Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Travelling light...

Today, we're going to be chatting about one of my favorite subjects... travel preparedness. (I have no idea when this became one of my favorite topics, but it totally is.)  I was one of those people who had never flown on a plane until I was around thirty years old.  Because of that, travel has become a rather new and exciting thing to me in the past decade and we have made some really sweet and fun memories as a family and as a couple because my man loves to travel.  I spent the majority of my earlier life over-packing because "you never know." But I learned some tips that have served me well for years, and now I love the entire packing process and can do it in about ten minutes flat. This is a long one, but I hope you enjoy. 

I figured out one really important thing about myself when it comes to travelling.  Heading out with a carryon, and no checked baggage is my jam. In fact, I'll do about anything to not check a bag!! A couple of years ago, I discovered the world's most perfect travel carryon.  One that even saw me through an eight day camping trip to Banff last summer.  My daughter, perched on the edge of the bed, watching me pack one day, proclaimed that it was a magic bag and she asked for one herself, on her next birthday.  It's this under seat carryon by Travelon.  As girls, we could not LOVE this bag more. It is stacked with zippers and compartments so you can quickly and easily tuck items away in an organized fashion (be still my heart) and it seems as though everything has a place. 
I roll every item of clothing and feel that this is key!  ROLLING!  My man has a totally different opinion when it comes to packing, but I have tried both methods and mine saves bunches of room so I stick to what works best. I either stack the rolled items horizontally as I have shown here, or I tuck them in vertically if I have a lot.  (That was the secret to our Banff trip.) When I pack, I always figure like this- Three days= Six days, if everything gets worn twice.  Look how much room I still had in this! I could have easily added two or three more days of outfits if I had wanted to.

Of course the "duh" tips are, wear your thickest layers and items and heaviest shoes while travelling, carry your coat and use as a blanket or pillow. (A note about the coat, living in the Pacific NW, it seems like everyone has a black, puffy, packable jacket.  EVERY.ONE. But for good reason. Our weather is often mild, but consistently changing. I love a jacket that packs and zips right into it's own pocket and highly recommend this type of coat for any and all travel. I've owned one from REI and a more feminine, longer length from Kohls and have loved each of them.)

Another sort of important thing I do, is decant nearly all of my full-sized beauty products into tiny containers with screw top lids, and then slap a label on it, rather than purchasing travel sized items.  I prefer doing that because 1) less waste 2) I really like the products I use daily and don't want to use something else for a few days if I can bring a small amount of my own stock, if that makes sense. This works from skincare to makeup to shower products.

Now, I need to admit that yes, I do have massive minimalist tendencies when I travel. (This shouldn't surprise you by now.  I've gotten a ton of requests on an update of my ten item wardrobe choices and I do promise to get on that soon.) You might not be as minimalistic as I am, but I really like the challenge of making things coordinate so that I have fewer items to bring and anyone can surely appreciate the forethought of that.  I would rather bring things to wear twice or things to wash in a sink and dry overnight or laundromat halfway through a long trip, than check any baggage. (Incidentally some funny memories can be had at laundromats in other places.)

