• March 22, 2017

    Bullet Journal

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    I am willing to bet that you’ve already heard about bullet journaling – it seems to be all the craze right now.  I wanted to try it out before giving my assessment and thoughts on the idea, so I’ve been using my journal since the new year and am ready to share my experiences with you.

    First, though, for those of you who are not yet familiar with the system, here is a video from the original creator to help explain the idea/process:

    Ok, got it?  Pretty simple, right?  And fairly ingenious, really.

    First, my journal is a simple Moleskine, dotted, in the extra large (7.5×10) size.  My favorite thing about this journal is the dots.  While setting it up, I had considered a lined journal, but opted for the dots which afford wonderful guidance as I draw and create graphs and date boxes.  I think a lined journal could work, but you’ll have more obvious horizontal lines in your open spaces and you’ll struggle more getting the vertical lines at proper right angles.

    As I use it, I am finding that it’s a bit large to carry around and use away from home.  I like that I have room for my little drawing and such, but might give a smaller size a try next year.  I also am finding that this journal’s pages are quite thin and ink shows through so that  I can really only use one side of the page.  I have heard that the Leuchtturm brand has a bit thicker paper.

    Now, for the set up: I kept to the, sort of, standard way they recommend to start.  I have key, yearly calendar, and index pages:

    Key

    Index

    Year

    Pages to track goals, books, movies, and travel:

    Resolutions

    Books

    And then I start my months and calendars.  Each month starts with a page that includes a habit tracker, a month calendar, and space for goals that I have that month.  I also include a picture or quote here to liven the page  up a bit:

    Month

    After the initial month page, I have a page to write daily gratitudes.  These pages go along with the theme of the first page or with a holiday/feeling that I associate with the month (so, for February, it was hearts and for March, it was thistles and tea).

    Thankful

    Finally, after the gratitude page, I have each week for the month drawn out.  These pages include space for each day, a menu for the week, and a space for notes or a to-do list (this is where I use the transfer system with the >, <, X, etc symbols as suggested in the video and my Key page.

    Week

    Overall, I really like this system.  It has helped me to hold myself accountable and to remember things like sending birthday cards and scheduling appointments.  The set up time is a bit long and the book is less convenient than having an app in my phone, but I find the time setting it up and physically writing or drawing in the book is sort of meditative and does help my brain to slow down a bit.  I’ve also discovered that I am in love with washi tape and I really love experimenting with different hand lettering styles and art!

  • March 1, 2017

    GM Appreciation Party

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    March 4th is GM appreciation day!  If you don’t know what a GM is, you probably won’t care too terribly much about this post (sorry).  For those who do, please let me encourage you to celebrate your GM and the hard work they put into making your game nights entertaining, difficult (but not too difficult), and fun!  I’ve never been a GM myself, but I am married to mine and can tell you first hand that they pour their heart and soul into creating great games.  My husband spends a lot of time thinking about the game, writing stories, and planning encounters for the game.  He sleeps with his rule books next to the bed and has notebooks and more computer files dedicated to the game than I will probably ever know.  When he’s not planning games, he is watching other people run games on YouTube to gather ideas and improve his style.  On game weekends, we spend the whole day cleaning, prepping for the game (music, game board, etc), and generally feeling anxious about how things will go that evening.  All of this takes a lot of time and energy and I really don’t think the players in our group (or in many similar groups, from what I’ve been reading online) have even the slightest inkling how much he’s invested in the story.  So, I threw him a little GM appreciation party at our last game night (there’s no way I could pull it together for the actual day since we already had a game night scheduled for the weekend before and people are too busy to get together two weekends in a row).

    Decorations

    First, I decorated using fun party stuff I had already.  I also used templates from minieco to make paper dice that hung down all over the room.

    Close-Up

    Then, I planned the menu.  I made a tavern stew (I added 2 more cups of beef broth and lots more spices), chocolate truffles (I found inspiration here and here), and the other players provided hard cider and some of hubsters favorite snacky foods.  The decorations and food were a big hit and a lot of fun, too!

