five faves on a gray friday

Its a gray, blustery day here in Fake New Jersey - pouring buckets. I lit a bunch of candles and pulled on warm socks and an extra sweater. Think I'll bake some banana bread or an apple crisp. I have to go out briefly into the weather, and I'm hoping the news reports don't come true til my man and I are both home. Snow. It happens so rarely where I live that it feels extra magical. So, I hope they come true, just later.

Whatever the weather, tonight MM and I plan to rest and snuggle up cozy warm, watching movies. I've had a gray sort of week, and am looking forward to homemade pizza and hugs and something to laugh at.

But even in a gray week, I can find five favorite things:

Friends - I got to have coffee with two sunshiney, wonderful friends this week. I got to hear funny stories and plans and dreams for the future. One is a mom to a sunshiney boy; one just found a boy to fill her heart with sunshine. One is a teacher; one is training to become one. Both are full of wit and joi de vivre. I am blessed to have their sunshine poured into my heart on occasion. Beautiful women.

Blossoms - flowers cover the whole city. Tulip trees in white, pink, and purple. Camelias in every variation of red, pink, and white. Azaleas. Daffodils. An unknown trailing vine of lovely purple covers my neighbors fence. And all unguarded lawns burst with yellow oxalis. (I LOVE that stuff. I used to make little nests in patches of the weeds and watch the flowers follow the sun across the sky) and tiny white daisies. Its only a matter of time before our neighbors come out to tend gardens, and then we're really in for a show.

Dishwashing Liquid - Mine smells like fruit loops. Almost makes hand-washing dishes a treat. :) Well, that and my new dish drying rack. It does add more cheer to the sinnk room. Trying to decide whether to make another out of the same fabric, or something different.

Downton Abbey - loving this show. Goes well with my candles, tea, and gray weather. And Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countes? Perfect!

Minimal Pain - Today is massage day, and I am quite thankful to have made it two weeks without the return of crazy pain. Just normal pain. Which, hopefully will become zero pain someday. In the meantime, I am thankful for any little improvement. It was not long ago that I would wake up crying from the pain. So, yay!


seven random things

1 - MM did approximately 49 loads of laundry yesterday. OK. Not that many, but a lot. Here's to my awesome man for rockin' the laundry room.

2 - While my sweet man did laundry, I had a lovely coffee date with a friend who is pure sunshine for my soul. We talked about serious things, but we also talked about gardening and summer vacation plans and what her mom gets to do after retirement. It was just good to sit in peace with my funny, creative friend and swap stories. Ahhh.

3 - My sunshiney friend gave me some kefir culture to start making my own pro-biotic beverage. Super simple! And using this for morning smoothies will save me $25 a month in yogurt, and save me a trip to a third grocery store each week. Hallelujah! Had our first one today. Not bad.

4 - I think I may have figured out a new way to organize my daily to do list. Which may sound lame, but is kind of a big deal for me. I hate housework, and I am not naturally well-organized, so I need a good system or we eat peanut butter and jelly every day and wipe our hands on our stained jeans. Seriously. It's essential for me to have some kind of list, or I wake up four months later to find my bathtub has moved to Brazil.

5 - The dish drying mat seems to be working. Yay for us! If I can get my act together we'll have two more by the end of the week.

6 - My back/shoulder/hip pain is very low this week. Please o please, can this mean that I am on the mend! Trying to get in my stretches and a good walk in every day. This week is massage week, which, though I love the chiropractor, seems to be providing the bigger benefit right now. If I make it to Friday without my hip hurting this will be the first time in 7 months that I've gone a week without that crazy pain. Here's hopin!

7 - Made bread yesterday. Oh, yum. I need to seriously cut back on how much I'm eating. But its hard. This bread is like goodness and magic. With butter. In my tummy.


thursdaybook - blustery!

Seeing ~ A to do list with lots of items crossed off! yay!

Hearing ~ MM muttering, sighing, humming, and occasionally whistling as he taptaptaps out a deliverable for work... the steady splatter of raindrops on the roofs and cement between our house and the neighbors... zippers clanging against the wall of the dryer... my laptop crunching and whirring its way through a virus scan...

Wearing ~ blue yoga pants, blue long-sleeved t-shirt, blue knee high socks

Tasting ~ Havarti with dill cheese - yummioso!

Planning ~ my afternoon: IKEA to get a replacement mirror for the one I broke the other day; Target to get razors and starch so my hubby can look slick and professional; home to make soup and possibly bread and hopefully do some writing...

Working ~ I've washed three loads of dishes, done three loads of laundry (waiting for the last one to come out of the dryer to fold), cleaned the bathroom (including scrubbing some of the mold off the wall - gross), answered emails (down to Inbox 432!), processed paperwork, and taken a first pass at the rest of the month's budget, vacuumed the office, watered the plants, dusted the living room, and put craft supplies away.

Creating ~ I hope to make bread and sew pillow cases (and perhaps another drying mat (so far, the first one is working pretty well)) and do some writing.

Learning ~ Today has been mostly physical activity, doing things I already know how to do...

