December 31, 2014

My Favorite Things

I remember watching the Sound of Music during the holidays when I was a child. I'm not sure how I keep missing it as an adult, but it's been years since I last saw it. The song, 'My Favorite Things' still rings in my ears though, especially this time of year. 

Some of my favorite things: knitting needles and photography

It's been a wild, crazy and amazing year. Here are a few of my favorite posts from this blog: 

Favorite Fingerless Gloves
These things will keep your hands toasty in cold weather while you knit even more fun things.

Favorite Recipe Organizer
In a cooking rut? Try sorting out your recipes.

Favorite Vintage Dinner Party
Clearly, I love Pyrex. 

Favorite Pregnancy Announcement
I was never much of a baby person, but then the Peanut came along. 

Favorite Crochet Jungle
I seriously can't wait until the Peanut is big enough to play with this thing. It's currently sitting in our living room as part of the decor, near the plants. 

Favorite Mother's Day Post
I may be biased, but my mama is pretty awesome. 

Favorite Baby Showers Part I
I have lost count of the number of places I've lived over the years, so it's super special that my friends from childhood got together on my behalf to throw me a Skype shower. 

Favorite Baby Showers Part II 
The Peanut is so excited when I read to him these days — thanks to this baby shower, we've got plenty of books to keep us busy! 

Favorite Birth Announcement

Favorite Mini Cardigan
The Peanut is growing fast, so I suspect he'll fit into this in no time. I still want to make an adult-sized version. 

Favorite Reminder to Finish a Journal
I'm happy to report that I finally finished the small blue journal and I'm eagerly awaiting the start of a fresh new blank book for 2015. 

Wishing you all a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

December 21, 2014

Hope, Joy, Peace

Years ago, when I had time to stage photos and create my own Christmas cards from scratch (unlike now: see last post), I made these postcards:

On the back I penned something quite meaningful about the three words and how they were all given freely 2,000 years ago, and how they're still part of the greatest gift ever given. 

I still believe that to be true. But this year, hope, joy and peace look a little different around my household. 

I have HOPE that the Peanut will sleep better this next week. 

I think JOY is possible even in the 2 am feedings. 

And I believe that PEACE can certainly be found in between those why-is-this-baby-crying-again moments. 

Wishing you and yours hope, joy, and peace in whatever form you need it in this year.
For a little more Christmas cheer, check out last year's thoughts here

Speaking of last year, this holly garland is about the only decoration up besides our mini tree, the star, and a few lights.

(Is it just me, or did the holidays roll in quicker than usual this year?)

December 14, 2014

Season's Greetings

I am sadly a slight procrastinator when it comes to mailing out my holiday cards. And, apparently, with this blog. (However, I've been busy with my holiday cards.)

Years ago, when I worked onboard a ship off the coast of West Africa, I had my cards sorted WAAAAY before the holidays. Fellow crew members who disembarked before Christmas, would often take letters and packages back to their respective countries and mail the stash for those of us who didn't trust Africa's postal system. All we had to do was give them our stack of cards plus the cash to buy stamps. 

It was a gamble though. Sometimes crew didn't have space, or they weren't going to the country you wanted to send your cards to. That's when my holiday cards turned into Happy New Year ones. 

Nowadays, the only excuse I have is the Peanut. (Let's face it though, he's a pretty good excuse and I'm milking the postpartum craziness for all its worth. International holiday card recipients... I apologize. Your cards may only arrive after the New Year depending on when I can get to the post office.)

This year, rather than the usual newsletter and family pic, I chose the 'easy and quick' option to upload a photo and order custom greetings from Snapfish, emphasis on easy and quick two words I use to describe my ideal dinner prep these days. 

Only it wasn't easy. Getting the family photo alone proved a challenge. For starters, I had to wait until the Sailor arrived back home, and then we had to try to squeeze it in during a time when we all three looked presentable to the world. I'm still not convinced that the Sailor and I look all that great in the only photo where the Peanut is not squirming, but the little guy looked super cute, so we called it a day and picked the best of a bad bunch. 

And it certainly wasn't quick, because it took me forever to choose a card. Once I had a template picked out, I'd realize that our photo looked strange in it mainly because I cropped it due to aforementioned goofiness in the photo of the Sailor and me.

Christmas cookies may not happen this year at this rate!

I could have taken the really easy and quick way out and just uploaded an awesome photo of the Peanut. However, I have always promised myself that if we ever had young 'uns, I wanted us ALL to be in the Christmas photo. I never wanted to be one of those couples who opted to send out Pinterest perfect photos of only their spawn.

Henceforth, our goofy photo of the three of us for this year's card. 

Once I ordered the holiday cards though, I also realized that I never actually sent out an official birth announcement about the Peanut.  Oh sure, I texted and emailed and Facebooked our friends and family... but I still wanted to send out a traditional sort of announcement. I wanted to handcraft something, but let's be realistic, time was not on my side. By this point, I just wanted to chuck something into the Christmas card itself. Of course it had to be 'easy and quick', like the Christmas card. But I just didn't like any of the templates I saw online. 

