Monday, January 30, 2012

My Friend Eleanor

*I'm not sure what is happening with my blog format and text.  Blogger is giving me fits for some reason.  I apologize for the different sizes of fonts and the wacky layout of this post.  Hopefully I can get things ironed out soon.*

I celebrated birthday number 46 last month.  Or as I prefer to say, the 17th anniversary of my 29th birthday.  ; )  And I'm not gonna lie to you, my friend.  It hurts just a little to think that I'm middle-aged.  

Middle-aged.  Wow.  I remember when that was old.  As a teenager I believed that anyone over 30 was ancient and for someone to say a person was middle-aged meant they practically had one foot in the grave.  I actually felt sorry for folks who were so far past their prime.  Yes, I really believed that 30 was pretty much the cutoff age for anything considered youthful.  

Boy oh boy, did I have a lot to learn.

Unless this is your first visit to my blog, you are familiar with my love of quotes.  I recently came across this one from my friend Eleanor.  (Okay, so she's not really my friend in the truest sense of the word...especially with her being deceased and all.  But judging by some of the wisdom she shared, I feel certain we could have been great pals.  Kindred spirits, if you will.)

Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun; as we see that the shadows, which are at morning and evening so large, almost entirely disappear at midday.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Isn't that fabulous?  And so very true?  
With age comes experience and, if you've used your experiences wisely, better judgement.  The daring of youth is somewhat tempered and common sense begins to play a part in decision making.  While I hope I never lose all of the adventurous nature of my youth (though I confess that what is adventurous to me would probably be quite boring to most) I am happy to now have experience and levelheadedness on my side. 
When it comes to the things I love I do still consider myself to be a passionate person, but youthful passion is so much more...unrealistic?  In our youth we expect others to react to our passions with the same level of excitement and anticipation that we feel.  That usually leads to disappointment because youth is also somewhat vain and self-serving.  When others don't share our enthusiasm, it tends to dampen our excitement.  Nowadays I don't expect so much of those around me.  My passions are exactly that...mine.  No one else has to approve of them or validate them and when they don't, it doesn't alter them in the least. 

What are my passions?  There are far too many to name them all here, but I'm happy to give you a glimpse.

*My family.

*The beauty in nature.

*The written word.

*Friends, both old and new.

*Good food.

I confess.  My passions have changed over the years.  And now, in my middle age (or my 'midday'...I really like that!), I'm happy with where I am.  I'm content to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of a pink sky at sunset or a good book and the warmth of my favorite quilt on a cold Saturday afternoon.  I'm happy to spend hours in the kitchen chopping and simmering and mixing and baking meals that I place on my family's dinner table, and happier still when they enjoy the fruits of my labor as we sit together; talking, laughing, sharing the day's news. 

And best of all, middle age finds me much more comfortable in my own skin than I ever was in my youth.  Yes, my youthful skin may have been without wrinkles and sags and age spots.  It may have been more pleasing to the eye.  But, youth is much like a new car you just drove off the lot.  You tend to worry about getting that first ding or scratch.  You want others to see that car and think "Now that's a good looking car!"  You polish and shine and do all you can to keep it perfect.  And that, my friend, helps to bring about those fine lines and wrinkles of middle age.  ; )

I'll take my wrinkles because they've all been earned.  I'll settle for less voluminous eyelashes and crows' feet and slightly jiggly thighs.  I'm not a physically flawless specimen but I am okay with that.  I am free to follow my passions.  I am free to laugh at myself when I make silly mistakes.  I am free to not worry about how I look to others.  I am happy with who I am.

And those are the gifts of 'midday'.  I'm glad I'm finally able to accept them with a grateful heart.  : )

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How Important is Yours?

The other day I read something and thought 
What timing!  

You see, things had been a little....
strained, I guess you could say.  
Just a matter of life getting in the way 
and priorities getting out of line.
Things seemed...broken.
Well, I don't much like broken things. 
I had been making a conscious effort 
to make things better.
Doing my best to pay attention,
choose words wisely,
keep attitude in check,
and stop taking things for granted.

