30 day adventure challenge

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I haven’t posted in ages (shocking, I know) but I really wanted to share this, because I think it’s something all of us could use more of– adventure. How many of us are caught up in our daily routines and are dying of boredom or are uninspired, burned out, wondering what it’s all about anyway?? As the saying goes, “you weren’t born to just pay bills and die”. Yet, let’s be very honest, too many of us are on pretty much precisely that path.
Several months ago, my awesome friend Jenny told me about a new project she was starting. She had recently moved to a new state and was looking to expand her circles and get to know her new region. She started Women on Adventures, a group that is moving toward nationwide participation, and that is meant to get women together, to stretch their boundaries, push themselves, try new things, and spend time with women from all kinds of backgrounds and with all different stories. It’s about challenging yourself, getting to know yourself, and opening your arms to the world.
As someone who has been leading the frenzied life of a full-time working parent for many years, I felt the timing was perfect for me to help head up a local chapter. It’s been fabulous! So now, in addition to the soul-sucking routine of get up, go to work, run errands, clean, cook, lather/rinse/repeat… I have been on several hikes, been to a hot springs, gone horseback-riding, and much more. I have met women from all walks of life and we get to know each other as we immerse ourselves in new experiences. Pretty fantastic, right?

Anyway, WoA has a 30-day adventure challenge planned beginning July 1. I created a shareable graphic for it because I’d love to see this take traction for others.

Bullet journalers who have come by to check this out– how will your incorporate this into your planning routine? You could take photos and add them to your journal. You could draw/ doodle your adventures f you are interested in improving your artistic skills. Or write a journal entry about each day… you know the drill. Your bullet journal is YOURS– do whatever makes you happy and helps your expand your own world. And please, feel free to share this challenge with others.


Get out there! Do something new! Amaze yourself!!

WTF is a bujo…

Friday, February 26, 2016

wtf is a bujo?

First things first…a “bujo” is the affectionate nickname adopted by many for Bullet Journal.

So the next logical question is, what the heck is a bullet journal?!

Let’s back up a little. Back in December, I was reflecting a bit, as one is prone to do on the cusp of a new year, and thinking about what I wanted to be different and better for 2016. I realized that I had continued all of last year to let stress, chaos, and feeling overwhelmed rule my day to day existence. I had really pretty much given up on thinking that could change, given I have a family of six, plenty of pets, a full time job, and was always trying to fit in crazy things like socializing and exercise as well. I was continuing to be the frenzied mother who puts herself dead-last and it simply was not working for me anymore. I needed a change and I needed to find a way to focus on myself.
One day, spinning my mental wheels and being generally avoidant of all those responsibilities, I was on Pinterest and stumbled upon this thing called bullet journaling. As I looked at more and more pins and read blogs on the system, I became convinced that this could help me manage my time, feel less overwhelmed, and direct me toward a more analog life, which I also had an epiphany that I was truly craving.
There are many, many blogs and articles out there explaining what a Bullet Journal is. I will not pretend to be an expert, given I’m really only about six weeks in. I will point you to the original bullet journal site, where the lovely video explains the concept as it was created by a gentleman named Ryder Carroll. In its original form, bullet journaling is very minimalist and to the point. It is a system designed to help people be more productive and/ or (as in my case) reign in their chaotic lives. As the idea has spread and grown, people have started putting all kinds of creative spins on the original. That said, if you decide a bullet journal is right for you, I have some advice: do not compare yourself to super creative people on the internet! Use the system as it works best for you– if you love color and doodling and stickers, have fun with them! If you want a functional, straightforward bujo, create one for yourself and take joy in its simplicity.

So, most people start theirs with a key; a system of bullets for tasks, circles for events, an X for completed tasks, and an arrow for “migrated” tasks, that is, the stuff you didn’t manage to get done that day. There are MANY variations on the key, as you can see here.

Next up is your index. Mine is pretty standard and true to the Ryder Carroll method:
bullet journal key
The index is dynamic– you add to it as you add pages or “collections”. (we’ll come back to collections, hang in there…)

Next up is generally a yearly spread– sort of “year at a glance” like you typically see in the front pages of a planner.
2016 bullet journal spread

Note my priorities..haha! I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted to focus on and take care of myself.

