Jammie Time!

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Hummingbird made out of Legos!

Yesterday for dinner I ate: 3 gingerbread cookies, a banana with peanut butter and a vanilla cream chocolate. I haven’t walked the dog since before Christmas. No matter how many loads of laundry I do the piles never seem to grow any smaller. (Once you fall behind doing laundry you are doomed.) I made the mistake of starting a to-do list in my bullet journal for today and tomorrow, the first since Christmas.  When I hit the thirteenth item I got rather disgusted with myself.  Enough already!

Part of me is ready to get back to my normal routine and habits.  Yes, I love sleeping in a bit and all of me loves the extra time with my son. Monday we went to the Tucson Botanical Gardens to see the special Lego exhibit.  Today we did some running around, but tomorrow?  Tomorrow we have a jammie day (or at least morning) planned. We will have cocoa and oatmeal on the floor by the tree, play some games, read books and have a simple, unhurried time together.

Simple and unhurried are two words not heard or practiced very often during the holidays. Right this moment I feel tired. We have been typically busy celebrating just like everyone else.  It has been a struggle to find time to just sit and enjoy the season, by evening I am more than ready for a long winter’s nap.  Right now I am loving the idea of spending extra time in my pj’s and not feeling the push to get a million things done or even do anything in particular.  I want to spend time with my son just being with him.  The other night we snuggled on the couch together and discussed how good our lives are.  It was the best moment of the holiday.  A simple and unhurried jammie morning sounds like another best moment.

 

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In the butterfly room at the Tucson Botanical Gardens
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Waiting

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The  house sparkles with just the Christmas lights lit.  I am glad I took the extra time earlier today to do a good dust and vacuum.

We have attended evening church service, candle lit “Silent Night” bringing tears to my eyes as always.  My soul has been nourished.

The counter is laden with Christmas treats, the larder stocked for the coming days, ready to nourish our bodies and hearts.  Meals are planned out for the next three days.  For Christmas we have our traditional turkey potpie.  The turkey is saved from Thanksgiving, the crust as imperfect as usual (I choose to think it shows it is homemade).  There will be applesauce from the freezer, homemade from our late summer apple picking.  This menu suits me as I don’t want to spend Christmas cooking, I just pop the potpie in the oven and go on about the business of merry making.

We celebrate Boxing Day too, the 26th of December.  We pretend we are British and put Christmas crackers next to our plates at dinner.  The menu this year is for a hearty Beef and Ale Stew with dumplings, the recipe from Beatrix Potter’s Lake District.  For dessert there is sticky toffee pudding from Trader Joe’s.  The forecast is for cold and windy so the meal should suit it well.

On Sunday the 27th we will have fondue, also from Trader Joe’s.  We’ll have sausages, broccoli, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and bread chunks for dippers. It will be something different, something unusual for us.  And then hopefully the next few days we will eat leftovers!

Right now I sit quietly waiting for my son to be sound asleep.  It could take awhile.  I think about how many trips I will need to make to bring in the gifts carefully hidden in the garage.  They are wrapped but still need to be ribboned and bowed.  I wonder if I should watch a movie while I wait.   But instead I think I will sit here for awhile, in the cold, calm, dimly lit peacefulness counting my blessings.  There are many to be counted.

Peace and Joy to you!

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The Things We Do for Love

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Christmas 2 years ago

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Sherlock

My dog Sherlock loves opening presents.  Like crazy loves it.  On Christmas morning we have to give him a present first so he will stop barking and running around sniffing all the gifts looking for his.

I had all the gifts wrapped except for his.  Since we are home together all day I had to get creative to wrap them without his knowledge.  (Plus I have an 8 year old who expects Santa to bring Sherlock presents so there is a lot of hiding going on.  I could see myself forgetting about the “Santa presents” for Sherlock in the trunk of my car and my son finding them so I was anxious to get them wrapped and re-hidden).  I was going to put Sherlock outside for a bit but the dining room table where I have been doing all my wrapping has big windows looking out over the side yard. He would peek, I know he would.  Plus he is a dog so he can smell Petco items.

I tried luring him outside anyway:  “Hey boy want to check the laundry with me?”  hoping he would maybe snooze in the sun and I could sneak back in and wrap them upstairs.  He never left the doorway.  (It was pretty cold out for an, ahem, senior dog.)  Since his gifts were hidden in the trunk of the car I decided I would just have to wrap them in the garage.  The freezing cold garage.  First I had to sneak the Santa wrapping paper out, along with tape, scissors, and gift tags.  After wrapping and hiding the presents in a secure location (high in the garage) I implemented the next step of the fake out.  I brought in the big box of Milkbones we keep in the garage, the perfect distraction!  I refilled the treat jar and then gave him a Milkbone.  Hopefully after that he forgot to wonder about what I was doing in the garage and didn’t notice any Petco smells on me.

 

 

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I don’t know when I will have the chance to post again so, Merry Christmas to all! (Or Happy Whatever you celebrate!)  I hope amid a ton of joy and gaiety you find a moment of peace and time for reflection on all your blessings. A quiet moment to drink in all the lights and decorations, savor the cookies and breath deeply the scents of the season. You have earned it.

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Yes, I put snow on my cactus gingerbread cookie!

The Holiday Creep

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Finished my latest project at the perfect time.

No, not the weird guy who runs around and around our loop, though I do find that a little creepy. I am talking about the  holiday weight creep. I heard on the radio the average person gains seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. What!? I thought it was four to five.

