Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

June 1, 2015

Summer Break

Summer is generally a slow month in the publishing world and like most students, I used to look forward to the season with tremendous anticipation when I was in school. Summers are generally lazy... a time to head to the beach, lay around the pool, catch up on paperback fiction, and sit on porches to watch the sunset. 

I need a good summer. 

I need a summer to sit around with a beverage of choice (even if the Peanut is clamoring up my legs...) I need a summer to travel and see friends I haven't seen in years. I need a summer to work on crochet blankets, one square a time. I need a summer to read at least one book that I can't put down — even if it means missing out on some sleep. 

I don't want to spend my summer thinking of projects to do, and then spending more time at the computer trying to blog about them. 

I want to actually try out the recipes from my homemade cookbook. I want to add the Peanut's photos to my Project Life album. I don't want to rush a single cuddle with the Peanut because time with him is already flying by too fast. I want to spend time eating lemon meringue pie and picnicking in the park with Pyrex. I want to sit on the porch while the Peanut (briefly) naps. I want to actually clean and purge and declutter, not only the cobwebs from the apartment, but from my mind. 

Many years ago, I volunteered with Mercy Ships as part of their communications crew. I wrote stories, hosted media teams and even took photos. After my nearly five years with them, I took three months out of my schedule to take a photography course in South Africa. I needed that time to create without the confines of an organization. 



I came away from the course refreshed and bursting with creative energy. (I also realized during the three months that I could never be a full time photographer... I needed to write and do other creative things to feel fulfilled!

I need a similar sort of break now. I need some time to actually work on projects and simply enjoy life, without wondering if I took enough photos and if I'll have time to document it in a blog post. 

With that in mind, I'm taking the summer off from blogging.

I know summer doesn't officially start for a few weeks, but according to most people, Memorial Day hails the unofficial start. And let's face it, it's hot enough to swim where I am, so it already feels like summer! 

I'll be back sometime in September... right around the same time school starts. In the meantime, enjoy your own summer and get out there and enjoy life around you. And for the small handful of you regular readers, if you're in need of a Typing Sunflowers fix, there are plenty of posts in the archive to get you through the next few months. 

Thanks for sticking with me! Ciao for now.

April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day!

 

I took this photo nearly a decade ago (how is that even possible?!) at a small outdoor restaurant along the coast of South Africa. It's an old buoy, but it has always reminded me of the earth. 

The Sailor, the Peanut and I just returned from South Africa, and while we were nowhere near this restaurant, we at least enjoyed the outdoors as well as the spoils from Oupa's garden. We missed peach season, but we still had fresh carrots, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to feast on. We were just in time, since much of the garden was gearing up for the winter.



We introduced the Peanut to grass, which he wasn't too sure about at first. 



He soon figured that grass was great to crawl in, leaves make wonderful crunchy noises, and Dexter the Wonder Dog is fun to pet. 


I got to sit under my favorite tree.


We introduced hammocking to the Peanut as well. 


He didn't stay in the hammock long, 
but I think he liked the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind. 

  
Earth Day might only come around once a year, but I kind of like the idea of enjoying the outdoors all 365 days.


Now that we're back in the Northern Hemisphere (Spring already sprang while we were away) it's time to think of our own garden. This year we're planting tomatoes, okra, peas, carrots and broccoli, plus maybe a few other goodies. 

I'm thinking maybe sunflowers? 



Whatever your day brings, I hope it's full of sunshine, and happiness equivalent to leaves crunching in a baby's hand.

Happy Earth Day! 
 

March 15, 2015

Happy (Early) Mother's Day

Mother's Day comes early in the United Kingdom. Every year I notice it because I have a slew of British friends wishing each other a Happy Mum's Day. Today is the day, so Happy Mother's Day to my mummy pals across the pond. 



Years ago, when I lived and worked in England, I would buy my own mother a card and send it early. I knew if I waited until May, when Mother's Day is celebrated in the USA, then I wouldn't be able to find a card. I had a momentary panic a few years back when I thought that South Africa celebrated Mother's Day in March as well, and I hadn't called my mother-in-law. They too celebrate in May, thankfully at least for me. 

