Wednesday, September 14, 2011

a mini a month: may, june and july

This post has been a long time coming! Turns out my incredibly slow internet connection at home was eased a bit by switching to Google Chrome for my web browser - and it had to happen in order for me to navigate the new(er) Blogger system to create a new post. So, here we are with A Mini A Month: May, June and July. Clicking on the month name below each picture will bring you to shots of the entire book.

August is still under a bit of construction - needing some photos from the processor to round out the album. Still loving this project.

A Mini A Month is a year-long project where I follow my inspiration and use on-hand papers from my stash to create a minibook each month.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

inner peace

As I went about my day on this September 11, 2011, glancing a bit at memorial photos on the internet and listening just briefly to stories on MPR on my way home from Trader Joe's, images and memories from the last 10 years of my life kept popping into my mind. Happy times. Sad times. Funny times. Unexpected times. Angry times. Anxious times. Calm times. Joy-filled times. I was reminded that over these 10 years, I've come a long way at finding my own inner peace.

The week before September 11, 2001, I had "broken-up" with two friends from high school. One I would probably have called my best friend at the time. I'd known her since 7th grade. The break-up is a story too long and complicated to explain here. In sum, it was the situation of friends growing apart. If we had met for the first time then, we likely wouldn't have become friends. Ours was a friendship created by attending the same junior and senior high schools and then returning to our hometowns to live with our parents post-college. In the meantime we had met others who more closely matched who we were becoming as adults. It was a sad, angry and anxious time for me. For us. My everyday world had collapsed a bit. And then, a week later, parts of our country collapsed and lives ended. Perhaps for a bit we collectively felt what other parts of the world have felt for generations. Unease. Victimized. Loss.

Eight months later I was in a serious car accident - so serious that I saw my life flash in front of me, and thought "I don't want to die yet," and for a few brief moments, thought I had. It took about two years for me to recover emotionally from that experience. I was numb to life for in the beginning and remember telling a wise person, "I lived, but I forgot how to live." I told her I felt silly and guilty for even feeling this way, mentioning 9/11 victims and how small my hurts are compared to theirs and she told me - almost interrupting me to do so - Jill, peace begins inside of us. We can hope for peace in this world. But for that peace to happen, it needs to happen inside, each and every one of us. The best you can do for this world is find your own inner peace. Don't compare and diminish how you feel. You won't ever find peace that way.

And man, that was a challenging journey. Sad things kept happening. My mom had a heart attack. I got into a huge fight with my sister one Thanksgiving and we barely talked for six months after. I was employed, but didn't make enough money to move out of my parents and pay for graduate school. I was still single after date after date after date. There were good times, of course, but I hung on to the bad and sad for far too long. I couldn't shed old dreams. My thoughts had grown deep roots to the past; my anxiety about the future was exhausting.

The grace of something outside of me brought me back into the present moment one day in late May, 2008. I looked around and saw that life - my life - much to my surprise, looked pretty good. In fact, my life was incredibly blessed. I know it sounds too simple to be real, but it was like in just a moment, a switch was flipped and my set-point emotion wasn't sadness anymore. I was skeptical for a while. Could this be what happiness feels like because I think I felt happy all day today. For a while I was afraid I'd jinx myself by believing the next day I'd feel the same. Days of feeling happy overall turned into months, turned into a year. I was at ease in the moment. I had uprooted my self from the past and decided to move with the present. I took new paths. Hurts were healed. Old good dreams were replaced with new good dreams. I was at peace.

It didn't surprise me at all today as I was on my way home from Trader Joe's, driving down a road I take almost every day, that I saw the break-up friend from 10 years ago walking his dog. He married the other break-up friend, my old best friend about 8 years ago. We live just a few blocks away from each other now and we see each other occasionally out and about, managing our lives at the grocery store or Target. We often stop and chat and smile. I'm friends with them on facebook - enough that I comment on their wall posts from time to time. I'm happy in my life and I hope they are happy in theirs as well.