Reading ~ Still reading the same ones. (Those poor hobbits just can't make it out of Bree!) I did take a break and read a couple of my husband's batman trades: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns.

Pondering ~ As we continue to refine our budget and our financial goals, just thinking a lot about how to line up our money with our values. And how our personal values may change the more that we figure out what sort of life we're meant to live. There are some books and movies we want to share and discuss and think about.

Remembering ~ To add "silverware strainer" to the IKEA list

Thankful for ~ rainy afternoons; thick, warm socks; the blue quilt on the foot of our bed; candles; hand lotion; funny friends; boots...


projects! dish drying mat

I made a dish drying mat today!

Got the basic idea from Running With Scissors. Modified it a bit in that mine has three layers: vinyl-backed felt, an old towel, and some fabric I'd bought a few years ago to make a summer dress.

Yeah, I know. I think I was going for Lilly Pulitzer, or something. Anyway. It was what I had on hand. And fun for a kitchen. I have gobs of it, so I may bust out some potholders or something.

It was fun to sew again. And to make something other than Valentines, which I've been working on for a month.

Next up, Year Old Pillowcases.

And because I'm all about authenticity, please know that THIS is what my sink room really looks like.

And this is a day when we're on top of things around here.


scenes from a weekend - bounty

~ The Blues swelling to fill our living room as my guy and three buddies take turns soloing over sweet hooks and rhythms. Three guitars and a pile of percussion instruments fill our home with sweet sounds. It may be that I'm weird, but Blues music makes me so happy. Love it. And these guys are TALENTED guitarists. Wow. Wow. Wow!

~ The crisp British accents of Downton Abbey spin a tale of servants and masters as I snip, trip, cut, glue, and paste together Valentines for a few friends and nieces. A pile of love notes await the post office.

~ Good friends share wine and stories over a yummy dinner. (Sweet mercy! Chicken cooked in the crock pot all day with oranges, onion, garlic, and thyme; zucchini and breadcrumb casserole; carrots, potato, and sweet potato roasted with olive oil and rosemary; salad; and Tonia's bread.) So good to laugh and reconnect after so many months.

~ The taste of apple crisp and coffee wake me to a sunshiny day to spend with friends at our local winery.

~ A narrow country road bends between a river, a creek, farms, orchards, and vineyards. Sunlight filters through baby leaves and new blossoms to land on those sweet yellow flowers (weeds) that make my heart awake to the new life of spring. Old rusted trucks, barns and out buildings in various states of repair, laundry hung on clotheslines built in the 30's... I drink the simple beauty in and my heart aches with love and homesickness for I don't even know what.

~ The rich taste of Port and other wines, blue cheese, dark chocolate, strawberries, chocolate covered cherries... We picnic (sandwiches from that roasted chicken!) in the garden and walk a row of vines in the sun. MM and I steal a few kisses now and then between the sips and bites of all these delectable goodies. A delicious afternoon.

~ The Dude abides. In a fantastic re-telling. A tale of vengeance, justice, redemption, and love. And outlaws. And one darling, plucky girl. A beautiful soundtrack. Excellent performances. We're still smiling.

~ The luxurious leisure after a bit of a lie-in of a wonderful, wandering Philosophy Breakfast with my MM. We took advantage of a mishap with the homemade bread to make "Eggies in a Basket". A giant air bubble made the perfect hole to make the eggs. Yum!

~ The diamond sparkle of a mountain reservoir in afternoon sun, surrounded by rich, gold-flecked sand, glittering snow, and a million evergreen trees. The happy gurgling creek behind us as MM and I sit munching lunch on a boulder. So many dreams come true in that moment. To sit with my Love in nature, to drink in fresh air and all that beauty. My heart could burst.

~ Margherita pizza and Fat Tire Amber Ale. After an afternoon of tromping in the snow? Amen!

~ The snugglicousness of sheets and covers after a hot shower, muscles ready for a good, long sleep.


friday fave five - dudes

My man's buddies came by last night to talk and reconnect. Haven't seen them in a while, and it was great to spend time with them. Unlike a lot of men they always welcome me to stay while they hang out with MM. I try not to do it too often, cuz I know it changes the vibe when its co-ed instead of just dudes, and I know MM needs time with his buddies. But I really enjoy these guys, so last night I stuck around.

When I was first getting to know MM I paid close attention to his friendships. I think you can tell a lot about someone by the people around him/her and how those folks interact. This is an incredible group of guys. Artists, writers, musicians, designers - super smart, funny, and creative. They get together and sip some whiskey or beers and have interesting, deep, silly conversations covering a ton of subjects: poetry, cars, zombie movies, weapons, beer, philosophy, religion, science, history, music, art, social justice, what a happens to a coconut if you shoot it with different kinds of guns...

Their friendship has great depth. These guys hug each other, say "I love you", ask how each other is doing, and mean it. They really care about each other as people and support each other.

One guy in the group just finished the first draft of his novel and is headed to his first writers conference in a few weeks. So, the guys are going too. They'll lend moral support and cheer him on and just be around all weekend if he needs them. And then they'll have dinner and drinks and celebrate the Author's successful first steps into his dream.