That's when I came across this.

Then a few days later
I'm looking around on Pinterest
(Yes, I have another online addiction.)
and I see it again because
my daughter has pinned it.
I figured it was a sign that I should blog about it.  ; )

So tell me it isn't only me.
Do you sometimes 
(perhaps too often?)
get to that place where you take your marriage
for granted?
Where you don't work quite as hard on it
as you know you should?

I don't like being taken for granted
and I believe in that whole
"do unto others"
Ya know?

Some folks claim that a marriage 
should not require 'work'.  
That it should just fall into place
if it's meant to be.

I wholeheartedly disagree.

We put effort into true friendships.
We do nice things for our friends,
 sometimes going out of our way for them
because we like to see them happy.
We're there when they need us.
We treat them like special gifts.
We respect them.

Why should we not do as much
for the person we vowed to love,
honor and cherish 
until death do us part?

We should.
It's just that sometimes,
in the day to day ordinariness of our lives,
we become complacent.
We become less vigilant.
At times we aren't even nice
Why?  Because...
well, just because.
It's the easy thing to do.
It requires less effort 
and takes less time.

And that's when it begins to tarnish
and it stops growing
and it is no longer as beautiful as it once was.

So I'm paying attention.

How about you?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @
lowercase letters
Just click on the Miscellany Monday tag up there and join in the fun @ lowercase letters.  : )

1.  This shot pretty much sums up the weather here.  Can you say soggy?  I opened a window in my family room to snap this pic.  This is our yard, just off the deck and behind the family room area.  What a mess it is out there! And not only has it been pouring buckets, I was awakened by THUNDER during the wee hours of the morning.  C.R.A.Z.Y.  We're also under a wind advisory.  Supposed to have 50 mph sustained winds, from what I hear.

2.  This is my freshly scoured sink.  I may not have stuck with The Fly Lady and her daily cleaning email reminders, but the whole shiny sink thing of hers did stick with me.  She is SO right.  If you keep the sink and faucet clean and shiny, it goes a long way toward making the whole room look better.  I think it's mostly that if you're keeping the sink this way, it isn't sitting full of dirty dishes.  ; )  But whatever it is, it works. 

3.  I was organizing my recipes and cookbooks and came across this note from Brie.  It was tucked in among the handwritten recipe cards I keep in a tin.  Brie is 25 now, so you can imagine the memories this brought flooding back.  <3  I love coming across things like this and that's why I don't just put them all away in a box somewhere.  This way I can enjoy them over and over again.  : )

4.  No pics just yet, but I'm making progress on the spare room!  : )  With Mom staying here for a few days while she recuperates, I probably won't be spending a great deal of time up there in the very near future but I'll get a little done here and there until it is complete.  I picked up another tote yesterday so I can pack away Perri's American Girl dolls (This makes me incredibly sad!  Why did she have to go and grow up so quickly?) and her Beanie Baby collection.  We'll save those for when she has kids of her own.  Most of the other stuff she had tossed into that room has gone to The Hope Shop and the Resource Center, two local charities.  Once I'm done weeding out and tossing, I have to figure out just exactly what the purpose of that room will be so I can decide what type of organizing will be done in there.  I know that board games and crafting supplies will stay, but I'd also like to put a couple of cabinets and a counter top along one short wall.  I could use it for crafting, sewing, wrapping packages, folding laundry (this room is next to my very tiny laundry room) and all sorts of other things.  Now if I can just convince The Hubster.  ; ) 

5.  I apologize for not replying to comments made here.  Blogger has been giving me fits recently.  I'm having issues posting pics and also am unable to use the reply feature.  I suppose that problem may be with Disqus and not Blogger, but either way it isn't working.

