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Acknowledging the New Year

2018. 20-18. 2-0-1-8. Yeah, 2017 was a pretty intense year all around. With everything that has been going on in my personal life, I sort of let the last few days of the year slide on by in a blur of Netflix, purloined sweatshirts, and napping. Yesterday, I started pulling things together, and metaphorically sticking my toe out the door to see if it was safe to leave my little year end hidey-hole and re-engage with the world. So far so good. The overwhelming sentiment on social media and among my friends and colleagues is one of optimism, and in some cases a scary level of determination to make this year “better”, by force if necessary, but where does that leave me? This year more than ever I am deferring to the “my new year starts on my birthday” excuse/reasoning. I am so not ready to make out my yearly “to-do” list, but I do have some general ideas on how I would like things to go down:

  1. Stop comparing – it’s something we all do, and in a world full of Instagram perfection and Pinterest-worthy post, it’s hard to avoid. Ultimately though, it just makes you crazy and that is in no way helpful to the process. So this year I am going to try to focus on living my best life. Am I out of bed and functioning? Win! Did have the energy to do laundry and get dinner on the table? Self-five! We all have our own struggles and while we can find inspiration with others, it important to understand that our #bestlife may not look anything like someone else’s, and that’s completely fine.
  2. Self care – this goal is partly a continuation of the stop comparing and partly because we are working on stepping down the big daily med I’ve been on for years. For this to be successful, I am going to have to make sure I am listening to my body and what it needs as well as mindfully setting aside time to meditate/rest/whatever I need to be my healthiest. Which as a step, and this is hard for a chubby girl to admit, I am going to try to stop worrying about my weight. Seems strange right? But I am going to focus on good, healthy foods and eating in a way that provides sustainable energy and a more harmonious body, and keep my eyes off the scale for a while.
  3. Be grateful – life has given me a lot. Not as much as some (that comparison thing again), but much, much more than others. It’s good to have goals and to work towards something “better”, but it’s just as important to be mindful of what you’ve accomplished and to send up a general “thank you” to the universe from time to time. I am going to endeavor to end each day by listing three things I am grateful for AND I am going to verbalize them, probably to Andy. He’ll be so pleased 🙂

So that’s it. Those are the three things that I want from this new year. No biggie, right?

 

 

Image from here


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! Wishing you all warm wishes and wonderful memories. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas then I wish you a happy everything and a merry always 🙂

 

 

 

Image from here


Julie vs The Tiny House: Round 1

Tiny houses. They’re everywhere these days – television shows, BuzzFeed articles, Pinterest DIY’s; everyone can’t stop talking about these mini marvels. But here’s the thing, I’m almost six feet tall; most days I feel like the standard sized world is just a bit cramped. How could I possibly live in a place that barely had the square footage of my living room? I got my chance to find out a couple of weeks ago when my mom and I stayed at this Air BnB listing. Initially, I mentioned the idea as a joke to my mom, but she was so thrilled about the prospect that I ultimately decided to give it a go. It was only two days, right? Plus our tiny house was actually part of a small tiny house community, and I just had to see that.


I began to get a bit nervous when I opened the front door and discovered that I could touch the couch from my perch on the front porch. A short step up and a turn to the right, and I had surveyed the whole of the downstairs (kitchen, bathroom, and dining/living area). 
I forgot to take pictures of the restroom ( you can see it in the pictures on the rental listing), but it was perfectly serviceable, if lacking a bit in luxury. The toilet was a low flush number with two separate push buttons for less or more water depending on the… deposit size. The shower was actually pretty cool; they had re-purposed a feed trough and then wrapped a curtain around it for the shower. Narrow, but it got the job done just fine.  Since the perusal took less than two minutes, checking out the loft area seemed like the next reasonable course of action.  Unlike a lot of the tiny houses I’d seen this loft had two sleeping areas, one directly across from the other, separated by a metal walkway. While you couldn’t fully stand, you could reasonably maneuver the area, which was much MUCH better than some of the homes I’ve seen where the ceiling is about a foot from your face when you’re laying down.  Now this is the point in the trip where my mother remembers she is afraid of heights… she did decide to set that aside when she realized that the little pullout in the living room was not all that comfy. Her first trip across the “bridge” I stood on the stairs 1 –  to plug the hole so she couldn’t fall and 2 – to give her a hand to balance with as she shuffled across. After that though, she got the hang of it and managed to get herself back and forth just fine for the rest of the trip.So how was it? Overall, it was a lot of fun. I definitely could see how two people, preferably a couple, could comfortably live in one of these. Things did get a bit tight when Andy had to join us – we had to shuffle around a bit when it came to things like going to the bathroom or making breakfast -, but by that point my mom had started referring to the place as a “peanut (our nickname for her) sized house” and talking about what bits she would change if she got the chance to build her own someday. The moral of the story? If you get the chance to spend the night in a tiny house, you should take it.

