29 February 2016

Heights House 9: Getting To Know The Neighbors

Learning the neighborly customs of a new community has been a very interesting part of our move to a new state and it has been both a comical adjustment and a new way of life. We live in an area where people are very outdoorsy and hike and walk a lot - and there are no sidewalks - so you have to be careful and you have to share the road - and the speed limit is very slow. There are very often people walking up and down the roads.

When I first arrived a man waved at me as I was driving down the street and I thought he must know someone with a similar car and have me confused with that person. Then it kept happening day after day and I thought wow a lot of these people have me confused with someone else.

Then it dawned on me that they were being "neighborly." What a shock after spending most of my adult life in Los Angeles where ignoring your neighbors and pretending they don't exist is usually the norm unless you live in a stable community where people buy a house and stay for years.

I remember when I was young and we would visit family in California we always found it so strange that neighbors don't really get to know each other or talk to each other there. Of course there are exceptions to this, but in many neighborhoods throughout CA this is the case. But by the time I left California I knew exactly why people didn't get to know their neighbors and didn't make a lot of eye contact or say hello and although I was always cordial I was not going out of my way to be chatty with people either.

I realized that when you live jammed packed in an area with that many people, many of whom are very transient, with people continually moving in and moving out, your only privacy is your home. That is really the only place where you can have a moments peace and quiet and not be invaded by other people. So home becomes a necessary and important sanctuary from all the noise and people and people are tired when they get home from work and just want to be left alone for a little silence.

So we weren't unfriendly, but just very used to this environment where everyone stays to themselves, they don't make eye contact and don't say hello when you pass on the street. I'm sure to some people this sounds horrific - lol - but it wasn't all bad. You really do crave privacy and space.

26 February 2016

Pin Test #23: Slow Cooker Recipes

It's been a long time since I did a Pin Test, like two years now. I take a Pinterest How To and try it and share the results with you. I don't know how that dropped off my radar, but it once was a regular column here at kalanicut and it is one of my favorites. I'm starting up Pin Tests again and I have three quick ones I'll share with you. Today I'm going to share three slow cooker recipes I found on Pinterest.

In early January, probably a few days before I broke my foot I decided to start doing slow cooker meals on Sunday mornings so that we'd have a nice hot meal waiting for us when we got home from church at 4 p.m. My other genius thought behind this was that we would have leftovers for at least one more meal if not more during the week. This has been a great success! It's so great to come home to a meal pretty much totally ready to go. I just throw together a big salad, finish up any last minute preparations and we are enjoying a feast within the hour.

image via Gimme Some Oven

The first recipe we tried was this Barbarcoa from Gimme Some Oven.We loved it and made a lot of crazy good tacos and burritoes from it. It was great to have leftovers that we made into a variety of meals.

The next recipe we tried was French Dip Sandwiches by CarlsbadCravings.com. I bought big sub rolls and added my own sauteed onions, green peppers and mushrooms on top, then added the cheese toasted it all in the oven for a few minutes. This was a big hit and so tasty.We got two dinners out of this and loved every bite.

from Food.com

For Valentine's Day I made The Man's favorite, Pork Loin from this recipe from Food.com. With it I made garlic mashed potatoes and gravy, asparagus and again we have a big salad. For dessert we had the choice of Key Lime Pie or Strawberry Shortcake. Some family members had a little of both.

The pork loin was another very tasty dish and was devoured by all. I've had some dry pork loin in my life so I appreciated how very moist and tender this recipe turned out. The Man said it could have a little less lemon in the recipe, but I may have added a little extra, but he ate it right up and enjoyed it.

My game plan now is that every Saturday I pick the dish and then Saturday night make a quick trip to the grocery store for any ingredients I need and to pick up the meat. It's turned into a fun little tradition and I love being able to sleep in a bit on Sundays and then get up and quickly toss everything into the slow cooker, turn it on and then go about my day. I've started enjoying Sunday dinners a lot more with less stress and work to do and we're definitely enjoying some really amazing meals!

