31 January 2012

End of January Randoms


* Well, at the end of the month, I'm looking around at recent purchases and things I've accomplished, and I have to admit, I think I've done a great job of adding some much needed color to my life. And for incredibly reasonable prices too! I still have more I'd like to do for the living room....but that can wait a bit. 


* I've also pushed myself out of my cozy little comfort zone a bit this month, and I'm proud of myself for that as well. From little things like trying new cocktails and teaching myself some decorative sewing techniques, to bigger things like inventing my own pattern for a sewing project (blog post on that at a later date) to today, when I finally conquered my fear of the weight machines at the gym and did an entire 30 minute routine without any assistance. I tell ya, if you're not pushing your boundaries in big ways and small, that cozy little comfort zone rapidly becomes suffocating....and you don't want that.


* The weather this winter has been appreciated, but it sure has left me confused. It was 57* today! In Chicago, on 31 January! And I was comfortable going for a walk in a sweatshirt and capris....in Chicago, in January! So strange. Part of me hopes this is as bad as winter gets, but part of me keeps waiting for the other shoe to fall, and hard. In the meantime though, I'm taking advantage of the weather and going for a nice, long walk this evening.


* All of these stunning, colorful photographs are from the same artist responsible for last week's Color Love Explosion post. Since I've stumbled across Eric Cahan's work, I haven't been able to stop going back to his website every. single. day. They really combine my love for color and photography and the sky and water.


* Tomorrow starts my first self-imposed "no buy" month of the year. I feel like I've come a long way in my shopping habits. Partly because I rarely ever set foot in actual stores anymore. But. I still feel like I don't always mindfully shop, so I'm trying to slow down the online purchases. Taking a month off doesn't mean I'm not looking....just not buying. And that gives me time to decide whether it's a purchase I really need to make and whether I've found the best price for that item. It also gives me a chance to reassess my personal budgets and make sure I reach all the personal financial goals.


* I have been feeling sort of restless lately, and that's translated itself into more activity. I've been a quietly busy bee this month. No more socialization than normal, but more activity. I've done quite a few crafty projects and redeveloped a gym routine after a holiday hiatus. I've also started finding some quickie little workouts to toss into my work day when I need a break or start getting sleepy (important since I no longer drink any caffeine). I'm feeling the difference, but I'd like it even more if I could see the difference.


* All in all, even just one month in, I'd say I'm doing a good job of living up to 2012's word for the year: Live. Here's to another great 11 months!

27 January 2012

Awesome-asaurus

I ordered a new lens from Photojojo. We'll talk about it some more after I've had some time to play with it. 

But this is how the package arrived today:

And inside, along with my new lens was this little guy: 

Definitely added an unexpected awesome surprise to my day!

26 January 2012

A Thursday Morning Treasure

It's so easy to make me smile. To make my heart skip a beat and sigh, "oh, life...she's so beautiful." Tulips, of the prettiest shade of perfectly pink, are today's (and yesterday's....and tomorrow's) happy little pleasure. Today, I declare tulips my most favorite flower ever....and they are....until the next bouquet comes along and I fall in love with that flower too. So many lovely flowers out there....how could I ever choose a favorite? And a boyfriend who spots lovely tulips on a random Wednesday evening and thinks to himself, "Oh, Katie would love these..." well, he's a treasure too. 





25 January 2012

Color Love Explosion



Wordless Wednesday: Missing These Girls Lately



24 January 2012

You Could Read by the Light of Her Smile


Me. Taken all those years ago, way back when, in the very early days of our relationship, when I knew I was falling head over heels in love with Joe, when I knew he was completely smitten with me, when I knew nothing but hope and possibility and romance and adventures and excitements. 

Way back when, in northern Chicago on a deserted autumn beach, a horribly off-color joke (and nowhere near as wicked as they are now) had me both laughing and blushing at the same time, and I knew, even then, even in those very early days of a blossoming relationship, there was something special to be shared and enjoyed and savored between us. Just like I knew Chicago would somehow play a role in our futures and I knew, but didn't really understand, all the heartache and love and stress and strength that would come from three years of long distance love. 

But even then, just as now, all it takes is an awful wicked joke or a wink or a kiss from Joe, and that radiant smile spreads across my face. Spreads may be too slowly....these smiles race. Already, I know (partly because I see the early signs) I'm going to have the most incredible smile lines on my face when I'm wrinkled and old. And I hope, oh how I hope, I am blessed with the kind of joy and happiness and love of life throughout all my days that allow me to smile so warmly, so genuinely, so all the way from the corners of my eyes to the tips of my toes, that you can always read by the light of my smile. 

It's strange to put such a wish out into the universe, but I'm hoping it's like a wind-blown dandelion. That the seeds go skipping across the sky and spread even more happiness than when they stay safe in one little corner of the world. 

23 January 2012

A Need for Color

My friends, I can't quite put my finger on it, but these days I want, I need, I crave color. Bright and bold. Cheerful. The happier, the better. 

