28 November 2016

Christmas Front Door Decoration

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! Last holiday season we were only partially living in our house. We would come after work and do projects, so really the time we spent together as a family was spent here. But we would sleep at the townhouse instead. It was a bit weird. We had Thanksgiving here at the house and decorated for Christmas and celebrated Christmas here even though we were still living at the townhouse mostly.

At some point over the holidays we started spending weekend nights here, I think it was actually Thanksgiving weekend. There was no heat turned on yet and no hot water, so it was more like camping. We couldn't shower here and we used the fireplace to warm the house the little bit that it did.

So this year really is our first year living here for the holidays. I have been looking at entryway holiday decorations for a few weeks, thinking about what I could do for the front of our house. It's a little odd because we have a traditional front door with a walkway that leads from a small parking area for guests. But it's not visible because it's on the side of the house and it has a portico around it so it is protected from the elements which is nice. But it offers zero curb appeal.

On the "front" of our house we have french doors going into our living room as well as a sliding glass door that leads into our family room. So it's very confusing for people coming to the house to figure out what door to go to. It's funny to find packages delivered to any of the different doors on any given day and watching people out the walls of windows try to figure out what door to come to is always a little weird.

I thought if we had guests over for get togethers over the holidays it would be great to welcome them into through the french doors rather than bringing them to the front door where the kitchen, dining room and living rooms all open up to each other. The french doors also open up to a small patio that faces the front of our house, so visually it definitely would be welcoming and pretty as the first impression of the home.

Next I decided to try to coordinate the three doors (two french doors and the front door) with wreaths or garlands or something. I got these great baskets from Cost Plus World Market (using coupons) that really will work for any season of the year. I I can see adding forsythia in late winter, lilacs in the spring, lavender in the summer months with red, white and blue ribbon, and fall maple leaves in their season. The sign on the front can easily be removed and something else tied onto the basket.

It was easy to choose this chalkboard sign for the front door. I got it at JoAnn Craft and Fabric and happily it was 60% off. But it's taking some time to figure out two coordinating signs or ornaments for the french doors. I'll share an "after" on the french doors once they are done.

The greenery came free, when The Man went with a friend who owns a rock and tree business to harvest Christmas trees for his Christmas tree lot here in our neighborhood. Much to my delight, when The Man came home he had brought me a stack of freshly cut pine boughs. He knows me well. I was gleeful! I gathered three bags of pine cones for craft projects from our side yard last week. I got three grocery store bags full of pinecones with a little work. Now I'm brainstorming all the fun projects I can do with them.

Hopefully I'll be able to share a few more holiday projects in the coming weeks. I'm mostly done with my holiday shopping already. Just need three more presents and to finish up stocking stuffers. But I'm really very close to done. The challenge in shopping early is stopping yourself from continuing to shop and shop through December.  Getting shopping done early, I am hoping to have more time for baking gingerbread cookies, going to holiday concerts and other events, and watching cheesy Christmas movies! Yay!

How are your holiday preparations going? Are you procrastinating? Just jumping into it? Already done?

23 November 2016

Thanksgiving Is Here

It's hard to believe the holiday season is already here. This year has truly flown by. It has definitely been a busy one filled with a few unexpected surprises and some wonderful blessings, both easily recognizable and some in disguise.

We  are just the three of us this year for Thanksgiving. My family is getting together at my sister's house a couple of states away. We did our big Thanksgiving shopping trip last night and got a cart full of food. Boy was I glad we had two fridges to put food in when we got home. As we were shopping it was quite hilarious to see men with one or two items in their carts or looking for odd items they'd been asked to bring to the meal. Some were buying drinks, others rolls. Then there were the women, who seemed to all be carrying long shopping lists and filling carts to overflowing with turkeys, vegetables, butter, whipped cream, spices and pies.

After trying to get out the door to get to the store for a couple of hours, The Man and I arrived in the grocery store parking lot and I realized I had forgotten my list. Yikes. I didn't say a word but just went to each department and tried to remember everything I needed.

We did pretty well getting everything on our list except for one item I forgot and one that was completely sold out. I wanted to try a tortellini soup recipe this week and realized I got home without buying the tortellini. Oops. And I wanted water chestnuts for the stuffing and had to get down on my hands and knees to reach the right shelf in the store and check to find out that there was not one can on the shelves.

So I made a quick stop at another store today on my way home from the gym. I have been trying to get kiddo cooking more and taking on more duties around the house. The tortellini soup recipe only takes 15 minutes an so I thought it would be great for her to make that for dinner tonight. Sounds so good with some salad and bread.

When I arrived home from the gym today our next door neighbor invited us over for Thanksgiving. So kind of her. Since we're already in process making dinner over here, we decided we'd try to catch up for dessert tomorrow or for leftovers on Friday. We have the best neighbors.

Even though there are only three of us who will sit down for dinner tomorrow we have four pies. Holy smokes. I think we'll be freezing some leftover pie and maybe having some friends over on Saturday.

I am looking forward to starting to decorate on Friday. I've been sitting on my hands all week to keep myself from getting in the attic and pulling Christmas decorations down. The Man is a purist, no Christmas before Thanksgiving. I've said it before but the best Christmas season I've ever had was the year I decorated the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. It was fantastic to have it done and just be able to relax all weekend and going into December.

Hoping to make some pinecone garlands this weekend too. Just need to get to the hardware store and buy some eye screws to attach to the base of the pine cones so I can attach them to a string. I'm planning on glittering some and may dipping some in paint. I've been trying to get there all week and it hasn't happened yet. Today, today. I think there will be a Star Wars marathon this weekend, knowing The Man.

We are thankful and happy for a chance to slow down and consider our many blessings this year. I've definitely been thinking more of those blessings the past few days. Sending you the very best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who will be celebrating this week.

*The image above is from our dining table looking out to west across our backyard and as far as you can see to the horizon. Our little Japanese Maple was so beautiful all week then Monday night a wicked storm blew threw and ripped most of the leaves off the tree. I was so glad I captured the photos I did before that.

28 October 2016

Preparing Early For The Christmas Season

It's hard to image that Halloween will be over next week and we'll fully have entered the Holiday Season. I have decided to get out my Thanksgiving decorations this week, just because I think it will take a bit to find them in the new house. When you're unpacking an entire life it's hard to remember where you put everything. Once I know where they are it won't take much to get things decorated a bit. I didn't do anything for Halloween except put up a really cute new garland I picked up at Homegoods and hang a few cute paper bats (also from Homegoods) in the big window of our dining room that overlooks out backyard.

Now is the time to start gathering ideas to do some fun creative things without a lot of stress this holiday season. I always enjoy the holidays more when I get things done well in advance and can just drink in all the holiday fun instead of working long hours.

My first stop for inspiration in my Christmas Pinterest board. This week I've been especially interested in front door holiday decor. As I've mentioned before, you can't see our house from the road so we have no one driving by looking at our house. But we do have people coming by occasionally and I've been wanting to spruce up our front entryway even though it's rather hidden on the side of the house.

I realized though, as I was driving out of the driveway the other day that the double doors that lead into our living room are much more visible when guests come. There is also a nice broad entryway from the outside, including a patio, so this would be a fantastic place to decorate. I'm thinking about having a few small get togethers during the holidays and have realized that using this door allows guests to enter our living room for gatherings, rather than coming to our true front door that opens up right into our dining room and kitchen which isn't always a view I want as a first impression. Open concept DOES have it's downfalls despite it's mass appeal in the home decor world right now.

With two pretty wood framed glass doors along with windows on each side, this entryway into our living room seems like a great place to create a visible, welcoming entryway to our home for guests and events. I have a few bits and pieces in mind to spruce that area up and will look through what we already have and what we can use from the yard since we have a lot of nature all around us.

The Bug is talking daily about how excited she is to sit by the fire with all the holiday decorations up. It does sound cozy and I'll look forward to those first few big snowstorms here on the mountain. We do get the best, most gigantic snowflakes.

