Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Assignment #9: Work on Your Project (aka DIY Penny Tray)

Assignment #9 was to work on my selected project -- my DIY penny tray for the living room. My first task was to order the supplies needed to complete the project. It took a few days for everything to get here, but now we're ready to get started.

I forgot to take a picture of all of the supplies together.  The supplies for this project included: 209 pennies, one tray, one sponge brush, wood stain, epoxy, and clear coat spray. I must say that the bank teller gave me a funny look when I asked for four rolls of pennies. Thankfully, she didn't ask what I needed them for. Meanwhile, hubby commented on the fact that this project was supposed to reduce the number of pennies in the house. I had forgotten that we donated all of our pennies to one of his work charity fundraisers. That's what I get for trying to do the right thing. 

Next, I stained the tray. It only took one coat of stain to achieve the color I was looking for. We have some leftover stain from the door finishing project in a color that I'm fond of so this didn't add to cost. After waiting eight hours, I sealed the entire tray with a clear coat spray.

Pre-epoxy tray
When I started arranging my pennies I found that all of the pennies from the rolls were brand new. Since it took more than $2 to cover the bottom (209 pennies to be exact), I had to carefully mix in the darker, used pennies.  Then, I mixed the epoxy and carefully poured it into the tray. Be extra careful with this stuff. It was extremely sticky. The epoxy took 24 hours to cure.

Finished penny tray
Total Cost: $27.62

The cost breakdown is as follows:
  • Pennies: $2.09
  • Epoxy: $13.93
  • Foam brush: $0.21
  • Tray: $3.42
  • Clear coat spray: $7.97
I really like how this tray turned out. It fits in nicely with our living room style and adds a much needed flat surface for holding drinks and snacks. I have four trays left and I need to think about what I want to do with them. Strangely enough, Apartment Therapy just ran an article about how to control clutter with trays. It's almost like they are watching me.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Stuffed Bell Peppers


Hubby has been telling me for a while that he really loves stuffed bell peppers and that he wanted me to make them. The stars finally aligned and I did so last night. They turned out super yummy and now hubby wants them on the regular rotation.

Our local farmer's market had green peppers on sale, so today seemed like the best day to give it a shot. Since I hadn't made stuffed bell peppers before, I did look at a few recipes first to get a feel for what normally goes into them. Then I went through our refrigerator and pantry to see what I could whip up.

Time: 1 hour
Serves: 2 adults
Ingredients:

  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced.
  • 2 tsp dry garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 tomato, rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup cheese


Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook rice according to instructions.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the tops off the green bell peppers and clean out the insides. Reserve the tops.
  4. Parboil the green peppers for 5 minutes.
  5. Heat the olive oil at medium high in a large skillet. Dice the green pepper tops. Add the diced green peppers, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Cook until onions are translucent (~5 minutes).
  6. Add ground turkey to the skillet and good until the turkey is browned.
  7. Add tomato and cook for another 2 minutes.
  8. Add cooked rice and mix well.
  9. Stuff mixture into bell peppers and top with cheese.
  10. Bake in a pan with a tiny bit of water on the bottom for 25 - 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and everything is cooked through.
While I cooked the rice at the same time as the turkey mixture, you could precook the rice. We actually keep cooked rice in the freezer for quick fried rice. We had some rice and turkey mix left over that we plan to eat with biscuits during the week. 

Enjoy!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Assignment #8: The Clean Sweep

Cleaning the kitchen took several days longer than I had planned on and now I'm behind. I sort of knew that this would happen at some point. Thankfully, the next assignment is something that can be done in just a few minutes -- the clean sweep. Basically, today's task is to surface clean the house in the time it takes a song to play.

Clean Sweep Station
The clean sweep is already a part of of my weekly cleaning routine. I've mentioned my adorable fur-kids and their inability to keep litter in its designated area. Every time I do the litter boxes, I also swiffer the whole house. I even have a cleaning station dedicated to this task to make things a bit more streamlined.

I also have a tendency to clean whenever I'm waiting for the teapot to sing its magical song. I've found that I can have the dishes done and counters wiped in the time it takes for water to boil. In the time it takes the tea or coffee to brew, I can have the living room and dining room picked up. Part of the reason that hubby and I like owning less is due to the ease of clean-up. You don't need to clean things that you don't own.

