Do you wear foundation?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Yesterday I was reading one of those articles that are always popping up in my social media feeds. It was something like "20 Beauty Mistakes You're Making." Okay, I always, almost, waste time by clicking on these articles. And it struck me how many of the "mistakes" listed had to do with wearing too much makeup. There was the one about not wearing shorts too short, but I guess I don't have to worry about that anymore.

Long, fake nails, super-heavy false eyelashes, too black or too much eyeliner, too heavy on the eyebrow pencil. Too much bronzer, too much foundation.

At one point I thought, gee, why bother with it at all? 

I've already given up on concealer (too cake-y, too fake, too hard to blend, argh . . . ).

I never really used powder or bronzer (powder just settles, and I never cared about mastering all those complicated bronzer/highlighter charts).

I don't often pencil in my eyebrows.

Now I'm wondering if I should even bother with the foundation.

Okay, I know that "too much foundation" is different than "no foundation." But sometimes I don't get it blended perfectly. Or it settles in the cracks. Is it worth it?

These are my two favorite foundations at present. I use only a large pea-sized amount. 

This primer is wonderful, and sometimes I use it all alone, with no foundation. No worries about blending, and it just glides on. Is this enough?

Oh, dear. A dirty doily. Why do I notice this stuff after I post the picture?
I think my foundation might go on a little more easily if I remembered to exfoliate on occasion or to use a facial mask. I bought the ladies in my family some of these for their Christmas stockings, and a few made their way into mine, too.

I do like the French concept of le no makeup look. But we all know that it takes careful application of some makeup to achieve it. Or else they are just taking super great care of their skin.

Do you use foundation to cover the little spots and imperfections? Too smooth out everything? Or do you face the world Unmasked and Unrepentant?

Don't forget the self care this week

Sunday, December 18, 2016

We are all being told that we need to practice self care. In today's fast-paced and stressed-out world, we need to take the time to savor some "me" time, some indulgences, some special treats to make up for the busy lives we live. "Self-care" is a trendy concept, and sometimes trendy concepts annoy me. 

And I cringe a little at the not-so-subtle message that we come first and "deserve" to have all our needs met. Sometimes before anybody else's.

I picture a very self-centered woman, sitting on the couch watching a movie and eating bonbons (whatever those are!), while her children run wild around the house.

Or a woman so busy getting her manicure and her massage that she has to order pizza and takeout at night because she's been so busy practicing her self-care that she hasn't taken the time to grocery shop or plan a decent meal. (Now, there is a time to order pizza; I'll talk about that later . . . )

But there really is some truth to the idea that we must take care of ourselves if we are going to be any good at taking care of others. (That's the key really -- the whole point is not just to live to ourselves only, but to have plenty left over for others. When we're happy, it naturally spills over into others' lives.) Some self care is necessary and is not selfish; we need to find a little balance, especially those of us who like to go all out this time of year to make Christmas special for our loved ones and family.

I love opening up my home for friends and family. December, especially, is a time for showing hospitality and love to those dear to us. Cooking favorite dishes and baking cookies and pies. (I'm making up for lost time now that I have a working kitchen again!) Decorating the house so it looks beautiful. Making sure all the sheets on the beds are clean and the bathrooms are sparkling. Selecting just the right gifts or finishing handmade gifts, and wrapping them all in pretty paper and ribbons. Mailing off cards and gifts for those who live far away.  Going to parties and getting together with friends.

Fun and happy times.

But, if we're not careful, all this can be a recipe for frazzled nerves, short tempers, and burnout. I'll be just chugging along, checking things off my to-do list, feeling chuffed and I somehow forget that I am  a person susceptible to depression, anxiety, and insomnia. I think I should be able to function just like everyone else. (Which is silly, really; like who else? We all have limitations; we all need balance and rest. We need to remember we are human beings, not robots!)

So, I'm reminding myself. Don't forget to practice some self care. 

For me, that means asking myself:

*** Have you been drinking enough water? I don't like to drink water, and can forget when I get busy.

I just bought a SodaStream. Just add some lemon or lime juice to the carbonated water. Stevia optional. Delicious and refreshing, and no more lugging cans or bottles of soda or sparkling water home from the store, and hauling the empties back. Somehow sparkling water is more fun than plain water, and I'll drink more.
*** Are you drinking too much caffeine? I was off caffeine for six months or so. Then I went to my son's for Thanksgiving. With one coffee pot, I was making caffeinated coffee for my husband and son. I had a couple cups, and I tell you, I was flying around that kitchen like Wonder Woman cooking that Thanksgiving meal! So much energy! So much pep! So I have been having a cup or two in the morning again. Have to watch it; it can make me anxious and interfere with sleep.