For our weekend getaway last weekend, we were gone three days and two nights to a resort with some snow. We knew we wouldn't be out in it for the most part but I planned a pair of boots for the just in case factor and was really glad I had.  The dress code was business casual but I wasn't attending all of the functions that my husband was so I was able to wear/pack one dressier outfit and two more casual outfits. There was however, a big party with mandatory costumes required... the theme was famous couples.  My husband chose George and Martha Washington.  The goober.  So I had to also pack a huge skirted eighteenth century dress into the bottom of my carryon... which I did, and then ironed it once we got there. I had to share the photo of us, that a friend took... Adrain was trying to look like George Washington but I told him he also kinda looked like he was suffering from food poisoning. Haha!
I wore this gray shirtdress from Eddie Bauer on the plane with thick black tights and tall black boots, my packable coat and simple jewelry of a diamond necklace and studs. (Incidentally you simplify your entire LIFE by choosing one jewelry look that works with everything, everyday.) The dress is extremely comfortable and I'm a huge fan of this line.  I own it in both the navy and also in gray. I chose to wear it on the plane because the meeting I had to attend and dress for was shortly after we landed and the boots were my bulkiest shoes.  It worked terrifically and I even spilled tea on the dress in transit, but once we hit the hotel room I quick scrubbed it with soap, gave it a rinse and it was dry within the half hour, looking perfect again.  No weird travel creases, polished and very comfortable.
The second day was a meeting day for Adrain most of the day so I wandered around, spending quality time in my favorite coffee shop, getting room service and enjoying some of the local shops.  I was glad I had my boots and coat as it was far colder than I realized. I had originally packed a pair of dark green skinny jeans and a black blouse with a black camisole underneath it but as luck would have it, I ended up wearing that outfit the first evening with a pair of gray flats (more on those in a moment) because I was feeling a tad overdressed for the evening event since everyone was donning jeans. I was so glad that I always follow the black tee shirt rule when packing. (Did I make this up?  I'm not sure, I've just always done it.)  Always, always, always throw an extra, quality, classic black tee shirt into your bag- long or short sleeved, depending on the destination.  It's saved me countless times and can easily be adapted with a scarf, long necklace, or something of that nature, if need be. Since I had already worn my black flowy blouse, the first night, I opted to pair my green jeans and boots with a long sleeved black tee. It was perfect for exploring and relaxing all day and I still felt pulled together and intentional. 

I mentioned that I changed the first night and wore some gray flats...  These gray Rothy flats.  (
Rothy's... if you haven't heard of them, I must introduce you!  They are classic and I've got my second pair in my sights as we speak.  They are made from recycled water bottles which thrills me because, that is so good for our environment!  The comfort level to these flats is amazing.  No breaking in, just pure walk-all-day in style and comfort, ease.  They can also be washed in your machine and dry super quickly. I can't say enough good about them.  Once I got mine, I edited out five somewhat stylish, yet not all that comfy flats right out of my life.  I no longer had need for all of them.  Bam! My kind of minimalist wardrobe!) If you order a pair, you can get $20 off with this code

For the final day which was relaxed with early travelling home, I repeated the green jeans, wore a super soft gray sweatshirt that had just enough detailing to make it polished and the gray flats. I changed into my boots at the airport because my feet were cold. You may be realizing that the color pallet of what I packed was very versatile within itself (grays, blacks and greens.) and as I needed to mix things up, rotate shoe choices, etc, everything coordinated so that I was able do that.
I purchased a set of these bags from Amazon last year and have absolutely LOVED them. I toss them inside the big one and that fits neatly into my personal bag, alongside my phone, clutch purse, snacks, notebooks and such.  I had to laugh, I was almost out of my full sized deodorant so I tossed that in and used it up while we were gone... I calculated that perfectly instead of buying a travel sized one.

Tips that keep me travel-ready:
*I keep my carryon in my closet, on a shelf for easy access.
*Inside my carryon, I store my travel items to keep everything handy.  This includes a travel pillow toiletries kit and tote bag that I use for my extra bag.
*Inside the travel kit, are things I stash during my non travel days, such as free product samples, small sized items like the toothpaste from the dentist and such.  I keep it nearly fully stocked at all times, so that I don't have to rush around cramming things in as I pack.  It makes for streamlined packing, as I am generally just refilling any items that are low.
*I keep the bottles and small containers labelled with aid of a label-maker.
*I always store earplugs, sleep aids such as melatonin and some luxury items for puffy eyes in the kit because though you may not need them at home, they are often nice to have in a strange place.

I like sailing through the airport, fully streamlined and organized.  When I travel, I keep these items in my personal bag:
*boarding passes and ID in outer pocket, easily grabbed
*small clutch purse for use while away
*a notebook and pen
*travel pillow (often hooked over straps, instead of inside bag.)
*Dramamine and other meds in a tiny container
*really good hand cream and lip moisturizer
*phone, charger, and camera
*toiletry case with liquid items contained, that need to be pulled out at security
*packable jacket, packed into it's own pocket, if I am not wearing it

In my carryon bag:
*clothing, rolled and stacked in order of plans for wear
*camisoles and accessories like scarves, rolled and stored in inside pocket of carryon
*underthings, folded flat and stored in carryon inside flap
*socks and extra socks, folded flat and stored in carryon inside flap
*extra shoes, tucked at bottom
*Pajamas, rolled and placed on top
*curling iron at very top
*outer carryon pocket may also contain gloves or knitted hat, etc.