By doing a little bit of cleaning each day, our home is never more than a few minutes away from being ready for company. People don't drop by often, but I don't want my mess to keep me from welcoming them in or enjoying my home.

Best wishes!

Assignment #10: Declutter a Drawer

Today's cure assignment is to declutter a drawer. Now, if you've been following along for a while, you might be thinking to yourself, "This should be easy! There is no clutter in Smith Land." Alas, try as I might, my desk drawers are a disaster. This assignment hits home because I like to squirrel away things into the drawers -- there are 18 in the house, but surprisingly only two in the kitchen -- when I want to keep them away from curious kitties or do a quick clean up before company arrives.

Before
The drawer that selected for this assignment holds an array of bobs and bits. Some of the stuff is holdover from when hubby and I shared a desk, but the majority of it is crochet do-dads. My first task in this assignment was to clear off my desk so that I could empty drawer. This was no small feat as my desk is a paper storm. Decluttering my drawer resulted in a two-for-one special: a clean drawer and a clean desktop.

After
I pulled everything out of the drawer and sorted it into four piles: crafting, hubby, postcards and letters, and trash. Since the drawer was empty, I did a quick wipe down. I put the crochet supplies with the others on the shelf and put the craft supplies that I'll use back into the drawer. The postcards and letters went back into the drawer. Hubby's stuff went to his desk for going through later. Finally, the trash went out to the bin. All in all, this was about a 20 minute project that I'm glad I took the time to do.

This exercise exhibits my minimalism philosophy:
  1. Keep the things that add value and cut those that do not.
  2. Simplifying is a journey, not a destination.
  3. Do a little every day.
Best wishes!





Thursday, January 15, 2015

Assignment #6: Kitchen Deep Clean

Well, after the pantry purge earlier in the week, I sort of knew that this was coming. This weekend's assignment is to deep clean the kitchen. Even though I just did a deep clean before Christmas, I'm not super excited about doing this because the post-holiday fridge and oven are a disaster.

First up is the fridge. Posting a "before" picture would be too embarrassing so you'll just have to take my word for it. Working from the top shelf down, I removed all of the food and then removed the shelf for cleaning. When I got to the bottom drawers, I remembered why the fridge causes me so much irritation. You see the previous owners, bless their hearts, had the kitchen tiled and inadvertently tiled the fridge into place. It is impossible to move the fridge or to get the right drawer out without damaging the tile. At least I only notice this particular quirk when I am trying to clean.

The second major part of the kitchen deep clean was the stove-top and oven. We have a flat-top glass stove-top that has a knack for attracting yucky stuff. About once a week I tackle it with some baking soda and vinegar to really get it nice and clean. The oven, on the other hand, hasn't been cleaned since we moved into the house a year ago. To be honest, we've never lived anywhere long enough to warrant an oven cleaning. I guess that's one of the added joys of home ownership. But I digress... Normally when I clean an oven I either run a self-clean cycle or get out the oven cleaner, but neither are optimal methods. The self-clean cycle basically heats the oven up to as hot as the sun and incinerates anything in there and then I still need to wipe out the charred remains. It doesn't seem energy efficient and is stinky. The oven cleaner is super stinky and renders the kitchen unusable due to the smell. Plus, I have to stick my head in it and the smell makes me nauseous. So, I decided to try the baking soda and vinegar approach since it seems to work for everything else and I wasn't failed. It took a metric ton of elbow grease, but the oven is now sparkling clean.

After the fridge and oven, the rest of the kitchen was easy-peasy. I used my stiffer to wipe down the walls since dust and kitty hair likes to accumulate on them. I gave all of the cabinets a good wipe down, inside and out. I installed the new cabinet knobs that arrived a few days ago. I mopped the floor since all of the cleaning made my perfect floors dirty again.

In preparation for the upcoming kitchen project, I measured the walls where the back splash is going in order to determine the amount of tile that I'll need. I think I'll tackle that project in February. Next up is painting the counter tops. Replacing them is out of the budget right now, but I've seen some inexpensive ways to spruce up laminate counter tops. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Assignment #5: 10 Minute Meditation & Pick a Project

Today's assignment is two parts . . . again. I think Apartment Therapy is trying to trick us into doing more by giving two assignments at the same time, but calling it one assignment. (Note to self: Trick students into more work this way.) You can view the complete assignment here.