    Mini

    It was a great night and I really enjoyed putting everything together for my hubby and GM.  He works so hard, he deserves to have something nice to appreciate everything he does!

  • February 8, 2017

    Manly Valentine’s Ideas

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    I don’t know how your man feels about Valentine’s Day, but mine hates it.  It’s not that he doesn’t love me or want to show it, but the idea of being made to spend a ton of money or make some grand gesture just for the sake of a holiday makes him crazy.  He’s not really a sappy kind of guy… very sweet, but not sappy.  This is a little unfortunate because I like the idea of a day dedicated to thinking about love and the person you love.  So, to help you ladies who know what I’m talking about, I’ve come up with my top 5 ideas for a Valentines Day that is romantic, and manly, enough to please everyone.  *grin*

    1. Steak Dinner

    Food is the way to every man’s heart and what could be more manly than a steak dinner?  Of course, if he’s a vegetation or doesn’t enjoy steak, you should probably think about substituting this with whatever his favorite food is.  Whatever you choose, you can make a special meal yourself (or, even better, together!) or you can reserve (in advance!) a seat at a favorite restaurant.

    2. Gift basket with his favorite beer/cider and snacks

    Remember how food is the way to a man’s heart?  Well, I’m pretty sure snacks and booze are a close second to an all out meal for most guys.  Ideas for things to include: a bottle or two of beer or cider, a growler with a coupon for a fill, and snacks (jerky, cookies, mixed nuts, dark chocolate, etc.).

    3. Massage

    Pretty much everyone I know enjoys a good massage – whether you send him to a professional (or go together with him as a date) or give him a more intimate experience yourself, he’ll enjoy being nice and relaxed!

    4. Something from his favorite movie/show/book/comic

    If you’re looking for something a little more tangible – something you can actually wrap up and give to him – you might look to his fandoms.  Search for artwork, Pop Figures, or t-shirts/hoodies that reflect his favorite characters.  Etsy is a great place to find this kind of gift.

    5. Something to support his hobby

    Look to what he spends his time on.  Things like art supplies, games or game accessories (eg: headphones, miniature figures, manuals, dice, etc.), gym stuff/sports gear, and fishing/hunting supplies will be a big hit.

    The most important thing about Valentine’s Day is to pay attention to your fella and do something nice that reflects his interests.  I don’t know any men who love red and pink hearts or fancy, overpriced flowers… so rather than getting wrapped up in the commercial side of the holiday, get wrapped up in things that will show you’re genuinely supportive of him and his stuff.  And if he’s any kind of decent guy, he’ll happily do the same for you!

    <3

  • January 18, 2017

    Hope

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    Hope.  This year – 2017 – I decided that I would focus on hope and make it a priority to stay positive in all the varied aspects of my life.  Since then, I’ve been thinking an awful lot about this post and trying to figure out how to convey all of the things I want to you.  I’ve wracked my brain and started this a hundred times in my head.  But, if I’m being completely honest, I have also been fervently avoiding this post.

    You know how when you ask for courage, life tends to give you all kinds of terrible challenging things to be courageous about?  Or you ask for patience and life presents you with trials that make you feel… not so patient?  That’s kind of how I am feeling right now about hope.  Sometimes I just don’t feel very hopeful.  Sometimes I think it would be better to pull the covers over my eyes and pretend the world doesn’t exist from the comfort of my bed.

    Perhaps that is just it, though.  Perhaps hope (and love and gratitude) is not meant to be a feeling so much as it a choice.  Perhaps hope means dragging yourself out of bed when you’d rather stay hidden.

    In 2011, Michelle Obama addressed a group of young women leaders in South Africa and said “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”  She goes on to say that when people start asking questions and begin having these conversations… these are acts of hope and the ripples grow exponentially outward from there.