And I believe that's just about all the miscellany I can handle for today.  
I'll leave you with a little something I found on Facebook.
I like the message.  : )
(FB is good for something once in a while!)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

This is Not Good

This is my mom.
(And yes, she's gonna kill me for posting this picture of her.
She is wearing The Hubster's big, warm flannel shirt
because she is always cold and using ice
only makes that worse.)

She went to the post office on Thursday, 
where she slipped and fell,
breaking her wrist.
Thankfully it was her left wrist 
and she is right handed.

The only cool part?
She got a really snazzy purple cast out of it.  ; )

I snapped this pic with my phone this morning
as she was trying to eat a bowl of cereal
while icing her swollen fingers.
It's pretty tough to get used to doing
with one hand.

Buttons, hooks and snaps are no longer her friends.
You should have seen her attempts at opening
a ketchup packet yesterday.  ; )
Even eating a cupcake is a challenge
unless one of us removes the paper for her.

She just got the cast yesterday 
and she'll be staying with us for a few days.
Until she can manage some of the daily basics
a little better on her own.
Until she's a little more steady on her feet.
(She's still discovering new sore spots from her fall.)
And I have to admit that she's been 
a much better patient than I expected.  ; )

I've been trying to post on Mondays, 
Wednesdays and Fridays,
but yesterday was a bit busy
and I put it off until today.
I knew you'd understand.  : )

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

To Quote Emerson...

 “Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love quotes.  I sometimes Google 'quotes on life' or 'quotes on love' or whatever quotes I happen to be craving at that particular moment.  And sometimes those quotes really strike a chord.  Sometimes they really make me think.  Often enough, they really make me feel.  

This morning Mr. Emerson left me with that 'WOW!  That's just what I needed!' feeling.  

Finish every day and be done with it. 

So there.  Put yesterday behind you, where it belongs.  
Thank you.  I think I will.  

You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.

Okay, so I made a few mistakes.  Don't we all?  Make it right when you can, apologize when you should and then put it behind you.  You know, in yesterday, where it belongs.  

Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

It's a clean slate.  A fresh start.  A time to try, try again.  If you leave yesterday's mistakes where they belong, that old nonsense surely can't be a hindrance.  Right?  I think so.  And with 'serenity' and a 'high spirit', what can we not accomplish?  

I would love to live every single day as if it's a brand new day!  To leave the past where it belongs and to see the possibility in what lies before me.  If I could forgive myself my mistakes as quickly as others are willing to forgive them, what a wonderful world it would be!  I struggle with that.  I allow my mistakes to define me.  Always have.  And I'd very much like to change that.  

So guess what I'll be working on today!  ; )


Monday, January 16, 2012

An 'Off' Day

That's what today has been.  The kids were off school.  We were off our usual schedule.  And now I'm feeling a bit off my rocker.  ; )

I spent most of today in the dreaded spare room.  Did lots of sorting, lots of trashing, lots of stacking, lots of deciding what goes and what stays.  I'm pleased to say that there is a great deal of stuff GOING. I am taking off the rest of the evening, getting the remainder of the house tidied up a bit, and then spending some time with the family.  The Hubster has Perri at a batting lesson and on the way home they are picking up pizza, TYVM.  This makes my evening much simpler than if I had to cook and will give me a chance to relax before an even busier day tomorrow.  My Tuesday will be jam packed and it has nothing to do with the spare room, therefore it will have to wait until at least Wednesday before it sees any further action. 

Not a very interesting or exciting post today but  I promise I'll try to do better later in the week.  I'm just not feeling very interesting or exciting myself at the moment!  ; ) 

We all have those days, right? 

Friday, January 13, 2012

An Amazing Evening

Last night The Hubster and I had a date night and it was definitely the best one we've had for quite some time!  You see, we had tickets to see these guys:
{ In case you've been under a rock for the last decade or so, this is Rascal Flatts.  ; ) }

This lady was there, too:
She puts on a good show, but I was really there to see RF.

