all fairly simple things that almost anyone can do to have an impact on the life of someone in need. I've been trying to work in service to others into our schedule every week. It's been a great experience to go to the food pantry and help sweet people fill their food orders. I was really happy to get to take The Bug with me last week. Great place to learn lessons of gratitude for all our blessings.

I'd love to add more ideas to this list. Add your ideas in the comments below.

13 October 2014

Now Is My Time #39: What Can I Yet Accomplish

It's only a few weeks until the end of the year and we all know that once Halloween comes the rest of the year just flies right on by. While I am excitedly preparing for 2015 and my new theme - which I am dying to share with you - but that would take all the excitement out of the big bang for the new year. I can barely stand keeping it a secret.

While I'm looking to back to see what I have accomplished this year and I'm looking ahead to next year, I also want to see what else I can still succeed at for my year of Now Is My Time 2014. While I think the year is a big success, I still have a couple of big goals yet to make significant progress on.

So I am ramping up here in the 4th quarter to make significant progress on those. There is still plenty of time to make some amazing things happen in this year. We can accomplish a lot in 10 or 11 weeks!

One of those things is regular workouts and gym attendance. I seem to get all revved up and going and then have some emergency, or get sick or am traveling and then my schedule gets off and everything crumbles and then I have to get started all over again. I want to break that cycle. I love it when I am in the workout groove so I am pushing for that right now. It feels good.

What I really need is a plan for days when I can't get in a big workout that I have in my hands some small workouts or progress I can do that will keep the thread going. It's the breakdown of having a missed day and then getting going again that is actually the problem, not the getting the workouts in overall. So that is at the top of my list right now. I know I am the only person on earth with this problem, right? Haha.

I am also pushing to keep up with a regular morning routine that starts my day off empowered and focused. I love that routine and with the weird schedule we've been keeping lately it's fallen out of practice.

It's a great time for me to look around and see what is still waiting by the wayside for me to grab and run with. I am excited to end this year on a real high note feeling great about my journey.

Do you have big goals you are planning to accomplish before the end of the year. What are you working on and what's your plan to make it happen during the holidays. I wish you all the best in making those great things happen!

10 October 2014

A Wardrobe Staple: The Denim Jacket

Last night as I was running out the door I grabbed my denim jacket and threw it on. It's getting rather tattered after a few years of pretty regular use. The cuffs have worn through along the bottom edge. It's pretty faded out. But in all it's simplicity, it somehow totally pulled together my outfit of mini-striped maxi skirt and simple white cotton embroidered blouse with the sandals I slipped on.

This made me want to sing the praises of the All-American denim jacket, such a fantastic wardrobe staple. You can wear it with just about anything.  It goes well with dresses, skirts, shorts, legging or pants and you can really style it up or down. You can find them in all varieties of color washes. You can make it work in a business setting with the right touch and you can wear it camping. What a wonderful friend the denim jacket really is.

Denim jackets are perfect for fall weather, easy to layer and throw a scarf over. I like this 1969 jacket from Gap. You can certainly find them in a wide price range. I like sticking on the low end for this purchase because it's so easy to find great ones. 

Every wardrobe could use a good denim jacket. Why not save on the denim jacket and splurge on great bottoms, tops and accessories to wear with it. H&M, Old Navy, Target, JC Penney and Kohls are great places to find a deal on a denim jacket. I saw some for as low as $25.

It seems like a lot of the chain stores are having pretty big sales this weekend. I've been getting lots of emails and social media notices of some significant discounts coming up. With savings of up to 40% off and you can add this staple to your wardrobe for a fantastic price. It's a classic and a goody.

How do you wear your denim jacket? Do you have an oldie you just can't part with?

image via Gap

09 October 2014

Putting Aside My To Do List For Bigger Things

Yesterday was such a busy day. I feel like this has been one of those week where there is a ton to do and I haven't felt really great. So the pressure to get things done has only felt increased as I have worked slower than I would like.

There were some important priorities I needed to get done yesterday and didn't even get close to getting everything done that I wanted to, even though I was busy. When The Bug came home from school and asked repeatedly to go to the park, I felt it was just impossible that I could make the time to take an hour out of the evening schedule to go sit at the park while she played.

But she quickly got her homework done and again asked. Having said no more often lately than I feel good about, I put aside my priorities and focused on a greater priority, our family life.