24 February 2016

New Target Decor and Organizing Baskets

I was so happy to visit Target recently and see some fresh new items in stock. Based on my great success scoring some good and needed home decor items at Target I can't walk into the store without taking a quick tour through the home furnishing department. I still regret a few clearance items I did not pick up over the years so I try to always think twice before I miss out on something I love at a great price.

The first thing I saw that I loved was this bench. I think it would look smashing with two of them at the foot of our navy blue and olive green bed. We're planning to paint the walls gray at some point and I think this natural wood and varying stripes would look great! I'm going to be watching for the price to go down on these and them hopefully I'll be able to grab two. The nice thing about living in a suburban environment is that I can hit three or four Targets in less than 20 minutes from our house. Yay.

I thought these lamps had New Mexico written all over them. A great new, colorful addition to the lighting section which I recently accused on Facebook of being colorlessly bland. I love that we've just moved to the Southwest and Southwest Style just happens to be hot right now. We're not doing a lot of Southwest interior styling in our home but it's fun to have a touch of it around mixed with Asian and modern art and modern furniture.

Now that I'm starting to organize some the bedrooms and workspaces it's obvious we need some organization tools like baskets and bins. I love these two-tone baskets in a variety of sizes. They are sturdy and stylish.

I love these wood storage bins. I imagine the open face ones would be great for Kiddos room and for storing potatoes and onions and things in the kitchen if I could find the space. I definitely want to find some ways I could work some of these into our storage spaces.

So that's my quick tour of some of my favorite things at Target right now. If you have any favorite storage and organization baskets, boxes and bins right now I'd love to hear about them in the comments below! Hope you enjoy the speedy the Target tour. Wishing you a great day and thanks so much for coming by!

22 February 2016

Heights House 8: Home Organization

One of the things I am learning with my cast life is that I am getting stronger, my foot is hurting a little less, but the entire experience has made me pretty tired. After a full week of work and other activities I am pretty exhausted by Saturday and spend a lot of time resting. I thought it would be that way last Saturday but instead for some reason I jumped up, itching to do home organization projects.

I kind of bounced between my office space and our master bathroom. I started in my office, then had to go downstairs to get something and ended up spending several hours working in our bathroom. The drawer and cupboard layout is not the best. There are three drawers down the middle of the vanity and then two big, open cupboards under each sink.

The previous owners left a wire drawer organizer under each of the sinks. They aren't very effective but we'll use them until we have used the bathroom for a while and figure out something that would work better.

As I unpacked box after box of bathroom things, some that had been in storage for quite a while I threw out a lot of expired sunscreen and suntan lotion and other toiletries. It felt good to throw away quite a bit of stuff. Very good.

When you are dealing with a move or a deep clean of a room it can get very overwhelming to have so many little things that need to find a home. In the bathroom it was things like nail clippers and dental floss, empty travel bottles and razor heads. 

In my office it was small pencil sharpeners, glasses cleaners, scraps of art paper, and broken sunglasses that need to be fixed. Since I was a kid I remember getting frustrated with finding a place for all the little stuff. I would often just walk away and quit the job for a while.

As a grown up, it is definitely good to take a break for a few minutes when I start to feel overwhelmed with an organization project. Another thing I do is start telling myself, "Okay find just one thing that you can put away. Something you already know where to put." This way I take action on one thing, then find another and another. I keep making progress even when it seems like I am not accomplishing anything big. Little by little the space keeps getting tidier and better organized. 

On Saturday I keep saying, "Find one thing," and I kept going and going. When I would get frustrated with one area of the bathroom I would look for another area where I could easily find one thing I could do and I would do it and keep going in that area until I felt blocked again. Then I would look for something else I could do. As I went along, taking breaks from certain areas it was easier for me to go back to areas I had left with a clearer view of what I could do next or how I could organize the items that had I had gotten blocked dealing with. I made some great progress on Saturday even standing on one leg with my iWalk 2.0 supporting me.