The second place I am looking for inspiration is going back through blog posts for ideas I've shared that I'd like to repeat or just try for the first time. Here are a few links you might enjoy that include some fun holiday inspiration.

Here is a fantastic hot cocoa recipe I am going planning to incorporate into our holiday hosting this year.

We love making our holidays more special by enjoying our 25 Days of Christ advent created by our dear friends.

A few suggestions for family gift ideas that will keep the family active, outside and enjoying fresh air together.

From my time living in Denmark, I am pretty deeply in love with Scandinavian holiday traditions. Here are a few favorite inspirations.

And lastly here are some fun ideas for Christmas Tree stands beyond the red and green plastic stand.

During the next few weeks I'll keep posting some holiday inspiration including fun DIY gifts under $10, gift wrap inspiration and more. If there's anything specific you're looking for inspiration on this holiday season, let me know. Hope you have a fun and safe Halloween weekend. We're having a short date night on Saturday while Kiddo goes to a party with a bunch of lively girls. Should be fun for us all.

26 October 2016

Hugs And Pets For Better Health And Well-being

Have you heard about Oxytocin? No it's not the latest illegal street drug fad, it's actually an amazing chemical in our bodies that lights up our souls when we receive physical affection. I first read about Oxytocin maybe ten years ago or more now. I remember learning that the human body needs something like 11 physical touches a day to maintain well-being.

After I read that I started hugging, squeezing, patting and grabbing friends hands more often. That sounds a little crazy but I mean this in the most gentle, loving way and only with people I knew well and knew were comfortable with it. I have  not ever freaked anyone out by doing this, I promise. I have often told close friends, "Make sure you're giving and getting your 11 touches today!"

I've also try to remember this when I am feeling out of sorts. It's amazing how much a few minutes of hugs and cuddling can change your entire worldview! I am lucky to have a cozy little bug of a kiddo in our home so the hugs are plentiful and always available even when grownups seem busy.

I heard on the radio this past week that hugging for 20 seconds is about the magic number to get the Oxytocin flowing in the body. So The Bug and I have been practicing 20 second hugs and it's amazing how the good, warm cozies start flowing right about at the 20 second mark. We've been sneaking in 20 second hugs on Daddy too....men can be a little impatient with the hugs sometimes, but they DEFINITELY need them too. Especially when they live in a world where there is much less friendly and familial physical affection expressed.

We are loving our Oxytocin hugs and I think it's definitely a great way to start and end the day along with any time during the day. I've changed up our morning routine by mentioning how eager I am to give and get a hug first thing in the morning. Now instead of sending marching orders to "hurry things up" down our staircase I am saying, "Boy, I can't wait to have our first hug of the day!" It sounds amazingly sweeter than, "You need to HURRY! Are you still in bed?" and other such related sentences. Now she quickly comes from her room up the stairs and we get that wonderful first hug in. I think that definitely starts our day off and guides our morning with sweetness!

As I was thinking about writing this post I remembered too that our family is also getting the fabulous additional health and wellness benefits of having a fantastic and loving dog in our home.  He's just the best thing ever. The biggest, heaviest, most gentle dog you'll ever meet. He's a lover and the best as giving great hugs and kisses. He's concerned for everyone's welfare, checks on each family member when we return home and always wants to be nearby. He's a fantastic traveler and companion in every way -- and how lucky we are that he provides those great benefits of having a pet too. Here's a link to six benefits you gain from a pet, including lower blood pressure, stress relief and less feelings of loneliness! Awesome benefits!

This is just one of the reasons that every time I pray I ask Heavenly Father to give our dog a long and healthy life. I must make a note here on pet ownership. Our dog is highly trained service dog and this training overall makes our life a lot easier. He doesn't tear things up, he pees with his leg down in a very gentlemanly manner, and follows commands very well. Life with a well-trained dog allows you to enjoy your pet, rather than it being a giant irritation.

I have become a very big advocate for a highly trained family dog because I think this gives the pet a better chance of staying with the family. It is actually less work and cost to do a ton of training in the beginning than deal with all the headaches and destruction that come from poorly behaved dogs. I see too many people get dogs because they are cute and then get rid of them after little training and a lot of frustration or when the kids get bored with the dog. A poorly trained pet, along with poor petcare maintenance and management make for a miserable life for both family and pet.

We know a dog that was begged and begged for by the family's children and now that they are teenagers and have no interest in the dog, she  has been forced to live alone outside, with very little affection and is just pushed aside, overweight and sad. These types of stories break my heart for the pet. Spend a lot of time training your dog and you will have a much better experience.

Along with that, keep your pet living a disciplined life. Feed it high quality, healthy food, don't use snacks to train it and try to avoid snacks in general - most of them have ingredients that are poor quality and not good for pets. Groom and care for it (brush it daily), have a kennel and/or bed space for it, don't feed it from the table or help it develop other really bad habits that will annoy you in the future and make life less manageable around the house. Set a precedent for good behavior in the beginning and with some maintenance life will be sweet. .In short don't just get a dog and let it run wild.

Buy them chew toys (good quality without chemicals) so that they have something to gnaw on. Give them lots of outdoor time, runs at the park, game playing and things that will excite their spirits and keep them healthy and happy.

If you want more information, talk to your vet, groomer or local dog trainer....or contact me and I'll put you in touch with my husband who learned to do the training for our dog and is very experienced with pets. It's thanks to him that our life with a giant dog is so simple and sweet - and the fact that we got the best angel dog ever! We had looked at a few dogs from photos and we just didn't feel "it" until we saw a photo of this baby German Shepherd with long, gangly legs and gigantic bat-like ears jutting out the top of his little puppy kennel. We all felt it and my husband went and picked him up and he's been the most beloved dog and friend every day since then.

Love and affection from both humans and our dear pets make life sweet and help us feel more balanced and healthy. Sure we can take vitamins, get a regular physical, and all that stuff is important, but aren't hugging, cuddling, getting a massage and having a super awesome pet so much more fun? Do you have family hugging traditions? Do you have a super awesome pet and if so, how has your pet improved your well-being?

19 October 2016

Stay Healthy This Winter

As fall takes firm hold, I'm starting to see the "whole family is sick" posts on social media this week. These posts often come along with tales of being trapped indoors with children for an entire week, trying to cope with being sick while tending said children and other tales of woe. So I thought I'd share what has generally kept our family incredibly healthy the past few years. Here are a few posts that share our "secrets" if I dare call them that.

1. Use Saline Nasal Spray and Mouthwash Daily

2. Don't Over-sanitize Your Home

3. 10 Tips For Staying Healthy This Winter

4. Sleep With A Humidifier - one in every bedroom is good!

If you do get sick....

5. Relieve Your Symptoms With Reflexology (Quick note here, I perform reflexology almost daily on my husband now and it does wonders to relieve pain and other symptoms as well as relax the body and massage in general does such a great job increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation.)

6. Keep It Simple

We try to eat a very wide range of fruits and vegetables which I think is helping - we eat spinach salads almost daily - and I can't say enough about getting fresh air, ample exercise, downtime, enough sleep, drinking plenty of water and taking a few vitamins too. I think lots of hugs help too. More on that soon.

Sending you best wishes for staying healthy this fall and winter!

17 October 2016

The Annual Neighborhood Potluck

I've always heard about neighborhood potlucks and parties but have never lived in a neighborhood where such things happened. Before we even moved into our house we were invited to our first neighborhood potluck last fall, but because we were exhausted and had been working feverishly on our house all day we were sweaty and dirty and not much up meeting the entire neighborhood. The party was taking place in the circle right in front of our house, so we made a quick exit some time before the party started.

We joined in for the holiday party in December of last year, held in a lovely home just two houses up the street from us. Why is it that parties always sounds so fun until it's time to get ready and go and suddenly no one wants to go? This happens to us every time. We were 10-20 years younger than anyone else there and our Kiddo was the only child there, but we had a nice time and appreciated getting to know so many of our lovely neighbors.