Enter Moo. I love Moo and have been a fan since their early days. I uploaded four different pics of the Peanut, and typed out the announcement on the back of the mini-cards and voila, just like that, 100 announcements arrived in the mail for a fraction of the price of traditional ones. All I had to do was stick one on each of my Christmas cards with washi tape. An added bonus? Now I have four fun photos to add to the rotation in my Moo mini-card frame

How about you? Are you scrambling to send holiday cards, or are you skipping this year? Regardless, if you need an idea of how to display the ones you're receiving, check this post out. In the meantime, I'm going to brave the post office tomorrow. Let's hope that next year I get my act together by Thanksgiving.

December 5, 2014

Journal Block?

Last week on Thanksgiving (was that really over a week ago?!) I mentioned my 50 plus journals and how every year I write out what I'm thankful for.

Suffice it to say, with guests visiting, the Sailor arriving home, and the four-month-old Peanut's neediness, I haven't gotten around to writing that list yet, although I've been mulling it around in my head. 

Actually, I've really been mulling around the reasons why it's taking me so long to finish this particular journal.

I bought this current journal in Abu Dhabi in April of 2012. It's a pocket-sized book in a bright turquoise blue — a reminder of the fabulous pedicure I had in the country. My hands look like I spend my days washing dishes without gloves, but if it's sandal weather, I tend to make sure my toenails are actually polished. Turquoise was the color I chose for the remainder of that trip.

Pick any journal off of my shelf and I'll be able to tell you what country I was in and what was going on in my life simply by looking at the book itself. I may not be able to remember the Sailor's mobile phone number, but I can remember where I was while writing the story of my life. Friends who know me well have gifted me gorgeous leather-bound and handmade paper journals from far-flung places around the globe. At the moment I have several from Egypt begging to be filled. 

I picked the small turquoise journal in Abu Dhabi because I envisioned taking it further afield to other international trips to Scotland and Ukraine that summer. Smaller size equals easier transport. Instead, I started the journal on July 4th and due to extenuating family circumstances, didn't get on a plane to anywhere until much later in the year.

Over two years later, this journal still has a few blank pages in it. It's been to South Africa and the Caribbean, plus several States on a 3000-mile road trip, and yet I still can't seem to finish it. I used to complete a pocket-sized journal on a two week trip to Eastern Europe. And yet, despite the crazy few years I've had and the life-changing events along the way, I haven't been able to finish this journal. 

I blame technology to some extent. My iPhone now goes everywhere with me instead of my journal. I type out notes with my finger instead of my pen, and I make lists and calendar entries by clicking open apps. 

I blame this blog a bit, because let's face it, I've written pretty regularly on here for two years now, and it's much faster for me to type than to write anything. Plus it's getting increasingly difficult to reread my handwriting. Not because my eyesight is going, but because my writing is getting sloppier. 

I blame the book that has been stagnating on my computer for years while I try to figure out when I'm ever going to return to Ukraine to write its conclusion. I spent the summer of 2012 partly rereading many of those old journals, while typing out my story of summers past. Clearly I neglected the current journal in the process.
On the other hand (and new baby aside...) it's time to stop blaming other stuff. I think I've just been a little lazy. I often tell other people to write out their thoughts when they are going through life transitions, and yet here I am, trying to muster up the energy to finish writing out the birth story of the Peanut before I forget every little detail, and I only have three pages left to fill. THREE! 

This is the journal that saw the death of my older brother, a special reunion with life-long friends, a major move across the country, pregnancy and a new baby, plus the death of my lifetime mentor — all HUGE events that warrant handwritten thoughts and memories, and yet many of them barely got so much as a scribble of acknowledgement.

It's one thing to type out part of my story, it's quite another to write it out. While I'm thankful my mother made me take typing in school (back in the days when it wasn't even required!) I'm far more grateful that she bought me my first ever journal, giving me a place to store my secrets. (I shared more of that story in an article in the Winter 2014 edition of Artful Blogging.)

Part of me knows that once I start a new journal, the words will come easier. Sometimes a blank slate is all you need. More than once, I've filled up journals from the back as well as the front. The back holds the lists of books I've read since I started that journal (48 in the current journal that I remembered to write down... there could be more.) There are also cinema ticket stubs (at least 18 — some may have fallen out along the way), as well as packing lists, to do lists, and words of wisdom printed on tea bags such as 'grace brings contentment'. 

This particular journal seems to have more stuff scribbled and pasted into the back than usual — like I have been desperately trying to finish this book without having to write anything of substance in it.

I haven't traveled anywhere of late, but the journal does seem to move from room to room with me, willing me to finally finish it. 

It's sitting here next to me on the desk. I definitely don't want to stretch this writing rut into 2015. So, if you'll excuse me, I think while the Peanut is miraculously still sleeping (on his own!), I may just have to finish my story, and this particular journal. 

After all, a new story and a new journal awaits.

November 27, 2014


Fifty plus journals line the bottom of my bookshelf. Every year, on Thanksgiving, I try take the time to make a list of what I'm thankful for. Some years, the list is lengthy and eloquent. Other years I hastily scribble bullet points, hoping I'll be able to decipher my own handwriting at a later date.

This year, in between making a pumpkin pie and keeping track of the Peanut, I probably won't get to my journal until the weekend. 

Number one on my list this year? (Besides the safe arrival of the Peanut, of course!) The Sailor is on his way home for the holidays. Sailor homecomings are infinitely better than departures. 

Safe travels to you and yours... Happy Thanksgiving from our little (but loud) family.