    So, I guess what I am saying is that if the world is overwhelming, and you know you can’t solve all of the problems you dearly wish you could; If there seems to be no good or joyful thing to keep you going; If you’re struggling – choose hope.  Choose to crawl out from the protective covers of bed and begin again.  Find a thing that you care about,or a thing that gives you peace and let that be the first stone dropped into the water and watch how the ripples spread.  Your question or thought or passion may ripple so far that you become a source of hope for someone else who needs it.

    In the coming months, I implore you to find your hope and spread it around like wildfire.

  • December 28, 2016

    December Round Up

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    Whelp, looks like I managed to miss most of December, huh?  *sigh*  My goal was to have a homemade Christmas, which we did… but I totally underestimated how much time that would consume!  So, here we are with the monthly round  up and I’ll try to touch on everything we enjoyed this past month!

    dining-room

    nativity

    As soon as Thanksgiving was over (ok, ok, ok… a little, teensy bit before it was really over) I pulled out all of my Christmas decorations and went to town on our house.  And since I felt like we needed a little extra cheer this year, I found a pencil tree to put in our entry way too!  So.  Two trees.  I threatened to put up a third, but lost the oomph to do it.  Ah, well, there’s always next year, eh?

    little-tree

    big-tree

    2015

    Then it was time to get started on my Homemade Christmas goal from my 30 before 30 list!

    ornaments-in-progress

    stitches

    The first craft I started was these beautiful Nordic inspired ornaments.  These became gifts for family and friends and were a lot of fun to make!  We also decorated our own home with them – we tried to stick to a red and white theme this year and they added something really special on the tree.

    cookies

    In addition to ornaments, we gave friends and family Christmas cookies.  I made so. many. cookies.  And I learned how to use a cookie press (I think I need one of my own now…) for Danish vanilla cookies.  Oh, and the bread!  I made eggnog bread  and monkey bread for Christmas morning!  I was in the kitchen a lot this December!  *nods*  So glad my folks took care of us for Christmas dinner!

    crafty-nativity

    Another craft project I worked on was this beautiful nativity.  I’ve always been frustrated that I can’t find a realistic nativity with Middle Eastern people – Jesus was not white, ya’ll!  Anyway, I loved the concept of the silhouettes, so that solved it all for me!  :)  Click here for full instructions and info on where to get the vinyl designs.  The last step is to spray the glass with Frosted Glass spray paint stuff… but it’s been so cold this December, I was afraid the temperatures would ruin the paint.  Next year, it’ll be frosty glass!

    socks

    Another favorite thing I did this month was the Secret Santa at work.  I always get too into it, but it’s really fun to spoil one of the amazing women I work with and let her know how much I appreciate her!  And I’ll admit, I kind of like being spoiled by someone else too!  Anyway, the most hilarious gift I received this year was socks with bandanna wearing corgi’s on them.  So silly – I really love them!  I think Ollie approves too…

    ollie

    I didn’t have a lot of time for things other than all the crazy Christmas shenanigans, so I didn’t really consume much media.  I did make it out to see Fantastic Beasts  and Where to Find Them early in the month and Rogue One the weekend it came out.  I also caught Hairspray Live on NBC and I read one book for book club – Yes Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson.  We stayed home a lot and watched old Christmas movies while I worked on crafts too, so that was fun.

    frosty

    And there you have it!  I’m pretty sure that’s all I’ve got for this month!  Sure felt busier than it looks like it was… but I learned my lesson!  I will start Christmas crafts way earlier next year!  I hope you enjoyed your holidays this year and felt the love of friends and family.  Best wishes for a safe and happy new year – see you in 2017!

  • November 30, 2016

    November Round Up

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    Ok, ya’ll, I am not gonna lie.  I am sooo tired right now!  November is kicking my tush this year with the stuff and the friends and the other stuff and everything.  Ugh!  I suppose it’s really a good thing that I’m tired, though, because it means that I’ve been busy.  I’ve spent time with friends and family.  I’ve gone out and stayed in and started some fun projects!  So, despite my tiredness (and lame-o lack of pictures), I want to share my November with you!

