January 31, 2014

Friday Flowers

Many, many moons ago, when I was a 20-something writer living in England, I used to buy myself flowers nearly every Friday. I lived in a little village that had everything you could ask for: a post office, a train station that went directly to London in 20 minutes, a small grocery store, an even smaller corner shop, the best bagels I've ever had in my life, and a flower shop. 

We used to get out of work early on Fridays -- around lunchtime. Believe me, we still worked a 40-hour-week (sometimes much longer!) but those Friday were glorious. Unless there was a crazy deadline, I was out the door early. 

I'd clean my house, get food for the weekend, water my plants, and I'd almost always go for a walk. England has the best footpaths that make you feel as though you're miles from civilization, even though you're just a block away from a main street. And even when you're in a residential area, people are serious about their flower gardens.

My actual flower garden was in a sad state. The lady who lived in the house previously had multiple green thumbs and she left an amazing bunch of flowers for me to tend to. Sadly, I didn't have a clue what to do unless the flowers were in a pot. To make matters worse, in what was meant to be a good deed, my neighbor mowed my tiny front yard for me and hacked my flowers apart in the process. (They hadn't yet bloomed... and somehow he couldn't tell the difference between flower stems and the giant grass growing around them.)

Along my walk home, I'd invariably stop to admire the buckets of flowers outside the florist's. And then, I'd almost always purchase some. Even if my outdoor flower garden wasn't up to snuff, I'd have some gorgeous blooms indoors. 

Today, after going for a walk (the temperatures were above freezing, I'm happy to report), I stopped to get some groceries on the way home. At the entrance to the store, I saw these mini yellow roses, and I realized far too many Fridays have passed since I bought myself some flowers. I think the last time may have been months ago, when I bought these carnations.

I think it might be high time to re-institute the Friday Flower tradition. 
Have a great weekend! 

January 29, 2014

Let it (Not) Snow

So 'a chance of flurries' turned into snow yesterday... and the South made national headlines because apparently one inch of this stuff wreaks more havoc around here than a blizzard does in the Northeast. 

This is what's left of the snow on my porch. 

Mind you, it IS chilly and the roads are slick. And apparently salt and sand and those trucks that spread the stuff around are in short supply. 

Having a snow day with one inch of snow is a perfectly delightful way to get cracking on the rest of those fingerless gloves (I'm up four and just started the fifth...) 

I still can't believe how many people were stranded in the 'snowstorm' (kids had to stay overnight in some schools!) and I'm thankful I didn't have to go anywhere yesterday or today. I didn't expect that at all from an inch or two of snow.
This is the kind of snow that I grew up with.

That's my old car. 

I know you really can't see it, but I can assure you it was under there, because I'm pretty sure I drove it fairly soon after I shoveled out from under the white stuff. I had a trunk full of kitty litter and a shovel in there, too. Just in case.

A good snowstorm once a year that keeps everyone indoors with a day off is usually good. But I know for many people, this year has seen far too much cold weather. 

This is one of the reasons we moved South. The Sailor doesn't like the cold, or shoveling. I concur. The other night, the light at dusk reminded me a little of spring. It was still frigid out, but I caught a glimpse that winter doesn't last forever (even though in some parts of the States, it may feel like that right now!) 

Here's to hoping for an early thaw -- even if there is a just a dusting of snow in your part of the world. 

January 27, 2014

Seed Stitch and Plant Revival

This sweater is still a hot mess. I knit one sleeve, thinking that I just needed to give it arms and then I'd like it. 

Still not convinced. 

Right now it's laying in a ball next to the sofa awaiting its fate. I fear that if I rip it out, I'll regret it. After all, I was the one obsessed with seed stitch there for a while. But realistically, although it's a nice seed stitch design, it looks terrible on me. I even took a selfie while wearing it (with just the one arm...) in the bathroom mirror. My face is grimacing, which tells me that this is NOT the bulky, cozy sweater for me. And no, I'm NOT posting that photo. I can think of better ways to use this bulky yarn. Grimacing is not one of them.

On a completely different note (and because I like to end with a bit of positive fluff  -- much like the evening news) this plant had me convinced that it wasn't going to make it once winter hit. Almost months after I re-potted it, this thing is springing back to life.

January 24, 2014

Scrapbooking on the Cheap: Part II

Earlier this week I mentioned that I'd be sharing some tips on how to keep scrapbooking without breaking the bank. I have been 'scrapbooking' for as long as I can remember. Even when I didn't have a scrapbook, per se, I used my journal to store as much as I could in there, besides words. 