This past week, my own mom visited the Peanut and me. We ate, we laughed and we watched the Peanut try to stand all on his own. He's a brave and fearless little stinker.

My mom has become quite the traveler since this post. She's visited several times over the past few years, and I realized the other week when I stepped on a plane for the first time in two years that my own mother has flown more than me during that time.  

On the day she left, we reminisced about all of the times she's driven hours and hours to either get me on a plane or pick me up from one. We laughed, because now with the Peanut, I don't even have the energy to drive her two hours to her airport... so I put her on a shuttle. My mom didn't seem to mind, or if she did, she certainly didn't say anything. Moms are good like that. Now that I'm one myself, I'm starting to get a glimpse of all the things you'll do for your kids, even if it means driving hours to the airport, or riding in a shuttle for two hours with a bunch of strangers. (Thanks Mom!)

So, Happy Mother's Day to all of the British mothers... and Happy early Mother's Day to the rest of us!

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
Self-explanatory! 

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.

November 27, 2014

Thankful

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.

November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving Stuff and Stuffing

Yesterday the Peanut and I braved the cold (Winter, we are so not ready for you...) and while he slept cozily in his sling, I browsed a few of my favorite stores, searching for Thanksgiving stuff. You know, some turkey-themed napkins, a floral arrangement, maybe a new table runner... decor that oozes Thanksgiving. 



Nothing. 

Nada. 

Zip. 

Zilch. 

Oh, there was Christmas stuff galore in every store. I didn't mind... it is November after all, and Christmas is a mere five plus weeks away. But Thanksgiving is over a week away -- how could there be NOTHING on display? Even the clearance racks came up short. 

One of the sales ladies asked me if I found everything I was looking for, so I asked if I was missing the Thanksgiving stuff. You know, cause Thanksgiving hasn't happened yet. She looked surprised that I would dare shop before Thanksgiving for turkey-related items.

I left thinking she was the turkey. 

I'm still slightly baffled by this. So I went home to search for my stuffing recipe. I may not have any Thanksgiving decor for the table, but by golly, my stuffing will happen again this year.
 
My family has never been much for Thanksgiving traditions, besides of course, the actual turkey and enough for leftover sandwiches the day after. In high school, I spent the holiday with a friend's family out-of-state. Post-college, I've shared Thanksgiving meals with strangers and friends, in obscure places like Ukraine where cranberries and turkey weren't to be found, overseas on a ship in West Africa, where I stuffed myself so full that I had to unbutton my jeans, and a progressive meal at three different homes in one night in England, chauffeured by our office's treasurer.

With such a hodge podge of Thanksgivings, I wanted to start a few traditions of my own -- like my stuffing. In all of the years that my mom has made a wonderful feast, I don't remember her ever making stuffing. I figured I could easily incorporate it into a family meal as an addition.

Okay, so it's not my stuffing. It's the Food Network Magazine's. I made it two years ago for the first time, and then again last year. I decided it needs to stay. 


But when I looked in my nifty recipe book, all I found was the cover sheet with the photo of the stuffing. The paper inside listed mix and match potato dishes, not the stuffing. Apparently in my madness to sort my recipes, I tossed the actual recipe, thinking that it was on the potato sheet instead. 

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! 

I mentally composed an email to the Food Network to BEG for their recipe, since I had accidentally thrown it out. I figured I'd give them the whole Thanksgiving-might-be-ruined-story. 

Thankfully, a quick search online yielded the mix-and-match stuffing recipe, and I didn't have to beg for it. Now you have it too. You're welcome. 

Happy early Thanksgiving...  and if you want to knit a quick gift for a friend's child, try a Thanksgiving Bird Blanket. Gobble, gobble.



July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth & Fireworks!

My city missed the memo that today is the Fourth of July and instead planned their fireworks for last night... along with a free concert at the park.

