Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gone ... Until Next Year!

Distinct flavors in vibrant colors.            

I've nibbled up all of the Starburst jelly beans already.  These little gems pack serious punch.  More sweet, more tang than the I-hope-it's-not-buttered-popcorn Jelly Bellies in my opinion.  The Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs hide in the freezer to delay their impending demise.

What's the first thing to disappear from your Easter basket?  Or, if Easter basket's aren't part of your tradition, what's your preferred candy of choice?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Simple, Yet Complex

It's funny how often simple things are covertly complex.  Here are two of my favorite more-than-meets-the-eye things:

  1. Easy snacks.  What can beat fresh fruit at peak ripeness?  With a little prep you're munching a quick and easy snack.  With some extra peeling and chopping you're treating yourself to a scrumptious medley of tastes known as a fruit salad.  
  2. Reusing things.  Here, specifically, transforming old college dorm sheets into kitchen curtains.  On the one hand it's simple--what else are you going to do with your extra-long twin sheet sets besides donate them to a thrift store?  On the other, I hate sewing.  Enter a ruler, an iron, and some staples (also leftovers from college).   After too much ironing and measuring, I discover by stapling from the back of the curtains the little metal teeth can barely be seen in front.  End result: mostly level curtains and no longer feeling like the entire city block can watch me wash dishes at night!  
What items in your house appear simple, but have a more complicated history or use?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Year of No Travel

Last year my partner and I spent too many nights on the road.  He mostly traveled for work while I scampered about the country visiting family and attending a writing conference.  Last November I calculated via my journal that we'd traveled together, or more often separately, at least once every three weeks almost all year.  

Our previous car turns 100,000.

I began to joke that 2011 would be "The Year of No Travel."  

Then I started taking myself seriously.  What would it be like, I wondered, to not pack my bags every major holiday.  Could we, a no-longer-newly-wed couple, invent our our own holiday traditions?  Take our own "family" vacations?  

Our luggage remained under the bed until this past weekend.  I wanted to be with family for Easter and as part of my birthday month.  Result: I had such a good time  I didn't want to leave when it was time to load up the car!

To make them stay or take me with them?  The cat's quandary.

It seems my "Year of No Travel" resolve weakened a bit in between ping-pong games, laughter, and too much good food.  I've planned a girl's weekend with an out of state friend.  I've also begun coordinating my family for a beach vacation.  Yet, I still want to maintain a day-trips-only attitude for holiday season 2011.  Any suggestions?

How do you balance the desire to travel (and to see loved ones) with creating your own traditions?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Better to Give

Last autumn I crocheted my father a scarf, just because ... because the yarn color perfectly matched his eyes, because he asked for a scarf after seeing my husband's, because handmade gifts give me the chance to slow down and appreciate the person who'll receive the present while I'm working on it.

While gift-giving can be tricky, especially in a time crunch, I think it boils down to three basic components:
  • Knowing a person's preferences and personality
  • Compiling the time and resources to prepare/purchase the gift
  • Actually following through
Confession: I find the last part the hardest.  This year alone I've missed the opportunity to send a humorous get well package, to buy a bouquet for a friend going through a hard time, and needed a reminder about another scarf I'd forgotten I'd promised to make!

I picked up some hydrangeas at the local farm market before the first road trip of 2011 this past weekend (more on this next time).  Giving my mother potted perennial flowers for Easter became a tradition over the years since the holiday celebrates resurrection.  Each spring Mom keeps me updated on the daffodils and hyacinths of previous years; we look forward to the sprouting, budding, and blooming of these plants as Easter nears.  Perhaps tulips for next year.

What's your take on gift-giving?  Purchase, make, or avoid?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Under Construction

I'm currently remodeling the digital photo collection.  This project started partially because of my own craving for order and partially because of inspiration from one of my favorite blogs (Rachel Meek's Small Notebook).