At this point, you can start with weekly or daily spreads, or you can add in collections– such as “books I want to read”, “bucket list”, or “2016 travel plans”. These are just examples. The idea of collections is to add them as they occur to you and of course, as they relate to your life. I have a few at this point– books to read, things I love, monthly gratitude lists, and the two you see below– my “To-Knit List” and “C & J’s Big Adventure Gear List”, as my husband and I are planning some big backpacking/ camping trips this upcoming summer:
some bujo collections

My collections are interspersed throughout my dailies, which you might think would be confusing, but it’s not at all. Why? Because you simply log the pages in your index! Hopefully you are starting to see the beauty of this system. It flows and it’s endlessly adaptable.

I’ll leave you now with a couple of my dailies. As you can see, I do like to decorate them a bit– partly because in the process of learning this system and the overall draw to a more analog life, I have become a bit obsessed with learning hand-lettering and improving my everyday handwriting. All these years of typing almost everything has left me with kind of messy handwriting, unfortunately. Learning hand-lettering has become a fun outlet for my creative side, and I find it very calming, much like the adult coloring book craze!

bullet journal dailies

bullet journal dailies

So…what do you need to get started on Bullet Journaling? Simple! A notebook. And a pen. That’s it. There is a lot of debate out there as to the best supplies– lined or grid paper… Moleskine, Leuchhterm, or Rhodia… Staedtler pens, fountain pens, or plain ol’ Bic. All of these choices are 100% YOURS. Again, the beauty of this system is that you work it and adapt it and change it up to best suit your needs and personal aesthetics.

Lastly, to address the most important question– is it really saving my sanity? The answer is a resounding YES. Since I have started this system, I feel calmer, and significantly less overwhelmed by my various responsibilities. I have found a creative outlet for myself and I relish the time I spend setting up my journal, adding collections, and working on my writing. I spend significantly less time burned out, glazed over, and robotically surfing the internet. I have more intention in my days and it helps me focus on taking care of myself and doing things I truly enjoy.

I call that a big win. Onward 2016!

current crushes: advice & wishlists

Friday, November 13, 2015

I haven’t written for a couple weeks… AGAIN. I have noticed a pattern: I am inclined to write when I am most angsty. I’m not sure what that says about me, but it does say that I have been a good headspace for a couple weeks, so that’s good, especially in this tumultuous life phase I seem to be in (hello, hormones).

So all I’ve got is some good stuff I’m liking a lot.

Life Advice from 10 Smart People via Cup of Jo. Interestingly the first one is one of my all-time favorites, and has NEVER, not once in my life, proved to be wrong. Hindsight, right?! I also love this one:
“Deep breaths are very helpful at shallow parties.” —Barbara Walters
and this one:
“Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.” —Mindy Kaling

drink wine, save animals
♥ Yeah. I neeeeeeed this shirt. It pretty much sums up my daily thought process before work (okay, well in the morning, swap wine for coffee), during work, and as I’m driving home from work. I honestly and truly wildy envy the people doing the hard work at animal rescue organizations. My favorites range from my local amazing shelter, Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society (where my girls & I frequently volunteer) to larger farm animal rescue groups such as Farm Sanctuary and The Gentle barn. In my little fantasy world, one of those two decides to open a shelter in New Mexico and selects me to run it. Dream job, baby.

♥ ‘Tis the season… I’m starting to scope out Christmas decor. A few years ago, I started collecting snowglobes. I have this adorable penguin one but I’m thinking the deer & trees should be added to my collection. We also give our kids an ornament every year, so hopefully they will have a small collection for their own first trees when they leave home. LOVE these bottle brush ornaments at West Elm. I’m also thinking of busting out my rusty craft skills and making this wreath. Isn’t it so pretty and ethereal?
winter wonderland wreath

♥ Lastly, for some Friday comic relief, have you seen this guy’s Instagram, chronicling the ironies of modern life via post-it note drawings? Seriously. Awesome. One of my faves and perfect for Friday:


Have a lovely weekend!

current crushes, Halloween-style

Friday, October 30, 2015

vintage halloween

It’s Halloween eve! We are having a party tonight, for the second year. I am slowly building up my Halloween decor, but I’m trying to choose carefully. I like the gothic, creepy look vs Jack O’ Lanterns and twee ghosts.
Last year, I printed vintage Halloween photos and put them in black frames on my mantle with candles all around. This is a really cool article on the history of Halloween costumes. Really fascinating, and such amazing photos.