But first, before either of the big names hit the stage, there was this guy:
This cutie's name is Hunter Hayes.
THIS is my favorite song of his so far.
Love it!
Yes, he looks like he's 14 but he's actually 20.
He's also extremely talented.
This kid can play any instrument you put in front of him.
He can sing and actually sounds a great deal like Gary Levox, the lead singer for RF.
And everyone knows that Gary is THE voice.

Basically I guess I'm saying that last night's show was...
Yes, it was.
: )

And dinner before the concert?
Well, let's just say that it was
I've had in a long, long time!

I do love food.  : )

We went to Tidewater Grill.  Hadn't been there in a very long time
but it was just as wonderful as we remembered it being.

WOW what a steak I had! 
And the shrimp?  
The service is absolutely top notch, too.
If you're ever in Charleston, WV and you want a 
first rate dining experience,
Tidewater is the place to go.
After a night like last night, it was good to have a 
laid back day like I've had today.
Snow is blowing outside and fire is roaring in the fireplace.
A big pot of chili on the stove and we're about to
have a family game night.

Hope all of you have a terrific weekend! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Time to Make the Cupcakes

It is dreary, drizzly and cold outside.  

The sky is gray and the breeze is cold enough to turn your nose red and bring tears to your eyes.  

This January morning would be a good one to start a fire in the fireplace, 
curl up with a cozy quilt and a good book on the Kindle...

and maybe even a cup of hot cider.


It's time to make the cupcakes.  : ) 

 Hungry yet?  : )

Stop by.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @
lowercase letters

1.  Working on that spare room.   AGAIN.

Yes, I know.  I've posted about the dreaded spare room before.  I've even started sorting and organizing the spare room before.  Somehow it always ends up being pushed aside, forgotten, left as-is.  Life is a busy thing and that spare room just isn't the top priority.  But I am SO tired of it being....well, what it is.  And what it is is a disgusting mess!  It's cluttered with stacks of books, outgrown toys the kids no longer want in their rooms but don't want to give up just yet.  There were piles of clothes they've outgrown, but I already sent those out of here, to the Hope Shop, where someone else can benefit from them.  There are home decor items I'm not currently using but may again someday, therefore I don't want to toss them or put them in a yard sale.  But what to do with all this STUFF?  The mood will strike me and I will toss most of it.  I love it when that feeling comes over me and then things look all clean and fresh and ready to clutter up live in again!

I thought about hanging this sign:
But the room isn't really that bad.  Not worthy of an episode or Hoarders or anything like that.  Yet.  ; )

Do you hold onto things for the usefulness or pleasure they brought in the past and the good they might be again someday?  Or am I the only one who does this?

Please tell me I am not alone in this.  I already feel ridiculous because of it.  I mean, really.  Just how useful is that barnyard decor from Tucker's nursery ever gonna be again?  He's 9 years old.  Its time has come and gone.

I'm guessing the Hope Shop will be getting some more bags and boxes soon.

2.  I am ready for all illness and extreme discomfort to leave this house.  It started with the stomach virus I endured through Thanksgiving, followed by the terrible sinus infection I endured through Christmas.  Then there was the strep that Perri contracted around NYE, and the sinus infection/cold that caused The Hubster to miss work on Thursday and Friday of last week.  He is getting better but is still on antibiotics and cough meds.  And now my back is attempting to give me fits.  Lower back pain, tightness in the muscles, lack of flexibility and the inability to sit, stand or lie in one position for very long.  It has been back to back to back YUCK here for WEEKS!

If we don't all get well soon and stay that way for at least a couple of weeks, you may see us all dressed like this when leaving the house:
Please wave and speak and don't make us feel awkward.  I'm just tired of sickness.

I need a break from it.