The best each of us can do for this world is to find our own inner peace. It's everyday work. It's work that doesn't end. It's hard and it's messy and it hurts sometimes. I'm not perfect at it and I don't expect others to be either. I'll be challenged again. But I know this for sure: I am a truer, more loving person because I've committed to this work.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

a mini a month: march and april

Wow. It's been a month since my last post. Since then green leaves and blooming flowers and 103 degree temps have emerged outside. I've been sort of captivated by all the fresh new-ness of late spring (now summer, apparently!) in Minnesota and it's been keeping me busy and away from the blog world. But I'm back with an update/share of A Mini A Month.

The covers of March and April are below - click on the month name below each photo to see the entire album. Even though my posting is later than I hoped, I still love this project and am keeping up on creating a book a month. My goals are still being met: get crafty, use my supply stash, let inspiration take over and guide me. May is sitting on my desk waiting better light (read: next weekend when I'm home during the day) for photographing. Apologies that photos of March are a bit on the dark side. I raced sundown that day and kinda won ;)


A note about April. I used Ali Edwards' idea of a Scrapbook on the Road to document two days (a weekend) in my city.

Cheers to a new season, new ideas and new ways of seeing possibilities. And more sun, heat and flowers for good measure.

A Mini A Month is a year-long project where I follow my inspiration and use on-hand papers from my stash to create a minibook each month.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

craftstravaganza 2011

Last Saturday, I visited one of my favorite urban/modern craft sales, Craftstravaganza. It's hosted in the Fine Arts building at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul and seems to always draw a crowd. And the weather always seems to be semi-miserable. It was cloudy, rainy and under 50 degrees for most of the day. I arrived around 3pm and watched the clouds part and sun start shining. I took that as a sign for me to have fun, fun, fun at the sale.

I've decided to start practicing creative tithing (link routes to an article by Scoutie Girl - highly recommend reading it if you're interested in this topic) - supporting other creatives by purchasing their art on a consistent basis - something I've done for a while actually, but lacked a great way to think about this practice until hearing about if from my friend Caiti. Here's how I tithed at the sale (and, just to note, I tithed a bit more than I expected too!):

Necklaces by Larissa. Loved her display (sorry, no pictures) and actually it's probably what drew me into her booth. I make much of my own jewelry so I usually pass right by the jewelry booths. She works with a lot of metals, which is something I don't do much of, so that's what first attracted me to hr space. Then I saw her lovely assortment of vintage/reproduction vintage lockets and necklace pendants and knew I would be picking something up. I left with two necklaces - the teal/ivory owl cameo (saving it for fall) and the golden yellow floral cabochon, which I'm wearing now.

Map cutout of Minnesota. I love maps. Have for a long, long time. I can read atlases for hours. So when I saw Stephanie's sleek and colorful display, dotted with map images, I walked right on over. I flipped through her Minnesota paper cuts and told her I'd be back after looking around some more because I was caught between two of her framed pieces. Obviously I did swing back later and decided to go with the Minnesota cut that features the area of northern Minnesota where I vacationed with my family from toddlerhood through college (what were the chances that Blackduck, Minnesota would make it in to one of her pieces - meant to be, right?). The other option was of the Twin Cities (and included my fav city of Northfield), but after a conversation with Stephanie's dad, I decided to go with Blackduck. Happy I did. Stephanie came all the way from Michigan for this sale, and indie crafting is her full-time gig. I was happy to meet her.

Peacock screenprint. I've really been into decorating and crafting with bird images for over a year. Peacocks (and owls) are new birds for me. I found this piece at Amy Jo's booth and I wasn't sure at first, but I'm happy I brought this home. I think it might be just right for this small spot above my kitchen sink that has stumped me art-wise for almost six years.