When I went back to working on my office I finally started hanging up some things on the wall. I put up my magnetic pegboard, hung up my favorite clock that The Man secretly had repaired and gave to me as my very favorite Christmas present in December. I seriously cried when I opened the box. I'm talking about an IKEA clock I bought at a thrift store for two dollars that died right before we moved. So happy to have it back.

I organized the multitude of adapters and power cords we now live with, found the perfect place where I'll keep my purse at this house and finally figured out how I am going to have a little family command center that is private and hidden away enough and still easily accessible and visible to the family. It's right outside my office across from the kitchen pantry and not in clear view to visitors. When we had originally talked about creating a command center The Man was not too excited about the area I had originally chosen near the garage entry because it was too public of an area for a family calendar in his mind. I think this new area will be better.

We still have a lot of organizing and dejunking to do at the new house. It's getting to be time to get a date on the calendar to have our big Spring Yard Sale. It's a bit of a daunting task while we're combining homes and have been such vagabonds for the past few years. But I try to keep taking it in bite size pieces and saying "Find one more thing you can do," and continuing to press forward. Things do get done. There is a nice sense of accomplishment and I cannot emphasize enough how important I think it is for good mental and emotional health to live in a simple, tidy environment. It does wonders for the soul and makes life so much easier. So I keep chugging along.

Hopefully over the next few weeks I can continue to get some of these projects done. When I was ready to call it a day with my organization projects I had lovely CB2 and Paper Source catalogs and the latest issue of Albuquerque The Magazine to peruse in the beautiful, warm sunlight. This week is seems that winter has left us here in New Mexico. It has been sunny and beautiful and everyone has been eating lunch outside and enjoying the pleasant weather. We had to open up all the windows over the weekend to keep the house cool and there was a wonderful breeze blowing up the mountainside. Delightful. Hope all is well in your world too. Love to hear how you are doing! Any big organization tasks on the docket?

17 February 2016

Valentine's Visit To Santa Fe, New Mexico

Now that I'm a little more mobile and due to a bad case of cabin fever from our first cold-climate winter, we have made an effort to get out on a family outing the past two weekends. On Saturday we made a quick afternoon trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I left an important notebook in my hotel room on a quick overnight business trip to Santa Fe earlier this week. So we decided to make a quick trip of retrieving it. From our home Santa Fe is an easy day trip. Once we picked up my notebook from the fabulous El Dorado Hotel by Heritage Hotels and Spas, where the conference I attended was held, we then did some walking around the town square.

It was late in the day when we arrived but the weather has been quite wonderful this week so a shirt and light jacket or vest was all that was needed. I enjoyed watching the sun set across the building-scape as we wandered. The Man and Kiddo love going into all the gem, mineral, fossil stores. I picked up two inexpensive braided leather bracelets. Every spring and summer I get the itch to wear layered bracelets and I thought these two would be a great basis for perfect stacked bracelets for Spring/Summer 2016. There is a lot of great stacked bracelet inspiration on my jewelry board on Pinterest.

We missed hitting one of my favorite home interior stores, Sequoia. But we'll get there another time. It was not easy traveling on the uneven brick, concrete and cobblestones around the city on the knee scooter. Yikes. But we had some great French crepes with fresh berries and had fun window shopping.

At the end of our day in Santa Fe we spend a few minutes sitting in the town square enjoying all the holiday-ish lights that still light up the square. It was relaxing to catch our breath before we made the drive home. We picked up a quick bite to eat in the car on the way home. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon and I was quite happy to get my notebook back. Short day trips are a good thing. If you are interested in visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico, you can get lots more information at Visit Santa Fe.