Since they are all retired, they have much more adventurous and luxurious lives than we who have a kid who had to be here for school and are tied down by work schedules and home renovation. It's funny to joke with them about their vastly more exciting lives. Some travel via RV all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Others have second homes in Alaska, or other fun places. They are a fun bunch to know and have great life stories it's fun to hear about. It's also nice to know there is a good group of people watching out for each other and helping keep our neighborhood safe.

I also wanted to make sure we knew neighbors in case of an emergency, especially Kiddo, in case anything happened and she needed to go to a neighbor for help. Because we live in a desert/forest environment the concern of a wildfire evacuation crosses my mind too and how we would all find each other if some are home and others are evacuated. Yet another reason to have good relations with the neighbors and have their help.

I've heard we have a couple of families with kids in our neighborhood but have never seen any sign of them. Because the houses are fairly far apart and yards are wooded, you may hear neighbors but rarely see them unless they are out walking for exercise on the streets. We don't have sidewalks to watching for walkers on the side of the road is always critical.

We had our neighborhood summer potluck last week and again at the last minute we were tired and not really feeling like going. But we gathered ourselves, got food made and went. We were a few minutes late and all the retired folks were already there and eating and there were no seats left. Have to remember that for some of those folks 6p dinner is probably really late, let alone us arriving at 6:20. Ha.

Instead of having the party in the street a few weeks ago, the party was held at one of the neighbor homes. It's usually held outside on a weekend evening in late September, but with the party a little later, they decided to have it on a weeknight indoors. The home was simple and beautiful and had an amazing deck that overlooks the entire valley in three directions. We're talking visibility 80-100 miles south, west and north. It was so beautiful at nightfall and with the lovely, calm mountain breeze and some good company it was heavenly.

We were glad we pulled it together and went, renewing and solidifying relationships with neighbors we don't see much of otherwise. It was fun to learn more about the interesting stories of our neighbors and this time the party was on the east end of the street which is an area we don't really go into much so it was nice to learn who lives where in that area.

We also figured out which of our neighbors have the fantastic rain barrels with rain chains that we often pass by when out walking. They told us that even with a small rain they fill up all five of their 55 gallon barrels. You can imagine how much of their yard they can water with a hose that attaches to a spout on each barrel. With fairly regularly rains all summer it's amazing to think how much water they can enjoy for free in this desert! We have eight water spouts coming off our roof, imagine how much water we can collect once we get rain barrels under each one.Wow! That's exciting.

You may wonder what I made for the party. I did a quick pan of caramel brownies and I made this Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta recipe that has worked it's way into our dinner rotation this fall. I made it the other night and doubled the sauce and I think I like it that way better. I use all natural bacon and I use Trader Joe's Parmesan Ranch dressing. All the food at the party was wonderful. There was Couscous Salad, classic New Mexican food with all the requisite spicy heat and even meatballs with Prickly Pear Barbecue Sauce. Super yummy. It was fun to sample a little of a lot of things and there were plenty of good desserts too.

When we left the party we were all cheerful and glad we'd attended. The crazy thing is that even though this was the "summer" party, the Christmas Party is just about 8 weeks away. So we'll have a chance to see everyone again soon.

Does your neighborhood have street parties? Do you attend? I've heard there are a few in our street who never attend. How do you feel about getting to a party?

14 October 2016

Apple Picking Time

When we first bought our home there was a lone fruit tree in the backyard, an apple tree and near it the stump of a dead fruit tree of some sort. We closed in the fall and on the tree were maybe five pitiful, tiny apples. We weren't sure if it was just a bad apple tree or if the tree suffered from a lack of water since the house had been unoccupied for a long time.

So our expectations weren't too high for future of the tree but we were curious to see what it would produce this year. I still don't think it got the consistent water it needed to really produce and that leads me to wonder if the apples would be significantly larger if it was heavily and consistently watered. Can't say. But we did get a pretty good little harvest of apples this year even though we lost quite a few to the critters and our dog who enjoys picking the low hanging fruit, playing with it and eating it we still harvested three or four grocery bags of apples on the small tree over a couple weeks time.

Based on the taste and shape I have figured out that these are cooking apples, but haven't figured out the variety. Again it would be easier if the fruit was a little larger and more distinct looking. So far I've made pie filling twice, enough for two pies and I think that's what I'll do with these apples. Maybe I'll just freeze the pie filling and save it for Thanksgiving. That sounds good to me right now. We'll give thanks for our own apples and own beautiful, home baked apple pie.

Earlier this week we cleared the tree of all the remaining apples and threw any that had worms or bites taken out of them from critters over the wall (about 10 feet away) to the deer path where the deer come down the mountain each night about sundown foraging for food. We were happy to share with them. We also have a family of about 10 quail who live under the trees right there and we often see them out eating in the mornings and afternoons. At one point there were about 15 baby quail in the group. Now there is a pack of full-grown birds.

Our neighbors have told us all year that the apple tree is dangerous because it will attract bears. It seemed too sad to cut it down just in case a bear came around but I can tell you that I've been watching closely for any sign of bears and carrying a metal pole and very high powered flashlight outside with me when I have to go out after dark. (Humor me and pretend that is going to protect me, I know it's a stretch. The flashlight is probably a better weapon than the pole since it's completely blinding.)

Part of the tree hangs over the wall of our landscaped backyard, so I have remained surprised all fall that there did not seem to be any apples picked or nibbled on from that side of the tree. This would be the prime access point for bears and deer who could easily reach these branches. All the nibbling has been taking place near the trunk in the walled yard. Still not sure what's been eating those apples but it definitely looks more like bites than bird pecks. We don't have a lot of squirrels here, but have tons of bunnies, who I can't imagine climbing trees through I could be wrong. Maybe it's bobcats? Who knows.

I took the photo above in our kitchen sink. When I walked in after Kiddo had washed and cleaned all the apples I found them in my favorite colander sitting in the stainless steel sink and the lighting was just amazing and the water droplets made it even more beautiful. I'm always surprised at those moments when it takes absolutely no effort to grab an amazing photo. The ceramic colander, by the way, I bought at the riverside flea market in Portland, in 2000 I think it was. It was fun to go back there last summer and I'm itching to go again. Would love to take the family. I keep thinking I need to sneak in a surprise trip there this fall since we have airline vouchers we need to use.

I am watching the weather a little more carefully than normal since I have a potted tomato plant outside. If I play my cards right I think I can get it inside near one of our many windows and maybe even keep it producing over the winter. We'll see. But I know it's going to be a goner if it catches the first winter frost, which could be coming any day. One thing I have greatly enjoyed is NOT battles all the little California coastal gnats and white flies this summer. In fact I did not have to do any pesticide control at all on my herbs and tomatoes. Such a delight! It was a constant and nasty battle in Los Angeles and one that I don't miss.

Have you been gardening? Dealing with critters or enjoying a lovely harvest this fall? Do you still have cutting flowers? I didn't plant any of those this year but would definitely like to next year. Sending you best and warmest wishes. Thanks for coming by!

Here's a link to my favorite apple pie filling recipe. It's easy and delicious which is the best combination of all, right? Betty Crocker's Scrumptious Apple Pie.

10 October 2016

Balloon Fiesta and Our AirBnB Experience

Yesterday was the final morning of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Last year I spent all but two days at the event working. This year I worked a lot of hours so that others could enjoy the event. We attended on Thursday morning, the first day of Fall Break when all the kids are out of school. It was painful to get up at 4 a.m. but definitely worth it to be able to park right at the event.

image by kalanicut

We had planned to go to the evening glow on Saturday night but it was raining and we were tired and in the end the glow was cancelled due to weather, so we were glad we chose to stay home and watch a movie, even though we were bummed we didn't get to an evening event this year. This was a good lesson for me to remember when advising travelers about coming to Fiesta. It does sometimes rain and sometimes activities are cancelled. Last year we had very good luck. This year several events were cancelled. So if visitors come for two days and they hit a bad weather patch they might not get to experience much. I'm recommending from now on at least three days, just to make sure travelers don't make a trip of a lifetime and then not see much in the way of balloons in flight.