The first part of the assignment is to sit quietly in a room for 10 minutes and imagine the room the way you want it to be. Since we spend the most time in the living room, I decided to do this exercise there. Our living room has been a challenge to decorate. Since living in the house, the furniture has been in three different arrangements. The main issue is the television stand and the couch. Both are fairly large pieces of furniture and they don't fit in the room exactly as planned. I think the current arrangement is the best because none of the windows are overly blocked and the couch isn't in front of the windows. In general, I would prefer if the room was a bit cozier with a throw blanket and throw pillows. Both are on the projects list. Also, this room suffers from a lack of tables. It drives me a little nuts that we haven't provided a table for drinks and snacks, especially since hubby and I have decided to work our way through the best movies. The living room also needs to have its lighting addressed. There are two lights in the room currently. One is a wall sconce that I'm not really fond of because of its location and looks. The other light is a stand up lamp. This does a good job of providing task lighting.

I realize that it sounds like I'm nit-picking, but I've been thinking about the needs of this room for a lot more than 10 minutes. Most of my projects for the year are for the living room. I have been careful to select projects and improvements that can be taken with us since there is a chance that we could be moving within the year. (More on that when things are decided.)

http://designdininganddiapers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/diypennytray-1024x681.jpg
The second part of the assignment is to commit to a project that can be done this month. At first I was a bit torn about which project to select because I already have one in progress, but sitting in the living room and thinking about the space helped me make my decision. I am going to add some flat surfaces to the room. There is a project from Pinterest that I have been eyeing for sometime. It involves decorating tray(s) with pennies and sealing the tray with epoxy. I think this would look really cute in the living room because of the varying shades of orange. Plus, it'll get some of my penny collection turned into something useful. I guess the next step is to obtain supplies.

Best wishes!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Assignment #4: Purge the Pantry

In preparation for the weekend assignment, today's "Cure" task is to clean the pantry. About a month ago, I relocated the pantry from one cabinet to another to help with kitchen flow and to help me stop loosing things in the back of the pantry. However, the pantry could use a good clean up and any excuse to label things sounds like fun to me.

Before
The before picture doesn't look that bad. The top shelf is supposed to hold breakfast items, the following two shelves were a mish-mash between baking and dinner foods, and the bottom shelf is for bulk storage.

After
I'll admit that the "after" photo doesn't look all that different. I took everything out of the cabinet, cleaned all of the shelves, and replaced the food. The top shelf still holds breakfast food and the bottom shelf is still bulk storage. What I did do was clear out a few items that we haven't used and/or were expired and grouped the baking stuff on the second shelf and the dinner stuff on the third shelf. 

Dry Storage
The area that I spent the most time working on is where we store our dry ingredients (such as flour, rice, and oatmeal). I like to keep all of our dry ingrediants in quart mason jars because I like the uniform look and I think the food stays fresher. I topped off the jars and finally finished labeling everything.

While this is only the first week of the January Cure, I'm happy that I've been able to keep up with the tasks. School is starting next week and my time demands are going to shift back to full-time school with a mix of homemaking. Coming up this weekend is a kitchen deep clean that I'm sort of dreading. Christmas was not kind to my refrigerator.

Best wishes!

Assignment #3: The Outbox

Well, it's day 3 of "The Cure" and I'm swimming right along. This time last year, I was still mopping the floors and making my lists. Today's task is super easy and should take less than 5 minutes -- my kind of task! -- create an outbox.

An outbox is a container to store the things that you aren't sure about. The general idea is to place items in the box to help cut the strings of attachment. After the item has been in the box for a week or longer, you make a final decision. Does the item stay or go? More often than not, you've been living without the item for a while and don't miss it.

Hubby and I have a permanent outbox in the garage next to the trash and recycle bins. It's the best place in the house for us because we walk past it every time we go to the car. It's easy to drop an item off in the box on the way out the door. Also, I don't worry about the outbox (or area around it) being a mess because it's in a place that's allowed to get messy.