Even while I was putting my sneakers on, I felt a lot of angst that I could not afford the time. I did not feel like walking to the park or being around a lot of noisy kids.

But I was inspired by a question I had heard asked of parents recently, "Are you giving your children your best intellectually and creatively?" Was I giving our child the best? Was my reasoning for not going to the park more noble than taking her to the park?

My answer on both accounts was no. And now let's be honest, time outside on a gorgeous, sunny, breezy day wouldn't hurt me either, would it?!?!?!?!!? Sitting, doing something I enjoyed, not harmful, right? And so I did.

I took a little bag of things to do and found a comfy seat on the tiny 3-row bleachers facing the playground. It was lovely. It was relaxing. It was peaceful. There was a good ocean breeze blowing and a beautiful dappled light filtering through the tree tops. Why did I fight this?

After 90 minutes she was asking me to go home because all the boys from her school wanted to play with her and she was just a little overpowered by their high energy. None of her usual girl friends were there. I laughed and we walked home hand in hand. I was relaxed. I was happy.

We got home and I was hurried to make dinner and get her fed and in bed. She was late getting to bed, but we were both happily relaxed throughout the rest of the evening. I got a few good tasks done throughout the evening and even had time to listen to inspiring talks while I worked. I lost nothing by going to the park.

This seems like a lesson I have to learn again and again and again. I hope I'm starting to listen more quickly and more often. Do you have challenges putting down the To Do list to take self-care or family time? How do you make sure it happens?

08 October 2014

What Are You Waiting For? Have The Time Of Your Life.

I am going to paraphrase these lines that have been running through my head recently from the movie Something's Gotta Give. Diane Keaton's character, Erica Barry, is found at the bottom of a set of stairs on the beach by her daughter, in tears.

Her daughter Marin, played by Amanda Peet, gets upset to see her mother in tears and asks her mother what is wrong. Her mother tells her she fell in love. Marin gets more upset that something has hurt her mother. Her mother says no I had the time of my life. Marin says, "I've never had the time of my life." Erica replies, "What are you waiting for?"

 I think those two lines are so epic. Have you had the time of your life yet? Do you have things you always said you would do that you have no yet attempted? I often hear people speaking like this about travel. Talking about how badly they want to visit a place.

After a while, it has to become clear that things we say are our dreams, aren't really things we want that much or we would make them happen. Instead they just become this pipe dream we trot out when we need something to say or need something to upset ourselves about.

I have a few things in my "time of my life" folder but I have also done a lot of things that fit into the "time of my life" folder. Many of them weren't things I even planned but things that I experienced through my career opportunities or other activities I got in involved in. Some were just things I did "on a wing and a prayer," taking a risk, hoping for the best and going for it.

"What are you waiting for," is a haunting question. I have friends who died suddenly at 40, I have friends who suddenly found themselves widowed at 40. And these things often happen to people much younger than that.

What are you waiting for? Anyone who postpones any dreams until retirement needs to take a serious wake up call and realize that that time may never come. Countless people have lost a spouse just as they planned to retire.

Now is the day to live. If you want to try something, do something or see something, make plans to see it now. There really are very few roadblocks to achieving goals. Even people with severe physical handicaps do unbelievable things, travel and take on great adventures. Having children should not preclude you from your dreams. People do all sorts of adventurous things with kids in tow.

Money certainly should not be an obstacle. One can always find a little side business to start or a small part-time job to work to make a little extra cash. Even selling stuff in your own house that you don't need or use can bring in money.

There is no reason to wait to have the time of your life. Life is now. It is today. I'm throwing out a challenge today to do something to move yourself closer to the time of your life.

Do the research and price out the trip of your dreams. Talk to the small business administration and think about starting that new career you keep talking about. Write the first chapter of your novel. Start your blog. Create that product that will change the world. Apply for that job you dream of. Do something today to have the life of your dreams. There's no time to waste.

07 October 2014

Now Is My Time #38: Miramar Air Show & G-force

Recently we had the chance to go to the Miramar Air Show in San Diego. Having attended my first air show a couple of years ago, I was totally game to go see this famous air show at the home of the movie Top Gun.

