Saturday, December 29, 2012


Sort of on impulse, I took my boys up to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago yesterday. We all enjoyed the time looking at the beautiful diversity of the world's watery habitats (although, I have to note I had a hard time with the extreme crowds and really rude people. Really, I think we all need to revisit Etiquette 101. It's really becoming a loss art!)

My personal favorite Shedd inhabitant is the seahorses, but the exhibit is popular and I am on the 5'3" short side, so peering at them was impossible over the four-five deep layers of seahorse fans. I did, however, get to peer at the gorgeousness that is the jellies, anemones and the seadragons. Pretty animal-flowers of the deep.

 I also love the invasive species exhibit because, near and dear to me, I focused on invasive species (or, more specifically, how we erroneously encourage the spread in our urban forestry designs and habits)  for my thesis in university.

In addition to all the marine biology goodness, I saw the most impressive mason bee house near one of the entrances. If you have even a small flower or vegetable garden, attracting these tiny little pollinators is a total benefit for your plants. I've had on my list to build some of these practical little houses for years, mainly to gift the gardeners in my life (including myself). These houses, combined with mindful landscaping, can increase flower pollination which means greater fruit and vegetable production. Seeing this wonderful crafted house at the Shedd, I'm taking it as a sign that 2013 is the year to accomplish this goal! Clearly an oversight, I did not fish out my camera and take a picture of it. I hope it is still around when I return to the Field Museum (my favorite!) in February.

I've started revamping this place (in case it wasn't noticeable!) and I added a button below the header to see and/or follow my Pinterest pages if y'all are interested. I am adding some lovely Mason Bee Houses to my Urban Gardening folder.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

13 Goals for 2013 (part II)

13 Goals for 2013

8.      Purge stuff: This one also makes the list every. single. year. I could easily be a hoarder. I also love thirfting! In the following months, I need to finish unpacking boxes in Louisville and I have a basement and garage full of stuff at my other home. My hope is that I can let go. I also hope to revamp the Etsy shop and start eBay selling. Either way, I need to lose some stuff. It would be extremely unrealistic for me to say I’m going to stop thrifting. It’s not going to happen, however, I can go through old books and clothes and items impulsively bought that I have no need for and purge some of the excess clutter.  My direct goal: Remove one item for every item I bring home in 2013 by selling, donating, gifting, purging or recycling.

9.      Consume Less: This one goes hand-in-hand with #8. I therapy thrift. I shop without plans. I am disorganized and impulsive when I buy. I really need to write a list of wanted items and stick to it with the occasional ‘surprise’. No more going grocery shopping without a list or plan. No more eating out because I am too lazy to cook something. No more making more food than I or my family can reasonably consume. I need to think about every item that makes it into my basket prior to purchase. I need to practice a “no buy” policy from time to time. My direct goal: For 2013, Shop with a list and a budget.

10.  Hike more: I was once a child of nature. Back in the day, I would disappear for hours into the woods. Sometimes I just sat under a tree reading. Sometimes I looked under rocks for beautiful creatures to study. I was happy there. As I have aged, I find I have no time for the woods. Kentucky and Indiana both offer so many trails and exploring paths for the public. I have a lot of bogus excuses like coldness and tiredness and timeliness, but I have no valid excuse. Last year, I hiked a park in KY in the dead of January winter. Another winter day, the boys and I walked the Ohio and picked up river glass. These are some of my best memories of last year. Bottom line, I need to get back outside.  My direct goal: Hike once a month for 2013.

11.    Pay Debts: Another annual favorite for the ol’ New Year goal list. I know I can do it. Last year, once decided, in just six months I saved enough by proverbially eating rice and beans to outright buy my fixer-upper in KY with cash. I need to pay attention to where the money flows in my financial life. I covered this slightly under #9, but I need to explore what makes the red (and hopefully soon the black) and fix some stupid money crap. I have a bad habit of becoming complacent (i.e. budgeting gets to be a drag or once I get what I want go back to bad habits). I plan to go back to a cash system and my thrifting budget will be finite. My food budget the same. No more randomly shopping Target and Amazon. If I eat out and find my money short, so be it-I eat rice and beans. Of course, my diet focus will help since I actually do plan to eat rice and beans as part of my regular diet! My direct goal: Budget and Plan for debt payoff and purchases in 2013.

12.   Sew Something: I actually have something specific in mind, but I hope to branch out and take a class possibly. I own three sewing machines (one a Xmas gift from years ago and two thrifted). I also own tubs and tubs of vintage fabric. I want to make my favorite blanket: a quilt. I’d also like to alter some thrifted clothing like shorten a dress or change out buttons. Easy, right? I could have just as easily called this one ‘use what I already have…”! My direct goal: Piece together a quilt from my saved fabrics by Nov. 2013.

13.   Play more: This one actually comes from my enlightenment due to the tragic events in Connecticut and is probably the most abstract goal on the list. I have two elementary school age sons, one of which is the same age as those beautiful children. I rarely talk about them here because I believe in keeping their lives somewhat private; however, I also tend to be a bit of an introverted parent. I am busy with a career and an irregular schedule and lifestyle and find myself too rushed to just play at times. I need to spend more time with these boys. Hike with them, sew with them, teach them about budgets and healthy diets, bake them more cakes and cookies, play with the dog with them, photograph them, play dollhouse with them and encourage them in learning new things about house construction, money, crafts and art. Practice archery with them (all three of us just happen to be getting bows under the tree in 2012). Above all, open myself up to love more for life is not only unpredictable, but rather scary at times. Time is fleeting. My direct goal: Be a more playful parent in 2013 (and hopefully beyond).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