*** Have you been taking your omega 3s and other vitamins? (Omega 3s help with mood. I forgot today, and just had to get up and do this!)

*** Are you practicing good sleep hygiene? Again, I have slid into old habits, and have to remember that I need to power down the electronics early, take a bath, do something quiet before bed, etc. I start to feel okay, and think I can be on my laptop right up until bedtime. Doesn't work.

*** Have you sat down and spent some time in prayer? So. Important. Just do it.

*** Are you eating healthy foods? I don't need to tell you about all the temptation surrounding us these days. Yes, go ahead and indulge a little. But make sure you also have plenty of fruit and vegetables and don't fill up on empty calories, especially sugars. Talking to myself here. Sugar looks like your friend, but too much, and it will leave you tired and cranky.

Awesome and weird looking cauliflower. I cooked this up in an Indian dish the other night.
Aren't these so pretty? Watermelon radish!
And yes, here's the sugar. Making my traditional Happy Birthday Jesus Coffee Cake to freeze for Christmas morning.
*** Have you allowed yourself some time to read or knit or do something creative? Even if it's just 20 minutes. Again, you are not a robot. (And hey, if you want to sit on the couch and watch a movie and eat bonbons, I'm really not judging. I like to do that myself. A lot.) 

And sometimes you just have to cross some things off the to-do list and give yourself a break. Last week I needed an oil change and wheel alignment, and spent the two hours that I had to wait in the waiting room making lists. Two hours of list-making, with day-by-day lists for the next couple weeks! I have a lot to do, but I also realize I've put many things on my list that are not absolutely necessary.

Yes, I want my grown kids who are coming to visit to have delicious homemade-by-mom meals, but I also want to be relaxed and enjoy their company. Through the years I've often thought of the verse in Proverbs . . . 

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife. (Prov. 17:1)

I translate this to . . . 

 Better to order pizza and have everybody happy than to have an uptight and stressed-out mom trying to make everything perfect. 

Nobody's happy around a martyr!

So, friends, I hope you all have a wonderful, beautiful Christmas with your loved ones. But don't forget to sit down, put your feet up, have a cup of tea, and enjoy. Whether you call it self-care, or living a balanced life, or just staying sane and happy, it's important.

And remember that Jesus, whose birth we are about to celebrate, said that Mary had chosen the better part, by sitting at His feet and listening to Him. Martha, her sister, who was so busy and frazzled, really should have ordered the pizza and joined her!

Snowstorm and *giveaway* winner

Monday, December 12, 2016

I have been enjoying cooking in my working kitchen again! I hope to get some baking done this week and start stocking up for the Christmas feasting. Our youngest will be flying in for Christmas, and maybe even our middle son and his wife. We're waiting to hear if they can get enough time off work to make it. And, of course our daughter and her new husband are local so they'll be here, too.

We still have a list of things that need to be finished in our kitchen, not the least of which are the glass shelving and doors for the cabinets in which my teacups and teapots will be stored. I hope I'll have pictures soon. 

We had a big snowstorm this weekend here in Michigan. A few more inches after this picture was taken, bringing the total to about eight or nine inches.

 I finished up some Christmas cards . . .

. . . and enjoyed a hot drink in front of the fire.

And can I just pass on a piece of advice?

If you ever dry thyme from your garden, pull off all the leaves before you let it dry. I was in a hurry when I harvested my rosemary and thyme and neglected to do this. When I went to package the herbs up for little Christmas gifts, I discovered that all the thyme stems had crumbled and had to be painstakingly removed from the leaves.

I think I spent a couple hours (!!) culling through these leaves to remove the stems. Lesson learned. 

Fortunately, the rosemary was much easier to sort through and bottle up.

I've been thinking of my daughter's first Christmas with her new husband . . . 

Our First Christmas Together ornament. On our tree for the past 35 years. Wow, I just noticed you can see me taking the picture -- my phone is right in the middle of the ornament!


I decided to have a giveaway last week in honor of three years of blogging. My husband drew the winning number.

Congratulations to marmilu (Mary Lou), who says she reads my blog but hasn't commented before. Yay! I was hoping to meet one of my elusive, silent readers. I will be in touch Mary Lou to get your mailing address.

Thank you to those who entered and those who commented here for the first time. I hope to get around to say hi to you all soon.

*** Giveaway! ***

Monday, December 5, 2016

I just realized I've been blogging for three years now! And written (three less than) 300 posts.

It's been a wonderful journey, and the best part has been YOU.

So I'm having a giveaway in honor of the occasion.