Not pictured:
Mother's Day card from Michelle. I always visit Michelle's booth. I have quite a few of her screenprinted creations and two photos. I love her floral/nature inspired prints. I believe she lives in North Dakota.

Six greeting cards from Keli. I chose to restock my greeting card collection from Keli, rather than Hallmark. We had a great chat, that among my typical crafty questions, included a conversation about how nice it would be to have a husband who would be all about doing the things we're not too keen on. For Keli that meant helping to haul in her displays for shows. For me that would mean cleaning up the kitchen after making a meal and spackling walls, among others. We had a good laugh together and I found myself with some super great cards.

I love this show! Both for the visual beauty and the beauty of connecting with the artists. And it's a sure sign the seasons are moving right along to spring and summer :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

creating a green oasis

I have fully embraced one of my 35 at 35 actions: creating a green oasis in my living space. I kicked into high gear with it after the holidays and I'm still going strong.

Since I moved out on my own I've experimented on and off with different houseplants. I quickly settled on the idea that pothos was the plant for me - I can let them dry way out and give them a really big drink and they more or less flourish. Along the way I learned I don't have the touch for snakeplants and the rest of what is sold in the plant mart at Ikea. I almost gave up on plants when I killed my fifth snakeplant. Really? They are said to be among the easiest plants to keep alive. I've since figured out I was planting them in too large of a pot and overwatering. Back to life as a pothos girl.

I think the motivation to expand my plantings came while I visited Savannah this past October. The city's foliage is gorgeous - mysterious and romantic, stately and wild - and it felt like a "character" to me in this storied town. I wanted to cultivate more living green in my home when I returned. I decided holding off on this project until after Christmas would be a great motivator for me. Fresh plants for a new year. This also gave me a bit of time to figure out container styles for my new friends. I've become more interested in decorating with white over the past year, so I decided to use vintage/thrifted milkglass and white ceramic pedestal vases for this project. I've loved finding them at the Goodwill and vintage/antique shops around town.

This project also brought me to a local nursery greenhouse in the middle of Minnesota's long and snowy winter. I spent a few weekends strolling the aisles, soaking up the warmth and light and textures of the space. So grateful for that.

Here's where I started in January - with baby's tears and a lemon-button fern. I've found success with the baby's tears, but the nursery experts helped me determine I don't have a "fern-loving" home.

I knew there was a reason I squirreled away these pebbles in a kitchen cabinet a few years ago. I grew tired of decorating with them, but they've come in handy for creating drainage in my vintage planters.

I've read quite a bit about creating terrariums and learned African violet mix is the soil to use when creating an enclosed garden. I've yet to make a terrarium (I'd like to, though), but I am finding success with the violet potting soil. It's more loose, which seems to be helpful for a recovering overwaterer like myself. It's easier for me to tell when the soil is dry and the soil dries out faster than others, so I can give into my urge to water.

This plant vignette lives on my kitchen peninsula counter. Near two windows. The fern started here, but died because there wasn't enough light and it was probably too cold during the winter months. The baby's tears (need weekly watering), pothos (monthly watering), succulents (bi-weekly watering) seem to like it here, though. The milkglass dish holds my newest plant obsession: air plants. I purchased five small plants from an etsy seller in February. Love them! Easy care - require no soil, just one to two showers a week under your sink faucet. I plan to add some larger plants to the mix this summer.

In March I picked up some wheatgrass seeds so I could see grass growing amid an outdoor landscape that was still covered with snow. I planted two rounds of container grass, most recently for Easter. It lasts for a few weeks, then seems to topple over and dry out. It spouts in just a few days in a thin layer of moist soil, and surprisingly, not much light. I do have to give it a "trim" to keep it shorter. In addition to the rectangular white planter, I now have it growing in the vintage cups in the second photo, too - next to the sedum-type plant that has been in bloom for 2+ months.