13 Goals for 2013 (part I)

The time is finally upon us!
Time to say good-bye 2012 and hello 2013!
Here is my annual list of New Year goals. Each year, with the brightest of hope, I follow this rite of passage. I posted ones for 2011 and 2012. Note: I have been anything but consistent in my goal approach. I've tried long lists, short ones, ones for each year of my life and for each month of the year and unfortunately, I often fail to master any of my goals (my energy wanes with the sun). The annual goal list, however, is a much loved self-tradition, my chance to start a clean slate. I'm pretty certain I will always create a goal list when a year ends and a new one begins.
The last few years have left me feeling a bit on the weary side. Above all else in the New Year, I hope to reclaim my energy and a brighter outlook on life. I've decided lucky 13 is a good number to attempt. I am optimistic I can succeed in 2013.
 So, what are your goals for the New Year? I can't wait to read all the lists in the next few days!
13 Goals for 2013

1.       Study Photography: I learn best auto-didactically. When I focus on a task I love, I can easily become absorbed and teach myself the basics. When I practice the new task, I become better. This is my underlying objection for all my goals, but photography is something I really want to improve. I want to understand and try new-to-me techniques. Learn the power and the mechanics of the cameras I own.  My direct goal: Take at least one photo a day for 2013.

2.       Construct Dollhouses: Years (and years) ago my mother gave me two dollhouse kits that my late father gifted her. They languished in closets at her home before coming to me where they languished in new closets. I have been inspired again of late by the gorgeous blogs showing off their dollhouses. I also have a beautiful thrifted one that just needs to be repaired and decorated. My direct goal: To be able to decorate at least one of my houses for Christmas 2013.

3.       Bake Things: I have a secret wish to be a baker. As a scientist, in fact a chemist and biologist, I love the science of yeast and chemicals. I love the smell and texture of baked goods. I have quite a stockpile of books dedicated to the art of baking and it is time to get my nose out of the book and into the oven. My direct goal: Bake 13 new things in 2013.

4.       Do Housework: As is my attention-deficit way, I lost steam on the new Louisville house in fall 2012. The house, at the time of this writing, has an incomplete kitchen floor, a front room color that reminds me of Pepto-Bismol, a significant missing ceiling in the bedroom, and unpacked boxes cluttering nearly every room (to name a very, very few). I love the house and want to make it a happy place again. My direct goal: By Summer 2013, unpack boxes, complete paint, install flooring, plant a landscape, put up the siding and paint the gingerbread trim.

5.       Blog a life: I have mental plans to revamp and reconstruct my blog(s) this year. My hope is that I can improve on some of the mechanics of keeping a blog. I’ve been a writer in my past and a lover of words since I was a wee lass. I hope to become a more organized blogger in 2013, maybe create some regular blogging categories. Basically, I want to create a blog that fits me and hopefully others will want to read it too. I really want to design a blog that is user friendly and individualistic to me. My direct goal: Revamp the blog and post five three times a week in 2013.

6.       Adopt a Friend: Most of the animals that have graced my life have been found in an animal shelter or rescue. Last year, Orca the Boston terrier came into my life. It changed my outlook on living part time away from my family by leaps and bounds. I was a lonely girl. I hope to extend that circle of friendship by adopting another beast (cat, dog, rabbit, bird-not yet determined). My direct goal: Adopt a shelter animal in 2013.

7.       Lose Weight: I know this one sounds really cliché. I also really don’t mean to place the focus on weight lose, but on getting healthy. Again. The move in late 2010 and the following stressful years gave me 30 extra pounds. Ouch. It’s hard to believe, but prior to the move I jogged three miles nearly every day. I was healthy and felt wonderful. I miss that feeling. I believe diet is a big component of being healthy and  I do plan to work on my diet next year, but I think being active is the key. My direct goal: Eat vegetarian/vegan and run/walk a marathon in 2013.
Tune in tomorrow for Part II (Goals 8-13)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Excuse the Dust and Silence

I have just not had the time to commit to this blog like I want. I'm not  sure if I just am having trouble finding my niche or life is just too hectic at the moment. The past couple of years have been anything but smooth and I have attempted to keep this place light and happy (as much as possible) as I have a tendency to get a bit blue, but the past few months have been a roller coaster of work, life, and other menial pursuits. This time of year, especially, always feels so rushed and time consuming.

And, I cannot say how saddened I am by Friday's tragedy. I can honesty say I am a pillar of stoic silence in the face of an emergency, but I burst out in tears and grief when I heard the news. I know, statistically and historically speaking, this is an event less likely to happen than being struck by lightning, but does statistics or history really matter to those grieving families, friends and community. Why does it seem compassion is no longer a part of our society?

All being said, I do not want to give up on blogging. I started my first blog in 2004-the year of the great blogging birth (in my humble opinion) and kept it religiously until 2010(ish). It provided me an outlet I desparately needed in my life at that time. Likewise, I started this one when I changed a bunch of life events and needed something to focus on once again. The old blog, I kept a bit on the real side of bleakness. It ended up tiring me out. So, where I consider this one to be a lifestyle blog too, I have tended to focused a lot of the posts on thrifting (a hobby since my teenage years), something that makes me happy. I kind of wish I had mixed things up a bit more.

So, for 2013, I hope to revamp this space. I feel like I just haven't devoted the time and energy to make it mine. I have goals and hopes for next year and I really need a sounding board. Blogs are the perfect medium for sharing and developing creativity. I still believe this to be true (lord knows I love reading them!) I want to refine my blogging/writing skills. I also have a side goal of learning better photography and I will need a place to share what I learn.

In case you didn't notice, I am going to be going through a bit of transformation. I know it looks really wonky right now! I hope those of you who do read here decide to come back.

Meanwhile, have a happy, healthy, harmonious holiday season! See you on the other side of winter darkness!