If you have ever seen the movie Top Gun, you have seen a little bit of Miramar. An air shows require a lot of walking and this one was on one of the hottest weekends of the year. Despite the blazing heat, we had a great day. The Bug had a crazy good time starting a Humvee - put the pedal to the medal on her third opportunity, climbing into the cockpit of many kinds of aircraft and into several tanks.

Watching the air performances was quite amazing. It was mind-boggling to hear the amount of G-force pilots under go to pull tight maneuvers such as barrel turns, tight arcs and dives.

It is no doubt these pilots love what they do. I believe they are living the full amount of their joy when it comes to developing some of their talent. You can hear it in their voices from the cockpit. But they undergo tremendous G-force in order to make these moves happen.

I thought about how that also happens when we go for our goals. We feel pressure and intensity as we reach for the things we see are possible and that we dream of. When seeking our goals and reaching new heights, we are pushed into uncomfortable environments just like jet fighter pilots.

I started thinking about how that applies to my own goals. Sometimes when we get in the process of taking ourselves apart so that we can rebuild ourselves in better, stronger ways we come to a point where it feels like we are just a pile of parts lying on the floor, completely disassembled. In this moment it can be terrifying.

"What have I done? I was comfortable and now I'm not. I could deal with the way things were. Now what if I can't put myself back together in this new, better way. What if I'm never the same? What if I am worse than I was before? At least before I could get by."

From conversations I have had this is not unfamiliar to people who have worked to overcome challenges, fears and situations that have held them back. There does come a point in the supreme bravery of it all where this paralyzing fear will hit. What if I fail?

And yet we see from story and story, again and again, that striving to become better generally does end up being better. It will probably not always be the exact outcome we imagined in our minds, but chances are it may be far better.

Yes, we can survive the G-force. It's what brings the good things in life. Healing to our souls, change, new adventures, letting go, having more.

all images by kalanicut

03 October 2014

Celebrating Christmas: 25 Days Of Christ Kits

I'm so happy to take today to share with you a great little company created by a good friend. The Oliver family runs New Traditions Craft Company in the Pacific Northwest. They created this great holiday tradition called 25 Days of Christ to help families focus the month of December on the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.

The idea started after Katie was looking for a way to turn her young sons' thoughts from their Christmas lists to the birth of the Savior. You can read Katie's inspiring story here.

Like an advent calendar, each day there is a story about the life of Christ along with an ornament associated with it to hang. These ornaments can be gathered so perfectly on a small table top tree that you can buy from a craft store for about five dollars or they could be tied each day on a garland together.

In each kit are materials and instructions for making the 25 ornaments, the 25 Days of Christ book with stories and references for each day, a gift bag you can use each day to place an ornament inside for your family to open, and a box to keep it all together from year to year. More details here.

There is some assembly and painting to do for the ornaments so I suggest you order as early as possible so that you have plenty of time to finish the ornaments before December 1. There are instructions on the web site as well for easy reference. Kids or grandkids would probably love to help with this phase. Plus when they've invested time in making the ornaments it seems like they will be very excited for the 25 days as well.

This year they also have a number of kits that are finished sets, so you don't have to make the ornaments yourself. The number is limited so grab one quickly.

Another motivation to buy early is that they sell out of 25 Days Of Christ kits quickly every year as and word spreads I think they sell out faster and faster each year.

I am looking forward to using ours for the first time this year. I love gathering as a family during the holidays to sing and make the season bright. This will be a great way for us to focus on the real importance of Christmas each day and I think it will encourage us to take more of that quiet, at home, family time together gathered around the fireplace beneath the twinkling lights during December.

I think The Bug is going to love it. This is a great idea for helping children focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Parents, for that matter, need a good reminder too when it is so easy to get caught up in all the duties of the season and not slow down and enjoy the beauties.

You can buy 25 Days of Christ kits at the official website. Let them know I sent you over. If you get a chance, post photos on Pinterest so they can see how your kit turned out. I'm sure they would love to see how you and your famiy enjoy your 25 Days of Christ.

images via 25 Days of Christ

02 October 2014

Wishing For A Cold Winter: Love These Rainboots

After I saw this post about making your own laced wellies from Practically Functional I started thinking about how I need a pair of rain boots. Well, I have needed them in the past quite badly. We can have very wet winters here in SoCal. But it's been a while since we had one of those winters.