15 February 2016

Homemade Chocolate Covered Pretzel Valentines

Hope you are having a wonderful Valentine's and Presidents Weekend. I am back at work today because it's not one of our official days off. But it is definitely one of my favorite weekends of the winter. This has been christened at our house Valentine's Day Weekend and the celebrating started Friday night with a single red rose and will carry on right through tonight.

Saturday we spent the day in Santa Fe, I'll share a bit about that on Wednesday. Sunday was such a gorgeous, sunny day. We had a wonderful slow cooker dinner in the evening with pork loin, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed asparagus and a beautiful cranberry walnut green salad. For dessert we had strawberry shortcake.

We didn't even get around to opening Valentine's Day cards and presents so we'll do that tonight. As I said, we've christened this a full 3-day weekend event. Much more fun.

 Kiddo's school celebrated Valentine's Day on Friday, so as soon as I got back from my quick business trip last week it was a rush to get something fun pulled together for her class. We decided to whip up something salty and chocolatey. These chocolate covered pretzel sticks were quick and easy to make.

Because time was short, I decided to go with pink sprinkles instead of the drizzled pink chocolate I originally intended to put on these. It was just one more step that would've added considerable time to the process. Instead we could shake the sprinkles right on as soon as we filled a pan of pretzels dipped in the chocolate.

I had a few extras so I made a few for my team at work as well. We made something similar a couple of years ago for a treat for Kiddo's class on her birthday. We made a stamped card that time and used knot pretzels instead. There's a simple tutorial in that post. Her birthday is coming up again in a few weeks so we'll have to come up with something else again pretty quickly.

I also picked up some paper and craft supplies and made some heart garlands that I strung above the windows in our dining room and across a few shelves. I also got a small tissue paper pom pom garland that I hung above the sink. We were a little late on the Valentine's decorations but we can keep them up for the rest of this festive month of love. Here are a few Valentine's projects we've done over the years.

Heart Garlands
Valentine's Cookies
Friendship Bracelet Valentines

Wishing you a wonderful week. It's week six of my life in a cast. Time seems to be moving a little faster now which is good, but I'm still a little stunned every time I realized that if I want to leave the room I'm in or get out of bed in the morning I have to depend on some sort of crutches. I am using my scooter primarily at work, church and when we go out anywhere other than grocery or large department store shopping. I use my iWalk 2.0 around the house and to get in and out of the car when I need to get my scooter out of the trunk.

Even though it takes a minute or so to get on, having my hands free to carry things, cook, do dishes, do laundry and be able to stand at the sink is a godsend. I was able to wash my hair really well for the first time on my own yesterday using it to stand at the edge of the shower and leaning in to use the handheld shower nozzle. After a few weeks I would definitely, passionately recommend it -- especially if you are a person who doesn't like to sit still and/or has a family to take care of. I can do so much more and don't feel nearly as helpless as I did when this first happened. And I think mental state has a huge amount to do with fast healing. I barely use my traditional crutches anymore, which is the best.

Hope you are doing well and have had joy in the first 6 weeks of 2016. It's already going quickly, isn't it? I have to keep reminding myself that we're already in mid-February.
image by kalanicut

10 February 2016

Heights House 7: Planting Trees For Privacy

I'm a little behind on posts on progress at the new house. I have a few posts in the works and need to get a few more photos. A couple of weeks ago The Man worked with a local tree company to solve a few landscaping issues around our property.

One of the issues was the long driveway to our home. When one drove down the driveway there was an opening in the trees that opened right up to our neighbors parked cars in their driveway. It was a really weird focal point for entering our home environment.

There were two trees that had been planted in that spot but they were too small and would've taken years to grow and fill in -- and it looked like they were sickly already. The guys were able to plant three trees in that opening that are much bigger and fit in so perfectly to close off that gaping opening to the neighbors parked cars. The impact is pretty amazing and makes the drive up the driveway feel much homier and inviting to our home instead of facing the neighbors minivan and truck.