I also want to say that our hosts were fantastic, they were helpful and promptly responded to all of our questions, and when we needed to stay an extra night AND add a third guest, they had things sorted out and approved in under five minutes. 10 out of 10 would recommend.

*I didn’t post pictures of the other houses in the community since they were private dwellings, but I will tell you that one of them had a rock wall built into the side of it 😉


Guest Post with Julie Morris: What to Put on Your Wishlist for Positive Life Changes

Want to Make Some Positive Life Changes? Here’s What to Put on Your Wish List

Sometimes, all we need to make a positive life change is a little push – or maybe some material motivation. As the holidays roll around and you’re creating your wish list for friends and family, you may want to consider how the gifts you receive can spur you into making some life improvements. Here’s what to wish for if you want to focus on self-betterment this holiday season.

If you want to stop eating junk

Is it boring to structure your holiday wish list around eating healthier? Maybe a little bit. But the dramatic improvement in your mind and body you’ll experience when you begin to focus on a healthy diet is anything but. Think about adding a subscription to a food delivery service to your wish list. Blue Apron is a popular choice, as are Plated and HelloFresh. These companies deliver pre-portioned, fresh ingredients to your door with easy-to-follow recipes. It’s the easiest way to cook from home. Not only will you be able to forgo the fast food, but you’ll also save a lot of time that would be spent scouring the internet for healthy recipes and shopping at the grocery. Here’s a solid guide to all the meal kit companies out there.

If you want to work some mindfulness into your life

We could all stand to be a little more mindful – or put another way, live in the present. We spend so much time stressed out and worried about the past and future, we often forget to take time to relax in the now. If you want to be a mindful person, you can wish list some things to help.

Try asking for some adult coloring books (or kids’, for that matter). Coloring is a stress-reducing hobby that lets you disconnect from technology and focus on yourself – if just for a little while. Here are some more mindfulness benefits of coloring.

You can also wish for some books to help you get on a mindful path. Make Peace with Your Mind, The Power of Off, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are some perennial favorites (here are some more). Really, making your home life more comfortable in general is one great way to de-stress. Check here for some items that will make being at home more fun.

If you want to get more organized

Being organized is one of those things that can positively impact many other areas of your life. It all starts with having your stuff together. Your wish list should include closet hangers and organizational cubes, maybe one of these nice Moleskine planners, and even a tracking tag that you can put on commonly-misplaced items for easy location (it works with Bluetooth!). Check here for more great organizational ideas.

If you want to save a little bit of money here and there

It’s not on a gift-giver to help you with your overall finances. That’s a year-round task for you and you alone. But they can give you the gift of incremental, but still worthwhile, savings. Think about ways to save money throughout the year – LED lighting options for your home, rechargeable batteries and battery docks, and long-lasting beeswax candles come to mind. Here are some more ideas.

Gone are the days where you just hope and pray that someone gets you something that you may like during the holidays. Be smart about your wish list. Don’t just pick whimsical items because they are free (to you at least). Make that wish list count, and fill it with items and services that can help you reach your self-improvement goals.

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com


For The Girl Who Loves To Bake

I started baking as a way to cope with stress a few years back. It’s creative, it’s involved, and the finished results can be used to brighten someone else’s day. You know, providing everything works out and the end results are edible. All bakers have an off day or two. When giving baking inspired gifts, I like to follow one of two tracks. The first, I gift better versions of items I know the person already uses and loves. The second is find something that will make their bakes of choice easier – fun gadgets and the like.

  1. Silicone Pie Crust ShieldWilliam Sonoma
  2. Jubilee Loaf PanWilliam Sonoma
  3. Marble & Glass Cake ClocheTerrain
  4. Garden Measuring MugTerrain
  5. Petalpress Rolling PinAnthropologie
  6. Gilded Botany ApronAnthropologie
  7. The Hot That Count Oven MitMod Cloth
  8. KitchenAid MixerAmazon
  9. Harvest BakewareWalmart

If you’re still feeling confounded by the prospect of shopping for your baker, remember there are plenty of stores that have kitchen sections. A quirky oven mitt and a gift card are always the right size 😉