On my Person:
*the jewelry I plan to wear the whole time

So that's my system.  I really don't veer from it and I hope this was a help for those of you wanting to streamline your travel preparations.  It's a bit trickier travelling with kids, but non-stroller aged elementary age kids can wheel a small carryon bag for themselves and wear a backpack with their personal items in it too.  We didn't fly a ton with littles, but that's what worked for us when we did. If you're staying someplace with access to a washing machine a bonus tip is this... wash everything before folding and repacking for the trip home.  It's so nice to unpack clean clothing, rather than deal with a mountain of laundry!!  As always, give me a shout in comments if you've got any questions.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Tips for Artfully Styled Shelves

Well hello darlings.  I'm freshly back from a glorious weekend away with my man on a work trip and am working on the travel tips post I had promised would be next. However, on a whim, I just quickly refreshed my bookshelves and I loved the idea of this inspiration so much that I decided to push this post in front of the travel tips one! I hope you don't mind.  (I'll get that one up by week's end.)

So first, let's talk about book shelves.  There are as many different ways to use and style one, as there are personality types. I prefer mine to have a mix of both functional AND pretty, thus you'll not see me flipping my books backward so that I can't read the titles. (Though it's so pretty in photos.) Today, I'm sharing my shelves and how I refreshed them just a bit, lightened them up and edited a few items out to either the donate bin (hello paperbacks that I'll never re-read) or other spaces in our home.  Simple images draw me in and whisper calm to me and I'm working more and more to create that overwhelming feeling in my own home and spaces.  Often, a quick edit is all that is needed, but a total overhaul for fresh inspiration, is a good idea when you're really longing for change.  For these shelves, I removed everything to a table and rethought it all from scratch, cleaning as I went. It took about an hour total and was well worth it. Truthfully, I edit and shed more and more material items as Adrain and I get older and continue talking about downsizing once our children head off to colleges and lives of their own.  I want experiences more than stuff and I suppose that is shaping the way I am decorating (or dare I say not decorating?)  more and more.

Now, those of you who are wall to wall book hoarders may not even have space for anything pretty on your bookshelves.  Guess what.  That's okay!  However, after reading this, you may find yourself wanting to edit those shelves a bit to lighten your load (especially if you'll truly never open that book ever again in your lifetime) and might be willing or able to then rethink the function+pretty idea.

That said, I've always had a lot to say about collections and how they work (or mostly don't work) for me.  Collections are nice but I personally can feel almost weighed down whenever I have too much of anything. Can you relate to this?  Just an overwhelming feeling of too much and heaviness. Without even realizing it, I created some kind of unspoken inner boundaries for myself in this, by really seldom having collections that swell to more than five items in all.  Most of the time I stick to less than three. I also don't even have many collections. I have exactly three vintage blue mason jars and I am using each of them for a purpose.  I have five vintage cameras that I adore, two that came from my grandmother so they are sentimental collected items and I think that's about all that I collect. (If you're struggling with a large collection that is gathering dust on shelves someplace in your home and suffocating you with its girth, consider keeping your top three or five favorites, placing the rest into a storage bin in your garage, and if you don't actually (deeply and truly) miss those items being out over the next month... share them with others, let yourself feel joy in sharing, or even donate them.)

One thing I love, are collecting items from experiences.  For example, I styled my shelves using some very precious ocean-tumbled rocks, shells and driftwood from a family getaway that we visit every year.  Each time my eyes rest on these items, I not only see the beauty but my heart remembers with fondness, the wonderful time spent gathering those items.  As you style your own shelves, consider using things from travels, memories or even local offerings in your décor. (beach sand or pinecones...things like that)