Good-bye to the chef's knife
The second part of the assignment was to put an item in the box. This was a stroke of genius for me. While reaching for a knife, I realized that I always avoid one particular knife. As soon as I noticed this, I asked hubby for his thoughts and he immediately grabbed the knife and put it in the outbox. Go Team Smith!

For the record, we have two other chopping knives that aren't in the picture. So we didn't "outbox" our only chopping knife.  I think a trip to Goodwill will be happening soon since the box is pretty full.

Best wishes!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sweet Potato Risotto

Hubby and I have been working on trimming our grocery budget -- and our waistlines. While neither of us are willing to give up meat completely, we have agreed to start "Meatless Mondays." My plan is to share the recipes that we come up with for these days.

Today's meatless Monday dish was Sweet Potato Risotto. I have a love/hate relationship with risotto. I love the creamy texture, but it requires constant attention and near constant stirring for the 45 minute cook time. I was inspired by the Framed Table's recipe, but, as usual, did my own thing.

Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fat (I used bacon grease, but olive oil would be fine too)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch thyme
  • 1 tablespoon margarine 
  • salt & pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pierce sweet potato with a fork several times and bake for at least 1 hour.
  3. Let cooked sweet potato cool until you are able to handle it. Then remove the skin and mash in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Heat fat on medium and cook garlic until everything smells yummy. Don't brown the garlic.
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat. Allow to cook until most of the fat is absorbed.
  6. Add the wine and stir. Allow to cook until the wine is absorbed. Stir frequently.
  7. Add the mashed sweet potato and two cups of the vegetable broth. Stir to combine. Allow to good until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir frequently. (See what I mean about the stirring?)
  8. Add the nutmeg, thyme, and remaining broth. Stir.
  9. When the remaining liquid is absorbed and the rice is creamy and yummy, remove from the heat. Stir in the margarine.
  10. Salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Enjoy!
Best wishes.

Assignment #2: The Project List

Eap! Today's assignment was to go through the entire house and make a list of projects to work on throughout the year. My first step was to review the list from last year. I managed to make it through the majority of the list and transferred the incomplete projects that are still relevant to the new list. Without further ado, here are our 2015 house projects with pictures of the rooms as they currently exist:

Kitchen

  • drawer knobs
  • paint cabinets
  • paint counters
  • install back splash
  • kitchen landing strip
  • window treatments
  • herb garden
  • jar labels
  • mirror above the sink
  • beautify the dishwasher
  • touch-up paint

Dining Room

  • build hidden kitty box

Living Room

  • fix couch
  • add throw pillows
  • install blinds
  • hang curtains
  • install ceiling light
  • paint interior of front door white
  • crochet throw blanket
  • upholster armchair
  • add coffee table
  • DIY penny tray

Bathroom


  • install pedestal sink
  • install larger mirror
  • replace light fixture
  • gold polka dot walls
  • stencil floor
  • replace handles
  • refinish door

Bedroom


  • DIY headboard
  • refinish door

Office


  • recover hubby's chair
  • install hanging shelf
  • adjust the layout
  • refinish door
  • address extension cord issue

Stairs/Hallway

  • clean risers (possibly repaint too)
  • hang cork memories
I swear the list looks worse than it is and I'll be working on it throughout the year. Some of the projects I'll do myself and others, mostly likely those involving electricity, I'll hire out. My hope is to post pictures of each room as I complete it. 

Of these, the bathroom will be the most challenging. I am hoping to source the new fixtures from Craiglist or the Restore as I have no intention on paying full price. Also, my bathroom budget is limited (read: replacing the ugly tile is out of the question), so I'm going to get creative with paint. It should be fun.

Assignment #1: Floor and Flowers

I am participating in Apartment Therapy's January Cure for the second year in a row. I found the list of activities and encouragement helpful last year as we tackled our first year of home ownership. This year the focus is on refining our house style.

The first assignment was floor and flowers. Honestly, I hate cleaning our floors because it seems like too much time for the payoff, but in the spirit of things I'm going for it. Hubby and I did a deep clean of the downstairs before Christmas, so I headed upstairs first. Thankfully, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. If anyone knows of a better way to control stray kitty litter, I am all ears. We currently have a hooded litter box with an extra large litter mat under it, but my cats seem to have mastered launching out of the box without touching the mat. It's gross, I know.