A little package to help you relax during this busy month of Christmas preparations. Some Harney's Scottish Morn loose black tea, one of my favorites (wonderful with cream and sugar). With a tea strainer. A tube of lovely Caudalie hand cream (another favorite), some scented soap, and a fun grapefruit mango bath bomb. And a sweet little beeswax candle. Mmm . . . love the beautiful natural scent of beeswax. 

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment and follow me on Google+ (see sidebar to follow). Or Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook. Just let me know where you're following me. 

I'll draw a name at random next Monday, December 12.

I hope some of you who never comment will do so. I have hundreds -- hundreds!! -- of readers I've never heard from. I often wonder who you are. I'm so honored you read my blog, and I'd love to say hi.

{The gifts are pictured on my new kitchen countertop. I'm organizing cupboards today. Electricity and lights hooked up tomorrow. A few remaining items, but looks like I'm back in business! Yay!)

I'm starving and I've gained weight!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Okay, I'm not really starving, especially after the Thanksgiving weekend.

But, seriously. I'm going to complain here. I have not had a kitchen to cook in since September 14. That's 11 weeks. Between take out and restaurant meals I have been putting on weight at the same time as feeling very deprived.

I can't make bread or rolls or pie or cookies. All fall. And fall is prime baking time here at my house. It's the time I make apple pie and apple crisp and pumpkin bread and snickerdoodles and start putting away goodies in the freezer for the Christmas holidays.

You would think all that would make me gain weight. But being able to bake and have things in the pantry makes me feel prepared and satisfied. I'm not as tempted. (much) I think I have been overeating because there's nothing in the pantry (I better fill up; it could be my last meal!!!). So I eat more, and more things that aren't satisfying.

I guess I never realized how much I like my own home cooking. Not to be a food snob, but really. I stopped today at the local health food store to get some roasted veggies for lunch. The sweet potatoes weren't peeled, and they weren't even completely cooked. The garlic pieces were huge; no one took the time to mince them. The brussels sprouts must have been sitting under the warming lamp too long because they were all dried out.

I've been craving homemade soup. We have a local restaurant that sells quarts of soup for takeout. It's not bad, but it is loaded with sodium. My ankles are starting to swell. And the chicken chunks are huge! They don't fit on your spoon, and you're sitting on the couch trying to eat soup on your lap and cut the chicken with your spoon . . . Oh, and the crackers are stale.

I love my homemade soups and roasted vegetables. Or any warm comforting homemade foods for when the cold weather hits.

I did have a wonderful time cooking Thanksgiving dinner in our son's apartment. It was the first homemade meal we've had in weeks. We packed the trunk full of turkey and ham and potatoes and stuffing mix, sausage, onions, butter, celery . . . a roasting pan, a turkey baster, an apron, potholders, sharp knives, and cutting board . . . the works. Drove it all across five states. And I have to say that meal tasted really good.

It was only the three of us, the smallest Thanksgiving we've ever celebrated. But my son couldn't get home for the weekend, so we took Thanksgiving to him. No fancy table setting or china or linens, but it was a great meal, and a very relaxing day.

Good news is that as we were driving home on Monday the countertops got installed. Everything's been held up waiting for them. Now the plumber and electrician can come and hook everything up. So maybe a working kitchen by the weekend? 

And maybe I'll lose this extra weight by cooking more. Weird, but I think it will happen.

It will be a while before I want to go out to eat. And please, Lord, don't let me start complaining when I have get to cook every day again! 

Glimpses of grace

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I’m not given to visions or supernatural experiences. I can count on one hand the number of divine encounters that I’ve had during my life. 

By “divine encounters,” I don’t mean the miracles that we experience every day. Yes, I do believe that miracles happen all the time; in fact, they are so commonplace and so “ordinary” that we may very well miss them. Our good God creates them over and over for us. They are all around us, if we only have eyes to see. 

Sunsets come to mind. A cardinal landing on a branch just as I'm needing a little grace for the day. A "chance" encounter with someone. Healing after a surgery. A "prompting" to give someone a call.

No, I'm talking "Moses and the burning bush" - type experiences. The kind where we see a lifting of the veil, a glimpse into a world beyond. A very real connection, a tailor-made, just-for-us touch from the Lord. When our heart stops and we know that we are on holy ground.

I experienced such a moment years ago in, of all places, a Kroger parking lot. God is present with us not just in a beautiful sunset across a tropical ocean, or in the awesome grandeur of a mountain range, but in a slushy, muddy parking lot of a grocery store on a cold and gray Michigan winter afternoon.