Anyway, given the lovely rain we are having, it really (finally!) feels like fall and I’m loving everything cozy and warm and comforting.

♥ my daughter has been making a drink called a “hot ponyo” — she makes it with 1/2 milk, 1/2 hot water , with honey and cinnamon added. This recipe calls for a tea bag, too, which reminds me of a London Fog. The way Viv makes it tastel like warm horchata, though. Kind of delightful.

♥ I’m also in love with Golden Milk. Turmeric has all kinds of amazing health benefits, and Golden Milk is so comforting in the evening. I like to use Califia Farms Coconut Almond milk in mine.

♥ it’s tights season! Love these spiced wine tights from J. Crew Factory. Great wool ribbed ones too.

♥ really, really wish I had seen this amazing floral pumpkin tutorial sooner. Must remember for next year.
floral pumpkin

♥ time to move lunchtime workouts indoor. I am a big fan of the 7-Minute Workout and this lunch break yoga is fantastic.

♥ Foals covering Florence + the Machine. Gritty & perfect.

♥ I’m really loving medium.com. One of my favorites: How to keep Loving Someone.
A small excerpt: “To keep loving someone is to be exposed to a mirror image of how fucked up you might be and to have to keep facing that image over and over and over. To keep loving someone is to fight to deny the part of you that will always secretly believe you are unworthy of love, to not let that insidious little worm of a belief make its way into your consciousness and lay flame to your love, to your life.”

mood swings

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bad moods aren’t a very popular topic online, are they? On the shiny, happy Internet, we filter everything from our wrinkles and scars to our less than flattering emotions. Instagram and Facebook provide bragging ground– look at my selfie, aren’t I holding up well for my age? Check out my amazing kids, so accomplished! My marriage is flawless, why isn’t yours?!

Well, I got up in a very dark mood today. Instantly, I felt overwhelmed by lunches to pack, the rush to get out the door on time, and mentally juggling the day ahead at work. Add to that the need to return a package, pick up dry cleaning, and compounded with the idea of getting home to make dinner, delegate chores, and eventually plop down for the evening, at once exhausted and restless…it just didn’t seem like a recipe for inspiring cheer.

And then I felt guilty. We are inundated with advice on “self-care” (ha! who has the time, she asked, bitterly) and on cultivating gratitude. Turn that frown upside down! Cheer up, buttercup! Look at that sun shining!! You have your health!

I’ve decided, though, to embrace the darkness. I know I am not wrong or somehow flawed for sometimes being sick to death of it all. I know that I do deserve more time to myself and considerably more relaxation. Deserving it doesn’t mean I will get it. Let’s be realistic: I am a working mother of four.

I think instead of valiantly trying to fend off a bad mood, perhaps it’s better to observe it, indulge it for a bit, apologize if it affected others, and then just move on… remind myself that this is mostly a life-stage issue, and just take a deep breath.
Maybe that’s how you start this whole anomie-inspired 21st century notion of “self-care”, by just remembering to breathe, even when you’ve got tears of exasperation rolling down your cheeks.


quote of the week: Mary Oliver

Friday, October 16, 2015

Love what is mortal
From Mary Oliver’s In Blackwater Woods.

I’ve always been painfully, anxiously overly aware of my mortality. Mine, and everyone else’s. I am ridiculously delicate on the subject as well; a simple conversation about someone I love and their inevitable eventual demise, and I often immediately dissolve into tears.
I lost my mother at a much too-young age. As sad as I was for myself, I was broken-hearted for her, for the cheat that life played on her. I imagined her thinking of all she would miss out on, and the pain that I imagined that brought was much too much to bear.
Last Saturday, my cousin died, also of breast cancer. She was 50. Again, I cried for the unfairness of this woman missing out on nearly half the life she should have been allotted. I cried thinking that as she knew she was getting close to the end, how angry and sad she must have been knowing she wouldn’t see her son become a grown man, that she would never meet his children, or know what would become of his life. And I cried and cried for her son, the same age as mine, knowing all too well what it is like to navigate adulthood without your mother.

It’s terrible, isn’t it? That we love with the full knowledge that we will eventually lose. It’s terrible and it’s beautiful, because the knowledge that it’s finite and fragile gives it all the more weight.