For years, I didn't go anywhere without my journal. It became my personal scrapbook, and one that I wouldn't share with anyone. After I got married, and perhaps as a way to reminisce about the years before, I did a whole 'official' scrapbook on my 12 years of World Adventures: The Solo Years

I did it mainly for me -- for something creative and fun, but along the way, I realized that I could share it with friends and family who had never before seen photos or heard stories from the places I'd traveled, because I had kept my journals so secretive.

In an era before email became the norm, people were lucky to get a postcard out of me for months at a time. My scrapbooks helped to bridge the gap once I returned to the States. Once I started, there was no stopping me -- especially in the months while the Sailor was gone to sea, I'd cut and paste all manner of life events.

They are not your typical run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter scrapbooks. They are messy, bulging, mismatched, and full of luggage tags and adventure... a little bit like my life sometimes, I suppose. 

I found it all so creative that once I finished a book, I didn't really care whether I or anyone else ever looked at them again. I just had fun with it. I never really planned anything -- I'd just cut and paste and the whole process became very organic. Even after I glued something that didn't quite look right, I'd challenge myself to fix it without ripping the whole thing apart. 

Although I still splurged on some things (and still do), I've discovered a few ways to stay within my budget for my paper passion, besides simply waiting for stuff to go on clearance.

1. Look for inspiration everywhere. 
You don't always need something encased in plastic with a UPC symbol on the back to get the job done. One of the most amazing pieces of art I've ever seen in my life was by a little Belorussian girl who created a scene with a horse out of tree bark and twigs. TWIGS. You may not have to go that far, but think of the fun things you could make out of those throwaway cardboard coffee sleeves and a bit of leftover ribbon from an old wreath. 

Like a wood fire, for instance.

2. Save everything. 
I'm not talking about turning into a hoarder, but you know those handmade wedding invitations and Christmas cards you're about to throw away? See what you can salvage first! Torn wrapping paper? Paste it as a layer on one of your pages. Used stamps? Extra photos that accidentally got printed? Magazines with creative flair or neat type? All of these items can be turned into bits and pieces for your scrapbook pages. 

I'm quite partial to stamps, myself. 

3. Don't be afraid to use everyday objects. 
This kind of goes along with #2, but sometimes I actually buy stuff that I know I can get a secondary use out of later. I've used sandpaper on several pages, food labels and calendars, and I purposely buy tissues that have neat designs on them, so I can reuse the cardboard later. 

Besides sand, I have a whole garden of flowers currently growing in my scrapbooks. 


4. Look for items in unconventional places. 
My recent addiction to SMASH Books has been fueled by the fact that I just found a bunch half off the normal craft store price, at TJMaxx. Those, coupled with vintage sewing and knitting magazines from the thrifts, and I had half a book finished in no time. Scour thrift stores and flea markets for old ephemera like maps, magazines and even sewing patterns, to add a vintage touch to your pages. 

Vintage is very in vogue at the moment and what better way to recycle? 

5. Swap and share with a friend. 
One of my childhood friends is an avid scrapbooker, and she regularly sends me extra paper or bits that she eyes as my 'style'. Personally, I swoon at those giant stacks of brand new paper. If you can't find them on sale, find a buddy who will split the cost with you. Most of the stacks contain multiple sheets of the same design, so you can easily share. 

And even when you can't think of a way to use the stuff, 
stick it on an inspiration board in the meantime. 

6. Find your own style!
Even though I've just given you my tips on crafting cheaply... find what works for you! The creative process will be null and void if you do all of the above and gain no satisfaction out of it. The same friend who mails me paper has a very different style from me, but I absolutely love looking at her scrapbooks. She has a neatness and meticulousness to her layouts that I envy. But if I tried to do things her way, I don't think I'd find the process as fun. Likewise, if she tried my style! 

So find your own style and have fun with it. And if you decide to do things on the cheap and save some cash, you have all the more reason to splurge on something later. 

January 22, 2014

Favorite Fingerless Gloves

I found my new favorite fingerless gloves pattern, thanks to a friend who asked me to make a pair for her sister-in-law. She chose 'treads', which is a free pattern download on Ravelry.  

However, at first, I was a little apprehensive about making them. 

Don't get me wrong, I love fingerless gloves -- they're so practical (also good for layering OVER regular gloves when it's really cold!) plus they're generally easier and quicker to make then gloves with fingers. But the pattern looked like I had to make short fingers in any case. Plus it all looked a little complicated -- an Estonian braid?? What in the world?!