3.  We're supposed to get snow on Wednesday and Thursday!  This, my friends, makes me happy!
 A shot from last winter.

We haven't had a good snow yet this year.  Very little snow at all, actually.  I like a good, deep, school-cancelling snow once in a while.  I don't think what is coming will really amount to enough to cancel school, but even a delay will do.  ; )

4.  I am going to make this a good day.  I'm going to cross at least a couple of things off my to-do list.  I have a little organizing project I'm going to do today, as well as the work in the spare room.  Little by little, it is all coming together.  : ) 

 Hope you can make it a good Monday, too!  Hang in there.  Only 4 days until the weekend!  ; )

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's All Good....or: What I learned this Christmas

Last month, just a few days before Christmas, the feeling washed over me like a tidal wave.  You know how it is.  You're just living life, minding your own business, trying to get it all done.  Then....BAM!!!  There it is!  You know it as sure as you know your own name and there is nothing you can really do about it.

You're.  Getting.  Sick.

And just four days before Christmas!  So I did what any level-headed (that point is strictly debatable), red-blooded American woman would do. 

I acknowledged it's presence, started drinking lots of orange juice, and I dared it to take me down.  (Oh, and I also bought lots of OTC remedies.  I now have a mini pharmacy in my medicine cabinet.)

And that, my friends, is how I ended up sitting in the doctor's office Christmas Eve morning.  Luckily I had managed to get most everything done prior to the onset of THE PLAGUE the nasty sinus infection that I let go a little too long before getting antibiotics.  Still, there were lots of last minute things that I just didn't feel like tackling. 

I'm usually the cookie baker.  I have always baked pretty much all of the cookies for our family Christmas celebrations, and that means dozens and dozens of different kinds of cookies.  This year I managed to get one kind mixed.  Brie did the others.  And you know what?  It was all good.

The Hubster stepped up and took care of several of the last minute preparations for Christmas Day dinner.  He pared and prepared potatoes, carrots and onions.  He kept up with the messes being made in the kitchen and washed dishes and did whatever he could to keep it under control.  And again, it was all good.

My MIL brought her usual array of sweets and treats, as well as a tray of fresh veggies and dip and all manner of pies and cakes.  And it was all good.

I felt like doing very little and that's pretty much what I managed to accomplish.  I made the oyster stew and the homemade blueberry muffins.  I did not manage to make the Scotcharoos or the pineapple tartlets.  But you know what?  It was all good.

The one thing I can say about Christmas 2011, even though I was physically incapable of truly enjoying it the way I normally would: 

It was all good. 

I have so much for which to be thankful.  I have a family who kicks in and picks up the slack when I'm unable to do my usual stuff.  Our Christmas was saved even though I wasn't able to do my fair share.  And this after I had already ruined Thanksgiving!  I managed to come down with a terrible stomach virus the night before and ended up being sick for two days.  Brie ended up picking up that slack and having everyone to her house for dinner while I remained quarantined in my bedroom. 

Yes, there is just something about holidays and me choosing them as the perfect time to be sick.  This makes three Christmases/birthdays in a row that I've been under the weather.  (My birthday is on the 27th and always falls prey to either the illness itself or the process of recovery.)

The morals of this story?

1.)  I am capable of letting others pick up the slack.  I have not always been able to say that.  This is MAJOR.

2.)  The world will not stop turning if the Scotcharoos don't get made.  Figuratively speaking, of course.  You may certainly insert any long standing holiday tradition into this sentence and know that it is the truth.  I can't think of a single thing that could truly stop the REAL Christmas from coming.  Just like Dr. Seuss said:   

It came without ribbons.  
It came without tags. 
It came without packages, boxes or bags.

It's just not about the stuff.   

Not that I didn't already know this.  But this Christmas was my personal reminder.  : )

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year... A Clean Slate?

Maybe not.  

I know that most folks look at a new year as a great time to start anew.  If the previous months have been tougher or less promising than usual, they may be desperately grasping at straws, searching for any promise of better days ahead.  And that, my friends, is typically a recipe for disaster.  Or at least a great deal of disappointment. 

Like most folks, I've done the whole New Year's resolution thing.  

Also like most folks, I've failed miserably.  

