Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Around Here | December.

…I spent much of yesterday sorting through this month's photos - over 200 of them, thanks in part to daily prompts from both FatMumSlim's (yes, I went back!) and Tracey Clark's Picture the Holidays class. I've challenged myself with Tracey's class to take all the photos with my "big" camera; it's nice to have it back out on the counter again…and I'm delighted with many of the images. Here are ten of my favorites (in addition to the one I already shared), some of which don't even have twinkle light bokeh!

Day 1 - Turning Over a New Leaf | the front of my house, framed with leaves

Day 2 - Reframing the Season | looking into the living room from the screened porch (three trees in sight!)

Day 5 - The View from Here | the same trees from Day 2, but from inside

Day 11 - Minimalist | in my neighbor's front yard

Day 12 - All is Calm

Day 13 - Simply Divine | on our "big" tree

Day 16 - The Season of Lights | on the path by the lake in my neighborhood
Day 21 - Attitude Adjustment | all the yarn I had left to knit, so pretty with a twinkle light backdrop!

Day 25 - This Magic Moment | the table…after dinner
Day 27 - A Breath of Fresh Air | frosted berries from our morning walk

Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking Back | 2013.

…at thirteen of the best things that happened around here.

Rob & Katie and the sparkler sendoff (a favorite moment from a favorite day)
1. Katie and Rob's wedding. The day of - May 18 - was wonderful, but the planning and preliminary parties - notably the bachelorette weekend in February where Katie and her friends shared one cottage and my friends and I shared the other (and there was snow) and a shower in April hosted by my sister and sister-in-law - and sharing the celebration with friends and family made it truly memorable. I'm so grateful, too, that we have hundreds of photos to remember it all.

Marc & I - November 17 before a wonderful dinner in the Dominican
2. Our 30th anniversary. and getting really comfortable with the whole empty nest thing. Marc and I celebrated with a trip to the Dominican Republic back in November. It was the first time the two of us had taken a vacation together on a plane since our honeymoon. We ate and drank and read and lounged for five whole days in the sun. We also had a Nespresso machine in our room and I lost count of how many espressos I had.

3. The half marathon. Way back in March, Katie, Rob, Sara and I ran 13.1 miles. This was my first half marathon…and likely my last. In a burst of post-event enthusiasm I signed up for two more - one on Thanksgiving morning and another next March. Our Dominican trip pretty much put me off the Thanksgiving one and I just realized today that I'll be out of town for the one in March. Oh well. I'm glad I did it. just once.

4. The mid-distance running group at the Y. More post-event enthusiasm encouraged me to join a running group, and this part is sticking with me. I've made friends and like running with others now more than running solo. Quite a change in just 12 months!

5. Yoga. I resisted at first. The one class I took last year wasn't very good and I was too into Pilates to give it a second chance. But then I took a class this spring - the teacher subbed for one of my Pilates classes, but she taught a Yoga class - and I had second thoughts. The girls at running raved about a 90 minute class on Friday mornings and I decided to give it a shot. First class…and I was hooked. My routine now includes three classes a week - two Vinyasa Flow and one Yin. Combined with a few days of running, I think I've found a fitness routine I can live with for a while.

6. Katie & Rob built a house (and moved in) that's just three and a half miles from ours. I love having them close. I especially love that we see them (ok, mostly that Katie and I see each other) regularly and have fun together!

7. The prayer shawl ministry is real. The timing was right, for sure, because we had more than 20 women show up for the information session in April. Monthly meetings started in May and eight months later we have a solid core of about a dozen ladies. We've made several dozen shawls, lap robes and baby pieces and have expanded the ministry to include a local cancer infusion center and a single mother's outreach program.

8. Our whole family is on Instagram. Katie and I started back in early 2011, then Sara joined, and we got Marc on board the morning after the wedding. I was enjoying looking at all the photos that the guests shared…and he wanted in. Now he regularly shares photos on his Asian adventures and it's great to follow along. But I have to say that the photos he shares of our lives here together are my favorites. Also, #tbt.

9. Photography. I took a phone photography class in July and learned so much, especially about iPhone/iPad apps to edit photos (PicTapGo and A Beautiful Mess are my favorites). Inspiration spark! Then Katie & I both bought a 50mm 1:1.4 lens last month and whoa. I'm in love with my DSLR all over again.
my "stats" view from Goodreads
10. Reading books and audiobooks. I read 28 (those two unstarred books at the bottom are "not gonna finish" ones) books this year; more than any recent year by a long shot. In addition to discovering short stories, I also found a few new favorites - Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander and John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. I started listening to bookish podcasts, too, and would highly recommend Book Riot, Books on the Nightstand, Bookrageous and (if you're ok with R-rated language) Literary Disco.

11. Another 2-day walk. It's a fall tradition. and now we've raised over $20,000!!!!

12. Teaching knitting. I started nearly four years ago (!!!?!!) and I am finally feeling like I figured it out. I have about 15 regular students who fill three classes each week. They keep me on my toes - did you ever hear the way to really learn is by doing? it's true - and they inspire me.

13. Our new home. not just our 2nd house, and I know it helps that we sold the first a few months back.  Now we've made new friends, figured out the traffic patterns and really settled in. We love it. and it's home.