Last year we never even had a day cold enough to put on a proper coat. It's been so hot you couldn't even wear a sweater in the evenings for a few months now. I joked that last winter was the best summer I've ever had in LA. We do love the beautiful weather but we need the moisture desperately.

So I am hoping for a chilly, wet winter this year. Sounds terrible in a lot of ways but the upsides are getting our water tables back up to survivable levels AND getting to wear rain gear. Both worthwhile endeavors I think.

I fell hard for these Sperry Top-sider Pelican III boots when I saw them. So cute. Love the gray. Love the anchors. Love the adjustable straps on the sides. They hit all my marks.

I'm hoping to get a chance to wear ski pants, parkas, hats and gloves this winter too. I would be happy to drag out my umbrella and get a little wet just for the sake of some variety in the weather. We have so many nice winter clothes that of course we have to have for inclement weather here, which we do actually have most years. Plus we need clothes to wear to visit any of our family who live in far colder climates. But the sad thing is that for the most part anything we buy dies a slow painful death from lack of use and decay.

This past summer I had to throw away a perfectly good pair of hiking boots because they had just fallen apart in the closet. They were getting old but they were in great condition until the rubber sole just started to decay and tear away from the leather boot. My sneakers always decay before they fall apart from use. Jackets fall out of fashion and the fabrics discolor and fade, but we almost never get a chance to wear cool weather clothes out.

I realize it's bizarre to complain about lovely weather every day but I think I am not the only SoCal resident who would welcome some variety of weather and opportunities to wear more than just a shirt and pants without having a heat meltdown.

So, do you hear me Rain Gods? Bring it. Let us have some real rain this fall and winter. Give me a reason to buy these boots. Obviously I really want some rain boots and an excuse to buy them. It seems  every fall I write a post about wellies
and yet -- I still have not gotten them. We need a few weeks of rain to really justify a purchase.

A collection of  rain boots.
Hunting for Hunters
Discount Boots Or The Boots I Really Want

image via Zappos

01 October 2014

DIY Projects That Work: Key Rack

Every time I look across the apartment and see this key rack I made a few months ago, I feel happy. I love how great it looks and how much we can store there. It's one of those DIY projects that didn't take a lot of time or money that has paid for itself in convenience, better organization and thus major joy on my part (!) ten times over.

I like to report back on the projects I've done with follow ups. Some times they turn out a fantastic success like this one and sometimes they don't and are out the door or in a closet not long after. Learning from other's experiences is one of the first things I do when I am thinking about a project. So I thought I would share my feedback on creative undertakings here.

It's been heavenly for every set of keys in the house to have a home. No more mountain of keys in a basket. As soon as we walk in to door the keys go right on the rack in their assigned positions and no more searching for key chains.

We get asked this frequently by guests - yes, our family really does have that many keys although a lot of those key chains only have one key on them. We mostly use the three or four hooks on the left side, closest to the door. On all the other hooks are extra sets of car keys, house keys, bike & bike rack locks, post office box, storage units, etc. We are a family with a lot of keys.

Sometimes it's amazing what a little ten dollar project can do to really improve life. This is one that I smile about every time I see it. Piece of wood out of my small cupboard supply, a little "driftwood" wood stain and some hooks from the hardware store.

These hooks worked so well because they were small enough to easily fit a key ring on and off without much frustration. Finding a system that people in the family will actually use without frustration is critical. If something doesn't work it won't get used. 

I am also thrilled with how I finally figured out how to hang the rack. It was worked out phenomenally. I first used two picture hooks across the top but didn't give it much stability. It could get knocked off the wall or knocked down and it would be a pain in the neck to pick up all those keys. So I used 3M Command Strips across the bottom which has made it immovable. Just what I wanted and it's sustaining a lot of weight too.

Total project has been a life changer in how we store keys and how easy they are to find. Keys are a small things but they certainly are a factor every time we walk in and out of the front door.

A prime example of the importance of keys is the other day when I had my hands full and confidently shut and locked the front door on my way out with my keys to house and car still on the hook inside. -- Sigh. Luckily we have a sneaky "emergency entrance" option as a back up and I was back in business in just minutes.

Having a cute way to store and organize keys that looks good and get used by the family makes me doubly happy. You can see the original DIY post with step-by-step instructions here.
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