Pretty awesome.

And they are like that all the time. A new job? Unemployed? A new class, pursuit, or passion? A baby? A broken heart? A wedding? These dudes are there for each other. And they've been very kind and welcoming to me from the very begining. I just so hit the jackpot with all the in-laws!

So my Friday Fave Five this week are B, D, U, P, and J. I'm glad my good man has these good men by his side. Nice to know they've got our backs when the zombie apocalypse comes.


a good morning at our house

awake to the sound of gongs and ninjas... snuggle up close and smile into the eyes of my sweet, sleepy man... close my eyes again as he prays for the new day... pee (in the bathroom, not the bed)... make the bed together (thank you God for this marriage, for letting me begin and end each day with this man)... hug and kiss and say "I love you" one more time... get blender and tea things and breakfast dishes ready for action...

unroll my mat and stretch my aching joints and stiff muscles, massage my tense jaw, fill my lungs with deep, gulping draughts of cool air, ease gently into the morning, repeat...

slip on stripey socks and long-sleeved T-shirts and scarves and jeans that don't quite fit anymore... do something with my crazy hair... move into the morning rhythms: turn on the tea water, flip the laundry, put the dishes away, make the oatmeal, blend the smoothie, set the table, get out the lunch things, tic toc, 1 2 3, little things that keep things running...

hold hands across the tiny kitchen table... sneak a look at my guy praying again (he's so handsome!)... make googly faces over oatmeal as we connect and make plans for the day/week/weekend/month - the next steps this adventure... read a few words on how to live life well and share our thoughts on those words... another prayer, a blessing for the work of this day, for strength, for wisdom, for courage, for help...

if we're really on our game, there's time for more snuggling, etc. ;) ... if not, at least we have hugs and "I love you"s and "Text me"s at the door... and waves through the window...

the day's work begins.

Now, most mornings don't go this way, but after decades of waking up in pain, jerked out of bad sleep by a noisy alarm, to a cold, empty room, and eating alone before heading out into the weather and the traffic to drive to a miserable job and too many things to do... even ONE morning like this is heaven. Even frazzly mornings now are shared with my man, and that makes all the difference.


tuesdaybook - in a patch of sunlight

The inspiration for these posts came from the Simple Woman's Daybook. Just like the Friday Fave Five, I don't want to participate in the whole linky thing, but the meme is a good jumpstarter for posts.

For today I am...

Seeing ~ Our dingy office walls (Oh, how I wish I could paint this place. And re-wire it. And pull up the carpets. And remodel the kitchen. And the bathroom...) and the fun odds and ends on the top of my husband's desk (a dragon calligraphy brush holder, an antique sabre, a lego knight and catapult set, a screwdriver with a wrinkly man carved into the wooden handle, a nondescript tealight from IKEA, a tall clear glass vase with a single, dead rose).

Hearing ~ The whir of computer hard-drives and fans, the churning of our refrigerator's ice maker, a few birds in the trees outside.

Wearing ~ Jeans, blue snowflake socks, white long-sleeved T with a light blue v-neck sweater over.

Tasting ~ Nothing yet, but my tummy is rumbly for Second Breakfast. A scrambled egg should do the trick.

Planning ~ Now that we've settled in a bit and the holidays are over, we're trying to get back into a social groove. Trying to plan get-togethers with family and friends and still have down time. We're both introverts/creative types. We need time away from people to recharge and work on our creative projects. At the same time, we have a rich community of love that we want to stay connected to.

Working ~ Have been working on website and blog redesign, and will likely do some of that. Today I must clean the floors and make the bread. And I think there is some writing that needs to come out of my head and land somewhere.

Creating ~ If I have time, I want to sew some pillow cases and make some valentines. :)

Learning ~ Learning about the WordPress system for blogging, and all about the blog themes chosen for these websites. And MM and I are finally starting on our Home Learning Experiment. First up (to go with our Tango lessons): Argentina.

Reading ~ Still working my way slowly through Anne of Green Gables, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, and The Fellowship of the Ring. And tonight we're adding a new book to our "Things We're Reading Together" pile.

Pondering ~ For a month or so, I've been chewing on the truth that its not about "balance" so much as it is about priorities. What is really important? How do we make that happen? Abundant life is a life lived with purpose and meaning. An abundant life doesn't just happen; it is designed. So, I'm thinking a lot about the design of life. The foundation we need to lay so we are free and strong enough to leap off into Big Awesome Things. I'm still thinking about schedules and rhythms for our life this year. Still thinking about "First Things", and trying to figure out what needs to be done when, so that we can have things in place and ready to go and can focus our best energy on the things that matter to us.

Remembering ~ Tomorrow is Ground Hogs Day! :)

Thankful for ~ Warm slippers, homemade bread rising in a patch of sunlight, my green sharpie pen, distilled white vinegar that can clean everything (even my hair!), my stretches in the morning that help ease me into the day, my husband holding my hand as we sleep, a restorative weekend and smoother sailing...