I was a young mom and had run out to the grocery store one Saturday afternoon while my husband watched the children. I had finished my shopping and I was trying to push a fully-laden grocery cart over the parking lot and across ruts of melted snow and ice to get to my van. The wheels were jamming and I had to keep adjusting the cart and steering it around puddles of icy water. My boots were leaking and the bottom of my jeans were wet. I got to the back of my van and lifted the rear door, grimy and dirty with the slush that always sprays up from the roads in such weather. 

I started lifting the bags of groceries into the back of the van. Pausing as I reached for another one, I glanced up. Strings of electrical and phone wires hung limply between the telephone poles edging the side of the road. Cars drove past, overhung by the kinds of massive, heavy, gloomy clouds that can hold sway in a Michigan winter sky for weeks.

And then a strange thing happened. It was as if, as I looked through the wires and up at the sky, a kind of film was lifted up and away off of everything and I got a glimpse of something different, something that existed behind my view.

Not a thing had changed. The telephone wires were still there, the gray clouds, the slush-spattered cars, the banks of gray snow at the edge of the parking lot. But everything took on a new look. As if everything had been washed clean, as if somehow it had all been redeemed. Even the noises I heard, the traffic, people’s voices, were clear and bell-like, clean-sounding and fresh.

Everything was the same and yet everything had been transformed. The whole world had taken on a different aspect.

Is this what the world is really like? Or meant to be? Or what it will be some day? Was it a glimpse of heaven?

 I pondered this event for a long time before I realized what it was that I saw behind the curtain that had been lifted for my benefit. For me, a young woman, tired and a little worn from the cares of the day, who was given this gift. What I saw that day was what is beyond and behind everything. And that thing is Love.

These are the bits of precious gold that I cling to.

It makes me think of the cabby in C.S. Lewis’s book, The Magician’s Nephew. At the end of the book, he gets a glimpse of heaven.

“Glory be!” said the Cabby. “I’d ha’ been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this.”

I hang on to this memory, this snapshot of what the world is really like, of what it will be like someday when everything broken will be restored. The Bible tells us to think on things that are true and lovely and of good report. The world here is a beautiful place with many awesome and wonderful things. But the truest things, the best things, the things that endure and last, are not what we can see.

But a lifting of the veil, and all is revealed.


A very Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S readers.

Weekly to-do chart

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post. I had several hundred more views than is normal, so I feel encouraged to write more about this topic. In fact, I'm even considering doing an e-book. So, thank you for the support. I so appreciate it.

Also, thanks to many of your comments and some (gentle) pressure on the home front, we are going to keep our mural in the foyer. Seems I've been outvoted, but that's okay. That tells me I really am okay with it, because usually if I really want something (like growing out the bleached blond hair and going natural), I'll do it despite the opposition!

Today, I'm going to share with you a weekly to-do chart I've come up with.

I live by lists. Daily and weekly and seasonal to-do lists, shopping lists, Christmas planning lists, you name it. I couldn't have planned my daughter's wedding without a whole notebook of lists. If it's organized on paper, and all I have to do is do what it tells me and check it off, that's half the battle right there.

I write everything down. Except, I realized, the daily, everyday tasks. And lately, I've realized how annoying it is that my list of daily to-do's is always playing and re-playing in my mind as I go through the day. Not things like write a letter to my mom or buy a present for someone or RSVP to an invitation. Those things I write down.

I'm talking about that running list of everyday to-do's -- make the bed, do the dishes, make dinner, clean the kitty litter, take vitamins. I have these tasks all arranged in a certain order in my mind, and I find myself running through the list many times during the day. There are items on that list, like vacuuming, that I don't do every day, but it's still on the list so I can think about whether I need to vacuum that day. I had over 15 things I was repeating over and over, with a list of secondary items, things like write a blog post or work on my knitting, claiming my attention and just taking up too much mental space.

And even if I had already made my bed or cleaned the kitty litter, I was running the whole list, including those items, through my mind again whenever I thought about what I needed to finish for the day.

Well, that's just ridiculous.

I found a chart on my Mac Pages that is actually an attendance chart and modified it for my use. There are tons of free daily and weekly planning charts available online, and whole systems of household management worksheets you can find. Usually I end up modifying them so much that it's easier to make my own. And for this purpose, I don't want to carry around a whole binder; I just want one sheet of paper for the week that will cover just the daily to-do's. 

Sorry that it's a little hard to see. (It got cut off, but I do have a column for Sunday; I just don't put any unnecessary chores on that day.) The chart is roughly divided into four categories. Spiritual, I guess for lack of a better word, daily chores, health, and fun stuff I hope to fit in.

I'm a little embarrassed to share the second item with you. "Do something kind" seems disingenuous, like if I do it just because I need to cross it off a list I'm not really being sincere. But honestly, sometimes I just need to be reminded. I want to be that kind of person. And it ain't always just gonna happen!