The week after Thanksgiving I stepped on the scale. I was still in my five pound window but perilously close to the top end. My first inclination was to ignore it. I am not going to stress over every cookie and eating out for the next four weeks.  But I wasn’t sleeping well either and feeling rather crabby.  I had stopped curtailing my wheat and grain intake and I was feeling it.

I looked at the calendar.  It really isn’t that close to Christmas yet. Really I have two more weeks where I should, could and will eat in my normal non-holiday fashion.  This week I have resumed using romaine leaves instead of bread, spaghetti squash instead of pasta and making simple meals like grilled salmon and salad for dinner.  I will remember to be moderate in my tasting while baking treats for the neighbors.  The oranges on our tree are ripe so when I need a snack I have been going outside and picking one to eat right then.  What a luxury!

I do not know how successful I will be in not gaining weight the next two weeks, but I already feel better just for trying.

And All Was Merry and Bright

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How to light a fireplace when it is 80 degrees.

 

I am joyfully spending most of this week at home, holed up wrapping and baking and decorating. Last week? We had frustrating Friday, melt down Saturday and Bah Humbug Sunday. Who knew Monday would bring peace and contentment? Actually, I did.

So the plan was to have most of the holiday shopping done last week. I accomplished that. Whew. But it wasn’t without it’s hiccups. On Friday I had the smart idea to stop at one shopping area with three stores I needed to visit: toy store, dollar store and pet store. Bonus because it was right on the way to the base and commissary shopping. So efficient!  But then I had to go back twice, first because I forgot a bag at the dollar store and the second time to return the scooter I had way overpaid for.  So much for efficiency.

Saturday involved putting up the outside decorations and lights.  Enough said. By the time we got done it was dark, we were tired  and it was too late to start the red cabbage meant for dinner and “A Christmas Story” night.  So I made the executive decision that chinese food would also be perfect with the movie and tasked my husband with dinner.

By Sunday I was tired of all the totes in the house and trying to figure out how to decorate.  Last year’s decorating made me very happy.  I was pleased with where everything went.  I read the brilliant idea of putting decorations away by room so that is what I did.  Only this past summer we rearranged rooms and furniture so I needed a new plan.  I can’t seem to get things just right this year.  For now I am going with the “good enough” method.  I am really happy with the kitchen and family room and that is where we spend most of our time anyway.  And the living room will be fine once we put up the artificial family tree this weekend.  At least that is what I am telling myself. (Santa’s live tree will go up in the family room Christmas week.)

 

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Decorating is all about the lights this year.

 

Now the totes are back in the garage, the over-priced scooter ordered online for $45 less (with the bonus of having fewer days I need to keep it hidden!) and the dining room has been turned into gift wrapping central.  The house smells of gingerbread baked this morning, laundry is tumbling in the dryer and I just got back from taking the dog on a long winter’s walk (okay sunny and 80 degrees not exactly wintry but the forecast says that is about to change.  Yippee!).  I am reveling in my solitude and Christmas preparations.  Make sure to find some peace for yourself in the coming days, please.

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My snow in the desert!  originally I only had 3 large snowflakes hanging down but I didn’t love it.  After browsing Pinterest I realized more would be better!

 

 

Goals for 2016

After a bit of thinking and a lot of doodling I have come up with THE LIST. Since I won’t be starting until mid-January there may still be some tweaks but for the most part this is what I am going with.  They are in no particular order and I will be implementing these habit changes one at a time using the “Zen Habits” method.  I doubt they will all get done, actually if I have just two or three new habits firmly entrenched by the end of the year I will call it success.

  •  Improve eating habits
    • reduce grain intake and search for healthier grains
    • keep sugar intake low
    • avoid chemicals, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives
  • Steps
    • experiment with grain free recipes
    • eliminate processed treats (no more store bought cookies, desserts etc)
    • decide ahead of time when I am going to break my rules and keep track

Goal: better sleep, better mood, less joint pain

@ I am already doing most of these things to some degree but I want to try a little harder.  I have begun looking up all the ingredients on things like crackers and cereals and researching to find the healthiest flours.

  • Increase my physical activity
    • longer walks with dog (10k steps per day goal)
    • yoga
    • jump rope
    • biking
    • hand weights
  • Steps
    • create a schedule
    • start small

Goal:  better sleep, better mood, tone muscles, increase upper arm strength

@ this one is going to be tough because I don’t really like to exercise. I also need to be flexible and adjust my routine to fit the time of year.  Swimming in the summer instead of walking for example.  But this is where the Zen Habits will be very helpful.

  • Meditation
    • two 5 to 10 minute sessions per day
  • Steps
    • start small
    • be patient with myself

@ I had already started on this goal, I thought it would be a good one to give the “Zen Habits” method a practice run with.  But then I got sick and now I need to start over.  Such is life.

Goal:  peace of mind, better focus

  • Writing
    • finish writing something, anything
  • Steps
    • set time or word count goal
    • investigate entering some contests

Goal:  to write enough that I can think of myself as an author, to feel a sense of purpose, to add another dimension to my day.

  • Photography
    • take better photos
  • Steps
    • watch a Great Courses DVD I bought this year
    • read blogs about taking photos
    • look into photo editing software

Goal: become a more knowledgeable photographer

@ I enjoy taking nature photos and am ready to up my game.  The last few years I have made myself a calendar and I want 2017’s to be fabulous!

Hopefully I will have the patience to take my time and attend to each new habit properly.  This time next year my days will look very different if I am successful.  I am looking forward to change, feeling better and discovering who I can be in this next phase of my life.