The team also planted a small bonsai pine behind our mailbox that filled in the spot nicely and will stay small. The final challenge and one that really has bugged The Man was that the back of the house to our north looked right into our backyard and pool area.

I have to first say a little something about the pool. We looked at so many houses that had pools and didn't want a pool. But we live in the southwest. There are a lot of pools. So we ended up choosing a house despite the pool, not hunting for a house that had a pool. Although I will say it's a perfect little rectangle pool and we already have a nice collection of pool toys and can't wait to use it more next summer. We only had about 3 weeks to use it this past summer before it got too cold. The upkeep is a bit much so far for the little time we've used it.

But our backyard was one of the big selling points for me. It has a wonderful big flagstone patio that I envision will host many family and friend dinners over the years. I cannot wait to get out of this cast and in the spring get out there and hang strings of lights from the trees across the patio.

My goal for this winter was to make a big dining table for that space while it was cold outside. But I don't see myself making furniture this winter. Maybe I'll whip something up later in the spring. Maybe that can be my birthday gift to myself. I'd love to make something from reclaimed wood that will stand the test of time.

(While I'm typing this I'm remembering that our friend has some sort of metal bending machine - wouldn't it be lovely if I commissioned The Man to make me some hairpin legs for a table?! -- my other thought while I'm writing this is that maybe it would be better to make two tables that I could use end to end for a big crowd OR use separately for a buffet table and the other for more intimate settings for a smaller group.) Oh, man! I cannot wait for summer - and to start having all those parties outside that I have been dreaming about.

Anyway let me pull myself back from all my fantasizing and get back to the landscaping. Ha. So privacy was really in the end the number one most important item on our house hunting list. We let quite a few houses go because there was no privacy in the backyard. Some of those houses were quite lovely and it was sad to walk away. But when push came to shove, we both wanted privacy after years of living too close to too many people in urban California - and having zero privacy.

Every time The Man stood at the north end of our pool deck he saw the neighbors' house. So when the team came and planted trees he also closed up that opening with a couple of big trees. Now the backyard has complete privacy from windows of neighbors on all sides. It's quite lovely and I think next summer when we're running around in bathing suits, we'll be quite happy to have complete privacy.

This project really was a labor of love by The Man. He did a lot of planning with the tree man and made sure as they were planting that all objectives were met. We were lucky to have the tree man who has done a lot of work in our neighborhood and knows this house and our neighbors. So he was able to give great advice and at the same time the neighbors were happy to see him rather than bothered by the noise and disruptions. (Yay.) There was a lot of running across the lot to stand at the north end of the pool to look out through the trees to make sure they were positioned just right.

Because our yard is pretty rocky and uneven outside of the part of the property that is walled-in backyard, I haven't had a chance to walk around see everything because of the broken foot. The driveway is uphill and none of my modes of transportation are too great on sloped surfaces. But in a few weeks I can't wait to take a nice walk around the perimeter of the property and see all the changes up close. What I have seen so far has made us all so happy.

08 February 2016

Conscious Kindness In The Family

One of the things I've really been working on is the tone I set within our home. I think this has particularly been on my mind because I am very aware that since I broke my foot, I have been fighting being really ornery A LOT. By nature I'm not very ornery, so I know that feeling has come from feeling crummy, being tired and being a little depressed and sad about this whole event and how difficult it is making my life.

So I've really been fighting it. Rather than wait until I feel awful and am really crabby, I try to recognize and tell people that I am not feeling well and either need them to give me some space or that I need to rest.

I had the most interesting and comical chat with some women friends recently who all agreed that their husbands and kids cannot tell when they are not feeling well. We chalked that up to the fact that  as wives and moms we just keep chugging along. We still need to feed people, get to work, clean up and do so many things that keep people alive and the household moving. We were all a little surprised that we really have to TELL people we aren't feeling well or they will never notice. Why can't they tell?