    The month started out very stressful and mentally/emotionally exhausting with the elections and news and everything that went with it.  I was convinced that the world was going to end no matter who won and who would be there to pick it all up and put it back together again?  *sigh*  I certainly don’t feel good about what happened and I am not in any way comfortable going forward… but I think I’ve moved from depression into the acceptance part of the grief stages.  It’s a wary and tired and sad acceptance and in no way means that I accept the bad and terrible things that will come from this decision… but it’s a place where I can at least stop thinking about it for a little while and feel ok.

    To distract myself from the pain and fear, I read a lot this month.  And I read a lot about amazing, powerhouse women (weather they would agree with me on that assertion or not, I don’t know).  The first book was  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.  That woman… dang.  Talk about an inspiring message that taught me that even little girls can make a difference in the face of terror.  No matter how insignificant you think you might be, Malala teaches us that you can be so much more.  Oh, God, how appropriate.  The second book was Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  Aside from the rich and famous aspects of her life, I actually found that I identify a lot with Shonda.  Introverted, unsure, and just brave enough to try to do better, Shonda spoke right to my dorky little heart.  And the last book I read in November was Buffering by Hannah Hart.  I had no idea how deep her hurts and struggles ran.  She talks in her YouTube videos from time to time about not being accepted by her super religious father, but there is so much more.  Ugh.  And yet, Hannah is giving and cheerful.  She has moved past her past and intentionally works to make the world a better place.  Seeing a theme here yet?  *grin*

    Let’s move on now to some more powerhouse women that I spent time with this month.  Hubby and I went to see Moana in theaters on Thanksgiving day.  It was so good!  Such a beautiful message of self discovery and following your passions!  I wish I’d had more role models like her when I was a little girl!  Not only was the story great, but the animation and art were gorgeous too!  Love, love, love!  And my TV pick for the month was Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.  I loved the show when I watched it start to end in my early 20′s and I loved the revisiting of all the characters now!  I know it wasn’t a perfect telling, but I really liked to see where everyone ended up, even in their imperfections.  Grief can do that, you know?  Throw you off track until you feel like you’re drifting and struggling to find your way back… so. good.

    Moving on to more traditional things now, we’ve entered the holiday season of 2016.  Thanksgiving was sort of uneventful for my family.  Hubby and I went to see Moana and ate tacos on Thanksgiving day.  We went over the weekend for a slightly more traditional meal with my parents which was very nice.  Nobody talked about politics (not once!) and it was actually quite relaxing.  Yay!  And in the midst of all of this, I also started decorating for Christmas and started several Christmas crafts.  I love Christmas and my darling hubby indulges me by helping put up decor and letting me take over the house with craft supplies.  It’s wonderful.  I can’t say too much, though, because I want to devote more time and focus to it in some posts next month (so stay tuned!).

    And now, I fear, this wall of text will drive you all away!  Please don’t go!  Or, at least, don’t be afraid to come back!  Hopefully I will be able to share more pictures and such next time.

    Happy Holidays!

  • November 23, 2016

    Hawaiian Vacation: Aloha, Mindfulness, and Meditation

    flower

    Welcome to my third and final post about my Hawaiian vacation!  I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting the beautiful island of Maui with me this month!  You know, I’ve always heard people say that Hawaii is a special place.  I always assumed that they meant it was beautiful and fun and a good place for a vacation.  While these things are all true, there is really something special about that place.

    waterfall

    ocean

    While visiting, I spent as much time as I could learning about the history and culture of Hawaii.  I talked to a few locals, including some fabulously interesting Uber drivers, and I feel like I really gained so much from their insight.  You see, Hawaiian culture is incredibly inclusive, respectful, and spiritual – something I think the mainland needs a big lesson in right now.

    lei

    friend

    It seemed like everything done and everything said had special meaning and history.  People would go out of their way to help or to share a smile with you.  This was at the resort, restaurants, shops, tours, car rides… literally everywhere I went.  People were so happy to share their culture and stories with me, it was really wonderful!