We opened up our AirBnB townhouse (see the link in the left column here) for potential lodgers the week before Balloon Fiesta and within 72 hours we were booked for the event. We ended up having four groups stay which meant we had to clean and prep the townhouse five times from start to finish. I have a totally new respect for hotel housekeeping staffs now and I will always think twice about staining the hotels white towels with makeup or other gunk.

I have to say this unexpectedly has been a fantastic opportunity to teach our kiddo about hard work, a family business and what it takes to make money. She has been very involved on the days when we were cleaning and she was not in school. While it was at times challenging to keep her involved and work through a lack of enthusiasm at times, I think her eyes were definitely opened to how hard parents work to support their families. I think it was fun for her to learn about AirBnB and feel a part of a business venture. It truly is a family run business!

We came up with a system that seemed to work for us. First task was to grab all the towels, work on stain removal and then get them in the wash as fast as possible. That was always the thing that took the longest, the washing and drying of the towels. Then we would strip the beds and put on the spare, clean sheets and remake the beds. Nest we'd clean the bathrooms, then the kitchen, then do a dusting and sweeping of the entire unit. The last thing we did was grab the dry towels out of the dryer and restock the bathrooms. In the future we'll invest in more towels so that we aren't dependent on the four nice white sets for the two bathrooms. But for this first AirBnB effort, we really wanted to keep our investment costs down and buying four extra sets of sheets so that we could easily trade off was a big investment. I really believe that time is money and the longer it takes us to prep the house the more money the less profit we make so we are working on efficiencies that will help us get things done faster and smarter.

Before Balloon Fiesta began I put together a nice gift bag of snacks wrapped in cellophane with a handmade Welcome To ABQ sign tied to each one for the four groups who were coming. It was great to get this done in advance and now we will just keep a few made up bags on hand all the time. We included salty snacks like chips, a little chocolate, some simple shortbread type cookies, small fruit candies, and granola bars they could take on the run. We put that on a pretty tray in the kitchen so they would find it when they came in, along with coffee cups, water bottles and napkins. We also stocked the fridge with a few cold water bottles. For three dollars a flat, we felt having a nice supply of a few bottles of water was a great and inexpensive benefit for our guests.

It usually took us about two hours to get all the work done, but each day we would try to do a couple of extra jobs that needed to be done on a less daily basis like fixing up the boards on the deck, updating lightbulbs to LED, repainting door trim, etc. It was hard, tiring, dirty, sweaty work but it sure was fun to go over as each family checked out and read the messages they left for us in our guestbook, and see their positive reviews on the AirBnB website. 

Each group said they wanted to come back, had a wonderful time staying at the townhouse and would recommend us to friends and family. We've had more inquiries and are considering long term rental options as well. But it's been a very positive experience so far and we are officially AirBnB hosts which is pretty fun.

After a couple of weeks of Balloon Fiesta work taking up my time, I trying a new work plan starting tomorrow. I have created a schedule that all the family has access to of my work hours. This way I can block out time that won't get interrupted by things like tax preparations we've worked on recently and other projects that can take me away from my business building during the week. Today I have a full day of work hours which I am excited about. I am going to work on product creation, some office organizing and online store preparations. I am excited to focus on those efforts and I hope that having a blocked out schedule will make it easier on my family to be able to plan for projects and activities around that. I'll report back on how it's working. Hope you have a great week!

30 September 2016

10 Tips To Make The Most Of Your Visit To The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The excitement is high here in Albuquerque. Tomorrow is the start of The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. As the days lead up to fiesta you see more and more balloons in the sky each morning. This morning, always the Friday before the opening weekend, balloons launch from the public schools all over the city. Families gather to get up close and personal with the balloonists and to get a close up view of the balloons before they take off from each school's field. It's amazing to see from our house, balloons taking off all over the valley.

This year, for the first time, we are running a little AirBnB venture from a rental unit. We posted the opening a week ago today and by the time we woke up the next morning the reservation requests were coming in. We were solidly booked by Sunday and we are looking forward to having guests from around the country and even the Virgin Islands. We're rushing over there in just a few minutes to finalize everything. Our unit is available for rent long term or short throughout the winter so if you are thinking about a trip to ABQ for the fall, holidays or just for a quiet weekend getaway, check out our listing.

Last night I made some fun guest baskets with snacks and treats and later today I am going to wrap up a little guest book with all the info they will need for the rental as well as fun information about some of our favorite things to do in the city. We're kicking ourselves that we didn't decide to "Turo" a car and sign up to "Uber" during the next 10 days. As entrepreneurs and Balloon Fiesta enthusiasts it's a great opportunity to have some fun during this annual 10-day event.

So I thought it would be a great time to share some tips for guests coming to Balloon Fiesta. Balloon Fiesta is an early morning event. It is pretty much wrapped up for the day by 10 a.m. until the evenings when there are night activities. Let's start with my most important tip.

1. Plan to be on the field early on the weekends! Last year there were people turned away and stuck in traffic unable to get to the fiesta field during the 6-7a time window. I would suggest leaving for the park by 4:30 -4:45 a.m. depending on what part of the city you are coming from to get easier parking and relax rather than stressing about getting there, being stuck in traffic and missing out.You can relax once you get there and there is already stuff going on and food available pretty early in the morning so you can bring a blanket, and even take a nap on the grassy edges of the field before things get going. Just don't miss the experience by sitting in frustrating traffic. For more information on Ride and Share, parking and more check out the official Balloon Fiesta website.

I had local friends last year you couldn't get in and were stunned, saying this has never happened in their lives. The fiesta continues to grow each year so that problem is only likely to get more prevalent. On the last Saturday of fiesta last year it is estimated there were 120,000 on the field. That is a lot of people trying to get to one part of town. Make is easier on your group by getting there early. Here's a link to traffic and parking info.

*Added note from 2016 Fiesta: The final Saturday traffic again proved to be immense. People sitting in their cars not moving for a couple of hours. My recommendation is to leave for the park by 4:30 at the latest. You do not want to come all the way to Albuquerque to sit in your car and miss out on all the activities on the field. If you come early you can get a leisurely breakfast and hang out. The time actually goes by very quickly.

2. Dress for the weather - both warm, cold and possibly rainy. While the daytimes highs are still in the upper 70s to 80s at this time of year in Albuquerque, it is chilly in the mornings. Wear layers and anticipate being cold early in the morning. Also plan on potential rainshowers. We're at the end of our monsoon season but the possibility of an afternoon or early evening thunder shower is high. Be prepared. Here's a link to the local weather report.

3. Bring your sunscreen and sunglasses. Albuquerque is a high altitude climate and the sun is bright! Easier to get sunburned too with less atmosphere to filter the sun's rays. You might want to bring a blanket or lawn chairs to sit on as well. 

4. Be ready for good food. There are some awesome food vendors at the fiesta, take advantage all you can. For breakfast, consider the official breakfast of New Mexico - the Breakfast Burrito.

5. Anticipate traffic when leaving the park. Traffic can be much heavier than normal as crowds leave the park. It's a great time to grab some food and just sack out on the big empty field at the end of the day. No need to sit in traffic. This is a great time to visit the Balloon Museum on the same property. It is beautiful and has some great new exhibitions this year.

6. Enjoy all of Albuquerque. Since the ballooning all takes place in the early morning there are tons of activities planned throughout the city for the rest of the days and evenings. There are also great coupon books available with all sorts of discounts available at the Visit Albuquerque booth on the field at Balloon Fiesta. Here's a link to Balloon Fiesta and flavor of Albuquerque Flipagrams I made recently and you can see lots more of Albuquerque's beauty on my Instagram feed.

7. Look for the giant Albuquerque Frame - where you can also get your photo taken on your phone for free in the giant frame with the balloons in the background. At the booth are the coupon books and great staff and volunteers who can help you learn all you need to know about Albuquerque. You can also visit the Visit Albuquerque website for coupons and discounts as well as lots more information on events happening throughout the fiesta.