Don't get me wrong. I've always been a lover of color, but within my own life, I expected color to have some context. Perhaps a scarf with an all black outfit. Or just the slightest hint of green popping out under white and black sheets. Just a pop here and there. 

But now? Oh, now, I dream in technicolor. No color is off limits. Just as long as it's cheerful and not at all muted. If it's muted, like our living room rug, I can no longer stand it. So much so, I've already dreamed up a mini-living room makeover based on the rich, vibrant blues and greens of a beloved picture from Scotland. Don't you think those blues and greens, with a pop or two of yellow, will make for a deliciously cozy and comforting and colorful living room? 


Along with my need for color is my rediscovered appreciation for the simply beautiful. Simple, but strikingly beautiful. Like the lovely silver bird salt and pepper shakers which were gifted to Joe for Christmas, but that I love so much so they have a permanent place out on our table now. And floating flowers in little glass bowls in order to savor the blooms that much longer. And the lovely blue candles Joe gifted me for Christmas before I even knew how badly I wanted a living room full of those kinds of blues. 

But my love and need for color is no longer restricted to our living room. My wardrobe seems to be undergoing a basic shift as well. I put a restriction on buying black clothes on myself. Right now, the only black items allowed to be purchased are to replace a basic. Every single clothing purchase I've made during these lovely season end clearance sales has been a color. Some brighter than others, but still color

I shocked the hell out of myself the other night. I finally splurged on a purse I've been daydreaming about finding forever....which wasn't the surprise....the surprise is that instead of getting the purse in a lovely, but neutral, caramel brown color, I've ordered a bright, cheery yellow. I adore yellow. It is my favorite color, bar none. But I've never thought I'd order a yellow purse. I even had a mini panic attack after I ordered it - "oh my god...what have I done? when will I ever be able to wear a yellow purse?" - but after two breaths, I realized I was smiling giddily and daydreaming all the places this yellow purse and I will go on our adventures. And I know, deep down to my toes, Joe encouraged me to make the right decision. I already adore this yellow bag, and it hasn't even arrived yet. 


I'm not sure where this newfound love of color is coming from. A reaction to the dreary winter days and lack of sunlight in our garden apartment? The rediscovered happy-go-lucky me who needs a wardrobe and home to match my reemerging cheery personality? I just don't know...but I adore the pops of color on a gloomy winter afternoon. 

20 January 2012

TGIF

It's snowing again, finally....weather to match the season. It was a bit unnerving to have such warm, dry weather for as long as we did this year. I'm not always a fan of winter, but these cozy, lazy, snowy days where we have nowhere to be are definitely some of my favorites. 

And there's nothing quite as magical as this city softened by the sight of snow. 


Tonight will find me curled up under at least one, but maybe more, of the 69752 blankets we have in this little apartment of ours, alternating between reading The Indian Clerk and The Night Circus and loving on Joe. A perfect little start to a quiet little weekend. Hope your weekend is happy!

19 January 2012

Today I Am...


* I am craving color in the worst way. So much so that my recent craftiness has been all shades of colorful and so has my online shopping. Really colorful, if I'm honest, and well beyond my normal comfort zone.



* I am so enchanted with the written word these days that I can't choose just one book to read at a time. I'm currently in the midst of three books, and eyeing starting a fourth because I'm too impatient to wait until I've finished one book before I start another. 


* I am in love with my dark navy blue toenails with cheerful sparkles painted over them. Just a fun little surprise peeking up at me when I'm not wearing a pair of Joe's woolen socks. (Also, I'm stealing Joe's socks because his are so much warmer and comfortably broken in than my own.)


* I am proud of myself for the way I have combined previously learned talents with skills I am learning in this recent bout of craftiness. They've combined in such a beautiful way to create some pretty cool presents. 


* I am pleased with the way our home is really beginning to reflect both Joe and I instead of being just random things we both brought into the apartment. It really does make it a home. 


* I am once again obsessively weeding out things in our apartment. Having a tiny space makes it easier to limit what we have, but it always seems like something else replaces a donated item, and it doesn't take long before we're overflowing again. 


* I am planning a "no purchase" ban for February since I've been shopping more than I really needed to this month. I have no shopper's remorse, but I need some time away from the credit cards to ensure I continue to make smart, meaningful purchases rather than materialistic purchases. 


* I am ridiculously excited about several dear friends' upcoming weddings this year. These are marriages I strongly believe in and will support in every way possible for the rest of our lives. These are marriages that bring out the best in each half of the couple and will only create a strong, healthy partnership that weathers life's ups and downs incredibly well. And of course, I'm excited about celebrating the wedding and the bachelorette parties and all those little things that go hand in hand with weddings. 


* I am childishly excited about the prospect of more snow tomorrow. More snow, hopefully, and more chances for pretty snowfall pictures. 


* I am a big enough nerd to be absolutely fascinated with the stunning images posted daily on NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day site, where all these lovelies came from. Absolutely fascinated. 

17 January 2012

Staying Silent

No post from me tomorrow in solidarity with protests against SOPA. Such an important cause. 