When we first moved here last year, the fireworks got rained out, and the Sailor and I spent the Fourth of July watching old movies, while I crocheted this red rug for the bathroom. This year, I had full intentions of going to the concert with a group of friends, but sleep called my name louder than the firecrackers. 

I was in bed by 9 pm.


Over the years, I've missed out on a lot of Fourth of July celebrations since I spent so many summers overseas.


One year, I found myself in Budapest, Hungary during their own national holiday. Budapest is a combination of two former cities, Buda and Pest, on either side of the Danube River. I had planned to meet some new friends across the city to view the fireworks, but I found myself stuck in Buda, since the bridges were closed due to the fireworks display. 

I climbed up the hill and headed back to my hostel, somewhat dejected. I had looked forward to simply experiencing a little bit of Hungarian nightlife with the locals and now I was stuck on this side of the river. Instead, I steeled myself for a night in with a 25 cent cup of a coffee from the vending machine, hoping that I might catch a glimpse of the display out my window.

One of the hostel receptionists saw me and asked if I wanted to go up onto the roof to view the fireworks. (We could climb onto the roof...?)

Sure enough, a group of us clamored up the access ladder to the flat roof of the five-story building with no railings, where we had one of the best views of the fireworks that night. 

I have since forgotten the name of that hostel and the names of the people on that rooftop. But I'll never forget that night, or the view. It reminded me a little bit of being a kid again.. of the anticipation of nightfall and the excitement of simply holding onto sparklers. 

I wondered last night if there was perhaps a Hungarian or two in town who would be missing their own fireworks display in August. Hopefully they made it to the park last night to at least see ours. 

Happy Fourth of July! Be safe... and invite someone out to see your town's fireworks with you this year. (Unless of course, they'd rather be asleep before dark.

  

May 11, 2014

A Mother's Day First

Nearly two decades ago, I took a taxi across Budapest at 3 AM. I got dropped off in a back alley where the driver demanded far more money than I thought necessary, and then I had to wait in a fairly empty train station for my 6 AM departure to Ukraine. I fell asleep clutching my bag on my lap, only to wake up to the sounds of two men fighting right across from me. The Hungarian man next to me motioned for me to go back to sleep... and for whatever reason, I listened to him. 

Did I mention I was on my own? 

Before I dozed off again, I remember thinking, 'My mother would kill me if she knew what was going on at this very moment.'

Clearly she didn't. In fact I probably never bothered to tell her that part of my 'adventure' even after I returned home.

I've done a great deal of things that my mom never had the chance to do. I went to college, worked overseas, traveled solo through countless countries in my 20s, became a writer, volunteered onboard a hospital ship and married a foreigner. While I wasn't anti-kids, I never felt like I needed children in my life. My life has been abundant and rich in so many other ways.

Last Mother's Day, I made brunch for my mom. I wrote about why I'm not a fan of Mother's Day in general here (not because I don't believe in honoring mothers everywhere, but because I think they deserve our thanks and flowers more than once a year.) 

I grew up hearing my mom say she wished she'd had more of us because my brother and I were apparently so much fun. And even after my mom lost her firstborn son, she sat there at that brunch and told me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me not ever having children one day -- that maybe there was a different path I was meant to take. 

A whole year changes a lot.  

Today, someone told me they'd wish me a Happy Mother's Day in a few months, after the Peanut is born. I laughed, but inwardly, I seethed a little. (I blame the pregnancy hormones for my internal outrage.) I'm already a mama to this active growing bundle, I thought. While I'm not yet spending my days feeding, burping and changing a newborn, I still feel responsible for this baby inside of me.

This week, I mentioned to my mom some weird baby fact that I learned through one of four pregnancy apps I have on my iPhone. She's been fascinated by the amount of stuff I've relayed to her over these past few months. I reminded her that it's been nearly 40 years since she last gave birth, and information is much easier to find these days. 

She never knew you were supposed to count the baby's kicks after week 28, or that you should steer clear of certain foods. She gave birth in a time before ultrasound photos, daddies in the delivery room, breastfeeding classes and pregnancy apps that offer advice. She brought us home and bathed us in the kitchen sink, then let us eventually play in the mud before she hosed us off again.