8. Don't miss a Balloon Glow and Special Shapes Rodeo. On several evenings during fiesta there is a glow, which means balloons cover the field and inflate, lighting the night with glowing balloons. The sound and sight is quite beautiful and there are usually fireworks shows and other events, as well as all the good food again. A fun event! The Special Shapes Rodeos are an opportunity to enjoy all the unique balloons beyond the traditional balloon shape. There are all shapes and sizes and so many fun and recognizable characters. One of my favorite activities.

9. Plan in an afternoon nap. Getting up so early in the mornings, it's likely you'll want a nap or to head to bed pretty early. Planning that into your schedule, especially if you're traveling with kids makes life a little easier.

10. Have Fun! Albuquerque is so beautiful this time of year and the people here are so kind. The crowds are only big for short periods of the day so you can really relax and enjoy yourself and have some fun here. It's so easy to get around the city and for a pretty big city it doesn't feel crowded.

There is so much to see and do. Take a bike tour with my friends at Routes Rentals, ride the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, visit Los Poblanos and see their beautiful Farm Shop, have some good New Mexico food at Sadie's or El Pinto. Enjoy the outdoor seating for great meals at Backstreet Grill, The Grove Cafe or The Standard Diner. Check out the art scene at one of the many galleries in town and visit all our fine museums too! There is no shortage of great things to do here in our city.

If you have other tips or recommendations I'd love to have you leave them in the comments below. It would be great for this post to have a variety of opinions and suggestions for the best ways to enjoy The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!

*One more quick bit of info that can be very helpful. Because Balloon Fiesta is a weather dependent activity things can change or be cancelled if there is an issue with wind, rain, etc. For the most up-to-date activity and weather information, follow @balloonfiesta on Twitter or Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta on Facebook. Twitter is the most up to date source of information.  A couple of events have been cancelled this year (2016) and you can get a raincheck for a follow up event when that happens. You can save yourself the drive and parking and all if you are up to date on what's happening on the field if things are cancelled.

29 September 2016

10 Things To Know About Broken Foot Recovery

This is a post for anyone who may find my blog because of my social media posts on having a broken foot earlier this year. I think it's time for a follow up as well because no one really talks about what happens after you get out of the cast. Once that cast goes away, I think people just expect that everything goes right back to normal and you are totally healed and it's over.

Not so. Next week it has been almost 10 months since I broke my foot. Hard to believe. I thought it would be helpful to share what's been happening since the cast came off in late April. My experience will not be the typical experience and of course is unique to my own set of circumstances: five fractures in one foot, etc. but I know that it helped me so much as I have gone through this experience to know about the experiences of others and have a neighbor who is a podiatrist who has let me know what to experience as the months passed.

The best thing he shared with me was that I would continue to have swelling and pain in my foot for 6-8 months after I got out of the cast. It was good to know what to expect even though that wasn't really exciting news. Ha. So here are a few more things I'd share with anyone who may be experiencing a broken foot.

First here's a quick update on what's happening with me. I just had another check up a few weeks ago. I was supposed to be in physical therapy this summer but due to insurance approval delays I just met with the physical therapist for the first time a few weeks ago. Sigh. So instead I crafted my own physical therapy doing a wide array of exercises in the pool and at the gym on stationary bikes. I had been working on the treadmill but the physical therapist said he's rather I not do that - so I'm sticking with the bike and pool.

I started a board on Pinterest the night I broke my foot back in January to start gathering info I would need to make it through my long recovery. At that time I thought my long recovery would be long over by Spring. Ha. Here we are almost to October and I am still dealing with this foot every day, still having pain and swelling and it is still very much a big factor in my life. Every time I see someone pin something from my Broken Foot board on Pinterest I say a little prayer for them, because I have some sense of what they must be going through. You don't search "broken foot" on Pinterest unless something bad had happened!

1. Expect to mourn: This is something that really didn't even hit me until mid-summer. There was some mourning to do, as I looked back on how hard the previous seven months had been and how much I had privately suffered and endured to get through that time without letting on to other people how truly difficult it all was. I did have my days during the long "wearing the boot" days where I did have some good cries and a few little pity parties which I think is totally normal.

2. Expect that people will forget - you will need to remind them: Once the cast is off, for everyone else it's like it never happened. It's still going to take some time and now you'll have to remind people that you can't stand for long periods of time, can't do long walking days yet or crazy hard workouts, etc.
3. Expect pain: I still get very sharp pains in my foot throughout the day and my right foot, which has taken so much abuse while healing my left foot hurts a lot too. Par for the course, but not fun. One thing I've found that works is Miracle Foot Cream. It's the one thing that seems to take the pain and aching away. I used it every day while in the cast. My physical therapist has talked to me a lot about how hard it is on the leg to be in a boot for months. It is painful on the other parts of the leg. The front of my shin was so banged up and sore by the time I got out of the boot. Super painful, but thankfully healed and not painful at all there anymore. But it takes time and continued energy to work through the continued pain overall.

4. Expect swelling: Ten months later my foot still gets very swollen during the day and I still sleep with it propped up on four pillows at night. It looks a lot better than it used to and sometimes even looks close to normal, but some days it looks huge and puffy, especially around the ankle and the top of my foot. Standing or sitting in a chair for long periods is the worst for swelling and it's painful to get up and walk after that. I've heard that this is especially problematic for the foot which is the farthest from the heart, takes the longest to heal and due to gravity draws a lot of fluid downwards.

5. Don't expect everything will quickly be normal...anticipate a new normal for a while: I think this is different for everyone but don't expect that what worked for another will work for you. It's a case-by-case basis life when you break a bone. Keep pushing yourself forward but wise about taking it slow. I got a lot of good advice about this and learned to follow it or suffer the consequences.

6. Push through the pain with wisdom: There's no rush and healing happens best when wisdom is attached to decisions.You won't heal well or quickly without pushing yourself, but as I just said you can also delay healing by pushing too hard. But yes, it's going to hurt and you're going to have to keep going, step by step literally. This has gotten me through a lot of hard days, knowing that the more I exercise and use my foot the sooner it will get healthy and strong, but it does hurt and it does make you a little sad and a lot tired.

7. Know there will be ups and downs: At my second appointment my doctor, who at the time only saw two fractures in my foot, said that at my next appointment at seven weeks I could probably start walking on my boot. I lived for that day and then when I went back in, after consultations with a couple of different doctors they told me I needed to go non-weight-bearing for eight more weeks. I had to hold the tears back until the doctor left the exam room, but I had a good cry once I got to my car. There will be good days and bad days. Lean on the people who love you and take care of you and be sure to give yourself some extra kind treats along the way.

8. Be grateful for what you learned and experienced: Since we were fairly new in our church congregation I really didn't know many people. When I broke my foot they asked what they could do and within a week I had people over helping me take down my Christmas decorations and several amazing dinners delivered to our house. Those people all became dear friends and truly angels to me. Breaking my foot brought new friendships and taught me to receive help more quickly and easily too. Anyone who had read this blog over the years, knows that been a repetitive lesson I've had to continue to learn as time has gone along.

I also learned to have empathy for others. My heart goes out to every person I see in a cast or on crutches and you can bet I am the first person there to hold the door, to bring a meal or offer any help I can!

9. Listen to your gut: be proactively involved in your care: I kept track of a lot of questions and asked them at my appointments as we went along. I also got a second opinion several times as needed from a neighbor podiatrist and most recently my doctor prescribed a drug to deal with my ongoing swelling and pain that sounded like something I did not want to be taking due to side effects. I consulted with my physical therapist on that one and decided not to get the prescription but continue to do all the other good things I was doing.

I did not feel comfortable potentially experiencing the mind-altering side-effects that medicine could bring on - that was the last thing I needed was more problems. So I made a decision on my own behalf and I feel good about it. This obviously was a situation where I knew the existing situation without the medication and knew there would not be increased harm if I did not take the medication. Again use wisdom.

10. Right at the beginning, get all the gear that will help you (properly fitted crutches, knee scooter, iWalk crutch, handicap placard). Those four items made a world of difference for me.