In April I picked up a small blooming orchid at Trader Joe's. First time for me with an orchid. I asked my mom about them and she's never had luck. So far I've followed the instructions on the tag (water when the top layer of moss is dry) and it's still living. I water with a basic liquid fertilizer mixed in the water. I hope that might prompt it to bloom again. It has one little bloom still hanging on. I read that once all the blooms fall, you should trim it back to the notch behind the lowest past bloom to get it going again. We'll see. The leaves are pleasant, too - remind me of magnolia leaves (which fell frequently from trees and hit my in the head - ouch! - in Savannah).

The vintage egg cup in the first photo (sorry for the scattered reference) is the perfect home for a small pony-tail palm. I love these plants. I have a much larger planting of three pony-tail bulbs in my bedroom that I picked up a few weeks ago. They tell you when they need water as their bulb shrinks in size - not very often, it turns out. I like their spikey and drapey texture.

And another shot of a tiny air plant. This project makes me so happy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New feature: A Mini A Month

I've been quietly working on a new year-long project I'd like to share. I'm calling it A Mini A Month.

The idea came to me over the week-long break from work I had during the holiday season in December. I was puttering around in my craft area one day, feeling rather overwhelmed by the amount of papers I've collected and photos I've had printed. Overwhelmed in a good way, I should say. I enjoy having this collection and decided I would enjoy it even more if I put it to use.

So, with that, A Mini A Month was born.

Here's the project "framework" I've developed for myself:
  • Create one minibook a month with at least half of the contents coming from my collected stash - including already developed photos.
  • Use the mini as a personal journal of what I experienced in the month - favorites, routines, events, facts, feelings.
  • Focus less on the journaled words forming complete sentences and thoughts. 
  • Test out artsy techniques I've seen or thought of, but haven't had a venue to try out.
I'm loving this project.

Currently, here's why. I look forward to working on it = I get something created. I see my stash being used. I like going with my current flow at the start of each month with how I want to construct the book - what's interesting me now in color, size, contents, words. I love that I welcome each month with a new mental canvas - a new month to make a new book.

Here are the covers of January and February and a link below each to view the complete album in a flickr set.



I don't plan to give extensive how-to's on each of these albums throughout the year. Feel free to contact me via email jmkane25 AT msn DOT com if you have a question or two.

I'll post March soon and progress throughout the rest of the year.

Hooray for embracing creativity and just going with it!

A Mini A Month is a year-long project where I follow my inspiration and use on-hand papers from my stash to create a minibook each month.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

keeping me going

This gorgeous photo by Flora Douville featured in a recent post on her blog is keeping me going while freezing rain and snow continue to fall in the Twin Cities.

Doesn't the magic of the light and mystery of the path just draw you in? Love it. (I suggest clicking on the photo to view it larger - my blog formatting requires a smaller photo.) Thanks to Flora for this much needed spring eye-candy.

ps : Flora's photography greets me M-F at my work office. This is the second year I've displayed her photo calendar on my pinboard. She lives in France and I believe most of her paired photos are details of her European life. I enjoy the glimpses of life across the pond.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

meals & such

During my walk in snow flurries this afternoon I was thinking about how much I'm enjoying how I've been planning meals for the past five or so months. I discovered how preparing a meal is meditative for me about ten years ago when I was following a strict Weight Watchers program. Cooking really became a passion for me.

I know this plan isn't novel and many people probably follow something similar. My rationale for doing this covers a few objectives:
- it's more economical for me
- ease on Monday - Friday
- I make better eating choices. I work on a university campus and have tons of great food options just a few blocks away from my office. But that means spending more cash and not making wise choices all the time.

For me, right now, it's easiest to make 2-3 meal options on Sunday. These pretty much last me throughout the week. Here's what this looks like most often:

1. A hot entree. Soup, a pasta or grain dish or a cooked meat. I eat this for both lunches and dinners. I usually get 4-5 servings from what I make. For soups, I usually freeze at least one serving right after I make the recipe for the future. I like to do this on the front-end because I'm less likely to toss it at the end of the week because I'm tired of eating the dish. Needlessly wasting food is a top pet peeve for me.