Tips for artfully styled bookshelves: 
* Gather items you love together on a flat surface such as a table, and then pick out all of the items that pair nicely together. (This is a great time for a quick edit if needed.  Things you aren't going to use, could be placed into a donate bag rather than re-stored, unless you have spots for them elsewhere in your home.)
*Edit your books as you go, pulling them all from the shelves and asking yourself if you'll actually read or refer to it ever again.  (Inexpensive paperbacks might be great to share, while classics are an obvious keeper.) Dust all your empty shelves off. 
*Lay books on shelves in pleasing patterns- think about like colors, height, and both vertical and horizontal arrangements
*Bookend piles with objects you have gathered.
*Incorporate pretty storage for both display as well as usefulness. (For example, my candles)
*Use items in these daily displays that might otherwise sit unused in a cabinet until special occasions (For example, the wood candlesticks I've gathered here.)
*Collect and display meaningful treasures from dear places.
*Add sweet favorite framed photos
*Add greenery, faux or real
*Shop your home, kitchen, dining area for items that aren't being used regularly, such as pretty bowls, boxes, vases, trays and pitchers for height and interest variation.
*If possible, add pretty accent lighting.  I like the Ikea bookshelf lighting options, and use them daily.
*Stand back and think about balance and scale, and make adjustments where needed.  I'll often move a pile of books or an object around a few times as the shelf takes shape.

(Note, if your shelves feel too cluttered once complete, edit again.  Removing items is nearly always the answer.)

As I mentioned above, I nearly always begin projects like this, by removing everything, reevaluating, cleaning, editing and then adding back into it as needed. For this refresh, I was inspired by gathering  together wood elements, my small pottery collection (including one special crock that has been in my family for years) and special vacation mementos.  I am happy to answer any questions you have in comments so please do make sure to check back there if you ask anything!  It can be the smallest changes that feel the biggest and are almost always worth the time.  Re-thinking a space often leads to other re-thinking of other spaces, and can leave you feeling lighter and refreshed on the whole.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Party Plans, Part 2 (recipes)

As promised, I wanted to share the simple recipes that I used for the recent party I threw.  This was the pound cake I've been using, except that I add almond extract, rather than lemon and I don't top with a glaze... I also bake in a bundt pan or two loaf pans instead of what they recommend.  It is a fabulous cake but do not neglect to get everything including eggs to room temp first.  It is so good that people who mock my gluten free cooking and baking have actually told me that this happens to be the best pound cake they have ever had.  And with eight eggs you can totally justify eating this for breakfast.
 I served this cake sliced, with warmed chocolate ganache.  Honestly it's stupid easy and you can't mess it up. Equal parts cream and chocolate chips of your choice.  Heat the cream til nearly boiling and pour over chocolate chips.  Let it sit a minute and then stir til it's all melty.  (For complimentary flavors you could add a few drops of almond extract in this, which I totally did.)
 This was the original Whisky Crab Soup recipe that I adapted.  (For mine, I didn't make a roux as many of us have wheat allergies, and I didn't use marinara sauce in my base, I substituted cans of crushed tomatoes with Italian herbs.  I also doubled most of the spices and liquor in this.  It was excellent and we used 4 cans of canned crab meat (the real deal) instead of fussing with crab legs.)
I served a giant Caesar salad with this huge pot of soup.  I like to take the easy road with hosting, so I used bagged, prewashed and cut romaine.  I tossed them into a colander, gave them a cold water rinse and then refrigerated them for about half hour, to forty five min, in order to crisp them up.  It's a marvelous trick.

For the dressing, I toss the following into a bowl, whisk and pour over the salad right before serving and top with parmesan cheese.

1 1/2 mayonnaise
1-2 tsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed is amazing in this)
2 or 3 cloves minced garlic (I use the stuff in the jar.)
2 tbsp. worstershire sauce
2 tbsp. chicken broth (water works in a pinch)
about 1 inch of anchovy paste squeezed from the tube (I know... but you can trust me... this stuff makes it.)
freshly cracked pepper

Everything was easy and yummy which is the way I like it.

Up next, I hope to share a few of my favorite travel tips, packing tips, favorite travel products and such so stay tuned!