For the few few weeks my crutches were not properly sized but how would I know that? Once I adjusted them, they were so much less painful and I realized that I should not have been suffering so much using them for those first few weeks.

Knee scooter took forever to get and make all the difference! It allowed me to travel for business, go on weekend adventures with my family and get around the office much easier! You have to get a prescription from your doctor and there is a lot of back and forth with insurance to get it done. Push to get it. Push a lot!

iWalk crutch was a life changer at home and when out shopping, etc. Definitely check it out. It's not covered by insurance but you'll be glad you paid the $150 the first day you have it. I would gladly have paide $150 every day I used that thing! It was the best mental health boost I could've had because it totally restored my mobility in so many ways.

As soon as we got my boot cast on and left the doctor's office we went to the DMV for a handicap placard. You have to get a prescription for it from your doctor, but do not leave your first appointment without it. This was huge for me, especially since the parking lot to my office was two blocks from my desk. With the placard I could part right at the entrance to our building, that was huge. Plus it's amazing how gigantic megastore parking lots feel when you are in a cast. Save yourself the grief!

So that is my gigantic "Life-saving advice for people who break their foot" recap. I hope for all of you who find yourself with a broken foot in the future, it will be a big help to you. Sending you the very best wishes for health and a quick recovery! And for those of you who are so lucky as to not have a broken foot, pass this along to anyone you know who might find themselves injured!

28 September 2016

Finish The job: Learning To Overcome Disorder

July was a crazy weird month because I ended my tenure at the job we moved to Albuquerque for and I attempted to jam into it a full summer of family fun, home improvement projects and more. Right now I am working on taking on freelance projects and starting two small business ventures while I do that. It's full speed ahead busy right now. Being home with husband and kiddo every day in July meant I was running hard and fast. But the great part was I was doing a lot of things I loved and enjoyed. Just needed about 20 more hours in every day.

Being home more every day, I feel like I am a little overwhelmed with the messes that accumulate around the house: short term and long term. Short term I would classify as cleaning the kitchen every day and long term might be cleaning out a closet. I felt like we were trying to tackle so many of these kinds of projects every day and yet everything still felt messy.

Then in the past couple of weeks, I read an article about organization where the author stated that houses feel messy, even when we feel like we're constantly cleaning, when we don't finish a job. I can't remember where I read this or who said it, I'm sorry to say. Finish the job. I have been thinking about that a lot. I realized I would do 90 percent of the kitchen cleaning and not finish the job and so the kitchen never felt tidied. I might take the tags off a new piece of clothing but then leave the tags on the dresser top. Or a family member might clear the dinner table but not wipe it down.

So I have been preaching this mantra around the house constantly. "Let's make sure we finish the job." So often it only take an additional five minutes to finish a job but it's so tempting to get tired and say, "that's good enough for now, I'll do the rest _____ (fill in the blank with later, tomorrow, after the kids are in bed, on the weekend.)

It's made a difference to make sure to take the time to quickly wash up the pans after the dishwasher is filled and turned on or to dry the hand-washed dishes and put them away immediately instead of them sitting on the drying rack for hours. When doing laundry, I try to just finish the job and that means getting it folded right away and taken to the appropriate bedroom or closet. When it's my clothing I try to put them away immediately.

Not leaving the day's clothing sitting on a chair but rather hanging it up or putting it in the laundry hamper is another one of those challenges many people have. I think getting everything out of the car each time one exits is another one of those "finish the job" tasks that often get overlooked. Putting make up and hair care products away immediately after use is also a big problem for some households. When things are out of place or chaotic is creates a lot of stress, frustration and wasted time when we have to hunt for things or take entire days to clean up big messes that could've been easily managed in a couple of minutes daily.

We've made an big effort to keep our powder room very tidy over the past couple of months and it has made an amazing difference about how we feel about that room and how clean it looks. It's surprising how nice it looks day after day when people aren't brushing their hair and teeth in that bathroom but using their own bathrooms instead. Now we're guest ready in that room all the time and it's a pleasure to pop in there and not feel upset at how it looks.

I'm still challenged by tidying up and keeping things organized and my family has not necessarily gotten overly enthusiastically excited about my "finish the job" charge, but I see it making little differences around the house and I know it's making a difference for me. I'm the example setter here for caring for the home and creating a nurturing environment so my example matters. So when I see my own things lying around the house I'll stop and grab them and hope that as my things disappear from view that others will follow suit.

27 September 2016

Adjusting To A New Home

It's been about a year since we closed on our house. It's been quite a roller coaster year and if we'd know what we'd go through this past year I highly doubt we would've bought a house. But after eight months of nearly daily heavy duty house hunting here in our new city, I am convinced more now than ever that we landed in the right house for us, in the right neighborhood.

After losing my "dream house" in a last minute outbid last June I was sure at that time that I and our family would never get over losing that house that I had been watching intently for almost eight months just waiting and watching it drop in price until it was close to our price range.

After we got through that drama/trauma and found this house, we worked on it for a few months before moving in and I think it really took me breaking my foot for us to finally make the transition because this house was so much easier to maneuver around in than where we were living at the time. Once the fall holidays started and then I promptly broke my foot the week after New Year's  holiday, progress on the house came to a stand still. I'm happy to say that since the beginning of July we have started picking up on progress again which makes me very happy.

One of the biggest accomplishments that we are enjoying is having gotten the fridge that has been sitting in our garage set up in our laundry room, aka my office. There is a fridge that came with our home in the kitchen but we also brought one from California and we need the space. There is an opening in the office/laundry cabinetry for a fridge or freezer in the room and based on our constantly overcrowded first fridge and The Man's penchant for having a huge array of beverages in the house, it was needed. The condition of our over packed fridge has been a point of some contention for years because it was impossible to find anything and whenever one would open it things were likely to fall out. We continually would have food that would spoil because no one knew where it was or that it was even in the fridge.

You might ask, well why didn't you just get that in there right away. Well, long story short, it would not fit through the doorway because of the angle of the cabinets. We have some really wonky angles in our house and that room is a particularly odd one. So we have made three previous attempts with movers and contractors to get the fridge in the laundry room. Finally, The Man took the doors off the fridge, which was quite a bit more complicated than one might imagine. I will jokingly take credit and say this was the first time I was here to assist and see this challenge in action. We ended up needing to lift the fridge over the height of the lower cabinets to get it in the door and be able to have open space to turn it far enough to get it through the doorway.

The sad part is that at one point the contractors had all the cabinetry out of that room and had they just moved the fridge in there before they re-installed the angled cabinetry this would've been a five minute job instead of an eight month war. But it's a life changer for sure. Having extra space and being able to organize my meal supplies where I can actually see them is phenomenal. I can keep better track of what I have on hand and keep everything I need for a specific meal together.

It's also helpful to have the additional freezer space to keep a bit more food supply on hand, especially as we enter the colder months and start cooking more hearty meals. We have tried to shop prudently for meats and stock up when things are on sale or buy in bulk and package and freeze it in meal portion sizes, so this gives us more space to do that. Having more fridge space also makes entertaining much easier. When we have special meals and large serving dishes that need to go in the fridge there is space to keep it cold. Everyone in the family seems so relieved that we don't have to fight with our main kitchen fridge anymore.

Another life changer I enacted this past week was a kitchen drawer reorganization. We have five banks of drawers in our kitchen. We are tall and the drawers all have cut out grooves on the bottom of them for opening. Reaching down to the bottom of the bottom drawers to get things out is not enjoyable! The banks of drawers are also spread out quite a bit. Two on the dining room side, once next to the fridge and two more near the dishwasher.

One thing I am really glad I did was position the cutlery we use at meal time near the dining room and our secondary "hand me down" cutlery near the fridge. So when people want a quick yogurt or other snack out of the fridge there are spoons in easy reach and when we need to set the table or grab a forgotten fork, spoon or knife, there is a drawer on the adjoining wall to our dining room too. I realized last week that it was driving me crazy that I had put all our graters and slicing tools next to the fridge when I so often needed them near the sink/dishwasher and it is always a trek to have to walk to the other side of the kitchen to put them away when unloading the dishwasher. For a while I just lived with it, thinking there were no other options.