Random Picture on a Tuesday Afternoon


I've shared this picture before. But it's one of my favorite pictures of myself....which is great because it's also one of Joe's favorite pictures of me. So much so, he sweetly requested a framed copy for his desk at work as a Christmas present. And an extra copy is currently hanging on our walls as a placeholder until I get another picture of the two of us I like enough to frame. Not sure why I'm showing this random picture on a Tuesday, but I am because I like it and it makes me happy. That's reason enough, isn't it?

16 January 2012

Happiness


"For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.”
- Andy Rooney

13 January 2012

A Sigh of Relief (And Good Health)

I had a little scare at the end of 2011. 

Enough to have me on pins and needles these early days of 2012. 

But yesterday, I heard the great news: "All clear. No worries. Perfect health."

And so now, I can breathe easy again. 

Rest assured that my thyroid is indeed functioning normally and there's no other hidden tumors developing in there. 

I won't need the thyroid hormone replacement medications just yet. My levels are still within the normal range, so that's one less medication I have to worry about. 

And now, instead, I can focus on the activities and foods that help keep my body healthy and strong. 2012 is shaping up to be an amazing year. 

12 January 2012

Snow, Snow, Snow

Just a few snapshots of my walk this afternoon. It's the first real snowfall of the season here and we're expecting anywhere from four to ten inches of snow before the storm ends tomorrow. Poor Joe...he's going to have a rough commute home. But from my office window, it sure looks pretty!








10 January 2012

Downton Abbey

I am boring these days. 

I have a little craft project or two up my sleeve which will be shared in due time. 

But in most of my downtime these days, I'm on the couch watching season one of Downton Abbey.


I started watching it in an attempt to find a show that wouldn't drive me crazy when Joe wasn't around to watch the good shows with me. And I tell you, I'm hooked. It's addicting!

08 January 2012

Perseverance



06 January 2012

Just Live

Just a few more thoughts on my chosen word for 2012: Live.


Push yourself, dream, discover, feel, take charge. 

Learn new skills, like sewing and dancing, make new friends but keep, really keep, the old, try new foods, dream more. 

Use the good stuff that you were saving. Every day is special. Use the special things.

Live. 

Love. 

Laugh. Every day. Every single day.

Embrace the true you. Be you. The one who makes you happy. 

Eat that chocolate. Bonus points if it's the really good stuff. 

Worry less about others. 

Say "YES!" more. 

Be spontaneous. But listen to your body. 

Talk to that stranger.

Find something that truly gives you pleasure. Indulge in a regular basis. 

Turn the music up loud and dance. Really dance. 

Know when to stop.....and when to push yourself. 

Play hooky some time. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. Marvel at that simple, every day miracle. 

Say "thank you" and mean it. 

Realize that the moments you remember most are not the ones spent sitting on the couch. 

Live. Just live. 

05 January 2012

On Finding My Voice Again

I struggled a bit this last year. 

Felt a little lost and uncertain. 

And that was okay. 


I was, I am, so loved that I knew I was safe to lose my way a bit and still know I'd have love and gentle hands to help guide my way home. 

As I got stronger, I got quieter again. 

Started asking myself the real questions I'd tip-toed around a year ago. Started daydreaming big again. Started asking the "what ifs" and "just maybes" and daring to push the boundaries of the comfort zone I'd drawn in nice and tight around myself the last few years. 


So much change and challenge, you don't really think about. You just push through and find ways to comfort yourself. But if you rely on that comfort zone too much, you begin to stifle yourself. It can become cloying. 

And in my case, I lost myself a bit. 

But I've found my way back. 

Started remembering and embracing the me who made me so happy. Not the me that lived to make others happy. The real me


But more than that. Listen closely, because this is big

More than that, I started seeing how the me I was and the me I wanted to me have started to come together. So magically, it seems, but through honest hard work and realization. 

How the "someday, maybe I'll be" has become "today, I am"

And that's so powerful. So breathtakingly powerful. It actually makes my heart ache with gladness. 


So that down time. 

That lost time. 

That quiet time. 

Was worth it. All worth it. I don't talk quite so much these days. But when I do, it's because I have something to say. 

And when I have something to say, I now also have the skills to understand what I'm not saying either...and why. I can read between my own lines now. 

Such a great skill.

I was always good at understanding others. What they do and don't say and why. But not so good at understanding myself. 

But now, I do. 

And I'm better for it. And my world is better for it. 


Now I'm ready to talk again. Ready to share the little snippets of my life that make me pause and think. Make me live and feel

And the greatest comfort of all was, is, knowing that I am so well loved that even when I lost my way, I was never truly lost. Never truly in danger. I had hands to reach out to when the going got rough or to push away when I needed to stand on my own or to hold onto when I just needed to be loved. 

That's a special love there, my friends, I know it. And I love him for it, all the more. 


I don't talk as much now, but my voice is stronger because I mean it when I have something to say. 

All that, to simply say, "welcome back, my friends, to our regularly scheduled chats."

All pictures are bits and pieces of the grounds of my ancestral home

04 January 2012

Wednesday Wisdom: Privilege