I hope to finish the overhaul by the end of April, but I've encountered a few road blocks.  First, finding time to sit down with my husband when we both have enough energy to focus (photography is one of his hobbies so I don't want to accidentally delete anything).  Second, correctly dating mislabeled photos which is equally confusing and boring.  And, finally, discovering that a few albums have been lost when the previous computer went into meltdown.  Looks like I'm going to have to cobble together a "Kitten" album via random sources.  

Regardless of the hurdles, I delight in rediscovering our memories each time my husband and I work on this project.  (The above picture is from our trip to the UK a few years ago.)

What's the story of your digital photos once they're downloaded off of your camera?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

3 Ways to Process Life

My bag-of-the-day always holds at least one of these notebooks.

I scribble creative thoughts, for ongoing projects and from random insights, into one notebook.  In another I methodically organize life into goals, plans, and endless lists.  The last spiral-bound records my memories and listens to whatever feelings tumble out of me.

I used to want to find a way to meld all three notebooks into just one since it would be less to lug around.  Practicality, however, never won.  When I pick up a specific notebook with pen in hand, I give myself permission to focus on a certain type of thinking: creative, organizational, or reflective.

I like choosing each book for the details of the task ahead.  Wide pages for spur-of-the-moment thoughts; narrow lines for compact lists.  A variety of colors and page widths to add nonessential flavor.  I do gravitate toward spiral-bound.  I find it the easiest way to write in any situation, whether you need an improvised writing surface as you curl up on the couch or if you need a shield from the prying eyes of the passenger next to you.

Since I've been tri-notebooking for a while each book's utility and aesthetic embody the quirks of each mode of thinking.  I'm free to use sloppy handwriting when ideas bubble up or primly print my everyday lists.  I can guard the cursive-scrawled memories with care, but recklessly tear each finished list out of the organization notebook until only two covers and some wire remain.  Juggling the notebooks is a little cumbersome and occasionally frustrating, but sometimes life can be that way too.

Do you have a notebook or e-list you use everyday?  Do you see your thought processes as modes or something else?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chaos Control

Hardwood floors and this much fuzz...

demanded a new solution:

I grinned the entire time I de-fuzzed the floors, futon, and chairs!

Next up: schedule a trip to Goodwill to drop off the old vacuum and some miscellaneous stuff that doesn't need to be boxed up and moved this next relocation.  And, yes, the apartment hunt continues....

What's your favorite cleaning trick to refresh a room?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Birthday Month

Some people begin to shun their birthdays as the years pass, but I'm the opposite.  I've convinced myself, and sometimes my husband, I deserve a full birthday month.  I'll find a bouquet on my bedroom dresser one day; I'll get a free pass on washing dirty dishes another.

Today we doubly celebrated: a Centerstage play of one of my favorite novels and front porch banana splits.   Nothing like contemplating redemption while nibbling my way through a bed of fresh banana slices covered with scoops of peach and cherry vanilla ice creams topped with chopped walnuts.

How do you commemorate your birthday?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Apartment Hunt: Our Worksheet

Having lived at 6 addresses in 4 different states in less than 9 years you would think that apartment hunting would be second nature by now.  It's not.  I'd love to put down deep roots, maybe even buy a house, but the timing isn't right again.  At least I know better than to procrastinate (most days).  Through the long hours searching on craigslist and roaming through potential neighborhoods, I remind myself only one apartment needs to fit.  Maybe this weekend my husband and I will find it....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Destinations or departures?

Unique street signs, with the exception of fine-print parking quizzes, add a little smile to my day.  There's something like Narnia or Alice in Wonderland about a 1/2-street tucked away in plain sight on the traditional city grid.  When I pass this sign my curiosity wonders what story, what other world could be found in a place I never stop.  And, where would this diversion lead me?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vibrant Pocket Garden

An unexpected surprise found when driving down an urban alley.  Gone are the days of light gray clouds dropping frivolous snowflakes on a frozen city.  How the hibernating soil untangles shoots of green that burst into colorful flowers never ceases to amaze me.  Welcome Spring!