The downstairs took a bit of time, but I finally made it through the pile of cat and dog fur, toys, and beings. I'm sort of amazed that there was already so much yucky on the floor. I guess that's something I need to work on.

The second part of the assignment -- flowers -- isn't going to happen. Cali has always had a thing for flowers and after her impression of "Cal-zilla" during gardening season, I don't think that flowers would be in the interest of Smith House harmony. Don't fret though, I have a plan for getting some living plants into the house when spring comes. 

Until then, here's a photo from two springs ago. Tulips are my favorite flower and I was ecstatic to see that our apartment complex had them planted. 


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why do you crochet?

About a year ago, I was sifting through our winter clothes bin and happened upon the first scarf that I made for my husband. Though the scarf was originally white, now faded through use to grey, it reminded me of how much I loved him then and love him now. That scarf was the last item that I knitted – over 5 years ago. For some reason or another, the hobby just didn’t stick. Not being one to give up on yarn crafts, I asked hubby if he would like me to crochet him a new scarf. Of course, he said, “Yes!” and I set out to purchase my materials and to learn how to crochet.

Hubby wearing his new scarf
I learned how to crochet by watching YouTube videos. I like being able to stop, pause, and rewind as needed. One of the best sources of videos that I have found is the Crochet Crowd (link here). Mikey, the creator and owner of the site, is incredibly easy to learn from. I love his tips, tricks, advice, and giggles. It’s almost as if he’s sitting in my office with me.

Soon after finishing the scarf, I found out that my sister-in-law was expecting. I didn’t know the gender of the baby, but I must have been secretly hoping for a girl because the yarn that I picked for the baby blanket ended up reading more girl than boy. Even though it was comprised purely of double crochet stitches, the resulting baby blanket was my most ambitious project at the time. I ended up shelving my plans to send a basket of washcloths after realizing that I’m the world’s slowest crocheter.

Finished baby blanket
After returning from a weeklong visit with my in-laws, I decided to participate in Stitch-cation (link here), hosted by the Crochet Crowd, and create an afghan for my mom for Christmas. Even though stitch-cation was supposed to last for two months, I knew that it would easily take me six months to finish this project. The afghan was comprised of 20 squares with 10 different patterns and 9 different colors. There were times when I wanted to give up because particular squares were quite difficult, but I persevered.

My Mom with her "Sandy Sunset" afghan
So, to get back to the original question:
  • I crochet to show the people in my life how much I love them.
  • I crochet to stretch my creative mind.
  • I crochet to show myself that I can accomplish things that seem impossible.
  • I crochet to feel connected to my work.
  • I crochet to calm my mind.
  • I crochet to keep my hands busy while thinking.
For me, crocheting isn’t just about the items being made. This is a hobby that I can turn to when I need some quiet time in my day, when I need to clear my head, or when I need to do some serious dissertation thinking. As I told my husband when he asked about my hobby, “I study crime. Not the bad behavior of individuals, but differences in state crime rates. There is nothing tangible about my work – the thing I’m studying only exists as numbers in an excel spreadsheet and the words I produce only exist on my computer. With crocheting, I can hold the hook and yarn and actually make something.”

The Quiet One (1952)

*Note: This post was written by the infamous, hubby. After 3 years about blogging about him and our doings, he has agreed to share his review of the movies that we're watching.*

I love video games. Some of my earliest memories are of those playing my Gameboy to pass the time on our family trips between Anchorage and Fairbanks (360 miles) as a child. As I grew older I never grew out of my fascination with video games and in time came to see interactive media as an art form (Roger Ebert’s disapproval is noted). Nowadays I would say I clock more than 1000 hours a year on my hobby of choice and that’s probably being conservative.

Recently I checked the online statistics of an action game I’ve been playing since early 2012. The database revealed that I had played this particular game for 200 hours in the past two years. Of course I remembered snippets of where that time had gone. A quick match before heading off to work or to unwind when I got home. A lazy Sunday afternoon could turn into a three hour session and so on. Month-by-month the hours had climbed. I had a blast and I don’t regret a thing, though the realization forced me to put in context how I had been spending my free time.