Apps can only offer you so much though. Today, while telling my mom about the Peanut pushing his or her butt into my left side (and secretly wondering if this was normal or early contractions) she reassured me that my brother and I did the exact same thing to her.  

I breathed a sigh of relief, and then got kicked in the ribs. 


I realized today that I have taken for granted the fact that I can walk through this whole journey with my own mother.

Don't get me wrong... I have always been grateful for my mother.  But today it suddenly hit me that she never even had her own mom around to ask any advice when she had her own babies. 

While I have boarded more planes than I can count, and I'm pretty sure I can still make my way through a train station riddled in Cyrillic without a problem, my mom has taken a journey that goes much further and lasts longer than any of the trips I've ever taken. You see, she gave birth to and raised her own babies without an ounce of advice or help from her own mother. By the time she was my age, she had a teenager and a tween, with no sign of Google in sight. 

This is the first Mother's Day that I realized my mom never had the chance to send her own mother flowers or to even ask her mom what labor would actually be like. And now this is the second Mother's Day she's been without her son.

But I also know this one thing -- my mom continues to amaze me.

She never once complained about how hard it was having children, especially traveling the mostly solo road that she did raising us. She never gave any indication of mommy martyrdom, or ever needing a vacation. It never dawned on me that Mother's Day would be hard for her not having her own mom around, because she spent the whole day telling us what fun she's had being a mother herself.

I may have traveled to far more countries than my mom, but this whole birthing and raising a child thing... this is uncharted territory in my world. However, it's a place my mom has been to before, and she assures me it's the greatest adventure of all. I'm thankful she's there to help me navigate the road and I can only hope that I'll be just as amazing of a mother to the Peanut as my mom has been to me. 

Happy Mother's Day to all of you fabulous women out there and a very special Mother's Day to my own Mama. (Sorry I never told you about that dodgy Budapest story... but realistically, would you have let me ever go back?




April 24, 2014

Earth Day Every Day

Earth Day was this past Tuesday. I completely forgot, even though my trusty iPhone automatically put it on my calendar. I didn't mind. The Sailor and I spent the day wandering around garden centers looking for the perfect ferns and some red flowers to attract a few hummingbirds. What better way to celebrate the environment? 


I feel like most days around here are Earth Day in any case. I remember as a teenager, collecting aluminum cans was something we did for church fundraisers. Nowadays it's far more in vogue; our recycling bin is much bigger than our trash can at the moment.

We do our best around here to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but we don't obsess over it. I still use paper towels on occasion (after all, how else do you grease your cast iron pan?) and when we're out and about, we still buy a bottle of water when we're thirsty (usually after my glass bottle is completely empty!) 


But for the most part, we try not to waste food or electricity, and we tend to repair items in our household before we replace them. When we do have to replace them though, we usually donate the older item to a thrift store. (The Sailor is not a fan of clutter... and I have to say that most days it makes me crazy as well, even though much of the clutter stems from my own craft supplies. Here are more tips for Spring Cleaning, plus some tips on decluttering the craft supplies.)

And, of course, we plant stuff. We have a vegetable garden going at the moment, and now the porch is a perfect little plant haven for those times we want to sit outdoors. 

Happy Earth Day, every day! 


March 25, 2014

Ringing in Another Anniversary

The Sailor and I got to ring in another anniversary together this year. Depending on his sailing schedule, we often spend our holidays separated by a sea, but we've managed to celebrate our anniversary together fairly often. 

We're not very typical when it comes to anniversaries... there were no gifts or cards exchanged between the two of us, and not much in the way of wining and dining (unless you count those burgers we ordered at lunch while we were running errands.) 


Last year, we looked through our wedding photos. This year, we simply spent the day together, puttering around garden centers and home improvement stores, and then finally stocking up on groceries. I made soup for dinner. We would have also had chocolate cake if we hadn't already eaten it all by the weekend. 