Sometimes the day will easily present opportunities. Like someone out of state is having surgery. I can't be there so I send off a care package. Someone's sick and I take them some soup. But other days I might have to pray to find some extra kindness to do for someone. 

"Pray" is another strange one to have on a list. I don't just pray once and then check it off. I tend to pray throughout the day. So this is one that never really gets checked. Not sure why I have it on the list. It wasn't on my previous mental list of things to do, but when I see it there in black and white as I'm checking things off, I get a little reminder to pray for someone.

"Call/text/write family/friend." Only introverts will understand this on a list!! I can go through a whole day happily occupied all by myself. Too much of that, though, and I can end up isolated and self-absorbed. This reminds me to stay connected, and I'm always happier when I do so.

The rest of the chart is fairly self-explanatory. I have vacuuming down on Mondays and Fridays.  But I don't worry too much if I don't check that off on the exact day, just as long as I try to vacuum twice during the week. (I don't vacuum the whole house twice a week; I do the upstairs one day and the downstairs another day). Same thing with bathrooms. I don't clean everything twice a week. But I try to work on it twice a week so everything gets cleaned at least once during the week.

The end of the list is the fun stuff, and I try to work it out so I can do at least some of these things every day. (You'll notice I have "write a blog post" on twice during the week. This is a goal; I've only been writing one a week for some time now.)

On the back of this chart, on the reverse side of the paper, I write out the days of the week and handwrite any special things I have to do on each day that aren't part of the regularly scheduled items. These include things like appointments, errands, meetings, phone calls to be made, etc.

So, there you have it . . . Does anybody else do anything like this? Anybody found a good system for keeping themselves organized on a daily basis?


We finally got to the apple orchard. It is the thing to do here in Michigan in the fall. Everybody goes to pick apples and pumpkins and have cider and donuts. It wouldn't be fall without at least one cinnamon donut from the cider mill.

Or, in our case, more than one. That's my husband's hand there. He had three donuts! I ate mine before I took a picture, so had to get another one out of the bag for this picture.  I have to admit, dear reader, that I ended up eating this one too. 

Coping with depression

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I have wanted for a long time to do a series of blog posts on depression, and how I have coped (or not) with it through my life. It's not something I could have written about even five years ago, and even now is difficult to share.

But because I am in the middle of a 50, 000-word novel writing project for the month of November (NaNoWriMo), I don't have the time to do the series right now. Maybe after the holidays.

But for now, I just want to share a few ways I am trying to cope with a depressive illness. It is particularly important right now for me as I have, in the past few months, gone off anti-depressant medication, medication I have been on for the past eight years since I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

It is important for me to monitor myself closely (and under a doctor's supervision). The jury's still out as to whether or not I will go back on meds. My mood has definitely ratcheted down a few notches, but I have lots of really good days, and so far I'm doing okay.

Lots more info to follow if you are interested. I have loads to say regarding the stigma surrounding mental health, attitudes toward medication, unhelpful comments from people of faith, and more. (In fact, I think I could write 50, 000 words on this rather than agonizing over a novel where my characters are refusing to do what I want them to do!)

So, here is a list I have made for myself to check off each day in order to keep my mood as stable as possible. I share in hopes that maybe it will be helpful to someone reading this.

1. Exercise. Every day. I hate it and have to drag myself kicking and screaming to do it, but if there is a Magic Bullet for depression (non-pharmaceutical), this has been proven over and over to be it. Saturday I missed my Zumba class, but I worked up a good sweat vacuuming and mopping. Another day I raked for an hour. Most days I'm down on the treadmill. Sometimes I just dance by myself in the kitchen! Whatever works. 

2. Omega-3s. Especially those blends having lots of DHA. I'm trying to get around 1, 500 to 2, 000 mg per day of DHA in the mix.

3. A light box. I've been using one of these for years. Every morning, for about 45 minutes, from September to May. This is especially important in cold, cloudy northern climates. We can go weeks in Michigan in the winter with no sunshine. It can depress anyone, but especially those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

4. Get outside. Not hard at all right now, with the beautiful weather we've been having. But even a little fresh air in the depths of winter is a mood booster.

We enjoyed a picnic here on Saturday.
5. No caffeine. I've given it up before, but I'm going on six months or so without, and I think it's now the new normal. It helps with my sleep to be caffeine free and also with the anxiety that accompanies my depression.

6. Low sugar intake. Um, still working on this. I know I will just feel better all around if I can minimize the sweets. (I didn't say eliminate; that would be too depressing!)