2. Something that's served cold. Vegetable, pasta/grain or fruit. Vegetables usually take the form of salads. Grains/pastas are typically salads too, with chopped vegetables, a seasoned dressing to hold everything together and a protein (cheese, meat, egg or nuts). I combine fruit quite a bit with yogurt or cottage cheese. The old standby of a PB&J or meat/cheese/spread sandwich fits into this category too. This usually is a 4-5 serving option too.

3. A baked good. This is more of a recent thing for me. I've been making muffins or quick bread weekly for about a month. I'd rather have these goodies around the house than a full-on dessert on a regular basis. They make for a quick breakfast if I'm running late and they save me from picking something up at a coffee shop during the day. And I know what I've made them with.

4. Extras (for when I get bored with something, or if the weekend is too busy to get two options completed). I rely on my freezer mostly for extras. Portions of hot entrees I've frozen. Matthew's burritos. Amy's low-sodium frozen meals. Frozen vegetables. Frozen fruit for smoothies. Trader Joe's naan. Trader Joe's cucumber wontons (this is a regular go-to on Wednesdays when I tutor after work and eat around 8:30 or so). Eggs for an omelet or hard-boiled. Target Simply Balanced pizza (you can take the girl out of college, but you can't take college out of the girl). Friday is usually the day I'll buy lunch around campus. I do keep a few dessert sweets on hand. Usually ice cream, frozen fruit bars and/or cookies in the freezer.

This week looks like this: my version of veggie chili, hard-boiled eggs in the fridge, a quinoa tuna salad I made up and cornbread muffins.

I keep a notepad on my fridge and write down entree ideas there. It's right next to the notepad I use to make grocery lists, so it's easy for me to glance over and jog my memory about what I'd like to eat. Right now, this is a great plan for me.

Monday, February 28, 2011

the littlest things

The littlest things are making me happy right now. Like this small, thrifted plate that's perfect for two Carr's ginger lemon biscuits. Tangy and tart, not too sweet. Perfect with a cup of hot chai tea.

What little thing is making you happy right now?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

sunday muffins

I'm so not on board with another 10-20 inches of snow, so I made strawberry rhubarb muffins this morning. Used this recipe. Highly recommend. I added a bit of vanilla to the batter and a sprinkling of sugar on the top of each muffin before baking. Delicious! Take that snow - spring is right around the corner!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

liz gilbert

I haven't written a bucket list for my life. All those ideas are still tucked away in my mind. But last night, I was able to put a little check mark next to one.

Elizabeth Gilbert kicked of my local library system's author talks series with a free talk at a 1,000 seat theater in the southern metro. I heard about this event a few weeks ago when a facebook post from the author series appeared on my update stream. Hmmm, I immediately added it to my work calendar, but thought I shouldn't get too excited about because I probably wouldn't be able to get in because they weren't issuing advance tickets for it. I pictured myself getting stuck in Friday afternoon traffic or being the 1,001 person in line. So, I sorta forgot about it until this week. It literally wasn't until I had a decision to make about which way to turn my car to leave campus that I decided to see if I could get a spot in the audience.

I got to the theater just as they were opening the doors at 6:15. The line was long. Not out the door long, but long in that it snaked through the entire building so people wouldn't have to stand outside. But I did get a seat around 6:40. Right on the aisle.

Liz came on stage at 7. She was radiant, even from my high-up seat. Warm and funny. She told two stories about her mistaken identity. One about two Estelle Getty-type women who thought she had something to do with "that Eat Pray Love book" and had to ask. When Liz said who she was, one of the women said, "oh, so you're the one that wrote that book based on that movie with Julia Roberts?" The other story was about the store she and her husband own in Frenchtown, NJ. A customer asked her husband if he knew about the store (not knowing he was the owner). She told him she had heard an author owned the store and that it was Barbara Kingsolver. Lots of laughs over these. Liz has a bunch of cousins that live in Minnesota and she was delighted to see many of them in the audience.

