Friday, January 18, 2019

Friday's Fave Five

It's time for Friday's Fave Five, when a group of bloggers, hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story, look back at the week for five blessings, no matter what else the week might have brought. I was reminded of this exercise this morning when I came across this quote by Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet who passed away yesterday.

Instructions on living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Aren't they great words to live by?

Here are five things this week that, while maybe not astonishing, were delightful and made me smile.

The snowfall this morning ~ We expected a little bit, but it turned out to be several hours of heavy, big fluffy flakes, and it was wonderful. I went out for a little while this morning, and was glad to get home while it was still snowing and I could enjoy it from the warmth of my home.

Roses in the winter ~ A friend gave me some flowers last week (I have been gifted with flowers a few times in the past week, lucky me) and they are still fresh and colorful. Deep peach roses surrounded by baby's breath.

Meeting with my book club ~ For 20 years now, we've been meeting like clockwork on the third Wednesday of the month. This month we discussed The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. The setting of the World War II story is France, so the hostess served French wine and hors d'oeuvres, and a delicious dessert of spiced pears with French (of course) vanilla ice cream. We had a lengthy discussion about the book, and it was such an enjoyable evening with good friends.

Seeing or hearing from all three of my brothers ~ We're pretty good about keeping in touch, but this week started with a visit with my youngest brother who lives here in town. That was followed by a text from the middle one (that had me trying not to laugh out loud in the silence at the library), and then a phone call from my oldest brother. It was a good week:)

New socks ~ Simple pleasures. Actually, they are for my husband, but I love borrowing them, because they are so thick and warm and comfy. 

Wishing you all a happy weekend!

Monday, January 14, 2019

January Daybook

For Today, January 14th, 2019

Outside my window . . . it's getting lighter earlier these days, by just a few minutes. I can hear cars driving down our street, most likely parents dropping their kids at school. There is a thick blanket of snow on the ground, still there from the snowfall on Friday.

I am hearing. . . the furnace humming, the clock in the hallway ticking.

I am thinking. . . about my mother. She would have been 86 today. She's been gone from this earth for 19 years, but is still with me every day.

I am thankful . . . for the love she showed me, the things she taught me, especially her positive outlook and enthusiasm for all the good things in life. That even when things aren't easy, there is always good to behold.

In the kitchen. . . lingering aromas of a dinner from yesterday. My niece came for dinner with one of her friends. Dan grilled some pork medallions, I made a salad and this Loaded Cauliflower Casserole, and an apple pie for dessert.

I am wearing. . . flannel pj's.

I am creating. . . hats for the grandkids, from these little Caron cupcake packets.

Some of my favorite things. . . doing the daily crossword at, waking up to coffee brewing, fun postage stamps.

I am going. . . to meet my brother Matt for coffee today. 

I am reading . . .
 If you Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit, by Brenda Ueland . 

I am praying. . . for a dear friend with a challenge ahead.

I am looking forward to . . . more snow predicted later this week.

Around the house. . . things are pretty quiet. Dan is working from home today, the house is picked up and laundry caught up. I have another day at home before heading into a busy week.

A favorite quote for today . . . from "Becoming," by Michelle Obama:
“I now tried out a new hypothesis: It was possible that I was more in charge of my happiness than I was allowing myself to be.”

A few plans for the rest of the week. . . Appointments with the dermatologist, the groomer for Lilly, Book Club on Wednesday.

A peek into my day. . . I don't have any pictures to share, but there is still a small Christmas tree up in the corner of the dining room. I took the decorations off of it, but we're enjoying the lights and I may just leave it up for a while. I also have twinkle lights around my kitchen window. They are cheery on overcast mornings like this and add warmth to cold winter days!

Happy Monday!


If you would like to write your own Daybook, the guidelines are here. Thank you to Peggy for being a gracious hostess of The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday Favorites!

Wow, two posts in one day! I really wanted to try Five Minute Friday (see last post), but couldn't give up on Friday's Fave Five. So, who knows what the future will bring?