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Party plans (part one)

I'm sitting here, sifting through about three dozen blog post ideas.  The general topics I've gotten requests and suggestions on, all have a common theme.  Organizing, downsizing, living with less and hosting more.  Have I mentioned that I love you guys? I am probably going to be a little repetitive at times, for those of you long time readers (though many of you who asked for tips on the above, have already heard many of my thoughts over the years and wanted more!) I can't wait to dive into this blogging year now.  I was feeling stuck, but as I was purging my closets and such, I kept getting such sweet feedback and comments asking for more on these topics, that now I'm excited to share.  (At this point, I'm tentatively planning a Lent series on "Seeking Much," which will probably touch on topics ranging from heart to home.  I'm planning an organizing series for our spring cleaning which may overlap a bit, into the seeking much series- I'll see as it comes together.  It will include things such as junk drawers, laundry rooms, master closets and paper clutter. I'm thinking about writing a short travel tip post on packing, storing and staying organized and I may also touch on creating kits for various things in life as well as a few other random posts. You know me... I hope you enjoy, and as always, I welcome your feedback in comments. 
 Today, I'm sharing part one, of how I plan impromptu, inexpensive yet meaningful parties from start to finish with little effort and time.  (Next post, I will share the recipes for the foods I made.)  For large holidays I tend to sit down and plan ahead a bit on paper, but for smaller gatherings, I tend to find one thing that inspires me and go from that point outward.  As far as the starting point of inspiration, it could be the color of flowers in season, napkins that I'd like to use, a food theme, etc.  

Basically, inspiration can come from anywhere and when it hits me, I normally know immediately and it shapes the direction of my remaining plans from there. I figured the best way to explain how I go about this process is by telling you somewhat step-by-step, how I made decisions and preparations for my most recent party, as this is my typical method.

Mainly, I don't overthink any of the details when I host, and I like this approach for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's a lot less stress to simply go with the flow.  Secondly, parties that come together in a more organically inspired way tend to be less wasteful and more fun.  (That's an opinion, but try it and see if you don't agree.) As I go along, I kind of mentally keep track of what I have on hand, as well as what I might need or want to add in order to bring it all together. I'm constantly on a strict household budget, so I never go very extravagant and recycle much of my serving and party items which may seem repetitive for long time readers but it's very real life, so I think it's relatable.  Few of us can go out and purchase all new items each time we host and if we did our storage closets would be bulging with items we store and don't use. (I also like multi-use things, for example, in spring, I might host using a pretty and fresh centerpiece that I plan to plant in the backyard once the event is finished, or I might hang platters on the wall for décor which double as... serving platters.  You get the idea.) I try to look for ways to keep my good basics feeling fresh with each event, even if it's in small ways. 

 I think that's actually a key to inexpensive party planning.  Nice, quality basics that can be reinvented and reused regularly. Oh, and not stockpiling too much.  That can honestly suffocate your hosting gene.  Think, too much of a good thing.

Personally, I recommend  the following: One full set of nice white dishes that you can use for everyday, as well as special events.  At least ten place settings. (Any more guests than this, and you're probably in paper product zone anyway.) 
A set of 8-10 crisp white linen napkins, set of off white napkins for more casual events, and a printed or colored set that compliments your overall decor. (I like to use all of our items indoors and out, so nothing is too precious for use.)  I like quality items but overspending on something that can be broken or soiled is ridiculous so I hunt for deals.  The same goes for vases, glassware, candles and serving pieces.  Good quality, classic shapes and good enough for everyday as well as special occasions.) 

When it comes to organizing any party/hosting/serving items, I like to keep vases together, on a high shelf in the kitchen, and often vases can double as candle holders/hurricanes.  I keep a set of drawers stocked with basics like cloth napkins, table runners, candles, tea lights and matches.  All near the table and handy. I keep them sorted, labelled and ironed if needed, ready for use. (This also helps limit any hosting stress, as I am ready at a moment's notice, to pull items out for use.) I seldom fuss with things that get left on the table anymore, such as fancy and useless place settings and napkin rings.  They clutter the eating surface and bug me so I don't even own any napkin rings. 

I keep two sets of silverware, our every day set and the silver set I inherited.  I keep them in two separate drawers one on top of each other and that makes for simple options and much more use than if the good set was stored away somewhere.  I don't personally believe in having anything that isn't used fairly regularly.  Life is too short not to use and enjoy the pretty stuff. 