Today, the Sailor put up the curtain rod we picked out together for the living room. He even vacuumed up the mess afterwards. Then he looked for a good sunny spot to keep our tomato plants in until it gets warm enough to transplant them. I guess some gals need flowers and the works on their anniversaries, but me? I'll take my Sailor any day. Whether he's in the same country as me or not, he still reminds me to live, laugh and love. And that's worth far more to me than any greeting card.
 

March 8, 2014

Happy International Women's Day!

Until the mid-90s, when I first traveled to Ukraine, I had never even heard of International Women's Day. But there, and in many other countries, it's a celebrated national holiday, in honor of women. It started out in the early 1900s, and has grown since then to become a day to inspire women and to highlight their accomplishments.

What could be better than celebrating the lives and accomplishments of my many fine, fabulous, female friends and family members around the globe, for one special day of the year? Well, by having it on the same day as my birthday, of course! 


I'm sure my mother didn't plan it, but it's super fun to have my birthday coincide with such a neat (and somewhat obscure, depending on where you live) holiday.

This year marks the last one in my third decade. I know many people try to do something special when they actually reach 40, but if the past 39 years have taught me anything, it's to celebrate every day, no matter how old or young you are. Today, I plan to eat my way through a myriad of dishes... bask in the sunshine that's already out... and maybe even buy myself a little something special to mark the past three decades, and to look forward to at least the next six. I might even bake a cake. 

After all, I feel like I get a double dose of a holiday on March 8th, every year.

Happy International Women's Day!

 

 

February 14, 2014

Happy Heart Day

Today there will be a myriad of hearts. 

Crocheted ones: 


Baked ones: 


Fancy chocolate ones: 




And of course, handwritten notes, flowers and jewelry galore: 



There will also be plenty of bursting hearts... and a few broken ones. What is it about Valentine's Day that makes people feel an abundance of pressure to show someone they love them? 

I for one, am not a fan. I don't know about you, but I'm just as happy having the Sailor tell me and show me he loves me the other 364 days out of the year. (You can see how I really feel about the holiday here.)

I ran a few errands this morning and at all of the stores, bewildered men carried around balloons, flowers and chocolates, wondering what else they needed to buy to appease the likes of their ladies. They all looked quite shell-shocked. 

Earlier this week, I had to elbow my way past a gaggle of men craning their necks to figure out which handbag they should buy for their girlfriends and wives.

I wanted to tell them this: go home and tell your wife or your girlfriend you love her. Buy her flowers tomorrow, when they are half off and you can get her twice as many for the same price! Then take her with you and let her pick out the handbag she really wants.

Better yet, surprise her on any other day of the year. Take her out for dinner when it's just the two of you and not the whole city. Take her out for no reason at all. Buy her a necklace when she doesn't expect it.

Stop in the middle of mall shopping mayhem to find a place that sells both coffee and a piece of chocolate cake when you know she's about to have a meltdown (my personal favorite, and one at which the Sailor is particularly adept...) 

But I didn't say anything in the end. 

Instead, I let them buy their balloons, chocolates, flowers and even handbags. I went home and had a few heart-shaped cookies that I baked from leftover Christmas dough, found in the freezer. 

And I reminded myself that getting to chat with the Sailor this afternoon from seven time zones over, was all I needed this Valentine's Day. That and maybe a few more of those cookies... 


Happy Valentine's Day, no matter how (or if!) you choose to celebrate.

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.

December 29, 2013

Blog in Review: 2013

Between Christmas and New Year's, I always find it kind of therapeutic to reflect on the past year. I sometimes reread my journal, or look at photos. This time I went through Typing Sunflowers. This year had some of the lowest of the lows... but also the highest of the highs. Blogging was definitely one of this year's highlights. I'm still having fun with it (that's a good sign, right?!)

And in case you missed most of the year, or if you're a new follower... here are some of the events that shaped 2013 for me:

My granny square slippers post continues to generate a lot of traffic on here, telling me two things: 

1: People love a good granny square.

