October 27, 2014

The Good Book

This year I have been very disorganized. I blame two things. The first was that I bought a yearly planner that only had week views and no monthly calendars. I can't even tell you how many birthdays I missed. The second was that I tried to give up list making. The thing is, I love list making. It keeps me sane. Ish. What I don't love is feeling like a failure when I don't accomplish everything on my to do list on a given day and I don't know about you, but I never accomplish everything on my to do list!

What I really wanted was a way to balance lists and being organized with living in the moment and being creative. Then I discovered the Day Designer by Whitney English and now I might never be the same. If you knew me in real life, you'd know I research all big decisions. Like I need a 12 step program for it, so clearly I wasn't going to drop $59 on a planner without some research. First I went here and signed up to get a free sample page of the planner and I tried it out to see how it would work for me. I also spent some time (okay, hours) on you tube looking at reviews, and searching for blog reviews and looking at things like #daydesigner and #planneraddict. That's a big deal folks. I'm not a fan of the hashtag. #ihatehashtags

Then I went about giving it a test run. I fell in love. I love that it has a space for your top 3 things to get done in the day. Now I feel like anything above that is a bonus. Plus, a place for your daily gratitude? I'm all over that! I am a planner, journal, pen/pencil, washi tape, all things paper related fanatic and I'm telling you, this is like the Holy Grail of planners! I'm counting down the days until I can use the real thing but until them I'm practicing to find out what works best for me, because you know, I want the real thing to look pretty when I start using it. I feel like order has been restored to my life and I'm just a happier girl when there is order. Otherwise I find myself aimlessly walking around the house in my pajamas at 1pm. Not there's anything wrong with that, right?

I love this cover so much that I got a matching pedicure. That's not weird right? Wait. It is? Then let's pretend it was a happy accident.

October 25, 2014

Slowing Down

All around me I see people who live busy lives, sometimes because it's a product of that particular season of life, but often it seems there is a false sense of accomplishment or importance in being busy. I think it's good to have space in our lives for quiet and thinking, to just see where the day takes us. Choose to live a slower pace. Decide what's important to you. It really is that simple. It might take some time to make the adjustments but start taking small steps now to work toward your goal. I bet you'll feel the weight just fall from your shoulders.

I receive a lot of comments and emails about living a simpler life. I didn't really set out to slow down, it just started creeping into my daily life and the more it crept in, the more peaceful I felt. I'm a slowly reforming type A. I still have my moments of insanity but I try to find more balance these days.

I believe living a more simple life comes down to three things: reducing stress, managing time and finding joy.

1.) Rid your life of chaos and negativity.
Eliminate the negative as well as the unnecessary things that make you busy but don't add value to your life.

This one has been big for me. I'm a work in progress. I'm trying to cut out negative thoughts about myself and others. It changes my perspective to focus on the positives, while eliminating the negatives in my mind and my home. I invested time organizing my house and try to stay on top of it. I ask myself if I need it or love it (hopefully I answer yes to both), if not, then it goes. The same rules apply to bringing new things home. I limit the magazines I subscribe to and even the TV shows that I DVR. I cleared out my email subscriptions. I limit my time online. Instead of bringing me pleasure, all of that felt like another item on my to do list. I ask myself is this adding to my life? Pinterest? Yes. Obviously! The Bachelor? No! It's different for all of us. When there is too much chaos in my life I can't think. I can't focus. I can't relax.

2.)  Be smarter with your time.
There will always be obligations that you can't get out of, but you get to decide how you spend your free time. Choose wisely.

Say no. Sorry, I can't. That's all that is necessary. Then say yes to yourself. Few things make me as anxious as having a calendar full of commitments and appointments. I try to limit myself to one social visit during the week with a friend. I love a day when I don't have to leave the house (I'm an introvert at heart) and try to have 2-3 of them a week. I try to plan my errands so I can do them all in one day. I menu plan, have a laundry day, pay bills twice a month and have a cleaning schedule. I keep tweaking til I find something that works for me. I don't have it perfected yet but I've come a long way.

3.) Feed your soul.
Do more of what makes you happy. Seek out joy. Be inspired.

For me, this changes depending on the day. It could be yoga, a walk through the Village, knitting, having friends over for dinner, reading, creating in my studio, playing games with Em, baking with Maddie, snuggling and watching a movie with my guy. There is no better feeling than waking up excited to live your day.

Here's the thing I've come to realize, when I have less in my life it feels like more. When I put space in my life, I live it more fully. When I live life more fully, it feeds my soul.

October 08, 2014

Simple Pleasures

Maybe it's the change of season, more likely it's my own personal change of season, but I'm enjoying a more simple life these days. Even the touches of Autumn that are showing up around our house are simple. A bit of nature, a little texture and warmth. Just enough to signal the change and make it feel a bit cozier around here.

I'm happy to live in a little bubble devoid of politics, scary news stories and reality tv. I prefer small joys like cuddling up and watching reruns of Gilmore Girls and Hart of Dixie or watching newer favorites like Manhattan Love Story (please check it out!) and Cedar Cove which I was a bit embarrassed about since it is geared toward middle-aged women but then I realized that I am a middle-aged woman!

 I love the simple pleasure of going into the kitchen, putting on some lovely music and baking. I always tell my girls, food isn't love, because I don't want them to confuse the two. But then the truth is, it is a little bit, right? It's love and comfort and celebration. I love to cook and bake for people to show my love and appreciation for them. So I guess that makes me a liar. A chocolate brownie baking liar. And really, if you have to be a liar, that's the best kind I think.

Liar's Brownies
2 sticks butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cup sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cup flour
 1/2 tsp salt

Melt butter over medium low heat. Take off burner and add vanilla and sugar mixing until combined. Add eggs and blend well. Add unsweetened cocoa, flour and salt and mix just until combined. Pour into 9x13 greased or parchment lined pan (I used a slightly smaller pan which yielded thicker brownies) and bake at 375° 25-30 minutes or until done. All that just mixed into the pot. It couldn't be more simple.

I know you think all I do is bake but I also made a really simple, lovely fish for dinner the other night. I can't show you a picture because A.) I'm not a food photographer. See photo above and B.) If you saw my photo you wouldn't want to make it because see A.).  I heated some butter and olive oil in a skillet, added a couple sprigs of rosemary, put my fish in, seasoned it with salt and pepper, added the zest of one lemon and the juice of 1/2 a lemon sauteed until done and then poured that special sauce over it. It was so good that I spent the rest of the evening talking about how amazing it was. And maybe a little bit the next night too. But really, it was so simple a man could make it. Ok, not mine but maybe yours? If it doesn't involve fire, smoke or a waffle maker my guy isn't interested.

The leaves are really starting to fall here in the Village. While we are finally wrapping up our porch project, there are a couple new improvements on our street creating chaos (because it always gets uglier before it gets prettier) where I had hoped to see only the beauty of Autumn. So I head inside where there is dappled afternoon light coming through the windows. The evenings are getting chilly and it's about time to pull out the flannel sheets. The cozy sweaters are starting to make an appearance and I know hats and scarves aren't far behind. The days are spent knitting, soup making and cozy book reading. The evenings are spent cuddling with my hot natured Hubby who always loves me a little more than usual when the weather turns brisk. Simple pleasures are my favorite.