The thought came to me, for the time I’ve spent playing this one game I could have watched close to 100 movies I’ve never seen before. While I have no intention of giving up video games any time soon, I proposed to Amanda that we put together a list of the best movies to date and make an effort to watch the ones we haven’t seen over the months to come.

We put together the collection below of 148 titles which is a concatenation of the “best movies” lists from the American Film Institute and AMC. I was surprised to realize I’ve seen only a handful of the movies on the list and only around five since Amanda and I met. Some (e.g. E.T.) I haven’t seen in over 20 years.



We began our cinematic journey with a 1952 romantic-comedy The Quiet One, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. I had never heard of the movie and Amanda’s reaction was less than enthusiastic.

“I’ve never liked John Wayne, I think his acting tends to be a bit wooden” she grimaced.
“Well in that case, woodn’t you like to get this one out of the way first?” my first bad pun of the evening.

The Quiet One is set in 1920’s Ireland as an Irish-American Sean Thornton (played by Wayne) returns to settle his family’s ancestral homestead. His new neighbors, the Danahers, are a brother and sister pair played by Victor McLaglen and Maureen O’Hara. Thornton’s attempts to court the sister Mary Kate Danaher are led astray by her brother Will’s refusal to her give consent to marry.

A common theme throughout the film is the clash between American and Irish customs, usually at Thornton’s expense. These misunderstandings are the source of many of the film’s humorous moments, but also the recurring conflict which is punctuated by the final confrontation between Sean and Will.

The humor is still crisp six decades later and more than once I caught myself laughing out loud. I will avoid spoiling the ending and let it suffice to say that we were both pleasantly surprised by this romantic comedy after all. While the 129 minute runtime seemed daunting at the outset, the film is well-paced and fills those two hours with a seamless narrative. In short, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it for a date night with someone special.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year

It looks like the last time I posted was back in July. A lot happened during the second half of the year and I learned a lot about who I am. 

Over the last six months I attended two national conferences, continued work on my dissertation, entered the job market, visited my brother's family in North Carolina, graduated with Sisko from doggy obedience school, had an amazing visit with college friends, completed some home improvement projects, got the go ahead to vaccinate Scooter, treated Sisko's heart worm infection,   tried my hand at gardening, and had a wonderful holiday with my family.


I did all of this while feeling constantly tired and rundown.  I haven't written about my health problems because it would force me to acknowledge that something is wrong. For the last year, I have been frustrated because my primary care doctor was unwilling to determine the cause of my exhaustion and racing heart beat, among other symptoms. It took my annual trip to the gynecologist for someone to actually listen to me. Six vials of blood later and more blood tests than I care to count, we finally got a few answers and a referral to a rheumatologist. At this point, we suspect that whatever is going on with me is autoimmune related. We haven't seen the new doctor yet, so it will be a while before we have a definitive diagnosis and some sort of treatment plan in place. 

A few people know what has been going on, but I haven't broadcast it on FaceBook or the blog until now because it has been easier to "fake it until I make it," than to deal with how crappy I feel or how it is hurting my relationships and life. Truth be told, I'm tired of faking it. 

So where does this leave us? I have good days and bad days. On the good days, I feel mostly like myself and on the bad days I can barely force myself out of bed. The main thing that I have learned is that I have to accept my limitations and make the best of it.

http://www.jenniferjade.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/serenity_prayer_poster-p228606666479031480tdcp_400.jpg
Serenity Prayer
I strive to accomplish the most that I can every day. That might mean that I just make it to the shower or do some reading or work on the dissertation or some housework. I can't beat myself up for not finishing everything on my to-do list. So, I am back to blogging, but at my pace. This will probably mean less regular updates, but it could also mean that I feel less guilt for not keeping up my end of the writing bargain.

I don't make resolutions, but I do have some goals for 2015:

  • practice mindful self-care,
  • finish the dissertation,
  • continue working on the house -- one project at a time,
  • crocheting to my heart's content,
  • read 50 books,
  • cultivate my relationships, 
  • revive the garden, 
  • doodle more, and
  • blog.

Best wishes.