AND

2: Slippers will never never go out of fashion. 




Slippers are necessary in my book -- so is eating. I continued to cook things like macaroni and cheese in the tiniest kitchen ever while I shared some family kitchen stories, along with some more kitchen disasters. I even tried my hand at preserving



The Sailor and I traveled to South Africa where we had a lot of braais (the Sailor shares his rules for successful grilling here) and we went on a cruise to the Caribbean, where we had plenty of sunshine and an encounter with a Mexican Bug


I shared my wedding invitations with you, plus I got published in Artful Blogging. I competed in photo shows, had fun with #7Vignettes on Instagram, and generally had a blast being creative with pictures using ordinary objects. 



This year also had its full share of grief. We moved and had housing issues. I gouged my foot and broke my iPhone. I missed out on another summer in Scotland. Worst of all, my brother lost his battle with cancer and Mother's Day wasn't quite the same. 


In the midst of all of that, I continued with my Pyrex obsession. To celebrate 6 months and then 12 months of blogging, I gave away a gravy boat and a butter dish. I scored some great gooseberries, entered a Pyrex photo competition and I also shattered my first piece of Pyrex ever. Besides Pyrex, I also thrifted some other amazing vintage items like this sewing bench and these snack sets.


I crocheted and knit throughout all of 2013, but I am perhaps most proud that I finally finished the Patient Shawl


My love of luggage and bags carried over to the crocheted bobble bag. Food also won my heart with amigurumi meatballs and burgers. And I still can't decide which I like better, knitting or crochet.


I spent several days with three fabulous friends from far away... on a farm. I hosted a wine and cheese and foreign friends. My mom came to visit. And I remembered to celebrate every day with the Sailor. 


At the start of 2013, I never imagined how the year would turn out. It's been a rough ride in some places... and absolutely amazing in others. Thank you, dear readers, for joining me on the journey! The blogging community (that's you!) has been wonderful -- and every day it amazes me that people actually stop by this little corner of Internet.

Here's to a 2014 full of surprises!

(*Many of these photos are from my Instagram account. If you're on Instagram, follow me here for even more pics.)

December 27, 2013

Holiday Indulgences and Lamb Leftovers

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday, wherever and however you celebrated! 

The Sailor and I enjoyed a slow-roasted lamb roast (YUM) and veggies, including baby carrots from our garden. 

I brought out the vintage Federal Glass 'Golden Glory' plates I thrifted eons ago, along with the matching platter I found a few months ago at an antique shop. I also found this glorious tablecloth for only a few dollars at an antique store over Thanksgiving... and while I purchased it with plans for a holiday party in mind, it suited the table for two just right.




A Pyrex casserole dish also made an appearance (of course). Overall, our day was lovely. Not stressful and just the right amount of overindulgence on food. 

And of course, there was also mince pie, cheesecake and sugar cookies for dessert. 


The best part about having all of that food were leftovers for Boxing Day on December 26th. I thought leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches were the business, but the Sailor showed me how to make a mean leftover lamb sandwich. (Heat up some chopped onion and tomato with a little sugar and oil... toast the bun or bread, shred the lamb, add spinach, cheese and sweet chilli sauce. EAT. Enjoy. Repeat as often as necessary.

While America doesn't really recognize Boxing Day, it's popular in England and other parts of the world. And when we woke up to a leaf blower outside our apartment building on the day after Christmas, the Sailor reminded me that America missed the memo on having another day off.

Next week, I'll be posting some (non) New Year's Resolutions ideas, as well as highlights from Typing Sunflowers from 2013. In the meantime, enjoy those leftovers. And if you missed Boxing Day this year... at least pretend it's another holiday over the weekend! 


December 24, 2013

Twinkle, Twinkle Simple Star

I've always been a bit of a minimalist with Christmas decorations. Perhaps it's because it often seems like I'm in transition, or because I don't have a lot of space. I've moved around a lot over the years. Storage used to be at a premium in our household. Now that we've relocated to a larger place, we do actually have storage space, but I still don't like to clutter it up with a lot of items that only get used for a few weeks out of the year. 