She read a few pages from her recent book, Committed, then took questions. A volunteer with a mic walked by me while another question was being answered and I stopped him. So he waited by me. My heart was pounding in my throat. I no like public speaking. For a minute I thought, what are doing, Jill? Then I was up and I asked a shortened version of the question I've wanted to ask her if I ever got the chance. It went something like this:

Hi Liz. I'd love to hear more from you about the conversation you had with Richard about his idea about soul mates. Could you talk a little more about that?

You need to have read to book to know the part I'm talking about and I won't go into it at length here. She smiled and nodded her head and said what Richard told her about soul mates changed her thinking about her life from that point on in the journey she was on. She also said she noticed quite early on in all of her book signings that the most common page readers wanted her to sign (after the standard title page) was the soul mates page. She said that says a lot about how her story is like so many other people's stories too. And then she was on to the next question. There were no more than six asked, so I feel fortunate that mine was one of them.

I loved hearing her answer. And if I had more time with her I would have said her words on that page were the catalyst for me to start thinking differently about my life when I read them in 2007. I sat through the end of her talk thinking how amazing it is that words truly do change lives. What a gift.

I had Committed with me and not EPL, so I had her sign one of my favorite pages in that book - an idea I wouldn't have thought of on my own until she shared it tonight. I really couldn't talk to her when I was a foot away from her. I tried saying something and ended up smiling at her instead.

Here's another part of the story. I wasn't feeling very social as I was walking to my car with my coworker Kaylee yesterday. We were having a pleasant conversation, but I was tired from the week and distracted about how nice it would be just to get home while it was still daylight out and call it a day and maybe that I really did want to try to see Liz tonight. And look what happened by me deciding to be social when I didn't feel like it.

Hooray for the little goals that move you to reach the ones almost too big to believe.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

35 to do at 35

I turned 35 on this past November 25 - Thanksgiving Day, in fact. A double special birthday because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.

Elise has inspired me with her birthday books to come up with a list of to-do's totalling how old you are. I started last year when I was 34. Susannah just posted a fabulous 38 @ 38 list last week. I love finding these types of celebratory/focused goals for the next year lists from other bloggers. An update on my 34 project coming soon. I need better light to take a few more photos on my completed book documenting my list.

Here's my 35 @ 35. Updates on progress to follow throughout the year. And of course I'm making another little book to document my progress - photos of that to follow, too, in another post.

1: Go hear live music. November 27 was my first concert - seeing the Brothers Frantzich holiday concert. January 28 was my second seeing a vocal/poetry/short film/dance performance at Patrick's Cabaret for Tammy's birthday. This also counts for #17.
2: Can some jam or salsa or jelly.
3: Try a new food.
4: Buy a digital SLR camera.
5: Take a photo class.
6: Register past MCBA classes toward a certificate in book arts.
7: Make a book for someone. Completed. Made little word of the year books for Tammy and Laura for a part of our New Year's ritual. I'd like to make more for others. . .
8: Volunteer with kids.
9: Take a trip to Bayfield, WI.
10: Do good with $5.
11: Holiday gathering on-line.
12: Be social when I don't feel like it. Social is my word for the year.
13: Take a risk. Technically I've completed this one as well. I gave my boss a list of added job responsibilities I would like to add to my portfolio. Still waiting on where this is going. . . and feel I can add more risks to the list.
14: Date. Still. On. The. List. If you know anyone I should meet, let me know ;)
15: Cross an ocean.
16: Rent the Lilly Cabin.
17: Attend a cultural event once per month. Sorta crossing with #1 so far.
18: Read six books. First one done - The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.
19: Host a dinner party.
20: Watch the Star Wars trilogy.
21: Walk a 5K event.
22: Go bowling.
23: Love something difficult to love.
24: Write a letter of appreciation. I did this today - without even thinking about this to-do! I'm counting the email I sent to the director of research at the U of M Foundation, thanking her for her team's collaborative efforts. This department is criticized sometimes (I'll admit, by me and my office mates and other offices around campus) for not sleuthing out enough viable donor prospects for us to meet with. Well, I sent Juli a thank you email today because a few years ago the researcher I worked with at the time used a two paragraph blurb in a local paper to identify an alumnus I met this week. Regardless if he makes a financial gift down the road - meeting him has been a gift to me this week. It felt great to share a thank you with a colleague.
25: Paint something.
26: Sew a pillow.
27: Dress up for Halloween.
28: Do a random act of kindness for someone I don't know.
29: See a show with mom.
30: Go out to eat with dad.
31: Walk a new labyrinth.
32: Create a green plant oasis at home. I'm having a lot of fun with this one right now.
33: Finish my Ireland album.
34: Put together a thrifted outfit - preferably vintage fashions.
35: Document this list. Started. . .