    church

    You’re probably familiar with “aloha” meaning both hello and goodbye?  That is true, but it also conveys respect and love and spiritual connection.  One tour guide explained that native Hawaiian language has limited words and many words are combinations of words, so “alo” is like the uplifted face – the connection you have with another person or god or nature, and “ha” is like your life breath – your spirit and being.  So, “aloha” is that respectful, spiritual connection to people, to god, to nature, to… everything.  And remember in Lilo and Stitch when Lilo says that “ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind”?  That is true, but ohana also extends to all Hawaiian people.  And notice that “ha” also shows up in ohana?  They put caring for the whole community very high on their list of priorities.

    celebrate

    Every encounter I had while in Maui was extremely positive and I could feel the energy of the people around me.  Once away from other tourists, I could sit and think and absorb the good vibes that I’ve only ever felt in Hawaii.  I took as much time as I could to meditate on the things people told me, to really feel their words.  One gentleman I met spent a good bit of our conversation encouraging me to bring Aloha to the mainland – to spread their love and peace to a nation that is in turmoil and feeling so much hate right now.  I hope I’ve done this… I hope people meet me and feel loved and respected.  I hope I don’t lose the lessons I learned  in Hawaii in the coming months and years.  And, while I don’t necessarily expect that you really get what I am trying to convey by reading these words alone, I do hope that you will also go out and be a light to your community.  Connect with your life breath and treat every relationship as sacred.

    jellyfish

    sunset

    Peace.

    beach

  • November 16, 2016

    Hawaiian Vacation: Road to Hana

    road-to-hana

    Our second full day in Hawaii was the busiest by far.  My friend had to attend classes all day, so I met up with a tour group and went on the Road to Hana.  For those who are not familiar, the Road to Hana takes you along the less populated Eastern side of Maui.  There are about 620 curves on this road and much of it is one lane or so narrow that two cars passing must pass within inches of each other.  I do not recommend driving this road on your own – the tour group was lovely and not half as terrifying as if I’d gone alone.

    On the tour, we saw rain forest, waterfalls, and rainbow eucalyptus trees.

    waterfalls

    tree

    splash

    We stopped at the Ke’anae Peninsula where we saw a church that was built in 1856 and was the sole surviving building of a tsunami in 1946.  As I approached the church, I felt so glad that I was almost alone because I could feel that the place was holy.  There was a peace there that I haven’t felt in many other places… I could have sat there for hours.

    church

    graveyard

    grave

    ghost

    Our next stop was Wai’anapanapa State Park where I explored a sacred black sand beach and a magical lava cave where legend has it a Hawaiian princess hid from her abusive husband.  When he found her, killed her in the cave – now the pools in the cave fill with tiny red shrimp  and the water looks like blood which locals say it’s a reminder of the princess.

    black-sand-beach

    cave-enterence

    flower

    Farther down the road was the Haleakala National Park where I was able to explore the cliffs, waterfall, and Oheo pools.  I went for a short hike which was so beautiful and green – I wanted to stay forever.

    ocean

    overlook

    7-pools

    water-fall

    The last stop was at the Palapala church which was built in 1857 and is where Charles Lindbergh is buried.  It was beautiful, but didn’t have the same holy feeling as the Ke’anae church did.

    lindburgh-church

    lindburgh-grave

    The last portion of the trip was on a terrible, terrible road.  It was so bumpy, my fitbit registered 3,000 steps while I was sitting in the van!  Our guide told us that the locals don’t want to repair the road – they prefer rough driving over having tourists crowding them.  I think I agree.

    rainbow

  • November 9, 2016

    Hawaiian Vacation: Resort and Luau

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    Did ya’ll remember to vote yesterday?  Did you cling to your tv/radio/social media to follow every second of the tally?  Well I did and I’ve got to say, I am ready for a break from the politics and drama and fear and sadness… I’m ready to go back to Hawaii.  Since that isn’t really possible, though, let me take you on a little trip down my memory lane and you can live a little vicariously through my adventure for a while!