I'm happy to report that it was really simple. The pattern offers great instructions and once I got the hang of the Estonian braid, it was super easy. So simple in fact, I had no hesitation starting the second glove. (You know about the 'second sock syndrome' right? Right after you've made one sock, you don't even want to go near sock #2. Well, the same principle applies to gloves. After all, you still need two.)

And once I finished these and tried them on for size, I decided that I also needed a pair for myself. 

My local yarn store had one skein of this yarn left (I used Berocco Vintage in cracked pepper), so I nabbed it and calculated that I have enough yarn leftover from the first skein to make one more glove. So skein two should yield three more gloves. That's three pairs total for those of you counting. One pair for the original gal who wanted them, one for me and one for my friend who started this all in the first place. 

I'm just hoping that third, fourth, fifth and sixth glove syndrome don't kick in at any point during this whole process. 


January 19, 2014

Scrapbooking on the Cheap: Part I

Ever since my mom bought me my first journal, I have had a love affair with paper and everything related to it: books, magazines, scrapbooks, cards and even office supplies. It's not easy for me to walk past a store that sells paper without at least having a look inside.

Before 'scrapbooking' was a household term, I collected bits of ephemera from road trips and pasted them into a plain spiral bound notebook, labeling it something like 'Brenda's Scrapbook'. (Clever, eh?!) The only thing I paid for were the photos and the actual notebook.

When stickers arrived on the scene in the 1980s, I couldn't contain myself. Unicorns, My Little Ponies, and anything that resembled a horse somehow ended up in my sticker collection. My friends and I traded them, we wore them, we spent money on them. 

Only I didn't have a lot of money in elementary school. I got an allowance, but that certainly didn't go far in the sticker realm. The sticker albums were something else -- I don't remember what they cost, but I do know they were way beyond my budget. 

My mother came up with a plan so that I could still swap stickers at school -- she somehow amassed a bunch of those clear plastic sheets and we put construction paper on the inside. I had a little binder to put the sheets in and suddenly, I had my own sticker book. The stickers still came off easily, and even though I didn't have an 'official' sticker book, I still had a fully functional, and personalized one to carry around.

When craft stores like Michaels came on the scene, I was well into adulthood, but I still about died when I first set foot in one. So much creativity and craftiness under one roof! And all of those stickers! 

I didn't revert to childhood with the unicorns, but I did start to collect bits and pieces for my modern-day scrapbooks.  But I soon discovered that this little hobby of mine was starting to add up. It had never cost me much before... and suddenly, I was out more than just pocket change.

There was still something about paper, scissors and a glue stick that I couldn't resist though. I started looking for ways to continue with my hobby, but I tried to creatively come up with ideas that were cheaper than simply buying all new supplies at a craft store. 

Later this week, I'll share some of those secrets with you. In the meantime, head over to Doris Sander's blog, meanderings and check out her fantastic scrapbooks and photos. I discovered her just a short while ago and she has again inspired me to start scrapbooking again (ever since we moved, I have hardly touched a glue stick). Her scrapbooks make me want to hold them in my hand and turn the pages myself!

January 16, 2014

Save the Yarn!

After I posted a photo of the grey sweater on that last post, I realized that I haven't worn it yet all season. Now, I do not own copious amounts of clothing. Transatlantic traveling and moving stuff all over the world means that I have narrowed down the wardrobe significantly over the years. 

I generally have a rule that if I haven't worn something in a year, it gets donated. (I know it's not spring yet, but you can read more spring cleaning tips here.) So, I couldn't figure out why I hadn't worn my handmade vest yet this winter. After all, I seemed to remember wearing it every other day last winter. I tried it on and noticed the button hanging on for dear life. I think every time I put it on, I saw that I needed to resew the button, but it went back into the closet, instead of the sewing pile. 

Well, this time, I decided to finally fix it, only I took the button clean off. I never thought it looked quite right, so why leave it there? I bought this neat shawl pin at my local yarn store to use on the Patient Shawl, but I think it looks quite spiffy on the grey vest, too. 

The only thing left to do was to sew up the buttonhole. Thankfully, for every project I have made, I keep a small stash of the leftover yarn for just such a purpose. (If you're giving a gift, send along some of the extra yarn in case the recipient needs to make repairs! You can see how to make a simple yarn card here.)