That's it! Excited to see where these take me. . .

Sunday, February 6, 2011

what i did during the super bowl

 I made this
 with some of these
and a little of that.

Saying I loathe American football really isn't strong enough. It's something I care not one iota about. Right up there with parades and fireworks - although I do enjoy those just a smidge, every so often. Heck, I watched the St. Paul Winter Carnival Torchlight Parade on TV yesterday. I did think it was just as boring as it would have been if I were standing outside watching it, but I watched it with my mom. I did learn something new, however. I didn't know of the tradition of the Vulcans ousting King Boreius, so it was sorta fun to see that happen on the steps on the downtown library. But I won't need to see that happen again to live a happy life.

I spent this Super Bowl Sunday doing all sorts of things I enjoy. I attended a free decorating class at Pottery Barn. I've heard about these before and was curious. It was OK. Surprisingly the instructor encouraged us to look at what we already own and thinking about new decorating possibilities. I thought it would be all about pushing PB products. Refreshing. After that I ate lunch at Bread & Chocolate, followed by a quick trip back to the antique mall I visited yesterday because I forgot to pick up something I really wanted. . .a kitchen gadget. I'm not a big kitchen gadget gal, but this one is probably my fave. I'll post about it soon. Then I went to the nursery to pick up a few more houseplants. Two more stops - the Y (SB had started by this point and no one was there - score!) and the grocery store - also near empty.

After all that, back home to make the above - smitten kitchen's mushroom bourguignon. Second time I've made it. Pure winter comfort food. It's fantastic.

And tomorrow is my favorite Monday. The start of the non-football season. Now World Cup soccer on the other hand. . . there's something I wish came around more often than every four years.

vintage thrifting

Hooray for discovering beauty from the past. I've been inching my way back into picking up housewares and and clothing from my local thrift, consignment and antique shops. I've found my style has changed a bit from my early 20s - especially for housewares. I used to be all about rustic barn wood and rusty metal. Not so much anymore. Now I'm wildly attracted to 50s and 60s prints - mostly florals - on just about anything. A double hooray if I find something to wear from these decades.

A few little dishes, yellow houndstooth pillowcases for spring and summer. And this wool dress coat with square buttons and fur collar. I do feel sorry for the rabbit that gave its life for this collar. It was a long time ago. And I really love being able to give this beauty another life. I'm thinking these little dishes will provide nice homes to some small air plants I'll be purchasing from etsy. Oh, and the tablecloth is thrifted as well - picked it up last fall.

For me, it's all about finding just a couple items I really love, rather than buying just because it's a good deal. More to come as I pick up items here and there.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

sunday soup

 Recipe for an easy Sunday afternoon soup starts with two jars of these
 some of these
 an immersion blender, some soft cheese and crusty bread
and my extra: some GUS (grown-up soda). Has anyone tried this brand? It's good.