Thanks for reading all this. I didn't think it would be so long, but … that's how it goes sometimes! Reviewing the list, it strikes me that most of these things were not ones I planned a year ago. And so I'm reminded again how important it is to be flexible about my priorities and really, to simply be present in the moment with the things - and the people - that matter most.

Did you have any "aha" moments this year? Please share!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In the Blink of an Eye.

...or so it seems anyway...it was just December 1st and now it's Christmas Eve. dark early. which is not so great since I was up past midnight. but gives me a bit of quiet alone time (maybe even an hour or two since Marc's office is officially on holiday today and without an alarm I'll bet he can sleep past 7 am).
Katie & Sara, Central Park, Christmas 2009
I just hung this last "ornament" on our Advent tree. also known (especially to those of you on Instagram) as our "throwback Thursday" tree. Marc and I have both enjoyed the 24 day trip down memory lane and a few of the photos have shown up on our Instagram feeds this year.
Santa and me. circa 1967
Katie, me and Sara. Christmas 1993

…in the blink of any eye indeed.

A sure reminder to live each and every moment to its fullest. And to take lots of pictures.

Wishing y'all the very Merriest of Christmases!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ten on Tuesday. Making a List.


…today Carole's asked about our to-do lists. Quite contrary to my normal MO, I've been resisting getting all those things running around my head down on paper. But once I did, it wasn't all that bad. We've scaled back a lot this year on gifts, and Marc's been away for a week, so I've had extra time. I hope this feeling of relative calm lasts!

1. Holiday cards. We haven't sent one in years, but Katie convinced me (and gave me a great coupon). I finalized the design and ordered them this morning. Plan to get them addressed, stamped and into the mail next week.

2. Daily December entries for Project Life. Scheduled for this afternoon. (I haven't done a single one so far…)

3. Groceries. Related to Marc being gone for a week, the pantry and refrigerator are nearly empty. Must do. tomorrow.

4. Holiday sangria, birthday card and gift for a sweet friend who's celebrating a milestone birthday this week. I'm hosting the party Thursday night, but everyone is helping with the food, so it really should be this easy.

5. Holly's annual checkup. She's out of heart worm medicine and her rabies vaccine expires this week. must do!

6. Sunday School lesson. It's my turn to teach on Sunday.

7. Shop blog post. Yep, I am behind on two blogs, not just this one! (and if time permits, I'd really like to get this blog updated for the new season).

8. Post office. Two packages to mail. Thursday?

9. Homeland. I hadn't watched a single episode of Season 3 til Saturday…and now I've seen all eleven, but need to re-watch that last episode before Sunday's finale.

10. Knitting. of course. I haven't finished any gifts, but three of the four I've planned are started.

With just two weeks to go, what's on your list?

click here to join the Ten on Tuesday fun!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Throwback Thursday | A Christmas Elf.

…one of my very favorite photos of my dad, from Christmas Eve 1967 (I think). That red wagon was our big Santa gift that year. 

Of course he had to be sure it "worked" after he assembled it…smart thinking since that festive holly mug he's holding was a hot drink we call Tom & Jerry's, a Sheffield family holiday tradition.

Tom & Jerry's
my mother's recipe

Batter
Slowly beat 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks; stir in 1 pound of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon nutmeg. Refrigerate in a covered container. It keeps for a week or two (if it lasts that long!)

For each drink
Add 1-2 heaping tablespoon(s) of batter to a warmed mug (the batter is pretty rich, I prefer less, but I think others in my family like the full two tablespoons), a jigger of dark or spiced rum or brandy (my dad's favorite), and boiling water to fill the mug. Stir to dissolve the batter. Add a little sprinkle of nutmeg. Enjoy!

Sadly, I don't think we have any good Christmas elf stories from our girls' childhoods. But I think this one serves well for two generations!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Grounded.

…of course I had grand plans for today - Marc left dark-early for Asia and we had a contractor scheduled mid-day to fix a leak in the attic (no real worries - it's all under warranty and it's just a little leak). I had my laptop and printer on the kitchen counter first, followed shortly by 8 weeks of stuff and the rest of my project life supplies. yep, I'm in catchup mode again. and committed (in a good way) to getting caught up this week so I can document (most of) December in real time. I'll spare you the view of my kitchen counter right now (it's not terrible, but I'm not proud of it!)

…because I have this one to share.
Day 3 of Tracey Clark's Picture the Holidays. Grounded.
A lot has changed in just three years!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving.

…feels weird that it was just a few days ago because now twinkle lights abound, Christmas music is playing outright (instead of just when I'm alone in my car), we've watched Elf and The Holiday…and I'm behind on my daily December journal. yep, hello December!

But before I give this new month its proper welcome, I wanted to share a glimpse of my favorite November holiday.

Just us. 
Sara, Marc, Katie, Rob
delicious food.
still figuring out my new lens… it can focus really close!
(yes there were leftovers; this is some of what Katie & Rob took home)

delicious wine.
from Tablas Creek (and a tasting trip Katie & Rob made to Paso Robles a few years back) and Triseatum
and fun. even taking photos. yes, that's Marc. and yes, those are smiles!

thank you Katie for these last two (in focus!) photos!