More Mary Oliver.

A piece I read yesterday on dying that, no surprise, had me bawling. It’s fantastic. Please read it: When I’m Gone.

unread words

Thursday, October 15, 2015

unread words: good love

I have started and abandoned this blog many, many times over the last couple years. I finally realized that I keep ditching it out of a misguided desire to have a “successful” blog. You see, I can be something of a perfectionist. I may or may not have been called type-A. And I’m not so good with the middle ground, on just about anything.

But to be quite fair, I also completely lack the time that goes into maximizing blog readership. I don’t have time for optimizing SEO, or pinning at the exact right moment and at the perfect click-through dimensions, and I certainly don’t have the personal energy to go after advertisers or comment on 300 other blogs a day, all in hopes of bringing traffic my own way.

So where does that leave me? Do I delete this space? I’ve done it once before, with my longtime mama-blog “strange little mama”, in a fit of desire to erase a portion of my life, namely that which included my ex-husband. I very much regret that decision, because on those pages were the images of my children’s youngest years, funny toddler-isms, and so many tender moments. I desperately wish I had access to those words and photos now, as even the fondest memories inevitably get foggy with time. (Thank goodness for The Wayback Machine as I can at least see snippets of those entries, although looking at my old-timey web design skills is a little hard on the aforementioned perfectionist in me.)

Anyway. I have noticed lately that I find myself writing in my head, composing blog posts with certain images, all the while knowing I probably won’t get around to actually logging in and typing out the various musings and memories I want to preserve. So, in keeping with many self-improvement tasks I have been mentally taking on, I am letting the notion of a “successful” blog go. Will this ever be a widely-read blog? Probably not. And that is okay. This is for me, and my family, and for a few friends. Writing feels like the probably much-needed therapy I fail to make time for, and unread words are not the same as unuttered words.

This space will probably be pretty solitary, perhaps even lonely, but that is also okay.
I only need my own words for now.

new faves: floral & coral

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I don’t even know who I am anymore. Typically I am drawn to wearing muted, darker colors. Okay, black. And grey. Honestly, my wardrobe lacks color and I definitely tend to safer, darker neutrals, probably mainly because I don’t have a huge wardrobe and it’s relatively easy to mix and match blacks and greys.
That said, my husband always really compliments me whenever I wear a brighter, punchier color, or as he’s prone to calling it: “poppin’ color”. Still, it seems like every time I shop, I end up bringing home stuff that’s dark, dark, dark.
What about spring and summer though? Oh…that’s when I usually just add white. Seriously, how boring am I?!

Well, recently I went to Target in search of a blouse I had seen on the @targetstyle Instagram feed. It was black (but of course!) BUT it had the cutest floral print. When I got there, I spied some cute ankle skinny pants that I wanted to try on and lo & behold, I pulled a coral color off the rack to try.
Dude…coral. It’s seriously the last color on EARTH I would think would look good on me. But something really appealed to me about those pants, so I tried them on and ended up buying both the floral blouse and the coral pants.
You know how certain animals only see in black & white? That was me– BEFORE. Now it’s like I only have coral & floral vision. I have ended up since purchasing another floral blouse (which I sadly returned because it was way too boxy and unflattering), a coral boyfriend cardigan, and a coral & white patterned wrap dress.
Apparently I am not alone, and happily there seem to be a ton of adorable florals in the spring & summer lines, and I’m seeing plenty of coral everywhere. Here are a few I’ve spied that I’m loving, including the pants & top from Target that started this whole thing.


top row: coral pants $27.99 Target | floral pants $49.99 Zara
second row: coral floral tee $50.00 ASOS | floral blouse $22.99 Target
third row: floral maxi dress $133.00 ASOS | coral cutout dress $54.99 Modcloth
bottom row: coral flat sandal $69.99 DNA Footwear | floral tote $60.00 Nordstrom

What about you? How do you feel about coral– too bright, just right? I’m a convert, for sure. Now to keep myself in check so my entire spring and summer wardrobe doesn’t wind up 100% coral, or floral!

for the newfound love of…

Friday, January 30, 2015


…yes, I’m serious. Anyone who has known me for very long would find this surprising. I have NEVER been a football fan. At all. Like…zero percent. Then, last year I noticed a lot of Seahawks-related brouhaha on my Facebook page. As a former Seattleite, I began to pay attention. My friends and family seemed so excited about this playoff game or that, and next thing I knew, they were very enthusiastically crowing about going to the Super Bowl.
Well, it may be a side effect of my occasional homesickness, or just a deep-seated need to bond with peeps from back home, but I found myself getting caught up in the excitement. So I rallied my husband (also not a big football guy) and invited another expat Seattle fan, made guacamole, and watched the game.
And it was actually pretty exciting. I whooped and hollered like everyone else when the Seahawks won.