Then I got serious about making some drawer reorganization changes that would work better for us. Sometimes it seems like we humans have such a mental block about solving problems that are much easier than we make them. I realized that all the drawers under our dining room cutlery were not really being used very much and had things we rarely ever use in them like corn cob holders and chop sticks. So I made an executive decision, made a formal announcement to all family members and in about two minutes made the complete switcheroo. I have to say I was thrilled the first time I needed a liquid measuring cup and had to only take a couple of steps instead of walking around the island. This is a lesson to me for several reasons.

First, it's good to keep evaluating to see how things are working for you and your family. When I first organized the storage in the kitchen I was completely new to this house and even though I gave it thought and consideration at the time I had no experience by which to know how we would function in this kitchen.

Second, if it's not working, believe you can improve the situation and then get serious about finding solutions. This situation had been bugging me for a while. But all the drawers were being used...so what could I do? There are always solutions that we either aren't thinking of or don't have faith in. Sometimes it just takes a fresh perspective and new determination to find the right solution.

Third, life is much easier when things are organized. Our new fridge and better organized kitchen drawers make life less frustrating and tiring. Organization helps my mind to stay clear, open and creative. When I feel burdened by disorder, it really gets me down! I love the idea of a place for everything and everything in it's place. It's so much less frustrating when you always keep the scissors in one place and know they'll be there when you need them...or the tape, or your purse. Whatever it may be. Order is a virtue for a reason. We are more productive when we aren't wasting time looking for things and it's amazing how little time it really takes to put things away when they have a dedicated space.

I have a friend whose house was amazingly organized and I loved being in that house because there were no overflowing drawers, step stools stored in every closet, cleaning products for every job. A big part of this too, is letting go of stuff and not owning so much that one doesn't have space for it.

We are in the process of making some changes with this as we merge multiple households including things that were in storage from my in-laws home after they passed away. We also are letting go of things we have outgrown like car seats and small children's bikes, toys and a mountain of sporting equipment that we've all amassed over the years. It sure is tiring but every little bit helps and the outcome is amazingly refreshing to the soul. We had been planning another big yard sale, but one day my husband said, "What if we don't have a yard sale and just give the stuff to the thrift store?" That was suddenly music to my ears despite the fact that I knew we could make money having a yard sale. The amount of work and exhaustion to do that was just too much for what it would be worth and so bit by bit we are making trips to the thrift store instead and I could not be happier!

It's great to be moving things forward to taking the next steps to get settled here. With school back in session, it's much easier for The Man and I to take on a few projects now that Kiddo is busier too. We're hoping to take some major steps to getting better settled in this house in the next week and I can't wait. Hoping we can make our family room, which was been serving as a storage room for the past 10 months back into the family room it was intended to be so that we have another family living space where we can relax and hang out.

Hope all is well with you. Always love hearing your thoughts and adventures. Closing in on 7 years here at kalanicut which is just unbelievable. But when I count the amazing friends I have gained from this blog it's like life has always been this way.

26 September 2016

Revisiting My New Year's Eve Wish Jar

As we continue to go through storage boxes and things that we haven't yet unpacked from our massive move last fall, I found a jar of New Year's Eve wishes I made...I think it was New Year's Eve 2014. That seems like just a few months ago, but it's been more than two-and-a-half years now, which is pretty crazy.

I sat down and wanted to look through each strip and just see if any of my wishes that year had come true. I imagined there might be a few items, but to be honest most of them I couldn't remember anymore. I started opening each strip and as happens so often with reviewing my vision boards and goals I write down, it was fun to see what I didn't even remember wishing for that had come to fruition.

I created three piles, first the ones that had come true. Then I my second pile was all the ones I threw back into the jar which hadn't yet been fulfilled. I'll say that on second thoughts there were a few I pulled out of that jar after I'd thrown them in, realizing that they had come to be, maybe in a slightly different way than I had expected - or I'd achieved it but just hadn't recognized it yet. A couple of these I realized had happened but that season was already over for us.

My third pile was ones that didn't matter to me anymore or were no longer applicable. This was a pretty small pile, just two or three items.

Here are a few that I was happily able to put into the "have come to fruition" stack. These are just a few of the simple ones that I am comfortable sharing publicly. there were other items that were deeply personal for myself and my family. But I didn't want you to think that everything in my jar was just about getting stuff.
  • A new computer
    • My laptop died in early 2015, so I got a new one that is both a tablet and laptop. It's light and easy to use and has been a good computer for me.
  • A home with space and laundry!
    • We now enjoy a large lot, lots of quiet and privacy and a big laundry room.
  • A king size bed
    • It's perfect for us, and occasional kid and canine visitors.
  • Taking care of hair, nails, skin and beauty regimen.
    • Been lots better about that this past two years. Still room for improvement, but much better.
  • Car fixed.
    • Well this one happened in a unique way. The car was dying. Then it was in an accident and that was the end. So the problems that were continually happening with that car ended.
  • New TV.
    • At the time in Los Angeles we were living with an non-HD tv that was dying. The colors were fritzing around the edges. This was a two step process. First we bought a used newer TV from a local second hand shop that was closing. It was such a big step up we were quite excited although the picture isn't that amazing. Then last year The Man bought himself a real man's TV, curved screen on one of those weekends where they have big sales on electronics. It now takes up a wall of space in our living room. It's pretty amazing.
  • Great blood pressure.
    • I never had had blood pressure problems, but I think due to some health/stress problems I was having, every time I went to the doctor my blood pressure was a little elevated. I'm happy to say it's perfectly in range and normal as it should be. I'm not sure exactly why this was important to me at the time, other than that I'd had a couple of medical procedures a few weeks before and the stress probably was elevating my BP and those are the times when they were checking my blood pressure.
  • Washer and Dryer
    • Clearly I was dying from apartment building shared laundry room burnout. This is a great reminder to me to be so thankful for a laundry room right next to my kitchen. I'm saying a little prayer of thanks to God for the laundry room right this minute.
  • New rugs and home decor
    • We don't have "new" rugs and home decor but having finally merged our homes and getting things out of storage so we have some lovely rugs and home decor. I've added a few new things along the way here too since our old beachy decor seems a little silly in a desert environment.
  • New dining table
    • Again this was written at a time when I was using a hand me down dining set that I was so grateful for but absolutely didn't like at all. Saying goodbye to that table was one of the happiest days of our move. I will never forget how happy I feel when I even think back on the day that table went away.
  • My own workspace near nature.
    • I'm sitting at my desk right now with windows on both sides and looking out at the western horizon for miles and miles with a tree and all kinds of creatures outside the window on my right. On my left is a beautiful patio with lights framed by a large wall covered in ivy. I think this goal has been achieved. Another moment to feel deeply, deeply thankful.
  • More creativity time and expression.
    • I am working on some amazing projects right now. Totally taking my creativity to new heights with newfound courage.
  • More beach living.
    • The time had passed on this one but it was amazing to have my little family living on the beach most of last year. I was blessed to be there almost every weekend, it was heaven.
  • A few gorgeous purses.
    • This totally happened. Last year I was so lucky to find a few super high end purses at TJ Maxx and was able to add them to my wardrobe for very realistic prices. Now I feel like I have a nice purse for pretty much every occasion. I feel confidant and happy with my purses.
  • Quiet time in Albuquerque.
    • At the time I was thinking more about having more getaway time in ABQ, not living here! But we have a very quiet, lovely home here now and we are living that quiet time in Albuquerque. Be careful what you wish for, ha.
  • Peace in my heart.
    • This is obviously an ongoing process, a daily challenge. But I can say that I experience this feeling in the midst of challenges and stresses and fears much more often now than I could've ever imagined. That's a great thing although I think it's actually major stress that teaches us to not sweat the small stuff - not my favorite way to learn, but damn it's effective! I love seeing myself being able to manage stresses and stay in control of my emotions and not let myself get overwhelmed as easily. It's a good feeling.
Setting goals and putting wishes out into the universe are a great way to really know yourself and what is important to you. It's also such an amazing way to put good energy out into the world to attract the things you dream of. Sometimes things come into your life with a lot of work, moving was a gargantuan task we took on in 2015, but lots of good things came to us fairly easily because of that action. Sometimes great things just happen for us too and I think that happens more often and we are able to more easily recognize those blessings when we've put them down on paper.