Exercise more, eat better, be kinder, spend more time doing something I doesn't matter.  Any time a person pins that much expectation on someone (even herself; especially herself) it's like having this huge thing hanging over them.  It can't/won't be ignored.  It defines every move they make, every thought they think.  Its presence is felt in every moment of every day until finally, one day (usually a couple of weeks into the new year), the pressure of it all becomes overwhelming and SNAP!  It's all over.  You stash the exercise DVDs where you don't have to see them, indulge in a bag of Hershey's Miniatures, snap at the next person whose attitude is less than perfect and you forget that 'me time' you were going to spend on the great book you started reading because you have too many other things that need done. 

It isn't pretty.

I have decided to stop looking at a new year as being a clean slate.  After all, who is really starting everything perfectly fresh?  The same people, the same situations, the same responsibilities that were there on December 31st...they're all right there looking you in the eye on January 1st.  As much as we'd like to forget some of those things, it just isn't that simple. 

So I've decided that I'm not going to view 2012 through that same pair of rose colored glasses.  It is not a clean slate and not even a completely fresh start.  Sure, there are advantages to that train of thought, but the fact of the matter is that at some point (typically sooner rather than later) that train is gonna jump the tracks.  I simply don't want to set myself up for failure and then have to deal with the guilt, disappointment and feelings of defeat.

Here's my new way of thinking:

I will look at the past year's successes and continue to build on them in 2012. 
For instance, I've changed some of my bad eating habits and I feel so much better than I have in a long time.  I'm avoiding artificial sweeteners and many dairy products.  After a little research and a few hours of Dr. Oz ; ) I discovered that some of the symptoms I've been suffering could be eliminated by making a few changes on my own.  And it's working!  Plus I've dropped a few pounds due to the fact that I'm just eating more healthily.  My tastes have changed and many of the rich and fattening foods I used to enjoy no longer appeal to me.  I am, however, craving fresh vegetables and foods that aren't heavy with grease.  I don't do deep-fried anything (except for the occasional small order of french fries from Burger King...don't judge me, please ; ) ) because I simply can't anymore.  
I will allow myself to enjoy these little victories without the 'do more' pressure that resolutions cause. 
Whatever I manage to accomplish, I will be happy.  If I don't happen to reach a particular goal exactly when I hope to, I won't feel defeated.  I will relish the progress I have made, just like I've been doing the past few months. It's a long-term goal; a lifestyle change.  It isn't going to happen overnight.  The old habits took years to form and they won't be undone in the blink of an eye. 

I will treat myself the way I want others to treat me.
Yes, that's what I said.  TREAT MYSELF THE WAY I WANT OTHERS TO TREAT ME.  Why oh why do we have such a difficult time being good to ourselves?  It's bad enough to let others treat us in a way that brings us down, but it's even worse when we do it to ourselves.  I've been trying to practice this one over the last several weeks by cutting myself some slack.  I expect too much of myself because I don't want to let anyone down, especially my family.  Then I proceed to wear myself down to the point of uselessness.  I make myself ill, emotionally and even physically.  The thing that is most difficult for me to remember is that if I don't take care of myself, I can't take care of everyone else.  Period. 


So how about you?  Did you make resolutions for this brand new calendar year?  There is nothing wrong with that!  If it works for you, go for it!  But do me a favor:  DON'T be too hard on yourself if you don't make it to the gym 5 times a week or beat yourself up if you don't drop 20 pounds by the end of January.  In other words, don't make unrealistic goals that put you under so much pressure that it breaks you.

*A little footnote: I guess the last few weeks I've spent away from my blog have been productive in more ways than one.  : )  Yes, we've been busy with the cupcakery and there have been days when I've barely had time to breathe.  But I've also had the opportunity to create and to see that there are things outside of my comfort zone that I am perfectly capable of doing.  I've had a chance to see myself in a slightly different light and to realize that there is more to me than what meets the eye...even my own eye!   And while I may not look all that different on the outside, I'm definitely growing on the inside.  Right where it counts.  : )