7. Good protein and fats. When you're depressed and it's cold outside, nothing spells comfort more than carbohydrates. Bread, potatoes, pasta . . . but I have to remind myself that some good protein and fat will make me feel lots better.

Here are a few other things I've come up with over the years.

1. Do something kind for someone every day. It's easy to withdraw and become wrapped up in myself when I'm not feeling well. I try to look for opportunities to do something for someone else; it helps them out, but really, it blesses me even more, and can lift me out of a spiraling downward cycle.

2. Do something creative. One of the hallmarks of depression is that it can leave you feeling like a failure. It's wonderful how just the process of creating something of beauty can remind you that you are a competent person with something to offer. Whether it's whipping up a special dish or knitting a sock, it is definitely therapeutic.

I finished the toe today --  my first sock! After several frustrating attempts, I did it!!
3. Cry. Sometimes you just have to sit and have a good cry. There's a chemical that's released in tears that is actually healing. 

4. Divert and distract. I used to feel that I needed to analyze my feelings whenever I was depressed. This is very helpful to do at some point, and I would advise doing it, notebook and pen in hand. And with a trained professional, if needed. But sometimes in the middle of a depressive episode, you can just be spinning your wheels and spiraling further downward if you try to analyze it all. I've discovered that I need to just shelve all the stuff; it will still be there later. Now's the time to watch an episode of I Love Lucy or a cheesy Hallmark movie. Anything that will take you out of yourself for a while. I don't recommend taking a bath or doing any of those nice self-care rituals that still give you time to think at this point; you want to find an activity where you aren't able to still ruminate on things.

5. Challenge your thinking. The old messages, the old tape, the old story. This is a huge one. You may need professional help. Don't be afraid to get it. You're not embarrassed to go to the dentist or the doctor or the hairdresser on a regular basis. Your mental health deserves the same kind of attention! (Just be sure to get someone good; like anything else, do your homework before trusting someone with your health.)

6. Think of 10 things to be grateful for. I started doing this years ago. It doesn't fix things, but it does help keep things in a little bit better perspective. And there's always something to be thankful for, no matter how bleak. I avoid listing broad categories of things to be thankful for like family, food, health, etc., and instead concentrate on small blessings right around me. Over the years I think this has helped me to more truly open my eyes to all that the Lord has given me. 

Let's say you're slumped over the kitchen table, feeling blue and wondering whether you're even making a difference anywhere. Lots of things have been going wrong lately, and you're discouraged. A start might be to take a breath and say to yourself, as I have many, many times over the years, "okay, ten things . . . " and then you look around and think:

I have a hot cup of tea in a pretty china cup to drink
The chickadees at the bird feeder are so cheerful
There's dinner cooking in the crockpot
I got a text from a friend this morning
I'm wearing a cozy warm sweater 
The kitty lying in a patch of sunshine makes me smile
My son called me last night
I overheard my husband compliment me yesterday
There's gas in my car for when I go out later
The colors of the trees outside are beautiful

I can easily get to listing 30 or more blessings when I get started. There's always something beautiful to notice.

7. Pray. And trust that you are loved no matter how you feel about yourself. Read passages of Scripture that remind you of your worth. Read the Psalms. David was often depressed and yet he was "a man after God's own heart." Don't believe the lie that you are depressed because you aren't a good enough Christian! I could write a book on this one.

One caveat, and this is something I hope to write more about. This list is meant to help me try to stay balanced.  Sometimes we can do all we can to try to take care of ourselves and it isn't enough. That's when professional help and medication can be invaluable. Don't neglect getting help if you need it. And for those of you who don't suffer from clinical depression, I'm sorry, but this isn't like one of your down days. Don't tell your friend or family member to "look on the bright side," etc. That only makes them feel more of a failure. Understand that your loved one is dealing with an illness, just like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. A simple "cheer up" isn't going to cut it. The best thing you can do is just listen and love.

Well, I'm getting on to a whole other topic.

What do you think -- would you like me to blog more about this?

Stephanie's tea cup and mug exchange reveal

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's time for the big reveal! Time to share the goodies received during Stephanie's 9th Teacup and Mug Exchange.  This lovely lady puts so much work and effort into making this a wonderful exchange for so many of us; I think I saw somewhere there were 198 participants worldwide.

Thank you, dear Stephanie, for blessing us with this fun time, and for helping us all to meet new friends.

I got a beautiful package from Cynthia at View from a Garden. She's got me all figured out, with my love of pink and feminine and girly details.

First, the beautiful pearlescent teacup in shades of pink and gold. Isn't it gorgeous?

Two adorable little Christmas trees, made by Cynthia. Love those pink and white pearls!

A fun notebook, pen, and bookmark.