Now New Year's Eve is a long way off but while I'm in a big transition it's a great time to do a new jar of wishes. I think I'll do that soon. I think I will also keep this jar in my office and in a few months I'll look at it again and see what more has been accomplished.

Finding my jar and going through it was a bit of a life raft to me that day I found it. I'd been working so many hours on goals and dreams for my business pursuits, had had some very discouraging hours, and had spent a good part of the afternoon going through boxes that needed to be unpacked and out of the house. A lot of that was sifting through stuff, so much of what needed to be thrown away. I was feeling very burdened and weighed down by the past. It was nice to have a few moments of grace to see what good has come as we've worked through so many changes. It helps me to remember that there are still lots of good things to come and that the frustrations of today and the hard work of today will pay off down the road. That excited me.

22 September 2016

Saying Goodbye To Stuff: Little Girl Clothes

We are focused completely on decluttering, organization and living a more minimal lifestyle right now. That means a lot of work and decisions on what to let go of, where to put things and finding a home for every belonging.

It's been a very delayed process, after our somewhat tumultuous first half of 2016, with broken foot and other things happening including winter weather, but we're finally going through stuff that we hastily packed when we left LA with just a couple of weeks notice in early 2015 and are getting our life back to a somewhat organized state.

It's been interesting to let go of things...stuff. One of the things I've been having a tough time letting go was all our beautiful little girl clothes. I think the sadness there is two-fold. One, we're letting go of our once little girl's clothes and learning to adapt to a pre-teen world of hormones, more independence and finding the place where effective parenting happens while allowing a young person to find herself, develop her life all the while still obviously needing parents to guide whether she's excited about that or not.

The second reason it's been hard is that we kept all our favorite little girl clothes hoping there would be another little girl who could wear those. That didn't happen and that is a heartbreaker. I was at a church function a few days ago and the word posterity came up and it just hit me a little bit that I would have no biological posterity in this life. I teared up. By no means do I overlook or am I ungrateful for the opportunity I've had to mother a child in my life. That has been a beautiful blessing, but when you realize you will never have your own biological children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, and it's something you always wanted and expected you would have, that is sad.

We've joked in out family that the minute we give all those clothes away a little girl will somehow fall out of the sky into our family. If for some miracle we pull an Abraham and Sariah then the kid can have new clothes. She will have earned it.

I think one of the reasons it's been hard to give those kinds of things away is that we are giving away a big part of our history all at once. If I we had been giving stuff away little by little over the past few years it wouldn't sting as much because we wouldn't be looking at years of history. Now we're seeing The Bug's clothing she was wearing at three and four years old while in the same day doing laundry for a tall, gangly ten-and-a-half year-old girl who is all pre-teen smiles, hormones, grumpiness and horrifyingly embarrassed (at least half the time). It's a pretty stark contrast.

But I am trying to stay in a mindset that as we give away old things we're holding on to, whether they be belongings or just mental junk, that we open ourselves up to be filled up with new things we need. We make place in our lives for the present day and the future.

Last Saturday I took an entire (small) carload of things to the thrift store. It felt a little intense but I will say I have felt 99.9% relief (with only a smidgen of sadness) over having it all gone. That's a lot of space to open up for our lives. There had also been a good amount of stuff that has gone into the trash, and there will yet be further trips to the thrift store. But we're are definitely making progress which is so fantastic. I have to celebrate that progress every day. Every new empty box is a milestone and we've been emptying a lot of boxes the past few weeks. After merging two residences and a storage unit, we're doing pretty well.

So we keep chugging along and we're feeling encouraged. Last year at this time it had been about a month since we'd closed on our house and we were working like crazy. We had beautified the garage floor with the gray sprinkled epoxy protective coating, pulled out the giant planters in the kitchen and had the floors redone. We had removed the brick from the laundry room and put in new flooring there and the two downstairs bedrooms had been painted. Since then I don't think we've accomplished any big projects but now it's just getting everything in the house in it's place. In the future there will definitely be a lot of painting of the entire main floor - family room, living room, kitchen and dining room. We'll paint our master bedroom someday and the kitchen will definitely need some work. The tile countertops have a couple of spots that are losing grout with our daily use, so they'll need attention soon.

Oh, one quick note. Many of you have heard of the world famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta held here the first two weeks of October each year. We have a two bedroom, two bath townhouse vacation rental that is available, on a very last minute opportunity, for the entirety of the Balloon Fiesta as well as going forward. We'll be posting it on AirBnB but if you or anyone you know is interested let me know.

Thanks for coming by. I have a bunch of good posts in the works and look forward to sharing them soon.

19 August 2016

Living Fearlessly And Refusing To Hear Discouragement

I have been in a really interesting transition in my life recently where I am feeling increasingly fearless. Don't try to discourage me by telling me my idea won't work. I have reached some really cool place in my life where I have complete faith in my own dreams and ideas. I know I can make them work if I follow my inspiration and what I know from my own personal experience. I just refuse to accept no if my soul is saying YES!

When I think about how I'm feeling I keep hearing Barbara Streisand singing Don't Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl and Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat in the air like she owns all of Minneapolis. 
If you need a little encouragement to follow your dreams check out Barbara's anthem!

I've definitely entered into a highly creative phase of my life and I am really excited to move things forward and I feel really confident most of the time in what I'm doing. Of course there are those middle of the night moments of doubt, the few minutes before I have to go do something brave where nerves hit and those memories of past flops but hey, it's time to make some awesome stuff happen. I'm feeling unafraid to push forward, to tell people what I'm doing and ask for help when I need it. 

I've learned a lot about myself in the past year based on some pretty serious hardships and some happy moments too. So I'm following those things and recalibrating a bit and re-centering myself on things I know are most me and work best for me. It's amazing how quickly I started looking and feeling healthier, happier and more myself when I took those big steps.

It's a thrilling time and I wish I had 48 hours in every day to work on projects. I was so excited about my new table top photo booth  project, which I now realize I haven't shared here...oops. Anyway I was awake in the middle of the night so excited that I couldn't sleep. I'm talking like "I'm going to Disneyland tomorrow and can't sleep" excited. I've been the same way about a couple of business ideas and when this happens I am seriously awake most of the night just writing down all my ideas and how I can bring these things to fruition. It's exciting.

I have several fun DIY projects I am ready to work on for our house too including a planter stand for our front entryway and a more permanent outdoor dining table and benches. I think of anything these projects bring me the most joy and happiness. Working out in our pool and at the gym regularly has really helped my life in every way as well. It's kind of amazing that right now it feels like my life is growing in all directions and I am excited about every part of my life. I think that's how it should be when life is at its best. Being solely focused on one part of our life pulls so much out of focus and usually leaves our self-care, physical and mental health, homes and relationships in a disastrous state.

Oh there just aren't enough hours in the day or days in the week for all I want to accomplish. But it's a great feeling and I am really excited to see where this year takes me and our family. I'm loving our new home, our new friends and neighborhood here in New Mexico and am enjoying living a fuller, richer life. I'm looking forward to new partnerships, new successes and new adventures. More to come definitely!

P.S. Can I just say how completely excited I am that my hairstylist is back from maternity leave and I am seeing here tomorrow. I had to cancel my appointment we had set up just before she went on maternity leave which was a disaster for me. Then she came back and it was completely impossible to get an appointment with her. Finally, tomorrow is my day and I can't wait! The last time I saw her I was still on crutches! It will feel great to go into that salon without crutches after going there so many times to have them help me wash and style my hair weekly. I know so many of you know what I'm talking about when I mention the utter desperation of needing a cut and color.
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