Now I am well-aware of what diehard fans (“I’ve been a fan since they sucked way back when, you’re a fair-weather fan, blah blah blah”) think of newbies like me, and that’s okay with me. It’s true, after all. I jumped on the bandwagon and I liked it.
So, this fall rolled around and do you think I was spending every Sunday watching football? NOPE. Because I am a very busy woman, and I really don’t think about football that much, and my Sundays are usually filled with errands and making jarred salads for the work week, because I have become that person.
Annnnnnyway. The playoffs rolled around and the hype began again. Thank god my friends and family update their Facebook pages with Seahawks news or I would have been clueless. But this year, I watched both playoff games. And HOLY COW. SO exciting. I asked questions and I learned a lot more about the game.

So. As you probably know, the Seahawks are in it, playing the Patriots this Sunday. And like an actual, real football fan, I’ve invited enough people over to legitimately say we are having a Super Bowl party. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE!! Just kidding, I’m excited, it will be fun, and I got to plan out some awesome snacks.
So here you go. I’ve rounded up some snacks I plan to make, just for you, in case you are also a last-minute fair-weather Super Bowl party-throwing weirdo like me. One of my friends is actually bringing the guacamole this year, but I threw in the recipe I used last year because it. was. awesome. So delicious.

L to R: caprese phyllo cups | pretzel bites with spicy beer cheese | mini mozzarella sticks with jalapeño ranch | perfect guacamole

Oh my goodness, so not healthy and soooooo yummy. I’m also making a crockpot full of macaroni and cheese. I’m using this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker— I’ve made this before and it is really freaking good. Full disclosure: it contains Velveeta. No, I am not even kidding you and again…people who know me well would be SHOCKED and APPALLED, but you know what? You only live once. It’s not gonna kill ya. Cliches sometimes become cliches because they are true. So yep, I’m embracing the Velveeta but for once a year. Trust me, if you make this mac & cheese, you will too.

Alright, one last thing…

go hawks

for snowy days

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Today I am grateful for snowy days and for my one true beverage love, coffee. I know, most of the country is OVER winter already, but not me. I love snow! Of course, snowy days are best spent at home, with a fire roaring the fireplace, a mug of hot cocoa and a good book at your side, but I’ll even take a just-a-little, not-enough-to-cancel-school, still-have-to-go-to-work snowy day.
The thing is, I’ve always lived where you don’t get a lot of snow. Growing up in western Washington, snowstorms were few and far between. Here in Santa Fe, we are at 7,000 feet so we can get some doozies, but we have been in a severe drought for the last six+ years so we haven’t been treated to many significant snowfalls.
Years ago, I was an exchange student in Sweden. There’s certainly no shortage of snow there during the winter months. At one point, my host family and I went to a mountain cabin in the mountains for a ski vacation. It was absolutely dreamy– picture perfect powdery snow that came up to the windows. Days spent skiing and telemarking, followed by cozy evenings with hot drinks and a toasty fire. To this day, that cabin and mountain are what I mentally picture when I think of snow.

And of course, coffee. Oh my god, I love coffee. I am a lucky enough woman that I am awoken every day by my handsome husband presenting me with a mug of freshly-brewed coffee. Now, I am NOT a morning person. But this daily gesture has taken me from a huge, “under no circumstances should anyone speak to me” grump in the mornings to someone who can converse and smile and even have loving thoughts. Win-win, I say.
Speaking of coffee, have you heard about the impending global coffee shortage? I am worried about this, I am not going to lie. I’ve also heard there’s a chocolate shortage. And California is pretty much out of avocados! It’s enough to make a person think the apocalypse is nigh.

I can’t worry abut it today, though. I need to cross my fingers for the next weather system supposedly coming our way and hope for snowpocalypse instead.

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