So I'm trying to learn from that and tell my family when I'm not feeling well and ask them for some time to rest. Interestingly enough, families can survive without us and even get their own meals when necessary - after their initial shocked reactions wear off. I think they too get so used to us going nonstop that at first they aren't sure what they are going to do either. But families can survive on a dinner of toast and fruit or cold cereal. And most are resourceful enough to do better.

So I am trying to take breaks sooner. I am also trying to watch the tone of my voice and my comments. It's easy to get too sassy or say something that is not as kind as it could be. I'm trying not to do that. It's easy to comment on everything that hasn't been done, rather than build on what has been done. I'm trying to compliment small actions all around and not make constant critiques of everything that doesn't happen as I would like it to. (Especially since I know I'm not always right about how everything should be....)

I want our family to love being together and no one likes being in an environment where there is negativity. Small moments, like a late night snack, doing dishes and driving in the car can be special moments if we take the time to interact with consciousness and recognize the value and importance of everyday moments together. This weekend we went to the natural history museum. I am a little tired of dinosaur museums, but I went and tried to be pleasant and make the best of it. So hopefully next time when we go to the art museum, others will be equally pleasant and make the most of it. (Set the example...)

I am saying I love you and giving hugs and little squeezes more and holding hands and rubbing feet. Making more eye contact, giving more smiles and compliments and trying to listen well and offer compassion and understanding are part of it too. I am trying to say better, more loving hellos and goodbyes. These things all sound so simple as I write them but they can be very challenging when days are busy or one is tired or worse not feeling well.

This clearly all affects my ability to find happiness and contentment in life and for my family to do the same. I don't want to forget that powerful lesson I learned last week and let that supreme feeling of contentment I felt be forgotten or fade. So I want to keep it present and do everything I can to make each day more of that. It is fleeting without conscious effort...so I'm trying to help it happen every day.

A couple of notes: the photo above is the view out our bedroom window on a Saturday morning. Every Saturday morning I find myself sleeping in a bit more than normal and waiting for the sun to hit the trees outside. Then I go back to sleep a while longer. Knowing I have to get up and put on my cast and spend another day on crutches, crutch and scooter and being tired from a long week of work and family time, it's tough for me to want to get out of bed. So I linger a bit and enjoy the view, watch the airplane contrails streak across the sky and then eventually I am itching to get up and go out and do something. The sun always encourages me to make a day of it. I love that view, night or day. It definitely brings on those feelings of contentedness.

Secondly, speaking of the darned cast, Saturday was the one-month mark since I broke my foot. I intended to make a party of that day but we ended up out and running around most of the day -- thanks to my knee scooter that I just got a few days ago. We were all wiped out by the time we got home.

I'm not sure I shared that on my two-week check up the doctor found another fracture in my heel area. Since the treatment is the same, it was sort of no matter other than interesting. He also said I might be able to start putting some weight on my foot about six weeks earlier than originally expected and I can't tell you how excited I am about that! (A thousand exclamation points here!)

I'm not sure what is up with me and the first week of January, but you may remember that in 2011, this happened. Last year I moved to ABQ the same week. Two years before that we sent The Man back to Afghanistan the same week. Not sure what to think about facing the post holiday season next year! Yikes.

Thank you for all the lovely comments I got on FB about the contentment post last week. Always appreciate your comments & encouragement. Sending you my warmest wishes!

05 February 2016

Finding Contentment

Last night I had the greatest moment of finding contentment that I have felt probably since late 2014 before we started our move. Despite the fact that I think I did quite well with our move, it has been an intense transition.

image via today.com

A couple of experiences I had last fall really threw me for a loop. I'm still struggling with putting the pieces together and understanding what it is I am to do and learn from these experiences. These experiences have shaken my confidence a bit and thrown me for a loop like I have not experienced in a while.