And some lovely smelling tea, blended by a friend of hers, and perfect for sleep. Thank you, Cynthia, for remembering my sleep issues. This will make the perfect relaxing cup of before-bed tea.

It smells wonderful.

Pretty handmade note paper and envelope.

Thank you so much Cynthia. I will enjoy each and every one of these treasures.

I had the privilege of sending a package to Kim at Wisdom With Needle and Thread.

Love this shade of blue.

After I took the pictures above, I realized one of the vintage handkerchiefs had a frayed edge. So I swapped it out for this pretty one.

Be sure to visit all the other participants in this exchange by visiting Stephanie at The Enchanting Rose.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Starting tomorrow, I'm planning on writing 1,667 words per day for the entire month of November.

All part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which encourages participants to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

From their website: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

I did this in 2011.

One of the NaNoWriMo rallying cries is "No Plot? No Problem!"*** Just keep writing. The idea is to dispense with writer's block, perfectionism, procrastination, and the like, and just go for it.

Well, it ended up being a real problem for me in 2011, not having a plot. I ended up with, over time, close to 80,000 words of various scenes and stories very loosely strung together, spanning decades and multiple points of view. In other words, a mess.

Maybe I'll get that sorted out some day to my satisfaction, but tomorrow, I'm starting with something new. I've been thinking about it for a while. It's going to be non-fiction, which makes me a bit of a NaNoWriMo rebel. (They actually have groups for the rebels, as well!)

It's a good thing there's a starting point. Because I have all kinds of excuses to not start. My writing/sewing/craft room is not set up. It's been painted and the carpet's been cleaned. But nothing more.

I'm hoping to get this desk emptied and moved in before tomorrow.

The bookcase will have to wait.

And the closet will take a while longer. (Yes, I really do Project 333; this is the extra clothing that didn't make the current three-month cut.) The idea is to get all my stuff out of this blue room and into the pink room, so the blue room will be all nice and clean for guests.

And I didn't even show you the piles of stuff on and under the bed that need to be moved and organized. Scrapbooking stuff, sewing stuff, old journals, etc.

If I don't get the desk moved, I will just have to sit down and write there.

Or, I will have to clear a spot on our kitchen table, which is currently in the living room, housing a microwave, a toaster, our vitamins, and all kinds of miscellaneous items while the kitchen is being done.

What a mess!!
So you see, there are lots of reasons why I could procrastinate. I really do want to write this book in an organized, neat, and beautiful (the beautiful matters!!) environment. This is driving me crazy. 

But NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, whether I'm ready or not. Start your engines . . .  er, laptops!

(Or maybe I should write longhand, and edit on my computer? Writing with pen is supposed to foster creativity. Hmmm . . .  spiral notebook or looseleaf? Aargh . . . . stop it, and just start writing!!)

Anybody else out there doing this?

***At least it was in 2011. Not sure about now. They have loads of support/info/write-ins/local writers' groups to join. People post their word counts on Twitter! I am not involved in all this, because I feel like it will just distract from me actually writing. I will check in occasionally to their online support for encouragement, as needed, though!

The heart of the home

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I'd like to think that, as a mom, I'm the heart of our home. But we all know that the true heart of any home is really the kitchen

It's where everyone gathers, where all the good stuff happens.

It's where most of the conversations take place. Where good food is prepared. Where everyone meets at the end of the day, ready to rest and relax. A place where you can drop your defenses, let down your guard. Whether you enjoy a simple soup and sandwich or all the fixings of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, you feel comforted and nourished.

It's a place to feel safe and happy and at peace.

I've been thinking about this lately as our kitchen has been torn up for renovation.

My husband and I feel a little like intruders in our own home, skulking around the edges, making coffee in the laundry room, and eating our takeout in front of the TV. The big main hub of the home, the kitchen, is closed to us, and we are feeling a little lonely for its warmth and comfort.

I'm pretty excited about this cabinet. We moved the refrigerator down to the right and now have a double cabinet here, which will be for all my china teacups and teapots (well, all that fit!). It will have glass doors and shelves and lights inside.
I've gained weight. I have indigestion. Everything's out of whack. Our routines are disrupted, and I've been losing things. I had a special place in the kitchen for my phone and eyeglasses. Now, I can't seem to keep track of them.

No matter how much extra room you have in your house, there's something about the kitchen that draws you to it.

When we first started homeschooling, we set up our schoolroom in our basement. I had a big table, bookshelves, and all our supplies, organized and ready to go. But nine times out of ten, we'd all end up working at the kitchen table.