1. It's snowing!!! and I'm drinking hot chocolate and all is right with the world (sigh). The snow has been coming down all morning and looks no where near stopping, so the hot chocolate is flowing and I have books to read and cookies to bake for my hubby.

2. Yesterday, Dan worked from home -- something he's been able to do more of lately, which is really nice. It's like we're "practicing" for retirement. Someday. We went for a walk after lunch, and then I later in the day made a trip to Costco.

3. This may seem like small potatoes in some worlds, but I finally got a new reading lamp to put by my favorite chair. The floor lamp I was using has been returned to its rightful spot in the living room.  I'm loving this wall lamp, because it has a three-way bulb and it doesn't get in the way of the little table where I put my coffee/tea/hot cocoa mug.

4. A recipe showed up just at the right time yesterday. I was over at my friend Dianna's blog, and she posted a recipe for pork chops and smashed potatoes. I had all the ingredients on hand, and whipped it up for supper. So good! If you haven't visited Dianna, I'm sure you would love her blog:)

5. I downloaded a book to my Kindle this morning, the first time I've done that in ages. It is a new for me/very old book, called If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland. Despite the title, it speaks to anyone with a creative spirit, being art, writing, sewing, anything at all, and I love it for the spiritual connection it talks about finding in creativity.  On Kindle, it was only $1.24, so you can't beat the price.

Linking up with the Friday's Fave Five group at Susanne's today.

Happy Weekend!

Five Minute Friday: Better

I'm doing something new this Friday. I'm linking up with Kate and the Five-Minute-Friday writing community. Every week, Kate reveals a new word that is a writing prompt. The idea is to set a timer and write for just 5 minutes about the word. Don't edit, don't overthink it. Then, link up your post with the rest of the group. It's a great writing exercise, and a fun way to meet other bloggers. Here goes. The word for this week is Better.


The better part. Isn’t this what I’m striving for, as I word it in so many different ways? I want to live with intention. I want to set my goals for 2019, so as to use my time wisely, put effort into the things that truly matter, and extract the goodness out of situations that might be challenging or difficult. Because even in those situations, there’s a silver lining.

Mary chose the better part. Like many women who are the "doers" that Biblical story used to confuse me even to the point of feeling annoyed. There isn’t a lot of glamour for the person in the kitchen, filling the plates and doing the dishes. However, even those situations call for a better part. I can wash dishes, clean my house begrudgingly, resenting a chore that requires my attention repeatedly. Or I can put my hands to work, and let my mind rest in better thoughts, smoothing sheets, polishing the wood of a desk that has been in the family for generations, while listening to music, smelling the aromas of a meal cooking in the crockpot.

It sounds Pollyanna-ish for sure, but it’s a choice. I do get to choose where my focus will be. I want to choose the better part. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Favorite reads in 2018

I'm working on my list of books to read in 2019. (I'm really not wedded to my lists, but I don't want to forget some of the good titles I hear about). I thought I would share my top five favorite books from last year. There were lots of good ones, but these five floated right to the top. I added a gadget from Goodreads over in the left hand column. So, if you really want a good synopsis of any of the stories, click on the title over there, and Goodreads will give you a much better review than I ever could.

Here they are, in no particular order:

News of the World by Paulette Jiles This was such a good story, based just after the Civil War in east Texas. An older man is a 'news reader' -- someone who travels from town to town, reading newspaper articles from all over the world as a form of entertainment. In his travels, he comes across a young girl who was held captive by Kiowa Indians, and it is his responsibility to take her back home. The relationship between the two is so touching, and in my mind the main character was like 'Woodrow Call' played by Tommy Lee Jones in Lonesome Dove, which made it all the more enjoyable.

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty This brought all sorts of lovely images to mind, as I pictured Cora Carlisle and her young charge, Louise, both from Kansas, in 1920s New York City. I had the pleasure of meeting the author last Spring, and she read portions of her book and talked about the methods of research she used. 