However, I admittedly love twinkle lights -- the plain old white kind that don't blink. 

 
There is something calming about them. They remind me of stars on a cold clear night. And stars to me symbolize direction. They were how seafarers of old navigated the oceans. Stars are there to remind us which hemisphere and season we're in -- even when the weather tells us otherwise. Plus, let's face it -- they're practical. They actually illuminate a room. I even keep them out through the dark nights of January and February.

My symbolic stars are the one consistent decoration I always string up for the holidays. Even when I lived on a ship off the coast of Africa, I still hung up white lights in my cozy cabin. 

I like to have a single star hanging somewhere, too. When I decorated my cabin door for Christmas one year on the ship, I made a huge star and hung it there. Now, I have a single silvery glittery ornament acquired in a Christmas clearance that hangs in a window. This year it's flanked by two snowflakes. It's unlikely that I'll see the real stuff this year where we live. 


Last year, I branched out with decorating for the holidays and I found a small tree for a whole dollar at a thrift store. I call it my Charlie Brown tree... it's only about a foot tall, and it's the perfect size for the miniature wooden ornaments I thrifted on the same day. 


The other week some friends came over for dinner, and as soon as they arrived, they commented on our IKEA shelf. The next breath, they asked us if we had a Christmas tree. 

The Charlie Brown tree was right on that same IKEA shelf. 

They had missed it. I guess I had too many twinkle lights on the shelf -- the tree kind of got lost. I think so often in the glitz and glamor of this season, we miss it too. Not the Christmas tree itself, but something a whole lot deeper. 

I missed it for years. I grew up in a church that didn't celebrate Christmas. (That, dear readers, is a long story for another time....) For years I dismissed the Christmas story itself simply because I didn't believe it actually occurred in December. But whatever time of year it happened is somewhat irrelevant to me now, because I believe it did actually occur at some point.

My father-in-law joked last week that Christmas has become man's tradition. It's true. But remember what I said earlier about stars symbolizing direction... my man-made stars and lights simply remind me of what I already believe.

Over two thousand years ago, the Magi followed a star. In this day and age of Google Maps and GPS systems, it seems so simple (and even a little crazy!) that the wise men of the day merely followed a star to find the One they knew they had to worship. A star

This holiday season, in the midst of gift-wrapping, parties and holiday cookies, remember to reflect on the greatest gift ever given. Remember that this gift is free... with no strings attached. And the next time you see a simple star in the sky, remember the Magi and the reason they set off on their journey in the first place. 

May your own journeys take you to wonderous and delightful places this season. 

Merry Christmas! 


December 13, 2013

Delightful Dishes

With the onslaught of holiday baking and entertaining, you're probably doing more dishes than usual -- or at least wiping off the counter top and table a little more often.

For years, I lived not only in small spaces, but also places with no dishwasher. Now that we've moved, the Sailor and I have this modern convenience, but it still only gets used less than once a week. One reason, of course, is that I use a ridiculous amount of vintage Pyrex daily and it's a total no-no to put any of those dishes in the dishwasher. (We also have limited cutlery and I can't stand foraging through a dirty dishwasher hunting for a spoon...)

The other reason though, is that I sometimes actually LIKE doing the dishes. I enjoy cooking, so for me cleaning up is just part of the methodology. There's something wonderful about stepping back to admire a clean kitchen -- even if it's only for a brief moment. I mentioned the same thing here around this time last year, before I had a dishwasher. Even now though, my reasons are still valid.

Whenever I'm between projects, I tend to make a dishcloth -- sometimes for myself and sometimes for gifts (they make great hostess gifts, or holiday presents with a bar of soap or even a few dishes!) This week was no exception. I had this yarn in my bag from a Thanksgiving week trip to the craft store. The pattern came free on the ball band, but you can find it here too.

 
This yarn wasn't the only thing I bought over the Thanksgiving week road trip. You can see the obscene amount of Pyrex I found here. And you can bet none of those went into the dishwasher.