Yesterday I was sitting in my car with The Man waiting for The Bug to finish up a martial arts lesson.
 I thought to check out Stephanie Nielsen's blog NieNieDialogues. I hadn't been there in quite a while. I haven't been reading many blogs the past year, and many of my favorite bloggers have stopped blogging over the past couple of years which is a little sad.

Many years ago I gained a real appreciation for making the most of the unexpected lulls that come during the day. I used to carry a book with me everywhere in my purse. Nowadays it's my phone.

I was so inspired yet again by Stephanie's will to live a beautiful life. There aren't many of us who can compete with her on the hardships we've faced and seeing her thrive, even when painful and difficult, is an encouragement for sure to face daily challenges.

I was reminded of her zest for celebrating the every day, for making her home a special place where her family (immediate and extended) and friends want to be. She inspired me to celebrate every little holiday. To make my home more beautiful. -- See those amazing glass stars all over in her kitchen windows? I died when I saw those. So lovely. Remember the beautiful window I shared from Sundance at christmas time? I do love her kitchen!

Forty-five minutes later we drove towards home with my sweet husband next to me and our kiddo in the backseat full of excitement after a successful class and having learned a new skill. I felt the most amazing wave of contentment come over me. I felt excited to go home and make soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on a very cold night. I was so happy to be with my little family. It was enough.

I dreamed about making my home more cozy and sweet for my family. I felt impressed to make more of a celebration of our daily life and to hang simple sweet Valentine's decorations. Somewhere I have a whole stack of Valentine's Day garlands and decorations. But maybe I'll have to make some new ones this year since I can't find the ones that moved here with us.

I wanted to make better meals and make sure that we sit down together for dinner each night and wanted to make sure I enjoy the daily rituals that are so easy to just rush through each day. It was wonderful to feel so blissful and content with my family.

We were all in bed before nine last night and it was satisfying to know that The Bug was going to get a really good night sleep when I tucked her in with a nice "warmy" heated up in the microwave to cozy up with.

The Man and I sat in bed and he watched a show and I read with my foot up on a couple of pillows and packed in ice and wrapped with a beautiful orange and white Michael Kors scarf I got at a thrift store a few years ago. It was lovely to hold on to his arm and to hold his hand and relax for 90 minutes or so before turning out the lights and going to bed. It was such a nice evening and inspired me to keep it going.

I taped a sticky note on my computer at work a few weeks ago that said, "Home should be your favorite place on earth." I like the idea of being happy with life just as it is, enjoying being at home, making moments special and making the most of every days and special occasions too. I feel like I've been through a period of sorrow with hardships and unfulfilled expectations that made me very sad. I've dealt with some pretty fierce challenges over the past few years. I think I'm ready for a change.

Despite other people's sometimes very negative influence on my sphere, I want to be content and inspired by what I do have and who I am. I don't want to be overly influenced by those who are quick to criticize and make judgments that feel totally wrong to me. I also don't want to be in the wrong places at the wrong time.

I want to go out and do more. Spend more time making new friends and investing in relationships. I am inspired to make things nice for Valentines Day. To decorate. Make a big white wire heart. Hang garlands. Have a special dinner. Make sugar cookies. Enjoy the month of love more. And I definitely need to buy a few hearts from Piggy & Dirt. It's seriously about time for some glass stars and everything I shared above.

01 February 2016

Living My Simplicity Goal In 2016

When I chose simplicity as my theme for 2016 I really had no idea how the year would quickly unfold and demand simplicity. Oh, boy. Six days into 2016 the foot was broken and that has very powerfully dictated how the first six months or so of this year are going to play out. Woweee.

I guess the universe just really wanted to help me acutely focus on having a simpler life. (Laugh...)  Life had forced me to go very simple. I've definitely cut some things out of my life and pared back. I have had so many people looking at me with pith and asking me how I'm doing lately and I decided yesterday that my new response (with a big smile) is "I'm making the best of a crummy situation."