Unbound by John Shors I'm a bit biased, because I've met the author a couple of times, and he is so very kind and charming. Yes, he is my author crush;) Having said that, his books (all set in Asia) are a wonderful blend of history and characters that I come to care about so deeply. This particular story is set in China on the Great Wall. 

The Lake House by Kate Morton Perhaps, this list should be favorite books/favorite authors:) I've never met a Kate Morton book I didn't love. I loved the mystery in this story, as much as I loved the house, which is as much of a character as any of the people.

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende This is one of those lovely stories that takes place across decades. I couldn't put it down! As I said, this list is in no particular order, and as I've been typing each title, I'm thinking to myself, "Oh, but this was really my favorite!" 

So many books, so little time! Where would we be without books?  Happy reading in 2019!

Friday, January 4, 2019

A whole new year for gratitude

"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance."
~~Eckhart Tolle

It's the first Friday Fave Five of the New Year. I was just thinking, there are 52 Fridays in 2019 (I Googled it to be sure), so that gives me the opportunity to come up with 260 things to be grateful for this year. At least;)

Flowers,  just because ~ I've had a lot on my mind this week, and my sweetie came in from work tonight with some roses for me, "just because." He's a keeper, that one.


A new magazine ~ to enjoy with a cup of coffee. It's been years since I've sewn clothes for myself, but I can't resist picking up a sewing magazine now and again. This used to be one of my favorites. I remember when it was twice the size and filled with more technical info. It's more magazine-style now, but I enjoy looking at the patterns and fabrics just the same.

A new devotional ~ A friend has gifted me with the annual version of this devotional for about five years now. It follows daily mass readings, and each year the reflections portion are written by a different author. I'm excited to see what will be revealed to me this year.

Snail mail and beautiful stamps ~ The same friend sends me the loveliest cards, and she always uses the prettiest stamps. One came in the mail yesterday with a sweet note. It made my day.

New year, new journal! ~ And a fountain pen (thank you, Santa) to go with it! Bullet journaling is a big thing nowadays, and they look so cool! Have any of your tried it? But, truthfully, it makes me nervous to think about all the potential for not getting it right, so I journal the old way, with no rules. 

If you would like to join with the Friday Fave Five crowd, here's the link.

Happy weekend,

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Welcoming the new year

I love the 'between time' from  Christmas to New Year's. It's a period of twilight before one year is completely gone and the next has yet to begin. I've heard it described as one long, glorious Sunday. The Norwegians actually have a term for this span of time and it's called Romjul, a time for spending at home with family and friends. I think they are on to something.

It helped that I didn't go back to work right after Christmas, and Dan was able to work from home for a couple of days. So, we really slowed the pace around here. We dined on Christmas leftovers, got caught up with our shows and movies on tivo, and slowly straightened up the house (around the tree, which stays up until this weekend).

I spent an entire afternoon at my desk, cleaning out some files, setting up a new calendar, and skimming through last year's journal. It helped as I reflected on the year past to set some goals for 2019. 

My aunt is settling into her new apartment, and my awesome niece spent a day painting the living room so that Dan could hang pictures, and my nephew will help unpack cartons of books to put on the newly painted bookcase. That morning, I made my mom's crumb cake recipe. Because we didn't have enough carbs at Christmas.

And when New Year's Eve arrived, we spent it having dinner at our friends' house and it was perfectly lovely, better than any five star restaurant. There's a saying that 'friends are the family you choose for yourself.' That has definitely been the case in my life, as I've been blessed with some wonderful friendships. It snowed that day and the temperatures were bitter cold, but it just added to the festive air.  Dan and I were home and in bed by ten. The next day, we went to my dad's for the traditional New Year's Day family celebration. That night I watched one of my all time favorite movies, The Family Stone.

I could live in this little nest of Romjul, but I'm also excited for what lies ahead in 2019. Going through last years journal, sweeping through the bits of dust and debris left in the wake of some challenging times, I found some gems that made it a pretty darn good year overall. 

Onward and upward! 2019, here I come!