I'm going to be moving all my craft and sewing supplies and writing stuff into my daughter's room now she's married and moved out. Right now, the sewing machine is in one closet, the scrapbooking stuff is in another closet, the knitting stuff is on a shelf in the family room, etc. I can't wait to get this room all organized and ready, with everything at hand, and a nice big work table in the center. 

My daughter picked out this pink paint called Angel Wing when she was 13 years old. I decided to keep it. It's very soft; a warm and pretty color.
But I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be gathering supplies and heading down to the kitchen table, at least occasionally. Especially in the middle of the winter when a pot of soup will be on the stove and the tea kettle on to boil. Oh, and especially if I've made a fire in the next room.

What a blessing a kitchen is! I'm so thankful for the one here in the works. And you better believe I'll be doing a lot of cooking and baking this Christmas!


So, you may have noticed this mural in the background above. It is currently the focus of a running debate at our home. Keep it or lose it?

When we first looked at this house, I thought to myself, that mural is the first thing that's gonna go. But it kind of grew on me, and it is the only thing that hasn't been painted here in 18 years. We have ended up pulling the colors out of this mural for all the rooms downstairs -- sage green in the kitchen,  soft yellow in the library, blue in the living room.

It stretches from the doorway to the laundry room all the way around the wall to the foyer.

And ends with this.

I think I'm finally ready to paint over it. But everybody, my husband, my kids, my book club . . . even the carpenter putting in the cabinets . . .  wants me to keep it. 

So I'm waffling. 

What do you think?

Another goodbye

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I am sitting here at Panera writing this.

I just don't feel comfortable in my own home with workers in my kitchen. I used to think it would be wonderful to have "staff," a la Downton Abbey, but I realize I am way too private to share my house with any one but family or friends.

Which brings me to another point.

We're sharing our home with no one now. The first time in 29 years.

It seems I've been saying goodbye to my children for about 11 years now, ever since my first went off to college. Then I had to do it all over again when my second one left. Then saying another goodbye to the first one when she moved out of state after graduation. Then, the hard parting with the youngest as he started college. But not an empty nest, as our daughter was back home by then. Then saying goodbye to both boys as they moved out of state. That was a Big Goodbye, from which I haven't fully recovered adjusted.

And now my daughter has moved out and into her new home with her husband. 

Getting an antique dresser, the last of the furniture, out of her old room. (Notice her pink work gloves!!)
I was so involved with the wedding planning and the excitement of it all, that I forgot.

How much we talked together every day and how much fun we had. How I would miss her.

{Good grief, Deborah, she only lives 15 minutes away!}

I'm just surprised I guess. That I haven't quite got used to this goodbye thing. 

A new (to me) teacup offers consolation. When the kitchen workers leave I will make myself a cuppa and enjoy my current read, The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge. I've read it before, but it's too good to sit on the bookshelf.  A wonderful, cozy read.

Too many choices . . .

Thursday, October 13, 2016

I'm in the midst of a kitchen and powder room renovation.

Between that and the stink bugs and all my daughter's stuff piled up in the living room waiting to be picked up to go to her new home, it's a bit chaotic here.

The Keurig is on the shoe rack in the laundry room, and we have a toaster on a table in the living room. (That's all we can make here. Tea and toast. Not bad, actually. My favorite things.)

I'm stepping over dishes and boxes, trying to vacuum and sweep up the extra dust, and feeling discouraged at some weight gain from eating too much takeout over the past couple weeks.

I'm not complaining, really. It's going to look beautiful.

But I do wish I was a little better at decision-making.

I need to pick out lights and a mirror and hardware. And paint colors.

Who knew there were so many options?

I went to one website and typed in chandeliers. Over 37,000 results. Put in your filters, and you still have a few hundred. Multiply that by several sites (you have to compare, right?), and that's a lot of chandeliers. Then there's kitchen island pendants, bathroom mirrors and lighting, and more. Then try to get them to all look good together without being too matchy-matchy.

I've spent days looking at this stuff online. My head is spinning. Mr. Beautiful is quite tuckered out by the whole thing.

This is the chandelier I finally decided on to go over the kitchen table.

From here.
I wasn't looking for this. I just stumbled on it. And funny, because when I was picking out countertops and backsplash a couple months ago, this candle holder was my inspiration piece for colors . . . 

This quartz looks kind of green in the photos. It's not. It's actually got a slightly (pink) cast. (I'm hoping my husband hasn't noticed that.)


In knitting news, my instructor didn't show up for the first class. 

A very nice lady in the store overheard me talking about trying to learn to knit socks, and spent about a half hour with me. She gave me some good tips. Lots of great people all over. So I am soldiering on, with her encouragement . . . 

I made the mistake the other day of entering the election fray on Facebook. I think I'm better off knitting and drinking tea. Much more peaceful.

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