So stash bust all you want with your leftover pile of yarn after you finish a project. But remember to save a little bit for yourself, in case you ever need to sew up a buttonhole.

January 14, 2014

Sweater Sheepishness

I was so gung-ho to whip up this quick project to wear for the cold weather. I was even more motivated when the yarn turned up on sale. 

Then I finished this shrug. Quickly. It took me about four evenings worth of knitting to make the whole thing.

I tried it on late one night and decided it was kinda cute and then I spent the next 20 minutes weaving in all of the ends. 

The next day I looked at it again and hated it. 


It looks really great just laying there, but when I put it on, it looked awful. There was something not quite right about it. I'm not sure if I bound off the ribbing too tightly, or if the sleeves were simply too long (note to pattern designers: just because some of us are bustier and therefore require a larger chest size in a pattern, it doesn't mean that we need to have the sleeves come down to our knees. Some clothing companies actually call me 'petite'.) Whatever the reason was, this was not the right pattern for me. 

I figured I'd just rip it out and try again. Then I realized I had already woven in the ends. ALL OF THEM. 

Sadly this is not a first for me. 

A few years ago, I made a simple grey sweater. For some reason, I didn't bother trying it on before I seamed the whole thing up and wove in ALL of the ends. 

The result was a GIANT sweater that could have easily been worn off the shoulder (it wasn't supposed to). I ended up having to try to figure out where the ends were and then I ripped the whole thing out. I made the vest on the right instead. It was much more fun to knit (sideways!) and I've gotten tons of compliments on it. 

I swore I'd never again weave in the ends until I was absolutely SURE. Sure sure. 

Earlier this year, I made this blue cotton cardigan. I started to weave in the ends when disaster struck. Luckily, I hadn't yet set the sleeves in, so it was infinitely less work to rip out the rest of the sweater. 

After I ripped out the Fisherman Shrug, I scoured my magazine stash, found a new pattern, and started on the Snowdrift Shrug

It looked so cute in the picture, but after I finished the body, and before I started the sleeves, I tried it on and I felt like a sheep. This sheep, in fact. There's something about bulky yarn and seed stitch in a cream color that reminds me of the flock.

I didn't weave in any ends yet, so there's still a chance that I can easily salvage the yarn and make something completely different. Or I can finish the sleeves and just look a little sheepish in the cold weather. Or I can go back to the Fisherman Shrug and make shorter sleeves and a few other adjustments.

Decisions, decisions. What would you do? 

January 12, 2014

Soup's On! (and on... and on... and on...)

I don't remember having a ton of actual toys growing up, but living on three acres of forest land meant that I had an amazing backyard at my disposal. 

It also meant that I got a little creative with nature and the tools we had on hand. I remember using a giant five gallon plastic bucket and the garden hose to make soup. There were twigs, rocks, floating leaves and even some dirt thrown in the mix. Random berries growing around the property made the 'soup' look even tastier.

Thankfully, I knew better than to actually sample my soup, but I had fun throwing things together and imagining that I was a chef. 

When I first tried my hand at real cooking, some of my soups had that same dirt-like appearance. I had a number of soup disasters -- I suspect the dirt soup may have actually been more palatable. Borscht ended up all over my Pepto-Bismol pink walls in England when I tried to grate the beets. Broccoli soup turned into a gooey mess. In Ukraine, where I ate soup three times a day, every day, I added too much salt when it was my time to cook. WAAAAYYY too much salt. In South Africa, I didn't bother with any kind of soup because the Sailor wasn't really into it. 

By the time that I relocated back to America though, I was determined to eat healthy and shop frugally. I grew tired of finding half dead vegetables in my drawer and wasting leftovers. 

Soup found it's way back into my kitchen. Soup is AMAZING. Seriously. A small cup is a great compliment to a meal and a large bowl with some bread or crackers is enough to fill you right up all on its own. (And warm you up in the winter!)

Sauté a little onion, add some vegetables, some leftover rice and cooked chicken and some basic stock, and voilà, you have Chicken Rice Soup. Are those veggies getting mushy? Sauté those and add a little broth and milk and then puree, and you have soup. Thankfully, these days, the Sailor actually requests (and then eats!) soup, so I make it now on a regular basis. 

I used to try to plan my soup meals and then I'd shop for every ingredient that I didn't have. It wasn't the most frugal plan. I still ended up with food rotting. Then I started challenging myself to make something with what I already had in the cupboard and fridge. Obviously, I still shop. The other day, I had to buy onions, because I knew I needed those for soup, and my stash had run low. But it's amazing how long I can go between shopping endeavors when I think creatively about cooking.