I made Giada De Laurentiis' creamy red pepper soup this afternoon for the second time.
A recipe that does not disappoint, in my book at least.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

one little word//2011

see the entire book here

I'm 17 days into my word for 2011: social. I love finding a word to guide and inspire me throughout the year. More on my words from past years here.

There are layers to the story of finding social for 2011. The first layer is over ten years old. After graduating college (the most social time of my life to date, in my mind), I found myself back home, living with my parents, working full-time and reconnecting with friends from high school. Many of us moved back home. Together a core group of us cobbled together much socialness, bringing college friends and new co-workers into the fold. It was fun. It was chaotic. Lots of parties. Lots of planning. I (quite literally, even) became Julie from the Love Boat for this group. All I did was plan our next weekend. Our next adventure. A Caribean cruise vacation. Finding ways for all of us to be together. Working really hard not to notice that we all were really drifting apart. Drifting away from who we were as kids and defining who we were becoming as adults. It was a bumpy, bumpy ride. And along the way me feelings became really hurt. Looking back on the whole deal I can't really remember what all the drama was about our partings. I do know that there are a few people from this group I don't miss in my life. And a few that I still talk to and see occasionally, which I enjoy.

What stuck with me for many years was this feeling that I had been taken advantage of during this time. I don't remember hearing "thanks" for all the work I put into planning our social activities. Part of the issue was me. I was sort of a doormat for my friends - I didn't command much respect in how I behaved with them. But still, this lack of gratitude really bugged me and I decided I'm done being the social planner. I'll just hang out in the back seat and let others drive for a while. That worked OK for a few years. Then most of my friends coupled up, got married and started having kids. And I (we all) entered the very fake world of believing 1) if you're single, your calendar is always full of exciting things to do and you don't have for your non-single friends and 2) if you're coupled or coupled with kids your life is rooted in boring routine and obligations and your single friends don't really want to come over to your house for dinner. I can only speak of 1) from experience - and it's not true.

Now, I did learn an important life-skill over these past 7 or so years: how to be my own best friend and enjoy spending time with myself. I can't say I've mastered much in my life so far, but I have mastered this. And like it or not, most of us will likely be single as an adult at some point in our lives - and faced with living alone. I'm proof it doesn't have to be sad and lonely. I am sad and lonely at times - of course, we all are - but it's not my normal. I'm happy and content these days and it feels wonderful.

All this came to my mind in October when I sat down for an early dinner at Social on Tybee Island. It was my last day visiting Savannah and at least two shop owners I met during the week told me I had to go to Social when I was on Tybee. Even though it's on the main street, I drove by it about five times. It's a new restaurant on Tybee - very beachy, laid-back in feeling. Lots of open spaces inside and out on the porch. I loved all the white and weathered wood, the billowy fabric that was draped around the porch and the twinkle lights in the rafters. I was the only person eating outside and I pictured the place humming on a weekend evening, in an easy, friendly, smiling sort of way. Hmmm, social. The word was starting to stick with me.

The next week I was walking my usual route into work and stopped by a display board in front of our natural history museum on campus. Lots of flyers about upcoming exhibits and events. One caught me eye: Social at the Bell. I picked up that postcard and along my walk decided the universe was telling me to be more social.

So, here I am. Social is on my mind. So far, so good. I'm looking forward to what the year of social has to offer me.

(The first photo is from a little book I put together in December. I was needing a break from my Holiday Daily project and wanted to make something a bit more random and less formatted. I had some other words I had written in my journal that I thought could be my word for 2011 while at Clare's Well in August. This little book is about those words, and social, too. I had fun making it.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

an old friend

From the Celtic Comtemplative Service at Pilgrim Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Into your prayer time tonight, we invite you bring these concerns: (this one has been on the list since I started attending this service in 2008)
"those who need to forget the God they do not believe in and meet the God who believes in them."