I keep platters, trays, drink dispensers, carafes, etc., organized in the cupboard above my refrigerator.  (I'll be sure to share more about all of this in my upcoming organizing posts.) 

The party we threw on Friday was a small going away dinner for my sis in law who is moving.  I used that as the example for this blog post.  My starting point was the food because I knew it needed to include a menu with seafood of some kind since she loves that.  I decided to make a Whisky Crab Soup recipe and then remembered that she also loves my Caesar salad, so I figured soup and salad would be a perfect pairing.  She's not big on sweets so I made a very basic pound cake in a bundt pan and served a dark chocolate ganache over top.  Once I had that simple menu nailed down, I hit the grocery store where I found a few little mini bottles of prosecco on sale.  They were so cute that I grabbed them and while I wandered, I remembered that I had a few small galvanized buckets up in my cupboard with platters, that would work perfectly for individual chilling buckets for them.  (I've used them for condiments, utensils and lined them with parchment for food serving in the past.  They are a really useful serving item to keep on hand.  I found mine at the grocery store last year, when summer items were in stock, but Pottery Barn has some more costly versions.) 


 I wanted the feel of the event to be casual and relaxed and I have been loving the table throws I've seen in Pottery Barn, rather than a tablecloth and strictly set table. I own a very lightweight, blue kantha stitched throw that I almost consigned because it hadn't been used, being so light.  I flipped it over and loved the solid background with the stitching.  I decided to add that item into my table décor stash, and will now use it as such.  I let that inspire the rest of the table/party décor.  I pulled out my cloth  napkins and loved the white plates with blue stripe classic napkin style.  After that, I shopped my supplies and gathered items such as candles, soup spoons, a large bread board and the buckets with prosecco bottles.  Once on the table, I felt that I needed some kind of greenery so I ran out to Trader Joes and found two bunches of Queen Anne's Lace, for $2.50 each.  Those were exactly what I was looking for and they looked perfect on the casual, unset table.
*A brief note about the unset table look.  Obviously not appropriate for every gathering, but I couldn't help but love this casual and undone approach to hosting.  It made for a pretty look that was both practical and functional for self service.  My table is nine feet long but you could easily adapt this for a smaller table and it would work well for brunches or small group settings as well. It was festive without being fussy, stiff or formal. Perfect for the party feel I was reaching for.

Up next, I'll be sharing the recipes I made.  I hope this helps you as you put together parties, consider storing and organizing supplies and stocking up on basics.  Hosting is a lot about being properly prepared and well stocked so being organized and editing anything that is excessive or unused is incredibly helpful.  More than anything, I hope it inspires your hosting approach, helps you relax and let it take you where it wants, which will put you and your guests  more at ease.  As always I welcome any questions and will do my best to get comments answered within the week so make sure and look back if you leave anything. 


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A sweet new year...

Hello to you, dear ones.  We packed our holiday season quite full and I was glad to keep busy.  I asked my Instagram friends to let me know if they had any topics they would like to see me blog on in the coming year and they had several ideas. Quite a few of them were things I'd already covered in years past in some capacity, but a few surprised me.  I'd love to hear from you all.  So far, I've gotten topic ideas such as these for the most part;

Hosting and party
Fashion posts such as my continued streamlining of my ten item wardrobe
Skincare and makeup routine + products I use
Recipes and Holidays
A day in my life
Book recommendations

So yeah... basically what I do now... just keep doing it I guess. Haha! (But really, you want to know what skincare routine I have?  That was cute which reminds me, this year, I didn't make resolutions and to be honest I seldom do.  The one resolution I ever made that I ever kept, was a promise to myself to take good care of myself as I age, and to keep my fingernails manicured regularly. But back to what I was saying... I think I'd love more than anything, to get a few more specifics.  People might say, "Post on organization" but in what way... your sock drawer? An entire room or closet....gimme deets please. Same goes for all of the categories... I would LOVE to hear from you so I know what to blog to you about!

Now a few fun/weird/random things...

I am wildly crushing on Instagram stories and it's my new random (sometimes daily) brain dump. PLUS I can see who is watching whereas I can't see that in my feed, because it's only reflected in likes and comments and there are a few people in my personal world that I thought never paid any attention to social media/my feed, and low and behold they never miss a story I record!! Makes me feel loved somehow knowing that. I deleted most of my account photos for a fresh start.  It was a grief process recovery thing and I won't get into it, I just needed a fresh edit on life.  