The other night I had a bit of a soup marathon. Within an hour and a half, I'd made three different soups. I had half a bag of carrots that needed to be used, so I made carrot and coriander soup, but I just halved the recipe (if at all possible, I usually try to double soup recipes and freeze them... but for the sake of carrots that would go to waste, I whipped up half a batch!

I also found a frozen bag of roasted veggies from a dinner we hosted a while back. I always cook too much... and then I end up throwing it in the freezer, not always knowing what to do with it. This time, I saved the beef broth from the roast as well. I cooked both together, pureed the mix with my hand blender* and then added some milk (or cream if you prefer) and salt and pepper. While the result doesn't look much more appetizing than brown applesauce, it was DELICIOUS. And healthy! I know exactly what was in the veggies and broth because I cooked them all from scratch to start with. 

Besides, soup gives me a great excuse to store the leftovers in vintage Pyrex. Win win. 

Finally, I found a bag of parsnips in a pile in the fridge. I bought them for Christmas dinner and then totally forgot to cook them. (In my defense, they were hiding under the spinach and that half bag of carrots...) I found a recipe for Parsnip and Parmesan soup in my favorite soup book:  The New Covent Garden Soup Company's Book of Soups. (I've had my copy since the late 90s, and you can be assured it will continue to be a staple in my kitchen arsenal.

While I didn't have Parmesan, I at least had cheese. Substituting is not a crime. Throwing out a whole bag of parsnips would have been. 

Soup's on.  

 *Hand blenders are absolutely necessary in my book for soup making. I make a lot of pureed soups because I personally think the flavors blend together better than if you don't puree them. If you have a small kitchen, and don't even have space for a regular blender, then a hand or immersion blender is perfect! You can do the same things as with a regular blender (except maybe chop ice cubes...). I wouldn't recommend pureeing a soup in a regular blender unless it's completely cooled off. With an immersion blender, you can just whip the stuff right in the pot! I recently replaced my old hand blender with this one from Cuisinart.

January 9, 2014

Dreaming of the Beach

While much of America is still in a deep freeze, I'm dreaming of the beach. 

Oh, it won't happen until the Sailor returns home from sea... but in the meantime, I'm trying to transport myself somewhere warmer, mentally. 

We moved South in part to escape the arctic winter in the North. While the winter here has so far been much tamer, this week still ranked high up on the BRRRRR factor.

The Sailor is also dreaming of the beach. He's sailing near one now, but he says even the weather where he is isn't conducive to an afternoon swim.

Looks like we'll both have to wait a few more months until we can get to a warm enough ocean. How about you? Ski Bunny or Beach Bum?

January 6, 2014

Felting by Hand

As a kid, I loved being barefoot. I don't remember ever having slippers, even though I'm sure I put something on my feet during the cold winters -- socks, probably. In fact, I kind of remember thinking it was silly that slippers were always on sale around Christmas time -- nobody in my family wore slippers. Did other people really own indoor shoes? 

Clearly times have changed. I still love that barefoot feeling -- nothing beats walking on the grass or sand sans shoes. However, during cold weather months, the slippers come out in full force. I live in this pair most days. They were knit with the yarn held double and they are super sturdy, warm and somewhat indestructible it seems. 

Over my years of wearing slippers, I've come to realize that not only do they keep my feet warm, especially on non-carpeted floors, but they also keep my feet clean! I cook a lot... and I'm not always the neatest in the kitchen. Lots of stuff ends up on the floor in the process. (I yearn for the day when we have a dog who can hoover up the crumbs.) Of course I sweep and clean the floor clean, but if I'm in the cooking melee, I only get a chance to cleanup at the very end. 

In the meantime, when I wear my slippers, I don't feel a thing under my feet. 

Most girls have a thing for shoes (I've always had more of a thing for handbags, myself...) I do love a good pair of shoes, but honestly, there is something so lovely about having a nice pair of comfy slippers, even if you are the only one who sees them. 

For Christmas this year, I didn't buy myself a new pair of slippers. Instead, I bought myself The Knitted Slipper Book

Magazines aside, I usually try to buy one or two crafty and creative books a year. This one made the cut -- there are so many slippers I want to make. I already made the blue pair on the bottom right. They reminded me of my everyday pair, only instead of knitting them with the yarn held double, you knit two separate slippers for each foot, and then put one inside the other.