    mermaid

    My friend and I went to Maui and stayed at the Grand Wailea resort.  She was there for a work conference and I was just lucky to get to tag along.  The resort was the fanciest, most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed.  We had a ground floor room with a view of the ocean and it was perfection!

    patio

    celebration

    The first night we were there we went to a luau.   I felt a little strange asking native people to put their culture on display in such a commercial setting, but I did enjoy the dancing and the stories that were told.  It’s amazing to watch!

    hula

    ribbon-dancer

    The second day we had to do some conference things and I didn’t get too many pictures.  It was pretty laid back and I got to touch the ocean for the first time in my life!  It’s so weird to me that some people grow up playing in the vastness of the ocean without a second thought.  I felt sure it would swallow me up if I stayed too long.

    fresh-fruit

    There is a small path at the resort that is lined with trees and plants that are all fruit producing which are maintained organically.  Because of this, you can literally just pick what you like and eat it right off the tree!  So, we had a little harvest party on our walk and a very kind man helped us reach the too tall star fruit.  It was glorious!

    gf-fried-food

    Another day we were there, I dragged my friend to a dedicated gluten free restaurant where I ate way too much.  I haven’t had fried food in 10 years… so this was amazing and horrible all at the same time!

    hula-statue

    I hope you’re enjoying my pictures and stories.  Check back next week for more of my trip!

  • November 2, 2016

    October Round Up

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    Happy November, ya’ll!  October went a little nuts and I got totally behind on my blogs!  I do want to share my round up for October, though, so here we go!

     

    soup

    My hubby has struggled with a deviated septum his whole life which makes it hard for him to breathe properly, especially when he’s trying to sleep.  So, this fall we decided it was time to get it taken care of and he went in for surgery.  Everything went great and he’s said that he feels so much better now!  He’s able to sleep so much better than before!  To help him heal, I made homemade chicken soup and it was ah-maz-ing!

     

    hawaii

    After the surgery was done and we knew everything was good, I confirmed my girls trip to Hawaii.  A friend of mine was planning to attend a conference for her work and I talked her into letting me tag along.  The trip went splendidly and you can bet there will be tons of pictures and more detail up next week!  *grin*

     

    books

    I also read a lot this month – fall always gets me into the mindset of study,  books, and cuddling up with blankets and tea.  This month I read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and Stir by Jessica Fetcher.  If you haven’t read Jennys blog or books, you really should consider giving it a try.  She’s quirky and fun but she also talks about deep, important issues like parenthood and mental illness.  I also enjoyed The Girl on the Train which is a thriller/suspense novel.  I really liked the mystery of it and trying to figure out what was happening along with the main character.  Stir is a memoir for my book club about a woman whose recovery from illness was aided hugely by her love of cooking and food.  I haven’t quite finished yet, but so far it’s been really wonderful!

    Despite all the busy-ness of last month, we did still manage to see a couple of movies.  The first was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  I really liked Tim Burton’s take on the story and its overall darkness.  Some things were, of course, left out from the book… but it was so good it wasn’t too hard to find forgiveness for Tim.  We also saw The Girl on the Train which was pretty good.  I preferred the book and felt that there was just a lot more suspense and intrigue than the movie.  My husband did not read the book, though, and said that he was able to follow it just fine and liked the movie well enough.  One thing I do want to understand is why they would change the setting from London to New York?  It made me unexplainably sad.

    Lastly, Halloween!  Because of the crazy, busy, expensive, and exhausting way this month went… I didn’t get to do my decorations as planned.  This makes me really sad because now I’ve failed my 30 before 30.  Hopefully next year we can get our stuff together and carry out my plan.  We did enjoy the fall colors, candy and baked goods, and pumpkin everything in October and that helped a little.  We watched some classic scary movies and drank lots of hot tea.  Now, we’re in November and I am realizing just how much I have to do before Christmas… how did we ever get this far into 2016?!