24 November 2014

Holiday Happenings & Thanksgiving Buffet Date Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 November 2014

Dear Pinterest: Two New Features I Would Love

Dear Pinterest,

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

19 November 2014

Stop, Think And Heal Thyself

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

Here are a few that I've said lately:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18 November 2014

Danish Christmas Inspiration

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

Copenhagen Yule

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

Dannebrog and a 'Pølsevogn' in the background

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copenhagen at Christmas

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

jurianne matter: free downloadable prints for danish paper stars!

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

17 November 2014

Now Is My Time #43: Time For Gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 November 2014

Tourist In Your Own Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

images by kalanicut

13 November 2014

A Major Purchase For Our Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

images from Bed, Bath & Beyond

11 November 2014

Veterans Day 2014: Thank Yous

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

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

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

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

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

10 November 2014

Now Is My Time #42: Fruits of Our Labors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

06 November 2014

My Fall Trip To Ikea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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