I finally got around to felting them today. Since we have a front loading washing machine, I decided to felt these by hand. (Top loaders are preferable for felting, since you can pull the pieces out mid-cycle to check on the progress.)  

Felting never ceases to amaze. You knit or crochet something that looks so gargantuan, and then somehow, with hot water, dish soap, agitation and time, that humungous object shrinks as the fibers mess together, ultimately creating a stiff fabric. (If you have ever accidentally thrown a 100% wool sweater in the wash on a hot cycle, then you will certainly understand the process!

Felting by hand takes some time and patience, but it's worth it once you start to see the fibers mess together and the piece shrink before your eyes. It also takes some muscle. I'm thinking my hands might cramp later tonight.
One I got them to my size, I stuffed them with paper and set them out to dry. 

I'm pretty sure that although I gave my hands a workout today, my feet will thank me tomorrow, when these slippers are dry.

January 3, 2014

Cold Weather = Bulky Knits

The temperatures dipped this week... and with the winter weather warning came a sudden urge to pull out giant bamboo knitting needles and bulky yarn. 

Sometimes, I just want to finish a project pronto, and nothing gives more urgency than the thought of going outside in below freezing temperatures with a half-finished sweater on. 

I'm making the Fisherman Shrug by Lion Brand. Lucky for me, Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn was on sale the other week and I nabbed enough for the shrug. If you need some wooly weather gear that's even faster, check out the hat and cowl I made from the same kind of chunky yarn last year. 

I'm thinking this project might be just the thing to finish over the weekend, while I stay inside and watch the wind blow the last of the leaves off my porch. 

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

If you're anything like me, you may still have a bunch of Christmas cookies laying around. A pile of cookies laying around on January 1st does not often bode well with the whole diet and exercise mantra that New Year's usually brings about. 

I gave up on the 'lose a certain number of pounds in 12 months' and 'stick to a diet' resolutions a long time ago. Frankly, by January 2nd, the cookies are still being eaten, it's too cold to go for a run, and the whole point becomes moot.

I mentioned before that I wasn't a huge fan of New Year's Resolutions -- mainly because I often create lofty goals, then I feel like I put too much pressure on myself to keep them. Inevitably I fail. 

That doesn't mean I don't have goals. I have lots of ongoing things I am working towards. 

I like to create stuff everyday, so naturally I have a few new crafty things I want to try this year, like shuttle tatting. I also want to make better use of Pinterest. (Don't laugh... I signed up for Pinterest soon after it started and I loved it. Then I took issue with some of their copyright policies and I took down ALL of my pins. I'm pretty sure they have sorted out their issues; now it's my turn to start pinning again.) I also have a book project that is ongoing that I would love to make more headway on, and my Nook is full of other people's books that I can't wait to read. I have stacks of new recipes to try out and a closet that needs to be cleaned. Overall, I try to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and be healthy most days. 

But in general, I am not going to pressure myself to be superwoman in order to fulfill everything over the span of the next 12 months, starting on January 1st. I'm also not going to beat myself up if I eat a few extra cookies in between.

Last year I decided that 2013 was supposed to be the Chilled Out Year. Quite frankly it wasn't... but because I started the year wanting to be more chilled out about things, I gave myself more room to breathe when life did get stressful (or when I ate a few extra cookies...)

For 2014, I expect a few surprises. Life is certainly never dull in my world, and with the lifestyle that the Sailor and I have together, surprises are often around every corner. I hope I can still maintain a chilled-out attitude throughout. The Sailor joked that we really don't have 'themes' for the year... instead we just roll with whatever happens. That's his own way of saying, 'Let's just chill out no matter what comes our way...'

He's a clever guy, that Sailor. 

Who knows what 2014 will bring for any of us. Like the fresh pages of a new journal though, there is something wonderful about having a blank slate -- a New Year if you will, to let go of the past and to anticipate the future. Most of all, I want to live in the present and to be myself.

How about you? What do you want out of 2014? 
Happy New Year! 

PS: If you simply must have something to put on your New Year's Resolution checklist,
may I suggest the following simple things that can all be done in one day:

  • Clean out your spice cabinet and food cupboard and throw out stuff that is out of date.
  • Sort out your medicine cabinet and toss the pills that are expired or ones that aren't in their original packaging.
  • Buy new makeup. Most cosmetics aren't made to last for years. If you can't remember when you purchased that lipstick, chances are, it was pre-2013. Chuck that old mascara and buy some new stuff for 2014! Start the New Year with a fresh face.