Here are a few things I've simplified:

1) Kiddo eats school lunch now more often and I order lunch to my office most days. Getting up and getting a nice lunch made has always been a priority for us, and The Man and I share this task about 50/50. But rather than have him make all the lunches now, I have been giving Kiddo lunch money and let her eat school lunch. School lunch has always been a bit of a funny luxury for her because we've always sent her with a lunch, so she doesn't mind and it's saving us a good 15 minutes or so every morning. I was the mom who said she'd never let her kid eat school lunches but would rather make something good from home. Well, it wouldn't be the first time me or another mom I know went totally against something she'd previously insisted would be her standard. Ha. I'm sure it won't be the last either.

2) I keep it very simple after work. Dinner and heading to bed with an ice pack for my foot which is still pretty swollen. Maybe a little TV added in there. I have been trying to get in bed by nine, and then I relax doing some reading or spending some time doing some therapeutic coloring. We've all been trying to get more sleep which is definitely giving us more energy and making mornings more pleasant. I'm able to sleep without my boot cast on which I am pretty thankful for and it's much more comfortable than the first few weeks with the cast on all night. It's just a little nerve wracking not to let anything hit it or to forget and try to stand up.

3) I'm trying to keep expectations simple and not make a lot of plans. The past few Saturdays I have pretty much stayed home and tried to do a little cleaning, sit in the sun for a while, watch a movie or two and sleep as much as possible. I keep thinking we need to go do something, but the new house is plenty of space for us to spend time outside, rest and have our own places to enjoy quiet time.

4) We're enjoying our slow cooker. Every Saturday I try to pick one recipe from Pinterest, then get all the ingredients on a quick trip to the grocery store. Going to the grocery store isn't too bad because I can park close to the entrance & my local stores employees now recognize me and have been so kind to grab me the motorized scooter cart and meet me at the door by the time I can "crutch" up to the entrance. Motorized scooter life has taught me something I never realized being tall...it's tough to reach things on the upper shelves at stores when you short or sitting on a scooter. Never had that problem before. Ha. Anyway, by throwing something good in the slow cooker on Sunday mornings we have a great dinner waiting for us when we get home from church and then we have at least one more good dinner from the leftovers during the week.

5) I've been accepting help. Because of the number of people who have been offering to help us since I broke my foot I've been keeping a short list of things I need help with and letting people help me. A couple of friends have brought meals and both times the food has lasted us two good dinners. It's fun to eat something special brought by someone else! I really appreciate the young kid (who I am sure was stoned) who asked if he could help me get everything out of my motorized scooter basket up on to the conveyor belt at WalMart on Friday night and the young man who asked if he could drive my motorized scooter back into the store for me when I got to my car. Rough and tumble looking young men, both of them, but what a great lesson on seeing the good in others! I am grateful for all the people who've opened and helded doors and elevators for me too!

6) I've quit pushing myself to get stuff done -- both on the house and around the house. Everything that isn't essential can wait a few weeks or a couple of months. I had so many projects planned to get done over the cold winter months. That has all come to a standstill.

I have learned that I do need to have something to do with my hands. I started a knitting project and have been trying to do creative little things with my hands like color because I realized it makes me feel less helpless and annoyed with having so much trouble moving around.

7) I am putting my emphasis and energies on relationships whenever possible. I've enjoyed visits with friends, visiting new friends for a lovely dinner in their home, watching movies and having meals together with my little family too. Taking it slow, sharing time with others and enjoying the little moments are where it's at right now.

These days I feel pretty grateful to just focus on getting around and about during the day. When I try to rush or push too hard it does get dangerous - it is so easy to get tired and start making mistakes and trip or lose my balance. Yikes. That in itself is a good lesson, two good lessons actually - first to focus on what you're doing and second that pushing too hard or rushing can cause accidents.

I am looking forward to finding more glamorous ways to incorporate simplicity into my life. But for now I'm learning a lot about living simply and enjoying the luxury it brings to life.
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