I got rid of my nose ring.  (I know, who really cares.)  I did say this was random. (I decided I didn't want to be a 70 year old with one, and it's become that thing that all the forty year old moms I know do so I took mine out.  I'm different like that. Wink.)

I rearranged the office yet again, making room for an air mattress because one of my besties is coming to stay soon, I cleaned out every drawer, shelf, cupboard and cranny in my home and I can honestly say I am truly on my way to becoming a retired/empty nest minimalist in the coming years because if it weren't for kids I think we could get rid of half of our belongings tomorrow. Dang kids.

Next year I am getting a big Christmas tree.  Just for the record. You heard it here first.

I am once again working extremely part time for my man as his office professional, after a life hiccup forced me to retire before even starting.  It's not fully worked out yet (there is still no reception area for me to actually work in, like we were promised when he moved in) so I am still behind the scenes for him personally, but it's something for me to do, and a way to help him.  There was so much heartache in the changes to our plan in early September, and the way they went down, that I am just happy to be finding my place FINALLY.  And I've forgiven and moved on but it was a hard month on my heart. Then we went right into October and my daddy died... I didn't enjoy the heartache and tears of the fall season at ALL.  Looking ahead and anticipating that God has some good things here for me and some real SWEETNESS.  I am planning to latch onto that wherever I can this year.

I decided last night that I am a borderline shopping addict and I cut up every single credit card in my name.  Even the Costco card because it's on the back of a visa card.  I think sometimes life makes it so easy for us to fall hard into too much of a good thing... (As does Amazon! Ha!)  I needed self-accountability and I'm the spender of the two of us, so I told my husband what I was planning on doing- his agreement was all the confirmation I needed for some changes.  (It's not like a daily thing, lest you get the wrong's just more than I personally needed to be doing and I knew it... the conviction hit me where I was. To others how and what I shop for might be normal or even a lot less than what's considered normal out there.)  But we all know when our normal is not right for US. Ya know?  So, we'll see how it goes.  My husband is so patient with me I can't hardly stand it sometimes.  I want to be a wife who makes him proud though and this was a big step for me.

Lent is early and I'm excited.  Doing a study with my family and I'll share once it arrives.  Giving up nothing, but seeking much. 

I heard once you should have something to look forward to in approximately six days, six weeks, six months and six years from wherever you are.  I loved that. Mine are- a couples getaway, a visit from a friend, a family vacation, and living in a tiny condo with my man as empty nesters. (Very excited about a spring vacation with our kiddos and I'll share more as we get closer.. but if you have any must see places in San Francisco, please share!!) (Also... should I be worrying about the fault lines and earthquakes? I was worrying about them in the middle of the night last night.  Also I am terrified of bridges and they are making me walk on the Golden Gate.. I might die.  Like, literally.  Especially if there is an earthquake. I've seen the movies.  The bridge never makes it!!) 

Lastly, my word of the year is, "Breathe." (Perhaps I should have breathed while writing the above paragraph.)  I was telling Adrain and he teased me non stop about it... and then one evening I saw a cute necklace with a metal stamped word, "Breathe" on it and showed it to him. I said, "See? I think this is God confirming that this is my word because I was just thinking about it and then here it appeared in my feed." (He rolled his eyes... YES he actually DID, and laughed as he started to say something about it.. and as he was speaking, my phone dinged with a DM notification... it was someone totally random sending me a magazine article on the word BREATHE!  I may have gotten a bit feisty and shoved my phone in his face with a, "Oh yeah?  How's that for a God confirmation big guy?"  (Poor Adrain. He should not try to un-logic me from my logic.  It's really unwise and bad for his health too I think.) (You understand this entirely I am confident.)

Okay I think I need to hit publish and go.  I have a million photos I could edit and post in here but they have nothing to do with the content and I'm running behind so it's a photo-less one for you today.  Please, please, please let me know specifics of your interest here in this blog, for the coming year and I'll do my best to blog about it!  Love to y'all.